Larry Nassar, an ex-doctor who worked with gymnasts on the U.S. Olympics team and at Michigan State University in East Lansing, has been sentenced from 40 to 175 years in prison for criminal sexual abuse.
The Detroit Free Press reports that the sentence was imposed after Ingham County Judge Rosemarie Aquilina heard 156 victim-impact statements over seven days from girls and women whom Nassar abused.
"Your decision to assault was precise, calculated, manipulative, devious, despicable," Aquilina told Nassar in court. "You can't give them back their innocence, their youth. You can't give a father back his life, or one of your victims back her life when she took it. You can't return the daughter to the mother, the father to the daughter. You played on everyone's vulnerability....It is my honor and privilege to sentence you, because sir you do not deserve to walk outside a prison ever again."
The enormity of the abuse and the perception that Michigan State did not take action against Nassar, even after university officials were made aware of accusations against the doctor, have prompted calls for MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon to resign.
"Four years ago was the first official investigation of Nassar," said an editorial in the State News, Michigan State's student newspaper. "MSU knew in 2014. MSU knew Nassar was victimizing women and girls."
Addressing Simon directly, the State News editorial says: "You 'apologized' to them, you have thrown money at them, but about the only thing you haven’t done is listen. Simon, if you’re the Spartan you claim to be, you will step down and bow out gracefully. We hope you make the right choice, because time’s up."
Nassar was a faculty member at the university's College of Osteopathic Medicine until MSU fired him in September 2016. Gymnasts who were sexually assaulted by Nassar have filed more than 140 lawsuits against the university.
Michigan State also has received a letter of inquiry from the National Collegiate Athletic Association regarding the athletic department’s role in the Nassar case. Officials say they will cooperate with any investigation.
Nassar was sentenced after pleading guilty to seven counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. In December, he was sentenced to 60 years in prison on three federal child pornography charges; he awaits sentencing later this month on three more sexual assault charges in Eaton County, Mich.
Following today's sentencing, MSU issued this statement:
"Larry Nassar’s sentencing today on state criminal sexual conduct charges represents another important step toward justice. Over the past several days, many here at MSU, including President Simon and trustees, listened to the brave women who came forward to tell their stories at Nassar’s sentencing hearing.
"Nassar’s behavior was horrific and repugnant, and it is deeply disturbing to know that his crimes were often committed on campus. He will rightfully spend the rest of his life in prison.
"We are committed to continue supporting those in our community affected by these terrible crimes. The Healing Assistance Fund was created to help survivors access any counseling and mental health services they may need. The thoughts and prayers of the entire MSU community are with these women."
Video of sentencing from MLive:
Nasser worked for two decades with U.S. Olympians and Michigan State University gymnasts, in addition to thousands of youth gymnasts and women and girls who saw him for other sports injuries. He was often seen as their only hope of getting their bodies healthy and back into competition, something dozens of women and girls have said he used to manipulate and take advantage of them.
The case against the doctor gained momentum in September 2016, following an Indianapolis Star exposé about a sex-abuse scandal at USA Gymnastics. Rachael Denhollander, the woman who spoke to the Indianapolis paper, was the last of 156 women and girls to give victim-impact statements during Nassar's sentencing hearing.
"It took all of our voices to get here," Denhollander testified.