Larry Nassar loses final appeal in sex assault scandal

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DETROIT (UKTN) — Michigan’s Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a final appeal by sports physician Larry Nassar, who was sentenced to decades in prison for sexually assaulting gymnasts, including Olympic medalists.

Nassar’s lawyers say he was treated unfairly in 2018 and deserves a new hearing, based on vengeful remarks from a judge who called him a ‘monster’ who would ‘wither away’ in prison, as the Wicked Witch in “The Wizard of Oz”.

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“I just signed your death warrant,” Ingham County Judge Rosemarie Aquilina said of Nassar’s 40-year sentence.

The state Supreme Court said Nassar’s appeal was a “narrow issue” and that it had “concerns” about the judge’s conduct. But the court also noted that Aquilina, despite his provocative remarks, stood by the sentencing agreement drawn up by the lawyers in the case.

“We refuse to expend additional court resources and further subject the victims in this case to additional trauma where the questions posed present no more than an academic exercise,” the court said in a two-page order.

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More than 150 victims spoke or made statements during a seven-day extraordinary hearing in Aquilina court more than four years ago.

“It’s over. … Almost six years after filing the police report, it’s finally over,” Rachael Denhollander, the first woman to publicly accuse Nassar, said Friday on Twitter.

Nassar pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting gymnasts and other athletes with his hands under the guise of medical treatment for hip and leg injuries. He worked at Michigan State University and Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics, traveling the world with the sport’s elite.

“Our Constitution does not allow cruel and unusual punishment,” Aquilina told Nassar. “If it was, I have to say I could allow what he did to all those beautiful souls, those young women in their childhood. I would allow someone or more to do to him what he did to others.

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Nassar was later given another 40-year sentence in a separate case in a nearby county.

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He is currently incarcerated in a federal prison for crimes of child pornography in another case resulting from the same investigation. The sentences effectively mean that Nassar, 58, will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

The Nassar case made Aquilina a celebrity. She appeared at the 2018 ESPY Awards in Los Angeles, where her victims were honored. The judge said she filed her name after it started appearing on t-shirts, including the one worn by actress Natalie Portman on ‘Saturday Night Live’.

The scandal has not faded away. More than 100 women, including Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles, are collectively demanding more than $1 billion from the federal government for the FBI’s failure to arrest Nassar when agents became aware of allegations against him in 2015. He was arrested by Michigan State University police in 2016, more than a year later.

The state of Michigan, which has been accused of missing opportunities for many years to arrest Nassar, agreed to pay $500 million to more than 300 women and girls who were assaulted by him. USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee have reached a $380 million settlement.

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Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel released the following statement:

“We know it’s never easy for survivors to see this man’s name in the headlines again; We sincerely hope that this development marks the closure that so many have been waiting for. His sentence has been confirmed several times now, and this denial only confirms that his remaining years will be spent behind bars. We remain indebted to the brave voices that finally put it there.

“I want to thank again our dedicated team who oversaw the prosecutions, sentencing and appeals. The Ministry of the Attorney General remains committed to securing – and maintaining – justice for survivors of abuse.

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