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January 24, 2018

Child molester/gymnastics coach Larry Nassar gets (only?!?) 40 to 175 years as state prison sentence for mass molestation

As reported here by the AP, Larry Nassar after a lengthy state sentencing hearing "was sentenced Wednesday to 40 to 175 years in prison as the judge declared: 'I just signed your death warrant'."  Here is more from the AP:

The sentence capped a remarkable seven-day hearing in which scores of Larry Nassar's victims were able to confront him face to face in a Michigan courtroom. Judge Rosemarie Aquilina said Nassar's "decision to assault was precise, calculated, manipulative, devious, despicable."

"It is my honor and privilege to sentence you. You do not deserve to walk outside a prison ever again. You have done nothing to control those urges and anywhere you walk, destruction will occur to those most vulnerable."

Nassar found competitive gymnastics to be a "perfect place" for his crimes because victims saw him as a "god" in the sport, a prosecutor said Wednesday, shortly before the former doctor was to be sentenced for years of molesting Olympic gymnasts and other young women. "It takes some kind of sick perversion to not only assault a child but to do so with her parent in the room," prosecutor Angela Povilaitis said. "To do so while a lineup of eager young gymnasts waited."

She described the "breadth and ripple" of Nassar's sexual abuse as "nearly infinite." "What does it say about our society that victims of sexual abuse have to hide their pain for years when they did nothing wrong? What does it say about our society when victims do come forward ... and are treated as liars until proven true?" Povilaitis said.

Nassar turned to the courtroom gallery to make a brief statement, saying that the accounts of more than 150 victims had "shaken me to my core." He said "no words" can describe how sorry he is for his crimes. "I will carry your words with me for the rest of my days" he said as many of his accusers wept....

Nassar, 54, pleaded guilty to assaulting seven people in the Lansing area, but the sentencing hearing has been open to anyone who said they were a victim. His accusers said he would use his ungloved hands to penetrate them, often without explanation, while they were on a table seeking help for various injuries.

The accusers, many of whom were children, said they trusted Nassar to care for them properly, were in denial about what was happening or were afraid to speak up. He sometimes used a sheet or his body to block the view of any parent in the room. "I'd been told during my entire gymnastics career to not question authority," a former elite gymnast, Isabell Hutchins, said Tuesday....

Nassar has already been sentenced to 60 years in federal prison for child pornography crimes. He is scheduled to be sentenced next week on more assault convictions in Eaton County, Michigan.

Though not made clear in this AP piece, I am inclined to presume this 40 to 175 year sentence is the maximum permitted under state law. I would be grateful to hear from any Michigan state sentencing experts as to whether this was a max sentence and also why a mass molestation such as this one produces a state sentence with a lower range that is shorter than the federal prison sentence Nassar already received for child porn offenses.

Prior related posts:

UPDATE A helpful commentor noted below that the 40-year minimum sentence imposed here was the maximum bottom-range term provided for in Nassar's state plea agreement.  And, of course, because Nassar would have to live well past 100 to even have a chance of completing the current federal sentence he is serving, the particulars of his state sentence are not really of any significant practical consequence.

January 24, 2018 at 12:57 PM | Permalink


His judge does not conduct herself with a judicial temperament. Her nickname use to be "Barracuda." Is that a fitting nickname for anyone on the bench? She appears to be a vicious, foam at the mouth, hate filled, biased feminist. The sentences should be appealed. She should not be allowed to try another case until she has had a mental examination. I would like to see her pass the test for dementia administered to President Trump.

Sentences of hundreds of years also make the court look stupid and angry. How about a million years? Those sentences are not in accordance with human biology.

Again, I understand the multifactorial view of a catastrophe. However, I do not understand how he violated the millennia old tradition of chaperoning a medical examination with an opposite sex patient. Even if staff were not available, where the parents? Then how could it go on not just for decades, but across many settings and remote locations? The number of his victims is not likely to be 150, but in the hundreds. Were there any p[rior complaints? What happened to them? Even if the medical school was afraid of litigation, why not start to provide more staff to chaperone, once the complaint was received.

In the case of the nurses that killed hundreds of patients, were suspected, and just moved to other jobs, the fear was of defamation if a prior employer warned the next one. After the first job is lost, the hundreds of subsequent murders were 100% the fault of the lawyer profession who would sue the employer for a negative comment.

Was Nassar protected by the lawyer profession? Did he get forbearance from his medical employers out of intimidation? I really cannot conceive of such long lasting and massive criminality ever happening in any medical setting I have ever seen.

Posted by: David Behar | Jan 24, 2018 1:20:29 PM

Odd to hear someone say that it is a "privilege" to sentence someone to prison.

Posted by: justme | Jan 24, 2018 2:02:00 PM

Someone receiving less time for molestation than for child porn is pretty much the norm, especially when it comes to child porn sentences in federal court.

That being said, a judge who opines that she wishes she could sentence a defendant to be raped repeatedly while in prison is a bad look, regardless of the underlying facts.

Posted by: Guy Hamilton-Smith | Jan 24, 2018 2:40:08 PM

Nassar previously plead guilty to 3 counts of receiving and possessing child pornography and one count of destroying evidence. He was sentenced to 3 consecutive Federal Terms 20 year terms for that.

He likely will not serve out all of that time, he would be 114 when released if he did.

He also plead guilty to 7 counts of First Degree Sexual Conduct including 3 counts where the victims were under 13. This is what he was sentenced for. The maximum sentence under Minnesota Law 609.342 CRIMINAL SEXUAL CONDUCT IN THE FIRST DEGREE is 30 years or 210 years for 7 counts if served consecutively.

I heard on NPR that if the sentence exceeded 40 years he could withdraw his plea and go to trial.

What is usual I can't say, but this case isn't usual.

Posted by: rsteinmetz | Jan 24, 2018 2:40:48 PM

At any sentencing a judge should exhibit a countenance more in sorrow than in anger.

Posted by: APD | Jan 24, 2018 2:49:35 PM

I would think the relatively low number of charges (compared to number of victims) has a great deal to do with the low end of that range being something that can actually be contemplated. Combined with a sentence of 40 years being the point at which he could withdraw the guilty plea (although what he could actually hope to gain by doing so I have no idea).

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Jan 24, 2018 3:55:44 PM

Justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done. However heinous the defendant's conduct, the judiciary is brought into disrepute by such comments as, 'I just signed your death warrant'." Were I on the court of appeals, I would reverse the sentence and remand to another judge--even if the ultimate sentence were to be the same.

Posted by: Michael R. Levine | Jan 24, 2018 5:35:55 PM

Reminder. 8.3 (b).

I am not a lawyer. I am going to do my duty as a concerned citizen.

Posted by: David Behar | Jan 24, 2018 7:20:51 PM

It doesnt matter how much time he was sentenced in state court.

He will do his federal sentence first. Most likely in a place where they house similar inmates. Most likely he will spend his time in solitare confinement for his own protection.

He will get beaten up when opportunity is there. He wont last 10 yrs in a federal pen.

Severity if prison I think depends on std of living a person us usec to and there temperment. He was a Dr fir the US olympic Female gymnits and had an easy life.
He will suffer immensely and get no sympathy or have any buddies and most likely few visitors. In 6 months he might wish they could hang him, just to get it iver with.

Posted by: MidWestGuy | Jan 24, 2018 8:54:00 PM

I liked that she gave us an insight into her theory on sentencing. She said, "I find that you don’t get it. That you’re a danger. You remain a danger. I’m a judge who believes in life and rehabilitation when life and rehabilitation is possible. ... I don’t find that’s possible with you."I thought it was nice, in a high-profile case like this, for her to lay out the theory behind the choices she made. It also serves as proof that judges are thinking about the theory behind their sentences (at least sometimes).

Posted by: Sam Hobbs | Jan 24, 2018 9:50:39 PM

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