Not long ago, he was one of the most celebrated sports physicians on the planet. Today, he is another convict condemned to, according to his judge, “die in prison.”
Larry Nassar has had his day in court, again, this time to answer the accusations that he molested and abused countless young women over the course of many decades as the top doctor for USA Gymnastics. In the end, prosecutors were calling Nassar, “possibly the most prolific serial child sex abuser in history” and the judge agreed, sentencing Nassar to up to 175 years in prison for his crimes.
This sentence is to be imposed after the former doctor serves a 60-year sentence on a federal charge for possession of child pornography. The sentencing came after more than 150 women spoke out, saying they were victims of Nassar during his career. Each woman told a similar story: Nassar used his position as trusted doctor to abuse and molest innocent young girls, some of whom were not treated for injuries they told Nassar they were suffering. Instead, he abused them.
The accounts led Judge Rosemarie Aquilina to glare at the defendant during sentencing, telling him flatly, “It is my honor and privilege to sentence you. You do not deserve to walk outside a prison ever again… I just signed your death warrant.”
The sentencing ended what has been a 16-month nightmare for many of the United States’ most celebrated and decorated gymnasts. These young women began coming forward, reporting strange and uncomfortable “treatments” administered by Nassar. As more spoke out, scores of other women came forward with similar stories.
All along, Nassar continued to claim he was just offering approved medical treatments, but, as more women described what Nassar was doing, it became clear that what he was doing was neither approved nor treatment. Prosecutor Angela Povilatis said Nassar was a predator that used the cover of athletic competition to hide his crimes for decades: “It takes some kind of sick perversion to not only assault a child but to do so with her parent in the room, to do so while a lineup of eager young gymnasts waited…”
In court, Nassar was teary and apologetic. He said the testimony of the victims would continue to haunt him, and that he was sorry he ever hurt anyone. But a letter written to the judge not long before the sentencing expressed a different emotion, a version of Nassar victims said they knew all too well: cocky, overconfident and sure he was entitled:
“I was a good doctor because my treatment worked, and those patients that are now speaking out were the same ones that praised and came back over and over, and referred family and friends to see me…”
Regardless of whether or not Nassar is truly sorry for his crimes, his reputation is set. He will be remembered not as a “good doctor” but as a devious predator who, very likely, will “die in prison.”