Sexual abuse survivors nationwide have a new, desperately needed hero: Judge Rosemarie Aquilina. Her expert handling of the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal has been nothing short of inspiring.
For six days, Aquilina provided time for nearly 160 women to face their abuser, the disgraced Larry Nassar, and speak of the despicable injustices he’d committed against them for decades.
When Nassar whined about how hard it would be for him to listen to day after day of victim impact statements, Aqulinia’s scathing response left the criminal shuddering.
“Spending four or five days listening to them is significantly minor,” she said at the time, “considering the hours of pleasure you had at their expense and ruining their lives.”
To Judge Aquilina : THANK YOU, YOU ARE MY HERO ?❤️ | Although there is not a scripted path to healing. I know it makes me feel relieved that he can no longer hurt any more beautiful souls. | I just wanted to shout out all of the other survivors for being so brave and speaking like the queens that you are while looking at that monster and not letting him destroy you any more. He will no longer have the power to steal our happiness or joy. I stand with every one of you ?
Larry Nassar was once the most highly regarded doctor in all of elite gymnastics.
He was the United States Olympic team doctor, had a bustling sports medicine practice at Michigan State University, and for decades, was perhaps the most calculated, sinister sexual abuser in American sports history.
Nassar molested almost all of America’s most prominent gymnasts, including 2012 and 2016 gold medalist and team captain Aly Raisman.
Olympians Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Jordyn Wieber, McKayla Maroney and elite gymnast Maggie Nichols also came forward with their own horror stories of years of abuse at the hands of Nassar, a doctor they were all told to trust without question.
On Jan. 24, Aquilina told Nassar it was her “honor and privilege” to parcel out his sentence.
“I find that you don’t get it, that you’re a danger — that you remain a danger,” she told Nassar, who had spent the last week mostly avoiding eye contact with his victims and wiping tears off his face.
Aquilina sentenced Nassar to up to 175 years in prison, to be served after he finishes his 60 years in prison for federal child pornography charges. “I just signed your death warrant,” Aquilina stated calmly after announcing the prison terms.
Breaking: Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State doctor, has been sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for sexually assaulting athletes under his care. https://t.co/oARKXknlQt pic.twitter.com/7Ix6rrcjis
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 24, 2018
“As much as it was my honor and privilege to hear the sister survivors, it is my honor and privilege to sentence you,” Aquilina stated. “Because, sir, you do not deserve to walk outside of a prison ever again.”
Some survivors wiped tears from their cheeks as they watched Nassar leave the courtroom forever. Others held a slight smile on their faces, watching justice appropriately served.
“Leave your pain here,” Aquilina told one young survivor after she bravely shared her story in court. “Go out and do your magnificent things.”
While people have been quick to heap praise on Aquilina, she has returned the focus to where she feels it belongs: on the courage and bravery of the survivors who broke their silence and drew strength from one another.
“It’s their story,” the judge affirmed.
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