Return to Transcripts main page
Larry Nassar Sentencing. Aired 12-12:30p ET
Aired January 24, 2018 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[12:00:00] ANGELA POVILAITIS, MICHIGAN ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: In all of this, on the world outside will carry on. But I want to recenter you and this court and all involved back on the reason we're here. The sentencing of defendant Larry Nassar for his admitted conduct against numerous young girls. He sexually assaulted them. He did so under the guise of medical treatment, and he did so for his own sexual purpose and gratification.
He carried out his plot through a decades' long process he honed and perfected, creating perfect conditions for his predatory behavior. Until these brave women brought it all down.
Sentencing, your honor, must protect, punish, and deter. Through your sentence, I ask you to do all three.
Judge Aquilina, I ask you to bring these victims the justice they so deserve. We ask you to follow the sentence agreement and sentence the defendant to a minimum of 40 years to at least 125 years in prison, or a sentence tale (ph) that you see fit.
JUDGE ROSEMARIE AQUILINA, INGHAM COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT: Thank you.
MATTHEW NEWBURG, ATTORNEY FOR LARRY NASSAR: Your honor, I prepared some remarks today. My client prepared some remarks that he's going to be reading to the court. But I want to start off on some remarks that I have not prepared.
This court has provided a foundation for our country to watch our judicial system as it's happening and unfolding. We have a Constitution in place. We learn about the Constitution when we go to law school. Contrary to what the personal or the perception of Larry's legal team may be, we are all upholding the same document. He has an absolute right to his Ellis advocacy. He's got an absolute right to a defense. He has an absolute right to be represented by counsel. And while some may disagree to the way that this case transpired, the conduct of counsel, this is what our Constitution permits. And I can tell you, and anybody else listening, that unequivocally I would be standing next to this man for every trial that he would hold, every sentencing that he would have because that's what our Constitution requires.
This is not about us. This is not about Larry. This is not about his legal team. This is about the victims that were before the court for the last seven days.
But I will tell you, the anger and hatred that they expounded on the court is something that Larry saw, we all saw and we all heard. As we sat in the court this morning, we received an e-mail from somebody who was anonymous that wished death upon our kids, for standing next to the man and upholding a Constitution, a document and an oath that we took when we all went to law school, whether you're a judge, a defense lawyer, or work for the government. We are doing our jobs. You are doing your job. And the government is doing their job. I would stand by the counsel that we have representing Dr. Nassar, and I would represent Larry again.
Now, people ask us all the time if Larry's sorry if what he has done. And others ask what Larry's like while some comment on how he's changed. I'll tell you that Larry is sorry for what he's done, but we realize that these words are completely inconsequential to those that are listening and fall woefully short of an adequate apology to fully address what has transpired.
As adults, we understand there are consequences for our actions. Larry's actions have led to an unquantifiable amount of pain. As adults, we should be the only ones who feel pain for our own actions.
Sadly, one of the many tragedies in this case is the pain that was articulated these past seven days is not residing with Larry. But instead, and more significantly, it is felt by the 100-plus women who have addressed him in court. He is sorry for the hurt that he has caused, and he is sorry to each and every one of the individuals who have come before your honor.
But an apology is not going to be enough. Sometimes individuals can take solace that a small portion of the pain that someone has inflicted on others can be seen in their own appearance and personality.
[12:05:05] Although it pales in comparison to what we heard these past few days, Larry's soul is broken. He is the shell of a person that we all first met. He is reserved and soft spoken. His tears are more frequent, and our conversations are more somber.
As you all know, we sat with Larry these last few days and saw what he saw. He saw the pain, hurt, and anger on your faces. Your words will stay with him and leave an indelible mark on his soul for the remainder of his life.
He realizes that what he is feeling is nothing compared to the pain and hurt all of his victims are feeling and were discussed in this courtroom today. I can assure you that your words have pierced his soul and softened his voice. That will never change.
I know Larry wants to address the court as well.
AQUILINA: Sir, please raise your right hand. Do you swear or affirm the testimony that you're about to provide is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth (INAUDIBLE)?
LARRY NASSAR: Yes, your honor.
AQUILINA: Thank you. (INAUDIBLE) come up (INAUDIBLE) to the podium (INAUDIBLE).
AQUILINA: What would you like me to know?
NASSAR: It's just a short statement.
Your words these past several days, your words, your words, have had a significant emotional effect on myself and have shaken me to my core. I also recognize that what I am feeling pales in comparison to the pain, trauma, and emotional destruction that all of you are feeling. There are no words to describe the depth and breadth of how sorry I am for what has occurred. Accept my apology --
AQUILINA: Sir, you need to stand at the microphone or they can't hear you.
NASSAR: An acceptable apology to all of you is impossible to write and convey. I will carry your words with me for the rest of my days.
AQUILINA: Sir, I hope that -- sir, I hope you are shaken to your core. Your victims are clearly shaken to their core. And I know there are still some who ask (INAUDIBLE).
First, let me address counsel. I agree with your words in regard to no one should blame the defense counsel. And vigilante crimes are not tolerated. So I hope that no one will do anything untoward the defense counsel, and their children, their families, their firms, their cars, whatever (INAUDIBLE). Crime plus crime solves absolutely nothing. Please respect their job. It is a difficult one. I'm walking in their shoes and the Sixth Amendment does guarantee each defendant the right to counsel. It doesn't matter what the defendant has done. They have the right to counsel.
I also want to say, that being said, we also have the First Amendment. So you are all free to have your own opinion. It is always a balancing act between the First Amendments and the Sixth Amendment. All of the due process and other counts (ph) amendments to the Constitution, they are all valuable in their own way. And that's why we have an organized and just society. And that's why we are here today because this defendant has been brought to justice. Do not make it worse, please.
Before I get to sentencing, I want to talk to you about a couple of things. And, first, I said what I need to say to the victims. I'm only going to say, you are no longer victims. You are survivors. You're very strong. And I've addressed you individually.
Before I say anything further, I don't know if you all know this, and I know that the world is watching, I know this because I'm on the bench every day and this isn't the only case of crime appears in this court. The national crime victimization survey that's done by the Justice Department annually reports that 310 out of every 1,000 assaults are reported to police, which means that two out of three go unreported. The voices of the survivors (INAUDIBLE) everyone report, keep your voice up (ph). Raise your voice. Hopefully we'll believe you. These numbers are (INAUDIBLE) in all of your voices.
[12:10:34] But that statistic does not include children 12 and under. One in ten children will be sexually abused by their 18th birthday. One in seven girls, one in 25 boys, by their 18th birthday. That means that in the United States, I'm not talking about any other country, but in the United States, 400,000 babies born in the U.S. will become victims of child sexual abuse.
It stops now. (INAUDIBLE) these survivors become part of the army.
I do one case at a time. And I really so very much appreciate all of you. Thank you (INAUDIBLE) Twitters and FaceBooks and all of you pulling (ph). And I really mean that. I'm not special. I'm doing my job. If you come into my courtroom any Wednesday and watch sentencing, I give everybody a voice. I give defendants a voice, their families that are here, I give the victims a voice. I try to treat everybody like family because that's the justice system that I was raised to believe in.
I came to this country stateless (ph). I'm naturalized. My father's a Maltese. My mother's German. And I was raised on an old country values. And my grandmother always told me and my parents always told me, my grandfather too, that America is the greatest country. I believe that. That's why I served in the military. That's why I've always felt (ph) a duty (ph) to be serving.
I'm not really well liked because I speak out. I don't have many friends because I speak out. You ask me a question, you better be ready for the answer. I speak out because I want change, because I don't believe in hiding the truth. And I'm not saying I'm always right, but I try.
I also don't believe that one size fits all when it comes to sentencing. Another reason I'm (INAUDIBLE). I know that there are some judges for every crime they do this gainsmanship (ph). I don't think that's justice.
I believe in individualized sentencing. I follow the Constitution. And I believe our system works. I also believe these survivors. Though there's case law about how I can consider, what I can consider. And, first and foremost, my sentence reflects (INAUDIBLE) in regard to who the defendant (INAUDIBLE). But the remainder of you, 161 others. And to the credibility of the seven (ph). So technically I'm considering everything, everyone, because the crime, all of the crimes, the depth of them have cut into the core of this community and many communities in all of the families and people we don't even know.
And, sir, the (INAUDIBLE) asked (INAUDIBLE) release your letter. I'm not willing to do that. Council will object. The media (ph) may object. But there is information in here that troubles me in regard to the victims. And that is (INAUDIBLE) them revictimize by the words that you have in here.
[12:15:24] I do want to read some more of your letter. And the reason I want to do that is because I consider (INAUDIBLE) sentencing as an extension of your apology and whether I believe it or not. So I want you to hear your words. I've already read some, but I'm not reading every line. And let me begin.
The federal judge went ballistic at sentencing since I plead guilty to the state case and spent 10 percent on the federal case and 90 percent on the state cases and civil suits. She gave me 60 years instead of five to 20 years, in parentheses, three consecutive 20-year sentences. I pleaded guilty to possession of porn from 9/2004 to 12/2004. Four months. The prosecutor even admitted that I never belonged to any porn sites, any chat rooms, was not on the dark web, and also they could not prove I viewed it. It was all deleted, of course. I shared my electronics. And I could not prove that. So for four months of porn possession from 2004, I'm sentenced to 60 years. Not proper, appropriate, fair.
Going down a few lines.
What I did in the state cases was medical, not sexual. But because of the porn, I lost all support, thus another reason for the state's guilty plea.
Let me move down further.
So I'm trying to avoid a trial to save the stress to this community, my family, and victims, yet look what is happening. It is wrong.
Let me move down further.
I was a good doctor because my treatments 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. The media convinced them that everything I did was wrong and bad. They feel I broke their trust. Hell have no fury like a woman scorned. It is just a complete nightmare. The stories that are being fabricated to sensationalize this.
Then the A.G. would only accept my plea if I said what I did was not medical and was for my own pleasure. They forced me to say that or they were going to trial and not accepting the plea. I wanted to plead no contest. But the A.G. refused that. I was so manipulated by the A.G. and now Aquilina. And all I wanted was to minimize stress to everyone like I wrote earlier.
Going down a little bit further.
In addition with the federal case, my medical treatments with the Olympic/national gymnastics were discussed as part of the plea. The FBI investigated them in 2015 and found nothing substantial because it was medical. Now they are seeking the media
attention and financial (INAUDIBLE).
[12:20:37] Would you like to withdraw your plea?
NASSAR: No, your honor.
AQUILINA: Because you are guilty, aren't you? Are you guilty, sir?
NASSAR: I said my plea exactly.
AQUILINA: The new sign language has become treatment. These quotes, these air quotes, I will never see them again without thinking of you and your despicable acts. I don't care how they're used, I will always think of quotes and the word treatment. It was not treatment, what you did. It was not medical. There is no medical evidence that was ever brought.
When this case first came to me, and I've told you this and I apologize to the Olympians and athletes, but I have five children, two dogs, my parents live with me, and I work four jobs. I don't have much time for television. I don't watch sports. Although last year I was a soccer coach, much to the laughter of my family.
I didn't know anything about you or your name or anything that was going on. And so when I kept saying we're going to trial, here's the date, and everyone wanted more time, I said, no, here's the cutoff. And then the cases were merged and we delayed it. And I still thought, well, maybe there's a defense of medical treatment. Well, why did I think that? Because it's my job to be fair and impartial. But also because my two brothers and my father are very well-known and respected doctors. Real doctors with real treatments and research, dedicated to healing.
I haven't considered that in this case, but I have heard from your survivors now that they trust doctors like I trust the doctors in my family and the doctors I go to. But I still thought, well, there's a defense of medical treatment, and there are changes in the medical community every day for the betterment.
So up until the time you pled, I believed that maybe there was a defense here, despite the felony information. I was ready for trial. Your counsel was ready for trial. The attorney general's office was ready for trial.
You, sir, decided to plead because there was no medical treatment. You did this for your pleasure and your control.
This letter, which comes two months after your plea, tells me that you have not yet owned what you did. That you still think that somehow you are right, that you are a doctor, that you're entitled, that you don't have to listen, and that you did treatment. I wouldn't send my dogs to you, sir. There's no treatment here. You finally told the truth.
Inaction is an action. Silence is indifference. Justice requires action and a voice. And that is what has happened here in this court. One hundred and sixty-eight buckets of water were placed on your so- called match that got out of control.
[12:25:03] I also, like law enforcement -- or like the attorney general, want to thank law enforcement for their investigation, but I also want to be the voice on behalf of these survivors who asks law enforcement to continue their fine work and to also include the federal government. There has to be a massive investigation as to why there was inaction, why there was silence. Justice requires more than what I can do on this bench.
I want to also applaud all of the counsel in the attorney general's office. I want to also applaud defense counsel. You all have done fine work. You've made me proud of our legal system. We all work together for the betterment of our community. And that is law enforcement, prosecutors, defense counsel, investigators. There are countless people. It's the only way our system works. We need this balance. So all of you, when I look at myself as lady justice, my arms are like this. They are balanced. Prosecution, defense, they're balanced. It only starts to tip after there's a plea and after I take into consideration everything that's happened.
So I want everyone to understand I've also done my homework. I always do. People versus Waclawski. I'm sure I slaughtered the name. I apologize. But it is spelled w-a-c-l-a-w-s-k-I, 286 (INAUDIBLE) 634. It's a 2009 case. And in it -- and I want you to clearly understand -- it says plainly, the law does not limit victims' impact statements to direct victims. It doesn't say -- and I have found nowhere that limits me from having you hear all of your victims. As I said before when counsel came to me and said, we're not going to go to trial despite our court having already sent out 200 of the 800 juror requests, and they told me their plea and would I consider it in lieu of trial. There was the agreement between us because I always, and they know it, they are familiar with me, let people speak. And I wanted all victims. And we had a discussion about which victims. And, of course, there was an objection to one of them, but I let it come in anyway.
That was part of the plea that you entered into, to allow the victim impact statements. Because after that discussion, I know your lawyers, as good as they are, sat down with you and said, the judge is going to allow this. And when it comes down to it, I know it also because this was signed by the attorney general, by a defendant, and by defendant's council on November 22, 2017.
[12:29:36] Aside from the letter that you wrote a couple of months after your plea, which tells me you still don't get it, there's something I don't understand and I want to make clear. Sir, you knew you had a problem. That is clear to me. You knew you had a problem from a very young age, even before you were a doctor. You could have taken yourself away from temptation, and you did not.