Larry Nassar: A Demon in Disguise


In the month of January, the media was taken to the courtroom for what would turn out to be the largest sexual assault case in the history of America. Larry Nassar, USA Gymnastics national team doctor and an osteopathic physician at Michigan State University was convicted for hundreds of heinous child molestations. The first woman who came out with her story to the media was Rachael Denhollander. Denhollander reported her abuse in 2004 while student-coaching at Branch Gymnastics in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Her main objective was to retain the innocence of any young injured gymnasts that would be seeing nassar for injures like she had years previously. She knew the pain that he would bestow upon them by her personal experience. She knew that it was going to be difficult getting Nassar convicted without accusations from other victims. Little did she know over 265 victims would eventually come forward about being abused. Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, the judge overseeing the case, opened her courtroom for seven days to let each victim tell their story.

 Judge Rosemarie Aquilina

 Judge Aquilina has been extremely popular through the media because of her style in the courtroom. She gives her victims in each case an opportunity to speak to the court and the criminal. In this case, she allowed over 150 victims to speak to Nassar. This helped with the level of sentencing. Judge Aquilina not only called out Nassar when he decided to make excuses for his behavior, but she also welcomed and gave a different speech to each victim who spoke.

 Larry Nassar

 Larry Nassar was a doctor for the Michigan State University and was physician for the the U.S. Olympic team. He was first convicted for child pornography. The police found over 37,000 pictures and videos in his house. After he was charged for child pornography, he was then convicted for his numerous acts of child molestation. He was sentenced to 60 to 175 years in federal prison.

 Rachael Denhollander

 Rachael Denhollander was the first victim to come forth about her abuse when she told the Indy Star her story. Rachael came forth because one of the gymnastics she was training was going to be taken to him. She then believed that it was the best time to come forth. Since her statement, Rachael has been a voice for the victims of Larry Nassar and has been an inspiration for other victims to come out with their stories.

Sexual assault cases are not always handled the correct way. Every 13 of 1,000 results in a felony conviction. Judge Rosemarie Aquilina is praised by many as she handled the Larry Nassar case in a remarkable way. Aquilina decided to let any women who said they had been sexually assaulted by Larry Nassar face him in court. Aquilina gave over 160 women the chance to share to her and the world what Nassar had done to them and their feeling in the whole situation. Judge Aquilina and the victims used this platform to express how serious sexual assault is and will be handled. These strong women used their voice to empower other women to stand up and speak out.

Larry Nassar definitely was not ready for the words of his victims and neither was the world. Rachael Denhollander was the first women to speak up about Nassar’s abuse. She started a big movement all with her Indy Star interview motivating everyone else to speak out. All these women had to overcome many things due to Nassar’s abuse. Denhollander shares “I remember the long road it has been to let myself love and be loved without fear, after having my trust used against me like a weapon.” She now has a family of her own who can enjoy the strong women she has grown into. But as Denhollander continued to speak she took the sentencing into mind and asked, “How much is a little girl worth? How much is a young woman worth?” Judge Aquilina took the opportunity to show the world how serious sexual assault is handled in her courtroom just by the sentence she has given Nassar.

 When sentencing time came, Judge Aquilina spoke directly to Nassar. She spoke words of motivation to the young women. She also let Nassar know that the ownership of his actions must be taken at some point. Aquilina referred to Nassar as the witch from Wizard of Oz to explain to the survivors that “… as you get stronger, as you overcome – because you will – he gets weaker and he withers away. Prison is no place for a human being to live.” All these strong women have come to speak and tell their story only making Nassar weaker and you could see it. As Aquilina wanted Nassar to take everything they said to heart and remember it she explains to him, “You may find it harsh that you are here listening, but nothing is as harsh as what your victims endured for thousands of hours at your hands, collectively.” Death penalty was not the given sentencing, but Judge Aquilina felt, “You don’t deserve to walk outside of prison ever again. I just signed your death warrant.” She gave Nassar 175 years on top of the 60 he already has to serve from the child pornography case.

 Judge Aquilina made an impact in that courtroom and to everyone watching. These young women wanted the world to know that, as Kyle Stephens clearly put it,  “Young girls don’t stay little forever. They grow into strong women that return to destroy your world.” The young survivors and Judge Aquilina gave a positive side to this story, if their is one.