Judge Rosemarie Aquilina shares her support for Larry Nassar victims
For the first time since she issued disgraced former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University physician Larry Nassar the second of his three lengthy prison sentences, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina has spoken publicly about the scandal and her support for the survivors.
Aquilina sentenced Nassar, 54, to between 40 and 175 years in state prison on seven sexual assault charges back in January.
This sentencing came after a seven-day sentencing hearing that took the country by storm, as 156 of Nassar's victims, including several Olympic gymnasts, and 169 people overall delivered victim impact statements over the course of that seven-day period.
There were only expected to be around 80 victim impact statements delivered during this sentencing hearing at first, but several dozen more survivors came and delivered theirs after being inspired by watching others deliver theirs.
Nassar is currently serving his 60-year federal prison sentence, which he was given back in December on three child pornography charges, at United States Penitentiary Tucson in Tucson, Arizona.
He was also sentenced to between 40 and 125 additional years in state prison in February on three additional sexual assault charges.
Here is what Aquilina had to say about the scandal and her support for the survivors of it, according to The Detroit News.
“I support the girls. I said that at the sentencing. Nothing has changed there. I don’t like girls being shut down. Everyone has the right to be heard. I’m not fair and impartial. The case is over. No judge is fair and impartial (after the verdict). That’s for before the sentencing.”
Aquilina has been criticized for making these comments, just as she was criticized during the sentencing for her public demeanor and her positive comments toward the survivors who delivered their victim impact statements as well as her negative remarks toward Nassar himself.
In fact, some people have questioned the legality of her demeanor, but legal scholars don't believe it is too big of a deal, according to the Detroit News. Here is what former federal judge Paul Cassell had to say about the matter.
“Sentencing is much different than an umpire just calling balls and strikes. The judge is perfectly entitled to be the voice of the community she represents.”
However, what people seem to forget is the fact that this sentencing hearing was literally designed to support the survivors and give them a voice. Nassar had already been sentenced to 60 years in federal prison in a case that had nothing to do with Aquilina. He was effectively locked up for life before the January sentencing hearing.
People also seem to forget that Nassar is the one who committed the crimes. Perhaps they should be criticizing him and the institutions that enabled him as opposed to the person who actually listened to his survivors after roughly two decades of red flags being completely ignored.