The sentencing of Larry Nassar, the former doctor for Team USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University who pleaded guilty to child pornography and six counts of child molestation, has been making waves throughout social media. However, the 40 to 175 year sentence and 150 plus victim testimonials that made up the week-long sentencing hearing seem to have taken a back seat to Judge Rosemarie Aquilina's rise as a social media hero.
When judges sentence criminals, frequently, there will be a brief lecture prior to the handing down of the sentence, which can come after victims, and sometimes supporters of the convicted, make statements. That lecture usually explains what the conviction is for, then sets forth the basis for the sentence. Judges have quite a bit of latitude when it comes to the tone and tenor of their sentencing lecture. Judge Aquilina's lecture for Nassar, however, was one that many won't soon forget.
Heinous Begets Harshness
There is very little doubt that Nassar's crimes were heinous. He was accused of using his position as a doctor to molest young female athletes for decades. After pleading guilty, Nassar submitted a letter to the court attempting to explain that his actions were not sexual assault, that he was actually a victim of the media, and that he shouldn't have to listen to all the accusers' statements as it was causing him pain. And thanks to the wonders of the internet and social media, Judge Aquilina's response to that letter will be forever immortalized in GIF format.
This GIF of Judge Aquilina throwing away the letter Larry Nassar wrote the court about how hard it is for him to listen to victim testimonies PRETTY MUCH SAYS IT ALL. pic.twitter.com/5HB9WMaPqU-- Ellie Hall (@ellievhall) January 24, 2018
In addition to her outright dismissal of Nassar's statement and refusal to admit it in whole, Judge Aquilina allowed not just the victims in the actual case to come forward, but allowed any of Nassar's accusers to speak at the sentencing. By the end, Nassar claimed that listening to the 150 plus accusers brought him more pain then each of his victims experienced.
When it came time to render the sentence, Judge Aquilina did not sugarcoat it in the least bit. And while it's common for judges to give convicts a piece of their mind, some observers think she may have gone too far in expressing her level of disgust for Nassar, while others think that her words were easily justified given the crime.
Some of Judge Aquilina's choice phrases being celebrated and debated include:
- It is my honor and privilege to sentence you because you do not deserve to walk outside of a prison ever again.
- I wouldn't send my dogs to you, sir.
- Our Constitution does not allow for cruel and unusual punishment. If it did ... I would allow some or many people to do to him what he did to others.