Michigan’s highest court has denied disgraced former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar’s request to hear his appeal for a lower state prison sentence.
Nassar, 58, is serving a 60-year federal sentence, which he would have to finish serving before serving his 40- to 175-year state prison sentence, the opinion said.
Nassar’s legal team appealed his sentence from a state court, arguing in part that the judge presiding over his sentencing was biased and should be disqualified.
The Michigan Supreme Court’s order Friday said it was not persuaded that the questions presented by Nassar should be reviewed by the court. The order cited procedural issues and the high burden to prove that a judge should be disqualified. It stated that even if the court did make a ruling in the case, the unusual circumstances of Nassar’s case would make the significance of any decision from the court “seriously limited.”
“For these reasons, we decline to expend additional judicial resources and further subject the victims in this case to additional trauma where the questions at hand present nothing more than an academic exercise,” an order posted Friday stated.
But the court noted that it did share concerns with a lower court about the “conduct of the sentencing judge.”
Nassar’s team of public defenders previously said Michigan Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina was biased in rendering her sentencing decision.
When Aquilina sentenced Nassar to 40 to 175 years in prison, she lambasted the former USA Gymnastics doctor, who had pleaded guilty to seven counts of criminal sexual conduct. The judge imagined aloud what she’d like to do to Nassar if not for the Eighth Amendment to the US Constitution.
On Friday, an attorney for Nassar said the team was “disappointed” with the decision in a statement to CNN.
“While we are disappointed the Court did not hear the full appeal, it is notable that all seven justices expressed concerns about the troubling conduct of the trial judge,” Nassar attorney Jessica Zimbelman said.
In their argument against Nassar’s appeal, the attorney general’s office called him “arguably the most destructive serial sexual predator in the history of the State.”
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a statement that her office remains “indebted” to survivors.
“We know it is never easy for the survivors to see this man’s name back in headlines; it is our sincere hope this development marks the closure so many were still waiting for,” Nessel said Friday. “His sentence has been upheld on multiple occasions now, and this denial only confirms his remaining years will be spent behind bars. We remain indebted to the brave voices that ultimately put him there.”
Nassar pleaded guilty in 2017 to multiple counts, including child pornography charges, and was sentenced to 60 years in prison. Nassar also pleaded guilty to seven state counts of criminal sexual conduct and admitted to using his position as a trusted physician to assault and molest girls under the guise of medical treatment.
Nassar is currently serving his federal sentence at a prison in Florida, according to Bureau of Prisons records.
At his state sentencing, Ingham County Judge Rosemarie Aquilina told Nassar, “I’ve just signed your death warrant.”
Nassar, in turn, apologized, telling the court, “There are no words that can describe the depth and breadth of how sorry I am for what has occurred.”