Nassar victim blasts defense attorney: "Only one of us was making money off her court appearance that day"; Nassar gets 175 years

The last of former USA Gymnastics physician Larry Nassar’s victims delivered impact statements today, and the finale produced a dramatic showdown with Nassar’s attorney. Rachel Denhollander, the first former gymnast to file a criminal complaint against Nassar, took the stand to in part to demand justice from the court, and in part to rebuke Nassar’s attorney for an earlier suggestion in a preliminary hearing that she only came forward to earn notoriety and cash. Denhollander turned the tables on Shannon Smith, noting that “only one of us was making money off her court appearance that day” (via CBS News):

“My sexual assault was wielded like a weapon against me,” Denholladner said.

She was attacked, she added, included during the preliminary hearing when Shannon Smith, one of Nassar’s attorneys, asked her if she was just coming forward now for the money.

Denhollander spoke about what she gave up to come forward, to be the first. She turned her diary over to police, to be included as evidence, to ensure they would proceed.

“I did it because it was right,” she said. “No matter the cost, it was right.”

Smith got up immediately to object, only to get shouted down by the crowd and dismissed by Judge Rosemary Aquilina. “This is her time to speak,” Aquilina told Smith. “You are going to get your opportunity to respond.” Presumably, that refers to closing statements, but any time spent on that effort slamming a victim for her own purposes at the expense of arguing for mercy on behalf of her client would be legal malpractice. Smith will save that for her inevitable presser, but the media might not appreciate being used to slag a victim by proxy.

Besides, Aquilina made it pretty clear what she’ll think of another attack on Denhollander:

The prosecutor followed that up with an indirect attack on Smith during the closing argument:

Smith’s partner defended her by saying Nassar has a constitutional right to an effective defense. He also said that their work on his behalf has resulted in death threats against their families:

Well, literally no one disputes that, and obviously, no one should ever receive death threats from others. That’s horrible and deserves condemnations all around. But it doesn’t have anything to do with getting justice for Nassar’s victims, and it doesn’t mean that Nassar’s victims have to sit quietly without responding when those attorneys impugn their character, especially in a case where the defendant eventually admitted the crime. Sorry, but Shannon Smith’s claim on victimhood in this process ranks far below Denhollander’s.

After Nassar delivered his expected statement of remorse, Aquilina lowered the boom. She  read a litany of Nassar’s earlier responses to the allegations that attempted to deny the abuse, including this moment that produced gasps in the courtroom:

Good Lord. Aquilina forced Nassar to once again admit his guilt. All he could manage was “I accept my plea,” a coward to the end:

After that, Aquilina sentenced Nassar to 175 years in prison, telling him “I just signed your death warrant. … You do not deserve to walk outside of a prison ever again.” Amen to that.

It’s over for Nassar. It’s only just beginning for the institutions that enabled him. The NCAA has now opened an investigation into Michigan State University, and students there are planning demonstrations against the school’s president and administration.