Former USA Gymnastics doctor gets 175 years in jail for sex crimes

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Judge sentences former US Olympic gymnastics doctor Nassar to 175 years in jail

LANSING, MICHIGAN: As his victims wept in a Michigan courtroom on Wednesday, disgraced long-time USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for abusing young female gymnasts who were entrusted to his care.

"I've signed your death warrant," Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina told Nassar, following days of accounts from about 160 of his victims.

"You do not deserve to walk outside of a prison ever again. Anywhere you walk, destruction would occur to those most vulnerable."

Spectators and victims cried, applauded and embraced as Nassar, 54, wearing a dark blue jailhouse jumpsuit, was led out of the courtroom.

Ms Rachael Denhollander, the first woman to publicly accuse him in 2016, shared a hug with Ms Angela Povilaitis, the lead prosecutor.

After the sentence decision, Ms Lou Anna Simon, the president of Michigan State University, where Nassar also worked, said she was resigning after facing a barrage of criticism for not doing enough to halt the abuse.

The chief of the US Olympic committee called for all USA Gymnastics directors to resign.

More than 150 victims gave statements at Nassar's sentencing hearing.

The doctor's victims included high-profile stars such as Olympic gold medallists Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas and McKayla Maroney.

Nassar, who served as the programme's physician through four Olympic Games, apologised to his victims during the hearing, telling them: "I will carry your words with me for the rest of my days."

Judge Aquilina dismissed his statement as insincere and courtroom spectators gasped as the judge read aloud from a letter he wrote to her claiming he was a good doctor who was manipulated into pleading guilty.

Nassar, who already is serving a 60-year sentence in federal prison for child pornography convictions, also said his accusers fabricated claims to gain money and fame.

"Would you like to withdraw your plea?" Judge Aquilina asked Nassar after tossing aside his letter.

"No, your honour," Nassar replied.

"Because you are guilty, aren't you? Are you guilty, sir?" the judge demanded.

In response, Nassar said quietly, "I have said my plea, exactly."

The prosecution and Judge Aquilina emphasised the broader significance of the sentencing, coming amid a national debate over sexual misconduct prompted by accusations against powerful men from Hollywood to Washington. - REUTERS