Michigan attorney general backs judge in Nassar case

The office of Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette responded on Tuesday to Larry Nassar’s motion that Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, who presided over his sexual misconduct case in Ingham County Court, be disqualified.

Nassar, the disgraced former USA Gymnastics doctor now spending the rest of his life behind bars, has a pending motion challenging his sentence, and has filed a separate motion for the judge who sentenced him to be disqualified from the case.

Referring to Nassar as “arguably the most destructive serial sexual predator in the history of the state, perhaps the country,” the Michigan AG’s office defended Aquilina’s conduct during the trial.

“The magnitude of the sentencing hearing, and the sometimes caustic language the judge employed, was a direct result of Nassar’s admitted misdeeds,” the filing said. “As the voice of the community, a sentencing judge is permitted to use strong language to redress the victims and express the grievance of society,” it continued.

Aquilina sentenced Nassar to 40 to 175 years in prison in January, after more than 150 women and girls said in court that he sexually abused them over the past two decades. He is expected to serve that sentence after serving his 60-year sentence in a federal prison on child pornography charges.

Aquilina ripped into Nassar during an impassioned half-hour announcement of her decision, telling him that “I just signed your death warrant.”

Nassar’s court-appointed attorneys, in the motion submitted to the Ingham County Circuit Court last week, said Aquilina used the seven-day sentencing hearing “as an opportunity to advance her own agenda, including to advocate for policy initiatives within the state as well as the federal legislatures, to push for broader cultural change regarding gender equity and sexual discrimination issues, and, seemingly, as a type of group therapy for the victims.”

The conduct and language cited by Nassar’s attorneys, the AG’s office argued, all came after the former doctor admitted his guilt.

“Once his guilt had been determined, the court’s role shifted from exclusively being an impartial arbiter to an entity carrying the voice of the community,” the filing said.

Nassar’s attorneys said Aquilina’s actions contributed to their client being physically attacked in federal prison in late May.

The attorney general’s office said the attack was no fault of Aquilina’s.

“To offload blame from the alleged criminality of another imprisoned assaulter and onto his sentencing judge is a desperate attempt to deflect from the true reason for his imprisonment –his own criminal conduct,” Tuesday’s filing reads.

Aquilina “will not be conducting any interviews regarding this case during the appeal period,” Nicole Smith, Aquilina’s judicial assistant, told CNN in a statement last week.