Victims' father apologizes for trying to attack Larry Nassar at sentencing hearing
Judge had denied Michigan man's request to meet with ex-U.S. gymnastics doctor in locked room
A father of three victims has apologized in a Michigan court after lunging at Larry Nassar during the former sports doctor's sentencing hearing Friday on sexual assault charges of girls and women under his care.
Randall Margraves told the judge in the Charlotte courtroom that his attempt to get to Nassar was the result of him being a "distraught father."
Earlier, Judge Janice Cunningham had declined Margraves's request for a few minutes alone in a locked room with a man he called a "demon." That was when Margraves lunged at Nassar, who was blocked by a lawyer and tackled by sheriff's deputies.
Two of Margraves's daughters had just told the judge they and another sister had been sexually abused by Nassar under the guise of medical treatment.
Margraves was OK'd by the judge when he asked if he could say a few words, then looked at Nassar, shook his head and called him a profanity. The judge turned down Margraves's request for "five minutes" alone with Nassar. He then asked for one minute, but she declined him again, prompting him to go after Nassar, who was sitting nearby.
After he was held down on his stomach by sheriff's deputies, he was taken handcuffed out of the court.
Twenty-five minutes later, Cunningham followed Margraves's apology by saying there was "no way" she would punish him under her contempt of court powers. She noted the anguish felt by families over Nassar's crimes. Nonetheless, she said, it's unacceptable to "combat assault with assault."
This week's court activity, Nassar's third and final sentencing hearing on assault charges, focuses on his work with Twistars, an elite Michigan gymnastics club.
Assistant Attorney General Angela Povilaitis told families in the courtroom to "use your words," not violence after Margraves's actions.
"This is letting him have this power over us," she said. "We cannot behave like this. I understand this is a remarkable situation. But you cannot do this. This is not helping your children. This is not helping your community. This is not helping us."
Parents 'filled with regret'
Moments before her father's stunning courtroom charge, Lauren Margraves told the judge that her parents were "filled with regret" because they took the girls to see Nassar.
"I see the look in their faces and I know they want to be able to do something, but they can't," she told Nassar. "The guilt they have will never go away. All this is because of you."
More than 30 victims have given statements during the hearing, which began Wednesday and is expected to stretch into next week.
During a similar hearing that ended last week, more than 150 girls and women came forward to say Nassar abused them under the guise of medical treatment while he worked with Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics. He was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison in that case. He had already been sentenced to 60 years in prison on child pornography charges.
Earlier Friday, the judge reopened the hearing by saying controversial comments made by one of Nassar's attorneys were "unfortunate." The lawyer, Shannon Smith, told radio station WWJ that she had doubts about the large number of women and girls who say they are victims.
Cunningham said Nassar didn't authorize the statements and has disavowed them.
"What is relevant is for the court to hear each individual story and how the criminal actions of the defendant impacted each individual's life," Cunningham said.