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Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | May 25, 2018

Victims’ father charges at gymnastics doctor in court

By Steve Friess | Feb 02, 2018
Photo by: REUTERS/Rebecca Cook Larry Nassar, a former team USA Gymnastics doctor who pleaded guilty in November 2017 to sexual assault charges, enters the courtroom during victim statements of his sentencing in the Eaton County Circuit Court in Charlotte, Michigan, Feb. 2.

(Reuters) - The enraged father of three daughters sexually abused by Larry Nassar charged towards the former USA Gymnastics national team doctor and tried to attack him during a sentencing hearing in a Michigan courtroom on Friday.

He was nearly within striking distance of Nassar before court guards tackled him roughly to the ground in front of his shocked daughters.

The chaotic scene began after sisters Lauren and Madison Margraves had finished tearfully reading their victim statements on the second day of hearings at a court in Eaton County, much as nearly 200 women have done before them at earlier hearings. Standing alongside his daughters and wife, Randall Margraves, a tall man with an intense gaze dressed in an electricians’ union sweatshirt, then asked to speak.

“I would ask you as part of the sentencing to grant me five minutes in a locked room with this demon,” he said, gesturing toward Nassar, who has already been sentenced to up to 175 years in prison at an earlier hearing after pleading guilty to molesting young women under the guise of medical treatment.

Judge Janice Cunningham told him he knew she could not do that, and chastised him after he called Nassar a son of a bitch. He asked for one minute alone instead. The judge demurred as some in the courtroom laughed uncomfortably.

Margraves then bolted towards Nassar, seated in an orange jump suit nearby, as his daughters’ hands flew to their mouths. Gasps, cries and shouts filled the courtroom as Margraves was wrestled to the ground, knocking things off a desk on the way down, and put in handcuffs while Nassar was taken out to safety.

“One minute!” he demanded repeatedly. As court officers pulled him from the room, he implored them, “What if this happened to you guys?”

Looking distressed, the lead prosecutor, Angela Povilaitis, turned to the victims and relatives in the courtroom and tried to restore calm.

“I understand Mr. Margraves’ frustration but you cannot do this,” she said. “This is not helping your children.”

The hearing resumed after a short break, with the judge addressing what she called a “scary” scene.

“My heart started beating fast and my legs started shaking,” Cunningham said. “We cannot react by using physical violence,” she told the courtroom, noting she could not imagine Margraves’ pain as a father.

It was not immediately clear whether Margraves would face any charges.

Nassar is also serving a 60-year federal term for child pornography convictions.

His case has sparked broader outrage after numerous victims accused USA Gymnastics, the sport’s governing body, and Michigan State University, where Nassar worked, of failing to investigate complaints about him going back years. U.S. Olympic officials have also been criticized by some of the sport’s biggest stars, including gold medalists Aly Raisman, Simone Biles and McKayla Maroney.

On Thursday, the police department in Meridian, Michigan, apologized publicly to one victim for declining to press charges against Nassar in 2004 when she reported that he abused her. The Wall Street Journal also said on Thursday that U.S. Olympic officials did not intervene after being told in 2015 that USA Gymnastics had uncovered possible abuse by Nassar.

USA Gymnastics’ board of directors agreed to a demand by the U.S. Olympic Committee that they all resign in the wake of Nassar’s sentencing, as did the president and athletic director of Michigan State. The scandal has prompted several investigations into those institutions.

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