Chaos erupted in a Michigan courtroom during Larry Nassar‘s sentencing hearing on Friday as the father of three girls who say they were molested charged at the disgraced gymnastics doctor and was taken down by court officers.
“Let me have that son of a bitch,” Randall Margraves shouted after he lunged at the table where Nassar was sitting.
“Give me one minute with that bastard!”
The anger boiled over after two of Margraves’ daughters had just finished giving victim impact statements against Nassar, who has pleaded guilty to abusing 10 girls but is accused by more than 250 others.
Lauren Margraves, who said Nassar molested her during an appointment when she was 13 years old, said her parents had also suffered.
“I see the look on their faces and I know they want to do something and they can’t,” she said.
Her younger sister was crying as she took the podium. “My entire family has gone through hell and back these last few months,” she said.
Then their dad asked if he could speak. He cursed at Nassar and was admonished by Eaton County Judge Janice Cunningham for using profanity.
“I would ask you to as part of this sentencing to grant me five minutes in a locked room with this demon,” Margraves asked the judge.
“You know I can’t do that,” she answered.
“Would you give me one minute?” he pressed.
Turned down again, he suddenly bolted toward the front of the courtroom where Nassar was sitting, wearing bright orange jail clothing and his customary hangdog expression.
Nassar’s lawyer, Matt Newburg, leaped up to block Margraves and deputies wrestled the fuming father to the ground as he continued to shout.
“Relax,” one of the deputies told him.
“What if this happened to you guys?” he shouted as he was led away.
Prosecutor Angela Povilaitis turned toward the rest of the victims waiting to speak and made it clear she wouldn’t tolerate another disuption.
“No one can behave like this,” she said. “This is letting him have power over us.”
The sentencing hearing was temporarily halted as Margraves was taken to a holding cell while authorities determined what charges he might face.
When it resumed, the judge described what the outburst was like for her.
“Obviously what just occurred in the courtroom was scary and caused a level of discomfort for all of you,” Cunningham said. “I’m sorry that happened.”
“My heart started beating fast and my legs felt shaky because of that quick eruption of violence,” she added.
She said it was natural that emotions were running high in the case and she expressed empathy for Margraves.
“I recognize that Mr. Margraves had three daughters that he has had to watch go through the pain and the hurt,” the judge said.
“If it is hard and difficult for me to hear what his daughters had to say, I can’t imagine what it is like for him.”
But, she said, there is no excuse for violence.
“What Mr. Nassar did was horrible. It’s unthinkable. But please let the criminal justice system do what it’s supposed to do,” Cunningham said.
Nassar, 54, who was the team doctor for USA Gymnastics and a sports medicine specialist at Michigan State University, was sentenced last week in Ingham County to 40 to 175 years for molesting seven girls. He faces a similar sentence in Eaton County for abusing three girls and has already been sentenced to 60 years for child pornography.
His plea agreements allow all accusers to give impact statements and nearly 200 will have done so by the end of the hearings. One of his attorneys, Shannon Smith, said on a radio show Thursday that she doesn’t believe all those who are testifying were abused. She said she also has received death threats.