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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 September 2018

Former gymnastics team doctor Nassar sentenced to 175 years in prison

I just signed your death warrant: judge 

Larry Nassar looks at the gallery in the court during the sixth day of his sentencing hearing. Dale G.Young / Detroit News via AP
Larry Nassar looks at the gallery in the court during the sixth day of his sentencing hearing. Dale G.Young / Detroit News via AP

Former US gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison on Wednesday for sexually abusing athletes and patients for decades.

"Sir, I'm giving you 175 years, which is 2,100 months. I just signed your death warrant," Michigan state judge Rosemarie Aquilina told Mr Nassar in handing down the sentence.

More than 100 women and girls accused Mr Nassar of a pattern of serial abuse, and have lashed out at top sporting officials for failing to stop him. They include the Olympic gold-medal winners Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas and McKayla Maroney.

"You do not deserve to walk outside of a prison ever again," judge Aquilina said, insisting that the doctor remained a danger.

"You have done nothing to control those urges, and anywhere you walk destruction will occur," she added.

The disgraced doctor had already been sentenced to 60 years in prison after pleading guilty to child pornography charges.

The body overseeing US collegiate sports, the NCAA, opened an investigation on Tuesday into the university's handling of the case.

The presiding judge at Mr Nassar's sentencing hearing has received approximately 158 victim impact statements, said prosecutors. The list of people asking to speak - with Mr Nassar in court - tripled since the hearing began a week ago.

One of them, Alison Chauvette, on Tuesday said that Nassar's abusive behavior was so brazen, common and unchecked that she and fellow gymnasts discussed his strange treatments and simply assumed they must be legitimate.

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"We young girls were fooled, but the world should not have been. USAG, Michigan State University and society all failed to keep us safe," she said.

Like star gymnast Aly Raisman, many victims have criticised not just Nassar's actions but the inaction of US Olympics and gymnastics officials, and Michigan State University.

Mattie Larson, a decorated former member of the US national team, called on politicians to pass a new bill that would require amateur athletics organisations to report allegations of sexual misconduct.

"I was shocked to learn that this law did not already exist," Ms Larson said, calling on Speaker of the House Paul Ryan to schedule a vote for the bill that has already cleared the US Senate.

"We must ensure that legal steps are made to prevent anything of this nature and magnitude from happening again," she said.

Ms Raisman, who won Olympic team gold in 2012 and 2016 and the 2012 floor exercise crown, noted that the first allegations against Mr Nassar came ahead of the Rio Olympics.

"Survivors courageously came forward sharing stories of sexual abuse and alleging organisational mishandling," Ms Raisman wrote on Twitter. "The next day, the USOC said they wouldn't investigate [and even praised USAG's work in the area of sexual abuse]."

At day five of his hearing, more victims spoke, including Taylor Livingston, who called life a "chore" and "constant fight" due to the guilt she felt for concealing the abuse from her father, who died last year.

"When you die, you're going to hell," she told Nassar. "But there will be a pit stop on the way where you'll have to face my dad, who now knows what you've done ... and when you do, you will suffer."

Emma Ann Miller, the youngest to speak at 15, described Nassar's actions in a supply closet during a 2016 medical appointment at a clinic she said is still trying to bill her family for the appointment.

"I'm possibly the last child you will ever assault," Miller told Nassar, saying she plans to keep going while he "fades into a federal prison cell".

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