After sentencing Larry Nassar to 40 to 175 years in prison, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina had a message for the media: "It never was about me."
She's right. It wasn't. It was about former USA Gymnastics team doctor who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting innocent girls.
But, in her closing statement she acknowledged her role in the case by directing her attention to Nassar and saying "it is my honor and privilege to sentence you." Aquilina told Nassar he was a "danger" that should never be allowed outside of a prison and she had done everything she could to make sure he never will.
"I wouldn't send my dogs to you, sir," she said.
Aquilina said she "can't even guess how many vulnerable women and children and families" Nassar assaulted throughout his lifetime.
"Your decision to assault was precise, calculated, manipulative, devious, despicable," Aquilina said. "I don’t have to add words because you survivors have said all of that and I don’t want to repeat it. You can’t give them back their innocence, their youth."
After Aquilina said she signed Nassar's death warrant, she said rehabilitation isn't possible for Nassar.
Aquilina became a face associated with the high-profile case as more than 100 girls and women shared heartbreaking sexual assault stories in her courtroom over the past week. She offered comfort to victims by way of compassionate comments, such as "thank you so much for being here, and for your strength." And, also messages of empowerment: "You are no longer victims, you are survivors."
Aquilina said she will not be making any media statements.
"It's just not my story," she said.
But, the women she empowered to tell their stories in her courtroom speak for themselves.
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