Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman entered a crowded Michigan courtroom on Friday, one of the more than 100 victims to be provided the opportunity by a Michigan judge to speak directly to serial sexual abuser Larry Nassar, the former doctor to the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team.
“My dream is that one day everyone will know what the words ‘Me, Too’ signify,” Raisman said at the end of her statement. “But they will be educated and able to protect themselves from predators like Larry, so that they will never ever, ever have to say the words, ‘me, too.'”
“Thank you,” Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina told Raisman, as the room broke into applause.
“That was well deserved,” the judge said of the crowd’s cheers.
These warm words were the latest comments of support expressed by the judge. Aquilina’s sympathetic handling of the impact statements has earned a large amount of attention.
On the other hand, she has not offered sympathetic comments to Nassar, who complained in a letter that the judge had turned the proceedings into a “media circus” for her own gain.
Aquilina called the claim “entertaining” in court on Thursday, while she read the letter aloud.
Raisman also referenced the letter in her own statement.
“As for your letter yesterday, you are pathetic to think that anyone would have any sympathy for you,” she told her former doctor. “You think this is hard for you? Imagine how all of us feel.”
When the letter said that Aquilina had threatened to have EMTs revive Nassar and prop him up in the witness stand to listen to more victim testimony, the judge became dismissive.
“I suspect you have watched too much television,” Aquilina said. “It’s delusional. You need to talk about these issues with a therapist and that’s not me.”
But Aquilina’s words have garnered positive reactions from Nassar’s victims, earning her praise on social media from victim Lindsey Lemke and those who have paid attention to the case.
This judge has healed me more in the past 3 days, than Larry Nassar ever did in the past 12 years. Judge Aquilina CARES. Thank you to her!!!! https://t.co/1gwb3DwLTm
— Lindsey Lemke (@lindseylemke) January 19, 2018
When Judge Judy retires, Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina is my vote to replace her. She just eviscerated this filth https://t.co/vhb8eRwncN
— Benjamin Worgull (@TheBadgerNation) January 18, 2018
Shoutout to Judge Rosemarie Aquilina for making Larry Nassar sit through every single one of the brave women he abused and not taking ANY of his crap in the courtroom.
— Lia (@liamaria_12) January 19, 2018
The women who have spoken out against Larry Nassar are brave, beautiful heroes. And Judge Aquilina is a damn queen. https://t.co/ORVUUL20Gw
— Jamie Blynn (@jamieblynn) January 19, 2018
And her no-nonsense approach makes sense considering the judge’s past.
According to her official biography, Aquilina was elected to the 30th Circuit Court for Ingham County in 2008. Prior to that she had served in the Michigan Army National Guard for 20 years, and was Michigan’s first female JAG Officer in the Michigan Army National Guard when she enlisted.
She teaches at both Western Michigan University Cooley Law School and Michigan State University School of Law, where the classes she teaches include “Defending Battered Women” and “Child Abuse and Neglect.” Both schools have honored her for teaching ability.
But for the past week, she’s dedicated her courtroom to teaching Nassar — who pleaded guilty to molesting 10 girls and was sentenced to 60 years in prison — about his victims’ experiences.
“Spending four or five days listening to them is significantly minor considering the hours of pleasure you had at their expense and ruining their lives,” she said.