Tuesday 11 December 2018

Victims' father lunges at ex-USA Gymnastics doctor in court

Randall Margraves, the father of three victims of Larry Nassar, left, lunges at Nassar, bottom right, in Eaton County Circuit Court
Randall Margraves, the father of three victims of Larry Nassar, left, lunges at Nassar, bottom right, in Eaton County Circuit Court

Steve Friess

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 yesterday.

Randall Margraves was nearly within striking distance of Nassar before court guards tackled him roughly to the ground in front of his shocked daughters. The judge later accepted Mr Margraves's account that he "lost control" of his emotions as he listened to his daughters describe Nassar's abuse, and said she would not punish him.

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, as nearly 200 women have done before them at earlier hearings. Standing alongside his daughters and wife, Mr 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 to the judge, 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.

Mr Margraves then bolted towards Nassar, seated in an orange jump suit behind a nearby table. His daughters' hands flew to their mouths, and one of Nassar's lawyers moved to shield his client.

Gasps, cries and shouts filled the courtroom as Mr 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, his head pinned to the floor. As court officers pulled him from the room, he implored them: "What if this happened to you guys?" Some victims fled the room in tears.

Looking distressed, the lead prosecutor, Angela Povilaitis, turned to the victims and relatives in the courtroom and tried to restore calm, saying she did not want to see anyone else end up in handcuffs.

"I understand Mr Margraves's frustration but you cannot do this," she said.

Irish Independent

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