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AT THIS HOUR
Soon: Ex-USA Gymnastic Doctor Sentenced For Sex Assaults. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired January 24, 2018 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: -- they are sitting at home watching the game, which is -- Andy Scholes, thanks very much.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: We appreciate it. Thank you all for being with us today. I'm Poppy Harlow.
BERMAN: I'm John Berman. "AT THIS HOUR" starts now.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, there. I'm Brianna Keilar in for Kate Bolduan. And any moment now, former USA gymnastics doctor, Larry Nassar, is going to learn what his punishment is for sexually abusing more than 160 girls under his care.
Just moments ago, we heard the courtroom burst into applause as the last victim told her story to the court. The court right now at this point in time is in a brief recess. You're looking at live pictures there coming to us from Lansing.
For days now, we have seen his victims come forward, one after another to confront Nassar over what he did many years ago in some cases. We'll take you inside that courtroom when Nassar is sentenced by the judge.
CNN's Jean Casarez is outside of the court right now. She's joining us now. Bring us up to speed here, this is a momentous day in what has been a sexual abuse epidemic lasting decades, Jean?
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. We are at the moment now the court has broken, but the next step will be the actual sentencing of Larry Nassar. Olympic doctor, doctor here at MSU, Michigan State University for the Athletic Department, women's division.
One hundred and fifty six victims of sexual assault have stepped up to the podium and that courtroom in the last week and have given their stories of exactly what happened to them of the sexual assault at the hands of Larry Nassar.
We also heard a timeline from these victims that in 1997, one of them went to the gymnastics coach at MSU and said, I've been sexually assaulted by Larry Nassar and she says nothing was done.
Another victim said I wasn't born until 1997. It didn't have to happen to me. In 2000, the last victim was sexually assaulted. She was the first one to come forward to the Indy star in 2016. She became public.
She had the courage to do so and that is when all of these other women stepped forward to say, me too. I was also assaulted by Larry Nassar. He's pleaded guilty to seven counts of aggravated sexual misconduct. He is facing up to life in prison -- Brianna.
KEILAR: And so where are we going next with all of this. We're going to see the sentencing phase, this part to be clear has lasted days. What were supposed to be dozens of victims -- astronomical number anyways, a lot of people said they had been sort of emboldened. They have gotten courage from watching some of these women come forward publicly, and so they also wanted to do the same thing -- Jean.
CASAREZ: That's right. It's continued to grow and that's why it's taken so long. At this point, attorneys on both sides are able to argue minimum and maximum sentences based on aggravating and mitigating factors.
Larry Nassar himself can give an allocution before the court, he can speak to the court, judge. He can beg for mercy. He can apologize or say nothing. Also, the judge is allowing his family to say words to the court if they want to.
We were able to ask his attorney this morning if his family or supporters would speak, the answer was we do not know. We're not sure at this point. At that point, the judge will give the reasons for her sentence.
This may take time because she has to take into consideration everything, all of the statements of the victims, the aggravating factors and mitigating factors and then she will pronounce his sentence. There is a plea agreement.
In other words, there's a minimum sentence that is already been established and agreed upon by both sides, 25 to 40 years for each count, a maximum can be determined by the judge and that would be life in prison.
KEILAR: All right. Jean Casarez for us in Lansing, we know you're watching this as we await what will be a key part, a key chapter in this. All right. Jean, thank you so much.
I do want to bring in Paul Callan. He is our CNN legal analyst. This Paul, days of these victim impact statements over 160 of them, have you ever seen anything like this?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, I never have. I mean, we started out by talking about it as being an epidemic of sexual abuse. It's more like the black plague of sexual abuse cases because with this number of victims and the tragedy is that so many of them came and made complaints to MSU and coaches and police and parents, they were ignored.
As a result of that, the abuse went on. We also find in this case that even one victim settled a case and there was a confidentiality agreement in that case preventing other women who had similar complaints from knowing that there were other women who shared their pain and would have given them the courage to come forward. It's just the most tragic case of this kind I think I've ever seen.
KEILAR: Let's listen to some of those victims.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTINA BARBA: I am not weak and will not accept the feelings of embarrassment or shame. I'm leaving those here with him.
EMILY MORALES: I want you to apologize to me right here. I want to hear you regret all of the hurt you've caused.
EMMA ANN MILLER: My hate towards you is uncontrollable. Larry Nassar, I hate you.
TAYLOR LIVINGSTON: What you have done is despicable. What you have done, you can never erase. I find more peace knowing that one day you are going to die and when you do your pain will not subside.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
There is just a range of emotions. There's so much anger. You can see how so many victims were impacted by him. You heard that one survivor and I think it's important to note because that's how these women are identifying themselves.
They are survivors. They are not victims, survivors first. One of them demanding an apology, he is going to have a chance to speak. I wonder what you think is going to happen today, Paul.
Especially considering he had the gall to at one point during the victim impact statements, to tell the judge despite the fact that it was part of his plea arrangement to listen to these impact statements.
He had the gall to tell the judge that it was upsetting him basically, that it was affecting his mental health. What do you think we're going to hear from him?
CALLAN: If I were advising him as an attorney, the only thing that most attorneys would say to him is to express sorrow for what you did and probably sit down after that. Because if he offers any type of excuse or claims that he's somehow rehabilitated himself, it's only going to anger the judge and make things worse.
You have to bear in mind, Brianna, that he's already been sentenced to 60 years in prison by a federal judge on child pornography charges. So, he has to serve those sentences and state sentences will be consecutive.
I mean, you can wind up with 150 or 160 years of potential sentencing years involved. So, it really doesn't matter what he says. Frankly, the best thing he probably could do is say nothing except I'm sorry and accept the judgment of the court.
KEILAR: He is 54 years old, Paul, he could be looking at as many as 125 years in addition to those 60 years in the child pornography case that you mentioned that he's been sentenced to. Is your expectation that he is just -- he will spend the rest of his life in jail?
CALLAN: Absolutely. I don't see any possibility that he would get out of prison with this number of victims and crime of this magnitude. As we heard in the victim statements, this is just not the pain that these young women suffered at his hands in the examination room.
It's haunted them for the rest of their lives. It's affected their ability to relate to men and other situations in a normal way. He's just destroyed the life of so many human beings that it's really a staggering, staggering crime.
KEILAR: Including human beings who he victimized, who are still involved in USA gymnastics, I think that's another thing that is just startling especially some of these young women who are pointing at USA gymnastics and saying that this was enabled.
I want to play something from Ali Raisman, of course, she was the gold medalists in 2016 on the U.S. Olympic team. She is one of a number of very well-known gymnasts, who said that Larry Nassar abused her. Let's listen to what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALY RAISMAN: imagine feeling like you have no power and no voice. Well, you know what, Larry, I have both power and voice and I'm only beginning to just use them. All of these brave women have power and we will use our voices to make sure you get what you deserve, a life of suffering spent replaying the words delivered by this powerful army of survivors.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: And that's really what we've seen, an army who have come into this courtroom. I wonder as you consider what the judge referred to the army as, called them, quote, "super heroes" and I think this is significant, told parents they should not blame themselves for not discovering the abuse.
As we know, in this case, Paul, there were a number of times where parents or at least occasionally where parents were present and didn't even know, didn't understand what was going on.
[11:10:11] CALLAN: Yes, and you know, the parents have been haunted by the guilt of not seeing what was happening to their children. In some cases, the children, you know, made comments to the parents that should have triggered a complaint to the police or -- you know, it was useless to a complaint apparently to MSU or even to the sports authorities who were involved in this case.
And I think as to the first point about the U.S. Gymnastic Association, Michigan State University, you're going to see an avalanche of civil lawsuits and litigation arising out of this case, because so many made legitimate complaints and they were ignored. People should have known that he was out to harm these young women and people in charge of many of these organizations did nothing when they should have acted.
KEILAR: And so many of these survivors have made that point, that something like this widespread does not happen without people, without a system around someone like Larry Nassar to enable it. So, we're going to talk about what may be coming down the road when it comes to the civil lawsuits, Paul.
I'm getting a quick break, we're awaiting sentencing of Larry Nassar, the former doctor of USA Gymnastics Michigan State University. He is very likely to get many years in jail for his sexual assault of dozens and dozens of girls and young women. We're following this. We'll be right back.
KEILAR: And you're watching live pictures coming to us from inside of a courtroom in Lansing, Michigan where we are expecting really any moment now, the sentencing of Larry Nassar, the former doctor for USA Women's Gymnastics, also at Michigan State University.
He has pled guilty to seven counts of criminal sexual conduct, but we saw in the days leading up to this key moment in court that there were more than -- well over 100, almost 150 women who came forward to deliver their victim impact statements and those are just the ones who came forward publicly. This is something that went on for decades.
I do want to get to Jean Casarez outside of the courtroom in Lansing, Michigan. And Jean, so we heard from so many women just really what was a growing chorus here in the last few days. They are awaiting this moment where we may or may not hear from Larry Nassar himself after he has had to listen to days of descriptions of how he impacted all of his victims.
CASAREZ: That's right, we don't know if he's going to speak at all. As the days went on, women kept coming forward because they were watching the streaming and it gave them the confidence.
At this point, 156 women stepped up to that podium and gave statements. You know, Larry Nassar was not only with the Athletic Department at Michigan State University and treating gymnasts and other female athletes here, but he was the Olympic team doctor.
He went to the London Olympics when the American team was there and gold medalist, bronze medalists they came into this courtroom last week and gave statements that when they went to the London Olympics, that he sexually assaulted them.
That when they went to the world championship in Tokyo, that once they got there, he was able to sexually assault at least one gymnast in particular. We learned through this hearing that when he would assault them or treat them with these medical treatments, that he was allowed to go into their hotel room.
They went to his hotel room and those are the rules they said of the USA Gymnastics. Now we know at this point is that the board of directors, three of them stepped down from USA Gymnastics and NCAA is now launching an inquiry, an investigation here at Michigan State University.
And today, all 2,200 employees faculty here at MSU are going to be sent e-mails asking if there should be a vote of no confidence of the president of MSU because she has been with the university for as long as Larry Nassar, we're talking over two decades Larry Nassar was here affiliated with the university and sexually assaulting so many of the young athletes.
KEILAR: And we know one of those athletes who said she reported back in 1997, which is just baffling that you realize this was -- over 20 years ago she reported this in Michigan State and asked the president of the university to come and witness at least her victim impact statement and that did not happen obviously.
The president has been watching very closely, but she is embattled as this has continued and Jean, I do want to play some sound from Jordyn Wieber, the gold medalist at the 2012 Olympics, she took not only Larry Nassar to task in court, but also people who many victims described as enablers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JORDYN WIEBER: Larry Nassar is accountable. USA gymnastics is accountable. The U.S. Olympic Committee is accountable. My teammates and friends have been through enough and now it's time for change because the current and future gymnasts do not deserve to live in anxiety, fear, or be unprotected like I was.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: I also want to bring in Paul to our conversation with Jean Casarez about this. Paul, when you listen to what Jordyn Wieber is saying and so many other victims and you look at the totality of what has happened here.
[11:20:05] It makes you think of the Sandusky child molestation epidemic at Penn State. It makes you think of the Catholic Church sexual assault epidemic that we saw.
I do want to also point out that we're looking at live pictures here of Nassar coming into the court in Lansing, Michigan, in his prison uniform as we're going to await the sentencing phase. Paul, you still with me though, right?
CALLAN: Yes, I am.
KEILAR: I wonder as you listen to Jordyn Wieber there, many of the survivors looking at USA Gymnastics, they are looking as well at the USA training facility, the Karolyi Ranch in Texas, where we now know that local authorities are investigating there, a strict no parents policy.
This is where Simone Biles said that she had been assaulted. This is where apparently a number of these assaults happened. How far is this going to go when we're talking about other lawsuits, civil lawsuits of people who are arguably going to be accused of being complicit in this?
CALLAN: Well, you know, the civil lawsuit situation is very complex because every state where this happened has a different statute of limitations. I was looking at the Michigan statute of limitations that was in effect in the '90s and early part of this century.
It was as little as two years after the event it has to be reported or if it's a child you have to report it by the time you're 19 in order to bring a lawsuit in Michigan. Now Texas will come into play.
They have a different one and as you just mentioned, since some of these Olympic contenders were abused allegedly in London and possibly in Tokyo, the statute of limitations in those countries will apply and maybe the lawsuits can be brought over there.
But there's a great possibility of lawsuits, but it could be an uphill battle in many states depending upon where the abuse took place.
KEILAR: So, we listen to victim impact statements from 156 victims. Some of them delivered by their family members. He is facing, Nassar, at this point in time, 40 to 125 years in prison in addition to 60 years that he has been sentenced in a federal case relating to child pornography.
When you look at what the judge, Rosemarie (inaudible), has said where she has said that these victims are superheroes. Do you think this is an indication -- do you read that an indication of where she is on sentencing?
CALLAN: Yes, you know, I think you're looking at a judge who's going to impose the maximum sentence allowable under law and that's going to translate really into a life sentence. Strangely enough and ironically, you know, his federal case was assigned to a female federal judge as well and she sentenced him to 60 years in prison.
I think it's -- I think it's a good thing that women turned out to be the judges in these cases because this sort of abuse happened in this case really to women entirely and I think these female jurors had a real understanding of the trauma and tragedy inflicted on these young women.
KEILAR: And it's so important to give these young women a voice as they have been so courageous here in the last several days to come forward. Let's listen to more of their victim impact statements.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You were meant to get caught. You were meant to be locked up for the rest of your life. STERLING RIETHMAN, SEXUAL ABUSE VICTIM: Larry is the most dangerous type of abuser, one who is capable of manipulating his victims through coldly calculated methodologies presenting the most wholesome and caring external persona to deliver a steady stream of young children to assault.
KAYLEE LONNCZ, SEXUAL ABUSE VICTIM: As I look at you today, I feel nauseous, 20 minutes went by when you stopped, and I thought to myself, it's finally over. But you weren't finished yet. You assaulted me again and again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: I want to bring Jean Casarez back into this conversation with Paul Callan. Jean, you have been in court for days watching and listening to these impact statements. What is your expectation today?
As we do hear from the judge and also, we should point out we're seeing Larry Nassar rise it appears that court is underway. Let's listen. It is now in session. Let's listen in.
(LARRY NASSAR SENTENCING COURT PROCEEDINGS)
ANGELA POVILAITIS, MICHIGAN ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: -- he had erections as he performed these so-called treatments. He asked 11- year-olds to tell him if they were on their periods so he could be sure that they were ripe for his abuse. Children that were (inaudible) often unaware of their bodies. Children whose parents --