By Steve Friess
CHARLOTTE, Mich. (Reuters)
The enraged father of three daughters who were sexually abused by Larry Nassar lunged at the former USA Gymnastics national team doctor and tried to attack him during a sentencing hearing in a Michigan courtroom on Friday
The father, Randall Margraves, was nearly within striking distance of Nassar before officers tackled him to the floor in front of shocked spectators including his daughters. The judge later accepted Margraves’ explanation that he “lost control” of his emotions and said she would not punish him.
The chaotic scene began minutes after sisters Lauren and Madison Margraves had concluded tearful victim statements on the second day of a sentencing hearing in Eaton County, following similar presentations by scores of other women through previous court sessions.
Nassar has already been sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for his guilty plea in neighbouring Ingham County to molesting young women under the guise of medical treatment. He is scheduled to receive an additional sentence on Monday for his guilty plea to related charges in Eaton County.
At a news conference with his family and attorney hours after the outburst, Margraves apologised for his behaviour, saying he was “remorseful” and “embarrassed” for losing his composure.
“I am no hero. My daughters are heroes, and all the victims and survivors of this terrible atrocity,” he said, adding that he became enraged when “I had to hear what was said in those (victim) statements, and I had to look over at Larry Nassar shaking his head.”
Margraves said he had never heard the explicit details of what his daughters endured at the hands of Nassar until he listened to their accounts in court.
A tall, burly man with thick gray hair, Margraves said his relationship with his daughters had long been “strained, distant and difficult. Now I know the main reason. The reason was Larry Nassar.”
“Now I have to deal with the fact that I failed to protect my daughters,” he added.
The courtroom disturbance came after Margraves, standing alongside his daughters and wife, asked if Judge Janice Cunningham, as part of sentencing, would “grant me five minutes in a locked room” with Nassar.
The judge replied that was not an option and rebuked Margraves for his vulgar language in calling Nassar “a son of a bitch” in court. Margraves then asked for one minute alone instead. The judge demurred again as some in the courtroom laughed uncomfortably.
The father then bolted towards Nassar, seated in an orange jump suit behind a nearby table. Margraves’ daughters’ hands flew to their mouths, and one of Nassar’s lawyers moved to shield his client.