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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.

 

Eaton County Sheriffs restrain Randall Margraves after he lunged at Larry Nassar, during victim statements of his sentencing in the Eaton County Circuit Court in Charlotte
Eaton County Sheriffs restrain Randall Margraves after he lunged at Larry Nassar, a former team USA Gymnastics doctor who pleaded guilty in November 2017 to sexual assault charges, during victim statements of his sentencing in the Eaton County Circuit Court in Charlotte, Michigan, U.S., February 2, 2018. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

 

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.

 

Eaton County Sheriffs restrain Randall Margraves after he lunged at Larry Nassar, during victim statements of his sentencing in the Eaton County Circuit Court in Charlotte
Eaton County Sheriffs restrain Randall Margraves after he lunged at Larry Nassar, a former team USA Gymnastics doctor, who pleaded guilty in November 2017 to sexual assault charges, during victim statements of his sentencing in the Eaton County Circuit Court in Charlotte, Michigan, U.S., February 2, 2018. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

 

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.”

 

An Eaton County Sheriff protects Larry Nassar, a former team USA Gymnastics doctor who pleaded guilty in November 2017 to sexual assault charges, as he is attacked by Randall Margraves, in the Eaton County Circuit Court in Charlotte
“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.
REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

 

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.

 

Larry Nassar, a former team USA Gymnastics doctor who pleaded guilty in November 2017 to sexual assault charges, sits in the courtroom during his sentencing hearing in the Eaton County Court in Charlotte
Larry Nassar, a former team USA Gymnastics doctor who pleaded guilty in November 2017 to sexual assault charges, sits in the courtroom during his sentencing hearing in the Eaton County Court in Charlotte, Michigan, U.S., February 2, 2018. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

 

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.

 

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