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‘I just signed your death warrant’: Did US Olympic doctor’s judge speak out of line?




Judge Rosemarie Aquilina watches victims as former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar listens to impact statements during the sentencing phase in Ingham County Circuit Court on January 24, 2018 in Lansing, Michigan.
Judge Rosemarie Aquilina watches victims as former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar listens to impact statements during the sentencing phase in Ingham County Circuit Court on January 24, 2018 in Lansing, Michigan.
JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP/Getty Images

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On Wednesday, after seven days of hearing testimonials from more than 150 young women he sexually abused, disgraced U.S. Olympic doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced up to 175 years in state prison by Michigan Judge Rosemarie Aquilina.

“I just signed your death warrant,” Aquilina said, followed by a string of extraordinary statements including, “Our Constitution does not allow for cruel and unusual punishment. If it did, I have to say, I might allow what he did to all of these beautiful souls, these young women in their childhood, I would allow some or many people to do to him what he did to others.”

While the judge’s ruling brought a celebration of relief for victims, as well as national praise for her strong support of those she called “sister survivors,” the debate over judge impartiality and how Aquilina responded to Nassar and his abused has also surfaced.

We hear from experts on both sides about the impact of Aquilina’s statements.

Guests:

Emily Bazelon, staff writer for New York Times Magazine and co-host of Slate's "Political Gabfest" podcast; she tweets @emilybazelon

Paul G. Cassell, criminal law professor at the University of Utah, where his focus includes criminal justice and crime victims’ rights; he tweets @pgcassell