Charlotte: 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 his shocked 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 during previous court sessions. Nassar has already been sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for his guilty plea in a neighbouring county to molesting young women under the guise of medical treatment.
He is expected to receive an additional sentence on Monday for his guilty plea to similar charges in Eaton County.
At a news conference with his family and attorney hours after the outburst, Margraves apologized for his behaviour, saying he was “remorseful” and “embarrassed” after losing his composure.
“I am no hero. My daughters are the real heroes,” 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.”
“I delivered, unintentionally, my three daughters to a demon,” he said, expressing his angst as a parent.
“Now I have to live with the fact that I failed to protect my daughters.” The courtroom disturbance came after Margraves, standing alongside his daughters and wife, gestured toward Nassar and asked Judge Janice Cunnigham to grant him “five minutes in a locked room with this demon.”
The judge replied that was not an option and rebuked him 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.
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 Margraves was wrestled to the ground, knocking things off a desk on the way down, and handcuffed while Nassar was taken out to safety.
“One minute!” Margraves demanded repeatedly, his head pinned to the floor. As officers pulled him from the room, he implored them, “What if this happened to you guys?”
Margraves was then bundled out of the courtroom by uniformed officers, and the judge ordered a break in the proceedings.
Although the judge later declined to cite Margraves for contempt of court, the county sheriff said his office would decide by next week whether to seek criminal charges. An online fundraising page at the website GoFundMe had collected more than USD 9,000 for Margraves’ potential legal fees by 3 pm.