People Are Calling Judge Aquilina ICONIC For The Way She Handled Larry Nassar's Hearing
25 January 2018, 14:25
WARNING: This article contains distressing details.
If you've been on the internet over the past few days, you'll have probably seen the name of Judge Rosemarie Aquilina popping up on your timeline. Who is she? What did she do? Why is so amazing?
Judge Aquilina recently presided over the sentencing of Larry Nassar, the former USA gymnastics doctor who sexually abused over 150 young female athletes under the guise of medical treatment. On Wednesday, he was sentenced to up to 175 years in jail by Aquilina and now, thousands of people are praising the incredible way she handled his sentencing.
Prior to the start of the sentencing, Aquilina invited every single woman who came forward with stories of abuse at the hands of Nassar to address him directly in court. She encouraged them to "leave [their] pain here," and made sure that their voices were the ones that were heard and reported on.
When she announced that she was doing this, Nassar called her out in a letter saying that she wanted to turn the hearing to a "media circus" with the cameras solely focused on her. The gag is... he couldn't have been more wrong.
Over 150 survivors, mothers, fathers and coaches ended up speaking, one by one, and not once did the media cameras stay focused on Aquilina's face - or Nassar's, for that matter. It stayed on each and every survivor and by letting them directly address Nassar, she gave those survivors back their power and their voice.
In doing so, she also made sure that the image of these incredible, strong and resilient women ended up as the face of the case as opposed to the monster who abused them.
Aly Raisman’s words for Larry Nassar are powerful, uplifting and worth listening to. pic.twitter.com/4eVCpj59N3— HuffPost (@HuffPost) January 19, 2018
When the time came for Nassar to sit through 150+ testimonies from the young girls he sexually assaulted, he reportedly hated it. In the letter he sent to Aquilina two months after he pleaded guilty, he even suggested that it was unfair on him to have to listen to stories that, in his words, are being "fabricated to sensationalise [the hearing]."
Judge Aquilina was having none of it and she made no effort to hide her disgust. “Spending four or five days listening to them is minor, considering the hours of pleasure you’ve had at their expense, ruining their lives,” she told him, with no fucks given.
Having a judge like Judge Aquilina presiding over a sexual abuse sentencing hearing as high profile as this was so incredibly important. Thanks to her conviction and blunt words, she's now been named a hero by spectators of the hearing and those who testified against their abuser.
Olympian Simone Biles, one of the survivors, hailed Judge Aquilina as her hero.
To Judge Aquilina : THANK YOU, YOU ARE MY HERO— Simone Biles (@Simone_Biles) January 24, 2018
Shout out to all of the survivors for being so brave & speaking like the queens that you are while looking at that monster. He will no longer have the power to steal our happiness or joy. I stand with every one of you 💛 pic.twitter.com/b5SMmjZgeW
People are calling her handling of the sentencing one of the most important moments in the #MeToo movement.
Judge Rosemarie Aquilina in the Nassar case is a true hero. She is giving a voice not just to the brave women who spoke up to also to the survivors who have not yet spoken up. Let this encourage someone who is still in silence.— kerry jeanne (@kjhinote) January 24, 2018
"I wouldn't send my dogs to you, sir."
Rosemarie of the House Aquilina, First of Her Name, the Outspoken, Queen of the Courtroom, Protector of the Sister Survivors, Breaker of Molesters and Mother of Sentencing pic.twitter.com/5xoog3AVM6— lauren (@spectacularLo) January 24, 2018
“You do not deserve to walk outside a prison ever again.”
Let 2018 be the year of women throwing trash men out of Congress, the media, Hollywood, the Courts, the service sector, and society broadly with the fiery grace of Judge Aquilina. #LarryNassar pic.twitter.com/f3tKm6an7q— Meghan K (@meghan_koushik) January 24, 2018
This is a perfect example of what happens when you put women in charge.
Larry Nassar was forced to listen to the statements of all 168 girls and women he sexually assaulted read out in court, many of them in person. It wasn't required, but Judge Rosemarie Aquilino made it happen.— Charlotte Clymer🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) January 24, 2018
We need more women in positions of power. Everywhere.
Judge Rosemarie Aquilina is thoroughly disgusted and out of giveable fucks. Her reading of the letter Larry Nassar wrote to the media is Tony-worthy.— shauna (@goldengateblond) January 24, 2018
Even this gif of Judge Aquilina tossing Nassar's letter to the side has become iconic.
This GIF of Judge Aquilina throwing away the letter Larry Nassar wrote the court about how hard it is for him to listen to victim testimonies PRETTY MUCH SAYS IT ALL. pic.twitter.com/5HB9WMaPqU— Ellie Hall (@ellievhall) January 24, 2018
After each and every testimony from the survivors, Aquilina addressed them directly, lifted them up and thanked them. She made the point of raising every single survivor in that room.
“The military has not yet come up with fiber as strong as you,” she told Bailey Lorencen, calling her a “heroine” and a “superhero.” She then added: “Mattel ought to make toys so that little girls can look at you and say, ‘I want to be her.’ Thank you so much for being here, and for your strength.”
Then she sentenced Nassar to 175 years in prison, which she said was an "honor and a privilege."
"As much as it was my honor and privilege to hear the sister survivors, it is my honor and privilege to sentence you." Judge Rosemarie Aquilina has sentenced Larry Nassar up to 175 years in prison. pic.twitter.com/BDX7LQDCLm— New York Magazine (@NYMag) January 24, 2018
She sent a clear message to every single child molester and sexual abuser out there. And she set a precedent in how sentencings like this could be, and should be, carried out. She even blocked the release of Nassar's full letter to the media because she felt his words would further re-victimise the survivors who bravely shared their story at the hearing. They, the survivors, will have the last word.