The Canadian Press

Judge admonishes victims’ dad who charged at Nassar in court

The dad who had three daughters abused by Nassar tries to attack the doctor in court

A distraught father seething over sexual abuse suffered by three daughters tried to attack former sports doctor Larry Nassar in a Michigan courtroom Friday after a judge rejected his request to confront the “demon” in a locked room, a stunning rush that reflected the anguish felt by parents who trusted him with their children.

Randall Margraves was blocked by an attorney, tackled by sheriff’s deputies and hauled out of court. He later apologized, saying he had lost control. Eaton County Judge Janice Cunningham said there was “no way” she would fine him or send him to jail under her contempt-of-court powers.

“I don’t know what it would be like to stand there as a father and know that three of your girls were injured physically and emotionally by somebody sitting in a courtroom. I can’t imagine that,” the judge said.

Nonetheless, she added, it is “not acceptable that we combat assault with assault.”

“I cannot tolerate or condone vigilantism or any other type of action that basically comes down to an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” Cunningham said.

RELATED: U.S. gymnastics doctor faces another sentence, victims return to court

The incident occurred during the third and final sentencing hearing for Nassar, who has admitted to sexually assaulting girls under the guise of medical treatment. This case focuses on his work at Twistars, an elite gymnastics club southwest of Lansing. It follows a hearing last week where Nassar, 54, was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for assaults at Michigan State University and his home.

Nassar pleaded guilty to molesting nine victims in Eaton and Ingham counties, but the courts have been open to anyone who says she was assaulted during Nassar’s decades of work at Michigan State, Twistars and USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians. More than 200 accusers so far have spoken or submitted statements in the two counties, and at least 80 per cent have agreed to be publicly identified.

Margraves’ dramatic move occurred after he listened to two of his daughters speak in court for 10 minutes. Lauren Margraves, a college student, said her parents were “filled with regret” because they took three daughters to see Nassar for sports injuries.

RELATED: U.S. gymnastics doctor sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison

“I see the look in their faces and I know they want to be able to do something but they can’t,” she told Nassar. “The guilt they have will never go away. All this is because of you.”

Her father then stepped up and asked the judge if she would grant him “five minutes in a locked room with this demon.” Cunningham declined and also turned down his request for “one minute.” That is when Randall Margraves rushed toward Nassar.

There were gasps and tears in the courtroom. Assistant Attorney General Angela Povilaitis turned to the gallery and told families to “use your words,” not violence.

“This is letting him have this power over us,” she said. “We cannot behave like this.”

During a return to court, Margraves told the judge that he just snapped. He said he had not known what exactly his daughters were going to say about their abuse.

“I look over here and Larry Nassar’s shaking his head, no, like it didn’t happen. … I’m embarrassed,” Margraves said of his conduct. “I’m not here to upstage my daughters. I’m here to help them heal.”

About 30 more people spoke in person, by video or had statements read after the incident. The case will end Monday with final remarks from the prosecutor, defence and Nassar, followed by the judge’s sentence. Nassar faces a minimum of 25 to 40 years in prison in this case.

Outside court, Melissa Alexander Vigogne, who travelled from France to speak, said she was surprised that an attack had not been attempted earlier.

“It’s not that that’s how we should respond. But it’s truly understandable — the amount of pain that we’ve all gone through,” Vigogne said of Margraves’ actions.

Sheriff Tom Reich said his officers will investigate what happened in court and send a report to the local prosecutor.

The judge started the day by addressing comments made by a Nassar lawyer who said she had doubts about the large number of women and girls who say they were assaulted by Nassar. Cunningham called Shannon Smith’s remarks “unfortunate” and said Nassar did not authorize them.

Smith told Detroit radio station WWJ that it is “really unfortunate” if some people stepped forward only because of all the recent attention. Nassar released a statement saying Smith’s comments were a distraction and that his accusers’ remarks “have pierced my soul.”

RELATED: Governor orders criminal probe of Texas gymnastics ranch

Many of Nassar’s accusers have blamed Michigan State, USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee for not doing more earlier to stop him. The USOC announced Friday that it hired a law firm to conduct an independent investigation. And the co-ordinator of the women’s national team for USA Gymnastics, Valeri Liukin, said he was stepping down.

Nassar soon will be under three prison sentences. His first, 60 years in a federal prison, was ordered in December for child pornography crimes.

___

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Northern Sea Wolf will not sail until mid-July

BC Ferries had hoped to get the vessel in September of last year, but it didn’t arrive until December

Another week of hot weather ahead

No advisories issued for local rivers, area roads in good shape

Lakers Car Club cruising into season with Spring Roundup

All signs are pointing to blue sky and sunshine next weekend when… Continue reading

Powerlifters show muscle at lakecity event

Strength athletes from Williams Lake and beyond were flexing their muscles earlier this month

Trash art project sees students reclaim wood from dump

Artwork and projects on display in Second Avenue storefront

VIDEO: After the floods, comes the cleanup as Grand Forks rebuilds

Business owners in downtown wonder how long it will take for things to go back to normal

VIDEO: How to use naloxone

ANKORS’ Chloe Sage shows what to do when someone is overdosing

UPDATED: BC Ferries freezes plans to nix fuel rebates pending government funds

Claire Trevena says she is ‘extremely disappointed’ by a plan by BC Ferries to remove fuel rebates

B.C. sues Alberta over bill that could ‘turn oil taps off’

Lawsuit is the latest move in the two provinces’ ongoing feud over the Kinder Morgan pipeline

Liberal government introduces measures to update Canada’s family laws

Justice officials say there have not been substantial updates to federal family laws in 20 years

B.C. mom threatens legal action against sunscreen company

Caleb Jordan, 6, was covered in blisters 20 minutes after using Banana Boat sunscreen

BC Games Society president to step down

Kelly Mann says it’s time for a change after 26 years with the society

B.C. politicians framed by anonymous sticky-note doodler

Insider has been posting caricatures from the B.C. legislature to social media

27 years since initial police probe, polygamist leader to be sentenced in June

Prosecutor recommend up to 6 months jail, defence asks for conditional or absolute discharge

Most Read