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

‘Dramatic undersupply’ of workers in Parksville Qualicum Beach: new labour report

Analysis supports what many already know, reinforces need for action: Burden

Outreach group ordered to stop feeding homeless on City of Parksville property

City issued Manna Homeless Society cease and desist order after complaints from public

Christmas lights installed on Alberni Highway

The City of Parksville will put up lights on Nov. 21 and 22

Changes coming to BC Ferries reservations for Vancouver Island routes

Many customers are booking multiple reservations, inflating wait times

VIDEO: B.C. legislature clerk, sergeant at arms suspended for criminal investigation

Clerk of the House Craig James, Sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz on administrative leave

Extreme case of poop-throwing gives Victoria bike community a bad name

Car centric roads and infrastructure invite cyclist-motorist incidents, says cycling coalition

Trial: Witness describes encounter with accused murderer while tending to fatally injured Descoteau

Wright said he was working in his yard when he heard a woman screaming.

Former NHL player and coach Dan Maloney dies at 68

Maloney coached the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets

Police aim to prevent retaliation after Hells Angel found dead under B.C. bridge

IHIT confirms Chad Wilson, 43, was the victim of a ‘targeted’ homicide

Otter makes a snack out of koi fish in Vancouver Chinese garden

Staff say the otter has eaten at least five fish

Police looking into two more incidents at private Toronto all-boys’ school

Police and the school have said two of the prior incidents involved an alleged sexual assault

B.C. lumber mills struggle with shortage of logs, price slump

Signs of recovery after U.S. market swings, industry executive says

Ex-MSU president charged with lying to police about Nassar

Lou Anna Simon was charged Tuesday with lying to police during an investigation

Most Read