Judge Aquilina was iconic during the Nassar trial and deserves a major round of applause.

Judge Rosemarie Aquilina has handed down a prison sentence that aims to put Larry Nassar in jail for the rest of his life.

"I just signed your death warrant," Aquilina told Nassar on Jan. 24 as she read his sentence for charges of abusing at least 150 girls to whom he gave medical treatment in his role as a physician for the USA Gymnastics national team and Michigan State University. Nassar, 54, was given a sentence of 40 to 175 years for his conviction on top of the 60-year-sentence he already received on earlier federal child pornography charges.

"As much as it was my honor and privilege to hear the sister survivors, it is my honor and privilege to sentence you. Because, sir, you do not deserve to walk outside of a prison ever again," Aquilina said to Nassar.


The trial has made headlines for being one of the largest sexual abuse cases in sports history. But also noteworthy — and significantly more encouraging — has been the way Aquilina has been an advocate for victims of sexual assault while presiding over the case.

Aquilina looks at Nassar during a victim’s impact statement. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

Throughout the trial, Aquilina has been strict about holding Nassar to task for all of his crimes.

Every. Single. One.

She allowed all of victim impact statements — more than 160 of them — to be read in court by survivors and their families, making sure they each had the time to stand up to their abuser. She also had Nassar sit in the witness box rather than at the defense table so that testifiers would not have to turn backward to make eye contact with him during their statements.

When Nassar complained about these decisions, claiming he wasn't "mentally able" to endure listening to his victims' testimonies, Aquilina became an overnight sensation by tossing aside Nassar's request to block the women's statements.

"I have to say this isn't worth the paper it's written on," Aquilina said as she held up Nassar's statement. "You may find it harsh that you are here listening, but nothing is as harsh as what your victims endured for thousands of hours at your hands."

Aquilina has also set an amazing example of how to treat survivors of abuse with dignity and respect.

As empathetic as she is harsh, her statements to the survivors have been heartfelt and encouraging, without a shred of shame or doubt.

"I’m an adult, and I’m listening, and I’m sorry it took this long," Aquilina said after Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman read a powerful statement condemning not just Nassar, but the organizations and individuals who allowed him to maintain his position even as girls complained about his behavior.

To another woman, she said, "Leave your pain here, and go out and do your magnificent things."

Her approach — candidly disgusted by the abuser and empathetic toward the abused — has prompted a tide of reactions from others on social media who have longed for a voice like Aquilina's in the American judicial system.

And it wasn't just Aquilina who was on hand to offer support to survivors.

Those who gave statements against Nassar got an assist from Preston, a therapy dog who was on hand to greet and comfort each person after they finished giving their statements.

The black lab wore an adorable blue bandana throughout the sentencing hearing that signaled to him that he was "on the clock" and responsible for providing comfort to the testifiers, his handler explained.

Image courtesy of Small Talk Children's Assessment Center.

Preston's presence is just another of the ways in which Nassar's victims have been supported throughout the trial — by being given the respect and resources that they need.

It's a tragedy that Nassar's crimes went unpunished and ignored for so many years, but this trial proves the world is moving in the right direction.

Many victims of sexual assault refuse to testify due to the often harsh and emotionally difficult treatment they receive at the hands of the legal system. The treatment that these testifiers have received in Aquilina's courtroom proves that the tide is turning.

Aquilina is showing the sports world, and everyone really, a way forward on how to both honor the survivors of abuse and hold the next abuser accountable — before they become the next Nassar.

More
Alie Ward

Your dinner plate shouldn't shame you for eating off of it. But that's exactly what a set being sold at Macy's did.

The retailer has since removed the dinnerware from their concept shop, Story, after facing social media backlash for the "toxic message" they were sending.

The plates, made by Pourtions, have circles on them to indicate what a proper portion should look like, along with "helpful — and hilarious — visual cues" to keep people from "overindulging."

There are serval different styles, with one version labeling the largest portion as "mom jeans," the medium portion as "favorite jeans," and the smallest portion as "skinny jeans."

Keep Reading Show less
Well Being

In today's installment of the perils of being a woman, a 21-year-old woman shared her experience being "slut-shamed" by her nurse practitioner during a visit to urgent care for an STD check.

The woman recently had sex with someone she had only just met, and it was her first time hooking up with someone she had not "developed deep connections with."

Keep Reading Show less
Well Being
Youtube

Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

Cities

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Keep Reading Show less
Most Shared