The father of three sexual abuse victims who lunged at former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar (pictured with an athlete) during his final sentencing hearing on Friday later said he was embarrassed by his actions. He said he is no hero and his daughters and other survivors are the real heroes.
Addressing a media conference, Randall Margraves, 58, said his daughters’ victim-impact statements and the sight of Nassar shaking his head in denial made him lose his control and charge at him in a court in Charlotte, Michigan.
Court hearings were disrupted for a while early on Friday but resumed after order was restored. Dozens of women then took their turn to tell the court how Nassar abused them under the guise of medical treatment.
Margraves patiently listened as his daughter Lauren directly addressed Nassar.
She said it is unbelievable that a grown man like him would do such horrible things to so many girls and young women. She said herself, her two sisters and parents trusted him. Later the three sisters had a hard time trying to discuss what happened to each of them.
At this point, Margraves asked the judge whether he would be granted “five minutes in a locked room with this demon”.
His comments raised chuckles in the courtroom. The judge said she could not allow him a meeting with Nassar for five minutes. He then asked for a minute, and she turned down his request again.
Margraves’ anger boiled over and he lunged at Nassar. He was blocked by Nassar’s attorney Matthew Newburg and tackled by three sheriff’s deputies as Nassar was taken out of the courtroom.
“I want that son of a bitch!” Margraves yelled as he was being pressed to the ground and handcuffed.
Margraves was later released after he apologised to Judge Janice Cunningham.
“I’m embarrassed,” he told the judge. “I’m not here to upstage my daughters. I’m here to help them heal.”
The judge, in turn, told Margraves: “My heart goes out to you and your family for what you’ve been through. We cannot and 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. That’s not what’s best for this situation.”
Assistant Attorney General Angela Povilaitis, the lead prosecutor, told those assembled in the courtroom not to behave like Margrave. They should use their words, not physical violence, she said.
Margraves’ attempted attack on Nassar went viral as live-stream video of the hearing was circulated widely online. Many social media users supported him by saying they can understand how parents like him feel in such a situation. His comments to the judge sparked the hashtag #GiveHimAMinute.
Although Nassar maintained that he abused only ten girls, another 255 girls or women are testifying against him. More than 150 of them have already made their statements in court over the past two weeks.
Nassar was sentenced on January 24 to between 40 and 175 years in prison, and was back in court this week for sentencing on more sexual abuse charges to which he has pleaded guilty.
Nassar will be sentenced for the third and final time on Monday.
The case has shaken the sporting world. Congress has already approved a new bipartisan bill to better protect amateur and collegiate athletes from sexual abuse.