• 45°

Distraught father tries to attack Nassar

Man goes after Larry Nassar

Randall Margraves, left, talks to attorney Mick Grewal, as he prepares to stand in front of Judge Janice Cunningham for a contempt of court hearing after he lunged at Larry Nassar during Nassar’s sentencing at Eaton County Circuit Court in Charlotte, Mich., on Friday, Feb. 2, 2018. Cunningham accepted an apology from Margraves, the father of three victims of Nassar. A lawyer and sheriff’s deputies stopped Margraves before he could reach Nassar, who is being sentenced for sexually assaulting gymnasts. (Cory Morse/The Grand Rapids Press via AP)

By David Eggert and Mike Householder

Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, Mich. (AP) — 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.”

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.

Nassar, 54, already will spend the rest of his life in prison. He was sentenced last week to 40 to 175 years in prison for assaults at Michigan State University and his home and was ordered in December to spend 60 years in a federal prison for child pornography crimes.

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 his 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 percent 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.

“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, defense and Nassar, followed by the judge’s sentence. Nassar faces a minimum of 25 to 40 years in prison.

At a news conference, Margraves repeated his apology and insisted he’s “no hero.”

“My daughters are the heroes, and all the victims and the survivors of this terrible atrocity,” he said.

Melissa Alexander Vigogne, who traveled 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 outside court.

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.”

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 coordinator of the women’s national team for USA Gymnastics, Valeri Liukin, said he was stepping down.

___

AP reporter Ed White in Detroit contributed to this story.

Comments

Business

Weak jobs report spurs questions about big fed spending

News

Judge limits footage that family can see of deputy shooting in Elizabeth City

Sports

Woodland, two others share lead; Mickelson plays much worse but will still be around for weekend at Quail Hollow

Business

Former NHL player to open mobster themed bar in Raleigh

Nation/World

California population declines for first time

News

GOP leaders differ on bottom line for state spending

News

Police: Man killed in shootout with officers in Winston-Salem

Crime

Man charged after thieves rob would-be gun buyers of wallets, shoes

Crime

Blotter: Four added to sheriff’s most wanted list

High School

High school football: Some anxious moments, but Hornets win state title

Local

Photos: Salisbury High Hornets win big in 2AA championship game

Local

County manager outlines projections for the upcoming fiscal year budget, suggests uses for stimulus money

Business

Miami-based Browns Athletic Apparel opens second screen printing location in Salisbury

News

At funeral, fallen Watauga deputies remembered as ‘heroes’

Coronavirus

COVID-19 cluster identified at Granite Quarry Elementary

Coronavirus

More than half of North Carolinians have now taken at least one vaccine shot

Local

City hopes to cover expenses in 2021-22 budget with surplus revenue generated this year

Local

Fallen tree proves to be a blessing for local nonprofit Happy Roots

Local

Quotes of the week

Coronavirus

Health department drops quarantine time from 14 to 10 days

Crime

Blotter: More than $100,000 in property reported stolen from Old Beatty Ford Road site

Local

City fights invasive beetles by injecting trees with insecticide

Local

City names downtown recipients for federal Parks Service grant

China Grove

China Grove Town Council weighs 2021-22 budget priorities, supports buying body cameras