Judge Rosemarie Aquilina listened to 156 women come forward to talk about how former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar sexually abused them. Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison. However, it was the judge’s comments during Nassar’s sentencing hearing that have drawn criticism from legal experts. Some believe that she went too far with her judicial statements.
During the sentencing, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina stated, “I’ve just signed your death warrant.” Earlier, she made comments that appeared to condone prison rape. She stated in court “Our Constitution does not allow for cruel and unusual punishment. If it did…I would allow some or many people to do to him what he did to others.”
It is not uncommon for a judge to express their feelings toward someone who is on trial. However, these statements are often in regard to the crimes committed. Judge Michael Russo, who sentenced Ariel Castro in 2013, said: “You don’t deserve to be out in our community. You’re too dangerous.”
In Judge Rosemarie Aquilina’s case, experts believe the language she used and the emotion she expressed appeared to cross the line of judicial impartiality. Indiana University law professor Charles Gardner Geyh told the Huffington Post that Aquilina’s statements went “a step too far.” He continued, “From the law’s perspective, we ought to be saying no sexual assault at all.”
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