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District judge with military experience and writer of crime novel with traits of therapist.
Judge Rosemarie Aquilina became an indispensable figure in the case against Larry Nassar, the former Olympic gymnast of the United States gym condemned for sexual abuse of minors and young gymnasts and for possession of child pornography on his computer.
“I just signed your death sentence,” Judge Aquilina said, announcing the sentence of between 40 and 175 years in prison against Nassar, 54.
Aquilina listened attentively to the more than 150 women who told their stories of abuse during the sentencing process that lasted a week.
Sometimes she acted more as a therapist than as a judge. Aquilina, 59, did not hide her empathy for women.
After the declaration of one of the gymnasts, Bailey Lorencen, the judge smiled and expressed: “The army has not yet found a fiber as strong as you”.
Aquilina added that Mattel, the toy maker, should be inspired by Lorencen to make toys that girls can admire.
“Leave your pain here,” he told another of the gymnasts, “and go out and go do great things.”
Rejection not disguised
The judge stated that she has received requests for interviews from media around the world but insisted that she is not the protagonist of the story, but the women, adding that she will only speak if it is with one of the victims at her side.
Aquilina had little tolerance towards Nassar, something he did not disguise.
While the judges’ mission is to be impartial and objective, it is important to remember that this was a sentencing process and not a trial.
When Nassar sent her a letter of complaint, in which she asked to be removed from the room because the process was causing her emotional distress, the judge responded harshly:
“Spending four or five days listening to them is significantly less, considering the hours of pleasure you had at your expense and ruining their lives.”
“They are survivors”
What is most exceptional about the trial is that Aquilina designated a time to listen not only to a few but to hundreds of stories of the victims of Nassar.
“They are no longer victims, they are survivors,” Aquilina told the women in court and reminded them that “the whole world” listens to them.
The sentencing process was broadcast live and reached the headlines of the international press as Olympic athletes from the US publicly shared their memories of the abuse.
For many women, these stories led to years of anxiety, depression and self-harm.
Although she admitted that she is not a therapist, Aquilina offered advice and words of empathy to the women who confronted Nassar directly. The ex-physician sat to the judge’s left in the courtroom with his head bowed most of the time.
Many of the victims and their parents thanked the judge for offering them the platform and space to address their abuser.
Rosemarie Aquilina, daughter of a Maltese father and a German mother, came to the United States with her parents when she was a baby.
After having two children while studying law and working 10 years, Aquilina enlisted in the army.
She became the first Judge General Attorney in the Army National Guard in Michigan, where she earned the nickname “Barracuda Aquilina”.
According to a 2014 profile, the County Circuit Judge of Ingham, Michigan, describes herself as a fighter who does not accept no for an answer: “I give my face to people and say ‘let’s do the right thing.'” .
When sentenced a serial rapist to life imprisonment, the offender swore that “send someone for her.”
Writer of Novelty
Professor of Law, Aquilina was elected as circuit court judge in November 2008.
She recognizes that she is a person who does not shy away from controversy.
For example, he sent former President Barack Obama a copy of the ruling in which he determined that the declaration of bankruptcy of Detroit violated the state constitution.
In her free time, Aquilina writes.
She is the author of a crime novel with the title Triple Cross Killer (“The murderer of the triple cross”) and her next book will be published soon.
According to her online biography, the judge used to present a radio program called “Ask the family lawyer.”
Undoubtedly, after this process, the notoriety of Judge Aquilina has multiplied and will remain forever linked to the biggest abuse scandal in the United States sport.