The enraged father of three daughters who were sexually abused by Larry Nassar dramatically lunged at the former USA Gymnastics doctor during a sentencing hearing on Friday.
Michigan court guards pinned down Randall Margraves before he could attack Nassar.
The chaotic scene began after sisters Lauren and Madison Margraves had finished reading their victim statements on the second day of hearings at a court in Eaton County. Standing alongside his daughters and wife, Randall Margraves asked to speak.
“I would ask you as part of the sentencing to grant me five minutes in a locked room with this demon,” he said, gesturing toward Nassar, who has already been sentenced to up to 175 years in prison at an earlier hearing after pleading guilty to molesting young women under the guise of medical treatment.
Judge Janice Cunningham refused his request and chastised him for calling Nassar a “son of a bitch.” There were uncomfortable laughs as Randall asked for a minute alone with him instead.
Margraves then bolted towards Nassar, who was seated in an orange jump suit nearby. Gasps, cries and shouts filled the courtroom as Margraves was wrestled to the ground and put in handcuffs while Nassar was taken out to safety.
“What if this happened to you guys?” he implored of the court officers as they pulled him out the room.
Lead prosecutor Angela Povilaitis told the victims and relatives: “I understand Mr Margraves’ frustration but you cannot do this,” she said. “This is not helping your children.”
The hearing resumed after a short break, with the judge addressing what she called a “scary” scene.
“My heart started beating fast and my legs started shaking,” Cunningham said. “We cannot react by using physical violence,” she said, noting she could not imagine Margraves’ pain as a father.
Nassar is also serving a 60-year federal term for child pornography convictions.
His case has sparked broader outrage after numerous victims accused USA Gymnastics, the sport’s governing body, and Michigan State University, where Nassar worked, of failing to investigate complaints about him going back years. US Olympic officials have also been criticised by some of the sport’s biggest stars, including gold medalists Aly Raisman, Simone Biles and McKayla Maroney.
On Thursday, the police department in Meridian, Michigan, apologised publicly to one victim for declining to press charges against Nassar in 2004 when she reported that he had abused her. The Wall Street Journal also said on Thursday that US Olympic officials did not intervene after being told in 2015 that USA Gymnastics had uncovered possible abuse by Nassar.
USA Gymnastics’ board of directors agreed to a demand by the US Olympic Committee that they all resign in the wake of Nassar’s sentencing, as did the president and athletic director of Michigan State. The scandal has prompted several investigations into those institutions.