Former U.S.A. Gymnastics and Michigan State University sports clinic doctor Larry Nassar was back in court this week for his third and final sentencing hearing, listening to statements from more than 20 accusers. Many shared their accounts of sexual abuse by Nassar at a local Michigan gymnastics club. This morning, Friday, February 2, Randall Margraves, a father of three daughters who are among the accusers, is making headlines for lunging at Nassar during proceedings.
Two of Margraves' daughters, Lauren and Madison, had just delivered impact statements, and their sister Morgan had written a statement that had been read outloud at a previous hearing in late January.
Footage of the incident begins shortly after Lauren and Madison Margraves read their statements and shows Margraves quietly call Nassar "a son of a b****," NPR reports. Judge Janet Cunningham said she understood why he would be angry but stated that using profanity isn't acceptable courtroom conduct, encouraging him to use other language to express his anguish.
Margraves then asked, "I would ask you to, as part of the sentencing, to grant me five minutes in a locked room with this demon." The judge says she can't do that. Margraves pushed for "one minute," to which the judge replied, "You know I can't do that."
At that point, the father lunged at Nassar and was tackled to the ground by deputies and handcuffed, as Margraves said, "I want that son of a b****!" and "Give me one minute with that bastard." During the incident, Margraves asked, "What if this had happened to you guys' daughters?"
He was then lead out of the courtroom, as Assistant Attorney General Angela Povilaitis said to the gallery, "No one can behave like this. I want to make sure it's crystal clear." Margraves turned back and retorted, "You haven't lived through it, lady!"
Povilaitis went on to say to the courtroom: "This is letting him [Nassar] have this power of over us. I don't want to see another parent get arrested or put handcuffs on. I understand Mr. Margraves' frustration. But you cannot do this. This is not helping your children, this is not helping your community, this is not helping us. ... Use your words, use your experiences to get him, and to change. Do not use physical violence."
The incident from start to finish is extremely emotional and potentially hard to watch.
It's beyond understandable that Margraves would have reacted this way after what his daughters -- and so many other victims -- have been through. It's difficult not to feel sympathy when watching the father's anger boil over and come out in such a visceral way; what parent wouldn't want to do the exact same thing? But as Povilaitis pointed out, violence is not the solution. Leaning on the power of language and openness to hear victims' experiences is.