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Nassar hearing halted as father lunges at disgraced doctor

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Chicago (AFP)

The father of three sexual abuse victims lunged at Larry Nassar in court Friday, bringing the former USA Gymnastics doctor's final sentencing hearing to an abrupt halt while order was restored.

Randall Margraves suddenly hurled himself towards Nassar after two of his three daughters had testified in a court in Charlotte, Michigan to their abuse at the doctor's hands.

Three sheriff's deputies tackled Margraves, and Nassar was taken out of the courtroom.

"I want that son of a bitch!" Margraves yelled as he was being handcuffed.

"What if this happened to you guys?" he said while being escorted out of the courtroom.

The hearing later resumed with an appeal for calm by Judge Janice Cunningham.

The disruption came on the second day of Nassar's final sentencing hearing as dozens of women waited for their turn to confront Nassar and tell the court of the abuse they suffered in the guise of medical treatment.

At least 265 young female athletes -- including several Olympic medalists -- have identified themselves as having been abused by Nassar over a period of two decades. More than 150 have spoken out in court over the past two weeks.

Nassar was sentenced on January 24 to between 40 and 175 years in prison, and was back in court this week for sentencing on yet more sexual abuse charges to which he has pleaded guilty.

- 'I trusted you' -

Madison and Lauren Margraves had just spoken Friday, when their father asked the judge to "grant me five minutes in a locked room with this demon."

The comment at first elicited chuckles from the courtroom, before the judge replied, "No sir, I can't do that."

At that point Margraves lunged toward Nassar, bringing the proceedings to a halt.

"You cannot behave like this," lead prosecutor Angela Povilaitis admonished Margraves.

"You have not lived through it, lady!" he yelled back.

The hearing resumed approximately 20 minutes later. In appealing for calm, the judge acknowledged the intense emotions the case has aroused.

"I recognize that Mr Margraves had three daughters that he has had to watch go through the pain and the hurt," Cunningham said. "I can't imagine what it is like for a parent."

Approximately 30 women were heard from in written and in-person accounts Wednesday, during the first day of Nassar's final sentencing. Another 35 were expected to speak Friday.

"I can't believe a grown man would do these horrible things to so many girls and young women," Lauren Margraves said during her impact statement to the judge.

"I trusted you. My parents trusted you," she said, addressing Nassar directly. "My two sisters and I have had such a hard time just trying to talk to each other about this."

Under a plea agreement, Nassar could get a minimum 25 to 40 years in prison. He also has been sentenced to 60 years for child pornography possession.

The Nassar case has triggered a wave of upheaval in the sporting world, with Congress approving a new bipartisan bill to better protect amateur and collegiate athletes from sexual abuse.

Leaders at Michigan State University, where Nassar worked, have resigned along with the entire board at USA Gymnastics, and a number of investigations have been announced into both institutions and the US Olympics Committee.

A local police department in Michigan Thursday offered a public apology to one of the victims, who filed a complaint in 2004, but whose claim was dismissed. The Meridian Township police vowed to make changes to their handling of sexual assault cases.

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