Larry Nassar calls out Judge Aquilina, says he was attacked in prison

AP
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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Larry Nassar’s attorneys say the disgraced former sports doctor was assaulted within hours of being placed in the general population at the federal prison in Arizona where he is serving a 60-year sentence for child pornography possession.

In motions filed Tuesday seeking to have the former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics doctor resentenced in the first of two cases in which he pleaded guilty to molesting women and girls who sought treatment, lawyers Jacqueline McCann and Malaika Ramsey-Heath partly blamed the May prison attack on the rhetoric of the judge during that sentencing hearing.

During the seven-day sentencing in January at which at least 169 women and girls provided statements, Ingham County Circuit Judge Rosemarie Aquilina described Nassar as a “monster” who is “going to wither” like the wicked witch in “The Wizard of Oz.”

She said she would allow someone “to do to him what he did to others” if the Constitution allowed, and she told Nassar she was signing his “death warrant” with the sentence she was giving him.

Nassar, 54, will likely never get out of prison. Once his 60-year federal term for child porn possession ends, he would begin serving the 40- to 175-year sentence in state prison that Aquilina gave him for the sexual assaults.

In their filing, Nassar’s court-appointed appellate attorneys did not specify the nature or severity of the attack at the prison in Tucson, Arizona. But they accused Aquilina of using the nationally televised proceedings to “advance her own agenda” — advocating for policy initiatives and broader cultural change — and improperly agreeing to media interviews during the appeal period.

They also accused her of not stopping victims from denigrating Nassar’s defense lawyers and allowing the proceedings to devolve into a “free-for-all” in which victims wished physical harm upon Nassar and accused other uncharged individuals with wrongdoing and crimes, as others in the courtroom called out in support.

The lawyers wrote that it was no surprise that one victim’s father tried to attack Nassar at the sentencing hearing in his second molestation case in nearby Eaton County — where he was given a 40- to 125-year prison term — or that Nassar was assaulted in prison.

“Unfortunately, Judge Aquilina’s comments and conducting of the sentencing proceeding appeared to encourage this type of behavior,” they wrote.

They said Nassar should be resentenced because Aquilina was neither unbiased nor impartial, arguing that while his plea deal called for a minimum of between 25 and 40 years, she clearly only considered a 40-year minimum.

McCann and Ramsey-Heath also argued that there is no authority in Michigan law for her decision to start Nassar’s sentence after his federal term instead of ordering them to run concurrently.

Aquilina declined to comment on the motions, which she is expected to consider at hearings in August.

Aquilina was widely praised for her treatment of the “sister survivors” and their parents at the sentencing proceeding, but some legal observers said at the time that her pointed comments could be grounds for an appeal.

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NFL star Jared Allen’s team beats Olympic champions at curling nationals

Jared Allen
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Retired NFL star Jared Allen was part of a curling team that beat 2018 Olympic champion John Shuster to open the U.S. Championships in Denver on Sunday night.

Allen, who retired from the NFL in 2016 and picked up curling in 2018, is on 2010 Olympian Jason Smith‘s team, which beat Shuster’s team 10-6 in the first game of round-robin play.

After all eight teams play each other, the top four advance to Friday’s playoffs. The winner of Saturday’s final is national champion and is expected to be the U.S. team for the world championship in Ottawa in April.

Allen, 40, said before nationals that he is eyeing the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Olympics, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

“I thought curling was going to be a lot easier than it was,” Allen, who was on a different team at the last nationals in 2021 that went 0-9, told the newspaper. “But I’m one of those guys who, once I start something, I’m going to see it through. Our goal at nationals is to beat as many teams as we possibly can and see where we land.”

How big of an upset was Sunday’s result? Ken Pomeroy rated Smith’s team fifth in the eight-team field before the tournament, while he had Shuster’s team second behind Korey Dropkin.

Shuster’s team won the last three nationals that they entered, plus the last two Olympic Trials since the bulk of the team formed for the 2015 season. Shuster went 11-0 at his last nationals in 2020, then 11-2 at the 2022 Olympic Trials, where the younger Dropkin beat him twice but ultimately lost in the finals series.

Allen was first linked to serious curling in February 2018 via U.S. Hockey Hall of Famer Lou Nanne on a Minnesota ESPN radio show. Nanne said Allen told him at a dinner.

“[Allen] says, ‘I’m giving myself four years to make the Olympic curling team,’” said Nanne, a 1968 U.S. Olympian.

Allen, along with retired quarterback Marc Bulger, first played on a team with 2010 Olympian John Benton and fellow veteran curler Hunter Clawson.

Allen’s new team includes Smith, who played on the 2010 Olympic team skipped by Shuster, Clawson and Dominik Maerki.

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U.S. Alpine skiers wear climate change-themed race suits at world championships

U.S. Alpine Skiing Team Race Suit
Images via Kappa
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Looking cool is just the tip of the iceberg for Mikaela Shiffrin, Travis Ganong and the rest of the U.S. ski team when they debut new race suits at the world championships.

Even more, they want everyone thinking about climate change.

The team’s predominantly blue-and-white suits depict an image of ice chunks floating in the ocean. It’s a concept based on a satellite photo of icebergs breaking due to high temperatures. The suit was designed in collaboration with Kappa, the team’s technical apparel sponsor, and the nonprofit organization Protect Our Winters (POW).

The Americans will wear the suits throughout the world championships in Courchevel and Meribel, France, which started Monday with a women’s Alpine combined race and end Feb. 19.

“Although a race suit is not solving climate change, it is a move to continue the conversation and show that U.S Ski & Snowboard and its athletes are committed to being a part of the future,” said Sophie Goldschmidt, the president and CEO of U.S. Ski & Snowboard.

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Global warming has become a cold, hard reality in ski racing, with mild temperatures and a lack of snow leading to the postponement of several World Cup events this winter.

“I’m just worried about a future where there’s no more snow. And without snow, there’s no more skiing,” said Ganong, who grew up skiing at Lake Tahoe in California. “So this is very near and dear to me.”

What alarms Ganong is seeing the stark year-to-year changes to some of the World Cup circuit’s most storied venues.

“I mean, it’s just kind of scary, looking at how on the limit (these events) are even to being possible anymore,” said Ganong, who’s been on the U.S. team since 2006. “Places like Kitzbuehel (Austria), there’s so much history and there’s so much money involved with that event that they do whatever they can to host the event.

“But that brings up a whole other question about sustainability as well: Is that what we should be doing? … What kind of message do we need show to the public, to the world, about how our sport is adapting to this new world we live in?”

The suits feature a POW patch on the neck and the organization’s snowflake logo on the leg.

“By coming together, we can educate and mobilize our snowsports community to push for the clean energy technologies and policies that will most swiftly reduce emissions and protect the places we live and the lifestyles we love,” according to a statement from executive director Mario Molina, whose organization includes athletes, business leaders and scientists who are trying to protect places from climate change.

Ganong said a group of ski racers are releasing a letter to the International Ski Federation (FIS), with the hope the governing body will take a stronger stance on sustainability and climate change.

“They should be at the forefront of trying to adapt to this new world, and try to make it better, too,” Ganong said.

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U.S. Alpine Skiing Team Race Suit