Larry Nassar

CHICAGO: A father whose three daughters say they were sexually abused by Larry Nassar lunged at the disgraced former USA Gymnastics doctor in a Michigan courtroom Friday, bringing his sentencing hearing to an abrupt halt while order was restored. The disruption came on the last day of victim impact statements before Nassar - already condemned to spend dozens of years behind bars on child sex abuse and pornography charges - hears his final sentence tomorrow.

At least 265 female athletes - including several Olympic gold medalists in gymnastics - have claimed the 54-year-old Nassar abused them over a period of two decades. The disruption came as dozens more women confronted Nassar and told the Charlotte court of the sexual abuse they suffered under the guise of medical treatment. Randall Margraves hurled himself toward Nassar after two of his daughters spoke about their abuse. A third daughter had given a statement in a separate hearing about a week ago.

Margraves asked the judge to "grant me five minutes in a locked room with this demon". The comment at first elicited chuckles in the courtroom, but Margraves then lunged towards the defense table. Three sheriff's deputies tackled him and Nassar was removed from the courtroom. "I want that son of a b****!" Margraves yelled as he was being handcuffed. The hearing later resumed with an appeal for calm from Judge Janice Cunningham. Margraves was arrested but quickly released. "I'm embarrassed. I'm not here to upstage my daughters," he told the judge. "I lost control. I apologize a hundred times."

Under a plea agreement over the final set of charges, Nassar could receive an additional 25 to 40 years in prison from Cunningham. Cunningham, expressing sympathy, did not impose a fine or jail sentence on Margraves. "My heart goes full out to you and your family, because of what you've gone through," the judge said. Margraves explained that he did not know in advance what his daughters were going to say in court and was overcome with emotion. "I gotta hear that and I look over here and Larry Nassar is shaking his head 'no,' like it didn't happen," he said. Within hours, an online fundraiser had raised more than $12,000 for Margraves.

Several other parents also addressed the court, speaking of their anguish at failing to protect their children. A father who asked to remain anonymous said his daughter had initially refused to come forward "because she did not want me to feel sorry for what happened". "I'm so sorry, my princess," he said. Lynn Erickson said her daughter Ashley was treated by Nassar for 17 years until Aug 2016, when assault accusations first became public. "When I see her quiet tears, it breaks my heart," Erickson said as her daughter stood crying behind her.

The victim statements ended, as they had during the first sentencing, with the words of Rachael Denhollander - the first to publicly accuse Nassar of abuse. "He devastated children and he devastated families," she said, asking the judge for the maximum sentence possible.

The Nassar case has triggered a wave of upheaval in the gymnastics world. Valeri Liukin - the father of 2008 US gold medalist Nastia Liukin - on Friday became the latest to exit USA Gymnastics, abruptly resigning as coordinator of the US national women's team. The "present climate causes me, and more importantly my family, far too much stress, difficulty and uncertainty," he said. Also Friday, the Michigan attorney general's office said state investigators entered Michigan State University unannounced, looking for "physical items assigned to William Strampel," the former head of the department where Nassar worked. - AFP