Just a few minutes ago I googled the name of a woman who I have come to hold in very high regards over the past week, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina. I’m really surprised that of the 558,000 results that came back in the search, a majority of the first several pages of results appeared to be critical of her behavior in the courtroom while sentencing Larry Nassar. I don’t normally get too worked up about things that are reported with an obvious bias. This is especially true when it comes to political opinions. The mainstream media has become so biased over the past year that I no longer pay any attention to what they report because they’ve lost so much credibility with their constant Trump-hating rhetoric. I don’t mind that they hate him and write about it because it’s their right to do so, just as it’s my right to keep changing the channel, flipping the page, or scrolling down. But vilifying Judge Aquilina? You’ve got to be kidding me, right?
It seems people have things twisted. When did we become a nation of people who are more sympathetic to the pedophile, thief, abuser, traitor, or illegal alien than we are about the law-abiding citizens of this country? Where is the logic when one decides that it’s “unfair” for a judge to speak the truth to a convicted criminal’s face instead of keeping her words politically correct? Why in the world does anyone feel like this man deserves rehabilitation or restitution and another chance at life outside of prison when he got away with molesting young girls for 30 years? It seems to me that rehabilitation might have been an option 29 years ago, but unfortunately no one listened to the girls who spoke up about what they had experienced while in his care. It sickens me that so many people are more passionate about the rights of a convicted criminal than they are about the rights and feelings of the people who were victims of abuse.
I was moved by the humanity Judge Aquilina showed in the courtroom. The things others believe “crossed the line” were said after this monster’s guilt had already been established. I fail to see the reason she should have sat there like an expressionless, unfeeling fem-bot once the verdict had been rendered. He deserved a fair trial and he got one. He deserved the right to have legal counsel and he had it. He was given a chance to speak and he did.
In my opinion, Judge Aquilina is a hero. She allowed those violated by Larry Nassar to speak about the horrors they had survived at his hands and of the devastating aftereffects that most of them still experience to this day. The man who assaulted them and caused this unimaginable grief and pain was forced to sit there and listen to each and every word these brave women spoke. Not only did these women deserve a chance to speak, but the world needed to hear their stories. These beautiful women are more than a number; more than a faceless tweet ending with #MeToo. Their stories were gut-wrenching and painful to watch, but impossible to ignore.
We will never know how many lives will be changed and how many girls will be empowered to speak up because of what took place in that courtroom this week. We will never know how many people will be quick to listen and speak the words “I believe you” when someone is brave enough to come forward and tell their story. As a survivor of years of sexual abuse as a young girl, I can say without question those 3 words are some of the most important words we need to hear. Validation is the first step in breaking the cycle of fear and the feelings of isolation.
Judge Aquilina reigned over her courtroom with truth, fairness, compassion, and empathy. She gave the world a seat in her courtroom gallery where we were granted the privilege of witnessing an extraordinary example of justice.
Currently playing in the soundtrack of my mind: I Won’t Back Down by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.