Judge Rosemarie Aquilina has recently been making headlines for her involvement in the case of Larry Nassar, the former doctor of Team USA’s gymnastics division who was charged with multiple counts of sexual abuse acted out on his patients and sentenced to 175 years in prison.
Judge Aquilina has been celebrated in the media for her harsh judgment of Nassar and his crimes but also, more importantly, for her empathy and support of Nassar’s victims throughout the trial process. As it turns out, Judge Aquilina has been an admirable figure in her community even before she was attached to this high profile case.
Judge Aquilina’s accolades span over a 34-year career. She graduated with a Juris Doctorate degree in 1984 from Thomas M. Cooley Law School and then went on to make history as the first woman to become a Michigan Army National Guard Judge Advocate General (JAG). Judge Aquilina served in her role as a JAG for 20 years followed by an honorable retirement. In addition to making history as the first female Michigan National Guard JAG, she also earned herself the awesome nickname of “Barracuda Aquilina” during her time there.
Judge Aquilina’s achievements aren’t just in the realm of law; they also include a collaboration with Michigan state Senator John F. Kelly on the creation of a lobbying firm, as well as her own private practice firm, Aquilina Law Firm, PLC. Judge Aquilina is also an adjunct professor at her alma mater Thomas M. Cooley Law School where she teaches courses in the realms of family and military law, to name a few. Judge Aquilina is also a talented crime novelist in her spare time.
In November of 2008, Judge Aquilina was appointed a role as Circuit Court Judge and from there has gone on to become well recognized for the compassion and empathy that she displays, especially toward the victims who stepped forward to share their stories during the Nassar trial. As 160 women came forward, accusing Nassar of sexual abuse, Judge Aquilina provided a space and platform for these survivors to confront their abuser, oftentimes offering comforting words and therapeutic advice to the survivors following their testimonies; many recall her encouraging them to “[l]eave your pain here.”
Judge Aquilina has increasingly been gaining media attention following her judgement in the Nassar case and has been quick to take the spotlight off of herself, making it clear that this story involving the Nassar case is “not about her,” making sure to give the proper platform and attention to the survivors she has helped. It is through her achievements and actions that Judge Aquilina exemplifies what it means to be a role model.
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