Baldwin grad leads prosecution in Nassar case

Former gymnast Rachael Denhollander, left, is hugged after giving her victim impact statement during the seventh day of Larry Nassar’s sentencing hearing Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018, in Lansing, Mich. At right is Assistant Attorney General Angela Povilaitis. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

BALDWIN — When Judge Rosemarie Aquilina handed down the sentence in the Larry Nassar case — a USA Gymnastics national team doctor and osteopathic physician at Michigan State University accused of molesting at least 150 underage girls — news quickly spread throughout Baldwin.

The lead prosecutor in the case, Michigan Assistant Attorney General Angela Povilaitis, is a 1993 Baldwin High School graduate. She is the daughter of Ed and Bonnie Povilaitis. Bonnie is the librarian and director at the Pathfinder Community Library.

Bonnie is beaming with pride over her daughter’s success in the case, which has been making state and national headlines.

“My husband and I are so proud of her,” she said. “She has been working on this case more than 16 months. She works for Attorney General Bill Schutte’s office, and she wants to give him credit for his role in this, too.

“Even as a child, Angie always knew what she was going to do. By the fourth-grade she knew what college she was going to go to and that she wanted to be a lawyer. She has always tried to fight for women’s rights and children’s rights.”

On Jan. 24, Nassar was sentenced in Ingham County Circuit Court to 40 to 175 years in prison. Before he was sentenced, Angela Povilaitis addressed the court.

“Over the last 16 months, as I have prepared this case and lived this case and thrown my heart and soul into this case, I have often wondered: did he really think he was going to get away with this? Abusing so many for so many years over two decades. So many sports. No patient, no child was safe,” she said at the sentencing.

While addressing the court, she also spoke about the importance of believing victims.

“Other adults must start by believing when children and young people report abuse, regardless of who the perpetrator is. No matter his education, his position, the respect he commands, or the awards and adoration he has received. Research shows that false allegations are slim, that most perpetrators are serial offenders and that how a victim, especially a child, is treated when they disclose, if they are believed and supported and not blamed, can affect their well-being for years and can support better outcomes within the criminal justice system and protect other victims.”

In December, Angela was recognized on Crain’s Detroit’s list of notable woman lawyers. She also won the 2013 award for Professional Excellence for securing a conviction on a high profile sexual assault case and was a recipient of the 2013 Top Gun Litigator Criminal Award.

Bonnie Povilaitis, Angela’s mother and library director for Pathfinder Community Library, is holding an edition of Sunday’s Detroit Free Press with a quote from Angela about the role investigative reporting played in the case. (Pioneer photo/Shanna Avery)

She runs a statewide cold-case sexual assault project and specializes in prosecuting cases of multi-victim and multi-jurisdictional sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking.

She previously served as the assistant prosecuting attorney for Wayne County and was on board of directors for Child’s Hope and the Child Abuse Prevention Council. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and her law doctorate from Wayne State University Law School.

At the Baldwin Lumber Yard, Jane Allison proudly displays a copy of the Wall Street Journal from Jan. 26 on the checkout table. Angela is on the front cover.

“She’s absolutely fabulous,” Allison said. “I think the world of Bonnie and Ed, and to think they raised her and she has gone on to do such wonderful work is amazing. She is involved in cases that help victims in crimes such as this.”

Attorney General Bill Schuette complimented Angela’s work on the Nassar case in an emailed statement to the Pioneer.

“Assistant Attorney General Angela Povilaitis is simply put, the best of the best,” Schuette said. “Her complete dedication to providing justice to the victims of Larry Nassar is unparalleled. She put her heart and soul into this case. She stood with the survivors of Nassar during some of the most challenging moments of their lives. The people of the State of Michigan are lucky to have Assistant Angela Povilaitis.”

Lake County Prosecutor Craig Cooper also praised Angela’s work on the case.

“I appreciate Angie,” he said. “She is doing a marvelous job with the Attorney General’s office. With Larry Nassar, from what I am hearing, she diligently worked the case and brought justice for the victims and survivors. This was a heart wrenching case. Parents put their trust in the doctor who violated their children. This will effect the victims for the rest of their lives. Nassar manipulated the victims, their families and the world, and it didn’t come to light until the victims were brave enough to come forward. His reign of terror has ended. He will be in prison for the rest of his life. This case brings attention at the national level to sexual misconduct cases.

“I see Angie every now and then. She has given me advice on various cases over the years. I congratulate her on a job well done and her involvement in bringing justice to this national crime — one of the most emotional crimes anyone can go through. It was a job well done for everybody who worked the case.”

Mary Moffitt, member of the Pathfinder Community Library board also is proud.

“I think it is wonderful what Angie did. It is a very difficult job. She was always a good kid — very highly motivated,” she said.

Along with the case in Ingham County, Nassar was charged in Eaton County with separate charges. Nassar’s sentencing on three sexual assault charges in Eaton County began Wednesday morning, and 65 women and girls are expected to speak. Eaton County Circuit Court Judge Janice Cunningham said more than 265 women and girls have reported abuse by Nassar.

Along with the two sexual assault cases in Michigan, Nassar also pleaded guilty to child pornography charges in federal court and was sentenced in December to 60 years in prison.

 

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Posted by Emily Grove

Emily is the Pioneer and Herald Review crime and court reporter, covering crime in both Mecosta and Osceola counties. She can be reached by e-mail at emily@pioneergroup.com or by phone at (231) 592-8362.

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