When Randall Margraves asked an Eaton County, Michigan, judge on Friday morning for “five minutes in a locked room” with disgraced doctor Larry Nassar, he was turned down.
“That’s not how our legal system works,” the judge said. Instead, Margraves took matters into his own hands, lunging toward Nassar before being tackled and arrested by court security.
But as footage of the incident spread like wildfire across the Internet, social media users largely expressed support for Margraves and his actions, which reflected the pent-up frustration and pain the nation and Nassar’s victims have endured through weeks of victim testimony that revealed the doctor’s sexual exploitation of girls and young women. Margraves’ three daughters were among the victims.
“Dear Randall Margraves,” wrote Liz Finnegan on Twitter, “We are in your corner, and we’ve got your back.” Her note was signed, “The world.”
Others shared the sentiment, calling the father of three a “hero.” Some wrote that they couldn’t blame Margraves, that they probably wouldn’t have reacted any differently if they were in his shoes.
Nassar’s sentencing in Eaton County is his third in recent months, as dozens of young women and their families step forward to confront the doctor for his sexual abuse of gymnasts under the guise of medical treatment.
But some users noted, that no matter how depraved Nassar’s actions, violence didn’t provide a path to justice. The American justice system would do its job, they noted.
“Wow, control your anger,” one user wrote on CNN’s Facebook page. “The guy was sentenced to a total of 175 years…he’s never seeing the light of day again. Why put your own families future in further danger by doing this?”
On Twitter, user Eric W. Freeman Jr. took a middle-of-the-road position.
“No, Internet,” Freeman said, “we should not root for Randall Margraves to be let go by the bailiffs so he can continue his attacking lunge at Larry Nassar in Michigan. That’s wrong.”
“But,” he continued, “we should DEFINITELY pay his bail and legal fees.”
Margraves, for his part, later apologized to the court for his actions during a lunch break.
“I lost control. I apologize a hundred times,” Margraves said. “I’m definitely calmed down. I’m embarrassed. I’m not here to upstage my daughters. I’m here to help them heal.”
The judge released the father without a fine or punishment, “given the circumstances of the case,” she said, while ensuring he understood his actions were unacceptable.
“We cannot and I cannot tolerate or condone vigilantism or any other type of action that basically comes down to an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” she said. “That’s not what’s best in this situation. What’s best here is that we take this horrible tragedy and we learn to educate people.”