BOSTON (CBS) — “We see that trust is driven down by a loss of confidence in government,” says Richard Edelman of his firm’s new poll on the collapse of trust in US institutions, the worst year-to-year drop in the survey’s 18-year history. “America at the moment is at sea.”

But just when we need a moral beacon for us to navigate by, we were treated to the sight of Michigan Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, throwing the book at Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics doctor who molested scores of women and girls who came to him for treatment.

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“Four hundred thousand babies born in the US will becomes victims of child sexual abuse,” noted the judge during today’s sentencing. “It stops now. Speak out like these survivors, become part of the army.”

The judge lobbied for more scrutiny of organizations like Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics that allegedly ignored victims and enabled Nassar’s crimes.

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“There has to be a massive investigation as to why there was inaction, why there was violence. Justice requires more than what I can do on this bench,” she said.

And Aquilina gave an eloquent description of the justice system’s value.

“Inaction is an action. Silence is indifference. Justice requires action and a voice, and that is what has happened here in this court.”

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There was comfort for the victims in her words, and in the essentially life sentence she gave Nassar. Surely the victims and their families who packed the courtroom emerged with an enhanced sense of trust in government, at least for now.