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Deep Dives

Malia Politzer
Editor of International Investigative Journalist
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piqer: Malia Politzer
Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Believed: A 6-Episode Investigation Into How Larry Nassar Got Away With Abusing Hundreds Of Women

This NPR investigative podcast delves into how Larry Nassar, the famous and once well-respected doctor who treated the American Olympic women's team, got away with sexually abusing hundreds of women and young girls for years. 

The first episode of this deeply reported series begins by introducing the character Larry Nassar, and providing context into who he was believed to have been: A great guy, exceptional doctor, and all around good human being. It then begins to dismantle that image, one episode at a time.

However, what makes this podcast series truly stand out is the attention it gives to the voice of his victims: Most of the episodes are dominated by the narratives, stories and experiences of the girls and young women he abused. We learn their names, and hear first-person accounts of how Nassar manipulated and abused these women (and their parents) by leveraging his power, reputation, and his position of authority as a doctor. 

Later episodes detail how the women who experienced abuse by Nassar repeatedly reported him to authorities—their parents, the police, Child Protective Services, and the University that hired him—and were not believed: Despite their reports Nassar was permitted unfettered access to new victims for years.

Although Nassar was eventually brought to trial and convicted—and the women who he abused were able to confront him directly in court, tell their stories and receive a modicum of justice—the series left me with mixed feelings. On one hand, listeners are happy that Nassar was put away for life. However, there's a larger question that lingers: Why does it take so much in our society for a woman's story of abuse to be believed? And what can we do to change that for future generations?

Believed: A 6-Episode Investigation Into How Larry Nassar Got Away With Abusing Hundreds Of Women
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