Who Is Believed?

May 14, 2019

“They all needed Larry. Gymnastics is punishing. Spend enough hours hoisting your body up and over those wooden gymnastics bars, eventually the skin on your palms rips right open.”

That’s a quote from host Lindsey Smith in the first episode of the podcast Believed, from NPR and Michigan Radio.

In 2018, Nassar was convicted of criminal sexual conduct and federal child pornography charges.

He serially abused hundreds of young women. His victims included household names like Simone Biles and Aly Raisman, but they weren’t all famous. Vox reports that the majority “were students and young female athletes — gymnasts, dancers, and volleyball players.”

At the very minimum, isn’t it unsettling to think that because of Nassar’s expertise treating athletes, he was kept on despite suspicions he was abusing his patients? And that when girls and young women came forward with their stories, no one believed them?

But it happened. For decades.

The purpose of Believed is to discover “how Larry Nassar abused so many for so long.”

In one instance, the police just believed Nassar instead of what his victim reported. And local detectives never referred the case to a local prosecutor for review, to see if this report of Nassar’s behavior reflected an isolated incident, or something worse.

We reached out to USA Gymnastics, and they sent us this statement.

We will never forget the appalling acts of abuse that have forever impacted our athletes and the gymnastics community. We admire the survivors’ courage and strength in sharing their stories, and our goal is to do everything we can to prevent the opportunity for it to happen again. USA Gymnastics is further strengthening its athlete safety policies — including provisions on mandatory reporting and setting boundaries for athlete-adult interaction — to establish greater accountability and make reporting easier. Athletes are the heart and soul of our sport, their safety is of paramount importance to us, and we are focused on making our organization more athlete-centric.

We bring you the latest on what’s happened since Nassar’s conviction and speak with Lindsey Smith about her work.

Produced by Kathryn Fink.

This show will discuss sexual abuse and assault. If you or someone you know needs to speak to someone, the National Sexual Assault Hotline is 1-800-656-4673. You can also use the RAINN online hotline, which you can find here.


Lindsey Smith, Investigative reporter, Michigan Radio; co-host, “Believed”; @lzsmitty

John Manly, Attorney; represents more than 200 women who were abused by Larry Nassar; @johnmanly

Tim Evans, Investigative and consumer reporter, The Indianapolis Star; @starwatchtim

Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, 30th circuit court judge, Ingham County, Michigan; sentenced Larry Nassar to up to 175 years in prison; @AquiRosemarie

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