From late 2016 to early 2018, Michigan Radio covered the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal in traditional public radio form, following developments and airing spots, features and reporter 2-ways both locally and nationally.
But after the sentencing — which drew international coverage for several days — lead reporter Kate Wells and investigative reporter Lindsey Smith urged the station’s editorial leadership to engage in a deeper exploration of how it was that Nassar was able to abuse hundreds of women and girls for more than two decades. Believed, a station produced, nine-part podcast distributed by NPR, is our answer to that question.
Believed, hosted by award-winning reporters Kate Wells and Lindsey Smith, looks at how a team of women – a detective, a prosecutor and scores of survivors – won justice against former gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. It’s an unnerving exploration of how well-meaning adults can fail to believe.
Believed is a powerful project for several reasons. We heard from many survivors of sexual abuse that the series “got it” in a way other pieces of journalism about abuse don’t. Kate Wells developed trust with several of the Nassar survivors over a period of many months, and it shows in the stories those survivors entrusted to us. Lindsey Smith complemented Wells’ reporting with her own dogged and thorough pursuit and examination of primary source material and interviews, including many public records requests.
This timely and thoughtful coverage documents the survivors of one of the largest serial sexual abuse cases in U.S. history finding their power during an important cultural moment.