BELIEVED

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Lindsey Smith, co-host of the NPR podcast Believed about the Larry Nassar sexual abuse case, to speak at CAC event in October.

How did he get away with it? And, for so long?

That is the question asked – and answered – over and again in the podcast Believed, an intimate telling of how former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University doctor Larry Nassar was able to sexually abuse girls and women for more than two decades.

Listen and you’ll hear survivors telling specific details of their abuse. You’ll hear parents telling how they failed to believe their children. You’ll hear how Nassar fooled police, and you’ll hear from Nassar himself.

You’ll also learn – how the abuse went on for so long, how survivors found their voices even in the face of doubt, and how they were finally believed.

Lindsey Smith, one of the reporter duo who co-hosted Believed, will share the lessons learned from interviewing Nassar survivors when she comes to Traverse City for the CAC’s annual Circle of Friends luncheon in October.

Smith, the investigative reporter for Michigan Radio, teamed up with fellow reporter Kate Wells on the podcast that was released last fall by Michigan Radio and NPR. Not only are people tuning in to what is admittedly not an easy listen, but Smith and Wells have received national recognition for the storytelling project – including a Livingston Award, which recognizes the work of journalists under the age of 35.

Smith said the goal with the podcast was that it be relatable to anyone with kids in their lives – people who think they would be able to spot a predator from a mile away, hope they could recognize abuse, or believe the seemingly unbelievable.

But as the hosts say in the podcast’s introduction, serial sexual predators “get away because we let them.” The subsequent episodes tell exactly how.

Wells had been the lead reporter on the Nassar case for Michigan Radio since 2016. Smith said that even after Wells’ extensive reporting, she felt strongly there was more to be told and she pushed for it. And after more than 150 women showed up in a Michigan courtroom in January 2018 to speak at Nassar’s sentencing for multiple sex crimes, push came to shove. There was more to learn from these survivors.

“I think the first episode sells it, and that’s on purpose,” Smith said. “There are other Larry Nassars out there … and their weapons are not guns, their weapons are not knives, their weapon is trust.”

She hopes others can learn, just as she and Wells did, about how Nassar and other serial sexual predators like him operate.

“Yes, by the end I know how he got away,” said Smith. “He was able to portray himself as someone more trustable than anyone else.”

Find the Believed podcast here or wherever you listen to podcasts.


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