Reporters who uncovered serial sex abuser Larry Nassar speak at WKU

Indianapolis Star reporters Marisa Kwiatkowski and Tim Evans speak about their coverage of the Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics sexual abuse scandal on April 9 in Jody Richards auditorium as part of the John B. Gaines Family Lecture Series.

Camryn Smith

Two of the Indianapolis Star reporters who helped uncover Larry Nassar and the USA Gymnastics sexual abuse scandal spoke at WKU tonight as part of the John B. Gaines Family Lecture Series.

Marisa Kwiatkowski and Tim Evans spoke to an audience in the auditorium of Jody Richards Hall for nearly two hours about their series, “Out of Balance,” which focused on USA Gymnastics’ policy of reporting sexual abuse and the decades-long abuse perpetrated by former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. 

Amanda Crawford, assistant professor of journalism, facilitated the first part of the lecture and spoke with Kwiatkowski and Evans about their investigative process and how they were able to gather the evidence that lead to the series. Kwiatkowski and Evans said they used legal documents such as lawsuits and police reports to compile evidence that USA Gymnastics did not report every allegation of sexual abuse to the authorities.

“We went to court in Georgia to try and gain access to legal records,” Evans said. “There was a problem with USA Gymnastics not reporting sexual abuse.”

Kwiatkowski and Evans said after releasing the first article in the series, they received numerous tips of sexual abuse, including three tips from women accusing Nassar of sexual assault. The stories told by the three women had similar allegations.

“They had similar stories of what had happened to them,” Kwiatkowski said. “They lived in different states, so there was a slim chance they had connections with each other to give Nassar a bad name.”

Evans said he is the only reporter to have interviewed Nassar about the sexual abuse. When Evans interviewed him, Nassar and his lawyer denied the allegations, but Nassar was later found guilty of some of those allegations and of possessing child pornography.

Kwiatkowski said one of the keys to working with victims of sexual abuse is to over-communicate with the survivors. She and Evans both said they tried to be as open as possible with the women they interviewed to ensure the women were not re-traumatized when telling their stories.

Kwiatkowski said this was the first time many of the survivors told their stories. She said for some of those who did speak up about the abuse, “no one believed them or [they] told them what happened was not abuse.”

The second part of the lecture included a question and answer session with the audience. Questions were also submitted via social media.

The reporters spoke as part of the John B. Gaines Family Lecture Series, which is an annual event that brings professional journalists to speak at WKU, Larry Snyder, dean of Potter College of Arts and Letters, said during the event. The series started in 2004 with a donation in honor of the 150th anniversary of the the Bowling Green Daily News, which is owned by the Gaines family.

“This annual event is a highlight of the academic year for the School of Journalism and Broadcasting bringing professional journalists to WKU to discuss important issues of today, and as you’ll see tonight, these stories have the power not only to illuminate our lives but also to change them,” Snyder said.

News reporter Camryn Smith can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected] Follow Camryn Smith on Twitter at @camryn_smith56.