January 24, 2018

Riveting scenes played out in a Lansing, Michigan, courtroom this past week as more than 150 women shared their stories of being abused by Larry Nassar, a onetime team doctor for USA Gymnastics.

The doctor, who was sentenced to between 40 and 175 years in prison by Judge Rosemarie Aquilina on Wednesday, was just one of the subjects of an intensive investigation by the Indianapolis Star into sexual abuse at USA Gymnastics.

The investigative team’s attention turned to him when a woman named Rachael Denhollander contacted them after the first installment of their series, Out of Balance, published in August 2016.

One of the prosecutors on the case, Michigan Assistant Attorney General Angela Povilaitis, praised the work of the Star’s investigative team in her closing argument:

“It shouldn’t take investigative journalists to expose predators,” she said. “But thank god we have these journalists, and that they exposed this truth and that they continue to cover this story. Thank god Rachael Denhollander made that first contact with the reporter and decided to allow them to publish her name.”

After the sentence was announced, she addressed the courtroom again.

“We, as a society, need investigative journalists more than ever,” she said. “What finally started this reckoning and ended this decades-long cycle of abuse was investigative reporting.” (You can watch her full speech here.)

Poynter's Kelly McBride talked with one of the reporters, Marisa Kwiatkowski, about her role, and about the impact the Star’s investigation had on this case.


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