Larry Nassar, the Michigan State University doctor who sexually abused hundreds of girls and young women—mostly gymnasts—will remain in prison until he dies. Peabody Award–winning ESPN journalists Barr and Murphy illuminate how he managed to assault unsuspecting victims for decades.
Recent books on the Nassar case have included Abigail Pesta’s The Girls and Rachael Denhollander’s What Is a Girl Worth? While those accounts provide urgent reading about the massive sex abuse scandal, this one features reporting so deep, broad, and incisive that it is unlikely to be surpassed. The patients Nassar abused were mostly preteens and teenagers, many of them virgins, who sometimes failed to recognize that legitimate treatment by Nassar should never have included the vile, penetrative actions he took. The few victims who tried to express their discomfort before 2016 suffered a different sort of abuse: being disbelieved by their parents, their gymnastics coaches, university administrators, police detectives, and even fellow gymnasts. Nassar was mild-mannered and married with children, and he had earned a reputation as a healer. However, it’s unquestionable that the doubters should have known better, and the authors provide copious evidence that shows negligence on the parts of countless individuals. Nassar might have continued his assaults for years were it not for a 2016 exposé by three newspaper reporters at the Indianapolis Star, a lawyer in California who was already suing abusive Catholic priests, and a police detective at Michigan State University. The graphic evidence and the attitudes of the enablers are almost certain to produce rage among readers, but the book is a must-read “about power and control.” Ultimately, write the authors, “this remarkable group of survivors took back control, spoke truth to power, toppled the leadership of [MSU and USA gymnastics], and, in so doing, empowered countless others.”
The go-to book about a horrific series of crimes.