INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.- On Wednesday, convicted child molester and former USA Gymnastics Doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for his crimes.
That is on top of 60 years he had already been given after he was convicted for possessing thousands of images of child pornography.
While Wednesday’s sentencing finally marks the end of the ordeal for many of his victims, it’s a day that may not have happened were it not for our newsgathering partners at the Indianapolis Star, who broke the story back in 2016.
Tim Evans was one of the reporters who wrote the story, which began the end of Nassar’s predatory ways, along with his colleagues Mark Alesia and Marisa Kwiatkowski.
Evans also interviewed Nassar in 2016, and said he had no idea how big the story would become after the first story was printed.
“He (Nassar) wasn’t even on our radar when we first started looking into sexual abuse in gymnastics,” said Evans, “and then suddenly after our first story, people started telling us about him.”
The first story reported in the Star quickly went national and more of Nassar’s victims began reaching out to Evans and his colleagues.
“Even when we were writing our stories in the fall of 2016, we had no idea of the scope of it,” said Evans.
Evans said for too long, many of the victims hadn’t been taken seriously when they tried to report Nassar’s abuse. He hopes the judge’s sentence of up to 175 years will hopefully change that in the future.
“It sent a message to them that somebody cared about them, and I think that was important because a lot of these women felt like no one cared about them,” said Evans.
During the sentencing, Michigan’s Assistant Attorney General Angela Povilaitis made clear the role the Star’s work played in ending Nassar’s reign of abuse.
“Without that first Indianapolis Star story in August of 2016,” said Povilaitis, “he would still be practicing medicine and abusing kids.”
Reflecting on what is likely one of the biggest stories of his career, Evans agreed, but said it’s not just about the outcome seen Wednesday, but also about the importance of a free press.
“I think this shows that three reporters in a small market with limited resources and good intentions can sometimes overpower high powered attorneys and millions-dollar clients,” said Evans, “there’s value in journalism still, and that public journalism and investigative journalism does make a difference.”