The Larry Nassar Case: It Took 20 Years to Catch Him

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform summary of "Talking to Strangers" by Malcolm Gladwell. Shortform has the world's best summaries of books you should be reading.

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What is the Larry Nassar case? Why did it take so long for him to get convicted of his sexual assault crimes?

Larry Nassar was a USA Gymnastics team physician who was convicted on federal charges of child molestation. Allegations against Nassar had been brought to people of power at least 14 times. However, Larry Nassar’s case was unnoticed for over 20 years.

Keep reading for more about the Larry Nassar case, including allegations and why it took so long to catch him.

The Larry Nassar Case

Larry Nassar’s case was a very high-profile case in the media and one that was relatively open-and-shut. However, it took over 20 years for him to get caught in spite of the numerous allegations that had been filed against him.

Nassar had even performed acts of sexual assault on young girls with their parents in the room. But because the assault was hidden under the guise of a medical procedure, none of those people ever stopped it. How is this possible? Why did it take so long for Nassar to get convicted?

Were the Parents Simply Negligent?

The children’s parents made a human error by defaulting to truth. What Nassar was accused of was so monstrous that these parents and coaches simply couldn’t believe it. If Nassar was accused of drinking too much or being openly mean to the girls, someone would have spoken up immediately. But the truth was so devastating that it seemed unlikely, and so the parents’ truth-default kicked in. It is unfair to judge these parents as negligent. They are human, and their inability to detect a lie was a human mistake. 

If everyone defaulted to assuming that every football coach was a pedophile, there would be no more sports. We default to truth because we have to for peace of mind. Sometimes, that trust is ruined by betrayal. In those instances, the people whose trust was broken deserve to be sympathized with, not blamed. 

The Larry Nassar Case: It Took 20 Years to Catch Him

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  • Why we're all terrible at understanding the intentions of other people
  • How these misunderstandings can lead to tragic, fatal consequences
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