'Believed' Podcast Hosts Speak on Campus


How did Larry Nassar get away with abusing hundreds of girls over the course of many years? That's what journalists Kate Wells and Lindsey Smith sought to find out in their NPR Michigan podcast, "Believed." 

On Oct. 22 students, staff and faculty of DePauw had the opportunity to hear from the creators themselves. 

Wells and Smith decided to dig deeper into this topic because this was not a story that could be told in 60 seconds. 

“You are just turning stuff out. And we, as Lindsey said, deeply failed to tell that story. Well, with any kind of justice,” Wells said. 

For both Wells and Smith, going into journalism was a no-brainer. 

“It’s the best job in the entire world. Absolutely do it. It makes me happier with it, nothing else makes me happy,” said Wells. 

They chose a podcast because it puts the audience in the room. Most people listen to podcasts when they are working out or commuting so it is a private experience that watching something or reading something can’t do. 

“With audio you’re using it, like our mind starts making images and it’s often something you do when you’re by yourself,” Smith said. 

Smith continued, “We were going to essentially try and put you in the room to understand that when he got away, literally, how did that happen? How does it not require massive conspiracy?” 

Simply making the podcast was difficult, but what proved more difficult was making sure the survivors were in control of the situation. They wanted the women who were sexually assaulted by Nassar not to be seen as victims by the audience, but as actual people. 

It was important to make sure the podcast was not about Larry Nassar. Instead, it is a podcast about the women and how they took Nassar down. 

“It wasn’t going to be about Larry. It’s going to be these women telling their experiences” Smith said. 

“One thing we learned the hard way and should have noticed going in is that every time a survivor tells you their story, not just the actual details of the abuse, they relive it in their minds and that includes that feeling of not being believed,” Smith said. 

On DePauw’s campus and every college campus, sexual assault is very prevelent. 

Sophomore Kate Hennessey said, “DePauw is certainly not an exception to sexual assault on campus.” 

First-year Reagan Hoggatt agreed that DePauw faces issues of sexual assault.

“Our campus needs to find a way to allow students to talk about what happened to them without forcing them to become vague because then they might not be taken seriously or people could misinterpret how bad or not bad the situation really was,” said Hoggatt.

One thing that Wells and Smith repeatedly said throughout their presentation was that women are not being believed and this is one of the reasons it keeps happening here and everywhere. 

“If more change is going to happen surrounding the amount of sexual assaults on campus then women first need to start being believed,” said Hennessey. 

The podcast is available to listen to through Apple Podcast and Spotify.