REVIEW: ‘Believed’ podcast discusses sexual assault in a personal way

The cover artwork for NPR's "Believed" podcast series. (Courtesy photo by NPR)

Editor’s note: The following review contains numerous references to sexual assault and may be sensitive to some readers.

National Public Radio’s “Believed” podcast, released by Michigan Radio in late 2018, uses top-notch storytelling to personalize the experiences of more than 150 women after former USA Gymnastics team doctor and convicted child molester Lawrence “Larry” Nassar sexually assaulted them as minors.

Until his scandal of sexual abuse and child pornography broke open and led to a criminal conviction in January 2018, Nassar was the premier sports doctor for USA Gymnastics, working with teams at the Olympic Games, Michigan State University and local gyms for decades.

“Believed” takes a deep dive into the emotional stories of the gymnasts and their families, along with Nassar himself.

By episode three of the nine-part podcast series, we learn who Nassar was as a person, with a family and friends of his own. It makes the knowledge of what he did that much harder to stomach.

Nassar was calculated in his abuse, setting up children to deny the truth to the parents who loved them.

Sadly, “Believed” illustrates how easy it might have been to catch Nassar earlier if survivors’ allegations were taken more seriously, both by family members and law enforcement professionals.

“Believed” is strange to recommend; it’s gruesome, but powerful. Those who find themselves glued to documentaries, especially ones related to sports or crime, will be intrigued by NPR’s in-depth coverage of this high-profile case.

Tapes of Nassar being interrogated by Michigan state police place the listener right in the thick of investigations, and the survivors’ voices in each episode make the crimes feel too real.

Each episode lasts about half an hour, but unfortunately, the series as a whole is more of a lengthy binge than a casual listen because the episodes are meant to be played chronologically.

Regardless, anyone wanting a greater understanding of this type of crime should give the series a try. “Believed” is relevant, educational and shares the ins and outs of an infamous story that dominated national news headlines.

Sarah Moyer is a senior in agricultural communications. The views and opinions expressed in this review are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to