BECAUSE THERE ARE MONSTERS OUT THERE

This article about new legal troubles for Larry Nassar got me thinking about how I spend my days and why. In brief, a new federal lawsuit alleges that Nassar videotaped himself raping a Michigan State field hockey player in 1992. The Field Hockey coach confronted Nassar and demanded that he turn over the videotape. But, according to the lawsuit, when the coach presented the video to the then Athletic Director George Perles, he demanded she return the video, resign, and sign a non-disclosure agreement. The suit is in its earliest stages, and there is no guarantee that a judge or jury will find the allegations true. But given the track records of Nassar and MSU, it’s impossible to dismiss them out of hand.

So, why does this horrific anecdote lead me to self- reflection? Because it makes me proud to work with journalists and others who demand access to public information. It is that access that leads to accountability not only for monsters like Nassar, but the administrators who enable and protect them.

We see time and time again institutions, when faced with events that might damage their reputation, circle the wagons to protect the institution, rather than the victims. The Big 10 Conference provides Exhibits A (Penn State and Jerry Sandusky), B (MSU and Larry Nassar) and C (OSU and Urban Meyer). Part of the wagon circling inevitably involves denial to records related to whatever is being covered up.

In nearly 25 years of practicing in this field, I’ve seen public offices use every trick and every stall tactic to hide information from the public.  And I’ve felt the glares and exasperated sighs from elected officials, judges and appointed bureaucrats when I’ve argued my cases.

But I don’t think my clients will be stopping anytime soon. There are too many monsters out there.