Wow! In infuriating case of sex abuser Larry Nassar, a victim touts a message of grace and forgiveness

Yes, journalism matters.

The Larry Nassar case is Exhibit A, as the Indianapolis Star rightly points out.

Meanwhile, these words — from Judge Rosemarie Aquilina — went viral Wednesday as she sentenced Nassar to 40 to 175 years in prison: "I've just signed your death warrant."

For the purposes of this post, I want to praise the Washington Post's Acts of Faith section for catching — and reporting on — a key victim talking about her Christian faith. More on that in a moment.

First, though, the gory basics of Nassar's case, via The Associated Press:

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The former sports doctor who admitted molesting some of the nation’s top gymnasts for years under the guise of medical treatment was sentenced Wednesday to 40 to 175 years in prison by a judge who proudly told him, “I just signed your death warrant.”
The sentence capped a remarkable seven-day hearing in which more than 150 women and girls offered statements about being abused by Larry Nassar, a physician who was renowned for treating athletes at the sport’s highest levels. Many confronted him face to face in the Michigan courtroom.
“It is my honor and privilege to sentence you. You do not deserve to walk outside a prison ever again. You have done nothing to control those urges and anywhere you walk, destruction will occur to those most vulnerable,” Judge Rosemarie Aquilina said.
Nassar’s actions were “precise, calculated, manipulative, devious, despicable,” she said.

Back to the Post: We're entering what GetReligion editor Terry Mattingly calls #PositiveBobby territory. Praise is good for relationships, of course. But for media criticism websites? It's not always a recipe for reader clicks.

But I'm going to go ahead and say that I appreciated the Post's report and the story's willingness to quote victim Rachael Denhollander — in her own words — on grace and forgiveness.

The compelling opening sentences from the Post:

Former gymnast Rachael Denhollander used her statement Wednesday against sex abuser Larry Nassar as a testimony and message of grace and forgiveness.
She was the final victim to make a statement in the sentencing hearing in Ingham County Circuit Court in Michigan. Judge Rosemarie Aquilina sentenced Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics team doctor, to up to 175 years in a Michigan prison for his abuse of young female gymnasts.
Denhollander used part of her 36-minute statement to refer to the Bible and a quote from renowned Christian author C.S. Lewis.
“In our early hearings, you brought your Bible into the courtroom and you have spoken of praying for forgiveness. And so it is on that basis that I appeal to you. If you have read the Bible you carry, you know the definition of sacrificial love portrayed is of God himself loving so sacrificially that he gave up everything to pay a penalty for the sin he did not commit. By his grace, I, too, choose to love this way,” Denhollander said, according to a full transcript of her statement.

Go ahead and read it all.

The Post piece is a medium-length report, mixing in some aggregation — including a link to an Indy Star story that notes Denhollander prayed and sang "Amazing Grace" with her family before her court appearance.

Looking ahead: I appreciated the Post's coverage, but it's far from an all-encompassing profile of Denhollander and the role of faith in her life, especially in dealing with the abuse she endured. If someone has written such a profile, I'd love to read it. (Hint: If you've come across such a story, please share the link with me.)

Otherwise, Denhollander's faith sounds like a terrific angle for an enterprising reporter — preferably a Godbeat pro — to pursue in more depth.

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