February 3, 2018
Most people who watched the Larry Nassar sentencing hearing were moved by the courage and pain of his victims. Some of the women could not bear to appear in person. A court official read Annette M. Hill’s letter. Hill, a former MSU athlete, was particularly critical of the MSU administration because, as her letter said: “If they had only taken action on the first report, it would have saved me and all the other athletes standing before us today from a life of pain and agony.” Hill reported being suicidal.
In a disgraceful essay just posted online, freelance writer Mark Pendergrast declared that Hill probably has “illusory memories.”
Why? Because Ms. Hill said she had “suppressed” her memories of these events for years. Pendergrast has been on a mission to discredit any abuse claim that might be associated with repressed memory since his two adult daughters cut him off in the early 1990s. But Hill did not say that she recovered her memory in therapy. (Nor is there any evidence that was true of his daughters.) Hill just used the word “suppress.” Which is probably what many other victims of Nassar did.
In this cultural moment when it seems that victims of sexual abuse might stop being discounted and dismissed unfairly, Mark Pendergrast reminds us that there are still people all too willing to dismiss victims without cause.