IndyStar investigative reporter to depart for USA Today

Marisa Kwiatkowski, one of the investigative reporters for The Indianapolis Star whose series on the sexual abuse of gymnasts led to a national outcry on the topic and a guilty verdict against Dr. Larry Nassar, has accepted a position on the investigative team for USA Today.

kwiatkowskiMarisa Kwiatkowski

Kwiatkowski, who also worked on high-impact and award-winning projects about children’s mental health services and Indiana Adult Protective Services, announced her decision via Twitter on Tuesday afternoon.

The tweet read: “I recently accepted an offer to join USA TODAY’s investigative team. I’m so excited to be able to work more closely with my friends and colleagues there. I have a project to finish in Indianapolis, then I’ll be shifting onto the national team.”

Like The Indianapolis Star, USA Today is owned by Virginia-based media giant Gannett Co.

With two other reporters, Kwiatkowski’s extensive reporting about the failure of Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics to report allegations of sexual abuse to authorities led to massive changes at the organization. The group now faces dozens of lawsuits representing hundreds of athletes around the country.

Former CEO Steve Penny resigned under pressure in March 2017. He was arrested in October on allegations of evidence tampering involving Nassar's case.

The investigation also helped spark a high-profile revolt among prominent female gymnasts, who came forward with allegations against former team doctor Nassar and testified against him during his sentencing.

In 2017, Nassar pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting nine victims and possessing child pornography. He was sentenced to 55 years in federal prison followed by at least 40 years in state prison.

Kwiatkowski, 34, is a native of Sterling Heights, Michigan. She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Grand Valley State University and an MBA from Indiana University's Kelley School of Business in Indianapolis. Before joining The Star in July 2013, she was an investigative reporter for The Times of Northwest Indiana for nearly seven years.

In another tweet, she wrote: "I’m immensely grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given and the friendships I’ve built at The Indianapolis Star. There are so many wonderful, talented people here. Please continue to support the amazing work they do. I know I will."

Kwiatkowski's impending exit is another big loss for the Star, whose ranks of veteran journalists have eroded in recent months. 

In late December, six longtime Star newsroom staffers, including cartoonist Gary Varvel and editor Greg Weaver, said they would take early retirement buyouts. In January, Gannett laid off three Star newsroom employees, including columnist Tim Swarens, and cut ties with two freelance business columnists.

Kwiatkowski was named last year to IBJ's Forty Under 40 Class of 2018.

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