Vallonia native to conduct book signing

A former Jackson County resident who is now an author will make a stop in Seymour this month for a discussion and book signing.

Vallonia native Abigail Pesta will be at the Jackson County Visitor Center, 100 N. Broadway St., Seymour, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. March 18 with her latest book, “The Girls: An All-American Town, a Predatory Doctor and the Untold Story of the Gymnasts Who Brought Him Down.”

Released in 2019, “The Girls” offers new insight into the high-profile case along with shocking revelations about how serial child molester Dr. Larry Nassar abused girls while serving as team doctor at the Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics.

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The discussion will begin with a question-and-answer session between Pesta and the visitor center’s public relations manager, Jordan Richart.

Members of the audience will be able to ask questions following the discussion before the book signing.

“Only about 12 books will be available for purchase at the event, but those who already own the book are encouraged to bring theirs to be signed,” Richart said.

He said the visitor center is thrilled to host the event.

“Personally, I find it impressive that she was able to reach as far as she has in her career,” Richart said. “With this book in particular, on such a really important topic.”

Richart said the book is about one of the biggest sports scandal stories ever and certainly of the last decade.

“There is some information in the book that at the time had not been made public,” Richart said. “Pesta even talks to some people who had not yet spoken to the press.”

The book, featured in an issue of Time magazine, includes an interview with the first known victim, Sara Teristi, who spoke out for the first time.

“She had never shared her story publicly, so it meant a lot to me that she trusted me with it,” Pesta said. “As I continued my reporting, I realized that Sara was most likely Nassar’s very first target.”

Pesta also interviewed Lindsey Lemke, one of the first victims to publicly identify herself.

“It took guts to speak out, especially at that time when there was a lot of confusion and blame surrounding the scandal,” Pesta said. “Lindsey and her mom said people were blaming them, calling them clueless. People didn’t understand that many kids didn’t know they were being abused.”

On interviewing people about difficult subjects, Pesta said she found the strength and courage of these women truly inspiring.

“They found a way to survive, adapt and move forward and to help others through sharing their experience,” she said. “They are the embodiment of power, the triumph of the human spirit.”

Pesta said her hope is that people gain a deeper understanding of how this travesty happened and how the fallout has rippled across families.

“I hope they have a clearer picture of how predators ensnare children and parents so we can all help prevent this kind of abuse in the future,” she said.

Pesta, a 1987 graduate of Brownstown Central High School, earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Notre Dame in 1991.

She is an award-winning journalist and author who has lived and worked around the world, from London to Hong Kong.

Besides authoring “The Girls,” she is the co-author of “How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child.”

Pesta’s investigative and feature reporting has been honored with many awards, and she is the former vice president of the Overseas Press Club of America.

She has written for major media outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, Time, The New York Times, New York Magazine, Cosmopolitan, NBC News, Marie Claire, The Atlantic and others.

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What: "The Girls" book signing and discussion with author Abigail Pesta

When: 6 to 7:30 p.m. March 18

Where: Jackson County Visitor Center, 100 N. Broadway St., Seymour

Who: Free to the public; confirm your attendance online at facebook.com/events/202415167784879

Information: Email jordan@jacksoncountyin.com

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