10 Most Infamous Crimes of The Last Decade
VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
These crimes made the world stand still. For this list, we'll be looking at the biggest crime stories and criminal trials of the decade. Our countdown includes The Downfall of Theranos, The USA Gymnastics Team Scandal, Jeffrey Epstein & Ghislaine Maxwell, and more!
10 Most Infamous Crimes of the 2010s
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re examining the 10 Most Infamous Crimes of the 2010s.
For this list, we’ll be looking at the biggest crime stories and criminal trials of the decade.
How do you think history will view these going forward? Let us know in the comments.
The Downfall of Theranos
Few companies have collapsed quite like Theranos, and few so-called billionaires have had their fortunes reversed quite like Elizabeth Holmes. Holmes was just 19 when she dropped out of Stanford and founded Theranos in 2003. The company peaked in the mid 2010s with a value of $10 billion. Holmes herself was believed to be worth at least $4.5 billion. Theranos touted that it had revolutionized the science of blood testing, but later investigations proved that they had not. In fact, Holmes had been defrauding the company’s investors by lying about the technology. She was eventually convicted of criminal fraud and sentenced to just over eleven years in prison.
People v. Turner
This infamous court case caused public outrage and led to new legislation. On January 18, 2015, Stanford University student Brock Turner sexually assaulted the unconscious Chanel Miller. The following year, Turner was convicted of felony assault and sentenced to six months in prison. He was also required to register as a sex offender for life. This sentence was widely criticized as lenient, and to make the case even more controversial, Turner served just three months before he was released. Miller’s victim impact statement was widely read (including in Congress), and Judge Aaron Persky was fired by voters in Santa Clara County. California also changed the law surrounding the assault of unconscious or intoxicated people, now mandating a minimum three-year prison sentence.
The Charlie Hebdo Shooting
In the early 2010s, controversial satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo had published several cartoons of the prophet Muhammad. In Islam, the depiction of the prophet is highly contentious - and to some, sacrilegious. Shortly before noon on January 7, 2015, Muslim terrorists - brothers Saïd and Chérif Kouachi - entered the magazine’s offices and opened fire on the staff, killing 12 people and injuring a further 11. Several other terrorist attacks followed in the Île-de-France region. The world mourned with France, with demonstrators chanting “Je suis Charlie” (or “I am Charlie”) in defiance. The slogan became a rallying cry for freedom of speech and freedom of the press.
The Bill Cosby Trial
One of the most famous sitcom actors of all time, Bill Cosby attained worldwide fame and the honorary title “America’s Dad” by starring as Cliff Huxtable on “The Cosby Show.” But in 2014 his career collapsed following dozens of sexual assault allegations. The incidents went back decades, all the way to the 1960s. Many of Cosby’s roughly 60 accusers said that he had drugged them. A trial in 2017 ended in a mistrial, but in 2018, Cosby was found guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault. However, he was released from prison in June 2021 due to an agreement with a previous prosecutor.
The USA Gymnastics Team Scandal
Larry Nassar served as the lead physician for the United States women's national gymnastics team for eighteen years. Two years after he left the post in 2014, the The Indianapolis Star reported that Nassar had been the subject of two sexual abuse allegations. These accusations snowballed, and hundreds of women soon came forward to share their stories and implicate Nassar, including national heroes like Aly Raisman and Simone Biles. The US Olympic Committee was accused of a massive cover-up. Nassar was eventually convicted of his crimes and was given a de facto life sentence without parole in both federal and state prisons.
The Las Vegas Shooting
The deadliest mass shooting committed by a single individual in US history occurred on October 1, 2017, when Stephen Paddock fired on the Route 91 Harvest music festival. The festival was being held on the Las Vegas Strip, and Paddock took aim from the nearby Mandalay Bay hotel. He killed 60 and injured at least 413 with direct gunfire. Roughly 450 others were injured in the resulting panic. His motive remains unknown. His firearms had been legally purchased, and he had no documented mental health disorders. The story brought into focus many aspects of 21st century life. Fake news and misinformation spread widely in the immediate aftermath, and the shooting revived the long-held debate about gun control in America.
Jeffrey Epstein & Ghislaine Maxwell
Financier and socialite Jeffrey Epstein came to national attention in July of 2019, when he was arrested and charged with trafficking minors. He had previously been convicted in 2008 for similar crimes, but was given a sweetheart deal and served just 13 months in prison, with work release. Epstein reportedly took his own life before he could be convicted on new charges. This became one of the biggest news stories of the decade, as many disputed the official story. Countless conspiracy theories emerged, including the prominent belief that Epstein had been killed to ensure his silence and prevent the exposure of high-profile individuals. Epstein’s associate, Ghislaine Maxwell, was also hit with charges and eventually sentenced to 20 years in prison.
The Edward Snowden Leaks
After his ethical concerns were ignored internally, NSA contractor Edward Snowden turned whistleblower and leaked thousands of documents in 2013, revealing extensive global mass surveillance programs. Much of the media coverage focused on FISA warrants, as if the NSA was only collecting information on an individual basis. In fact, agencies were (and probably still are) sucking up data en masse, including emails, browsing histories, text messages, and more, from corporate partners, data centers, and even undersea cables. The price for Snowden was life as he knew it, as he was forced to flee the US and resettle in Russia. Opinions remain divided in the US, with some calling him a hero and others a traitor.
For decades, prominent film producer Harvey Weinstein harassed, coerced, and assaulted women in the industry, his behavior a more or less open secret. This left his victims afraid to speak out - until 2017, when The New York Times and The New Yorker revealed accusations from dozens of women. Their stories emboldened others, and soon over 80 women had accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct. He was arrested in 2018 and eventually sentenced to 23 years behind bars. Outrage over his behavior helped spread the MeToo movement, which has seen many other powerful figures face similar reckonings.
The Sandy Hook Shooting
The United States faced its deadliest elementary school shooting on December 14, 2012, when 26 people were killed inside Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School. Both the high number of fatalities and the young ages of the victims shocked the nation. To this day, no one is really certain why the shooter did what he did. As ever, gun control laws were debated, conspiracy theories spread, and even age-old arguments around video games were resurrected. Its ripples are still resounding today. On October 12, 2022, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was forced to pay nearly $1 billion in damages for spreading malicious and baseless conspiracy theories about the shooting.