More than 140 women who were sexually abused by former Michigan State and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar took the stage Wednesday at the 2018 ESPY Awards to give voice to victims everywhere.
The women stood together in accepting the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage for all of Nassar’s victims. Three of them — Sarah Klein, Tiffany Thomas Lopez and Aly Raisman — addressed the audience at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles and viewers watching on ABC.
BENDER: Michigan State lacked true leadership, failed Nassar’s victims
Raisman, an Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast, ended the 10-minute presentation with her speech. In it, she thanked the people who helped bring Nassar to justice; faulted those who failed to act on claims of abuse that were made over an 18-year period from 1999 to 2016; and offered support to other victims.
“Too often abusers and enablers perpetuate suffering by making survivors feel their truth doesn’t matter. To all the survivors out there: Don’t let anyone rewrite your story. Your truth does matter, you matter, and you are not alone,” she said.
Nassar, 54, was sentenced in January to between 40 and 175 years in prison after pleading guilty to seven counts of criminal sexual conduct in Ingham County, Mich.
Judge Rosemarie Aquilina — who attended the ESPYs on Wednesday and whom Raisman saluted in her speech — heard 169 victim impact statements prior to the sentencing.
Michigan State agreed in May to pay Nassar’s 332 known victims $425 million in compensation. The university also set aside $75 million to pay the claims of victims who may yet come forward.
The Nassar scandal has led to major changes at Michigan State and USA Gymnastics.
Michigan State president Lou Anna Simon resigned under pressure and athletic director Mark Hollis retired.
USA Gymnastics chairman Paul Parilla, vice chairman Jay Binder and treasurer Bitsy Kelley resigned, and its 21-member board of directors resigned under pressure from the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC).
Raisman is suing the USOC and USA Gymnastics over Nassar’s abuse.