More than 100 survivors of Larry Nassar have taken to the stage at the ESPN awards to accept the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.
It took them a number of minutes to line up on the stage, presenting an emotional and immediately visual take on just how many women suffered sexual abuse at the hands of the former Gymnastics doctor — and the number of years it went on for.
Sarah Klein spoke first, saying she was standing with her ‘sister survivors’ and was the first to be abused by Nassar almost 30 years ago. “Make no mistake. We are here on this stage to present an image for the world to see, a portrait of survival, a new vision of courage,” she said.
Klein said that USA Gymnastics and others put “money and medals above the safety of child athletes.”
Softballer Tiffany Thomas Lopez said the amount of loss they have endured over the years is almost immeasurable. “But tonight we stand here and it feels as if we are finally winning.”
“Sexual abuse claims victims in every race, showing no discrimination.”
Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman said: “The ripple effect of our actions, or inactions, can be enormous, spanning generations. Perhaps the greatest tragedy of this nightmare is that it could have been avoided.
“To all the survivors out there, don’t let anyone rewrite your story.
“Perhaps the greatest tragedy of this nightmare, is that it could have been avoided. Predators thrive in silence.”
Raisman said that if just one adult had listened and acted, the people standing on the stage would never have met Nassar. “All we needed was one adult to have the integrity to stand between us and Larry Nassar.”
They also thanked Judge Rosemarie Aquilina — who was in the audience — for listening to their story. “For too long we were ignored, you helped us rediscover the power that exists,” Raisman said.
Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years prison after being found guilt of seven counts of criminal sexual conduct.
ESPN says the Arthur Ashe Courage Award is presented to those who “reflect the spirit of Arthur Ashe, possessing strength in the face of adversity, courage in the face of peril and the willingness to stand up for their beliefs no matter what the cost.”
“To all the survivors out there, don’t let anyone rewrite your story. Your truth does matter. You matter. And you are not alone.”
— ESPYS (@ESPYS) July 19, 2018
Jennifer Garner, who had presented the award, later wrote: “This is a picture of an army. An army of strength. An army for right. Here are 147 survivors of the unspeakable abuses committed by Dr. Larry Nassar — I was humbled to present them with the #ArthurAsheAward for Courage at tonight’s #ESPYAwards.”
This is a picture of an army. An army of strength. An army for right. Here are 147 survivors of the unspeakable abuses committed by Dr. Larry Nassar—I was humbled to present them with the #ArthurAsheAward for Courage at tonight’s #ESPYAwards. Seeing these heroes in one place, on one stage blew me away—it takes such courage and strength to tell their stories. Sunlight is the best antiseptic—thank you to the survivors, to Jimmy Pitaro and to @abcnetwork & @espn for putting sexual abuse of minors in the sun—hopefully we won’t be telling this story again. ❤❤❤ (2 of 3)