More Than 100 U.S. Gymnasts Accept Arthur Ashe Award at Emotional ESPYs Ceremony
More than 100 victims who suffered sexual abuse at the hands of USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar appeared on a stage Wednesday night as part of an emotional ceremony during the 2018 ESPYs.
The gymnasts—including former Olympians Jamie Dantzscher, Aly Raisman, and Jordyn Wieber—were presented with the prestigious Arthur Ashe Courage Award, which 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,” according to ESPN.
Sarah Klein, a gymnast who said she was the first victim of Nassar nearly 30 years ago, stood shoulder to shoulder with gymnast Raisman and softball player Tiffany Thomas Lopez as she described the victims as “sister survivors” in a tearful speech.
“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,” Klein said. “For 30 years, people at the United States Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics, and Michigan State University all placed money and medals above the safety of child athletes.”
Later in the ceremony, Raisman urged other victims of sexual abuse to be courageous and pledged her support. Raisman also urged sexual-abuse victims to be brave and tell their stories, promising other victims would stand by them.
“To all the survivors out there, don’t let anyone rewrite your story,” she said.
Nassar plead guilty to seven counts of criminal sexual conduct and was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison by Judge Rosemarie Aquilina last January after being accused of abusing 256 girls and women, beginning in 1992. He was also sentenced to 60 years in prison for federal child pornography charges in December.
“You’ve done nothing to deserve to walk outside a prison again,” Aquilina said during a live broadcast of the sentencing. “It is my honor and privilege to sentence you.”