In a powerful moment Wednesday night, more than 140 survivors took the stage at the 2018 ESPYS to accept the Arthur Ashe Courage Award on behalf of all those who were sexually abused by former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar.
Olympian Aly Raisman was among the women to accept the award in person, a group of "sister survivors" that stretched across the stage. Sarah Klein, who identified herself as Nassar's first victim roughly 30 years ago, called it "a portrait of survival."
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"Speaking up and speaking out is not easy," Klein said. "Telling our stories of abuse over and over and over again, in graphic detail, is not easy. We're sacrificing privacy. We're being judged and scrutinized, and it's grueling, and it's painful — but it is time."
Nassar, who also worked at Michigan State, abused hundreds of women under the guise of medical treatment over the course of multiple decades. He was arrested after the Indianapolis Star, which is part of the USA Today Network, uncovered a pattern of sexual abuse issues at USA Gymnastics in 2016. The 54-year-old Nassar was sentenced to serve 60 years in federal prison on child pornography charges, as well as 40 to 175 years on sexual abuse charges in separate Michigan counties.
In their remarks Wednesday, the group of survivors thanked Michigan police and prosecutors for helping bring Nassar to justice. They also publicly thanked Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, who allowed hundreds of women to testify at Nassar's sentencing and was in the audience Wednesday night.
"To all the survivors out there: Don't let anyone rewrite your story," Raisman said. "Your truth does matter. You matter. And you are not alone."