(JTA) — Gold medalist Aly Raisman was among the 140 survivors of sexual abuse by former U.S. Olympics gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar who stood together on stage at the ESPY awards to receive the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage.
“For too long we were ignored. It could have been avoided,” Raisman told the crowd Wednesday night at the ceremony in Los Angeles. “All we needed was one adult to have the integrity to stand between us and Larry Nassar.”
The Jewish athlete went to say, to extended applause: “Too often abusers and enablers perpetuate suffering … to all the survivors out there, don’t let anyone rewrite your story. Your truth does matter and you are not alone.”
The women, dressed in evening gowns, stood together on three stages, many holding each other for support.
Raisman was one of three victims who spoke about their experiences at the nationally televised ceremony.
The ESPYs recognize individual and team athletic achievement and other sports-related performance. They are presented by the ABC television network, and prior to 2017 by ESPN.
Raisman, the winner of numerous Olympic medals, including several golds, in March sued the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics alleging negligence for not stopping Nassar from sexually abusing young athletes. Nassar was sentenced earlier this year to 40 to 175 years in prison for molesting over 150 women and girls over two decades. Many of the victims, including Raisman, spoke at his sentencing.
The ESPYs also posthumously awarded Scott Beigel, Aaron Feis and Chris Hixon with the best coach award. The men were all killed in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 students and teachers dead.
Beigel, 35, who was Jewish, was a geography teacher and cross country coach at the school who saved students’ lives by opening his classroom door and ushering in the students. He was shot while closing the door behind them.