ESPN is slated to honor the female gymnasts who spoke out against serial sex abuser Larry Nassar by awarding them the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at this year’s ESPYS.
Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison after he was convicted of abusing 140 girls and one boy while he was a sports physician at Michigan State University for nearly two decades and as a doctor for the Olympic gymnastics team.
At his sentencing hearing in January, more than 200 victims spoke out about the abuse they suffered at Nassar’s hands, including Olympian Ally Raisman, who made a powerful statement reclaiming her own agency.
“All these brave women have power, and we will use our voices to make sure you get what you deserve, a life of suffering spent replaying the words delivered by this powerful army of survivors,” she said. “My dream is that one day, everyone will know what the words, ‘Me too,’ signify, but they will be educated and able to protect themselves from predators like Larry, so they will never ever ever have to say the words, ‘Me too.’”
Michigan State has agreed to pay $500 million to Nassar’s victims as part of a settlement agreement reached Wednesday. Seventy-five million of those funds will be set aside for future victims to come forward, while the remaining $425 million will be divided among the victims named in the suit. The university was reportedly warned about Nassar’s behavior as early as 1992, but the school continued to employ him.
In 2014, the university determined that his “pelvic floor” treatments were medically legitimate, despite complaints. That same year, Nassar was allowed to return to work during a police investigation into his behavior after a complaint was made against him. University officials maintain they were ignorant of Nassar’s abusive behavior until media outlets began running victims’ stories in 2016.
USA Gymnastics, the U.S. Olympic Committee, and a local gym where Nassar worked, Twistars, are also named as defendants in the suit.