Christine Blasey Ford made her first public appearance since testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee in September, honoring Rachael Denhollander—the first woman to speak on the record publicly accusing Larry Nassar of sexual assault—at the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year Awards on Tuesday evening.
In a video statement, Blasey Ford commended Denhollander for her courage and strength to come forward, while announcing her as Sports Illustrated’s Inspiration of the Year.
“I am honored to speak with you from afar about a woman I admire so much, a woman who suffered abuse as a vulnerable teenage athlete, who found the courage to talk publicly to stop the abuse of others,” Blasey Ford said. “Her courage inspired others survivors to end their silence, and we all know the result.”
Denhollander was treated by Nassar for back problems in 2000, and she filed a criminal complaint agianst him at the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan in 2016. Since going public, more than 250 former gymnasts, and 23 husbands of gymnasts also came forward to accuse Nassar of sexual abuse, and he was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison in February of this year.
Blasey Ford has kept a low profile since her testimony about her allegations against Brett Kavanaugh at the Senate Judiciary Committee. The main form of communication from her came via her GoFundMe page, where she detailed the death threats she had faced, her having to move four times for her family's safety, and also expressed immense gratitude to those who donated.
“Rachael Denhollander, I am in awe of you and I will always be inspired by you. In stepping forward you took a huge risk,” Ford said in the video. “And you galvanized future generations to come forward even when the odds are seemingly stacked against them." Blasey Ford continued, “The lasting lesson is that we all have the power to create real change, and we cannot allow ourselves to be defined by the acts of others.”
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