Ten weeks after giving an emotional testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee against now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Christine Blasey Ford is making her first public statements to honor another sexual assault survivor.
Ford presented Sports Illustrated‘s Inspiration of the Year Award to Rachael Denhollander, the first woman who publicly accused former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University doctor Larry Nassar of sexual abuse.
“Rachael Denhollander, I am in awe of you and I will always be inspired by you. In stepping forward you took a huge risk and you galvanized future generations to come forward even when the odds are seemingly stacked against them,” Ford said in a pre-recorded video message.
“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,” she continued.
In September, Ford, a research psychologist and professor at Palo Alto University, claimed Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a high school party in the 1980s, where he allegedly pinned her down to a bed, groped her and tried to remove her clothes.
Kavanaugh, who was sworn in as a Supreme Court justice in October, has denied Ford’s allegations.
“I am honored to speak with you from afar about a woman I admire so much,” Ford also said in her video message. “A woman who suffered abuse as a vulnerable teenaged athlete who found the courage to talk publicly to stop the abuse of others. Her courage inspired other survivors to end their silence, and we all know the result.”
In January, Denhollander spoke boldly during Nassar’s days-long hearing and criticized officials for allegedly turning a blind eye. “Women and girls banded together to fight for themselves because no one else would do it,” she said.
Nassar, who pleaded guilty in November 2017 to several counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, was sentenced up to 175 years in prison for sexually abusing women and girls for years. More than 150 women and girls have accused Nassar of assault, including gymnasts Aly Raisman, Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney and Gabby Douglas.
Nassar was fired by USA Gymnastics in 2015 after working with the organization since 1986 — he had been its national medical coordinator since 1996, the New York Times reported. He was fired from Michigan State in 2016.
If you or someone you care about is affected by sexual violence, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).