Christine Blasey Ford made her first public statement since testifying against Brett Kavanaugh in September to present Sports Illustrated’s Inspiration of the Year Award to Rachael Denhollander, the first woman to publicly accuse 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,” Ford said in the video. “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.”
“The lasting lesson,” Ford continued, “is that we all have the power to create real change and we cannot allow ourselves to be defined by the acts of others.”
The video posted late Tuesday by Sports Illustrated is the first time Ford has spoken out since she testified in September in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee about her allegation that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her when they were both in high school. Kavanaugh denies the allegation. He was sworn in as a Supreme Court justice in early October.
“I am honored to speak with you from afar about a woman I admire so much,” Ford said in the video. “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.”
Denhollander was the last of more than 150 women and girls to confront Nassar in court during his sentencing hearing for criminal sexual conduct. She spoke about all the ways the system failed her — along with other women and athletes — and allowed Nassar’s abuse to continue for such a long time.
In her statement, Denhollander said: “Women and girls banded together to fight for themselves because no one else would do it.”
Nassar pleaded guilty to seven counts of criminal sexual conduct and admitted to using his trusted medical position to assault and molest girls under the guise of medical treatment. He was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison.