For her first public appearance since she discussed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's alleged sexual misconduct, Christine Blasey Ford presented an award to the first woman who came forward to accuse former sports doctor Larry Nassar of sexual assault.
Ford introduced Rachael Denhollander, 34, in a video message before the lawyer and former gymnast was presented with the Sports Illustrated’s Inspiration of the Year award.
“Rachael Denhollander, I am in awe of you, and I will always be inspired by you,” Ford said. “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.”
Denhollander sued Nassar in federal court and went public with her allegations during an interview with the Indianapolis Star in 2016. Denhollander said she had issues with her back and wrists as a teenage athlete, and Nassar would position himself so her mother couldn’t see what he was doing while he would assault her.
“Nothing was off-limits for him,” she said then.
Nassar worked for Michigan State University and the U.S. women’s Olympic gymnastics team. Hundreds of women and girls said Nassar sexually abused them under the guise of medical treatment throughout the years. The 55-year-old is serving effective life sentences for child porn possession and molesting young women and girls.
While she was the first to publicly come forward, Denhollander was the last person who addressed Nassar during his sentencing hearing, offering her forgiveness.
Just days before the Senate Judiciary Committee was set to vote on Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation earlier this year, Ford publicly came forward to accuse the judge of sexual misconduct decades ago.
She accused Kavanaugh of pinning her to a bed during a house party in Maryland in the early 1980s, attempting to remove her clothes and putting his hand over her mouth when she tried to scream. At the time of the alleged incident, Ford was 15 and Kavanaugh was 17, she said, claiming Kavanaugh was drunk.
Kavanaugh repeatedly denied the allegations, and after a highly publicized and emotional hearing regarding the accusations, he was confirmed to the bench on Oct. 6.
After the allegations, a GoFundMe account set up on Ford’s behalf raised $647,610 before it was closed to further donations. In a Nov. 21 statement posted to the fundraising page, Ford said she used the money “to protect ourselves against frightening threats, including physical protection and security for me and my family, and to enhance the security for our home.”
Any leftover money will be donated to “organizations that support trauma survivors” – which are yet to be determined, Ford said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.