Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
By Dartunorro Clark

Christine Blasey Ford, the California professor who testified that Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers, presented an award on Tuesday to former gymnast Rachael Denhollander, the first woman to publicly accuse former gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar of sexual abuse.

"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 of Denhollander in a video statement at Sports Illustrated's "Sportsperson of the Year" awards. "Her courage inspired other survivors to end their silence, and we all know the result."

She added, "We all have the power to create real change, and we cannot allow ourselves to be defined by the acts of others."

Sports Illustrated was the first to report this story.

Denhollander, who won the magazine's "Inspiration of the Year" award, was the first of hundreds of women who would ultimately come forward to say that Nassar, the former Michigan State and USA Gymnastics doctor, sexually abused them.

Rachael Denhollander accepts the "Inspiration of the Year Award" at the Sportsperson of the Year Awards Show on Dec. 11, 2018 in Los Angeles.Rich Polk / Getty Images for Sports Illustrated

Nassar, who was accused of molesting 265 girls and women over two decades under the guise of medical treatment, was sentenced in February to 40 to 175 years in prison. He was previously sentenced to 40 to 175 years in for molesting seven girls and to 60 years in federal prison for possession of child pornography.

Blasey Ford, who testified before Congress in September, said that in 1982, Kavanaugh and one of his friends corralled her in a bedroom during a gathering of teenagers at a house in suburban Maryland. Kavanaugh pinned her down, groped her over her clothing before attempting to remove it and put his hand over her mouth when she tried to scream, Blasey Ford said.

Kavanaugh, who also testified, strongly denied assaulting Blasey Ford. He was narrowly confirmed in October by the Senate to the Supreme Court in a 50-48 vote.

Tuesday's comments were Blasey Ford's first public comments since her testimony. She previously made a written statement in November, published to her GoFundMe page set up by her neighbors and colleagues to cover security costs. She thanked her supporters and said that “coming forward was terrifying" but gave her the chance "to fulfill my civic duty."

By the time she closed the account on Nov. 21, about 14,000 people had donated a total of nearly $650,000.

Sports Illustrated's "Sportsperson of the Year" awards ceremony will air on NBCSN on Dec. 13 at 9 p.m. ET.