Accusations against Nassar earn former gymnast award
Rachael Denhollander, who sent a message heard by hundreds of other women when she refused to remain silent about sexual abuse committed by former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State doctor Larry Nassar, was presented with Sports Illustrated’s “Inspiration of the Year” award. And she was introduced by Christine Blasey Ford, who also sent a message with her own allegations of sexual assault.
“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 video that was addressed to Denhollander. “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.”
Ford alleged during U.S. Senate confirmation hearings on the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh that she was sexually assaulted by him more than 30 years ago.
Denhollander launched a #MeToo movement in the Olympic sport that resulted in the conviction of Nassar. He’s serving a 60-year term for federal child pornography crimes and a 40- to 175-year sentence for assaulting nine girls and women in Michigan.
Denhollander, a lawyer and a mother of three, filed suit against Nassar in federal court, with more than 25 former gymnasts joining in. More than 300 women say they were sexually assaulted by Nassar.
Earlier this week, an independent study concluded that, in the 14 months after two top executives at the U.S. Olympic Committee learned in July 2015 that Nassar was suspected of sexual abuse, they failed to ensure he no longer worked with children, didn’t inform anyone at the organization about the allegations, and deleted emails mentioning Nassar by name.