California Woman Accusing Brett Kavanaugh Of Sexual Assault Comes Forward
A woman accusing Brett Kavanaugh of having assaulted her when he was 17 and she was 15 has come forward. What happens next is anyone's guess.
The woman who sent a letter to a California Congresswoman which was ultimately passed along to the F.B.I. regarding alleged sexual misconduct by Judge Brett Kavanaugh when he was a teenager has come forward to tell her story to The Washington Post:
Earlier this summer, Christine Blasey Ford wrote a confidential letter to a senior Democratic lawmaker alleging that Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her more than three decades ago, when they were high school students in suburban Maryland. Since Wednesday, she has watched as that bare-bones version of her story became public without her name or her consent, drawing a blanket denial from Kavanaugh and roiling a nomination that just days ago seemed all but certain to succeed.
Now, Ford has decided that if her story is going to be told, she wants to be the one to tell it.
Speaking publicly for the first time, Ford said that one summer in the early 1980s, Kavanaugh and a friend — both “stumbling drunk,” Ford alleges — corralled her into a bedroom during a gathering of teenagers at a house in Montgomery County.
While his friend watched, she said, Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed on her back and groped her over her clothes, grinding his body against hers and clumsily attempting to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she wore over it. When she tried to scream, she said, he put his hand over her mouth.
“I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” said Ford, now a 51-year-old research psychologist in northern California. “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”
Ford said she was able to escape when Kavanaugh’s friend and classmate at Georgetown Preparatory School, Mark Judge, jumped on top of them, sending all three tumbling. She said she ran from the room, briefly locked herself in a bathroom and then fled the house.
Ford said she told no one of the incident in any detail until 2012, when she was in couples therapy with her husband. The therapist’s notes, portions of which were provided by Ford and reviewed by The Washington Post, do not mention Kavanaugh’s name but say she reported that she was attacked by students “from an elitist boys’ school” who went on to become “highly respected and high-ranking members of society in Washington.” The notes say four boys were involved, a discrepancy Ford says was an error on the therapist’s part. Ford said there were four boys at the party but only two in the room.
Notes from an individual therapy session the following year, when she was being treated for what she says have been long-term effects of the incident, show Ford described a “rape attempt” in her late teens.
In an interview, her husband, Russell Ford, said that in the 2012 sessions, she recounted being trapped in a room with two drunken boys, one of whom pinned her to a bed, molested her and prevented her from screaming. He said he recalled that his wife used Kavanaugh’s last name and voiced concern that Kavanaugh — then a federal judge — might one day be nominated to the Supreme Court.
On Sunday, the White House sent The Post a statement Kavanaugh issued last week, when the outlines of Ford’s account first became public: “I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time.”
Through a White House spokesman, Kavanaugh declined to comment further on Ford’s allegation and did not respond to questions about whether he knew her during high school. The White House had no additional comment.
Reached by email Sunday, Judge declined to comment. In an interview Friday with The Weekly Standard, before Ford’s name was known, he denied that any such incident occurred. “It’s just absolutely nuts. I never saw Brett act that way,” Judge said. He told the New York Times that Kavanaugh was a “brilliant student” who loved sports and was not “into anything crazy or illegal.”
[Ford] contacted The Post through a tip line in early July, when it had become clear that Kavanaugh was on the shortlist of possible nominees to replace retiring justice Anthony M. Kennedy but before Trump announced his name publicly. A registered Democrat who has made small contributions to political organizations, she contacted her congresswoman, Democrat Anna G. Eshoo, around the same time. In late July, she sent a letter via Eshoo’s office to Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.
In the letter, which was read to The Post, Ford described the incident and said she expected her story to be kept confidential. She signed the letter as Christine Blasey, the name she uses professionally.
For weeks, Ford declined to speak to The Post on the record as she grappled with concerns about what going public would mean for her and her family — and what she said was her duty as a citizen to tell the story.
After so many years, Ford said she does not remember some key details of the incident. She said she believes it occurred in the summer of 1982, when she was 15, around the end of her sophomore year at the all-girls Holton-Arms School in Bethesda. Kavanaugh would have been 17 at the end of his junior year at Georgetown Prep.
At the time, Ford said, she knew Kavanaugh and Judge as “friendly acquaintances” in the private-school social circles of suburban Maryland. Her Holton-Arms friends mostly hung out with boys from the Landon School, she said, but for a period of several months socialized regularly with students from Georgetown Prep.
Ford said she does not remember how the gathering came together the night of the incident. She said she often spent time in the summer at the Columbia Country Club pool in Chevy Chase, where in those pre-cellphone days, teenagers learned about gatherings via word of mouth. She also doesn’t recall who owned the house or how she got there.
Ford said she remembers that it was in Montgomery County, not far from the country club, and that no parents were home at the time. Ford named two other teenagers who she said were at the party. Those individuals did not respond to messages on Sunday morning.
She said she recalls a small family room where she and a handful of others drank beer together that night. She said that each person had one beer but that Kavanaugh and Judge had started drinking earlier and were heavily intoxicated.
In his senior-class yearbook entry at Georgetown Prep, Kavanaugh made several references to drinking, claiming membership to the “Beach Week Ralph Club” and “Keg City Club.” He and Judge are pictured together at the beach in a photo in the yearbook.
Ford said she left the family room to use the bathroom, which was at the top of a narrow stairway. She doesn’t remember whether Kavanaugh and Judge were behind her or already upstairs, but she remembers being pushed into a bedroom and then onto a bed. Rock-and-roll music was playing with the volume turned up high, she said.
She alleges that Kavanaugh — who played football and basketball at Georgetown Prep — held her down with the weight of his body and fumbled with her clothes, seemingly hindered by his intoxication. Judge stood across the room, she said, and both boys were laughing “maniacally.” She said she yelled, hoping that someone downstairs would hear her over the music, and Kavanaugh clapped his hand over her mouth to silence her.
At one point, she said, Judge jumped on top of them, and she tried unsuccessfully to wriggle free. Then Judge jumped on them again, toppling them, and she broke away, she said.
She said she locked herself in the bathroom and listened until she heard the boys “going down the stairs, hitting the walls.” She said that after five or ten minutes, she unlocked the door and made her way through the living room and outside. She isn’t sure how she got home.
Ford said she has not spoken with Kavanaugh since that night. And she told no one at the time what had happened to her. She was terrified, she said, that she would be in trouble if her parents realized she had been at a party where teenagers were drinking, and she worried they might figure it out even if she did not tell them.
“My biggest fear was, do I look like someone just attacked me?” she said. She said she recalled thinking: “I’m not ever telling anyone this. This is nothing, it didn’t happen, and he didn’t rape me.”
Years later, after going through psychotherapy, Ford said, she came to understand the incident as a trauma with lasting impact on her life.
“I think it derailed me substantially for four or five years,” she said. She said she struggled academically and socially and was unable to have healthy relationships with men. “I was very ill-equipped to forge those kinds of relationships.”
Dear Senator Feinstein;
I am writing with information relevant in evaluating the current nominee to the Supreme Court.
As a constituent, I expect that you will maintain this as confidential until we have further opportunity to speak.
Brett Kavanaugh physically and sexually assaulted me during high school in the early 1980’s. He conducted these acts with the assistance of REDACTED.
Both were one to two years older than me and students at a local private school.
The assault occurred in a suburban Maryland area home at a gathering that included me and four others.
Kavanaugh physically pushed me into a bedroom as I was headed for a bathroom up a short stair well from the living room. They locked the door and played loud music precluding any successful attempt to yell for help.
Kavanaugh was on top of me while laughing with REDACTED, who periodically jumped onto Kavanaugh. They both laughed as Kavanaugh tried to disrobe me in their highly inebriated state. With Kavanaugh’s hand over my mouth I feared he may inadvertently kill me.
From across the room a very drunken REDACTED said mixed words to Kavanaugh ranging from “go for it” to “stop.”
At one point when REDACTED jumped onto the bed the weight on me was substantial. The pile toppled, and the two scrapped with each other. After a few attempts to get away, I was able to take this opportune moment to get up and run across to a hallway bathroom. I locked the bathroom door behind me. Both loudly stumbled down the stair well at which point other persons at the house were talking with them. I exited the bathroom, ran outside of the house and went home.
I have not knowingly seen Kavanaugh since the assault. I did see REDACTED once at the REDACTED where he was extremely uncomfortable seeing me.
I have received medical treatment regarding the assault. On July 6 I notified my local government representative to ask them how to proceed with sharing this information . It is upsetting to discuss sexual assault and its repercussions, yet I felt guilty and compelled as a citizen about the idea of not saying anything.
I am available to speak further should you wish to discuss. I am currently REDACTED and will be in REDACTED.
In confidence, REDACTED.
So, there we have it.
If these allegations are true, then one can credibly say that Brett Kavanaugh committed what would likely amount to an attempted sexual assault, or perhaps sexual assault itself, under the laws of most states today, and probably also under Maryland law in 1982. The other thing that stands out is the fact that, contrary to the initial rumors that reported that both Kavanaugh and the woman involved were 17 at the time this happened, we know now that Ford was just 15 years old at the time this allegedly happened, meaning that even if there was some consensual element to this that would be irrelevant since it is unlikely that the age of consent in Maryland at the time was as low as 15. Even if there’s no evidence of similar behavior on Kavanaugh’s part before or since this happened, this is a serious enough allegation that it needs to be considered before he’s confirmed to the Supreme Court. The only question is what form that consideration takes and whether it actually delays a confirmation vote that, until now, seemed to be self-assured.
Unlike the situation we faced just a few days ago and even as recently as yesterday, we now have a name and a detailed recollection of what is alleged to have occurred some thirty-six years ago. For many reasons, there are questions that should be raised on both sides of the table. The first, of course, is why this issue didn’t come up immediately after Kavanaugh was named as President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee and before the hearings that took place earlier this month had taken place. Had that happened, then there would have been sufficient time to investigate the matter and for Judge Kavanaugh to answer questions publicly about the allegations against him, even if it turned out that his response would have been the same as it is now, which is what most likely would have happened. One can also wonder why an allegation like this didn’t come up during the inevitable background checks that Kavanaugh had to undergo when he was hired as President George W. Bush’s Staff Secretary or when he was being vetted to become a Circuit Court Judge more than ten years ago. The fact that Ms. Ford apparently did not tell anyone other than her husband what has happened until that therapist’s session in 2012 may be the reason for that,but the passage of time and the fact that we presently do not have any evidence of similar behavior by Kavanaugh either as a teenager or later in life make one wonder just how relevant this report should be to the fate of Kavanaugh’s nomination at this point in time.
To make the inevitable historical analogy, we’re now basically entering territory not dissimilar from where we were in 1991 when Anita Hill came forward to make accusations of sexual harassment against Clarence Thomas. In that case, the ultimate result was that the Senate Judiciary reconvened for a new set of hearings at which both Hill and Thomas testified. Ultimately, of course, Thomas was confirmed notwithstanding the fact that Democrats controlled the Senate at the time thanks to the fact that nearly a dozen Democrats joined the Republicans in the Senate to vote in favor of Thomas’s confirmation. At this point, the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination on Thursday and it was expected that the vote would fall along party lines. No doubt these allegations, and the fact that Ford has come forward to tell her story will have a huge impact on how this plays out.
Since it’s a Sunday afternoon, reaction to the story is slow to come forward but that is going to change as the hours go on, and it’s likely that this will be the biggest story in Washington tomorrow morning and in the days going forward. As a political matter, this report is likely to ramp up the pressure on key Senators such as Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski to act, presumably by saying that they wouldn’t vote for Kavanaugh’s nomination absent a further investigation in some form similar to what we saw with the Thomas-Hill hearing. Additionally, these allegations are likely to place red state Democrats like Joe Manchin, Joe Donnelly, and Heidi Heitkamp in a difficult position since they still face the political pressure of re-election in states that are strongly Republican and, now, the added political pressure of looking the other way in the face of what seem like credible, albeit somewhat ancient, allegations of sexual assault.
The fact that this would be unfolding in the wake of the MeToo movement and just weeks before the 2018 election is likely to ramp up the political pressure on Senate Democrats, and people such as Senators Collins and Murkowski, even higher than it would otherwise be. Reports on cable news are already quoting Senator Dianne Feinstein as calling for a delay in the Judiciary Committee’s vote, and in any Senate floor vote, until there can be a full investigation of the allegations. Practically speaking, that would mean that it would be unlikely that there would be any vote in the Senate at all before the Supreme Court reconvene in October. How this proceeds, though, depends on a number of factors, including whether or not Ms. Ford would be willing to come forward to testify or otherwise speak to investigators as well as how the White House reacts to this story. Finally, it goes without saying that if this report leads to the revelation of any similar reports involving Judge Kavanaugh then his nomination would likely have to be withdrawn and the White House would be back at the beginning of the process with little chance of a nominee being confirmed before the midterm elections. In any case, we now have a name and the details of the accusation. Where it goes from here is something we’ll need to wait to see, but it’s going to be an interesting week to say the least.
Update: Not surprisingly, Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer is calling for a delay in any Judiciary Committee or Senate floor vote until the charges can be investigated:
SCHUMER: “Senator Grassley must postpone the vote until, at a very minimum, these serious and credible allegations are thoroughly investigated.” pic.twitter.com/3P8tpaCzui
— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) September 16, 2018
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, meanwhile, is questioning the timing of this report:
Statement from Taylor Foy, spokesperson for Grassley on the Judiciary Committee, criticizes the timing in which Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations have been made public. pic.twitter.com/2d2JwX3uvw
— Chris Geidner (@chrisgeidner) September 16, 2018
Senator Lindsey Graham, meanwhile, appears to open the door to the idea of the committee hearing from Ms. Ford:
My statement on Judge Kavanaugh. pic.twitter.com/QGz3uUyzC9
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) September 16, 2018
And perhaps most significantly Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake is calling for a delay in the committee vote:
NEWS: Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) tells me in an intv he that doesn’t think the Judiciary Cmte should move ahead with its Thursday vote on Kavanaugh until they hear more from Christine Blasey Ford. “For me, we can’t vote until we hear more.”
— Sean Sullivan (@WaPoSean) September 16, 2018
More along these lines to come, I’m sure.
Update #2: (9/17/2018): Judge Kavanaugh has released a new statement:
NEW from KAVANAUGH (via the pool): “I am willing to talk to the Senate Judiciary Committee in any way the Committee deems appropriate to refute this false allegation, from 36 years ago, and defend my integrity.” pic.twitter.com/yNSr76snZL
— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) September 17, 2018
Update #3: And the dam has broken The Judiciary Committee will meet to hear from the accuser and accused next Monday.