Speaking out

Woman who anonymously accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct comes forward

Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the third day of his Supreme Court confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill September 6, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Last week, news broke that Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the senior Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, had approached federal investigators with information pertaining to Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court. The matter reportedly involved sexual misconduct against an unnamed woman.

Now, the woman who made the allegations has spoken out publicly for the first time. But Christine Blasey Ford, a professor at Palo Alto University, told The Washington Post that she is doing so reluctantly, hoping to take control of a story that was widely reported in the media without her consent.

Back in July, Ford sent a letter to Feinstein detailing an incident that allegedly took place in the 1980s, when both Ford and Kavanaugh were teenagers. They were students at private high schools in suburban Maryland and, according to the letter, once attended the same house party. Ford claims that she was heading to the bathroom when a “highly inebriated” Kavanaugh grabbed her and pulled her into a bedroom. Another intoxicated teenage boy, whose name was redacted in the letter, was also present, Ford claims. In her interview with the Post, Ford said that the other boy was Kavanaugh’s classmate, Mark Judge, who is now a filmmaker and author.

Ford alleges that Kavanaugh pinned her to the bed, groped her and tried to pull off her clothes. When she screamed, he reportedly covered her mouth with his hand.

Ford says she was only able to escape when Judge, in a drunken stupor, jumped on top of them, causing them all to topple over and giving Ford a chance to run out of the room. She tells the Post that she did not speak about the incident until 2012, while in couples therapy with her husband.

Also in July, Ford contacted the Post with the story, but did not want to speak on the record at the time. In August, she decided not to come forward because she did not want to put herself and her family through the intense scrutiny that would inevitably come with speaking out.

But the story leaked last week when The Intercept reported that Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee had asked to view a document connected to Kavanaugh that was in Feinstein’s possession. Feinstein’s refusal to release the document was causing “tension” within the committee, The Intercept wrote.

Feinstein later said in a statement that she had “received information from an individual concerning the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.”

“That individual strongly requested confidentiality, declined to come forward or press the matter further, and I have honored that decision, Feinstein added. “I have, however, referred the matter to federal investigative authorities.”

The story continued to expand in detail, and Ford tells the Post that she was troubled by inaccuracies in some of the reporting. “These are all the ills that I was trying to avoid,” she said, adding that reporters were visiting her at her home and other places. “Now I feel like my civic responsibility is outweighing my anguish and terror about retaliation.”

Kavanaugh, who has presented himself as a champion of women since he was nominated by President Trump in July, has responded to the allegations in a statement sent through the White House. “I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation,” he said, according to the Post. “I did not do this back in high school or at any time.” On Monday, he issued another statement, saying, “This is a completely false allegation. I have never done anything like what the accuser describes — to her or to anyone,” according to NBC.

Several Senators have now called for a delay in Kavanaugh’s confirmation process, including three key Republicans who are expected to be solid ‘yes’ votes in favor of confirming the Supreme Court nominee. Senators Jeff Flake of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said a vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation should be delayed and Bob Corker of Tennessee said it should be postponed. Flake said he is “not comfortable” voting for Kavanaugh at this point and indicated he would like to hear more on the accusation from Ford.

On Monday morning Ford’s attorney, Debra Katz, appeared on Good Morning America and said Ford is prepared to testify before Congress. “It’s not clear what the Republicans are saying,” said Katz. “I was listening to some reporting this morning saying that they’re going to fight this tooth and nail, that they’re going to grill her. That’s hardly an effort to get into a fair and thorough investigation of what has occurred. That’s a very intimidating statement and it really is designed to scare her and make her not want to come forward.”

Again, though, the attorney emphasized, any cooperation from Ford would be reluctant. “She’s willing to cooperate,” Katz said of her client. “What she’s not willing to do is to be part of this bloodletting that happens in Washington.” In his statement on Monday, Kavanaugh also said he’s willing to cooperate an testify on the topic. “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,” Kavanaugh said.

Watch the video below to see Katz’s full interview on GMA.

Read the full story at The Washington Post and The Associated Press.

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