(EDITOR’S NOTE, 9/16/18, 6:45 PM: This article previously stated the Kavanaugh confirmation vote was scheduled for Friday. It is actually scheduled for Thursday.)
Christine Blasey Ford has decided to publicly come forward and speak openly about her allegation that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh tried to sexually assault her in high school.
Ford, a 51-year-old research psychologist who teaches at Palo Alto University in Northern California, told The Washington Post that she has sought therapy for the trauma she experienced in high school more than three decades ago. The Post reported that Washington lawyer Debra Katz gave the paper the results of a polygraph a former FBI agent administered in August that showed Ford was being truthful in her story.
Christine Ford accused Kavanaugh of the assault at a party in Montgomery County, Maryland, in the summer of 1982, when she was a 15-year-old sophomore at the all-girls Holton-Arms school in Bethesda, Maryland, and when Kavanaugh was a 17-year-old junior at Georgetown Prep.
“I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” Ford told the Post. “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”
In a letter Ford wrote to Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) — the highest-ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee — Kavanaugh was accused of pinning Ford down at a high school party and “forcing himself on her” while his friend, Mark Judge, turned the music in the room up so nobody would hear Ford crying out. She eventually escaped and left the party shortly afterward.
Kavanaugh’s accuser kept the alleged assault to herself, and told nobody — not even her husband, Russell Ford — until the two were in a couples’ therapy session in 2012.
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.
In August, Ford had decided that the damage to her career and reputation wouldn’t be worth going public. However, as she saw news about the denials of her allegation, she changed her mind.
“Why suffer through the annihilation if it’s not going to matter?” Ford told the Post regarding her eventual decision to come forward publicly. “These are all the ills that I was trying to avoid… Now I feel like my civic responsibility is outweighing my anguish and terror about retaliation.”
Not long after the assault allegations were made public in a story by The New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s official Twitter account tweeted a letter co-signed by 65 women who say they went to high schools in the same community as Kavanaugh and vouched for his “character” and “integrity.” The original author of the letter has not been identified as of publication.
65 women of bipartisan backgrounds who knew Judge Kavanaugh in high school: "For the entire time we have known Brett Kavanaugh, he has behaved honorably and treated women with respect" & has "stood out for his friendship, character, and integrity" #SCOTUS https://t.co/9dT54BC2qM pic.twitter.com/5QtcPfwjX5
— Senate Judiciary (@senjudiciary) September 14, 2018
Lori Weinrich Kaplan, one of the co-signers, told Grit Post it was “hard to say” whether or not the accuser was telling the truth. Nora Haley Ellison, who also co-signed the letter, was more blunt in her skepticism.
“I think they’re made up,” Ellison said of the sexual assault allegations.
“I knew [Kavanaugh] as a very nice, respectful guy when I was in high school. They don’t get better than him, to tell you the truth,” Ellison said in a phone interview on Saturday. “He was just a nice guy.”
Kavanaugh denied the allegations in response to the New Yorker’s report Friday morning.
“I did not do this back in high school or at any time,” the Supreme Court nominee said in a public statement.
Once word got out that Sen. Feinstein had shared the letter with her Democratic colleagues on the judiciary committee, committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) pushed back the committee’s vote to confirm Kavanaugh by one week to Thursday.
Activists are already pressuring Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) to vote against his confirmation, raising more than $1 million to donate to whomever challenges her in the 2020 election. If Collins does indeed vote no and all 49 Senate Democrats are united in their opposition, Vice President Mike Pence would be called in to make a tiebreaker vote. Pence has already said he expects he may be needed to be the final vote to confirm Kavanaugh.
Nick Jewell is a freelance political writer, and a proud resident of Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.