The woman who wrote a confidential letter alleging Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in the early 1980s has reluctantly come forward, saying her “civic responsibility is outweighing my anguish and terror about retaliation.”
In an interview posted Sunday by The Washington Post, Christine Blasey Ford, 51, a California research psychologist, said she had written a confidential letter to her local congresswoman in July, but decided in early August not to come forward, figuring it would upend her life and ultimately not affect the Kavanaugh confirmation.
“Why suffer through the annihilation if it’s not going to matter?” she told the Post.
But her story leaked anyway, with the Intercept reporting last Wednesday that Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., had received a letter through California Democratic Rep. Anna Eschoo, describing an incident involving Kavanaugh and a woman while they were in high school, and that Feinstein was refusing to share it with her Democratic colleagues.
Feinstein soon released a statement, and the New York Times later reported the letter’s contents but not Ford’s identity. A BuzzFeed News reporter showed up at her house and school, the Post reported.
Ford told the Post she felt her privacy was being chipped away.
“These are all the ills that I was trying to avoid,” she told the Post. “Now I feel like my civic responsibility is outweighing my anguish and terror about retaliation.”
Ford told the Post that she recalls the incident occurring in the summer of 1982, when she was 15 and a student at the all-girls Holton-Arms School in Bethesda, Md., and Kavanaugh would have been 17 at Georgetown Preparatory School. She told the Post Kavanaugh and a friend — both allegedly “stumbling drunk” at a small gathering of teens that night — corralled her into a bedroom in 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 tried 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,” she told the Post. “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”
Ford said she was able to escape when Kavanaugh’s friend and classmate 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.
In an interview Friday with The Weekly Standard, before Ford’s name was known, Judge denied the incident. “It’s just absolutely nuts. I never saw Brett act that way,” Judge told the DC.
Ford told the Post she told no one about 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 to the Post, don’t mention Kavanaugh’s name.
A sexual harassment lawyer for Ford, Debra Katz, told the Post she believes Feinstein honored Ford’s request to keep her allegation confidential, but “regrettably others did not.”
“Victims must have the right to decide whether to come forward, especially in a political environment that is as ruthless as this one,” Katz told the Post. “She will now face vicious attacks by those who support this nominee.”
Ford also took a polygraph test in early August, administered by a former FBI agent, which supported her statement. Her attorney provided the results to the Post.
Ford told the Post she hasn’t spoken with Kavanaugh since the alleged incident, and never told anyone at the time.
“My biggest fear was, do I look like someone just attacked me?” she told the Post, and 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 told the Post she realized the incident was a trauma having a lasting impact on her.
“I think it derailed me substantially for four or five years,” she told the Post, saying she struggled academically and socially. “I was very ill-equipped to forge those kinds of [healthy] relationships” with men, she told the Post.
She also told the Post she believes the incident contributed to anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms that she’s suffered.
Her husband, Russell Ford, told the Post:
“I think you look to judges to be the arbiters of right and wrong. If they don’t have a moral code of their own to determine right from wrong, then that’s a problem. So I think it’s relevant. Supreme Court nominees should be held to a higher standard.”
U.S. Senate consideration of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to become a Supreme Court justice should be put on hold until the FBI conducts an investigation into a California woman's allegations of sexual misconduct against President Donald Trump's nominee.
Responding to the Post report Feinstein said in a statement: “I support Mrs. Ford’s decision to share her story, and now that she has, it is in the hands of the FBI to conduct an investigation. This should happen before the Senate moves forward on this nominee.”
Other Democrats, including Minority Leader Chuck Grassley, D-N.Y., have called for a delay in the process as well.
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