WASHINGTON – The 51-year-old woman who claimed confidentially in letters to Democratic members of Congress that she was sexually assaulted by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as a high-school teen is now telling her story publicly.
Though not certain about the year of the incident, Christine Blasey Ford claimed to the Washington Post that Kavanaugh and another high school friend, both “stumbling drunk,” corralled her into a bedroom during a gathering of teens at a house in Montgomery County, Maryland.
While his friend allegedly watched, she said, Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed on her back, groped her over her clothes, grinding his body against hers and attempted to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she wore over it.
When she tried to scream, she claimed, he put his hand over her mouth.
“I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” said Ford, a registered Democrat and research psychologist in northern California. “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”
Following the report, leading Democrats immediately called for an investigation and a delay in the confirmation vote.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., wrote Sunday, “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.”
A White House official, asked Sunday by NBC News if Kavanaugh will withdraw his nomination, offered a firm “no” to NBC, pointing to the fact that “he has unequivocally denied the allegation.”
Earlier this summer, Ford wrote a confidential letter to a senior Democratic lawmaker alleging that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her more than three decades ago, when they were high school students in suburban Maryland. In recent days, she decided to tell her story sans anonymity.
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.
Kavanaugh issued a statement last week on the matter saying, “I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time.”
Meanwhile, Judge provided an interview Friday to the the Weekly Standard, before Ford’s name was known. He denied that any such incident occurred.
“It’s just absolutely nuts,” he said. “I never saw Brett act that way,” Judge said. He also told the New York Times that Kavanaugh was a “brilliant student” who loved sports and was not “into anything crazy or illegal.”
Christine Ford is a professor at Palo Alto University who teaches in a consortium with Stanford University, training graduate students in clinical psychology. Her work has been widely published in academic journals.
She has engaged Debra Katz, a Washington lawyer known for her work on sexual harassment cases. On the advice of Katz, who believed Ford would be attacked as a liar if she came forward, Ford took a polygraph test administered by a former FBI agent in early August. The results, which Katz provided to the Post, concluded that Ford was being truthful when she said a statement summarizing her allegations was accurate.
By then, Ford had begun to fear she would be exposed. People were clearly learning her identity: A BuzzFeed reporter visited her at her home and tried to speak to her as she was leaving a classroom where she teaches graduate students. Another reporter called her colleagues to ask about her.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, released a letter from 65 women who say they knew Kavanaugh when he attended high school from 1979 to 1983 at Georgetown Prep, an all-boys school in North Bethesda.
“Through the more than 35 years we have known him, Brett has stood out for his friendship, character, and integrity,” the women wrote. “In particular, he has always treated women with decency and respect. That was true when he was in high school, and it has remained true to this day.”
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.
Judge is a filmmaker and author who has written for the Daily Caller, the Weekly Standard and The Washington Post. He chronicled his recovery from alcoholism in “Wasted: Tales of a Gen-X Drunk,” which described his own blackout drinking and a culture of partying among students at his high school, renamed in the book “Loyola Prep.” Kavanaugh is not mentioned in the book, but a passage about partying at the beach one summer makes glancing reference to a “Bart O’Kavanaugh,” who “puked in someone’s car the other night” and “passed out on his way back from a party.”
Ford said that on the night of the party, 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.