Ford’s lawyers submit 4 affidavits backing up assault story
By ALAN FRAM, LISA MASCARO and LAURIE KELLMAN
Wednesday, September 26
WASHINGTON (AP) — Christine Blasey Ford’s lawyers said Wednesday they have given the Senate sworn affidavits from four people who say she told them well before Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination that she had been sexually assaulted when she was much younger.
And according to all four, she either named Kavanaugh as the assailant or described the attacker as a “federal judge.”
At the U.N., meanwhile, President Donald Trump said on the eve of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing with Kavanaugh and Ford that Republicans “could not be nicer, could not be more respectful” in their treatment of Ford. He described his nominee as “an absolute gem” and said he probably would have pushed for faster confirmation rather than waiting for Ford’s testimony.
In one of the affidavits, family friend Keith Koegler said he wrote to Ford in a June 29 email, “I remember you telling me about him, but I don’t remember his name. Do you mind telling me so I can read about him?”
“Brett Kavanaugh,” Ford responded by email, according to Koegler, her son’s baseball team coach.
Trump nominated Kavanaugh, 53, to the high court on July 9. Kavanaugh staunchly denies ever sexually assaulting anyone, and his allies have questioned the credibility of Ford and a second accuser based in part on what they say is a lack of corroboration. Trump has dismissed both accusations as a “Democratic con job.”
The affidavits signed Monday and Tuesday of this week could give more weight to Ford’s story on the eve of her testimony — and Kavanaugh’s expected denial — before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. Republicans are concerned that, win or lose, the battle over Kavanaugh’s nomination is further animating women already inclined to vote against Trump’s party in November’s elections in which control of the next Congress is at stake.
Hanging in the balance is Trump’s chance to swing the high court more firmly to the right for a generation. Despite Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s forecast that Republicans will win, Kavanaugh’s fate remains uncertain in a chamber where Republicans have a scant 51-49 majority.
Ford, 51, went public with her story in The Washington Post recently, saying Kavanaugh had pinned her down, tried to remove her clothes and clamped a hand over her mouth at a party when both were in high school. She got away when a second male in the room jumped on the bed and sent all three tumbling, she says.
According to the affidavits, Ford revealed the assault in varying levels of detail between 2002 and Koegler’s email in June.
Her husband, Russell Ford, stated that he became aware around the time the couple wed in 2002 that his wife had “any experience with sexual assault,” but she provided no details at the time. In 2012 during a couples therapy session, he says, she revealed that in high school she had been “trapped in a room and physically restrained by one boy who was molesting her while another boy watched.” He says she named the attacker as Kavanaugh.
The subject came up again when Trump was considering his first Supreme Court nominee, who ended up being Justice Neil Gorsuch. Before the selection, Ford had told her husband that she was afraid the president might nominate Kavanaugh. The matter came up again when Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement and Trump had a second seat to fill.
In a third affidavit, Adela Gildo-Mazzon, a friend of more than a decade, said Ford first told her about the assault in June, 2013. The two met at a Mountain View, California, restaurant, where Ford arrived “visibly upset.”
“Christine told me she … had been thinking about an assault she experienced when she was much younger,” Gildo-Mazzon’s statement says, adding that she has a receipt from the meal. “She said that she had been almost raped by someone who was now a federal judge.”
Neighbor Rebecca White said she was walking her dog in 2017 when she ran into Ford, who said she had seen White’s social media post describing her own experience with sexual assault.
“She then told me that when she was a young teen, she had been sexually assaulted by an older teen,” White recalled in the document. “I remember her saying that her assailant was now a federal judge.”
The documents are likely to be central in the momentous hearing on Thursday in Washington. Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said Arizona prosecutor Rachel Mitchell will be brought in to handle questioning of Kavanaugh and Ford. Mitchell comes from the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office in Phoenix, where she is the chief of the Special Victims Division, which covers sex crimes and family violence.
Hoping the hearing will yield no new surprises, the Judiciary Committee scheduled its own vote on Kavanaugh for Friday, and Republican leaders laid plans that could keep the full Senate in session over the weekend and produce a final showdown roll call soon after — close to the Oct. 1 start of the high court’s new term.
Meanwhile, the Republicans were still assessing what Kavanaugh’s Monday interview on the Fox News Channel — an unusual appearance for a Supreme Court nominee — indicates about how he would do in Thursday’s hearing.
During the interview, Kavanaugh denied sexually assaulting anyone. He also denied the account of a second woman, Deborah Ramirez, who told The New Yorker magazine that Kavanaugh caused her to touch his penis at a party when both were Yale freshmen.
Some in the White House expressed relief that Kavanaugh, 53, presented a positive image to counter the allegations. Yet he appeared shaky at times. And there remained concern among aides and Trump himself about how Kavanaugh would hold up facing far fiercer questioning from Senate Democrats, according to a White House official not authorized to speak publicly.
The affidavits are not the first challenges to Kavanaugh’s denials.
James Roche, a Yale graduate who says he was Kavanaugh’s roommate in 1983, issued a public statement saying he was “close friends” with Ramirez and “cannot imagine her making up” the story about Kavanaugh exposing himself.
“The second accuser has nothing,” Trump told reporters at the United Nations. “The second accuser doesn’t even know— thinks maybe it was him, maybe not. She admits she was drunk. She admits time lapses.”
Predictably, that played badly with Democrats.
“How many women have heard that before? How many women have kept their experiences quiet because they knew they would hear that?” Sen. Patty Murray of Washington said of Trump’s characterization.
Treatment of Ford, 51, on Thursday will be watched closely.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, a potentially key Republican vote, said GOP senators need to come into the hearing with open minds.
“It’s very important to take allegations of those who come forward seriously, and I think we need to go into this hearing with the view that we will listen,” she said.
Associated Press writers Kevin Freking, Mary Clare Jalonick, Padmananda Rama, Matthew Daly, Darlene Superville, Jonathan Lemire, Zeke Miller and Deb Riechmann contributed to this report.
For more coverage of Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination, visit https://apnews.com/tag/Kavanaughnomination
Kavanaugh classmate who wrote of partying goes silent
By STEPHEN BRAUN, JEFF HORWITZ and BRIAN WITTE
Tuesday, September 25
WASHINGTON (AP) — Mark Judge spent decades mining his recollections and writing books and articles full of semi-confessional details about the suburban Maryland prep school he attended with future Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Now, though, Judge’s memory has drawn a blank.
Judge, identified by Christine Blasey Ford as an eyewitness to her claim that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her during a 1980s teen party, has said he has “no memory” of the episode. Ford, now a college professor in California, claims Judge watched the attack and urged Kavanaugh on. Judge told the Senate Judiciary Committee last week: “I do not recall the party described in Dr. Ford’s letter. More to the point, I never saw Brett act in the manner Dr. Ford describes.”
Over much of his adult life, Judge has dived back repeatedly into his memories of Georgetown Preparatory School student life in the early 1980s, and his two memoirs and a cluster of internet essays provide cautionary takes on his prep school days and boozy weekend rounds as a teenage drinker. Judge’s book “Wasted: Tales of a GenX Drunk” surveyed his alcohol-fueled escapades in high school and college, a time of “drinking and smoking and hooking up,” he wrote in a 2015 essay on the Acculturated website.
After Judge was publicly identified by Ford, some former Georgetown Prep classmates sifted through their own memories, trying to reconcile their recollections with Ford’s account.
Those classmates said they could not recall any instances where Kavanaugh acted similarly to Ford’s account. But three classmates, one speaking publicly and the other two speaking anonymously, portrayed Judge as a bullying presence during classes, and at weekend parties where athletes gathered at night to tap kegs of beer and woo girls from nearby schools. The two who requested anonymity did so out of concern that talking publicly about this issue could jeopardize their business and professional relationships within the tight-knit Georgetown Prep community.
Maryland state Sen. Richard Madaleno, who was in Georgetown Prep’s 1983 graduating class with Kavanaugh and Judge, sharply remembers Judge as “nasty to other people.”
“He was an unhappy person who dealt with his own demons by making other people unhappy,” Madaleno said, “especially those of us who he perceived to be on a lower rung of the high school ladder.” A Democrat who mounted an unsuccessful 2018 candidacy for Maryland governor, Madaleno said if he had been asked 25 years ago who was the most difficult person at the school, “I would have answered Mark Judge.”
Although Kavanaugh and Judge played on the school’s football team and partied together, Madaleno did not remember the future judge the same way. “There’s no guilt by association,” he said.
Two other Georgetown Prep classmates elaborated on Judge’s “bully” persona at the time: Quick-witted and adroit with insults, he taunted kids with weight problems or foreign names. He dismissed many of those outside of his circle as “losers.” He questioned the sexuality of members of the school’s swim team. He sometimes openly mocked teachers and priests.
“He had a way of being funny at other peoples’ expense,” one former classmate said. “You’d want to be on his good side so that you weren’t his target.”
Judge’s lawyer, Barbara Van Gelder, said he “is not speaking during the pendency of the Kavanaugh hearings.”
A Washington Post reporter caught up with Judge on Monday in Bethany Beach, Delaware, where he had been holed up in a beachfront house in recent days, ordered by Van Gelder to leave town. “How’d you find me?” is all he said.
“He is a recovering alcoholic and is under unbelievable stress,” Van Gelder told the Post.
The Delaware and Maryland shores are habitats that Judge has sketched repeatedly in his writings, describing liquor-soaked parties where he and his prep school mates drank themselves into stupors and desperately tried to lose their virginity. In a scene in “Wasted,” Judge described a drunken chat with several friends that mentioned what some classmates suggest is a very thinly veiled reference to Kavanaugh.
Asked about a friend named “Bart O’Kavanaugh,” Judge replies that “he’s around here somewhere,” and then is told, “I heard he puked in someone’s car the other night.”
In “God and Man at Georgetown Prep,” a book about his school days, Judge writes that “Prep was a school positively swimming in alcohol, and my class partied with gusto — often right under the noses of our teachers.” Judge added that “my class of 80 decided that we would drink 100 kegs of beer.”
Both Kavanaugh’s and Judge’s yearbook entries contain references to “100 KEGS or Bust.” Kavanaugh is also listed as “Keg City Club (Treasurer).”
But while the classmates say they were aware that Brett Kavanaugh attended some of the weekend house parties and summer beach gatherings with football team members and other friends, they never saw any evidence that he was a heavy drinker in the way that Judge describes himself at the time.
One of the classmates, who said he attended several parties with Kavanaugh and Judge, said: “Brett would have at most two or three beers. Other guys would down twice that amount.”
Charles Koones, who graduated a year ahead of Kavanaugh and Judge, said Judge’s recollections of a drunken, sex-infused Georgetown Prep did not match his own. While students at the school did drink and have parties, Koones said, he doubted Judge’s recollections of a teacher admonishing the class over how many pregnancies its members had caused.
“I never knew that to happen,” he said. “And I wasn’t one of the shrinking violets.”
Koones said he remembered Kavanaugh from the school’s football team and recalled him fondly. He declined to offer thoughts on the sexual assault allegations, but said he found the school’s portrayal to be unfortunate.
“The whole thing is a crying shame,” he said. “The Prep community is confident in the positive things we put into the world.”
Witte contributed to this report from Annapolis, Maryland, and Ashraf Khalil from Washington.
For more coverage of Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination, visit https://apnews.com/tag/Kavanaughnomination
OtherWords: The Strength of Kavanaugh’s Accusers Is Truly Amazing
I know what it’s like to seek justice against all odds. The fact that women keep doing it speaks volumes.
By Aniqa Raihan | September 26, 2018
Christine Blasey Ford has shown remarkable bravery in speaking out about an attempted rape she experienced over 35 years ago.
But it’s hard not to fear what comes next. She will tell her story — one she no doubt remembers with painful clarity — but there will be no smoking gun, no undeniable forensic evidence, and in the end, Brett Kavanaugh may well be confirmed as the newest Justice on the Supreme Court.
Ford’s detractors will say she cannot be believed because she was drinking. They will say her memory is unreliable. They will ask why she waited so long to come forward, not realizing that questions like that are exactly why.
What they won’t ask is how she found the courage to come forward at all.
Twenty-seven years ago, Anita Hill testified in front of the same Senate Judiciary Committee (including some of the same members) that she had been sexually harassed by then-nominee Clarence Thomas. She was accused of “fantasy” and even “flat-out perjury.” It was suggested that she had fabricated her accusations based on scenes from The Exorcist.
The lives of Hill, her family, and her supporters were threatened, and Thomas was confirmed shortly afterward.
Then there was Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey, and Paula Jones, who all accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault. Then there was Erica Kinsman, whose rapist was awarded the most prestigious title in college football. Then there was Emily Doe, whose assailant Brock Turner spent only three months in jail despite being convicted for assaulting her while she was unconscious.
In between, there were countless women whose stories went unheard and whose demands for justice went unanswered.
Two years ago, I joined the ranks of public survivors by openly naming my rapist. It was the hardest decision I have ever made, and if I’m being honest, I don’t know that I would make it again. Being assaulted was painful, scary, and confusing, but at least I could choose to disclose only to those I knew would believe and support me.
Seeking justice was like opening the box on Schrödinger’s cat. I had always known it was likely that the system would fail me, but it wasn’t until I tried that I had to actually live through it.
In the end I, like so many women before me, was refused justice. A Trump-appointed judge dismissed my case with a wave of his gavel and the world kept spinning. It’s a strange feeling to watch this story play out again at the highest level of the same system that failed me.
Not only has Kavanaugh been repeatedly and credibly accused of sexual assault, the president who appointed him has freely admitted committing it himself. How will other survivors find the courage to come forward if justice isn’t served at the very top of our so-called justice system?
Still, somehow they do. What’s truly amazing here is the strength of Kavanaugh’s accusers.
From the moment she came forward, Ford has been attacked by right-wing politicians and pundits. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who was also present during Anita Hill’s testimony, has suggested that Ford is “confused” and “mixed up.” Even worse, Hatch has said that even if Blasey Ford’s allegations are true, attempted rape shouldn’t bar Kavanaugh from the Supreme Court.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has called the allegations “unsubstantiated smears.” Even the president weighed in, calling the accusation a political attack.
Ford, meanwhile, has had to leave her home after death threats were leveled at her family.
Despite all this, Deborah Ramirez — another accuser — came forward. A third brave survivor is considering joining them. The true story here is that women find the strength to face their abusers even in the most unfair and unwelcoming of circumstances.
Aniqa Raihan is a writer, activist, and community organizer with a focus on violence against women. She led a movement against campus sexual assault at George Washington University. Distributed by OtherWords.org.
OtherWords: The Unbelievable Cruelty of the GOP’s Kavanaugh Charade
When I hear people shouting on TV that an assault in one’s teens doesn’t matter, it feels like they’re shouting at me, too.
By Jill Richardson | September 26, 2018
This past week, my private reality and the public reality playing out on the television have diverged. It’s hard to believe that I live in the same world as Senator Chuck Grassley, the Senate judiciary chair trying to Brett Kavanaugh onto the Supreme Court.
When Christine Blasey Ford first alleged Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her — and when talking heads on TV began doubting her veracity, or insisting that the assault was not a big deal — a different conversation began.
It’s a private conversation, one-on-one, mostly. A few of us posted about sexual assault in general or about our own past assaults on our Facebook pages. Then the private messages began.
In some cases I knew my friends had been assaulted. Sometimes I knew because we were friends when it happened, and they’d told me at the time. In other cases, the rapes or assaults occurred long before we met, up to four decades ago.
In other cases, I found out this week.
Often, I don’t know the details of what happened to my friends. The details are painful to talk about. They’re painful to hear.
I know: I re-lived each of my past assaults in the last week. Four of them.
To those who think something that happened decades ago can’t be that big of a deal, you’re wrong. When you’re sexually assaulted, you can suffer long-term consequences, stored in your body. My body learned early on that sex is dangerous, and it keeps me safe with pain.
Since my first sexual experiences were assaults, I’ve never once had a sexual experience that wasn’t painful. I’m afraid of sex. I don’t desire it. Why would I? It just hurts.
I’m in therapy now, trying to recover from what happened in a college dorm room 18 year ago. I’ve spent the entire past week with a migraine because of the nonstop talk about sexual assaults and the government’s unwillingness to take sexual assault allegations seriously.
Hearing people on TV say that an assault in one’s teens isn’t a big deal, or that the woman cannot be believed, and so on, feels personal. It feels like they’re shouting at me, that I can’t be believed either.
In all of my private conversations with other survivors, there’s a common understanding. We all know that if we spoke out publicly about our past assaults, most of us wouldn’t be believed either. So often there are no witnesses. One shower and one load of laundry destroys the evidence.
It’s hard to admit to oneself that one was powerless. Weak. A victim. I like to see myself as strong, independent, and decisive. If someone tried to do something to me that I didn’t want, I would resist. And yet, I didn’t.
Instead of accepting a narrative of myself as weak, I dealt with what happened by attempting to forget it. I mostly did forget it — but my body remembered.
On TV, politicians say that it’s unreasonable to hold a man accountable for an assault he committed decades ago. Why on earth not? His victim is almost certainly still suffering from it.
I wish the politicians could hear what I’ve heard in all of the private, one-on-one conversations of the past week. But speaking out makes one vulnerable. That’s why most of these conversations remain private.
Shouting at women to silence them might get your man onto the Supreme Court. It worked for Clarence Thomas, and it can work for Brett Kavanaugh. But it doesn’t change reality, or make you right.
OtherWords columnist Jill Richardson is pursuing a PhD in sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She lives in San Diego. Distributed by OtherWords.org.