Politics Violence Against Women

Kavanaugh Accused of Sexual Assault

California professor Dr. Christine Blasey Ford has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were both in high school in the early 1980s.

According to an account Ford gave to the Washington Post, Kavanaugh was intoxicated when he trapped her in a bedroom at a party, pinned her to the bed, groped her, grinded his body against hers, and attempted to remove her clothing. She alleges that Kavanaugh held her down when she tried to get away and covered her mouth with his hand when she tried to scream for help. Eventually she was able to escape, and says that for decades she has been coping with the trauma from that night.

This morning, Ford’s lawyer, Debra Katz, said that the professor is willing to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee concerning her allegations against Kavanaugh, which Ford herself has described as an attempted rape.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley has not yet announced whether or not they will hold additional hearings in light of the allegation. The Committee was scheduled to vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination on Thursday, which would then move his nomination to the full Senate for confirmation.

“We unequivocally support her right (to testify), and demand that Chairman Chuck Grassley delay Thursday’s vote on Kavanaugh and hold a hearing to allow Professor Ford to share her truth,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority, in a statement released Monday. “If they fail to extend even this basic courtesy to Christine Blasey Ford, they are further weakening the transparency of our democracy and dismissing the experiences of survivors of sexual violence.”

Though the allegations are just now coming to public attention, Ford had contacted the Washington Post in early July before Kavanaugh was officially named as the nominee, but declined to be interviewed on-the-record. Following Trump’s announcement of his nomination, Ford sent a letter to her Congresswoman, Rep. Anna Eshoo, as well as to her Senator, Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein. The letter detailed her allegations and she asked that her identity be kept confidential.

The story began to break on Wednesday of last week, when news outlets reported that Sen. Feinstein had turned over a letter concerning sexual misconduct allegations to the FBI for investigation. Ford said that although her name was not published, reporters began contacting her home and office, and she feared if she did not come forward to claim the letter, that her identity would eventually be revealed in the media.

“Christine Blasey Ford asked for confidentiality. Instead she was forced into the most unwanted of spotlights and asked to share with the world one of the most traumatic experiences of her life,” said Smeal.

Sen. Feinstein has come under scrutiny for not releasing the letter to Committee members sooner. But Feinstein has defended her actions, saying she was committed to respecting Ford’s pleas for confidentiality, and that she took steps as best she could to protect Ford and ensure a just nomination process.

“Senator Dianne Feinstein’s decades-long record of defending women’s rights is unimpeachable, which is why she is committed to respecting the woman’s wishes for confidentiality,” said Smeal in a statement released before Ford’s name was revealed.

Since Kavanaugh’s name was announced, Republicans have been accused of forcing his nomination forward at breakneck speeds, refusing to release the overwhelming majority of documents related to Kavanaugh’s time in the George W. Bush White House. Strategists speculate that Republicans are rushing to confirm Kavanaugh before the November elections when they risk losing control of the Senate.

Media Resources: Washington Post 9/16/18; Feminist Majority 9/14/18, 9/17/18

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