WASHINGTON – California psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford told a Senate panel Thursday that she is “one hundred percent” sure that Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a high school party in the 1980s.
Earlier, after being sworn in by committee chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), she described the alleged attack.
“Brett groped me and tried to take off my clothes. He had a hard time because he was so drunk, and because I was wearing a one-piece bathing suit under my clothes. I believed he was going to rape me. I tried to yell for help. When I did, Brett put his hand over my mouth to stop me from screaming,” Ford told the Senate Judiciary Committee in a wavering voice while fighting back tears.
Ford added: “This was what terrified me the most, and has had the most lasting impact on my life. It was hard for me to breathe, and I thought that Brett was accidentally going to kill me.”
She said that Kavanaugh’s friend Mark Judge also was in the room and that both were laughing. The laughter between the two is an indelible memory from the incident, she said.
Judge jumped on the bed at least twice, she said, and after the last time he did so, all three toppled on the floor. At that point, she said, she ran from the room and left the house.
Ford, 51, said in the more than three decades since the alleged incident she confided details only with family, friends, and with her therapist in a 2012 session she attended with her husband.
Ford said that upon learning this summer that Kavanaugh, 53, was on President Donald Trump’s short list to replace retiring Associate Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, she felt she had a duty to come forward.
The allegation became public three weeks ago. However, the public did not know Ford was Kavanaugh’s accuser until she came forward in an interview with the Washington Post that was published on Sep. 16.
Ford said that since coming forward she has received death threats and has been harassed by reporters. Ford said she and her family were forced to leave their home and are under the protection of a security detail.
Ford said she does not recall the exact date or location of the alleged incident.
But in response to a question from Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) about Ford’s certainty that Kavanaugh was her attacker, she immediately and confidently replied: “One hundred percent.”
Since the alleged incident Ford has developed a fear of being in enclosed spaces, according to press reports that relayed conversations Ford had had with friends. The reports said Ford was reluctant to travel on airplanes for that reason.
Maricopa County, Ariz. sex crimes prosecutor Rachael Mitchell, who served as GOP counsel during the hearing, seized on the reports.
“How did you get to Washington?,” Mitchell asked.
“An airplane,” Ford replied.
“I ask that because it’s been reported by the press that you would not submit to an interview with the Committee because of your fear of flying; is that true?,” Mitchell asked.
“Well, I was hoping that they would come to me but then I realized that was an unrealistic request,” Ford replied.
Mitchell persisted with the line of questioning. Ford conceded she often is forced to fly for work and to visit family and friends.
Ford was invited to testify on Monday but her attorneys rejected the offer.
Kavanaugh was a student at Georgetown Preparatory School in Bethesda, Md. at the time of the alleged incident.
In July Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) received a letter from Ford that detailed the allegation against Kavanaugh. Eshoo gave the letter to Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).
Feinstein announced earlier this month that she received a letter in July referencing an allegation against Kavanaugh but she did not provide specifics. Feinstein said she gave the letter to the FBI and asked that they investigate the matter. Feinstein said she had not come forward sooner to protect the identity of Ford, who had stressed in the letter that she wanted the matter to be handed confidentially.
Feinstein’s announcement was preceded by an Intercept report that relayed the existence of the letter.
Kavanaugh has been hit with a second allegation of sexual misconduct brought by former Yale classmate Deborah Ramirez. Ramirez told the New Yorker in an article published Sunday that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at an on-campus party during the 1983-84 school year — when both she and Kavanaugh were freshmen.
On Wednesday, attorney Michael Avenatti released an affidavit related to a third allegation of sexual misconduct.
Julie Swetnick, 55, said she attended Gaithersburg High School in Maryland in the 1980s and knew Kavanaugh at that time, according to the affidavit. Swetnick said she saw Kavanaugh at several parties and witnessed him engage in sexually aggressive behavior toward women. Swetnick said Kavanaugh was present at a party in which she was drugged and gang-raped, according to the affidavit.
Swetnick did not accuse Kavanaugh of being involved in the rape.
Kavanaugh has denied the three women’s allegations.
At the beginning of the hearing Grassley and Feinstein clashed over how Ford would be introduced to the committee.
“Before you get to your testimony — and the chairman chose not to do this — I think it’s important to make sure you’re properly introduced. And I have to…” Feinstein said.
“By the way, I was going to introduce her. But if you want to introduce her, I’ll be glad to have you do that. But I want you to know, I didn’t forget to do it, because I would do that just as she was about to speak,” Grassley interjected.