Education

Kavanaugh Grilled on High School Years in Showdown Over Sex-Assault Allegation

By Mark Walsh — September 27, 2018 3 min read
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The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday delved into the details of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh’s high school years, with Christine Blasey Ford detailing her allegations that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her at a party when both were high school students, and Kavanaugh strongly denying her account.

“Brett groped me and tried to take off my clothes,” Ford said about Kavanaugh’s alleged behavior at a house party they attended in 1982. “He had a hard time because he was very inebriated, and because I was wearing a one-piece bathing suit underneath 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 yelling. This was what terrified me the most, and has had the most lasting impact on my life.”

Kavanaugh, who is President Donald Trump’s pick for the high court, appeared later Thursday and strongly denied the allegations.

“I’m here today to tell the truth,” Kavanaugh said in an emotional and defiant opening statement. “I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone, not in high school, not in college, not ever.”

The showdown came after two weeks of public debate and political wrangling over the allegations by Ford, as well as additional women who have alleged sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh, either at high school parties or while he was an undergraduate at Yale University. Kavanaugh, a federal appeals court judge in Washington, has denied those allegations as well.

Ford testified that in 1982 she was a 15-year-old student at the Holton-Arms School, an independent all-girls school in Bethesda, Md., who was in a social circle with boys from such nearby all-boys schools as the Landon School and Georgetown Preparatory School, the Jesuit high school where Kavanaugh had completed his junior year that summer

“During my freshman and sophomore school years, when I was 14 and 15 years old, my group of friends intersected with Brett and his friends for a short period of time,” Ford said. “I had been friendly with a classmate of Brett’s for a short time during my freshman and sophomore year, and it was through that connection that I attended a number of parties that Brett also attended. We did not know each other well, but I knew him and he knew me.”

Ford, now a 51-year-old research psychologist at Palo Alto University in Palo Alto, Calif., described in detail the alleged assault and said she was “100 percent” certain it was Kavanaugh.

The nominee later said that he and his Georgetown Prep friends typically socialized with girls from nearby Catholic all-girls schools, and that he did not travel in the same social circles as Ford.

“It is possible that we met at some point at some events, although I do not recall that,” Kavanaugh said.

Kavanaugh himself brought up his Georgetown Prep senior yearbook entry, which has drawn scrutiny for references to the “Beach Week Ralph Club” and other items that have raised questions about alcohol use and other behavior.

“I doubt we’re alone in looking back at high school and cringing at some things,” Kavanaugh said in his opening statement. “For one thing, our yearbook was a disaster. I think some editors and students wanted the yearbook to be some combination of ‘Animal House,’ ‘Caddyshack’ and ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High,’ which were all recent movies in that time.”

But he grew angry when Democratic senators asked him about some of the yearbook entries.

“If we want to sit here and talk about whether a high school yearbook page decides a Supreme Court nomination, that takes us to a new level of absurdity,” Kavanaugh said.

The hearing was continuing late Thursday afternoon.

Photo: Christine Blasey Ford is sworn in before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 27 in Washington. Her attorney’s Debra Katz and Michael Bromwich watch. --Win McNamee/Pool Image via AP

A version of this news article first appeared in The School Law Blog.

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