Sat, 25 May 2019

Trump's SC nominee Kavanaugh publicly accused of assault

By Sheetal Sukhija, Kenya News
17 Sep 2018, 12:48 GMT+10

WASHINGTON. U.S. - A week after allegations of sexual assault against the U.S. President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh first emerged - on Sunday, his accuser went public, not only with her identity but with her tragic story.

In an interview with The Washington Post, a 51-year-old research psychologist from northern California, Christine Blasey Ford identified herself as the woman who levelled accusations of sexual assault against the man who is fighting hard to win a lifetime appointment as a U.S. Supreme Court justice.

Ford, who accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her during their teenage years last week, spoke about the allegations publicly for the first time on Sunday.

Allegations brushed off

Ford's allegations first came to light on Thursday last week, when the women spoke anonymously to The New Yorker.

She accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her more than 30 years ago when they were both in high school.

In a letter addressed to Democratic lawmakers in July, shortly after Trump nominated Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, the woman wrote that during the early 1980s, Kavanaugh was a high-school student at Georgetown Preparatory School, in Bethesda, Maryland, and said that she attended a nearby high school.

Detailing her ordeal, the woman wrote that Kavanaugh held her down during an encounter at a party and attempted to force himself on her.

She further wrote that Kavanaugh and a classmate of his - both of whom had been drinking - turned up the music that was playing in the room to conceal the sound of her protests.

She alleged that Kavanaugh covered her mouth with his hand but said she was able to free herself.

The woman wrote that the memory of the incident had been a source of ongoing distress for her, and that she had sought psychological treatment as a result.

Subsequently, Senate Democrats said in a statement that they had referred a complaint regarding Kavanaughto the FBI for investigation.

However, responding to the report, Kavanaugh said in a statement, I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time.

The woman meanwhile was revealed to have sent the letter to her congresswoman, Anna Eshoo, a Democrat and it was revealed that the same letter was sent to the office of Senator Dianne Feinstein, the ranking minority member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

In response to The New Yorker story, Feinstein announced that she had referred the matter to the FBI.

She said in a statement, I have received information from an individual concerning the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. That individual strongly requested confidentiality, declined to come forward or press the matter further, and I have honoured that decision. I have, however, referred the matter to federal investigative authorities.

Further, the report quoted an FBI spokesperson as saying in a statement, Upon receipt of the information on the night of September 12, we included it as part of Judge Kavanaughs background file, as per the standard process.

However, responding to the report, Kerri Kupec, a White House spokesperson said in a statement about Kavanaugh, Not until the eve of his confirmation has Sen. Feinstein or anyone raised the specter of new information about him."

Kupec called it an 11th-hour attempt to delay his confirmation.

Going public

Speaking to The Washington Post in the report published on Sunday, Ford said that she chose to remain anonymous before, but now wanted to be the one to tell her story.

She repeated her allegations about the encounter at a party during a summer in the early 1980s, when she and Kavanaugh were teenagers.

She said Kavanaugh and another person drunkenly "corralled her into a bedroom during a gathering of teenagers" in the suburbs of Maryland.

Ford alleged that during the encounter, Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed on her back and groped her over her clothes while grinding his body against hers.

She told the Post that Kavanaugh tried to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and when she tried to scream, Kavanaugh put his hand over her mouth.

Ford also told the Post that the other person watched while Kavanaugh assaulted her and added, I thought he might inadvertently kill me. He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.

She said that a friend found them and pulled them apart.

Ford said she managed to escape but locked herself in a bathroom before leaving the house.

According to the Post, Ford described the incident during a therapy session with her husband in 2012 but did not mention Kavanaugh by name.

The Post claims that it had reviewed notes by the therapist and said that part of the notes mentioned Ford telling the therapist that four boys were involved in the alleged attack.

Ford claims that this was written in error and that there were four boys at the party, but only two were in the room.

Further, according to the Post, in early August, Ford had taken and passed a polygraph test administered by a former FBI agent.

The report said that the test determined that Ford was being truthful.

Confirmation hanging in balance

After the story was published on Sunday, several top Democrats called for an immediate investigation into the allegations and to delay Kavanaugh's confirmation vote.

Feinstein said, I support Mrs. Fords 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.

Further, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called on Grassley to delay the confirmation vote "until, at a very minimum, these serious and credible allegations are thoroughly investigated."

Others including Sens. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii; Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.; and Kamala Harris, D-Calif., also called for the vote to be postponed.

However, Taylor Foy, a spokesman for Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Taylor Foy, dismissed the "uncorroborated allegations" and did not indicate that he intended to delay the vote.

Foy added that the timing of the news raised questions about Democrats' "tactics and motives."

Calling on Feinstein to release the letter she received in July, Grassley's spokesman said, "Its disturbing that these uncorroborated allegations from more than 35 years ago, during high school, would surface on the eve of a committee vote after Democrats sat on them since July."

While Kavanaugh has not made an official statement so far, the White House clarified firmly that Kavanaugh's nomination would not be withdrawn.

According to schedule, the Judiciary panel is set to hold a vote to advance Kavanaughs nomination on Thursday.

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