Already reeling from the accusations of sexual assault at a high school party, the confirmation of Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh hit another pitfall today, with the publication of an article in The New Yorker that reveals a new sexual assault allegation against Kavanaugh while he was a freshman at Yale.
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The article by Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow, who broke the story of Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein’s rape allegations, recounts the allegations by Deborah Ramirez, who studied sociology and psychology at Yale while Kavanaugh was also at the University. Ramirez, now 53, has since worked at a group that helps victims of domestic violence.
She was contacted by the magazine after it learned of her possible involvement in the incident which is now being investigated by at least two Democratic Senators on the Judiciary Committee. Ramirez was initially reluctant to discuss her recollections of the events that occurred during the 1983-84 academic year because her memories were a bit fuzzy and because she had been drinking at the time of the incident in question.
However, after carefully delving more deeply into her memory banks and consulting with a lawyer, Ms. Ramirez “felt confident enough of her recollections to say that she remembers Kavanaugh had exposed himself at a drunken dormitory party, thrust his penis in her face, and caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away,” according to the article.
She has now joined Kavanaugh’s previous accuser Dr. Christine Blasey Ford in calling for an FBI investigation of his behavior.
“I would think an F.B.I. investigation would be warranted,” she said.
Here is the full description of the incident as published in The New Yorker:
“Ramirez said that, when both she and Kavanaugh were freshmen at Yale, she was invited by a friend on the women’s soccer team to a dorm-room party. She recalled that the party took place in a suite at Lawrance Hall, in the part of Yale known as the Old Campus, and that a small group of students decided to play a drinking game together. ‘We were sitting in a circle,’ she said. ‘People would pick who drank.’ Ramirez was chosen repeatedly, she said, and quickly became inebriated. At one point, she said, a male student pointed a gag plastic penis in her direction. Later, she said, she was on the floor, foggy and slurring her words as that male student and another stood nearby. (Ramirez identified the two male onlookers, but, at her request, The New Yorker is not naming them.)”
“A third male student then exposed himself to her. ‘I remember a penis being in front of my face,’ she said. ‘I knew that’s not what I wanted, even in that state of mind.’ She recalled remarking, ‘That’s not a real penis,’ and the other students laughing at her confusion and taunting her, one encouraging her to ‘kiss it.’ She said that she pushed the person away, touching it in the process. Ramirez, who was raised a devout Catholic in Connecticut, said that she was shaken. ‘I wasn’t going to touch a penis until I was married,’ she said. ‘I was embarrassed and ashamed and humiliated.’ She remembers Kavanaugh standing to her right and laughing, pulling up his pants. ‘Brett was laughing,’ she said. ‘I can still see his face, and his hips coming forward, like when you pull up your pants.’ She recalled another male student shouting about the incident. ‘Somebody yelled down the hall, “Brett Kavanaugh just put his penis in Debbie’s face,”’ she said. ‘It was his full name. I don’t think it was just “Brett.’” And I remember hearing and being mortified that this was out there'”
Kavanaugh has denied the new allegations, writing in a statement:
“This alleged event from 35 years ago did not happen. The people who knew me then know that this did not happen, and have said so. This is a smear, plain and simple. I look forward to testifying on Thursday about the truth, and defending my good name–and the reputation for character and integrity I have spent a lifetime building–against these last-minute allegations.”
Democratic Committee member Mazie Hirono (D-HI) doesn’t take Kavanaugh’s denials at face value. “This is another serious, credible, and disturbing allegation against Brett Kavanagh. It should be fully investigated,” she told the magazine.
The New Yorker found a classmate of Ramirez’s who confirmed the details of her account. The classmate—who declined to be identified out of fear of being dragged into the partisan battle over the confirmation—said that “he is ‘one hundred percent sure’ that he was told at the time that Kavanaugh was the student who exposed himself to Ramirez. He independently recalled many of the same details offered by Ramirez, including that a male student had encouraged Kavanaugh as he exposed himself.”
The classmate explained to the magazine why the story stayed fresh in his mind through the years:
“I’ve known this all along,” he said. “It’s been on my mind all these years when his name came up. It was a big deal.” The story stayed with him, he said, because it was disturbing and seemed outside the bounds of typically acceptable behavior, even during heavy drinking at parties on campus. The classmate said that he had been shocked, but not necessarily surprised, because the social group to which Kavanaugh belonged often drank to excess. He recalled Kavanaugh as “relatively shy” until he drank, at which point he said that Kavanagh could become “aggressive and even belligerent.”
The deeply reported story goes on to recount the recollections of multiple classmates of Kavanaugh and Ramirez, each of whom have varying degrees of remembrances, lack thereof, and outright denials, but given the latest allegations and the number of people present at the incident, Republicans’ refusal to call for an FBI investigation of Kavanaugh’s sexual misbehavior is practically criminal in and of itself.
The next few days will surely reveal whether the latest accusations are the shot that finally sinks the ship of Kavanaugh’s confirmation or if he will sail through to sit on the Supreme Court. Either way, the Republicans can’t be happy about how this latest scandal may affect the results of the upcoming midterm elections where many women won’t forget the party’s #MeToo moment.
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