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Kavanaugh's Sexual Assault Accuser Speaks Out


We're going to start the program with news about the author of that letter alleging a sexual assault by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh back when he was in high school. The letter writer's name is Christine Blasey Ford. She has agreed to be identified today in an exclusive story in The Washington Post. The allegations date back to when the two were high school students in Maryland. Kavanaugh has previously denied the allegations. Reporter Emma Brown broke the story for The Washington Post, and she's with us now. And I should mention that this conversation includes a description of the alleged assault which some may find upsetting. Emma Brown, welcome. Thanks for joining us.

EMMA BROWN: Thank you for having me.

MARTIN: Could you just start by telling us who Christine Blasey Ford is? And walk us through, first, what she says happened to her and then, later, how this information became public. But first, who is she? And what does she say happened?

BROWN: So she is now a research psychologist and professor in California. These events happened more than 30 years ago. So she says that she was at a house party. She doesn't know whose home it was. She recalls a handful of people in a family room drinking beer. She thought everybody had had one beer, except she thought Brett Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge were quite inebriated. She left the room to go use the bathroom and headed up a narrow stairwell. And she said she was pushed into a bedroom.

In the bedroom, she said Brett Kavanaugh climbed on top of her on top of the bed. She was on her back. She said he was holding her down with the weight of his body, groping her, trying to pull her clothes off and the bathing suit that she wore underneath, and grinding his body against hers. There was very loud music, but she thought if she called out, somebody would hear her. So she did that. And, at that point, she says Brett Kavanaugh put his hand over her mouth, which terrified her. She thought she might suffocate.

So at that point, the friend, Mark Judge, jumped on top of them - she's not sure why - and then did it again, jumped on top of them again. And they tumbled to the floor. And she was able to run out of the room and lock herself in a bathroom across the hall.

MARTIN: I know that many people who've been following the story might remember that California Senator Dianne Feinstein has said she had information that she was sending to the FBI. But this is information she'd had for quite some time. So can you just tell us - how did this information come into the public domain?

BROWN: Christine Blasey Ford first contacted the Post way back when Kavanaugh was on the shortlist, before he was nominated, to tell her story. So she has been thinking about this for a long time. The end of July, she still hadn't decided she wanted to come forward publicly. But she wanted somebody in a position of power to know this story. So she wrote a letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein. And in the letter, she described this attack, or alleged attack, and she signed her name. She also said in that letter that she expected this to be kept confidential.

Last week, on Wednesday, The Intercept wrote a story about how there was this secret document that Feinstein had and was refusing to share, even with her Democratic colleagues. And so it was that story in The Intercept that kind of kicked loose the fact of this letter. And it was that series of events that then led Christine Blasey Ford to feel like her privacy was already being chipped away at. And she decided to come forward.

MARTIN: Describe some of the corroborating information that you have been privy to.

BROWN: Christine says she didn't tell anybody this story in any detail until 2012. She was in couples therapy with her husband, Russell Ford, and she told the story there. So two things come from that. I reviewed Russell Ford, and he said he recalled those therapy sessions, clearly. He recalled his wife recounting this episode and also recalled her using Kavanaugh's name at the time. I was able to see a portion of the notes that her therapist wrote down during that therapist - therapy session. And the notes say that she described an assault, that it involved boys from an elitist boys' school and that the boys had gone on to become, quote, "highly respected and high-ranking members of society in Washington."

MARTIN: Is it true that she's taken a polygraph test and that she's passed it?

BROWN: Yes. On her lawyer's advice, she took a polygraph exam. Her lawyer feared that, should she decide to come forward, she would be attacked as a liar. She took it, and she gave a statement about her allegation and then was asked, are you telling the truth. Have you said anything false? The conclusion of the polygraph report was that she was being truthful.

MARTIN: Has Brett Kavanaugh responded since her name has become public? And, also, what about the person described as the friend, Mark Judge, who is a conservative writer, who, I do have to note, has also written a memoir about his struggles with alcoholism as a teenager, where he's talked about the fact that he drank heavily as a teenager, sometimes to the point of blacking out?

BROWN: No. Neither of them added anything today to their previous comments. Last week, before her name became public, they both flatly denied that this had occurred.

MARTIN: Emma Brown is an investigative reporter for The Washington Post. Emma Brown, thank you so much for talking with us.

BROWN: I'm glad to be here. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.