Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Did Brett Kavanaugh Grope Christine Ford?

By Mark Pendergrast
for BigTrial.net
As we all know now, psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford has come forward to accuse Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in 1982 when she was 15 and he was a 17-year-old student at Georgetown Prep.  

During a party, he allegedly lured her to an upstairs room and pinned her down on a bed, clumsily trying to pull off her clothes and bathing suit. When she tried to scream, he put his hand over her mouth. Only when his friend Mark Judge fell atop both of them in his own lustful efforts did she manage to escape and run out. The two boys were “stumbling drunk,” as she may have been as well.
This sounds plausible enough, doesn’t it?  Teenage boys sometimes get drunk at parties and attempt to seduce girls. But the fact that these abuse memories arose in therapy 30 years later should make us more skeptical.  Could this be a case of false memories due to the now-debunked theory of repressed memory?  

Freud first came up with this theory in 1895, assuming that people who are sexually assaulted as children often “repress” the memories because they are so traumatic.  Freud was wrong, which he admitted a few years later, but this misguided theory has continued to influence therapists to this day.  The fact is that, barring organic brain damage, people tend to recall traumatic events betterthan others.  Yes, all memory is subject to revision and distortion, but the idea that we routinely banish bad things from consciousness is a pernicious notion that has split families, ruined careers, and put innocent people in prison.
It is possible, of course, that Ford always remembered this incident and was too embarrassed to tell anyone at the time.  Nor did she feel called upon to come forward as Kavanaugh became a public figure and went through previous hearings.  It was only when she wrote a letter and was “outed” anonymously by Diane Feinstein that she felt compelled to say something.  Both Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh deny that any such thing occurred, but they woulddeny it, wouldn’t they?  And this wasn’t individual therapy but couples counseling, during which memories aren’t routinely recovered.
There is no question that Mark Judge drank too much, since he wrote a book, Wasted, about his drunken escapades at the pseudonymous “Loyola Prep,” and he included a character named Bart O’Kavanaugh who “puked…and passed out on the way back from a party.”  It is also clear from Kavanaugh’s high school yearbook that he drank too much, as well as comments of various friends who knew him in high school and college.
Nonetheless, there are indications that Ford didn’t actually remember this incident until she was in therapy in 2012.  She isn’t sure where the party was and doesn’t recall much about the house or how she got there.  She also apparently failed to name Kavanaugh at the time, though she said that the perpetrators were now “high-ranking members of society in Washington.” Still, that is typical of many recovered memory cases, in which a scene is envisioned with general outlines, but the alleged victim can’t put a face on the perpetrator.  With enough visualization exercises, though, a face usually emerges. Aha, it was my grandfather!  
In other words, repressed memories often morph over time.  That may be why the original therapy notes said that four boys were involved, not two.  Ford says that was just a mistake in the therapy notes.  In later notes from 2013, when she was pursuing individual therapy to deal with the memories (aha!), the therapist said that she was in her “late teens” when the alleged assault took place, but that surely is later than the age of fifteen.  
Ford’s husband backs up her version of the story, saying that she named Kavanaugh during their 2012 marriage counseling, though he may be revising his own memory.  And Cristina King Miranda, who was a year older than Ford at her school, recalls: "Many of us heard a buzz about it indirectly with few specific details.” She says she recalls that it was Kavanaugh in the rumors.  Given the nature of retrospective memory, however, it is possible that these memories, too, are incorrect.  Or it is possible that Ford was assaulted, but not by Kavanaugh. Or of course he may have done it.

The Ford accusations would seem even more likely because a second accuser, Deborah Ramirez, has now emerged, saying that Kavanaugh assaulted her when he was a Yale undergraduate, sticking his penis in her face during a drinking party.  But she apparently wasn’t sure of her memories at first or that it was Kavanaugh. “After six days of carefully assessing her memories and consulting with her attorney,” observed the New Yorker,“Ramirez said that she felt confident enough of her recollections to say that she remembers…..”  

And there is yet a third allegation, but I will not go into it here, since it seems far less plausible.
So, to me, this case still smells of possible revised memories, perhaps through recovered memory therapy.  And Ford’s testimony in part may stem from her therapist’s explanation of repressed memory:  “That neurotransmitter encodes memories into the hippocampus. And so, the trauma-related experience, then, is kind of locked there, whereas other details kind of drift.”  She later said that Kavanaugh and Judge’s laughter was “indelible in the hippocampus.”

Regardless, memories from three decades ago are suspect, which is why we have statutes of limitation.  In addition, 65 women who knew Kavanaugh when he attended high school have signed a letter saying: “Through the more than 35 years we have known him, Brett has stood out for his friendship, character, and integrity. In particular, he has always treated women with decency and respect. That was true when he was in high school, and it has remained true to this day.”

ButKavanaugh’s Yale roommate, James Roche, says that he was indeed a “notably heavy” drinker who became belligerent and aggressive when he was very drunk, and that he believes Ramirez, though he knew nothing about this particular incident.  And Kavanaugh’s behavior in the recent hearings made clear that he can indeed be aggressive, belligerent, evasive, and obnoxious.  It is possible that Kavanaugh drank so much that he blacked out during these incidents and has no memory of them.

 What seems clear is that Kavanaugh is lying when he says he did not drink heavily in high school or college.  I might be inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt except for this.

Consequently I do not want Brett Kavanaugh to be confirmed as a Supreme Court justice.  Nonetheless, when dealing with such old memories, it is important to maintain some level of caution and to investigate carefully.  

I am glad that a vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation was delayed for a week so that such an investigation will hopefully take place, with time for more potential witnesses to come forward.  And the recovered memory aspect should be explored thoroughly.  Thus far, it is mostly a matter of he-said-she-said.

Mark Pendergrast is the author of Memory Warp:  How the Myth of Repressed Memories Arose and Refuses to Die(Upper Access, 2017), and The Most Hated Man In America; Jerry Sandusky and the Rush to Judgment (Sunbury Press, 2017. 

 Contact: markp508@gmail.com.


  1. Ford said the sexual assault affected her during the rest of her high school years and into college. Just because she decided not to reveal it until decades later doesn't mean if was a repressed memory.

    None of the 65 women who vouched for Kavanaugh were at the party where Ford was attacked so their opinion is not evidence he didn't do it. A few of the 65 women have since recanted, including Renate, who Kavanaugh insulted on his yearbook page.

    I think it more likely Kavanaugh will be undone by perjury and witness tampering. There are at a least a dozen statements where he appears not to have truthful.

    He even said drinking was legal for him in MD when he was in high school. It was never legal because the drinking age was raised from 18 to 21 when he was 17. By an amazing coincidence, the drinking age was raised to 21 on the same day his calendar showed he and his buds had a party to drink brewskis. Perhaps they were mourning the occasion.

    1. I think that back then a 16 year old could legally consume alcohol in a private residence. In my senior year in HS, we had liquor runs to DC, where booze was dirt cheap (no state tax). There was a saying that you could buy booze in DC if you were tall enough to get your money on the counter. The PA State Police had checkpoints at the MD border until the courts slapped them down for illegal search. We of course had to be very careful to hide the stuff and keep from smelling like booze. The narrative seems to indicate that the parents of Bret and his friends were quite comfortable with their kids drinking. The enigma is what was going on with Ford's parents.

    2. It was never 16. It was 18 for beer and wine for a while in MD but it was raised to 21 while Kavanaugh was 17.

      Neighboring states put pressure on MD because of all the high school kids who would drive to MD to drink and die in drunk driving accidents on the way home.

      If the FBI had bothered to investigate maybe they could have found out if Ford and Kavanaugh's parents approved of underage drinking by simply asking them. Ford said that one reason she didn't tell her parents about the sexual assault was that she was not supposed to be at a beer party with boys without adult supervision.

    3. Private residences were off limits for enforcing drinking laws. DC was the problem, not Maryland. Drinking age was 18 in New York. West Virginia was 18 for 3.2 beer in an otherwise dry state. Ohio allowed 3.2 beer sales to 18 year-olds on Sunday in restaurants. US laws are really wierd. In Europe, you are considered an adult at age 15 and can drink and consent to sex. In California you can get booze 24/7 at a grocery store, but back east, you have to go to those ridiculous ABC stores.

  2. Mark, I must have missed the part where her husband corroborated her claim that she actually named Kavanaugh as her assailant, prior to his nomination. Please check that what you present as facts, are facts !

    1. Here is what you did miss, from USA Today.

      In her declaration, Adela Gildo-Mazzon said Ford told her about the alleged assault during a June 2013 meal at a restaurant in Mountain View, California, and contacted Ford’s attorneys on Sept. 16 to tell them Ford had confided in her five years ago.

      “During our meal, Christine was visibly upset, so I asked her what was going on,” Gildo-Mazzon said in her declaration. “Christine told me she had been having a hard day because she was thinking about an assault she experienced when she was much younger. She said she had been almost raped by someone who was now a federal judge. She told me she had been trapped in a room with two drunken guys, and that she had escaped, ran away and hid.”

      According to her declaration, Gildo-Mazzon has known Ford for more than 10 years and considers her “a good friend.

      In another declaration, Keith Koegler said Ford revealed the alleged assault to him in 2016, when the two parents were watching their children play in a public place and discussing the “light” sentencing of Stanford University student Brock Turner.

      “Christine expressed anger at Mr. Turner’s lenient sentence, stating that she was particularly bothered by it because she was assaulted in high school by a man who was now a federal judge in Washington, D.C.,” Koegler said.

      “Christine did not mention the assault to me again until June 29, 2018, two days after Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his resignation from the Supreme Court of the United States,” he said.

      On that day, Koegler said Ford revealed to him in an email that the person who had assaulted her in high school was President Donald Trump’s “favorite for SCOTUS.”

      In his response email, Koegler wrote, “I remember you telling me about him, but I don’t remember his name. Do you mind telling me so I can read about him?”

      Ford’s emailed response: “Brett Kavanaugh.”

      In his declaration, Koegler said he met the Fords while coaching their son’s baseball team more than five years ago.

      In another declaration, Rebecca White, a neighbor and friend of more than six years, said Ford revealed the alleged assault against her in 2017.

      “I was walking my dog and Christine was outside of her house,” White said. “I stopped to speak with her, and she told me she had read a recent social media post I had written about my own experience with sexual assault.

      “She then told me that when she was a young teen, she had been sexually assaulted by an older teen,” White continued. “I remember her saying that her assailant was now a federal judge.”

      In his declaration, Ford’s husband said he learned of his wife’s experience with sexual assault “around the time we got married” but that she didn’t share details until a couple’s therapy session in 2012.

      “I remember her saying that her attacker’s name was Brett Kavanaugh, that he was a successful lawyer who had grown up in Christine’s home town, and that he was well-known in the Washington, D.C., community,” Russell Ford said.

      He said his wife was “afraid” Trump would nominate Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court and was “very conflicted” about whether she should come forward with her story.

      “However, in the end she believed her civic duty required her to speak out,” Russell Ford said. “In our 16 years of marriage, I have always known Christine to be truthful person of great integrity. I am proud of her for her bravery and courage.”

    2. More from USA Today.

      BURLINGTON, Vt. — The senior senator from Vermont told reporters he believes that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh lied under oath during his confirmation hearings.

      Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee that sent Kavanaugh's nomination Friday to the full Senate on a party-line vote, characterized testimony from Kavanaugh not related to the hot-button sexual assault allegation as "misleading" when the appeals court judge was questioned about handling information in the early 2000s that the senator says were stolen from Democrats, including himself.

      Last month, Kavanaugh answered "no" when asked if he knew that he was dealing with stolen property. But Monday the senator showed copies of 8 pages of documents allegedly taken from him that were marked confidential and not for distribution.

      Leahy previously questioned Kavanaugh about the documents in 2004 during his confirmation hearing as a federal appeals court judge, and again in 2006 during his successful bid for a seat on the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals.

      "These are emails and tapes stolen from Democratic members on the Senate Judiciary Committee," Leahy said.

      As The Washington Post reports:

      Leahy’s charge stems from an infamous episode between 2001 and 2003 when a Republican counsel on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Manuel Miranda, learned that Democrats on the panel had put documents on a computer server shared with Republicans. Miranda said in an interview that he read them to learn about the party’s strategy on judicial nominations coming before the committee.
      At the hearings in 2004 and 2006, Kavanaugh said he learned about how Miranda obtained the documents from news reports. This year Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., asked the question about the stolen documents and received a simple no.

      Asked if he thought Kavanaugh lied under oath, Leahy responded, "I want the rest of the records. I wonder why they are hiding 90 percent of his records because they would show whether he has or not. I feel he has."

      On Thursday, Christine Blasey Ford testified that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when both were teenagers. Kavanaugh vigorously denied the allegation.

      "I've never seen anything like this," Leahy said of the confirmation process that will continue this week with an FBI investigation into allegation of sexual misconduct against the Trump nominee. According to Leahy, the scope of that investigation requested by the committee "will have no restrictions."

      Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. released a statement Saturday also drilling down on Kavanaugh's honesty.

      "A fundamental question the FBI can help answer is whether Judge Kavanaugh has been truthful with the committee. This goes to the very heart of whether he should be confirmed to the court," Sanders wrote in the statement.

      Follow Nicole Higgins DeSmet on Twitter: @NicoleHDeSmet

    3. Mainsteam media is reporting that the attorneys for Christine Blasey Ford have yet to be contacted by the FBI. Classmates during the period in question have tried to reach out to the FBI to offer information without any success.

      This will just be another indicator to the public that the FBI is indeed political.

    4. Apparently you did miss it. He delivered a sworn affidavit to the committee as has been reported by numerous news outlets, including this report from the NYT https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2018/09/26/us/politics/ap-us-kavanaugh-ford-affadavits.html

  3. Entitlement is what Kavanaugh extrudes, the entire justice department behaves in the same manner. How dare anyone question them or their judgement, this is why no one believes a defendant or a victim.

    In the U.K. they have a peerage system, in the U.S. we have the justice department at the top rung, what they say and do matters more than any other persons truth or opinion.

    Unfortunately the vast majority of the mainstream media journalists are cheerleaders for the justice department, more consideration is given to the prosecution than to defendants and victims.

    Defend yourself and you will find you are scorned and ridiculed, the entire idea of fighting for justice is frownded upon in America. As though its anti-American to stand up for yourself.

    There was a coup in America, the justice department won and they are holding the us all hostage.

  4. The last second use of a sexual assault accusation by Feinstein, et al, as a political weapon puts the Dems in the bottom of the bird cage.

    One thing that has bothered me is that I know of no parents who would allow their 15 year old daughter to attend an un-chaperoned party with older boys. What is happening here? Was she sneaking around looking for something? If something like this happened when I was 15-17, word of it would spread faster than a California wildfire...but nothing here.

    Mark seems to think that 30 years of solid professional service should be wiped out because of some teenage hijink. Mark thinks that a person should remain poker faced when you, your wife and two daughters are constantly debased and badgered. Shame on you Mr. Pendergrast.

    1. It is naive to believe that teenagers still don't lie to their parents and attend beer parties with older teens. Ford said she didn't tell her parents about the party.

      Word would not have spread because Ford was too ashamed and scared to tell, and Kavanaugh and Judge were smart enough not to brag about an attempted rape.

      An attempted rape by a 17 year old is hardly a "teenage hijink."

      Kavanaugh should have been honest and admitted that he suffered from alcohol-induced amnesia from his frequent, heavy drinking and forgotten the incident. Instead, he lied and lied and lied about that, about all the comments in his yearbook, about the legal drinking age in MD, about the bar fight, and many other things in his law career. He's not fit to be any kind of judge.

      Kavanaugh: What studies say about alcohol and memory loss - CNN

    2. First of all, why should a girls parents have to be more concerned about their daughters than their sons. Maybe more parents of boys should worry that their sons will attack a female. Why can't a girl go someone without fear of being attacked or raped, do boys worry? Do they worry that girls will attack them?

      Sneaking around looking for what? To get attacked? Sneaking around, can't girls be in mixed company without the fear of an attack? Should we be like Arab countries where women are not allowed to be alone and have to be escorted by a male relative?

      Who is going to spread the word, the two drunks that thought it was acceptable behavior to attack a female? Kavanaugh and his accomplice did more than just teenage hijinks, it crossed the line. If it was your daughter that was assaulted you would have thought as much.

      Kavanaughs display of anger was not a sign of innocence to me it was a sign of privilage, how dare someone question him, how dare someone question a member of the elite, untouchable judicial system.

      He was embrassing and does not havethe right temperament for a judge,I dont care if he has been a federal judge for 30 years.I would not want that man sitting in judgement on me.

      I believe he is a belligerent drunk, he was hostile and aggressive on a live broadcast in front of our nation and the world. It would be interesting to know how he treats his wife and two daughters. He looked like a pompous ass to me.

      What we need are more people and occasions to question judges, the only judge we need to fear is our maker, everyone else should be held up to scrutiny.

      Make decisions for yourself, not for women and dont think for us.Now we have two men on the Supreme Court that think its acceptable to mistreat women.

      Sneaking around, indeed. Maybe Kavanaugh and Judge were doing the sneaking around looking for victims to attack.

  5. Isn't it remarkable that Judge Kavanaugh clerked for Judge Kozinski, the convicted molester of the 9th Circuit, and knew nothing or heard nothing of his behavior during his term?
    Now the DemonRats have a new rallying cry...' impeach the judge.'

    1. Too bad it is a political game, it should not matter what party you belong to, that man is unfit, he will continue to erode whats left of the justice departments standing in our culture.

    2. Kozinski was never convicted. He just retired when faced with an ethics investigation. The Judicial Council dropped the investigation after Kozinski retired. Judges have their own system of justice. Retirement or resignation is their "Get out of jail card."

  6. You people seem to be the masters of speculation, innuendo, and psychobabble.

    So Kavanaugh was a stumbling drunk who managed to stagger to the top of his class at Yale, play sports, and contribute to the community. The epitome of a functional alcoholic! His professional resume is mysteriously stellar.

    I would recommend that you take a half nelson on a galloping goose and proceed to some corner of the universe where perchance someone will have pity on your pathetic existence and pray to God to save you from the fires of Hell.

    1. The second President Bush admitted he was a functional alcoholic until about age 40, and he became President. At least Bush admitted it. Either Kavanaugh is lying when he denies he was a frequent, heavy drinker or many of his classmates are when they say he was.

      I don't think Kavanaugh being a hatchet man for Ken Starr and President Bush is a "stellar" professional resume. He got his appointment as a federal judge because of his political service to Bush. Many of the details of his WH service were then covered up when Trump cited executive privilege and refused to release most of Kavanaugh's papers from the Bush WH.

  7. I dont know how you feel Tim Burton but I have no intention of performing a gymnastics move and hurling myself into the depths of the universe because I have an opposing opinion from Gregory Vernon. I believe when I do die I will be welcomed with open arms by the Holy Savior.

    In the meantime, see the article below:

    Donald Trump has called his US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh “an absolute gem” and repeatedly remarked that the federal judge was the highest-ranked member of his class at Yale, both as an undergraduate and as a law student.

    “I think he was number one in his class at Yale. He was number one in his law school at Yale,” Trump said again at a White House press conference yesterday (Oct. 1).

    Not quite.

    As NBC News has noted—Yale University and Yale Law School don’t grade students conventionally, with letters or numbers. And they don’t have a class rank. ”Our current grading system does not allow the computation of grade point averages. Individual class rank is not computed,” according to the Yale Law School website. Instead, students can complete a course with one of four designations—credit, low pass, pass, or honors (pdf).

    Similarly, as an undergraduate student at Yale, Kavanaugh did not garner the highest honors possible and was not the top student. He graduated “cum laude.” The designation means simply that he graduated “with distinction,” below those who earned the honors of “magna cum laude” (“with great distinction”) and “summa cum laude” (“with the highest distinction”).

  8. Every aspect of Ford's testimony reeks PERJURY, including her ands and thes. From the poor Marilyn Monroe impersonation to countless "I don't remembers," she lied. I am a survivor and I can guarantee you, she would know where it happened, if it happened, which it didn't. I don't believe she ever planned to take an oath and lie before the Senate, but rather she intended to toss sufficient mud in the background to delay the vote until after the mid-term election, then go on from there. Just a good little anti-Trump girl. But her lowlife handler Feinstein betrayed her and forced her into perjury before a world audience. She's been paid for her efforts. But as time has passed, her lies have become more evident. Lies about fear of flying, new door in house, etc. Now we learn that the Kavanaugh friend she claimed to have encountered at a specific grocery, after the nonexistent assault, had not yet been built at the time. And so it plays. My advice: If you have kids around Polo Alto, keep her away from their minds.

  9. I believed Dr. Ford, Kavanaugh showed a lack of respect for the Senate and his victim. I did not believe one word he said, I dont want a man of his temperament on the highest court in the land. We are all victims in some way or another during our lifetime. It would not have if he confessed on national T.V., the Republicans were still going to vote to confirm him regardless.


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