The woman who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault in a confidential letter to members of Congress has come forward to tell her story.
Christine Blasey Ford, a professor at Palo Alto University in California, told The Washington Post that she had feared Kavanaugh "might inadvertently kill" her as he held her down and groped her while they were both high school students around 1982.
Ford alleges another teenager watched as a drunken Kavanaugh attempted to remove her clothing at a gathering outside Washington in suburban Maryland. She tried to scream, but Kavanaugh covered her mouth to silence her, she told the Post. She said she escaped after Kavanaugh's friend entered the room and jumped on top of both of them.
"I think it derailed me substantially for four or five years," Ford told the Post of the alleged assault. She described the incident as a "rape attempt" during a therapy session in 2012, according to her therapist's notes obtained by the Post.
Kavanaugh, 53, has denied any wrongdoing.
"I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation," Kavanaugh said in a statement last week when news of the letter first surfaced. "I did not do this back in high school or at any time."
Ford had been requesting anonymity, but she decided to identify herself in the Post article published early Sunday afternoon.
Ford sent the letter to Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) during the summer, after Kavanaugh was nominated for the high court vacancy by President Donald Trump, to share her concerns about him.
After weeks of media speculation, Feinstein, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee that will decide whether to advance Kavanaugh's nomination to the full Senate, confirmed the existence of the letter on Thursday. She also said she referred the matter to the FBI.
Ford told the Post she hadn't wanted to identify herself publicly, but after details of her letter began to leak, she decided she wanted to be the one to tell her story.
The Judiciary Committee vote on Kavanaugh is scheduled for Thursday, but Feinstein said the panel should wait to vote on Kavanaugh's confirmation until the FBI has conducted its review into the matter.
"I support Mrs. Ford's decision to share her story, and now that she has, it is in the hands of the FBI to conduct an investigation," Feinstein said in a statement Sunday. "This should happen before the Senate moves forward on this nominee."
Taylor Foy, a spokeswoman for Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), on Sunday termed "disturbing" the timing of "uncorroborated allegations from more than 35 years ago, during high school."
Foy said that if Feinstein and other committee Democrats "took this claim seriously, they should have brought it to the full committee's attention much earlier." She also called on Feinstein to release the letter she received from Ford in July "so that everyone can know what she's known for weeks."
Several other Democratic lawmakers, including Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), on Sunday echoed Feinstein's call for a delayed vote on Kavanaugh.
Grassley "must postpone the vote until, at a very minimum, these serious and credible allegations are thoroughly investigated," Schumer said in a statement.
The White House reiterated its support for Kavanaugh, a federal appellate court judge, in the wake of the latest development.
"We are standing with Judge Kavanaugh's denial," White House principal deputy press secretary Raj Shah said in a statement to Fox News on Sunday.
This story has been updated with comment from Feinstein and Schumer. Igor Bobic contributed reporting.