Kavanaugh's accuser struggled to come forward, friends say

  • In Business/Economy
  • 2018-09-19 18:00:31Z
  • By Garance Burke and Martha Mendoza, Associated Press

PALO ALTO, Calif. (AP) -- Her studies first brought her West, but for Christine Margaret Blasey Ford, the move to California proved a way to leave behind what had gone wrong in her teenage years in the patrician suburbs of Washington, D.C.

Born into a well-off family in Montgomery County, Maryland, Ford has said she spent years working to recover from an assault as a young girl in that world of prep school parties - by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, she would disclose years later.

Long before she decided to come forward, Ford, now 51, had built a new life for herself in Malibu, Honolulu and the San Francisco Bay area, embracing academia, surfing, cheering on the Stanford football team and taking in outdoor rock concerts.

Ford settled in the Silicon Valley in the 1990s, when the first wave of the tech boom was transforming lives around her and startups were replacing peach orchards. She began working as a research psychologist and biostatistician at Stanford University, one of the most elite universities in the country. She later was hired as a professor in a consortium between Stanford and Palo Alto University. Soon, she married her husband in a nearby coastal town, and they bought a classic Eichler home in Palo Alto and had two sons.

"She is very friendly, outgoing and brilliant, and she is a great mother," said clinical psychologist Erin Heinemeyer, a mentee of Ford's who is also a friend. "I know in general she supports women's rights, and she often stands up for students, and she had expressed concerns to me about other students who might be struggling."

Months after anonymously contacting her elected officials, Ford went public on Sunday telling The Washington Post that Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed at a Maryland house party in the early 1980s and tried to take her clothes off. He put his hand over her mouth when she tried to scream, she said, and she feared he might inadvertently kill her. She said she was around 15 at the time and he would have been about 17.

Friends who knew her say she struggled with the decision to come forward.

"She clearly has nothing to gain and much to lose by going public with her story," said Jim Gensheimer, a friend of Ford's. "I know from things she has told me, including her need to have more than one exit door in her bedroom to prevent her from being trapped, that this event was serious enough to have a lasting impact on her life."

Through the White House, Kavanaugh issued a statement saying he "categorically and unequivocally" denied the allegation.

"I can only say this: He is such an outstanding man. Very hard for me to imagine that anything happened," President Donald Trump said Wednesday. "I think it's a very unfair thing what's going on."

The allegation has shaken up the battle over Kavanaugh's confirmation, and Republicans are calling for a public hearing with both accuser and accused testifying. But lawyers for Ford say that she wants an FBI investigation of her allegation in advance of a Judiciary Committee hearing set for Monday.

The lawyers said in a letter that Ford wants to cooperate with the panel. But they say that in the days since she gone public with her allegation, she has been the target of "vicious harassment and even death threats." Her family has relocated, they said.

An FBI investigation "should be the first step in addressing the allegations," the lawyers wrote Tuesday in a letter obtained by The Associated Press.

Kavanaugh supporters have called Ford's credibility and motivations into question. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, told NBC News that Ford is "mixed up," and called Kavanaugh "honest" and "straightforward."

Several former colleagues said that, as a biostatistician and psychologist, Ford was known for her scrupulous and meticulous professional conduct. She has published several books and more than 65 peer-reviewed journal articles.

Her work often involves analyzing data gathered in medical studies ranging from investigations of new depression treatments to opioid addiction interventions and traumatic brain injury research.

Sarah Adler, a former student of Ford's who is now a clinical psychologist at Stanford, co-organized a letter in support of her former professor that had been signed by more than 300 colleagues and former students by Tuesday afternoon. Another letter of support has been signed by more than 700 graduates of her private prep school, Holton-Arms.

"I think she felt morally compelled to come forward, which is very much in line with what I know of her," said Adler. "She analyzes the data and lets the data tell the story."

Ford values clear professional boundaries and isn't one to share personal struggles with coworkers, the former colleagues said.

"She never said a word about this," said Allan Reiss, a Stanford professor of psychiatry with whom she has written numerous scholarly publications. "But the fact that I know her as a person of integrity and honesty, it doesn't surprise me that she came forward and that she has a personal sense of the importance of what she has to say."

It was in couple's counseling with her husband in 2012 that she first described an encounter with Kavanaugh in her freshman year of high school, she would later disclose.

Timothy Avery, a former student who is now a postdoctoral research fellow, said he and many others admire her intellect and her kindness on the job.

"She has reviewed statistics for trials and research being presented to the federal government," Avery said. "This all requires a great deal of integrity. Other statisticians review her work, and she reviews theirs."

Colleagues and former students described her as competent and laid-back, someone who is sure of her own footing and who balances work and family.

Even as her appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee remains up in the air, Avery said he thinks Ford can handle the blazing national spotlight.

"It's obviously terrible to have to deal with but because her dedication to truth is more important than her personal difficulties, I think she can handle it," he said.


Burke reported from San Francisco.


More Related News

Do Options Traders Know Something About Ford (F) Stock We Don
Do Options Traders Know Something About Ford (F) Stock We Don't?

Investors need to pay close attention to Ford (F) stock based on the movements in the options market lately.

Martin Truex Jr. fends off teammate Kyle Busch for Sonoma victory
Martin Truex Jr. fends off teammate Kyle Busch for Sonoma victory

Martin Truex Jr. continued Joe Gibbs Racing's dominating run this season and at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway.

Prosecutor could decide on seventh trial in Mississippi case
Prosecutor could decide on seventh trial in Mississippi case
  • US
  • 2019-06-22 13:44:23Z

A Mississippi prosecutor has tried and failed six times to send Curtis Flowers to the death chamber, with the latest trial conviction and death sentence overturned on Friday because of racial bias in jury selection. Now, that same prosecutor must decide whether to try Flowers a seventh time. Doug Evans, who's running unopposed this year for an eighth four-year term as district attorney for a seven-county swath of rural northern Mississippi, has shown no inclination to give up.

Kyle Larson tops Kurt Busch in final Cup practice at Sonoma
Kyle Larson tops Kurt Busch in final Cup practice at Sonoma

Kyle Larson, who has won the last two poles at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, appears on track for a third.

Court tosses black man
Court tosses black man's murder conviction over racial bias

The Supreme Court on Friday threw out the murder conviction and death sentence for a black man in Mississippi because of a prosecutor's efforts to keep African Americans off the jury. The removal of black prospective jurors deprived inmate Curtis Flowers of a fair trial, the court said in a 7-2

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply


Top News: Economy

Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.