Christine Blasey Ford, a psychology professor at Palo Alto University, identified herself Sunday to the Washington Post as the author of the confidential letter that accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in the early 1980s, when they were both high school students in suburban Maryland.
Ford's letter made national headlines last week after U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo provided it to Sen. Diane Feinstein, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which last week held three hearings on the Kavanaugh nomination. After the Washington Post story came out Sunday, Senate Republicans initially indicated that they remain committed to moving ahead with Kavanaugh's nomination vote, which was scheduled for next Thursday, according to The Post.
That changed on Monday, when both Kavanaugh and Ford had agreed to testify about the allegations in front of the Senate committee. That hearing is now scheduled for Sept. 24.
Several community organizations plan to hold a rally at the corner of El Camino Real and Embarcadero Road on Sunday, Sept. 23, from 8-9 p.m. to support Ford ahead of the Sept. 24 hearing. Anyone who plans to attend is asked to bring their own candle or another light source, according to organizers.
Some details of the alleged incident were publicized Friday in a New Yorker story, which did not name Ford as the author of the letter. Her identity wasn't made public until Sunday afternoon, when The Post reported on its interview with Ford, who reportedly also read portions of the letter and notes from her therapist to the newspaper.
In a statement Friday, Kavanaugh said, "I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or any time."
Ford teaches in a Palo Alto University consortium with Stanford University, training graduate students in clinical psychology. She goes by Christine Blasey professionally.
Ford's lawyer, Debra Katz, a Washington D.C. attorney known for her work on sexual harassment, told media outlets Monday morning that her client is willing to testify before Congress. Kavanaugh also said he is willing to testify about the allegations.
Ford reportedly contacted The Post through its tip line in early July, around the same time that Kavanaugh became a candidate for the Supreme Court nomination. It was also around that time that she had penned the letter and sent it to Eshoo, The Post reported. Feinstein reportedly passed the letter on to the FBI.
According to both published reports, the incident allegedly occurred during a summer in the early 1980s at a house party in Montgomery County. She was 15 years old at the time, finishing her sophomore year at the all-girls Holton-Arms School in Bethesda. Kavanaugh would have been 17 years old.
Ford, now 51, said that Kavanaugh and a friend, Mark Judge, were both "stumbling drunk" when they pushed her into an upstairs bedroom, The Post reported. Kavanaugh allegedly pinned her to a bed on her back, groped her and began to grind his body against hers, she told The Post. He allegedly tried to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she had over it, The Post reported. She tried to scream but Kavanaugh put his hand over her mouth, she said.
"I thought he might inadvertently kill me," Ford told The Post. "He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing."
Ford reportedly escaped after Judge jumped on top of Kavanaugh and Ford, sending all of them tumbling. She ran from the room, locked herself in a bathroom and then left the house, The Post reported.
Ford told the Post that she didn't tell anyone about the incident until 2012, when she and her husband were in couples therapy. She provided the Post with portions of the therapist's notes, which do not name Kavanaugh but state that Ford was attacked by students "from an elitist boys' school" (both Kavanaugh and Judge were students at Georgetown Preparatory School) who had since become "highly respected and high-ranking members of society in Washington." The Post noted that the therapist notes said four boys were involved in the incident; Ford told the newspaper that was the therapist's error and that there were four boys at the party, but only two in the bedroom.
The following year, when she was seeking therapy for what she told The Post have been long-term emotional and psychological effects from the incident, she described a "rape attempt" that occurred in her late teens, the therapist's notes show.
The Post also interviewed her husband, Russell Ford, who said that in the 2012 therapy sessions, his wife recounted being trapped in a room with two drunken boys, one of whom pinned her to a bed, molested her and prevented her from screaming.
"He said he recalled that his wife used Kavanaugh's last name and voiced concern that Kavanaugh — then a federal judge — might one day be nominated to the Supreme Court," The Post reported.
In late August, Ford's attorney Katz advised her to take a polygraph test, administered by a former FBI agent, as a defense against the inevitable attacks on the credibility of her allegations. Katz provided the results, which concluded she was being truthful, to The Post. The retired FBI agent who conducted the test, Jerry Hanafin, told The New York Times on Sunday that the results showed "no deception indicated" — that "she was being truthful."
CNN released on Sunday evening a redacted version of her July 30 letter to Feinstein that a source who had the letter reportedly read to CNN.
"It is upsetting to discuss sexual assault and its repercussions, yet I felt guilty and compelled as a citizen about the idea of not saying anything," the letter states.
The Washington Post describes Ford as a "registered Democrat who has made small contributions to political organizations." From 2013 to 2017, she made campaign contributions to ActBlue, an online platform for Democratic fundraising, that totaled less than $100, according to Federal Election Commission data.
She was one of more than 5,000 health care professionals who signed a letter this summer urging the Trump administration to immediately stop the separation of migrant and asylum-seeking children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Ford has taught in the Palo Alto University-Stanford consortium since 2012, according to her LinkedIn. She has also worked as a research psychologist and biostatistician for Stanford since 1998 and holds a master's degree in epidemiology and biostatistics from Stanford. She was a psychologist at the Children's Health Council in Palo Alto for four years, from 1998 to 2002, according to her LinkedIn profile.
The Post's revelations quickly renewed calls from Senate Democrats to delay the Judiciary Committee's vote on Kavanaugh's nomination. In a tweet Sunday, Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Senate Minority Leader, urged the committee chair, Sen. Chuck Grassley, to "postpone the vote until, at the very minimum, these serious & credible allegations are thoroughly investigated."
"For too long, when women have made serious allegation of abuse, they have been ignored. That cannot happen in this case," Schumer tweeted.
Feinstein concurred that the nomination should be delayed until the FBI investigates the allegations. She said in a statement Sunday that she "support(s) 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."
"This should happen before the Senate moves forward on this nominee," Feinstein said.
For any woman, Feinstein said, "sharing an experience involving sexual assault — particularly when it involves a politically connected man with influence, authority and power — is extraordinarily difficult."
"From the outset, I have believed these allegations were extremely serious and bear heavily on Judge Kavanaugh's character," Feinstein said in the statement. "However, as we have seen over the past few days, they also come at a price for the victim. I hope the attacks and shaming of her will stop and this will be treated with the seriousness it deserves."
It's far from certain whether the accusations, which came after last week's three-day hearings, will derail Kavanaugh's nomination. On Monday, however, it became clear that they would -- at the very least -- delay his path toward the nation's highest court.
Immediately after the Post story came out Sunday, Republican sources told CNN and Roll Call that the plan remains to move ahead with the vote on Thursday. On Monday, however, Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, both said they would need to get more information about the accusations before moving ahead with the votes. If all the Democrats vote against Kavanaugh, Collins' and Murkowski's votes would be crucial for his nomination to move ahead.
Collins told CNN on Monday that to be fair to both Ford and Kavanaugh, the Senate will "need to know what happened." Senate staff was following up with questions for both parties on Monday.
"Obviously, if Judge Kavanaugh has lied about what happened, that would be disqualifying," Collins said.
Murkowski told CNN that given that there are more questions that need to be asked and answered, she thinks "it would be appropriate to allow for that time."
Grassley on Sunday called the timing of the revelations "disturbing" and said it "raises a lot of questions about Democrats' tactics and motives to bring this to the rest of the committee's attention only now rather than during these many steps along the way," according to CNN.
On Friday, Grassley released a letter from 65 women who knew Kavanaugh during high school, defending him as someone who "has always treated women with decency and respect."
Eshoo said in a statement Sunday that she is proud of her constituent for "the courage she has displayed to come forward to tell her full story to the American people."
"In weighing her privacy and the consequences to herself and her family, she has demonstrated her willingness to risk these factors to present the truth," Eshoo said. "I am grateful to her for weighing these equities and choosing to speak out on one of the most consequential decisions in our country, an appointment to the highest Court in the land.
"In a democracy we always seek the truth and honor it."