It began as a sequence of cellphone calls amongst outdated high-school associates and ended up embroiling 65 ladies within the firestorm over a sexual assault allegation that might form the Supreme Court docket.
In a matter of hours, all of them signed onto a letter rallying behind excessive courtroom nominee and their highschool buddy Brett Kavanaugh as somebody who “has all the time handled ladies with decency and respect.” They usually signed up, whether or not they anticipated it or not, for changing into a spotlight of scrutiny themselves.
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The highly effective strength-in-numbers assertion, supplied to bolster Kavanaugh’s denial of a declare that he attacked a lady at a celebration throughout their highschool years, has drawn questions from journalists, social media skeptics, even Hollywood figures.
How properly did the ladies know him? How may an announcement and 65 signatures come collectively so quick after outlines of the allegation first surfaced publicly? And after subsequently listening to the small print and studying that his accuser was a girl a few of them knew, do they stand by their declaration?
Sure, say greater than a dozen signers who’ve since spoken to The Related Press or different media shops.
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“Brett wouldn’t try this in one million years. I’m completely assured. That might be fully out of character for him,” stated Paula Duke Ebel. She stated she interacted with Kavanaugh a whole bunch of instances whereas they had been college students in a close-knit constellation of single-sex Catholic colleges round Washington within the 1980s.
Christine Blasey Ford, 51, now a psychology professor in California, stated a really intoxicated Kavanaugh cornered her in a bed room throughout a celebration within the early 1980s. She stated he pinned her on a mattress, tried to undress her and clamped his hand over her mouth when she tried to scream. She escaped solely when a buddy of his jumped on the mattress and knocked them throughout.
The letter was launched the morning after the allegation first bought broad public consideration. The letter and its roster of supporters appeared to return at supersonic pace and out of the blue.
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Ladies who organized and signed it say it was a speedy response by a social community that endures a long time after they graduated. They are saying it was straightforward to mobilize: a series of associates calling, texting and emailing associates from a Washington-area world the place many nonetheless stay and see one another.
In the meantime, a whole bunch of alumnae of the secular non-public women faculty that Kavanaugh’s accuser attended have signed a letter supporting her and calling for an investigation of her allegations.
“We consider Dr. Blasey Ford,” they wrote.
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One of many signers, Cristina King Miranda, tweeted Wednesday that the alleged assault “was spoken about for days afterward in class” and that Kavanaugh “ought to cease mendacity.” However in a Fb publish hours later, she stated she had no firsthand information of the matter and wouldn’t remark additional amid a media “circus” and a barrage of interview requests.
Whereas that letter is signed by a mixture of Ford’s friends and college students from earlier than or after her time at her faculty, the letter backing Kavanaugh is from ladies who vouch that they knew Kavanaugh, now a federal appeals courtroom choose, personally as a highschool scholar.
A number of stated they interacted with him extensively via sporting occasions, dances, events and different socializing or the cellphone calls that occupied teenage weeknights within the pre-texting period.
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One labored with him at a summer time camp. A second sought his assist with homework. Two dated him. Some nonetheless see him at social features.
At the very least one, although, hadn’t frolicked or talked one-on-one with him however nonetheless felt snug attaching her title primarily based on the social conditions they shared.
Others who signed declined to remark or didn’t reply to inquiries. The AP left messages for all 65.
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Some have been stunned by the eye. Many have stayed mum to keep away from “the media frenzy,” signer Maura Kane advised Fox Information, the outlet of selection for a number of who’ve given interviews.
Julie DeVol advised the AP she didn’t actually anticipate the letter would provoke such intense curiosity, although she sensed Kavanaugh’s critics “would do something” to delay his affirmation vote.
Kavanaugh, 53, gave the impression to be cruising towards that vote earlier than the sexual misconduct allegation grew to become public.
Kavanaugh has known as Ford’s allegation “fully false.” The Senate Judiciary Committee has invited him and Ford to testify at a listening to Monday, though Ford’s attorneys say she needs the FBI to analyze her allegation earlier than she testifies.
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The Kavanaugh buddy who she stated was within the room on the occasion, conservative author Mark Choose, has stated he doesn’t keep in mind any such incident.
When phrase of a high-school-era sexual misconduct allegation towards Kavanaugh emerged final Thursday afternoon, Meghan McCaleb and her husband, Scott, thought they and different highschool associates of the nominee wanted to talk out. Meghan McCaleb stated she launched the letter-writing effort after discussing it with a few of Kavanaugh’s former regulation clerks.
She stated she contacted associates, who contacted extra associates, and so they had 65 signatures by the following morning.
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The rapid-fire response sparked a flare of tweets, together with from actresses and liberal activists Debra Messing and Patricia Arquette, questioning how anybody may line up so many highschool buddies so shortly to talk up for somebody they didn’t really go to highschool with. McCaleb says the reply is solely “how strongly all of us consider in Choose Kavanaugh and his integrity.”
Among the signers are conservative, reminiscent of podcaster and former Republican Nationwide Committee spokeswoman Virginia Hume. Others are Democrats.
“This has nothing to do with politics,” stated one of many signers, Megan Williams. “It’s nearly character.”
However it’s also, inescapably, about whether or not they credit score one other girl’s account of sexual assault.
READ MORE: Kavanaugh, sexual assault accuser to testify to U.S. Senate Monday
The query is sharpened by the #MeToo motion, which seeks to alter what supporters see as a historical past of doubt and dismissal of girls who converse up about sexual misconduct. The query is also all of the extra pointed for ladies who traveled the same teenage social path as Ford, and in some instances met her alongside the way in which.
McCaleb stated “I’m not sure” when requested on Fox Information whether or not she believed Ford, a buddy of a buddy who went to the identical native pool Ford did. “She alleges that she had this traumatic occasion, and I really feel like it’s not the Brett Kavanaugh that we all know.”
Sharon Crouch Clark didn’t know Ford and feels positive about having signed the letter, however the allegation.
“If it occurred to her, that’s horrible,” Clark stated. However she questions whether or not the incident occurred as Ford described it, noting that Ford stated she was unable to recall sure particulars in regards to the date, place and different features of the alleged assault.
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“I really feel like I’d know all that,” stated Clark, who socialized with Kavanaugh amid teams of associates at events.
Ladies who signed the letter stated they didn’t find out about or recall the occasion Ford described, and so they stated her account of a “stumbling drunk” Kavanaugh didn’t jibe with their reminiscences of a boy who drank some beer alongside them however by no means misplaced management or crossed a line with women.
“There have been youngsters who did act sort of loopy. … He simply wasn’t that man,” stated Williams, who recollects hanging out with Kavanaugh primarily in teams however generally one-on-one. “He was the child who all the time did the correct factor.”
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That’s why six dozen ladies had been prepared to place their names on that letter, stated signer Missy Bigelow Carr, who labored at a summer time camp with Kavanaugh and coached women basketball towards him as an grownup.
“If there was any indication that he didn’t deal with even one among us with respect or acted in a fashion that disrespected women/ladies,” she wrote in an e mail, “that might not be the case.”
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