The sex crimes prosecutor hired by Senate Republicans to question Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh last week was “disingenuous” in writing a memo that cast doubt on the veracity of Ford’s sexual assault allegations, according to her former colleague.
Matthew Long, a former sex crimes prosecutor who trained under Rachel Mitchell in Maricopa County, Arizona, told Mother Jones that Mitchell’s memo to the Senate Judiciary Committee — and also released to the public — did not square with her own practices as a prosecutor.
> “I’m very disappointed in my former boss and mentor,” Long said.
> On Sunday, Mitchell submitted the memo to the Republicans who had hired her, stating that Ford’s case would be too weak to bring charges in a criminal trial. “A ‘he said, she said’ case is incredibly difficult to prove,” Mitchell wrote. “But this case is even weaker than that…I do not think that a reasonable prosecutor would bring this case based on the evidence before the Committee.”
> The memo rankled Long, beginning with how Mitchell framed it. “I find her willingness to author this absolutely disingenuous. She knows better,” Long said. “She should only be applying this standard when there’s an adequate investigation.” Rather than jump to conclusions, Mitchell should have laid out the steps that needed to be taken in order to gather enough information to make a determination about the case. “Mitchell doesn’t have sufficient information to even draw these conclusions,” he said.
Long took issue with the section of the memo regarding Ford’s inability to narrow the time frame of her alleged assault, which Mitchell noted she at some points said occurred in the “mid-1980s” and at others in the “early ‘80s”.
> Long found this section of the memo insincere. “I challenge Ms. Mitchell directly on this issue, because her office often charges cases with a very expanded timeline,” he said. Victims are often unable to pinpoint the exact date of an attack, and Mitchell’s office, he said, will often bring charges for an act that can’t be narrowed down to a more specific time period than a window of several years. “I was trained explicitly by her to not consider this time thing as an inconsistency,” he said.
Further, Long said Mitchell’s willingness to accept witness statements without interviews is “absolute bullshit”.
> “It’s bullshit because all we have are these signed statements, which are unreliable. They’re hearsay. They wouldn’t meet any type of standard Ms. Mitchell would allow in considering their statements, but instead would have demanded they be interviewed in a full-blown interview to really flesh out these people’s motivations.” As a judge, he added, Kavanaugh, who leaned on these statements in his own testimony before the Senate, knows they do not meet a standard of reliable testimony.
The former sex crimes prosecutor pointed next to the portion of Mitchell’s memo that focused on Ford’s lack of memory regarding certain elements of the incident:
> “The spotty memory Ms. Mitchell talks about, as if that’s an indication it didn’t happen, is just absurd,” he said. “Again, I was trained by Ms. Mitchell about how trauma explicitly does prevent memory from happening.” Trauma causes the body to go into “fight, flight, freeze,” a survival mode that creates tunnel vision and prevents certain memories from forming that might otherwise have been retained. “I was trained explicitly by Ms. Mitchell to identify that as corroborative, as corroborating that someone has been victimized and experienced trauma,” he stressed. “Ms. Mitchell knows better than that.”
Long said after being a prosecutor for 12 years and trained in investigating sex crimes under Mitchell, there is no question in his mind that Ford was sexually assaulted — the only question is whether the assailant was Kavanaugh or someone else.
To answer that question would require further investigation, he said.
> “Her only analysis should have been: The process you’ve given me, the information we have, is insufficient,” he said. Moreover, he noted, she didn’t analyze Kavanaugh’s testimony, which contained obvious falsehoods already pointed out by the media, or remark on the unreliability of the accused. To Long, the memo reflected the political theater of a fraught Supreme Court battle rather than the expertise of a seasoned prosecutor. “Rachel Mitchell’s failure to include any analysis of Kavanaugh reveals her political bias,” he said.