An allegation of sexual misconduct against President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was disclosed via letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein (R-CA) in July, and now Ronan Farrow has broken the story wide open with details from the woman who leveled the accusation.
The complaint came from a woman who accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct when they were both in high school, more than thirty years ago.
The allegation dates back to the early nineteen-eighties, when Kavanaugh was a high-school student at Georgetown Preparatory School, in Bethesda, Maryland, and the woman attended a nearby high school. In the letter, the woman alleged that, during an encounter at a party, Kavanaugh held her down, and that he attempted to force himself on her. She claimed in the letter that Kavanaugh and a classmate of his, both of whom had been drinking, turned up music that was playing in the room to conceal the sound of her protests, and that Kavanaugh covered her mouth with his hand. She was able to free herself.
Though the incident occurred decades ago, the woman said she had ongoing struggles stemming from the experience, to the point of seeking psychological treatment.
In a statement, Kavanaugh said, “I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time.”
Kavanaugh’s classmate said of the woman’s allegation, “I have no recollection of that.”
Though the story is only now coming to light, the woman grappled with the decision to go public after Trump chose Kavanaugh to replace retiring Justice Robert Kennedy, telling friends that his nomination have revived the pain of the memory.
She contacted her congresswoman, Anna Eshoo, a Democrat, sending her a letter describing her allegation. (When reached for comment, a spokesperson for Eshoo’s office cited a confidentiality policy regarding constituent services and declined to comment further on the matter.)
The letter was also sent to the office of Senator Dianne Feinstein. As the ranking minority member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Feinstein was preparing to lead Democratic questioning of Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing weeks later. The woman contacted Feinstein’s office directly, according to multiple sources.
In the end, the woman opted against going public with her story:
She had repeatedly reported the allegation to members of Congress and, watching Kavanaugh move toward what looked like an increasingly assured confirmation, she decided to end her effort to come forward, a source close to the woman said.
That Feinstein would sit on the letter without notifying other members of the Senate Judiciary Committee did not sit well with her Democratic colleagues, Farrow said.
A source familiar with the committee’s activities said that Feinstein’s staff initially conveyed to other Democratic members’ offices that the incident was too distant in the past to merit public discussion, and that Feinstein had “taken care of it.” On Wednesday, after media inquiries to the Democratic members multiplied, and concern among congressional colleagues increased, Feinstein agreed to brief the other Democrats on the committee, with no staff present.
In a statement on Thursday, Feinstein acknowledged she had received the letter and that it was regarding Kavanaugh’s nomination:
“I have received information from an individual concerning the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court,” Feinstein said. “That individual strongly requested confidentiality, declined to come forward or press the matter further, and I have honored that decision. I have, however, referred the matter to federal investigative authorities.”
In a statement, an F.B.I. spokesperson said, “Upon receipt of the information on the night of September 12, we included it as part of Judge Kavanaugh’s background file, as per the standard process.”