Accuser ‘100 per cent’ sure about attacker
CHRISTINE Blasey Ford, who has accused Donald Trump's supreme court nominee of sexual assault, has fought back tears as she revealed her fear during the attack and being terrified about coming forward.
Dr Ford says she "agonised daily" over whether to come forward about judge Brett Kavanaugh, fearing "my single voice would be drowned out".
"I am here today not because I want to be. I am terrified," she told a Senate committee.
Dr Ford recalled going to a party when she was 15 at which she claims she was attacked by Mr Kavanaugh and his friend, Mark Judge.
"When I got to the small gathering, people were drinking beer in a small living room on the first floor of the house. I drank one beer that evening. Brett and Mark were visibly drunk. Early in the evening, I went up a narrow set of stairs leading from the living room to a second floor to use the bathroom. When I got to the top of the stairs, I was pushed from behind into a bedroom. I couldn't see who pushed me," she said. "I believed he was going to rape me. I tried to yell for help. When I did, Brett put his hand over my mouth to stop me from screaming."
"This was what terrified me the most and has had the most lasting impact on my life. It was hard for me to breathe, and I thought that Brett was accidentally going to kill me," she said.
"Both Brett and Mark were drunkenly laughing during the attack. They both seemed to be having a good time."
She also addressed questions about why she did not report the assault at the time.
"For a very long time, I was too afraid and ashamed to tell anyone the details. I did not want to tell my parents that I, at age 15, was in a house without any parents present, drinking beer with boys," she said.
"I tried to convince myself that because Brett did not rape me, I should be able to move on and just pretend that it had never happened," Dr Ford said.
Dr Ford also explained why she came forward when she did, saying she thought it was her duty to offer her knowledge about a nominee to the Supreme Court.
"I thought it was my civic duty to relay the information I had about Mr. Kavanaugh's conduct so that those considering his potential nomination would know about the assault," Dr Ford said.
Mr Kavanaugh, too, released his opening statement, in which he repeated phrases from a Monday statement in which he vowed not to withdraw from consideration, and from a TV interview on the Fox News Channel that evening.
"I am not questioning that Dr Ford may have been sexually assaulted by some person in some place at some time. But I have never done that to her or to anyone. I am innocent of this charge," he wrote.
Mr Kavanaugh, 53, also dismissed subsequent sexual-misconduct allegations dating to his high-school and college years as "far-fetched and odious" claims meant to keep him off the court.
In a twist just hours before the hearing, it emerged late on Wednesday that Republicans on the Committee had been talking to two men who each believes he may have been the one who had the encounter with Dr Ford.
One even gave an "in-depth written statement" and said he "believes he, not Judge Kavanuagh, had the encounter in question with Dr. Ford," according to Fox News.
The other man talked to the committee on the phone and made a similar claim, the report said.
Dr Ford was also asked under oath what degree of confidence did she have that it was Mr Kavanaugh that attacked her.
"100 per cent," she said, leaning into the microphone.
Dr Ford said her coming forward with the allegations was not politically motivated and that she tried to present the information when Mr Kavanaugh was only a candidate for the Supreme Court position.
In one of the more emotional moments of the morning, Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy asked Dr Ford what stuck out to her in her memory.
"Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter," Dr Ford said, her voice breaking up. "The laughter, the upraised laughter between the two and their having fun at my expense."
"You never forgot that laughter?," Sen. Leahy said as Dr Ford nodded and one of her lawyers patted her back for reassurance.
"I was under one of them while they laughed. Two friends having fun together," Dr Ford said.
Among the other allegations Mr Kavanaugh is facing is one from Yale University classmate Deborah Ramirez, who has said Mr Kavanaugh drunkenly exposed himself to her at a dorm party when they were freshman.
Then on Wednesday, Julie Swetnick said he helped "spike" drinks at high-school parties where girls were "gang-raped."
Neither of those women has been granted permission to testify, but senators are not limited in what questions they can ask, which means Mr Kavanaugh is likely to face cross-examination by Democrats over those allegations.
The hearing was the top trending subject on Twitter with many people from both sides sharing their views on Dr Ford's testimony.