“It could ruin a man’s life”, one of my classmates went on about false allegations.
Sitting in a university space that is largely “liberal”, discussions on issues like sexual harassment and assault are common. And in such discussions, comments like the one mentioned above are regularly thrown around. But while my classmates discussed what all an allegations could or could not do, America was seeing a real one unfold.
On September 16th, Dr. Christine Ford, a professor of and researcher of psychology, publicly accused Brett Kavanaugh – Trump’s nominee for the US Supreme Court – of sexual assault. According to Dr. Ford, Mr. Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge, trapped her in a room and assaulted her during a high school party in the 1980s.
It is important to know that Ford had earlier tried to address the allegation confidentially. According to the Washington Post,
“Earlier this summer, Christine Blasey Ford wrote a confidential letter to a senior Democratic lawmaker (about the allegation)... Since Wednesday, she has watched as that bare-bones version of her story became public without her name or her consent, drawing a blanket denial from Kavanaugh and roiling a nomination that just days ago seemed all but certain to succeed.”
Probably realizing that her story would be discarded if she didn’t take action, Dr. Ford decided to go public. On September 18, Dr. Ford’s lawyers called for an FBI investigation of the allegations. 4 days later, she agreed to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee – where the Republicans, realizing the spectacle of 11 men telling off a woman would not look good, decided to outsource the task to a woman prosecutor, instead of nominating more women to the committee in the first place, but that’s a story for another day. Soon after Dr. Ford went public, a former classmate of Mr. Kavanaugh, Ms. Deborah Ramirez accused him of indecently exposing himself while drunk. Soon after, Ms. Julie Swetnick another old acquaintance of Mr. Kavanaugh, accused him of not just assault, but among other things, attempts to spike girls’ drinks at parties so as to take advantage of them.
Mr. Kavanaugh’s response to all the allegations was plain, outright denial.
On September 27th, both Dr. Ford and Kavanaugh appeared before the senate to testify, and much has been made of their words and demeanor there. Dr. Ford went on to say that,
“I am here today not because I want to be. I am terrified. I am here because I believe it is my civic duty to tell you what happened to me while Brett Kavanaugh and I were in high school…
… I truly wish.I could be more helpful with more detailed answers to all of the questions that have and will be asked about how I got to the party and where it took place and so forth. I don’t have all the answers, and I don’t remember as much as I would like to. But the details that — about that night that bring me here today are the ones I will never forget. They have been seared into my memory, and have haunted me episodically as an adult.”
She then goes on to describe how she was trapped and escaped narrowly. Dr. Ford’s testimony evoked both praise and condemnation. While conservative observers went on to question her faulty memory and attacked her testimony as a political tool against Kavanaugh’s appointment, many, including Fox News were struck by the remarkable emotional impact of a testimony delivered in such a composed manner, despite the circumstances. BuzzFeed’s Anne Helen Petersen wrote,
“Ford is white, upper-middle class, married, and highly educated. She is calm but demure. She is visibly shaken yet steady. She could afford the therapy that helped document her psychological past. She has a support system and the means to hire a lawyer. Imagine if you lack even one of these qualities. Imagine if your behavior, or your voice, or your face, or the life you’ve lived doesn’t perfectly match what is demanded of the ideal victim. Would you be believed?”
Mr. Kavanaugh, in contrast, appeared to have little to no control over his demeanor. He went on a political rant. He said, and mind you this is a person seeking a non-partisan job that requires fairness,
“This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit …. fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election, fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record. Revenge on behalf of the Clintons and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups. This is a circus.”
With great difficulty, the Republicans, who control the Senate, agreed to a limited one week FBI investigation. The result? A 46-page report that was produced without interviewing several key witnesses, and failed to discuss what had become pressing allegations of perjury against Mr. Kavanaugh, on the nature of his drinking problem. There were vociferous protests against such a haphazard approach to such a sensitive matter. Protestors also confronted Republican senators in public places.
Along with the rushed investigation, what has been further distressing the dual onslaught on Dr. Ford. Not only was she accused of ruining Mr. Kavanaugh’s life, she was also mocked for how she testified by Donald Trump. As CNN reported Trump said, on October 2,
"I had one beer. Well, do you think it was -- nope, it was one beer,"
"How did you get home? I don't remember. How'd you get there? I don't remember. Where is the place? I don't remember. How many years ago was it? I don't know."
In addition to the POTUS mocking a victim of sexual assault, hate messages, death threats and a public character assassination were also meted out on Dr. Ford and other accusers.
The senate, with the Republicans controlling it, voted for Mr. Kavanaugh, by a 51-49 split, making him a US Supreme Court judge.
I was supposed to submit this article a week and half earlier than I did. Around the 3rd of October. But now that I have taken an extention, and saw how the matter unfolded, I think it would be unfair to not comment on all that this has proven. Remember that classmate of mine who said how allegations can ruin a man’s life? How it is one of the worst things that can happen to a man? I intend to ask him about how he feels about Kavanaugh.
And I also want to ask all those are reading this article. Whose life was ruined because of the allegation? A psychology professor whose story was outed without her permission, who was threatened, mocked and could not even get an investigation that lasted more than a few weeks, or a man who was sworn in as a judge in US Supreme Court after 3 women came out against him.
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About the Author
Rahul Chaudhary is a literature student at Hansraj College. He is interested in social work and has worked with multiple NGOs and organizations. Having written for online portals, magazines, blogs and more he is well experienced with handling content. His tenacious interest in social issues and art has allowed him to work with organizations like the World Comics Network, Project FUEL and many other education-awareness projects. Still working for various journals and awareness initiatives, he continues to write on issues close to his heart as he explores the world beyond his comfort zone.