The hot button political issue of the day is the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. The entire affair has been one of the most virulent displays of mudslinging in years, and there are huge Constitutional implications at stake. After the close of the hearings, Christine Blasey Ford, a professor of statistics at Palo Alton University, accused Judge Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct in the early 1980’s. She called for an FBI investigation into the matter, but since the FBI only investigates federal offenses, this request was denied.
Many on the left have been quick to lend her credence, if only because doing so delays the confirmation and may give the Democrats a chance to push the vote past the midterm elections, and deny Trump his SCOTUS pick. Many on the right have been quick to call her a liar, for the opposite reason. Because of the immense political value behind her accusations, it is difficult to divorce the politics from the case itself. I would like to take an objective look at the case – its merits, and weaknesses – apart from the political implications.
First, my credentials, lest you think I speak from a position of ignorance. I have been assigned to my departments Special Victim’s Unit for about a year now as a detective. In that time, I’ve investigated right around a hundred rapes, sexual assaults, child abuses, and other related crimes. Prior to my assignment as a detective, I served as a Field Training Officer and taught new officers our trade. I’ve taken part in months of specialized investigatory training throughout my career.
So – the allegations brought forth by Dr. Blasey Ford are as followed. She alleges that while she was in highschool, she was at a party. Brett Kavanaugh, also a teenager, was allegedly present. She does not recall how she got to the party, where the party was, or how she left. She was very intoxicated. She alleges that either two or four boys accosted her, and that Kavanaugh was among them. She alleges that Kavanaugh attempted to remove her clothing, but did not. She names three other people who were witnesses to the event, but all three have denied any knowledge of the incident, and have even denied knowledge of the party in question, or ever seeing Kavanaugh and Dr. Blasey Ford in the same room together.
First of all, this offense is commonly called Sexual Battery, or Forcible Fondling in some jurisdictions. Most laws pertaining to Sexual Battery or Forcible Fondling classify the offense as either a misdemeanor or a low-level felony. In either case, the statute of limitations on this offense would have expired no later than 1985. So on the face of it, from a criminal manner, the case cannot be prosecuted.
But the length of time that it took to make the report is not in itself a challenge to the case. We know that victims are often embarrassed to bring up being assaulted. Recalling the incident can be traumatic in itself, and many victims, even after making the report, opt not to press charges because of the revictimization that happens in court, at the hands of the defense attorney during cross examination. While the extremely long period of time that has passed certainly adds a layer of doubt, it isn’t in itself a reason to doubt the victim.
So in fairness to the case, let’s pretend that this happened far more recently. Let’s say it happened two years ago, and it’s barely within the statute of limitations. In this scenario, we’ll say the victim is Christine and the alleged perpetrator is Brett. Now – we continue.
The greatest challenge to this case is corroboration. Christine is unable to provide any witnesses that Brett even had the opportunity to act in this manner. She in unable to provide any evidence that the party actually occurred, and her own statement – that she was intoxicated, that she did not remember where the party was, when it was, how she got there or how she left – makes it difficult to establish her as a credible victim. This isn’t to say that her story is false; only that her story cannot be corroborated.
The only corroboration she’s able to provide is this: in 2012, she disclosed that an incident of this kind occurred to her therapist. She didn’t name Brett as the suspect, and some details differ.
So where does this leave the case? Quite simply, Brett doesn’t even need to make a statement. There is no corroborated evidence to suggest that Brett was at the party, or that the party ever happened. The only corroboration we have is that Christine was very likely sexually assaulted at some time during her high school career. The identity of the suspect could be anyone, and there is no reason to accept the premise that Brett is the perpetrator. And in fact, Judge Kavanaugh’s credibility is seriously reinforced by the fact that dozens of women, many of whom have known him since high school, have come to his defense repeatedly, and there are no other allegations of any misconduct after 1983.
From an investigatory standpoint, the case is untenable. It only becomes more untenable with the introduction of political motivation, the length of time between reports, et cetera.
As I write this, Kavanaugh has been accused by a second woman, Deborah Ramirez, of exposing himself during a party at Yale. Sen. Mazie Hirono (HI-D) characterized this second allegation, as well as Dr. Ford Blasey’s, as a “serious, credible and disturbing allegation” that should be “fully investigated.” This allegation is, on the face of it, entirely untenable for the same reasons as Dr. Ford Blasey’s, including that none of the witnesses named by the alleged victim are able to corroborate her story. Once more, the victim admits serious gaps in her memory, and admits to be extremely intoxicated at the time.
As to the political implications, I leave that to you. But as to the tenability of the cases, there is not at this time any reasonable reason to believe that Brett Kavanaugh committed either of the two acts, even if the acts were committed against these women by other men. To characterize these allegations as “credible” is, quite simply, absurd.
Dr. Ford Blasey is set to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, Sept 27th.
Cover Image courtesy of USA Today