A woman who alleged she was sexually assaulted by US President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, has identified herself.
Christine Blasey Ford told the Washington Post Mr Kavanaugh had pinned her to a bed and tried to undress her when they were both teenagers.
Mr Kavanaugh denied the allegations when they first surfaced last week.
The top members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are now expected to speak to both Mr Kavanaugh and Mrs Ford.
A spokesperson for Senator Chuck Grassley, the committee’s Republican chairman, said he was “actively working” to set up bipartisan calls to both people as a result of “the late addendum to the background file and revelations of Dr Ford’s identity”.
Such calls would routinely include Senator Grassley’s senior Democratic colleague, Senator Dianne Feinstein.
NEWS — Grassley and Feinstein jointly working on scheduling follow up calls with both Kavanaugh and Ford, per spox pic.twitter.com/71PYAU9OqQ
— Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim) September 16, 2018
Mr Kavanaugh, 53, was questioned during four days of hearings at the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. The committee is due to vote on Thursday on whether his nomination should go forward to a full vote in the Senate.
Mrs Ford, a professor of psychology at Palo Alto University, told the Post she had decided to go public as her privacy was “being chipped away”.
She believed the incident happened in 1982, when she was 15 and Mr Kavanaugh was 17.
He was a student at Georgetown Preparatory School in Bethesda, Maryland, and she was studying at a nearby high school.
The incident allegedly happened at a gathering of teenagers at a house, when Mr Kavanaugh and a friend allegedly “corralled” her into a bedroom. Mr Kavanaugh and his friend were both drunk, she says.
In the words of the Washington Post, “While his friend watched, she said, Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed on her back and groped her over her clothes, grinding his body against hers and clumsily attempting to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she wore over it.
“When she tried to scream, she said, he put his hand over her mouth.”
Mrs Ford, 51, is further quoted as saying that she managed to break free.
“I thought he [Mr Kavanaugh] might inadvertently kill me,” she told the Post.
Mr Kavanaugh issued his denial last week: “I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time”.
How did Mrs Ford’s account first emerge?
She first approached Democratic lawmakers in July, shortly after Mr Trump’s nomination of Mr Kavanaugh revived the pain of the memory.
She says she sent a letter to her local congresswoman, Democrat Anna Eshoo, and Senator Feinstein, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s senior Democrat.
Mrs Ford says she believes Ms Feinstein honoured her request to keep the letter confidential but “others did not”.
Ms Feinstein said in a statement after seeing the Washington Post article: “I support Mrs Ford’s decision to share her story, and now that she has, it is in the hands of the FBI to conduct an investigation. This should happen before the Senate moves forward on this nominee.”
Senator Grassley issued a statement defending Mr Kavanaugh.
“Judge Kavanaugh has undergone six FBI full-field investigations from 1993 to 2018,” he said. “No such allegation resembling the anonymous claims ever surfaced.”
Who is Judge Kavanaugh?
Mr Kavanaugh is President Trump’s choice to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy and he is strongly opposed by some Democrats for his views, such as on abortion.
If chosen for the lifetime appointment, the conservative appeals court judge would be expected to tilt the Supreme Court’s balance to the right.