As I write this, Washington DC is in a dither about the latest of many scandals that have dogged the Trump administration. The U.S. Senate is bickering over what to do about the allegation that Trump’s Supreme Court nominee sexually assaulted a 15-year-old girl when they were both in high school more than 30 years ago.
When I heard that the accuser, now a 51-year-old college professor, had passed a polygraph test and was considering testifying, I was sure she would make a credible witness. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford is obviously well-educated, confident and has the support of her husband and therapist whom both heard her talk about the alleged assault during a counseling session in 2012. But then I asked myself what I would do in her situation? In fact, I experienced an attempted rape more than 40 years ago, so I have a unique understanding of how she must have felt when she said Brett Kavanaugh, then 17, pinned her down on a bed, struggled to take off her bathing suit, and ground his body against her.
In the mid 1970s when I was in my 20s, I was jogging on Fort Pierce’s north beach, past Pepper Park when I passed a man, who looked to be in his late 20s. I smiled and said hi, and a minute or two later he came up from behind, knocked me to the ground, and pinned me down in the sand. The first few seconds I couldn’t believe what was happening. Surely this guy was not going to be able to hurt me in broad daylight on a holiday weekend just a few hundred yards from a public park.
I struggled but he was able to overtake me. He flipped me over and started pulling off the bottom of my bathing suit. At some point, he fumbled trying to get it off. I managed to get a leg free and kicked him as hard as I could. I stood up, grabbed my bathing suit, and ran screaming for help. A lifeguard finally saw me and was with me in minutes. He called the sheriff’s department on his walkie-talkie and calmed me down.
By the time deputies arrived, the assailant was gone. They found motorcycle tracks in the dunes. A sketch artist drew his picture from my description. As I remember, the deputies were very kind, but the man was never found.
Dr. Ford, however, has a different ending to her story. She says she knows who assaulted her and notified her congressional representative when she realized that he could become a Justice of the highest court in the land. I could see how she felt she had done her duty, alerting federal officials about the alleged assault, but not wanting to go public.
Now that her identity is known, Dr. Ford must decide whether or not to testify before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. For the past two days, Kavanaugh, who vehemently denies the allegation, has been hunkered down in the White House, calling senators and being prepped on how he should respond to the charges.
I am sure Republican operatives are also digging up anything that could tarnish Dr. Ford’s reputation. Her life is being scrutinized and she will face a Senate panel with one member who has already said he does not believe her and she must be “mixed up.” The trauma of the incident will most likely be compounded by the tough questioning she is likely to receive in the U.S. Capitol next week.
If I had known the name of my assailant and 40 years later learned he could become a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, would I have spoken up? Of course I would, I think… I am a college graduate, was a tough reporter, and took over car dealership in the late 1980s and was not exactly welcomed into what was then a male-dominated business. But, would I want a bunch of strangers prying into my past? Did I smoke pot in college? Yes. Premarital sex? Affirmative. Ever over imbibe? Absolutely. Ever see a psychiatrist? More than once. Other indiscretions? Yes, and I want them to remain secrets. I would have to think long and hard before I would agree to make that trip to DC and be put in Dr. Ford’s shoes. Therefore I know, if she does testify, she is one very brave woman.