What Dr. Christine Ford’s testimony can teach us about sexual assault


Jacob Summerville, Staff Reporter

Ambiguity is the legal system’s worst fear.

It has been over a month since Dr. Christine Ford accused Associate Judge Brett Kavanaugh of a sexual assault incident that happened 36 years prior.

During this case, I tuned into different news outlets, compared the “he’s innocent” and “he’s guilty” parties, and have exposed myself to rather credible sources with differing viewpoints such as The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal.

To me, this case is a complex tragedy where I wanted to think that Ford was telling the truth, that her motives were not political. I do think Ford was trying to perform her civil duty and turn in someone who committed a violent act against her, but because of the lack of direct evidence linking Kavanaugh to the reported incident, he was able to become an associate justice through a Senate vote of 50-48.

In an emotional testimony, Ford recalled the night of the alleged attack against her where Kavanaugh and Mark Judge had knocked her down from behind, dragged her into a room, closed the door, and Kavanaugh proceeded to perform sexually violating acts on Ford.

Along with this comes the polygraph test with a former FBI agent. Her results concluded that she was being honest. Case closed, right? Well, if a simple polygraph test was 100 percent accurate of indicating the truth, what would be the point of any sort of investigation? The test concluded that she believed her story enough to pass it off as truthful.




Here is where things get a little splotchy. Ford took this in August, around the time her grandmother died. She did not remember if she took the test the same day or the day after her grandmother’s death, and at one of her hearings, she only recalled the moments before she was pushed over up until the assault.

The details she could not recall were how she heard about the party, how she got to the party, the specificity of where the house was located, or how she got back from the party.

As much as I want to believe Ford’s account, leaving out all of the above details did not help her case. The one piece of evidence she did have was her psychiatrist’s notes from 2012, when she went to the psychiatrist about the incident. Even here, it does not list Kavanaugh’s name explicitly.

And then there is the other side of this argument.

Kavanaugh has an unprofessional attitude throughout several of his testimonies, with the most obvious incident being his drinking habits. When Sen. Amy Klobuchar asked whether Kavanaugh had ever drank to the point of not remembering certain periods of time, he responded with, “Have you?” with a smirk running across his face.

In no situation is it appropriate to joke about heavy drinking that could induce a sexual assault, especially when you are the one being convicted. He later stated that he had never drank excessively.

With this, there is hard evidence against Kavanaugh. From the entries in his college yearbook about the drinking organizations to his speeches at various graduations to former classmates speaking about his drinking habits, there should not be much doubt that he was known for his love of alcohol. To think that he never drank to excess once, is very implausible.

An underlying theme with his hearing is the anger he has stored within him, the brashness of someone who feels ashamed. For a moment, picture that you are Kavanaugh and that you are innocent of everything you have been accused of. What would you do?

For starters, you would not lie under oath since there would not be a need. Second, as someone running for a position that requires you to remain as objective as possible and not allow your emotions to control your actions, having fits of anger does not help prove your innocence nor your competence for the position you are being appointed for.

For example, in one of his later testimonies, Kavanaugh mentioned that one of his daughters prayed for the well-being of Ford. What? Stop bringing your daughters up as a shield against the potential of being accused for a crime.

With all of this, and the millions of other details that pile up on both sides of the argument, we can learn a valuable lesson from this: If you are assaulted, please try to report the incident as soon as you can.

I talked about sexual assault a couple weeks back and the importance of having and using a rape kit. This is an alternative for those who may not have the courage to report the incident immediately, but may want to report the person in the near future.

The unfortunate tone of our society blames the victim of the ambiguity of their sexual assault claim. Whenever there is no hard evidence linking a specific person to the attack, we want to sympathize for the victim, but it is important to let the facts come to light. Although this case gives much evidence that Kavanaugh had great potential to assault her given his history, there is not enough that directly links him to Ford’s claim.

We need to teach young men and women that it is OK to reach out to the police when we have been assaulted and are clueless about what to do next. It is difficult to report a rape, but it is an honorable action.

As for this case, the Senate voted for Kavanaugh’s appointment. We will never have a clear image of what events transpired 36 years ago, but an impression of Kavanaugh, the Senate and the FBI has been made on the public. That is something that cannot be debated.