Christine Blasey Ford makes rare public remarks, a year after Kavanaugh ordeal

Christine Blasey Ford, who accused supreme court justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, made a rare public appearance on Sunday night.

“When I came forward last September,” she said, accepting an award from the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California in Beverly Hills, “I did not feel courageous. I was simply doing my duty as a citizen.”

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“I understood that not everyone would welcome my information, and I was prepared for a variety of outcomes, including being dismissed.”

Blasey Ford, a professor of psychology at Palo Alto University in California, came forward in September 2018, as Kavanaugh’s nomination was before the Senate.

In testimony before the Senate judiciary committee, she alleged that he assaulted her at a party in suburban Maryland in 1982, pinning her down, groping her, trying to remove her clothing and putting his hand over her mouth when she screamed.

Kavanaugh angrily denied the allegation – and similar claims against him – and was confirmed as Donald Trump’s second supreme court pick.

His ascent, after that of Neil Gorsuch, tipped the ideological balance of the highest court in favour of conservative justices.

Kavanaugh also appeared in public last week, addressing an event on Friday in Washington and staged by the Federalist Society, the rightwing group which has played an influential role in Trump’s supreme court picks.

“I signed up for what I knew would be an ugly process,” he said. But he said he had expected his confirmation to be “maybe not that ugly”.

Kavanaugh was confirmed by just two votes, the narrowest margin for a supreme court justice since 1881.

His appearance at Union Station in Washington was greeted by protests, including women dressed up as characters from The Handmaid’s Tale television series.

Last year, lawyers for Ford said her life had been “turned upside down” and she had effectively gone into hiding, such was the vitriol directed her way after her testimony in the Senate.

Ford “received a stunning amount of support from her community and from fellow citizens across our country”, the lawyers said in a letter to Senate judiciary committee chairman, Chuck Grassley.

“At the same time, however, her worst fears have materialized. She has been the target of vicious harassment and even death threats. As a result of these kind of threats, her family was forced to relocate out of their home. Her email has been hacked, and she has been impersonated online.”

At the Beverly Hills event on Sunday, Blasey Ford accepted the Roger Baldwin Courage Award, named for the founder of the ACLU. When coming forward, she said, she had “simply thought that it was my duty as a citizen and that anyone in my position would do the same thing”.