Jordan Tolbert

On Sept. 14, The New York Times published a new article about Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, bringing credible information to light to support the sexual harassment claims made by Deborah Ramirez last year. Ramirez attended undergrad at Yale University with Kavanaugh, where the alleged incident occurred. The article is based on a passage from a book by reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly called “The Education of Brett Kavanaugh: An Investigation.” 

Sexual harassment is not a joke. It’s not funny, it’s not permissible and if you mess up, there most likely will be — and should be — consequences. 

The thing that makes sexual harassment so heinous is that there is a conscious decision made by the aggressor, where they put the humanity of another person in a place of lower importance than their own. Having established this, I will talk about Kavanaugh and provide some context.

I remember it really well. Kavanaugh was nominated by President Donald Trump for the Supreme Court during my semester in D.C. last fall. 

Everyone in the city was running around trying to find a TV to watch the Senate confirmation hearing. In the coming days, following the 48-50 vote — the closest confirmation vote in more than a hundred years ­— I watched as huge groups of protesters crowded the space between the Supreme Court and Capitol building. The whole country was fired up, either for one side or the other. 

At Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing, a woman came forward with information about an instance of sexual misconduct that she said took place at a high school party. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford told her story to a room full of supporters and nonbelievers. She faced criticism, risked her and her family's security and put herself on the national stage in the interest of preserving justice and checking the character of those receiving power. 

Days before the confirmation hearing, new sexual harassment allegations from Ramirez surfaced, adding to the heat of the Kavanaugh debacle. News coverage and demonstrations regarding Kavanaugh have dwindled since late 2018, but were stirred up last week yet again after The New York Times article emerged.

According to a story by The New Yorker, these allegations were brought forward by a civil rights lawyer in 2018. Writers Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer published a story titled, “Senate Democrats Investigate a New Allegation of Sexual Misconduct from Brett Kavanaugh’s College Years,” from 2018, where they revealed what they say really happened between Kavanaugh and Ramirez. 

"After six days of carefully assessing her memories and consulting with her attorney, Ramirez said that she felt confident enough of her recollections to say that she remembers Kavanaugh had exposed himself at a drunken dormitory party, thrust his penis in her face, and caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away,” said Farrow and Mayer. 

Ramirez, 54, recounted her encounter with Kavanaugh in college last year and recently her experiences have been corroborated by others. 

“At least seven people, including Ms. Ramirez’s mother, heard about the Yale incident long before Mr. Kavanaugh was a federal judge. Two of those people were classmates who learned of it just days after the party occurred, suggesting that it was discussed among students at the time,” Pogrebin and Kelly said. 

In the article released last week, there was also a previously unreported story that emerged, further solidifying Ramirez’s allegation for many and prompting the Kavanaugh issue to resurface. 

“A classmate, Max Stier, saw Mr. Kavanaugh with his pants down at a different drunken dorm party, where friends pushed his penis into the hand of a female student,” said Pogrebin and Kelly.

Politicians like California Sen. Kamala Harris, have reacted immediately, calling for Kavanaugh’s impeachment. 

“I sat through those hearings. Brett Kavanaugh lied to the U.S. Senate and most importantly to the American people. He was put on the Court through a sham process and his place on the Court is an insult to the pursuit of truth and justice. He must be impeached,” said Harris in a tweet on Sept. 15.

My final word? I think Ramirez is brave. Sexual assault is traumatizing and recounting experiences of this nature is not easy. 

We weren’t there. Most of us were probably not even born when it happened. Therefore, we do not get to dismiss these claims. But it means we can support and uplift those who have had very real experiences and listen when they speak.

Jordan Tolbert is a staff writer. Follow her on Twitter: @Jordanvtolbert.

Recommended for you

(1) comment

Georgie Chavez

Really well written article! It’s pretty shocking to here about another Brett Kav sexual harassment/assault from his college days and I totally agree that we need to believe victims more and hold abusers accountable.

That said, has anybody looked into the amount of GU students who experience sexual assault or harassment at GU (literally while on campus) and choose not to report it to Title IX or CamPo bc they “knew a girl who reported something muh more serious and nothing happened”? Because that’s a seriously common experience when I’ve talked to my fellow Lady zags. Like, I know people who reported their abuser/attacker by NAME and were still told “Title IX is here to protect BOTH parties” as if it wasn’t an intentional decision made by grown adults to harass their classmates. And the Gonzaga Whisper Network is pretty active bc nobody trusts their cases will be handled seriously if they go to Title IX, but people still want to make sure their friends know a person could be dangerous to be alone with.

As much as I think the article was beautifully written, I think we all need to stop saying “we need to believe victims” and start saying “Gonzaga officials need to seriously investigate reports when they’re made instead of gaslighting victims and letting their abusers go scott free”.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.