brett kavanaugh sexual assault ronan farrow

Ronan Farrow Has Exposed Yet Another Case of Alleged Sexual Assault, This Time by Trump’s SCOTUS Pick, Brett Kavanaugh

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Over the last year, Ronan Farrow has earned a solid reputation as a mega-media-ally for victims of sexual assault. His advocacy goes back farther than that, as he’s written about his sister, Dylan Farrow, and the abuse she’s accused her father, Woody Allen, of committing. But in the last year, he’s been responsible for a number of major #MeToo exposés. He wrote one of the first stories about Harvey Weinstein’s accusers, interviewing a number of women involved. He wrote a damning piece about CBS’ Les Moonves, leading to his firing from the network.

Farrow has essentially become an ally superhero.

It’s a position he doesn’t seem to have a problem with.

Farrow has now written another piece for The New Yorker about another man accused of sexual assault: Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.

The article, which was co-authored by Jane Mayer, describes a woman who asked not to be identified, who approached Democratic lawmakers earlier this summer, sending a letter to both her own congresswoman, Anna Eshoo, and Dianne Feinstein, who is the ranking minority member of the Senate Judiciary Committee overseeing Kavanaugh’s appointment.

The incident she describes happened when she and Kavanaugh were in high school in the early 80s. They went to different nearby schools but, according to the woman, attended a party together where “Kavanaugh held her down” and “attempted to force himself on her.”

“She claimed in the letter that Kavanaugh and a classmate of his, both of whom had been drinking, turned up music that was playing in the room to conceal the sound of her protests, and that Kavanaugh covered her mouth with his hand. She was able to free herself,” the article reads. “Although the alleged incident took place decades ago and the three individuals involved were minors, the woman said that the memory had been a source of ongoing distress for her, and that she had sought psychological treatment as a result.”

Kavanaugh said in a statement “I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time.” His classmate said, “I have no recollection of that.” Because what an easy thing to forget.

What’s especially upsetting here (since the abuse itself has become distressingly commonplace) is how this woman was treated by the two female Democrat lawmakers to whom she reached out. She reportedly repeatedly contacted their offices, and it was only when “watching Kavanaugh move toward what looked like an increasingly assured confirmation, she decided to end her effort to come forward.”

Feinstein never mentioned the letter in the hearings. Yesterday, she said she had referred the matter to the FBI, who say that they added the letter to Kavanaugh’s background file. But the Senate hearings—the time when that background file would have been of use—have passed.

Farrow and Mayer’s article aptly draws connections between the current appointment hearing and that of Clarence Thomas, when “the Senate was accused by some of failing to take seriously enough Anita Hill’s allegations that Thomas had sexually harassed her while acting as her boss at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.”

You would think that the more than 25 years between that hearing, led by Joe Biden, and these, would have earned us a different outcome. In December, Biden issued an apology to Hill, saying “I wish I had been able to do more.” But of course, he could have done more. He just didn’t.

Feinstein maintains that she didn’t reveal the woman’s letter in order to protect her privacy. She’s also reportedly said that the issue was too far in the past to merit consideration, and that the committee should focus on legal, not personal matters. Other senators, though, now suddenly privvy to the contents of a letter Feinstein has had since July, are feeling “concern” over her choice to keep this information secret.

Ultimately, Kavanaugh’s confirmation is up to a Senate vote, not a public one. But that doesn’t mean public opinion doesn’t matter. We all have the ability (and, arguably, the duty) to put pressure on our senators if we don’t feel comfortable with a man like Kavanaugh being appointed to the Supreme Court.

We can all also let our senators (and Feinstein directly) know how we feel about this information being left out of the public hearing. The mistakes made by senators nearly 30 years ago should not still be repeated right in front of us.

(image: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.