She remembers the laughter.
Christine Blasey Ford’s voice cracked with emotion as she recalled the brutal attack she endured over three decades ago in the bedroom of a Maryland home.
She told lawmakers Thursday that the one thing she remembers most of the evening she says she was sexually assaulted by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was his “laughter.”
Ford, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, struggled to maintain her composure as she described the details of the evening in question.
The harrowing account laid bare the pain that is still with her as she shared her memory of that night when she was only 15 years old.
“The details about that night that bring me here today are the ones I will never forget,” the California psychology professor said. “They have been seared into my memory and have haunted me episodically as an adult.” She said she was “terrified” to testify before the committee.
“Brett groped me and tried to take off my clothes,” Ford said, her voice cracking. “He had a hard time because he was so drunk, and because I was wearing a one-piece bathing suit under my clothes. I believed he was going to rape me. I tried to yell for help. When I did, Brett put his hand over my mouth to stop me from screaming.”
Ford, a research psychologist who lives in California, came forward a week ago with her accusations, alleging that Kavanaugh attacked her when the two were in high school in the early 1980s. She says that he and his friend, Mark Judge, shoved her into a bedroom and groped her.
Her claims have threatened to derail Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the nation’s highest court and prompted several other women to come forward with similar accounts.
In one of the more dramatic moment of the hearing, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) asked Ford to share her most vivid memory of the alleged assault.
“The laughter. The uproarious laughter between the two,” Ford responded, her voice cracking. “And their having fun at my expense.”
Ford confidently rebuffed questions about whether she was certain that Kavanaugh was her assailant. Kavanaugh, in a copy of his prepared statements, said that its possible Ford has mistaken him for someone else.
“To what degree of certainty do you believe Brett Kavanaugh assaulted you?” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) asked.
“100%,” she responded.
Ford also recounted an encounter she had with Judge just weeks after the alleged incident.
She told the senators she ran into him at a Safeway store roughly “six to eight weeks” after the assault. She recalled that after she said hello, “his face was white.” She added that Judge was “nervous,” didn’t want to speak with her and “looked a little bit ill.”
Judge in a statement said he has “no memory” of the alleged incident.
Earlier, Ford leaned on her intimate knowledge of brain behavior and psychology to explain her confidence.
“The way that I’m sure I’m talking to you right now, it’s just basic memory functions, and also just the level of norepinephrine and epinephrine in the brain that sort of, as you know, that neurotransmitter encodes memories into the hippocampus so that trauma-related experience is locked there so other memories just drift,” she said.
The 11 Republicans on the panel, all men, chose to allow an outside counsel, Arizona sex crimes prosecutor Rachel Mitchell, to ask their questions for them. Mitchell was repeatedly cut off as her line of questioning ran over the five minutes allowed for each lawmaker.
Ford, in her opening remarks explained her reasons for making her claims public.
“My motivation in coming forward was to provide the facts about how Mr. Kavanaugh’s actions have damaged my life, so that you can take that into serious consideration as you make your decision about how to proceed,” she said.
Ford also recounted how the attack impacted her life and tried to explain why she was unable to come forward earlier.