– A Culture of Secrecy Is Helping Propel Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court
– Alyssa Milano: We can’t let Trump and Kavanaugh be America’s face
– FBI “did not want to learn the truth” about Deborah Ramirez’s allegations against Kavanaugh, Boulder woman’s attorney says
A Culture of Secrecy Is Helping Propel Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court
This is why we haven’t heard more from Kavanaugh’s high school peers.
Pema Levy October 4, 2018
When Brett Kavanaugh was nominated to the Supreme Court in July, his high school social network had his back. Within 24 hours, more than 100 alumni of Georgetown Prep, the elite Jesuit high school outside Washington, DC, that Kavanaugh attended from 1979 to 1983, had signed a letter urging the Senate Judiciary Committee to confirm him.
“The network itself starts when you’re in school,” Paul Murray, a classmate of Kavanaugh’s who organized the letter, explained the next day to WAMU, the Washington-area NPR affiliate. “It’s a close-knit school. We are tight classes. Friendships lead to business, and so you have a lot of people that have been successful.” Murray added, “Most people, if they had 150 of their high school friends when they’re 53 years old stand behind you, I think that says a lot.”
Murray’s comments were clearly meant as praise to both Kavanaugh and the school they attended.
But in light of the sexual assault claims now leveled against the Supreme Court nominee, they expose a dark reality of the elite prep-school world in which boys depend on each other to advance socially and economically and protect each other’s reputations. It helps explain why several women who went to sister schools in the 1980s have come forward to describe the rape culture that pervaded the prep-school scene in the Washington area, but exceedingly few men have gone on the record with similar recollections. It also helps explain why Kavanaugh’s Yale classmates have been willing to speak to the press (and presumably the FBI) when they believed Kavanaugh was whitewashing his past as a hard partier in college, while very few of his high school classmates have stepped forward to describe Kavanaugh as anything but a Boy Scout who had the occasional beer, the same image he presented to the public and the Senate.
“I think we can legitimately ask why more men aren’t coming forward, especially on behalf of the women they knew,” says Alexandra Lescaze, a 1988 graduate of the all-girls National Cathedral School in a wealthy neighborhood of Washington, DC. “I think that many men are afraid. I think they are all considering their past actions and wondering whether they ever could be accused of something. I think they want to stay on the down low and not put themselves out there.”
After Julie Swetnick accused Kavanaugh of hanging around boys who spiked punch at parties and gang raped inebriated girls, some of his classmates and alumni of other local high schools sent a second letter to the Judiciary Committee calling her accusations nonsense. “We never witnessed any behavior that even approaches what is described in this allegation,” they wrote.
Swetnick’s allegations remain unconfirmed, but it’s unlikely none of those signatories saw behavior similar to what she described. Two days before Swetnick’s allegations were made public, Lescaze, now the executive director of the Hillman Foundation and a documentary filmmaker, recalled similar behavior in an article in Slate:
I distinctly remember being at a Beach Week party with my then-boyfriend when it dawned on us that there was a drunk girl in a room down the hall, and boys were “lining up” to go in there and, presumably, have their way with her. We didn’t know for sure, but my boyfriend and my friend’s boyfriend went to interrupt it and sent her on her way down the stairs. All I remember about her is that she was in the class above us and had dark hair. My friend has told me she remembers boys saying, “I’m next,” which was why our boyfriends went to stop it. That was the only time I can clearly remember a situation that was so obviously a “lineup,” as it was referred to by some at school. My friend remembers witnessing another, and though there weren’t lineups of this nature at every party, they happened often enough that we had a term. We didn’t call it rape.
It was not always so formal a queue. I remember another time when boys were sitting in kind of a campfire circle that could have started as a game of spin the bottle. But by the time I walked through the room there was a girl who was drunk and in the center of the circle, and the boys were taking turns putting their hands up her skirt instead of kissing her.
Women who endured this 1980s prep-school scene recall a specific power structure to explain how the boys got away with aggressive sexual behavior and why the women stayed silent about it. Today, the women are increasingly coming forward to share their memories, including personal stories of assault. “I can’t even tell you how many people I’ve heard from,” says Lescaze of the notes she received following her Slate article. “It makes me shaky. I just can’t believe how many people have been holding this for so long. It’s just like another collective #MeToo scream that’s happening in unison here.” She’s heard from a few men as well, she says, but far fewer. “They know these things happened,” she says, “but we are not seeing enough men stand up and speak.”
Meanwhile, Kavanaugh’s high school friends are sticking with him. A few have defended him publicly, though most have remained out of the press. One spoke anonymously to the New Yorker, after the FBI declined to interview him, and described Kavanaugh as a member of group that preyed on Georgetown Prep classmates and girls at other schools.
The paucity of male voices from the prep-school world is “a key indicator of the culture of secrecy and the code of what it means to go to that prep school,” says Deirdre Bowen, a law professor at Seattle University School of Law who attended Georgetown Prep’s sister school, Academy of the Holy Cross, while Kavanaugh was at Georgetown Prep.* “You count on everybody to keep your secrets, and you also know that if you were not to keep someone’s secrets, there’s retribution.”
In the elite prep-school world, boys depend on each other to advance socially and economically and protect each other’s reputations.
Bowen didn’t know Kavanaugh in high school, but she knew some of his friends, and she knew the culture of their elite world. (Bowen did note there were a number of students receiving financial aid who did not have an upper-class background.) The boys would band together, promote each other, and protect each other. “In the 1980s, males all knew that they were going to go to college and that the doors were open for them in a predictable future,” she recalls. “Who you knew and what your reputation was was the most crucial part.” The crew that Kavanaugh was part of, a group that included jocks, knew their futures were guaranteed if they stuck together. The more they showed off their masculinity to each other, she says, the closer the group was—and the more need for secrecy about what went on.
For women, there was an entirely different reason to stay silent about the culture of assault: Their reputations would depend on not falling prey to the boys. “Our concern was not about engaging in bad behavior and making sure that everybody kept our secret,” Bowen says. “It was protecting ourselves and our reputation because those secrets wouldn’t be kept by the boys. They would be made fun of by the boys, or information would be spread about us as to who is easy access and who is not.”
One example is the well-known Renate Alumnius entries by multiple boys in Georgetown Prep’s 1983 yearbook, including Kavanaugh, who appeared to be bragging about their alleged sexual exploits with a girl they sometimes mocked as easy. Girls who were assaulted were also objects of scorn. “The girls that this did happen to were called sluts, absolutely,” says Lescaze, referring to victims of rape and abuse. “And they made up nicknames for them that sort of everybody knew. And they were not nice nicknames. And often, those are the ones that those boys put in their yearbook pages.” She recalls one nickname in particular that made reference to a girl’s genitals….
Alyssa Milano: We can’t let Trump and Kavanaugh be America’s face
By Alyssa Milano Tue October 2, 2018
(CNN) If professor Christine Blasey Ford is to be believed, and I believe she is, Brett Kavanaugh is a sexual predator.
If any number of women are to be believed, and I believe they are, Donald Trump is a sexual predator.
Both Kavanaugh and Trump have denied allegations against them. I wish so deeply that the alleged sexual violence — and overall cruelty toward those who are vulnerable — committed by those who wear the mantle of our nation’s government began and ended with these two men. It does not. It exists at every level of our national institutions, and even at agencies working on behalf of our government who are tasked with the sacred duty of caring for children.
Until we root out the institutionalization of sexual violence and child abuse in our government, too many will continue to be victims — some in our name, under the false premise of protecting our borders.
Hidden behind the glare of the cameras pointed at Judge Kavanaugh is the ongoing plight of immigrant children in the United States. A New York Times article recently told the tale of hundreds of immigrant children from around the country being moved to a government-run tent city in Texas under the cover of darkness. There are no schools. There is limited access to legal services, and the children are frequently forced to represent themselves in immigration court….
FBI “did not want to learn the truth” about Deborah Ramirez’s allegations against Kavanaugh, Boulder woman’s attorney says
Attorney forwards sworn statement to FBI of Kavanaugh suitemate who volunteered to be interviewed
By The Denver Post October 4, 2018
The FBI, or those overseeing its investigation, “did not want to learn the truth” behind Deborah Ramirez’s allegations of sexual misconduct by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, the Boulder woman’s attorney alleged in a letter to the bureau’s director.
Washington, D.C.-based attorney William Pittard wrote in a two-page letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray released Thursday morning that the bureau ended its probe of the allegations against Kavanaugh in four days “without permitting its agents to investigate.”
Following the FBI’s interview of Ramirez in Boulder last weekend, her attorneys provided a list of 20 witnesses believed to have additional information that could corroborate her account. Ramirez’s attorneys previously have said they don’t believe the FBI contacted any of those people.
“We are deeply disappointed by this failure,” Pittard wrote. “We can only conclude that the FBI — or those controlling its investigation — did not want to learn the truth behind Ms. Ramirez’s allegations.”
Kavanaugh repeatedly has denied all allegations of sexual misconduct.
Pittard attached a sworn statement by Richard Oh, a California emergency room doctor who was one of Kavanaugh’s suitemates at Yale University. Oh, who said he told the FBI he was willing to be interviewed, recalled a female student who “emotionally reported” an incident similar to the one described by Ramirez.
Later Thursday, Pittard sent a second letter to Wray with another statement from a witnesses Ramirez named who wasn’t interviewed by the FBI. That person, whose name is redacted, said Ramirez in 1991 or 1992 recounted an incident that occurred at Yale involving “a male classmate (who) exposed his penis to her without her consent.”
“The information provided by Ms. Ramirez is corroborated, and your agents should have been permitted to develop that information,” Pittard wrote in the second letter. “Both Ms. Ramirez and the search for the truth have been ill-served.”
Ramirez, who works for Boulder County, told the The New Yorker in an article published Sept. 23, that Kavanaugh exposed himself and thrust his genitalia in her face during a party in a dorm room at Yale University when they were both students in the early ’80s. Kavanaugh, a federal appeals court judge, has denied the alleged incident ever happened….