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The Kavanaugh Nomination, #MeToo, and Statutes of Limitations

The Kavanaugh Nomination, #MeToo, and Statutes of Limitations

The allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh are serious and threaten to sink his bid to become the next Supreme Court justice.  Over the weekend, the Washington Post published details of the sexual attack allegations from Palo Alto University professor Christine Blasey Ford.  In summary, Ford alleges:

While his friend watched, she said, Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed on her back and groped her over her clothes, grinding his body against hers and clumsily attempting to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she wore over it. When she tried to scream, she said, he put his hand over her mouth.

“I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” said Ford, now a 51-year-old research psychologist in northern California. “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”

Ford said she was able to escape when Kavanaugh’s friend and classmate at Georgetown Preparatory School, Mark Judge, jumped on top of them, sending all three tumbling. She said she ran from the room, briefly locked herself in a bathroom and then fled the house.

The alleged incident happened when both Kavanaugh and Ford were still in high school in Maryland in the early 1980’s.  So far, there are no corroborating witnesses and Ford says she told no one about the incident until she was in couples counseling with her husband six years ago.

Unless someone else comes forward with a similar story or Mark Judge confirms it, we’ll never know if it’s true or not.  This is a serious problem since the one who stands accused is a nominee for the nation’s highest court.  Is it fair that he may be torpedoed by an allegation that is more than 3 decades old?   On the other hand, the allegations are serious and in the climate of #MeToo, have to be taken seriously.  But how?  How is this thing going to be fair to either party?  As a trial lawyer, memories fade and become clouded.  That’s the essential purpose of the statute of limitations in civil and criminal cases.  The accused has a right to a defense and as time passes, that defense becomes prejudiced if accusations are brought in an untimely fashion.

#MeToo has also taught us that one allegation usually leads to more.  It’s rare to find that an abuser acts once and only once.  In the priest abuse cases, the one who abuses usually has multiple victims.  In the Kavanaugh case, only one has come forward.  So far.  Stay tuned.

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