Professor accuses Supreme Court nominee of sexual misconduct

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A Bay Area university professor who accused Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault is set to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

A public hearing has been scheduled for next Monday with Kavanaugh and Professor Christine Blasey Ford, committee chairman Congressman Chuck Grassley announced.

Grassley had tried to have the panel's staff conduct phone interviews with both the nominee and his accuser, but Democrats rejected the private interviews and want the FBI to investigate the allegations as part of the nominee's background investigation.

Grassley says "anyone who comes forward" as Ford has done "deserves to be heard."

Kavanaugh denies assaulting the woman. The White House says President Trump "looks forward to a hearing where (Kavanaugh) can clear his name."

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"It's very brave of her, very brave," said neighbor Mike Jenkins.

Ford is a clinical psychology professor at Palo Alto University.

She told the Washington Post that the alleged assault happened in the early 1980s, when she and Kavanaugh were high school students in suburban Maryland. There was a party and she claims Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed and groped her over her clothes, but she escaped.

"I thought he might inadvertently kill me, he was trying to attack me to remove my clothing," Ford told the Post.

In a statement released by the White House, Kavanaugh said: "I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time."

Ford's claims were sent in a confidential letter to a ranking Democrat earlier this summer but she decided to speak out publicly after her name was leaked.

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein released a statement which said, in part: "I support Mrs. Ford's decision to share her story and now that she has, it is in the hands of the FBI to conduct an investigation. This should happen before the Senate moves forward on this nominee."

Stanford Law Professor Michele Dauber says she believes Ford's story. She doesn't know Ford and has no connection to the case.

Dauber led the successful recall effort against Judge Aaron Persky, who sentenced Brock Turner to six months in jail for sexual assault in 2015. Many called the sentence too lenient.

"Given these allegations, it's not clear how judge Kavanaugh can retain his bench on the DC circuit. Rushing a vote on his nomination is nonsense and a slap in the face to all women," said Professor Dauber.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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