California professor Christine Ford claims Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her: 'It derailed me'

The woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault came forward with her explosive allegations on Sunday, saying the supposed attack "derailed me substantially for four or five years" and claiming that the episode rendered her "unable to have healthy relationships with men."

The woman, Christine Blasey Ford, is a professor at Palo Alto University, according to The Washington Post, which published her account on Sunday. Her decision to go public has capped a whirlwhind week that began when Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., sent shockwaves through Washington by announcing she had sent the FBI information about Kavanaugh she received from an anonymous accuser in July. It's also threatened to upend Kavanaugh's confirmation, as top Democrats call for a full investigation.

Many Republicans immediately pushed back Sunday, saying it was "disturbing" that the decades-old allegations surfaced just days before the Judiciary Committee is set to vote on whether to advance Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Senate floor. Republicans have given no indication that they intend to delay Thursday's key vote, as a series of Democratic senators demanded throughout the day; however, Senate Judiciary Committee spokesman Taylor Foy said Chairman Chuck Grassley was working to set up follow-up calls with Kavanaugh and Ford in light of the Post report.

"It’s disturbing that these uncorroborated allegations from more than 35 years ago, during high school, would surface on the eve of a committee vote after Democrats sat on them since July," Grassley, R-Iowa, said in a statement.

"I thought he might inadvertently kill me."

- Christine Ford

"If Ranking Member Feinstein and other Committee Democrats took this claim seriously, they should have brought it to the full Committee’s attention much earlier," he continued. "Instead, they said nothing during two joint phone calls with the nominee in August, four days of lengthy public hearings, a closed session for all committee members with the nominee where sensitive topics can be discussed and in more than 1,300 written questions."

Grassley called on Feinstein to publicly release the letter she received in July, "so that everyone can know what she’s known for weeks." He added that the sudden reveal of the allegations "raises a lot of questions about Democrats’ tactics and motives" and noted that no similar allegations had surfaced in Kavanaugh's past despite six separate federal background checks throughout his career.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican on the committee, said late Sunday he'd "gladly listen" to Ford so that he could compare her accusations "against all the other information" the panel has on Kavanaugh. But, he said, if Ford does testify, "it should be done immediately" so as not to delay the confirmation vote.

Another GOP member of the committee, Jeff Flake of Arizona, told Fox News that he was "uncomfortable moving forward with a 'yes' vote until we hear from" Ford.

Feinstein tweeted late Sunday that she agreed with Flake that the committee vote should be delayed. "There's a lot of information we don't know and the FBI should have the time it needs to review this new material," she wrote. "Staff calls aren't the appropriate way to handle this."

Republicans hold a 51-49 advantage in the Senate and can afford only one defection to keep the nomination alive.

Ford, a 51-year-old registered Democrat who has published in academic journals and has trained students in clinical psychology, described the alleged incident in The Washington Post on Sunday, saying it occurred during a summer day in the 1980s at a Maryland house where teens had gathered. Ford claimed she headed upstairs to a bathroom when she was suddenly pushed onto a bed, as rock-and-roll music blared.

However, Ford told The Post she did not recall exactly who owned the house, how she came to be at the house, or how the gathering was arranged. She remembered only that the house was in Montgomery County, near a country club, and that parents were not present.

65 WOMEN DEFEND KAVANAUGH AS A 'GOOD PERSON' AFTER ABUSE ALLEGATION EMERGES

Ford said Kavanaugh and a friend, Mark Judge, were "stumbling drunk" and laughing "maniacally" when Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed and tried to forcibly remove her one-piece bathing suit, as well as the clothes she was wearing. According to Ford, Kavanaugh put his hand over her mouth when she attempted to scream.

"I thought he might inadvertently kill me," said Ford, who works as a research psychologist in California. "He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing."

Ford claimed she was able to escape to a bathroom and then outside of the house when Judge jumped into the fray and sent everyone in the room "tumbling."

Judge strongly denied the allegations on Friday, when they were anonymous, saying the claims were "just absolutely nuts" and insisting that "I never saw Brett act that way."

After Ford went public on Sunday, Judge repeated his denial.

"Now that the anonymous person has been identified and has spoken to the press, I repeat my earlier statement that I have no recollection of any of the events described in today’s Post article or attributed to her letter," Judge said. A classmate of Kavanaugh's at Georgetown Preparatory School, Judge has gone on to write for a variety of conservative publications, including The Daily Caller.

Debra Katz, a D.C. attorney specializing in sexual harassment cases, provided The Post with results of an August 2018 polygraph test showing Ford was truthful when she said a summary of the allegations was accurate, the newspaper reported.

Also on Friday, Kavanaugh released a statement through the White House as the allegations surfaced: "I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time."

The White House stood by that denial on Sunday in the wake of The Post's report.

"As the story notes, we are standing with Judge Kavanaugh’s denial," White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah told Fox News.

The Post reported that she had contacted the newspaper in July, along with Feinstein. According to Ford, she kept the episode mostly to herself until 2012, when she mentioned it in a couple's therapy session.

The therapist's contemporaneous notes, provided to The Post, reportedly confirmed that Ford maintained she had been attacked by four individuals "from an elitist boys’ school" who are now "highly respected and high-ranking members of society in Washington." The therapist, Ford said, had confused the number of people involved in the alleged attack with the total number of people in the house.

Although Ford said she initially wanted to remain anonymous, she later changed her mind after Kavanaugh's defenders argued that the allegations were unfair.

"Now I feel like my civic responsibility is outweighing my anguish and terror about retaliation," Ford told The Post. She added that the incident "derailed me substantially for four or five years" and that "I was very ill-equipped to forge those kinds of relationships" going forward.

Republicans had accused Feinstein of orchestrating a last-minute smear after she announced she had forwarded the then-anonymous account of sexual assault to the FBI. 

After Ford's interview was published Sunday, Feinstein said Kavanaugh's confirmation should be delayed pending a federal investigation -- a move that would potentially push a confirmation vote until after the midterm elections.

"From the outset, I have believed these allegations were extremely serious and bear heavily on Judge Kavanaugh’s character," Feinstein wrote. "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."

That sentiment was echoed Sunday by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who has previously suggested Kavanaugh's hearings should be delayed for other reasons.

“Senator Grassley must postpone the vote until, at a very minimum, these serious and credible allegations are thoroughly investigated," Schumer said. "For too long, when women have made serious allegations of abuse, they have been ignored. That cannot happen in this case."

Last week, the FBI, which conducts background checks on judicial nominees, said that it already had reviewed the allegations.

"Upon receipt of the information on the night of September 12, we included it as part of Judge Kavanaugh’s background file, as per the standard process," the FBI said in a statement. Fox News has learned that the White House would have to request that the bureau follow up on the letter for the matter to be investigated further.

On Sunday, before Ford's name came to light, Louisiana Republican Sen. John Kennedy said he was embarrassed for Congress by the unsubstantiated accusations of decades-old sexual misconduct leveled at the Supreme Court nominee.

"So far, it’s pretty much been an intergalactic freak show," Kennedy, a member of the judiciary committee, told Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday." "Most Americans are looking at this – most mainstream Americans – and they’re thinking that Congress has hit rock bottom and started to dig." 

Kennedy said Kavanaugh's vote before the Senate Judiciary Committee would continue as planned on Thursday.

And on Friday, more than five dozen women came forward to defend Kavanaugh, calling him "a good person" in a letter to the committee.

"We are women who have known Brett Kavanaugh for more than 35 years and knew him while he attended high school between 1979 and 1983. For the entire time we have known Brett Kavanaugh, he has behaved honorably and treated women with respect," the letter read. "We strongly believe it is important to convey this information to the Committee at this time."

Fox News' Chad Pergram, Mike Emanuel, Matt Leach, Alex Pappas, Andrew O'Reilly and Chris Wallace contributed to this report.

Gregg Re is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @gregg_re.