Lawyers for Christine Blasey Ford, the California professor accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a party more than three decades ago, on Wednesday released the results of a polygraph examination she took Aug. 7 -- but a key detail in the report appears to contradict Ford's past claims.
The examination, which was administered by former FBI agent Jeremiah Hanafin, took place in a Hilton hotel in Maryland, according to a "Polygraph Examination Report" compiled by Hanafin.
Hanafin first allowed Ford and attorney Lisa Banks to meet alone to formulate a handwritten statement that Ford signed and provided Hanafin when he returned to the room. Then, without Banks present, Hanafin interviewed Ford about the day of the alleged assault, according to the report.
In the handwritten statement, Ford writes that "there were 4 boys and a couple of girls" at the party.
But in Ford's letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., in July, Ford gave a different tally, writing that the gathering "included me and 4 others."
The total number of people at the purported party, and their genders, has been a key area of focus for Senate Republicans investigating Ford's claims. Ford told The Washington Post last week that there were a total of "four boys at the party" where the alleged episode occured, and that two -- Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge -- had been in the room during her attack. (According to The Post, Ford told her therapist in 2012 that four boys were in the room with her during the alleged attack -- a disparity she has blamed on her therapist's recording of her statements).
All of the witnesses Ford has identified at the party, including Kavanaugh, Judge, and another classmate, Patrick Smyth, have denied knowledge of the alleged assault under penalty of felony in statements to the Judiciary Committee.
However, a woman, Leland Ingham Keyser, a former classmate of Ford's at the Holton-Arms all-girls school in Maryland, has since been identified by Ford as the fourth witness at the party. In a dramatic twist, Keyser emerged Saturday night to say she doesn’t know Kavanaugh or remember being at the party with him.
The polygraph exam consisted of only two "relevant" questions: "Is any part of your statement false?" and "Did you make up any part of your statement?" (Ordinarily examiners ask a series of irrelevant questions to establish a baseline physiological response, which helps detect deception when relevant questions are asked, experts tell Fox News. According to Hanafin, Ford was also asked some questions to establish this baseline.)
The test measured "thoracic and abdominal respiration, galvanic skin response, and cardiac activity," Hanafin wrote in the report.
The former FBI agent then ran the results of Ford's two "no" responses through three separate scoring algorithms, including one developed by Johns Hopkins University. All three algorithms concluded that Ford's responses did not indicate apparent deception, with one putting the probability that she was lying at .002 and another putting it at less than .02.
Experts contacted by Fox News warned against reading too much into the results of polygraph examinations.
"It's not the result of the polygraph; it is what polygraph subjects say during the polygraph interview that is most valuable," said Thomas Mauriello, a lecturer in criminology at the University of Maryland who worked as a senior polygraph examiner at the Defense Department.
"The result of a polygraph simply is whether you did or did not respond to a particular question. A response is not a lie, because the polygraph is not a lie detector as most think," Mauriello added. "A response is the activation of your sympathetic nervous system when answering a question asked during the examination."
In their letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Ford's lawyers indicated that they would not release Ford's medical records as he requested, citing privacy. Ford had provided The Washington Post the results of apparently the same polygraph examination earlier this month, as well as notes from her therapist sessions in 2012.
The public release of the documents comes just one day before a scheduled hearing Thursday, at which Ford is expected to testify along with Kavanaugh about her allegations. The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a Friday vote on whether to recommend Kavanaugh's confirmation to the full Senate, even as additional uncorroborated allegations against Kavanaugh surfaced Wednesday.
"The polygraph is not a lie detector as most think."
It was not immediately clear who paid for the polygraph examination, which can cost more than $1,000 -- an issue flagged by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on Fox News' "Hannity" last week.
"If Ms. Ford really did not want to come forward, never intended to come forward ... why did she pay for a polygraph in August, and why did she hire a lawyer in August? And who paid for it?" Graham asked.
Even well-intentioned individuals who have come to believe that their false stories are, in fact, true -- whether because of therapist-induced memories or other causes -- can sometimes pass polygraph tests, former FBI officials and psychology experts told Fox News.
James Gagliano, a former FBI agent who led a SWAT team in New York for several years and now teaches at St. John's University, told Fox News that while polygraphs are valuable, they "can be beaten."
"In this case, if they want to put this out as irrefutable evidence that this woman is telling the truth because she passed a polygraph -- that's not the way polygraphs work," Gagliano added. "If that were the case, I would've taken every drug dealer, gangbanger, and pedophile I investigated, and I would've thrown them on the polygraph."
Gagliano, who said he was subjected to several polygraphs at the FBI but never administered one himself, said people can sometimes pass polygraphs if they've convinced themselves they are telling the truth: "It's not a lie if you believe it," he said.
"Everyone knows polygraph exams can be beaten," Gagliano added. "If someone is a psychopath or a sociopath, if you don't have a conscience, if you don't know right from wrong -- you can beat it."
The polygraph report raised additional questions that may surface during Thursday's hearing, including how Ford -- a California resident who a friend has said has a significant fear of flying -- was able to make it to Maryland to take the test.
Ford's legal team has dismissed the idea that she has a fear of flying, or that she would use that as an excuse to delay attending a Senate hearing.