Yale graduate says Brett Kavanaugh once started a bar fight that led to his questioning by police

Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh listens to Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) during a Senate Judiciary Committee nomination hearing Sept. 4.
(Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press)
Washington Post

A former Yale University basketball player said he is scheduled to meet with the FBI on Tuesday to discuss Brett M. Kavanaugh’s role in instigating a bar fight more than three decades ago, an incident that according to a police report made public late Monday led New Haven police to interview the future Supreme Court nominee.

Charles Ludington told the Washington Post that the brawl occurred in September 1985, after a concert featuring the band UB40. At a bar called Demery’s, a small group of students believed they spotted the band’s lead singer.

Ludington said he approached the man to ask. “Turns out it wasn’t him,” Ludington said. “He was New Haven tough. He said something aggressive, like ‘Screw off.’ ”


Kavanaugh escalated the situation, Ludington said, replying with an expletive or something similar “and then threw his drink in the guy’s face.”

On Sunday, Ludington said publicly that he intended to discuss the incident with FBI agents in Raleigh, N.C., where he is an associate professor at North Carolina State University. Agents soon contacted him, he said Monday night. They instructed him to file a request to be invited to provide testimony, then emailed him a questionnaire and told him to come in Tuesday.

The FBI reopened Kavanaugh’s background check last week after California resident Christine Blasey Ford accused him of sexually assaulting her while he was, in her words, “stumbling drunk,” when both were in high school in 1982. He has strongly denied the accusation.

Last week, Kavanaugh told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he drank but was never out of control. “I drank beer with my friends. Almost everyone did. Sometimes I had too many beers. Sometimes others did. I liked beer. I still like beer. But I did not drink beer to the point of blacking out,” he said during his testimony.

Ludington told the Post that his recollection differed.

“I saw him quite drunk. There were certainly many times when he could not remember what was going on,” he said, adding that, “There’s an angry streak that comes out when Brett drinks.”

A White House spokesman did not respond to emails about Ludington’s account. A police report documenting the incident was first reported Monday night by the New York Times.

In the report, a New Haven police officer wrote that after 1 a.m. on Sept. 26, 1985, a man found bleeding from the ear told officers that another man — identified in the report as Kavanaugh — “threw ice at him for some unknown reason.”

Ludington said the aggressive act by Kavanaugh touched off a brief melee. Soon the man and Kavanaugh “were connected in some head lock or wrestling form,” Ludington said.

Within moments, another Kavanaugh friend, Yale basketball star Chris Dudley, was involved, Ludington said. In a brief interview, Dudley disputed Ludington’s account.

Ludington said Dudley took a pint glass or beer bottle and smashed it against the man’s head. Soon both Dudley and the man were bloodied, and friends were rushing in to pull the brawlers apart, according to Ludington and Warren N. Sams III, a fourth Yale classmate who said he observed the altercation.

Sams, a lawyer in Atlanta who was a fraternity brother of Kavanaugh and Dudley, said he does not remember seeing Kavanaugh there. Sams said he and other friends helped Dudley out of the bar.

Sams said he recalled seeing blood on Dudley’s hand and worrying that the star basketball player, who went on to a career in the NBA, had injured himself. “The fight was over,” Sams said. “It was a scuffle. And then someone was pulling Dudley back and saying, ‘Help me get Chris out of here.’ ”

The Post could find no record of a formal charge or conviction from the event.

Reached briefly by phone, Dudley said, “I don’t know what [Ludington] is talking about.”

Dudley, Oregon’s Republican nominee for governor in 2010, has been a vocal Kavanaugh supporter.

When the Post sought comment from Kavanaugh’s attorneys last week regarding allegations of excessive drinking at Yale, the newspaper received a call back from Dudley. “There was drinking and there was alcohol. Brett drank and I drank. Did he get inebriated sometimes? Yes. Did I? Yes. Just like every other college kid in America,” Dudley said. But “he didn’t miss class, he didn’t miss practice. He was an incredibly humble guy.”

Ludington disputed that account.

“I’m sad to say my friendship with Chris is over, he’s not telling the truth. I think he has been trying to protect Brett, like some jock omerta.”

Washington Post researcher Alice Crites contributed to this article.