Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was present at a 1982 house party where a Washington woman says she was gang-raped, according to an explosive statement that her lawyer released Wednesday.
The woman, Julie Swetnick, 55, did not accuse Kavanaugh of participating in the assault, which would have occurred at one of many parties that she said they both attended when Kavanaugh was in high school.
But she said she witnessed efforts by Kavanaugh, his friend Mark Judge and others to get girls “inebriated and disoriented so they could then be ‘gang-raped’ in a side room or bedroom by a ‘train’ of numerous boys.”
“I have a firm recollection of seeing boys lined up outside rooms at many of these parties waiting for their ‘turn’ with a girl inside the room,” she wrote in a declaration that her attorney, Michael Avenatti, posted Wednesday on Twitter. “These boys included Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh.”
Kavanaugh and Judge denied the allegations, which The Times has not independently confirmed.
“This is ridiculous and from the Twilight Zone,” Kavanaugh, 53, said in a statement released by the White House. “I don’t know who this is and this never happened.”
Swetnick’s statement upended the already tumultuous Senate confirmation hearings of a nominee who could ensure a conservative tilt to the nation’s highest court for years to come. She is the third woman to accuse Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct when he was in high school or college.
At a news conference in New York, President Trump defended Kavanaugh and attacked Avenatti as a “low-life” lawyer.
“It’s a con job by the Democrats,” he said of the women’s allegations. “They know it.”
Swetnick’s allegations came on the eve of a high-stakes Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday. Christine Blasey Ford, a psychologist and professor at Palo Alto University, is scheduled to testify about what she has described as a sexual assault by Kavanaugh when he was 17 and she was 15.
Kavanaugh is now a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Avenatti sent Swetnick’s declaration to the Judiciary Committee. Lawyers for the Senate panel were reviewing it Wednesday, and Kavanaugh was going to be asked to respond under oath, according to Republican lawmakers.
Democratic senators and their allies quickly called for a postponement of Friday’s planned vote on Kavanaugh in the Judiciary Committee.
“Republicans need to immediately suspend the proceedings related to Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination, and the president must order the FBI to reopen the background check investigation,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York.
“There are now multiple, corroborated allegations against Judge Kavanaugh, made under the penalty of perjury, all of which deserve a thorough investigation.”
A Republican on the Judiciary Committee, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, said Thursday’s hearing on Ford’s allegation should go forward as planned.
“These most recent allegations don’t have anything to do with Dr. Ford,” he said. “We’ve committed to hearing from her and that’s what we’ll be doing tomorrow.”
It’s unclear whether Senate Republicans will ultimately have enough votes to confirm Kavanaugh. At least two Republicans, Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, remain undecided.
Swetnick has worked on digital and website operations for a variety of U.S. government agencies in the Washington area.
Her declaration says she has held security clearances at the U.S. Mint, the Internal Revenue Service, State Department, Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security.
Swetnick attended Gaithersburg High School in a Maryland suburb of Washington. From 1981 to 1983, she said in her declaration, Kavanaugh and Judge were present at more than 10 house parties that she attended in the Washington area.
Avenatti told CNN that two witnesses can corroborate her statement on being gang-raped, and multiple others can attest to the behavior of Kavanaugh at the house parties. He declined to name them, but said he would provide their names to the FBI and the Judiciary Committee if investigators pursue the matter.
When she was gang-raped, Swetnick said, “I was incapacitated without my consent and unable to fight off the boys raping me. I believe I was drugged using Quaaludes or something similar placed in what I was drinking.”
Swetnick described Kavanaugh and Judge as “joined at the hip.” They drank excessively, she alleged, and engaged in “highly inappropriate conduct, including being overly aggressive with girls and not taking ‘No’ for an answer.”
“This conduct included the fondling and grabbing of girls without their consent,” she wrote.
Swetnick said she recalled seeing Kavanaugh press girls against him without their consent and attempt to take off their clothing to expose private body parts.
Kavanaugh, Judge and others tried to spike the punch at house parties with drugs or grain alcohol so girls would lose their inhibitions about sex, Swetnick alleged.
Ford has said that Judge, a conservative author and journalist who was Kavanaugh’s classmate at Georgetown Prep high school, was in the room when Kavanaugh attacked her.
In “Wasted: Tales of a Gen X Drunk,” his 1997 autobiographical account of party life at Georgetown Prep, Judge, a recovering alcoholic, wrote about a student named “Bart O’Kavanaugh” who threw up in someone’s car and passed out.
Judge has said he never witnessed any assault on Ford by Kavanaugh. His lawyer, Barbara Van Gelder, said Judge also “vehemently denies Ms. Swetnick’s allegations.”
In a Fox News interview on Monday, Kavanaugh was asked about Avenatti’s initial allegation, without naming Swetnick, that he’d attended a party where a gang rape occurred. He called it “totally false and outrageous.”
“Yes, there were parties, and the drinking age was 18, and yes, the seniors were legal and had beer there, and yes, people might have had too many beers on occasion and people generally in high school, I think all of us have probably done things, we look back on in high school and regret or cringe a bit,” he said.
“But that’s not what we’re talking about.,” Kavanaugh said. “We’re talking about an allegation of sexual assault. I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone.”
Ford has told the Washington Post that Kavanaugh was heavily intoxicated at a party when he jumped on her in a bedroom, tried to remove her clothes and covered her mouth with his hand to stop her from screaming.
On Sunday night, the New Yorker published an article in which one of Kavanaugh’s Yale University classmates, Deborah Ramirez, accused him of exposing himself to her at close range at a drunken dormitory party. Kavanaugh has denied the allegation.
The Judiciary Committee has also asked Kavanaugh privately about two other allegations of sexual misconduct by accusers who declined to be publicly identified.
Shortly after Avenatti released Swetnick’s statement, Trump lashed out at the Newport Beach lawyer on Twitter. Trump called him “a third rate lawyer who is good at making false accusations, like he did on me,” alluding to allegations by Avenatti’s client Stormy Daniels that Trump had extramarital sex with the porn star in 2006.
“He is just looking for attention and doesn’t want people to look at his past record and relationships — a total low-life!” Trump tweeted.
Avenatti, who says he might seek the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, has declined to say how Swetnick became his client.
For nearly seven months, Avenatti has been one of Trump’s most aggressive tormentors on television. Until Wednesday, the president, known for belittling his critics, had painstakingly avoided responding to the provocations.
When Trump finally insulted him on Wednesday, Avenatti quickly mocked the president on Twitter as a global laughingstock and a “con” admired by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Times staff writers Jennifer Haberkorn, Victoria Kim, David Savage and Sarah D. Wire contributed to this report.