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Yale Embroiled In Kavanaugh Allegations

Sep 24, 2018

A second allegation of sexual assault has placed Yale University firmly at the center of the confirmation battle for the next Supreme Court justice. A former Yale classmate of nominee Brett Kavanaugh has now come forward to say that he sexually assaulted her at a party when he was in his freshman year at the university.

Kavanaugh is also facing allegations that, while at high school, he attempted to rape a fellow teenager, Christine Blasey Ford.

The New Yorker published the second claim Sunday night, in an interview with Yale alum Deborah Ramirez. She told the magazine that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her during a drunken dormitory party, and that he caused her unwanted sexual contact.

In a statement to the New Yorker, Kavanaugh wrote, “This alleged event from 35 years ago did not happen. The people who knew me then know that this did not happen, and have said so. This is a smear, plain and simple.”

Meanwhile, students at Yale Law School say they'll stage a sit-in on Monday, in protest of the allegations surrounding Kavanaugh. The judge is a Yale Law School alum, and many of his clerks have come from the school. 

The Guardian published a story Thursday that included anonymous testimony from a female former student. The report says the student was told by Yale professor Jed Rubenfeld that Judge Kavanaugh “hires women with a certain look.”

Another source says that professor Amy Chua - Rubenfeld's wife and also on the faculty at the school – instructed students on how to present themselves as they prepared for clerkship interviews with Kavanaugh, and suggested sending pictures of themselves in different outfits before going to interview.

Last July, Chua wrote an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal calling Kavanaugh a “mentor to women.”

In response to the Guardian's allegations, Rubenfeld’s attorney issued a statement in which the professor says he believes he is contending with personal attacks and false allegations, but he stands ready to participate in any investigation.

On Saturday, Chua, who is on medical leave from Yale, also issued a statement,

“Everything that is being said about the advice I give to students applying to Brett Kavanaugh — or any judge — is outrageous, 100% false, and the exact opposite of everything I have stood for and said for the last fifteen years,” Chua said.

Second year law student Dianne Lake, one of the organizers of Monday's planned sit-in said she has no direct knowledge of the allegations against the two professors, but she said the story speaks to what she calls an "abusive" and "elitist" culture around clerkship hiring at Yale.

“I think folks on campus have been very disturbed and disappointed and frustrated by not only the news, but by the ongoing ambivalence by the institution to properly target and root out these toxic issues,” Lake told Connecticut Public Radio.

Faculty at the school have canceled the majority of classes Monday morning at the request of students. Students say they'll stage a sit-in from 9:30 to 3:00 pm. Meanwhile, a delegation of 100 students is traveling to Washington D.C. to protest at the Supreme Court and possibly meet with senators.  

Letter sent to the Yale Law School community.

When news of Kavanaugh’s nomination first came out, several law school faculty endorsed him in a Yale news release.

Dean Heather Gerken called him a “long-time friend” and a “mentor” to students. She praised him for hiring a “diverse set of clerks.”

On Thursday, Gerken wrote a letter to the Yale law community to address the Guardian report. She said that the allegations were of “enormous concern” to her and the school. But she indicated that she couldn’t comment on the complaint or an investigation that Yale is conducting on the matter.

Meanwhile, another statement signed by 48 members of the Law School faculty Friday urges members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to allow an independent investigation of Ford’s allegations.

Yale Law School did not respond to a request for interview.

This post was originally published on September 21, 2018.