Kavanaugh accuser must be respected in testimony before Senate committee

Christine Blasey Ford is set to testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee (pictured above) on Thursday Sept. 27. Despite the numerous obstacles in her way, it is crucial that she take the stand (U.S. Senate Historical Office/Creative commons).

Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court seemed all but certain until Christine Blasey Ford came forward and accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were in high school. Despite the public backlash, Ford is set to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday Sept. 27.

In this post-#MeToo movement world where women are empowered and victims of sexual assault are encouraged to speak their voice, Ford’s testimony is more important than ever. Although there will be numerous obstacles in her way and various individuals will attempt to deter her from testifying, we must hear what she has to say. 

From the beginning, Ford has been cautious about coming forward with the allegations, something her lawyer Debra Katz is enforcing. 

“She wishes to testify, provided that we can agree on terms that are fair and which ensure her safety,” Katz said, according to The New York Times.

Unfortunately, there are already signs that indicate the hearing will not go so smoothly. In a speech on the Senate floor, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called Ford’s decision to come forward a “smear campaign,” according to PBS. Before she’s had the chance to say anything for the record, authorities are already attempting to discredit her. 

In this way, Ford’s case resembles a vast number of other sexual assault cases. A 16-year study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that less than 36 percent of sexual assault cases are reported often due to fear of reprisal or fear of the justice system. 

Fear makes sense in Ford’s case. Her abuser is Brett Kavanaugh, the powerful judge who may become even more powerful with a seat on the United States Supreme Court. She has an enormous amount to lose coming forward against him. 

Nevertheless, that is exactly why her testimony is so necessary. When Ford stands before the country and tells her story, justifying Kavanaugh as an appropriate choice for the Court may become more difficult.

The New York Times opinion columnist Michelle Goldberg emphasized the importance of Ford’s testimony.

“Should she take the terrifying step of appearing before America and speaking, under oath, before antagonistic senators, her story will be much harder to dismiss,” Goldberg said. “It will no longer be a vague accusation from the ether, but one attached to a reputable, respected professional making it at great personal risk.”

There is little doubt that this will be a challenge for Ford. Republican officials will do anything and everything to prevent Ford from appearing. 

Ford appears to know exactly what’s riding on her testament and how far Kavanaugh’s supporters will go to discredit her.

“Her strong preference continues to be for the Senate Judiciary Committee to allow for a full investigation prior to her testimony,” Katz said, according to The New York Times. 

By asking the FBI to investigate her allegations before speaking publicly, Ford is anticipating the backlash she will inevitably face. 

HuffPost columnist Richard North Patterson foresees a conflict for Ford as she faces specifically bent politicians. 

“White male Republicans on the judiciary committee will pick apart every gap in memory to cast her as a mendacious partisan bent on destroying Kavanaugh,” Patterson said. 

There is no telling what will come out in Ford’s testimony when she takes the stand. She will hopefully be treated with dignity and respect, however, based on the handling of many previous sexual assault cases, it seems it may be too much to ask for. 

By hiring female attorney Rachel Mitchell who has experience as a sex crimes prosecutor, Republicans have disregarded the fact this is not a criminal trial. There was no reason to hire this attorney other than to cause a stir, which is exactly what Ford wants to avoid. 

It’s simply time for Kavanaugh to cut his losses. Perhaps he could be slightly redeemed by apologizing. Even if he doesn’t remember the incident in question, rather than accusing Ford of lying and discounting her feelings, as a public official, he should act accordingly. 

Whatever Ford has to say, she deserves to be heard with full consideration.