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Accuser of U.S. high-court nominee Kavanaugh goes public

A woman who had anonymously accused U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct in the early 1980s decided to go public with her accusations and provided details of the alleged incident, the Washington Post reported on Sunday.

In an interview with the newspaper, Christine Blasey Ford said that as a high school student in suburban Maryland just outside of Washington, a "stumbling drunk" Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed, groped her and attempted to remove her clothing.

Last week, Kavanaugh said he "categorically and unequivocally" denies the allegations. The White House on Sunday did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

A spokesman for Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, responding to the latest developments in the Kavanaugh nomination, said, "It’s disturbing that these uncorroborated allegations from more than 35 years ago, during high school, would surface on the eve of a committee vote."

Pressure on Republicans to delay Kavanaugh's confirmation mounted, but it is unclear whether Ford's decision to go public would hold up a Senate vote to confirm Kavanaugh.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said the Senate Judiciary Committee "must postpone the vote until, at a very minimum, these serious and credible allegations are thoroughly investigated."

Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein, the top Judiciary Committee Democrat, issued a statement on Sunday calling for a delay.

"I support Mrs Ford’s decision to share her story and now that she has, it is in the hands of the FBI to conduct an investigation. This should happen before the Senate moves forward on this nominee," Feinstein said.

In The Washington Post interview, Ford said that when she tried to scream, Kavanaugh put his hand over her mouth. "I thought he might inadvertently kill me," Ford told the newspaper, adding, "He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that he would like to have Kavanaugh confirmed by Oct 1, the start of the Supreme Court's new term. His office did not immediately respond on Sunday to a request for comment.

That timetable would have Kavanaugh sitting on the Supreme Court - if he is confirmed - before the Nov 6 elections in which one-third of the 100 Senate seats are up for grabs.

Ford, now a 51-year-old research psychologist in California, told the Washington Post that in July she sent a letter to Democratic Representative Anna Eshoo about the incident but requested confidentiality at the time.

The existence of the letter and some details of its contents became public in recent days, however.

Ford did not immediately respond to a request from Reuters for comment.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has completed its hearings on Kavanaugh and planned to vote this week on his nomination by President Donald Trump to the highest court. A positive vote would set up a debate by the full Senate.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2018.

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