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Almost a year after Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh ’87 LAW ’90 was appointed to the nation’s highest court, revelations about a previously unreported sexual misconduct allegation against the justice have revived controversies that once threatened the justice’s confirmation.

Last fall, Kavanaugh faced three allegations of sexual misconduct, one of which was levied by Kavanaugh’s Yale classmate Deborah Ramirez ’87. On Saturday, the New York Times reported that before Kavanaugh’s confirmation, Max Stier ’87 — an acclaimed lawyer who lived near the justice during their first year in Lawrance Hall — notified the Federal Bureau of Investigations of a separate incident that mirrors Ramirez’s allegation. According to the Times report, Stier told the F.B.I that he witnessed drunk Kavanaugh with his pants down at a dorm party, where friends pushed Kavanaugh’s penis into the hand of a female student.

The Times’ account of Stier’s disclosure to the FBI renewed criticisms over Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Court last October. Over the weekend, several Democratic presidential hopefuls and lawmakers — including former Housing Secretary Julian Castro, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Sen. Kamala Harris, D-CA, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass. — called for impeachment proceedings or inquiries into the new allegation against Kavanaugh. Meanwhile, many University alumni have expressed concerns about last fall’s FBI investigation that left out tens of alumni willing to testify about a culture of casual disrespect toward women among Kavanaugh’s circle of friends.

“We spent a week believing the FBI would listen to us if we called them enough times or knocked on their doors enough times,” Rebecca Steinitz ’86 told the News on Monday. “It was a charade of an investigation. People feel righteously indignant about that.”

Last fall, Ramirez’s legal team provided the FBI with a list of at least 25 people who could have helped corroborate her account, according to the Times report. None of those individuals were interviewed by the bureau, even though several of them repeatedly tried to contact the FBI.

Two such individuals, Kerry Berchem ’88 and Kathy Charlton ’87, told the News that they contacted the FBI and members of the Senate Judiciary Committee with text messages suggesting that Kavanaugh tried to refute Ramirez’s allegations to former classmates before they became public. And last fall, Mark Krasberg ’87, who was Kavanaugh’s neighbor in Lawrance Hall during their freshman year, told the News that he submitted information which he claimed “back[ed] up part of Ramirez’s story” to the FBI. Krasberg, however, was never contacted by the bureau for a follow-up. Krasberg added that he was “happy to see [Stier] come forward to the FBI” but emphasized that there was no attempt to investigate Stier’s allegations.

The Times’ report does not name the woman involved in the incident reported by Stier. In an editor’s note published on Monday, the reporters added that the female student declined to be interviewed, and her friends told the Times she did not recall the incident. While the Times’ account was corroborated by two FBI officials, Stier declined to comment for the Times’ story.

Even prior to Saturday’s report, several alumni held suspicions about disrespectful acts toward women involving Kavanaugh and his circle of friends. Last fall, the News reported that Krasberg and Steven Kantrowitz ’87, another first-year neighbor of Kavanaugh, saw a group of Kavanaugh’s close friends — but not the judge himself — listening to an audio tape of a threesome.

“There was a lot of aggressive talk and certainly a lot of braggadocio,” Chad Ludington ’87 said of his and Kavanaugh’s circle of friends last fall. “[The social group] casually disrespected women and sometimes not so casually disrespected women.”

Although concerns about Kavanaugh’s moral character resurfaced after the Times report, some alumni said they doubt the new allegation will impact Kavanaugh’s position on the Court.

Charlton said she and other alumni had a clear goal last year in trying to contact the FBI and ensure a thorough investigation into the allegations against Kavanaugh. Now, nearly a year after Kavanaugh’s confirmation, Charlton said her classmates are unsure of how to proceed.

“What can happen now?” Steinitz said. “At this point, with this administration and this Senate, [nothing] is going to make a difference … Kavanaugh is here to stay, he’s a Supreme Court Justice.”

Last September, Steinitz organized an open letter signed by over 3,000 female alumni expressing support for Ramirez and Christine Blasey Ford, who testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee about an alleged assault perpetrated by Kavanaugh when the two were in high school.

Prior to joining the Court, Kavanaugh worked on Kenneth Starr’s legal team investigating President Bill Clinton. Stier, who reported the newest allegations to the FBI, served on Clinton’s defense team during the investigation.

Serena Cho | serena.cho@yale.edu .

Alice Park | alice.park@yale.edu .

Correction, Sept. 19: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Max Stier ’87 was Kavanaugh’s suitemate during their first year in Lawrance Hall. In fact, Stier lived near the justice but was not his suitemate.

  • Brian Stump

    Really?! Yale.edu Get shit straight.

  • Nancy Morris

    As noted here, Max Stier did represent President Bill Clinton after Paula Jones accused him of exposing himself to her in a hotel room.

    But this article fails to note – as does the Times – that Stier also worked closely with David Kendall, representing Hillary Clinton against allegations of illegally handling classified information in the Whitewater investigation. Kavanaugh worked with Ken Starr on the other side of the Clinton impeachment battle. During his confirmation hearings, Kavanaugh had accused his opponents of being motivated by “revenge on behalf of the Clintons.” Stier has had a decades long role as a cat’s paw for both Clintons.

    Then there is the buried fact that Pogrebin was long-time roommates at Yale with Kathy Charlton, a woman centrally involved in the anti-Kavanaugh efforts (according to public statements from her husband). Charlton’s coordinating role was not disclosed.

    And how about the two reporters also discussing with NPR how Leland Keyser somehow “helps to establish” Christine Blasey Ford’s credibility without ever once mentioning that Keyser told them explicitly that she doesn’t find Blasey Ford credible, something the Times also omitted.

    This article also grossly misstates the level of corroboration of Ramirez’s accusations. The Times reporters claim that they have seven sources who “more fully [corroborate]” Ramirez. Yet of those seven, only one even claims to have heard that Kavanaugh was the person in the story at the time, as they admit in their book, and even he is only a third-hand source of information, not having actually been there himself, and having heard it from a source whose identity he does not disclose.

    Kenneth Appold, who had previously spoken to the New Yorker, claimed to have heard at the time that Kavanaugh was the person who had exposed himself to Ramirez: “Within a couple of days of the party, Ken Appold stood in a Lawrance Hall entryway and was told by two Stiles freshmen (whose identity he can’t recall) what Kavanaugh had done to Ramirez.”

    The only other of the seven who claim to have heard about the story in its immediate aftermath was fellow Yalie Richard Oh, who the book reports “overheard a female student emotionally describing making contact with a fake penis, saying ‘It’s not real,’ and then realizing it was real.” There is no indication, however, that Oh identified Kavanaugh by name as the culprit.

    A few years after the alleged incident, Ramirez’s mother claims her daughter told her, “Something happened at Yale.” She did not go into any further detail or provide a name.

    Another person supposedly proving that the story is “more fully corroborated” is Michael Wetstone, who claims to have heard “about the incident” from Appold, his graduate school classmate, “within a few years of when it allegedly happened.”

    Two other Yale classmates, Chad Ludington and James Roche, are described as “vaguely remember[ing] hearing about something happening to Ramirez during her freshman year.” Roche had only a vague recollection of hearing about the Ramirez incident.” Ludington is not further quoted on the Ramirez allegation. The book does not imply that either Roche or Appold identified Kavanaugh by name or the extent of their familiarity with the rumor.

    The seventh and final source is “an unidentified friend of Ramirez’s who said in a recent affidavit that she heard about the incident in the 1990s — remembers being told about it within a decade of its alleged occurence.” In the affidavit, the book reports that the friend described “a male classmate.” The book does not imply that she identified Kavanaugh by name.

    Ramirez names David White, Kevin Genda, and David Todd all as witnessing the alleged incident, yet in their statement to the New Yorker, all three said, “We can say with confidence that if the incident Debbie alleges ever occurred, we would have seen or heard about it — and we did not.” No one other than Ramirez claims to have witnessed the alleged incident, and the book reports that she did not recall telling anyone about it at the time.

    To recap: Of the seven sources meant to bolster the credibility of Ramirez’s allegation, only one recalls hearing Kavanaugh mentioned as the perp by an unknown source who, if he ever existed, has since failed to come forward. Only one other person claims to have independently heard about such an incident at the time, but he does not appear to have named Kavanaugh in connection with it. Three of the sources may not have recalled any details about the incident, and another one just heard it from the first.

    Ramirez’s own mother, meanwhile, cannot corroborate anything past “something happened.”

    And finally, every person named as being in the room when this supposedly happened denies that it ever happened. That’s corroboration for you.

    This article is also filled with remarkably more numerous additional inaccuracies, omissions and tendentious assertions. It seems that the YDN is vying with the NYT to embarrass itself in this matter, but the competition is stiff. If you’re looking for evidence that the NYT is itself embarrassed by its fiasco, look no further than today’s Vanity Fair, which reports that the NYT news editors refused to publish the story, so it was shunted off into the Sunday Review section, which is edited by the paper’s opinion staff. Yet if the story is supportable (which it is not) it belongs in the news section befitting the gravity of a new sexual-misconduct claim against a Supreme Court justice. Indeed, the Washington Post refused even to touch the story when it was offered to them.

    • http://www.artspace.com/magazine/interviews_features/lists/the-10-worst-ways-to-die-in-a-hieronymous-bosch-painting-53872 Hieronymus Machine

      Why didn’t Stier intervene? What kind of sexist monster stands idly by, witnessing while looking the other way as a “gender”-based crime transpires? Doesn’t that make him, at some level, complicit in the actions he alleges?

      Cf. the 1980 Yale Law Journal article “The Case for a Duty to Rescue” (vol90; iss2) for context.

      “In this century, the courts have with increasing frequency avoided the most morally offensive applications of this general rule [common law of non-obligation] by basing affirmative duties to render aid upon various ‘special relationships’ found to exist between potential rescuers who failed to act and the victims they failed to save.”

      Also: What is with self-hating Yalies? Why do they gravitate so strongly toward the YDN?

  • Edward Gallagher

    Why is it due process, evidence, testifying witnesses, seemed to be ignored at the fabled waste of space in New Haven………

  • terryhughes

    Rarely does a story implode as spectacularly as the New York Times’ latest effort to resurrect the claim that Justice Brett Kavanaugh was a teenage sexual predator.

    Not only did the Times reporters manage to further exculpate Kavanaugh by impugning the credibility of his accusers, it further undermined Blasey Ford’s claims by revealing that her star character witness, Leland Keyser, does not believe her friend was assaulted by the justice. What’s more, she contends, her refusal to corroborate Blasey Ford’s assertions resulted in threats and intimidation—a disturbing revelation that those who insist we should “believe women” have faithfully ignored. Indeed, the facts of this case are strikingly irrelevant to those who cling to the article of faith that Kavanaugh’s youth was marred by episodes of sexual misconduct.

    The strained efforts by politicians and media outlets to insist that the absence of evidence against Kavanaugh amounts to an indictment of his conduct and character has spilt the Democratic Party, unified their opposition, energized Republican voters, and sacrificed the credibility of the left-leaning news outlets that dedicated themselves to the promotion of a perfidious narrative over the plain and simple truths of the case. It’s a testament to the impenetrability of the bubble in which they operate that Kavanaugh’s harshest critics don’t seem to recognize how badly this is going for them.

  • Tim Steele

    This story has been exposed by the real media as a complete farce — yellow journalism at its finest. Will the YDN and its staff reporters (Serena Cho and Alice Park) issue a retraction or at least a correction as did the NYT? chirp, chirp go the crickets…

    As for “suspicions of disrespectful acts towards women” while at Yale, please tell me that this is some kind of a joke. We have a number of liberal classmates of Justice Kavanaugh, who want so desperately to tar and feather the man, that they will actually call the FBI to report these suspicions and somehow it’s newsworthy that the FBI doesn’t want to speak to them as if they’re part of some cover up!

  • Tim Steele

    “Even prior to Saturday’s report, several alumni held suspicions about disrespectful acts toward women involving Kavanaugh and his circle of friends. Last fall, the News reported that Krasberg and Steven Kantrowitz ’87, another first-year neighbor of Kavanaugh, saw a group of Kavanaugh’s close friends — but not the judge himself — listening to an audio tape of a threesome.”

    That a paragraph like this could actually make it into a news story on Justice Kavanaugh’s alleged “disrespectful acts towards women” tells you all you need to know about the state of journalism today. And shame on the YDN and its staff reporters for printing it. What an embarrassment!