Published 8:56 PM EDT Sep 17, 2018
SAN FRANCISCO — In the nearly four decades since Christine Blasey Ford says Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her, Ford has racked up a list of university degrees and professional accolades, including a Ph.D. in psychology, positions at Stanford University, a professorship and multiple academic publications.
But it is a day in 1982, when the then 15-year-old prep school student attended a party with boys from a nearby boys school, that is destined to make Ford a household name.
It was then, says Ford, that Kavanaugh, at the time 17, and a friend trapped her in a bedroom of the house in Montgomery County, Maryland where the party was being held. The friend watched while Kavanaugh tried to pull off her clothes. When she tried to yell, he put his hand over her mouth to stop her, she said.
The assault ended when the friend jumped on top of them, knocking all three off the bed and allowing Ford to make her escape, she told the Washington Post in an explosive interview that was first posted Sunday night.
Kavanaugh has denied the alleged assault, calling it "completely false." In a statement Monday he said, “I have never done anything like what the accuser describes — to her or to anyone."
By Monday morning, a Wikipedia page about Ford had been created and the previously little-known biostatistician was the subject of dozens of articles, television reports, as well as a mocking Instagram post from President Donald Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., written in crayon.
Both Ford and Kavanaugh are scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee next Monday about the allegations. The hearings will delay a planned committee vote on Kavanaugh's nomination and carry with them echoes of the 1991 testimony of Anita Hill in which she accused now-Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment.
The sudden rush into the spotlight began very differently for Ford. In early July she anonymously contacted the Post's tip line, when Kavanaugh made the shortlist of possible nominees for the Supreme Court position opened up by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy.
On July 30, Ford sent a confidential letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) via her congresswoman, Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), in which she outlined the story about the possible nominee, but asked for confidentiality.
She decided not to speak publicly due to fears over what it would do to both her and her family, she told the Post. Eventually, she hired Debra Katz, a Washington D.C. lawyer whose firm focused on whistleblower law, employment and sexual harassment law.
Her attempts to remain private failed and on Wednesday the first reports of an incident involving Kavanaugh surfaced. Over the course of the next few days Ford's identity appears to become known, with reporters calling her, visiting her home and attempting to speak to her as she left a class she was teaching.
Eventually Ford decided that her "civic responsibility is outweighing my anguish and terror about retaliation,” as she told the Post. She gave an on-the-record interview, published Sunday night.
Since then, her online presence has both diminished and grown. She removed her LinkedIn profile but gained a Wikipedia page created by a stranger.
The story they tell is of a researcher and scientist who has led a low-key life until now. Ford, 51, is a professor and research psychologist who teaches research design and education clinical psychology at Palo Alto University and in a consortium program with Stanford University’s School of Medicine.
Palo Alto University, located in Palo Alto, California, is a professional school that offers undergraduate and graduate programs in psychology, counseling and research. It is also home to a consortium program with Stanford University’s School of Medicine that grants students a doctorate in clinical psychology. Ford's position there was confirmed by the university.
She is a biostatistician who works with students at the university on experimental and clinical trial design and data analysis, according to the university’s website.
Biostatisticians analyze data collected in medical or biological studies and use it to draw conclusions. They also work with researchers and scientists to design medical experiments and human trials to ensure that the results are scientifically valid and meaningful.
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Ford has numerous academic publications, under the name Christine Blasey, including a book on using statistical analysis in research, trauma symptom predictors following the 9/11 terrorist attacks and whether brain imaging in individuals with autistic spectrum disorder shows different responses in the recognition of emotion in people’s faces.
According to a now-deleted Linkedin profile reported by the San Jose Mercury News, Ford also worked as a visiting professor at Pepperdine University and as a research psychologist at Stanford’s Department of Psychiatry.
She has an undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a master’s in psychology from Pepperdine University in California and in education from Stanford University. She has a Ph.D. in educational psychology research design from the University of Southern California.
Ford is a registered Democrat, according to the Washington Post. In June she was one of thousands of people who signed a letter from the group Physicians for Human Rights urging the Trump administration to end the practice of separation of migrant and asylum-seeking children from their parents.
According to an article that ran in San Jose Mercury News in April, she planned to attend a March for Science in Oakland, Calif. in which she was to wear a knitted cap with a pattern of a brain in it. The march was billed as a non-partisan celebration of science, but featured many signs expressing skepticism about Trump administration policies that many scientists see as being hostile to science.
In high school, Ford attended Holton-Arms school, an all-girls school in Bethesda, Maryland. The school, founded in 1901, begins in third grade and continues through high school. It is unclear how many years Ford attended the school.
The period during which the alleged assault occurred was in the summer of 1982, when she would have been 15 and attending the high school.
More than 200 former students of the school have signed a letter in support of Ford.
She has been married to Russell Ford since 2002. He is an engineer at Cygnus Corporation, which provides scientific, technical, and logistical support services for health professionals, scientist and government agencies. According to the San Jose Mercury News the couple live in Palo Alto and have two children.
As of Monday evening, more than 70 edits have been made to her Wikipedia page and the page has been set to require confirmation of all edits to restrict vandalism.