Colorado woman accuses SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct while in college

Posted at 8:51 PM, Sep 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-24 18:14:23-04

DENVER – A Colorado woman is the second in recent weeks to come forward publicly and accuse U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of committing sexual misconduct while he was a teenager, and she has hired high-profile Colorado attorneys to represent her.

According to a story published Sunday by The New Yorker, Deborah Ramirez claims that Kavanaugh engaged in sexual misconduct toward her while they were at a student party in a campus common room during Kavanaugh's freshman year of college at Yale University in the 1983-84 school year.

The report says that Ramirez lives in Colorado and that she has hired Stan Garnett, the Democratic former district attorney who is now with Denver’s Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, as counsel in the case on the referral of U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet’s office.

Lara Day, a spokesperson for Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, confirmed to Denver7 Monday that Garnett would be transitioning out of representing Ramirez and that Boulder-based John Clune of Hutchison Black and Cook would be taking over as counsel for Ramirez. Garnett did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Denver7 Sunday night.

Clune declined to comment when reached by Denver7 Monday morning.

But Clune did release a statement on Twitter from the board and staff of Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence (SPAN), where Ramirez is a volunteer and board member, who spoke in support of Ramirez and her character.

“We know Debbie Ramirez to be a woman of great integrity and honor. We stand by her and her courageous decision to come forward. It is never simple or easy for survivors to share their experiences. To do so in the face of public scrutiny requires a level of personal strength that is true to the person Debbie is. She has our support, our respect, and our admiration,” they wrote.

Bennet is a Democrat from Colorado and his office confirmed it had connected Ramirez and Garnett.

“Judiciary staff reached out to our office and asked for a connection to someone who might be helpful should Deborah Ramirez decide to come forward with an allegation related to that made by Dr. [Christine Blasey] Ford,” Bennet spokeswoman Laurie Cipriano said in a statement Sunday evening. “We reached out to former Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett who then met with Ms. Ramirez to work through how to analyze and present her allegations.”

Bennet last week called for Ford to be allowed to testify publicly in front of the entire Senate Judiciary Committee, as did Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo.

Responding to questions about the new allegations, Casey Contres, a spokesperson for Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., said Monday that Gardner first became aware of the allegations when The New Yorker published its story Sunday. He said Gardner supports further investigation of the allegations by the Judiciary Committee.

“Senator Gardner was first made aware of these allegations when the New Yorker story was published Sunday evening. Investigators from Chairman Grassley’s staff immediately contacted Ms. Ramirez’s attorney to gather more information about what allegedly occurred,” Contres told Denver7 in a statement. “Senator Gardner absolutely supports efforts by the Senate Judiciary Committee to gather more information and investigate these claims.”

According to The New Yorker, Ramirez was initially reluctant to talk publicly about the alleged misconduct because she could not recall the entire incident. But she said she spent six days “assessing her memories and consulting with” Garnett and ultimately decided to go public.

The New Yorker reported that Ramirez said “she felt confident enough of her recollections to say that she remembers Kavanaugh had exposed himself at a drunken dormitory party, thrust his penis in her face, and caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away.”

Both were over 18 at the time of the alleged incident.

“I didn’t want any of this,” Ramirez told The New Yorker. “But now I have to speak.”

Ramirez’s allegation is the second publicly made against Kavanaugh in recent weeks as his confirmation hearings near. The Senate Judiciary Committee and attorneys for Dr. Ford – who has accused Kavanaugh of drunkenly groping her, trying to remove her clothes, and covering her mouth while in a bedroom during a gathering in high school a few years before the latest alleged incident happened – have agreed that Ford will testify publicly in front of the full committee on Thursday, though some details are still to be ironed out, both sides said Sunday.

The New Yorker reported that Ramirez said she hoped her story would support that of Ford’s. She and Garnett could not immediately be reached for comment Sunday evening by Denver7.

A message left by Ramirez on her trash can reads: "I have no comment. Please call Stan Garnett, my lawyer ... Thank you for respecting my privacy. Debbie"

Ramirez told The New Yorker that she is “afraid of how this will all come back on me.”

Lisa Calderon, who supervised Deborah Ramirez while she worked for SPAN for several years, heartily defended Ramirez Monday, lauding her integrity and her fair-tempered work with victims.

According to The New Yorker's report, she and Garnett had not decided how to discuss the allegation with the Judiciary Committee and Garnett said they were still evaluating the next steps.

However, he told the publication that they would like to see an FBI investigation into the allegation in order to relay the information to the committee—something Ford also requested.

“She’s as careful and credible a witness as I’ve encountered in thirty-six years of practicing law,” Garnett told The New Yorker, saying he wanted the FBI to “at least check it out” before the committee votes on Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

Denver criminal defense attorney Chris Decker said that the multiple allegations against Kavanaugh have raised more questions. He said that often times, people who have committed sexual misconduct in the past will repeat those tendencies.

“Those of us who prosecuted or defended crimes involving sexual allegations know that it is very common that someone was a sexual offender will not just offend once but will offend multiple times,” Decker said. “So the fact that there are two people making the allegations against this particular Supreme Court nominee doesn’t mean it’s true but certainly raises additional questions.”

Kavanaugh, who has vehemently denied Ford’s allegations, released a new statement Sunday evening regarding the allegations made by Ramirez: “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. I look forward to testifying on Thursday about the truth, and defending my good name—and the reputation for character and integrity I have spent a lifetime building—against these last-minute allegations.”

The White House, which has also staunchly defended Kavanaugh against the accusations made by Ford, said Ramirez’s “uncorroborated claim” was “the latest in a coordinated smear campaign by the Democrats designed to tear down a good man” and said it stood “firmly behind” Kavanaugh.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to committee chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, in which she also said the FBI should investigate Ramirez's claims and called for the "immediate postponement" of proceedings regarding Kavanaugh's nomination.

Kavanaugh sent a new letter to the Judiciary Committee Monday in which he called the allegations “smears, pure and simple” and said “they debase our public discourse.”

“But they are also a threat to any man or woman who wishes to serve our country,” he added. “Such grotesque and obvious character assassination—if allowed to succeed—will dissuade competent and good people of all political persuasions from service.”

He said the “coordinated effort to destroy” his name would not force him to withdraw. “The last minute-character assassination will not succeed,” he added.