Kavanaugh Says the Claims Against Him Are “Uncorroborated.” Legally Speaking, That’s Not True.

The claims by at least two women do come with evidence to back them up.

Brett Kavanaugh on the first day of his confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 5Christy Bowe/ZUMA

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

On Thursday, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh will testify under oath that the charges of sexual misconduct against him are “false and uncorroborated.” That’s according to his prepared statement, which was posted online Wednesday by the Senate Judiciary Committee. “Eleven days ago, Dr. Ford publicly accused me of committing a serious wrong more than 36 years ago when we were both in high school,” he will state, adding, “Over the past few days, other false and uncorroborated accusations have been aired.”

For someone applying for the top legal job in the country, this statement is ambiguous at best and incorrect at worst. Legally speaking, the allegation by Christine Blasey Ford of an assault in the early 1980s is corroborated, as are later claims by Deborah Ramirez, who has alleged a second assault in which Kavanaugh thrust his penis in her face during a dorm room party when they were both attending Yale University.

It’s unclear—perhaps purposefully so—whether Kavanaugh’s statement applies to Ford as well as Ramirez. It may also be intended to include Julie Swetnick, who came forward Wednesday morning with allegations of sexual assault in the 1980s. But Ford and Ramirez’s allegations both come with what attorneys typically call corroboration. “To call these allegations uncorroborated, is wrong, since contemporaneous statements of a victim are one of the best guarantees of truthfulness,” Joyce Vance, a former US attorney in Alabama, told Mother Jones in an email. Ford, she noted, told people, including her therapist, about the assault years before Kavanaugh was nominated to the Supreme Court. 

Corroboration does not have to prove guilt or innocence beyond a reasonable doubt. “Some corroborative evidence is very good, while other is of lesser quality,” Vance wrote. “It can even be the case that multiple pieces of information, that in and of themselves would not suffice, can form more solid corroboration when taken as a whole.”

Laurie Levenson, an expert in criminal law and evidence at Loyola Law School, also said Kavanaugh’s use of the term “uncorroborated” was incorrect as a legal term. Accounts by Ramirez’s Yale classmates that they had heard about her attack decades ago, and even statements about Kavanaugh’s general behavior when drinking while in college, are all forms of corroboration. “I think words are being used now just for political purposes and not at all how we would legally use those terms,” she said. 

THE TRUTH IS...

what drives Mother Jones' team of 50-plus journalists. The truth is powerful, as evidenced by how hard those with something to hide, or profit to gain, seek to discredit it. The truth, stated boldly and reported meticulously, is what draws so many readers to Mother Jones.

And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

It's not, and if you can right now, please consider a year-end donation to support our team's fearless nonprofit journalism so we can close that big fundraising gap and finish the year strong, ready for all that's ahead in 2021. Whether you can give $5 or $500, it all matters in keeping us charging hard, and we'd be grateful.

payment methods

THE TRUTH IS...

what drives Mother Jones' team of 50-plus journalists. The truth is powerful, as evidenced by how hard those with something to hide, or profit to gain, seek to discredit it. The truth, stated boldly and reported meticulously, is what draws so many readers to Mother Jones.

And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

It's not, and if you can right now, please consider a year-end donation to support our team's fearless nonprofit journalism so we can close that big fundraising gap and finish the year strong, ready for all that's ahead in 2021. Whether you can give $5 or $500, it all matters in keeping us charging hard, and we'd be grateful.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate