WASHINGTON — The woman who has accused Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her more than 30 years ago has come forward, saying that during a high school party a drunken Mr. Kavanaugh pinned her on a bed, groped her and covered her mouth to keep her from screaming.
“I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” the woman, Christine Blasey Ford, a 51-year-old research psychologist at Palo Alto University in Northern California, said in an interview with The Washington Post. “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”
Judge Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, has flatly denied the accusations in statements issued through the White House. On Friday, as word of the accusations began to circulate but his accuser’s identity was not publicly known, the White House released a letter from 65 women who said they knew Judge Kavanaugh in high school and could attest to his character.
But now Ms. Ford’s decision to put her name behind the accusations — made after weeks of reluctance — has quickly intensified the push by Democrats to delay Judge Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation vote. The Post’s article included an interview with Ms. Ford’s husband and her lawyer, Debra Katz, and described a therapist’s notes from 2012 in which Ms. Ford told of the attack.
Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee said Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination should be delayed so that Ms. Ford’s accusations could be investigated. However, Republicans on the committee planned on Sunday afternoon to move forward with a scheduled Thursday vote on the nomination, barring additional corroboration of Ms. Ford’s account or the emergence of a new allegation.
Ms. Ford’s account has also been detailed in a confidential letter that Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, has shared with the F.B.I. She disclosed its existence on Thursday.
Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill were blindsided by The Post’s report, having believed that the woman would probably remain anonymous. Most lawmakers have yet to read the letter Ms. Feinstein sent to the F.B.I., and Senate aides and lawmakers were privately weighing the implications of Ms. Ford’s interview.
Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa and the Judiciary Committee chairman, said in a statement on Sunday that if Ms. Feinstein had taken the allegations against Judge Kavanaugh seriously, she should have brought them up much earlier. “It raises a lot of questions about Democrats’ tactics and motives to bring this to the rest of the committee’s attention only now,” Mr. Grassley said.
The New York Times published an account of the letter on Friday. In her interview with The Post, Ms. Ford offered further detail, saying that one summer in the early 1980s, Mr. Kavanaugh and a friend, both “stumbling drunk,” led her into a bedroom at a home in Montgomery County, Md., in suburban Washington, where teenagers had gathered.
The woman was wearing a bathing suit under her clothes. While his friend watched, the woman said, Mr. Kavanaugh pinned her down, grinding his body against hers and trying to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she wore over it.
She said she was able to escape when Mr. Kavanaugh’s friend, Mark Judge, jumped on top of them, sending all three tumbling. She told The Post that she ran from the room, briefly locked herself in a bathroom and then fled the house.
In the interview, Ms. Ford said the lasting trauma from the attack had “derailed me substantially for four or five years,” and had caused anxiety for years after that.
Judge Kavanaugh, in a statement released last week, said: “I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time.”
Until now, Judge Kavanaugh has been widely viewed as on a glide path toward confirmation, and it is unclear whether Ms. Ford’s account will change that.
Ms. Feinstein — who has been criticized for publicizing the existence of letter at the last minute, after Judge Kavanaugh had already undergone two days of intense questioning in his hearings — called on Sunday for the Senate to give the F.B.I. time to investigate, and said she supported Ms. Ford’s decision to share her story.
In a statement, she called the accusations “extremely serious” and said they “bear heavily on Judge Kavanaugh’s character.” And she urged critics of his accuser to stop “the attacks and stop shaming her.”
“It has always been Mrs. Ford’s decision whether to come forward publicly. For any woman, sharing an experience involving sexual assault — particularly when it involves a politically connected man with influence, authority and power — is extraordinarily difficult,” the senator wrote.
Nicholas Fandos and Peter Baker contributed reporting.