Law & the Courts

Washington Post Heard of New Kavanaugh Allegation Last Year, Opted Not to Publish

The Washington Post Company building in Washington, D.C. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

The Washington Post said Monday that it had heard last year of the sexual-assault allegation against Justice Brett Kavanaugh published by the New York Times this past weekend, but opted not to publish the claim over concerns that it was too thinly sourced.

On Sunday, the Times walked back its reporting on the new allegation, updating a bombshell article to clarify that the alleged victim has no memory of the incident.

The opinion essay by Times reporters Robin Pogrebin and  offers a taste of their upcoming book The Education of Brett Kavanaugh: An Investigation, and details several sexual-assault allegations against Kavanaugh, including a claim by his Yale classmate Deborah Ramirez that made headlines during his acrimonious confirmation process. Ramirez said Kavanaugh had thrust his penis in her face at a drunken college party, causing her to push it away and accidentally touch it.

The article also reveals a previously unreported alleged incident similar to the Ramirez allegation. Another Yale classmate, Max Stier, who now heads a Washington nonprofit, told Congress and the FBI last year that he witnessed Kavanaugh “with his pants down at a different drunken dorm party, where friends pushed his penis into the hand of a female student.” The FBI did not investigate that allegation.

After its original publication, the Times added a correction to the story stating that “the female student declined to be interviewed and friends say that she does not recall the incident.”

The Post appears to have encountered a similar situation when it first heard of the claim.

The Post last year confirmed that two intermediaries had relayed such a claim to lawmakers and the FBI,” the paper said in an article. “The Post did not publish a story in part because the intermediaries declined to identify the alleged witness and because the woman who was said to be involved declined to comment.”

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