On Wednesday, attorney Michael Avenatti revealed a sworn declaration by his client, Julie Swetnick, alleging that, while in high school, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh targeted women for group sexual assault. Swetnick’s horrific allegations, put forth under penalty of perjury, describe “numerous boys” drugging and raping young women in Maryland during the early 1980s. Her declaration contradicts Kavanaugh’s statements while bolstering the accusation of Christine Blasey Ford, who claims a very drunken Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge sexually assaulted her around 1982.
Swetnick’s allegations require a thorough investigation on the part of Maryland authorities. She is alleging nothing less than a conspiracy of sex abuse involving multiple rapists, none of whom, apparently, have faced any punishment for their reported crimes. It’s worth noting that, unlike earlier accusations against Kavanaugh, Swetnick’s story was not vetted by journalists. That makes an investigation all the more necessary. Without one, there will now be a cloud over every male student in a very broad social circle. Swetnick implies that some number of young men were at the very least aware of grave sexual abuse and did not report it. Her allegation cannot be ignored. And if it isn’t true, it should not be allowed to hang over this entire cohort indefinitely. At this point, an investigation isn’t optional.
Swetnick’s declaration recounts alleged behavior on the part of Kavanaugh and others over the course of years. She claims that Kavanaugh and Judge engaged in persistent “inappropriate conduct,” including “the fondling and grabbing of girls without their consent.” Swetnick says that Kavanaugh and Judge would “spike” the punch at house parties with drugs or grain alcohol “to cause girls to lose their inhibitions.” They would, she alleges, “target” specific girls “so they could be taken advantage of.” She then states:
I also witnessed efforts by Mark Judge, Brett Kavanaugh and others to cause girls to become inebriated and disoriented so they could then be “gang raped” in a side room or bedroom by a “train” of numerous boys. I have a firm recollection of seeing boys lined up outside rooms at many of these parties waiting for their “turn” with a girl inside the room. These boys included Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh.
Swetnick reports becoming “the victim of one of these ‘gang’ or ‘train’ rapes” where Judge and Kavanaugh “were present.” Her declaration does not clarify whether they participated in the alleged rape. She alleges she was drugged with Quaaludes “or something similar,” though she makes no claim regarding who may have drugged her.
Here, Swetnick has accused multiple men of rape, attempted rape, and conspiracy to commit rape. Even those men who did not directly participate in the alleged rape could be liable as accomplices depending on the kind of behavior they engaged in. Maryland has no statute of limitations for any felony sex crime, meaning charges could be brought today. These laws reflect an affirmative choice by the Legislature to give victims more time to come forward. It would make no sense to claim that Swetnick, Ford, and others waited too long to report these alleged crimes when Maryland has crafted statutes designed to let them report whenever they choose.
Moreover, Swetnick’s declaration expands the alleged crimes far beyond a single house party on one night in 1982. She asserts that Kavanaugh, Judge, and others engaged in “this conduct” in both Montgomery County, Maryland, and in Ocean City, across the state in Worcester County. Swetnick therefore alleges that these men committed crimes repeatedly, in multiple locations, in at least two jurisdictions within Maryland.
Local authorities in both counties would now seem to be obliged to look into the claims made in Swetnick’s declaration. The Sentinel reported on Monday that government investigators are “looking at allegations made against Kavanaugh during his senior year in high school.” If true, that’s a start. But it’s not enough. Investigators in both Montgomery County and Worcester County should question Kavanaugh, Judge, and others who may be involved about Swetnick’s allegations. They should also speak to Swetnick herself to glean more details, including possible locations and co-conspirators.
It is difficult to see why the men implicated in Swetnick’s statement wouldn’t also want a thorough investigation to exonerate them if they are innocent. Kavanaugh has already said he wants a “fair process,” and only law enforcement is equipped to handle charges of this nature. It is undoubtedly true that, as some Republican senators have noted, Avenatti has his own agenda. The just response, however, is not to disregard his client, but to urge official scrutiny of her claims.