WASHINGTON (CN) – The sexual-misconduct whispers surrounding Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh involve an encounter the judge is said to have had as a teen in high school, according to Friday reporting from The New Yorker.
The news follows a statement Thursday from Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., that she forwarded information she received about Kavanaugh to federal authorities. The White House on Thursday called the allegations, the specifics of which Feinstein did not disclose, an “11th hour” attempt to sink Kavanaugh’s nomination.
According to the New Yorker, Kavanaugh’s accuser says Kavanaugh “held her down, and that he attempted to force himself on her” at a party.
The accuser went to school not far from Georgetown Preparatory School, where Kavanaugh, 53, attended high school, and has reportedly “sought psychological treatment” over the attack.
Though she says she managed to escape, the woman says that during the attack Kavanaugh and a classmate turned up music to “conceal the sound of her protests,” and that he “covered her mouth with his hand.”
Kavanaugh denied the report. “I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation,” he told The New Yorker. “I did not do this back in high school or at any time.”
The White House did not immediately return a request for comment.
Feinstein has not confirmed that the woman described in the New Yorker’s story is the same one who confided in her about Kavanaugh. A spokesman for the senator said Feinstein handled the information the way she did to ensure the accuser’s anonymity.
Senator Chuck Grassley, the Iowa Republican who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, has scheduled a committee vote on Kavanaugh for Sept. 20.
Grassley’s communications adviser, Garrett Ventry, said in a Twitter post Friday afternoon that the committee will still vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination next Thursday.
Shortly after the New Yorker story was published, the Judiciary Committee sent out a letter from 65 women who knew Kavanaugh in high school attesting to his character during his time at Georgetown Prep.
“Through the more than 35 years we have known him, Brett has stood out for his friendship, character and integrity,” the letter states. “In particular, he has always treated women with decency and respect. That was true when he was in high school and it has remained true to this day.”
Conn Carroll, a spokesman for Judiciary Committee member Senator Mike Lee, said in a statement the allegations have “absolutely zero impact” on Kavanaugh’s nomination going forward
“This letter is incredibly unfair to Judge Kavanaugh and only shows how low and desperate Democrats have become,” Carroll said in the statement.
Republicans on the Judiciary Committee downplayed the allegations, saying they should not delay the vote next week on Kavanaugh’s nomination.
Senator Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican who sits on the committee, called the allegations “wholly unverifiable.”
“I do not intend to allow Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation to be stalled because of an 11th hour accusation that Democrats did not see fit to raise for over a month,” Hatch said in a statement. “The senator in the best position to determine the credibility of these accusations made the conscious decision not to take action on them and the authorities to whom the accusations have been referred have decided not to take action either. Judge Kavanaugh has denied these accusations categorically, the only other potential witness has no recollection of the alleged event and now 65 women who knew Brett in high school have come forward as witnesses of his strong character.”