Christine Blasey Ford is set to testify Thursday at a hearing unlike any in several decades. Ford, a professor at Palo Alto University in California, has claimed Judge Brett Kavanaugh attempted to rape her when the two were high school students in the 1980s. Today, she’ll testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee in a hearing that could determine whether the Senate confirms Kavanaugh for a seat on the Supreme Court.
Ford has been in the spotlight since she spoke to The Washington Post for a story published on September 16. What follows is a timeline of her life, from high school in the Washington, D.C. suburbs to academia on the West Coast and an allegation that has brought her and her story to the center of American politics.
Christine Blasey Ford’s Childhood & High School Years
Ford grew up in Maryland and attended Holton-Arms School,, an all-girls preparatory school in Bethesda, Maryland. Holton-Arms School is less than 10 miles from Georgetown Prep, the school Kavanaugh attended during the same time period.
Ford was raised in an affluent Maryland suburb, defined by country club status and largely Republican neighbors; The Washington Post reports that her father belonged to the same exclusively men-only golf club as Kavanaugh’s father, the Burning Tree Club.
Both of Ford’s brothers are lawyers in the D.C. area. Her brothers attended Landon School.
A few friends of Ford spoke to The Washington Post, noting her intellect and dry humor, and that she mostly avoided “drama.” One friend said of Ford’s inner circle, “How do you say this? The pretty, popular girls…It wasn’t like we were a bunch of vapid preppies, but God, we were preppy then.”
In Ford’s yearbook, she quotes the lyrics from several songs, including “Your Song” by Elton John, “Helplessly Hoping” by Crosby, Stills, and Nash, and other Stephen Stills songs. She dedicates her yearbook page to “Mom, Dad, Tom, and Ralph,” and references herself by her nickname, “Chrissy.”
During her high school years, Ford was a cheerleader for Holton-Arms.
Christine Blasey Ford’s College Years & Postgraduate Studies
Ford received her undergraduate degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She then received a Master’s Degree in psychology at Pepperdine University, followed by a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology: Research Design at the University of Southern California. Finally, she received a Master’s in Education from Stanford University.
A friend of Ford’s during her time at UNC said to The Washington Post, “It was not easy for her. She had gone to a very small girls school and now was at a giant state university.”
The Washington Post reports that Ford struggled slightly in college, failing a statistics class and spending much of her time inside with her roommate, Catherine Ricks Piwowarski. Piwowarski said, “In what was a very boisterous university atmosphere, we were not particularly involved in the social life. Our apartment for both of us was kind of a safe place. . . . But we were a bit isolated.”
Ford recalled that she ended up falling into a career researching trauma after a friend gave her a “harsh talk” and told her to pull it together, advising her to study psychology because the major didn’t require classes to be taken in a specific order.
Ford “wholly embraced the So-Cal lifestyle” during her postgraduate years, according to The Washington Post, and even took a one-year internship in Hawaii to finish her PhD.
Ford’s husband would later explain that Ford explicitly moved to the west coast to get away from the “D.C. scene.” He said to The Washington Post, “She didn’t always get along with her parents because of differing political views. It was a very male-dominated environment. Everyone was interested in what’s going on with the men, and the women are sidelined, and she didn’t get the attention or respect she felt she deserved. That’s why she was in California, to get away from the D.C. scene.”
Christine Blasey Ford’s Marriage to Russell Ford & Her Family Life
Ford met her husband on a dating app, according to The Washington Post. Christine Blasey Ford and Russell Biddle Ford were married in 2002 in a ceremony at Half Moon Bay near San Francisco. According to their wedding announcement, they were married in June.
Together, Christine and Russell have two boys, one of whom is 15. To The Washington Post, Russell Ford said that he struggled to explain to his sons what was happening, once Ford stepped out publicly. He said, “I said that Mommy had a story about a Supreme Court nominee, and now it’s broken into the news, and we can’t stay in the house anymore.”
Russell Ford also explained that Ford had struggled with her trauma for several years, and that she panicked when she saw Kavanaugh on the shortlist. He said, “She was like, ‘I can’t deal with this. If he becomes the nominee, then I’m moving to another country. I cannot live in this country if he’s in the Supreme Court.’ She wanted out.”
The rest of Blasey’s family have been far more quiet in the wake of Ford’s claim. Ford’s parents, Paula and Ralph Blasey, are registered Republicans who have not given any show of support publicly for their daughter, though Ralph Blasey did say in a phone call, “I think all of the Blasey family would support her. I think her record stands for itself. Her schooling, her jobs and so on.”
Ford’s mother-in-law said something similar in another phone call with The Washington Post. “All I can tell you is that we love her,” she said. “She has been a wonderful parent and an upstanding citizen, and I’m happy to have her as a daughter-in-law.”
Christine Blasey Ford’s Professional Achievements & Adult Life
Christine Blasey Ford is a professor at Palo Alto University and teaches in consortium with Stanford University. Prior to that, an archive of her LinkedIn reveals that she has been a visiting professor at Pepperdine University, a research psychologist for Stanford University’s Department of Psychiatry, and a professor at the Stanford School Of Medicine Collaborative Clinical Psychology Program.
Ford’s academic work has been widely published across a range of psychological topics, from “Does Gender Moderate the Relationship Between Childhood Maltreatment & Adult Depression?” to “Acupuncture: A Promising Treatment for Depression During Pregnancy.”
Ford has written about the cognitive affect of the September 11 terrorist attacks, too. She and her co-authors wrote, “[Our] findings suggest that there may be a range of traumatic experience most conducive to growth and they also highlight the important contributions of cognitive and coping variables to psychological thriving in short- and longer-term periods following traumatic experience.”
In another article, Ford and her co-authors revealed the effects of meditation with yoga on depressed patients, writing, “Results indicate that significantly more meditation group participants experienced a remission [of depression] than did controls at 9‐month follow‐up.”
Ford also signed a letter along with other health professionals demanding that President Donald Trump stop his controversial family separation policy at the U.S.-Mexico border.
She told The Washington Post she is a registered Democrat and has made small campaign contributions to Democratic organizations. FEC records show that she contributed $10 to the Democratic National Committee, $5 the ActBlue PAC and $27 to Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign via ActBlue in 2017. She also contributed $35 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and $3.50 to ActBlue in 2014.
Christine Blasey Ford’s Allegations Against Brett Kavanaugh & Plans to Testify
Here is a complete timeline of events that transpired from the moment Ford wrote her now-famous letter to Rep. Anna Eshoo to the moment she stood before the Senate Judiciary Committe:
‘Early’ July: Ford Sends a Tip to The Washington Post
Ford contacts The Washington Post via a tipline when she sees that Kavanaugh is shortlisted for the Supreme Court nomination. She then declines to speak on the record for several weeks, as she grapples with the gravity of the implications of her speaking out.
July 9: Trump Announces Brett Kavanaugh’s Nomination
Trump announces that Kavanaugh is his nominee for the Supreme Court vacancy left by Anthony Kennedy.
July 20: Ford Writes Letter to Her Congresswoman
Ford sends a letter to Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) detailing her claim against Kavanaugh, and the two meet in person for over an hour and a half to discuss the letter.
Eshoo said to Mercury News of the meeting, She was obviously intelligent. She seems like the person next door — well, the professor next door.”
July 30: Senator Dianne Feinstein Receives Ford’s Letter
Eshoo ensured that Ford’s letter was hand-delivered to Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s office on July 30. In what has now been described as a controversial move, Feinstein decides to honor Ford’s wishes with keeping her identity anonymous, and won’t submit the letter to the FBI for another six weeks.
August 7: Ford Secretly Takes a Polygraph Test
In the first week of August, Ford quietly received counsel from lawyer Debra Katz, a prominent #MeToo lawyer, who advised that she take a polygraph examination regarding her claim.
The polygraph examination occurs on August 7, with former FBI special agent Jeremiah Hanafin.
September 4-7: Kavanaugh’s Confirmation Hearing Occurs
Kavanaugh’s confirmation takes place and is completed. Though a series of controversial moments occur, there is not yet public knowledge of Ford’s allegations.
September 12: Feinstein Sends Ford’s Letter to the FBI
Feinstein sends Ford’s letter to the FBI after rumors of its existence have been circulating for several days. The bureau adds the letter to Kavanaugh’s file, but does not launch a criminal investigation, largely because the statute of limitations has expired.
September 16: Ford Goes on Record With The Washington Post
After fearing that her name would be leaked against her consent, Ford finally decides to go on the record with The Washington Post, and her bombshell story is published.
Kavanaugh immediately denies the allegations by Ford, and makes his first of many statements: “I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time.”
September 17: Kavanaugh’s Vote Is Delayed as the Senate Judiciary Committee Works With Ford’s Legal Team to Schedule a Hearing
The scheduled confirmation vote on Kavanaugh for September 21 is delayed by Chairman Chuck Grassley. It is announced that the SJC will hear from Ford and Kavanaugh about the sexual assault allegations.
Ford’s lawyers and the SJC will go back and forth for several days, leaving it up to public debate whether Ford will appear for the hearing at all.
September 23: Ford Agrees to Testify
Ford finally agrees to testify before the SJC in a public hearing. Later on that day, The New Yorker publishes a story revealing a second sexual assault allegation against Kavanaugh by Deborah Ramirez, who claims he swung his penis in her face.
September 24: Kavanaugh Says He Will ‘Not Be Intimidated’, Ford Says Her ‘Fear Will Not Hold Her Back’
Kavanaugh writes a letter to Grassley and Feinstein confirming that he will not withdraw. The letter reads in part, “The coordinated effort to destroy my good name will not drive me out. The vile threats of violence against my family will not drive me out. The last-minute character assassination will not succeed.”
Later that day, Ford sent a letter to Grassley which was obtained by CNN. The letter read in part, “While I am frightened, please know, my fear will not hold me back from testifying and you will be provided with answers to all of your questions. I ask for fair and respectful treatment.”
September 26: Ford’s Lawyers Submit Four Sworn Affidavits Backing Ford’s Story Up
Ford’s lawyers submit four sworn affidavits backing up her claim against Kavanaugh, including her husband, Russell Ford, as well as three other witnesses. The witnesses include Adela Gildo-Mazzon, Rebecca White, and Keith Koegler, all of whom were told by Ford about the assault in previous years.