Jim Gensheimer is a friend of Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who has come forward and claimed that Brett Kavanaugh tried to sexually assault her in high school. Gensheimer says that in July, Ford told him and a few others about the alleged assault last summer at a restaurant by the beach. Ford talked about feeling unsure of what to do about Kavanaugh, and about feeling torn over whether or not to go public. Gensheimer says Ford also talked about her memory of that night, back in high school, admitting that she might not be sure of everything about her encounter with Kavanaugh.
Here’s what you need to know about Jim Gensheimer:
1. He Says Ford Was Worried About Her Memory, & Worried About the Media Being ‘All Over Her’ If She Went Public About Kavanaugh
Ford apparently told three of her closest friends — Jim Gensheimer, Rebecca White, and Kirsten Leimroth — about her encounter with Kavanaugh last summer, when the four friends were at a restaurant by the beach. Ford’s kids were taking part in the junior lifeguards program. Rebecca White was one of Ford’s neighbors; Kirsten Leimroth had children in the same lifeguard program that Ford’s children were in. It is not clear how, exactly, Gensheimer and Ford knew each other. But multiple news reports confirm his account that they were old friends.
Gensheimer said Ford expressed concern over her memory of the encounter — not that she wasn’t sure whether the enounter itself happened, but because she wasn’t sure she’d be able to remember every little detail of the encounter. “I’ve been trying to forget this all my life, and now I’m supposed to remember every little detail,” Gensheimer said Ford told him.“They’re going to be all over me,” she added.
2. Gensheimer Described Ford As an ‘Honest Person’ Whose Life Was Forever Changed by the Alleged Assault
Gersheimer told CNN that he’s known Ford for eight years and that he completely trusts her account of her encounter with Kavanaugh. Gensheimer said Ford is “a devoted mother and teacher, and a woman of true integrity.” He stressed that he has no reason not to believe her story about the alleged assault.
Gensheimer said that he knows that Ford feels the need to always have more than one exit door in her bedroom — in order to avoid feeling trapped. He said that this, and other things which he didn’t want to get into, are evidence that the Ford’s life was forever changed by her encounter with Kavanaugh. He also told the LA Times that he remembered Ford deciding not to buy a certain home that didn’t have a second door to the master bedroom.
3. Gensheimer is a Freelance Photographer Who Once Worked for the Mercury News
Gensheimer spent more than 33 years working as a staff photographer for the San Jose Mercury News before going freelance. He drew on his years as a journalist to try and explain to Ford what she could expect if she decided to come forward to the press. Gensheimer adviced Ford about how much information newspapers would want from her in order to grant her anonymity.
Gensheimer’s LinkedIn page says that while working for the Mercury News, he covered Super Bowls, baseball playoffs, and the Olympics. He covered high-profile stories like President Clinton’s visit to Asia, Pope John Paul II’s visit to California, and the rise of gang activity in San José. And het raveled extensively in Asia covering elections in the Philippines, the riots in Indonesia, and the earthquake in Taiwan. He was the first American newspaper photographer allowed entry into North Korea since the end of the Korean war.
You can see Gensheimer’s photography here.
4. He Has Published a Book of Photos of Vietnam
In 2000, Gensheimer published a book titled Pain and Grace: A Journey Through Vietnam.
The book, based on six visits Gensheimer paid to the country, is focused on the plight of refugees returning home to Vietnam and encountering troubles along the way. Gensheimer first traveled to Vietnam in 1987 with the Mercury News.
In an interview, Gensheimer said, “I wanted to make a book that told the story of Vietnam returning to normal and opening to the West.” He added, “The theme of pain and grace developed as I returned to Vietnam several times. There is the pain of personal loss and suffering caused by the war. And there is the grace of the land and its people.”
5. Gensheimer Graduated from Western Kentucky University
Gensheimer majored in photojournalism and in government; he earned his BA from Western Kentucky University in 1983. He later earned an MA in photography from Ohio University, and went on to be awarded a Knight Fellowship at Ohio University, where he spent a year teaching.
Gensheimer joined the Mercury News in 1984.