Christine Blasey Ford’s friend, student say she’s “terrified” but has a “commitment to truth”
Christine Blasey Ford has been a mentor to Samantha Buchman since she was her statistics teacher at PGSP-Stanford Psy.D. Consortium, a doctoral-level training program in clinical psychology run jointly by Palo Alto and Stanford universities. Ford told Buchman to always look at the evidence before coming to a conclusion.
“Do your due diligence,” said Buchman, who these days counsels those with eating disorders at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medicine. “You need to know all the data and the full picture, then make the best decision.”
Buchman, 32, who studied in the doctoral program from 2012 to 2017, was nervous ahead of Ford’s testimony on Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, where she will speak about her experience with Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Buchman said she is hoping the all-male committee will also weigh the evidence against Kavanaugh and believe Ford.
Ford “has a commitment to the truth and her values pushed her to make her story known,” Buchman said.
“She knows how grueling it will be. But she is prepared. I have faith in her and her decision-making. Hopefully, she has sage counsel and a good support network.”
Ford says a drunken Kavanaugh assaulted her while they were attending private high schools in Maryland in 1982, while a friend watched on. She alleges he forced her onto a bed, groping her and trying to pull off her clothes. Ford has said she was afraid he would rape her. Kavanaugh denies all the allegations, and even appeared with his wife on Fox News on Monday night. Since, he has acknowledged his own bad behavior during his teenage years but, “never sexual assault,” he said.
Another friend of Ford, Samantha Guerry, will testify before the judiciary committee hearing. She tells NBC’s Today that Ford “is terrified, but she’s spent quite a bit of time centering herself and she is fierce and determined and undaunted, so we shouldn’t underestimate her. When she shows up this morning she’ll be ready.”
“She’s doing it because it’s her civic duty,” Guerry told Today. “It was never her intention to put her family and friends and community through this. Her intention was to bring this forward in a responsible way to make sure that it was duly considered as part of this vetting process for Judge Kavanaugh.”
On Wednesday, USA Today reported that Ford’s attorney submitted four sworn and signed declarations from her husband Russell and three other friends, whom she had told about the alleged sex assault.
Meanwhile, other accusers have come forward. Deborah Ramirez said Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a drunken party while they were at Yale together in the 1983 to 1984 school year and pushed his genitals in her face. Julie Swetnick, who attended Gaithersburg High School in Maryland, said she went to more than 10 parties with boys from Kavanaugh’s prep school.
“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,” Swetnick told the New York Times. “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.”
Since she was thrust into the spotlight, many have criticized Ford for having a political agenda or seeking the spotlight. But Samantha Buchman says her teacher “didn’t care about recognition — only about learning.”
Buchman says she knew Ford for her first full year in the doctoral program and then relied on her mentor later while writing her dissertation.
“She was very helpful to me preparing for my dissertation,” Buchman said. “We met weekly. … I knew her well as a student, as a colleague and as a friend.”
When Buchman approached her teacher for help with her dissertation and offered acknowledgement if it was published, Ford told her, “That’s too complicated. I’d be happy to do it, and not formally be named.”
“She didn’t care about recognition, only my learning,” Buchman said. “The accolades didn’t matter.”
When the news first broke of Ford’s accusation, Buchman was contacted by media for comment and emailed her statistics professor. “Like most of my colleagues, I hesitated,” she said. “I didn’t know what she would want. I told her I 100% supported her and didn’t want to be anything but helpful.”
Ford responded with a simple, “‘Thank you so much,’” according to Buchman. “I got the sense she was overwhelmed.”
Since then Ford has said she has received death threats. But many friends, colleagues and students of Ford have been hesitant to speak out, says Buchman. “They are strongly in support of Christine,” but are hesitant to speak on her behalf. “But I am happy to speak in support of her.”
“It’s a hazard in our field,” she said. “We are used to keeping things confidential. Not wanting to say anything that we would worry about or that she wouldn’t want us to speak.”
Some have privately said they fear death threats or professional reprisal, according to off-the-record interviews with Mic.
Buchman says that Ford was always incredibly laid back. “She was a very down to Earth person and teacher,” she said. “What’s unique about her, is she is very much herself all the time, not her persona as a professor. She is very honest and straightforward no matter what role she is in.”
Ford also had a “good sense of humor,” Buchman said. She was a big sports fan. “She used her references to sports as metaphors for statistics.”
Buchman says she is nervous for Ford or for any woman in that position.
“She has been so brave, putting herself on the line. But I don’t think it’s going to make a lick of difference in the end,” she said.
“But if anyone can handle it... She is incredibly bright and smart and presents at national conferences. She has given testimony at drug trials and testified in Washington in the past. I have faith in her. But I worry for the fate of America.”
The alleged assault had a “lasting impact on her marriage and personal life,” Buchman said. “It’s been something she was deeply troubled by. She realized this person [Kavanaugh] might have a prominent place in our judicial system and realized it was important to speak up.”