Elizabeth Vierkant – 

A testimony regarding sexual assault allegations was given by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.  These allegations regarded Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. It occurred on September 27, 2018.

In court, Dr. Ford gave her statement, stating that the alleged sexual assault occurred thirty-six years ago. She and Kavanaugh were in high school at the time. Kavanaugh denied these allegations in his own statement.

This case has created quite the controversy throughout the nation, including on campus at the University of Wisconsin–Stout.

“It was very clear that [Dr. Ford] is credible, professional, and poised. [Her statement] could not have been a better testimony under terrible conditions,” said Rickie Ann Legleitner, head of the women and gender studies minor at UW–Stout. “It’s horrific that Dr. Ford had to go through the process of being re-traumatized, not just in a court setting, but on an international platform.”

Dr. Ford requested an investigation regarding her allegations. Following the testimony, it was decided that a week-long FBI investigation on Kavanaugh would follow. Legleitner personally believes that one week wasn’t enough time.

These testimonies from Dr. Ford and Kavanaugh were both given at Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing. This is a process held by the United States Senate to determine whether or not a candidate that was nominated by the President is fit for a high federal job.

“This is a job interview from one of the most powerful, important offices you can hold in our country. I get that these are personal accusations, but as a judge, I wish he would have remained more impartial and more open about hearing Dr. Ford,” said Legleitner. “Whether these accusations are true or not, this is someone that I’m not comfortable with sitting on the Supreme Court.”

Prior to the confirmation hearing, Dr. Ford took a polygraph test which is better known as a lie-detector test and passed. Brett Kavanaugh denied the opportunity to take one himself.

On October sixth, Kavanaugh was confirmed by the Senate to the Supreme Court in a vote of 50-48. He will replace the retired Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.

Following the vote, a protest against Kavanaugh’s confirmation occurred on the steps of the Supreme Court building. 164 people were arrested.

Legleitner was asked why she believes this case has made such an impact. “The #MeToo movement has given some nice momentum, and I think that people have started to speak out more openly. I think social media has really empowered that,” she said. “I think that because women can see just the sheer numbers of people coming forward. I think that can be really, really empowering.”

This case has created quite the controversy throughout the nation, including on campus at the University of Wisconsin-Stout.

“To be honest, [this case] is kind of unfair. Judges have been out of line. If something bad occurs, it’s their job to put those people behind bars,” said Shawn Lee, a junior majoring in human development and family studies.

Andrew Larsen, a senior in the computer networking and information technology program, said, “[These allegations] seem like a lot of defamation, trying to bring [Kavanaugh] down. I don’t really know what he stands for, but if they had evidence, I’d believe [Dr.Ford] more.”

“If someone recollects sexual assault happening, I think they’re right,” said Jordan Carpenter, a freshman in the apparel design program. “”Even if they can’t remember everything, the trauma is still there. I believed her.”

Legleitner believes that with more education, many issues regarding sexual assault could be avoided in the future.

“I know in my own women and gender studies course, it was really upsetting that students didn’t have conversations about consent before they came to Stout,” Legleitner said. “I would like to see [consent] handled from the very start of our education. Let’s have sexual education for one: that’s honest, but two: that also addresses consent.”

With this added sex education, Legleitner hopes that more awareness will be brought to sexual assault and the people that it affects.

“The statistics [of sexual assault] just keep getting higher and higher and higher, and I think this is just because women keep coming forward,” said Legleitner. “Most women blame themselves, or women don’t understand they were actually assaulted until years later. It’s really becoming obvious how pervasive this problem is.”

If you or anyone you know has dealt with sexual violence and is in need of help, please feel free to contact The Bridge to Hope. They can be reached through a call at 1-800-924-9918 or a text at 715-505-3640. These are 24-hour hotlines for those dealing with abuse and sexual assault.

Feel free to also contact UW–Stout’s counseling center at 715-232-2468. They are currently located in 410 Bowman Hall.

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