US & Canada

Brett Kavanaugh, Trump's court nominee, faces new sex allegation

US Supreme Court Nominee Judge Kavanaugh during his Senate confirmation hearing in Washington Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Judge Kavanaugh, who is awaiting confirmation, has denied both allegations

A second woman has come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against President Donald Trump's US Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.

Deborah Ramirez, a Yale university classmate of the judge, told the New Yorker that Mr Kavanaugh had exposed his genitals at a dormitory party.

The judge has denied both allegations, labelling the latest "a smear".

The make-up of the nine-judge Supreme Court is crucial as it has the final say on often highly contentious laws.

Before Judge Kavanaugh can take up the vacant seat, he has to be approved by the 21-strong Senate Judiciary Committee and then the whole Senate.

Prof Christine Blasey Ford, who last week came forward alleging Brett Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her in the early 1980s, has agreed to testify before the Senate committee on Thursday.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the committee, called for the "immediate postponement of any further proceedings" relating to Judge Kavanaugh's nomination in an letter sent to the committee's Republican chairman on Sunday evening.

What is the new allegation against Judge Kavanaugh?

Ms Ramirez alleges the incident occurred when she was a freshman at Yale University alongside Judge Kavanaugh during the 1983-4 academic year.

She says they were both taking part in a drinking game at a dormitory party where people sat in a circle and selected others to drink.

She says at one point, a plastic penis was pointed in her direction by one man, and later another exposed himself directly.

"I remember a penis being in front of my face," she said. "I knew that's not what I wanted, even in that state of mind."

Ms Ramirez said she was mocked and taunted when she remarked it wasn't real, and then ended up touching the genitals while attempting to push the man away.

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Media captionWhy it can take sexual assault allegations years to come out

"I wasn't going to touch a penis until I was married," she said, referring to her devout Catholic upbringing. "I was embarrassed and ashamed and humiliated."

She says she remembers Judge Kavanaugh standing to her right and laughing, pulling up his pants.

The article says the 53-year-old acknowledges gaps in her memory caused by alcohol that night, which is said to have made her hesitant to come forward when contacted.

What have other people said about the incident?

The journalists behind the piece, Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer, say they contacted dozens of classmates to try to corroborate Ms Ramirez's account.

Three former students, who were not independent eyewitnesses, recalled being told or discussing the incident in vague terms at the time.

Two males allegedly involved in the incident disputed her account, alongside several other classmates, adding the allegation against Judge Kavanaugh was "completely out of character".

In a statement, the Supreme Court nominee strongly denied the allegation.

"This alleged event from 35 years ago did not happen," he said.

"The people who knew me then know that this did not happen, and have said so.

"This is a smear, plain and simple. I look forward to testifying on Thursday about the truth, and defending my good name - and the reputation for character and integrity I have spent a lifetime building - against these last-minute allegations."

A White House spokeswoman says the administration stands by the nominee, labelling the allegation "the latest in a co-ordinated smear campaign by the Democrats designed to tear a good man down".

The White House then released a further statement highlighting perceived weaknesses and uncertainties within the New Yorker's account.

What are the other allegations?

Prof Ford alleges Judge Kavanaugh tried to drunkenly remove her clothing, pinned her to a bed and covered her mouth at a high school party when she was 15 and he was 17.

Image copyright Unknown
Image caption Lawyers for Christine Blasey Ford have spent days negotiating terms for her testimony

Some Republicans, including President Trump, have accused her and Democratic politicians of deliberately trying to delay and obstruct the judge's confirmation using the allegations.

Michael Avenatti, a US lawyer known for representing adult film actress Stormy Daniels in her cases against President Trump, has alleged on Twitter that he is representing a third woman with "credible information" regarding Judge Kavanaugh and the alleged witness to Prof Ford's assault, Mark Judge.

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