Keyser said she didn’t recognize Kavanaugh from high-school photos. She did recognize and remember Judge, whom she said she had dated once or twice and bumped into at a recovery meeting in Potomac in the mid-aughts. It is possible that Ford’s account is wrong and that Keyser’s lack of recollection is proof of that. But experts say that many memories of insignificant people and places in our lives aren’t stored. In the months after the confirmation battle, Keyser continued to appear perturbed by her unexpected role in it, indicating in a text message to one of us late in March that she believed she was being surveilled at home, possibly by people related to the Kavanaugh matter.
We looked for the house where Ford alleges the assault happened; Ford has said it was located somewhere between hers, in Potomac, and the Columbia Country Club. She has described the layout: barely furnished, containing an upstairs level, and, perhaps most critically, featuring a narrow set of stairs with walls on both sides. She said that Judge in particular seemed possessive of the place, suggesting that it belonged to him, a friend, or a relation.
Working with those parameters, we looked for family members whose house Judge might have accessed, with or without its inhabitants’ permission. We ruled out his older siblings, who, according to his brother, Michael, were not living in that area at that time. We also ruled out his grandmother, who had lived on the Washington side of Chevy Chase, with her adult daughter, Anita—Mark and Michael’s aunt. The two women rarely went out in those days, according to Michael. (The layout of that house, which was sold years ago and was recently rented by Mike Pence before he became vice president, also didn’t match.)
Eventually, we generated a short list of two possibilities, one belonging to a Judge family friend in Potomac and the other to a Georgetown Prep classmate in Bethesda. Both houses have been renovated, and floor plans and other housing documents in Montgomery County from before 1986 are scarce. Ultimately, because the houses’ layouts from 1982 couldn’t be firmly established, Ford could not make clear determinations on whether either resembled the one she remembered.
Using Martha’s common-sense test, the claims of Deborah Ramirez, while not proven by witnesses, also ring true to us. Ramirez, who was a Yale classmate of Kavanaugh’s, said he drunkenly thrust his penis at her during a party in their freshman-year dormitory, Lawrance Hall. The people who allegedly witnessed the event—Kavanaugh’s friends Kevin Genda, David Todd, and David White—have kept mum about it. Kavanaugh has denied it. If such an incident had occurred, Kavanaugh said, it would have been the “talk of campus.”
Our reporting suggests that, in fact, it was. At least five people have a strong recollection of hearing about the alleged incident with Ramirez long before Kavanaugh was a federal judge. Their Yale classmates Kenneth Appold and Richard Oh recall hearing about it immediately after it happened. Ramirez’s mother, Mary Ann LeBlanc, recalls being told about it by her daughter—without specifics—during Ramirez’s college years. Michael Wetstone, a graduate-school classmate of Appold in religious studies, recalls being told about the incident by Appold within a few years of when it allegedly happened. A fifth person—an unidentified friend of Ramirez’s who said in a recent affidavit that she’d heard about the incident in the 1990s—remembers being told about it within a decade of its alleged occurrence. And two other people from Kavanaugh and Ramirez’s Yale class, Chad Ludington and James Roche, vaguely remember hearing about something happening to Ramirez during freshman year.