The nation was glued to Christine Blasey Ford’s powerful testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday — and many viewers immediately showed their support by opening their wallets.
As of noon Friday, two GundFundMe campaigns had raised more than $683,609 to help 51-year-old Ford, who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were in high school. (Kavanaugh denied the accusations in the weeks leading up to his fiery and often combative testimony on Thursday.)
Discussing her polygraph and legal fees during the hearing, the research psychologist and professor at Palo Alto University said, “I’m aware that there’s been several GoFundMe sites that I haven’t had a chance to figure out how to manage those, because I’ve never had one done for me.”
Rachel Mitchell, the longtime Arizona sex crimes prosecutor hired by Senate Republicans to lead the questioning, asked for clarification, prompting Ford to say, “GoFundMe sites that have raised money, primarily for our security detail. So I’m not even quite sure how to collect that money or — and how to distribute it yet. I haven’t been able to focus on that.”
Those comments led to more than $200,000 in donations to the “Help Christine Blasey Ford” campaign, which the New York Times noted Thursday is “more money than it had gained in the past eight days.”
The campaign is no longer accepting donations, having raised $473,622 of its initial $150,000 goal with donations from 10,370 people in nine days.
“New donations will go towards security and other expenses determined by the [Ford] family,” explained the campaign organizer, who says they set up the campaign on behalf of the Fords. “We will close the campaign when we have raised enough to cover these expenses. Thank you again for your support.”
A second campaign, “Cover Dr. Blasey’s security costs,” raised $209,987 of its $175,000 goal with donations from 6,658 people in nine days.
“Due to death threats, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford (who uses “Dr. Blasey” professionally) and her family have had to leave their residence and arrange for private security,” wrote the campaign organizer. “Let’s create a fund to cover her security expenses, to do just a bit to make it easier for women in her position to come forward despite great risks. If we raise more than Dr. Blasey needs, extra funds will go to women’s organizations and/or into an account to cover similar costs incurred in comparable situations.”
“I do not know Dr. Blasey personally but will contact her via her former high school, Holton Arms, to inform her of this fundraising appeal and to make arrangements to transfer funds to Dr. Blasey,” explained the organizer. “I am a professor of law at Georgetown University who has raised money formally and informally for other causes over the years. My reason for starting this fundraiser is to make concrete the power of collective action in providing security, and therefore support, for Dr. Blasey’s willingness to contribute to a thorough, fair vetting of a nominee for Supreme Court Justice.”
Ford discussed the threats at the hearing on Thursday, saying, “My greatest fears have been realized — and the reality has been far worse than what I expected. My family and I have been the target of constant harassment and death threats. I have been called the most vile and hateful names imaginable. These messages, while far fewer than the expressions of support, have been terrifying to receive and have rocked me to my core.”
She added: “People have posted my personal information on the internet. This has resulted in additional emails, calls and threats. My family and I were forced to move out of our home. Since Sept. 16, my family and I have been living in various secure locales, at times separate and at times together, with the help of security guards. This past Tuesday evening, my work email account was hacked and messages were sent out supposedly recanting my description of the sexual assault.”
“Apart from the assault itself, these last couple of weeks have been the hardest of my life,” Ford continued. “I have had to relive my trauma in front of the entire world, and I have seen my life picked apart by people on television, on Twitter, social media, other media, and in this body who have never met me or spoken with me.”
Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, in his own opening statement, equated Ford and Kavanaugh’s ordeals. “Both Kavanaugh and Ford have been through a terrible couple of weeks. Both of them and their families have received vile threats,” Grassley said.
Ford claims that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a high school party in the 1980s, where he allegedly pinned her down to a bed, groped her and tried to remove her clothes. Kavanaugh has denied the allegations.
After Ford came forward with her claims in an interview with The Washington Post, Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault by a second woman on Sunday. Deborah Ramirez, 53, told The New Yorker that when she and Kavanaugh were freshmen at Yale University, he allegedly exposed his penis, put it in her face and “caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away.”
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Kavanaugh has also denied the additional allegations. In an interview with Fox News on Sunday, he said, “I never sexually assaulted anyone. I did not have sexual intercourse or anything close to sexual intercourse in high school or for many years thereafter. The girls from the schools I went to and I were friends.”
Then on Wednesday, a third accuser, Julie Swetnick, claimed that Kavanaugh attended a high school party at which she was allegedly gang-raped, according to her lawyer Michael Avenatti’s tweet. She does not allege in the affidavit that Kavanaugh raped her, or that he raped anyone else. She also claimed she witnessed efforts by Kavanaugh “to cause girls to become inebriated and disoriented so they could be ‘gang raped’ by a train of numerous boys.”
Kavanaugh denied Swetnick’s allegations in a statement on Wednesday, saying, “This is ridiculous and from The Twilight Zone. I don’t know who this is and this never happened.”
If you or someone you care about is affected by sexual violence, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).