Opinion

What Michael Avenatti’s New Client Doesn’t Say About Kavanaugh Is Legally Significant

Michael Avenatti has released a statement from his client, Julie Swetnick, where she describes how Brett Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge allegedly had a habit of getting girls drunk at parties and acting inappropriately. The most extreme part of the statement alleges that Kavanaugh and Judge had a history of bringing intoxicated girls into another room where they would be “gang raped” by a “train” of boys. At first glance, the statement is incredibly troubling for what it alleges. A closer look shows that’s it’s also troubling for what it doesn’t say.

Swetnick says a lot of alarming things in her statement. She states that while attending these parties from 1981 to 1983, she found out that Kavanaugh and Judge allegedly spiked the punch, which she then avoided. She says she saw lines of boys outside rooms, supposedly to participate in these alleged gang rapes, and that she saw Kavanaugh and Judge on the line. She also says that she was once the victim of one of these gang rapes after someone slipped something into her drink at a party.

What Swetnick does not say, however, is also important. She doesn’t say how she knows about Kavanaugh and Judge allegedly spiking the punch. She does not say that Kavanaugh was the one who spiked her drink. She does not say when her alleged rape took place, simply saying that it was “In approximately 1982,” the same year that Kavanaugh is alleged to have assaulted Christine Blasey Ford. She also does not say that Kavanaugh himself raped her or did anything to her, or did anything to anyone else.

With regards to her own ordeal, Swetnick said, “In approximately 1982, I became the victim of one of these ‘gang’ or ‘train’ rapes where Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh were present.”

What exactly does “present” mean? Was he one of the ones who raped her? Was he in the room watching others? Was he outside the room? Was he merely at the same party?

Law&Crime reached out to Avenatti for clarification as to whether Swetnick believes Kavanaugh raped her, and he avoided the question, saying, “You are kidding me, right?”

The allegations that Swetnick does make paint a pretty bad picture of Kavanaugh as a teen, being “physically aggressive” and “pressing girls against him without their consent.” That sort of behavior is certainly to be condemned, whether the person was drunk or not. At the same time, there’s a far leap from being a drunken creep to a rapist.

Swetnick’s allegations can easily be viewed as supporting the allegations made by Ford and Deborah Ramirez, and going against Kavanaugh’s own claims of innocence in his youth. Other statements from people who went to college and law school with Kavanaugh said these allegations do not match the person they know at all.

All things considered, Swetnick’s statement probably won’t sway too many people. Those who already believe the other allegations against Kavanaugh may have their beliefs bolstered by this. Those who doubt Ford and Ramirez will surely notice the holes in Swetnick’s story.

As for those who don’t know what to believe, this latest statement both includes and omits enough details that it probably won’t push anyone firmly into one camp or another. Many questions remain. Kavanaugh will have a chance to answer them Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

[Image via Spencer Platt/Getty Images]

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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