Much has been written about the #MeToo opposition to Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. The accusations of sexual misconduct against Judge Kavanaugh have stirred many to protest his impending confirmation to the Supreme Court. However, scant attention has been paid to the victims of sexual violence who support Kavanaugh.
One of the survivors of sexual assault who strongly supports Brett Kavanaugh is Debi Thornton of Columbus, Georgia. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll state here for the record that Mrs. Thornton is my beautiful wife of 18 years.
When she was 15-years-old, Debi was raped by three men as she walked through a wooded area between the high school she attended and the middle school where her mother was a teacher. The men threatened her life if she told anyone what happened. Debi didn’t tell for several days, but her family noticed a change in her personality after the attack. She eventually told her parents what had happened and they notified the local authorities.
What happened after that still makes Debi feel angry. She eventually identified one of the men who was a local star athlete who had graduated years before the attack after she saw him in walking around at a high school football game. The sheriff’s department took her to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation where she passed a polygraph exam. Despite the polygraph results, the local law enforcement never pursued the case and Debi never got justice. The man who raped her went on to attack two other young girls, was kicked out of two colleges and today is a registered sex offender in her hometown.
When it comes to Brett Kavanaugh, Debi says, “I think he’s a good guy and I don’t think he did it.” She adds, “I think he was defending himself and his family during the testimony when he got angry. “I think anyone who’s accused of anything like this would fight tooth and nail,” she says, “I mean, who wouldn’t get angry?”
When Debi really starts talking is when she discusses Christine Ford, a woman she says is “a liar.” She says that victims “remember everything about their attack.” Debi says that “my story has not changed over the years” as Ford’s story has. “You don’t forget the details.”
“When something like this happens, others around you see something has changed within you and they keep pushing you until you tell somebody,” she added, “you don’t wait that long. Even if you don’t go to the police, you tell somebody.” She also says that “Ford’s friends and family would have noticed a change in her behavior following the attack.” So far, no one has come forward to testify that they noticed a change in Ford’s personality after the alleged attack by Kavanaugh and there is no evidence that Ford discussed the attack with anyone prior to 2012.
Debi also did not find Ford’s testimony before the Senate believable. “I feel like there were no real tears,” she said. “I feel like it was an act. She didn’t get angry. You don’t just smile and giggle and look cute. You don’t high-five your lawyers when it’s over.”
“I would be angry if I was giving the testimony,” Debi said. “I wouldn’t say ‘I don’t remember,’ because you remember everything.”
“My case and hers were different because I didn’t know the men until I saw one at the game,” she said. “But everything about her, her facial expressions, everything, it just didn’t match up with how a true sexual abuse victim would act. The body language just wasn’t there. She was trying to be and look cute and sidestep questions. She had to think about what she was going to say and she had to look at her attorneys. You don’t have to get an answer from someone else because they weren’t there.”
“You can remember who did it, but you can’t remember what happened before or after?” Debi asked sarcastically. “That’s wishy-washy. She only got two questions on her polygraph and she can’t remember whether it was before or after her grandmother’s funeral. You don’t forget these things.”
In Debi’s case, even though she remembered everything, it took years to come to terms with her attack. Several years ago, seeking closure, she went back to her hometown in Georgia in hopes of examining her case file. She found that the sheriff’s department had destroyed the entire file. Even her permanent record from the school system had disappeared. She spoke with the city police chief who criticized how the sheriff’s department had handled the case but said that the statute of limitations had run out on the crime.
In late September, as the allegations mounted against Kavanaugh, Debi went on Facebook Live to give her own testimony about her attack. She notes that she was very emotional in her recording, unlike Ford in her Senate testimony. She notes that she has spoken with other victims of sexual abuse who are also skeptical of Ford’s testimony on the “Confirm Kavanaugh” Facebook page.
“I don’t want to make this political,” said Debi. “Because sexual abuse shouldn’t be political, but if Ford really cares about sexual abuse she should donate the money from her Go Fund Me accounts to a sexual abuse victims foundation.”
“I do think she should be charged [for perjury],” said Debi, choking back emotion, “And everyone that helped her concoct her little skit.”
Debi has mixed emotions on the #MeToo movement in general. “I think it would have been really good to highlight it,” she said, “but many jumped on the bandwagon because they wanted personal attention and were falsely accusing people. Some probably were telling the truth, but a lot of them fabricated things just to get attention or because they were mad at somebody.”
“You have to look at the evidence,” Debi said. “Women don’t always tell the truth. You have to look at body language and the evidence. People need to think for themselves and not just go by the political party. This shouldn’t be about politics.”
[Photo: Debi and the author]