In an interview with Fox News on Monday night, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh said he has never sexually assaulted anyone, and "did not have sexual intercourse or anything close to sexual intercourse in high school or for many years thereafter."
So far, two women have alleged that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted them in high school and college, respectively. Last week, Christine Blasey Ford came forward claiming that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted and attempted to rape her at a high school party when she was 15 and he was 17. Then on Sunday, Deborah Ramirez told The New Yorker that Kavanaugh thrust his penis in her face without her consent while they were both students at Yale.
When Martha MacCallum, the Fox News reporter who conducted the interview, asked Kavanaugh to clarify that he was a virgin throughout the years in question, he said he never had sex in high school, and did not have sex until "many years after that." But just because someone is a virgin does not mean that they are incapable of sexually assaulting someone.
"Being a virgin is not a defence to sexual violence, and [Kavanaugh] is relying on a very, very narrow view and definition of sexual assault," says Shiwali Patel, senior counsel for education at the National Women's Law Center. Sexual assault is defined as sexual contact or behaviour that occurs without explicit consent of the victim, including attempted rape, touching, or forcing someone to perform sexual acts, according to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network. This can involve penetration of a body part or by an object, Patel says. "As a judge, it's quite shocking that he would have such a narrow definition of sexual assault and would present a dissent that would not hold in a court of law," she says.
What Kavanaugh says is incredibly important because "this is his job interview for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court," Patel says. His current actions and statements reflect the potential viewpoints he might take as a Supreme Court justice, she continues.
In her Patel's opinion, Kavanaugh's implication that he could not have sexually assaulted someone because he's a virgin "destroyed his credibility."
If you have experienced sexual violence of any kind, please visit Rape Crisis or call 0808 802 9999.