Washington - In an unprecedented move, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this week released an explicit statement that purports to describe the sexual preferences of a woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of misconduct.
The statement, which was circulated to the hundreds of journalists on the Judiciary Committee's press list, was from Dennis Ketterer, a former Democratic congressional candidate and television meteorologist who said he was involved in a brief relationship with Kavanaugh accuser Julie Swetnick in 1993.
Swetnick said last week in an affidavit that Kavanaugh was present at a house party in 1982 where she alleges she was the victim of a gang rape, a claim he vehemently denies.
In his statement, Ketterer said Swetnick once told him that she sometimes enjoyed group sex with multiple men and had first engaged in it during high school. Ketterer said the remark "derailed" their relationship, which he described as involving "physical contact" but no intercourse.
Ketterer said Swetnick "never said anything about being sexually assaulted, raped, gang-raped or having sex against her will" and "never mentioned Brett Kavanaugh in any capacity." He described their relationship as lasting for a "couple of weeks."
It was highly unusual for a congressional committee to release a statement that included such explicit and unconfirmed details about a member of the public. The Republican side of the panel, which said the statement was provided by Ketterer "under penalty of felony," emailed excerpts to journalists and posted the full statement on its website.
Ketterer said that his "lasting impression" of Swetnick was that she was "smart, fun and funny." He also described her as "an opportunist" who sought him out at the bar where he said they first met.
"I felt she only had interest . . . because I was on television and well-known," he said.
Swetnick attorney Michael Avenatti called the statement "bogus and outrageous" and called for the FBI to interview Swetnick and Ketterer to assess their truthfulness.
"At the same time the committee refuses to provide documents, they don't hesitate to provide this piece of garbage," Avenatti said Tuesday afternoon in a phone interview.
"This was absolutely fabricated to assist the GOP to ram through this nomination," he said, calling for reporters to "dig good and hard" into Ketterer's background.
The statement's release reflected Republicans' aggressive tactics to fight the allegations against Kavanuagh, who is currently being investigated by the FBI.
Kavanaugh has been accused of sexual assault by two other women, including Christine Blasey Ford, who testified before the Senate last week about an incident when both were teenagers. He denies all claims of misconduct.
Reached by phone on Tuesday night, Ketterer said he provided the statement to the committee on Monday night after hearing Swetnick's allegations last week and discussing his memories of her with local leaders in his church. Ketterer described himself as a longtime member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) and lives in the Salt Lake City area.
"We talked about doing the right thing, and the right thing was not to hold it back," Ketterer said in an hour-long interview.
Eventually, he said, one church leader reached out to a former LDS bishop who had a connection to the office of Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee and is also a member of the church.
Ketterer said he spoke with Hatch's staff last Friday and was then handed off to staff for Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who he said pressed him in a long phone interview about his knowledge of Swetnick's background and her family relationships.
"They interviewed me like I was being deposed," he said. "My wife told me, 'They're trying to decide if you're a credible witness.'"
Ketterer lost his bid to represent Maryland's 8th congressional district as a Democrat in 1996. Now a registered Republican, he says he identifies more strongly as a political independent and does not support President Trump.
Ketterer said he has never met Kavanaugh and did not know who he was until Trump nominated him to the Supreme Court. Ketterer said he provided his statement because he wanted to "do the right thing" and because he sympathized with Kavanaugh's wife, Ashley.
"I was kind of hoping to find a backchannel way to Mrs. Kavanaugh," he said. Senate GOP aides told him they "didn't have a way" to pass his information to her, he said.
Ketterer said he has "no opinion" of Ford's allegation and blamed both political parties for grandstanding during last week's hearing.
"This has nothing to do with party - it really doesn't," he said. "I really don't support either party."
Avenatti used Twitter on Tuesday to release a written declaration from a second woman whose statements supported Swetnick's claims. The woman, whose name was redacted in the document Avenatti posted, said she "witnessed firsthand Kavanaugh and others spike the punch at house parties with quaaludes and/or grain alcohol."
"I understood this was being done for the purpose of making girls more likely to engage in sexual acts and less likely to say, 'No,'" the declaration stated.
In an interview, Avenatti expressed frustration with the FBI for not agreeing to meet with Swetnick. He said that if a meeting does take place, Swetnick plans to tell the bureau the names of other people who attended parties in suburban Maryland in the early 1980s where she says she saw Kavanaugh drink excessively and fondle and grope girls.
Kavanaugh has denied these allegations.
Ketterer, who was terminated from his position with Channel 7 in Washington in the mid-1990s, sued the station for $12 million in 1995 over what he said was discrimination against him because a psychiatrist had diagnosed him with bipolar II disorder.
Ketterer said the lawsuit was dismissed in summary judgment and that he learned weeks later that he had been misdiagnosed. He has diabetes, not a mental illness, he said.
"I was having mood swings," he said. "When my blood sugar gets low, you don't want to get anywhere near me."
"I am not mentally ill," he added.
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