Christine Blasey Ford, the professor accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of having sexually assaulted her when he was in high school, has previously told friends that the alleged encounter from more than 30 years ago has had a lasting effect on her life.
Two longtime friends of Ford's told CNN this week that she has previously described feeling uncomfortable -- even struggling -- when she is in enclosed spaces without an "escape route" or more than one exit door, and suggested that this discomfort stemmed from the alleged encounter with Kavanaugh.
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According to Ford, she was forced into a bedroom at a house party, where Kavanaugh and a friend were "stumbling drunk," and Kavanaugh groped her and tried to remove her clothes. The door was locked from the inside, and at one point, Ford said he put his hand over her mouth so her sounds would be muffled. She said she was eventually able to escape. Kavanaugh has denied the allegations.
Kate DeVarney, a neuroscientist who has known Ford for about 13 years, said in an interview Thursday that through their years of friendship, DeVarney knew Ford "really has a hard time being in a place where there's no escape route."
This was the reason that Ford did not enjoy flying, DeVarney said -- an airplane was "the ultimate closed space where you cannot get away."
DeVarney said she and Ford first met in 2005 when they worked at the same company, and soon discovered they had a lot of shared interests and mutual family connections. They live close to one another and see each other frequently, she said.
Late last month, DeVarney said she reached out to Ford to get together. It was in this conversation that DeVarney said Ford confided in her for the first time about being "sexually assaulted in high school," without sharing Kavanaugh's name or other details about who he was. Ford told her about a letter she had sent to her congresswoman about the alleged assault.
In that conversation, DeVarney said Ford also told her about how when Ford and her husband were remodeling their home, "she insisted that every room had to have an exit door to the outside."
"She did say this has affected me my entire life," DeVarney said.
Jim Gensheimer, who has been friends with Ford for eight years, said in a statement Tuesday that Ford has previously told him that she needs to have "more than one exit door in her bedroom to prevent her from being trapped."
"This event was serious enough to have a lasting impact on her life," Gensheimer said, noting he had "no reason to not believe what she says about Brett Kavanaugh."
Similarly, DeVarney also said she has "absolutely no doubt in my mind" that her friend was telling the truth.
"I don't believe him," she said, "because I believe her."
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