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Montgomery County Police Department says it hasn’t heard from Christine Blasey Ford about probe

September 25, 2018

Christine Blasey Ford and Democrats have asked Congress, the FBI and Maryland State Police to investigate her allegation that Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh attempted to sexually assault her at a high school party in the 1980s but she has not asked for an investigation by the one police force with the most direct responsibility.

Some 10 days after Ms. Blasey Ford went public, police in Montgomery County, Maryland, where she says the incident took place, have yet to hear from her.

“At this time, the Montgomery County Police Department has not received a request by any alleged victim nor a victim’s attorney to initiate a police report or a criminal investigation regarding Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh,” the police said in a statement.

Ms. Blasey Ford’s allegations, which have not been publicly substantiated by any witnesses, have put the confirmation process for Judge Kavanaugh on hold. Both accuser and accused are slated to testify to Congress on Thursday.

Ms. Blasey Ford and Senate Democrats have said they want the FBI to investigate her allegations before a hearing takes place, saying the federal agency is in the best position to get to the truth of the matter.

But the Justice Department has shot down that suggestion, saying attempted sexual assault is not a federal crime and there are no national security implications.

The department also points to a 2010 memorandum of understanding between then-Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and former White House Counsel Bob Bauer laying out a specific role for the FBI in background investigations, gathering information for the use of politicians and other decision makers.

Maryland Democrats have demanded Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, order state police to investigate. State Sen. Cheryl Kagan, who represents part of Montgomery County, said the governor “must step up where members of your party on Capitol Hill fell down, and direct the Maryland State Police to initiate an investigation.”

The governor told reporters last week he wouldn’t order a probe, and state police spokesman Ron Snyder said the department would kick any request for an investigation to the county police under a memorandum of understanding that requires sexual assault claims in Maryland to be probed by the local authorities.

Mr. Snyder also confirmed that no complaint has been filed with the Maryland State Police.

Legal experts said police could look into the allegations without a complaint, but such situations are rare.

“As a practical matter, it is unusual for the police to investigate a crime with victimization where the victim does not fill out a report,” said Robert Weisberg, who teaches criminal law at Stanford University. “If they don’t have enough evidence and the key witness isn’t very cooperative, there is little they can do. It’s not a comfortable situation to force a victim to testify.”

Montgomery County Police acknowledged as much in its statement.

“Typically, in a sexual assault case, the cooperation of a victim or witnesses is necessary,” the statement said. “As with any criminal investigation, a determination must be made as to the jurisdiction where the alleged offense occurred and the specific details of the event to establish a potential criminal charge.”

Over the weekend, more alleged victims came forward. Deborah Ramirez, who attended Yale University in Connecticut with Judge Kavanaugh, told The New Yorker that he exposed himself to her during an alcohol-filled party.

And Michael Avenatti said he is representing another woman who says the judge, as a high school student, used alcohol and drugs to try to target women.

Those aren’t likely to elevate any investigation to a federal matter, said Kate Weisburd, a criminal investigations professor at George Washington University.

“The fact that there is allegations of a similar offense in multiple jurisdictions does not elevate this to the federal system,” she said. “If there is sufficient evidence he violated Connecticut and Maryland laws, it would remain a matter of state law. People face charges in multiple jurisdictions all the time.”

The only other authority that could scrutinize the claims lodged against Judge Kavanaugh is Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy.

Mr. McCarthy told The Montgomery County Sentinel his office is working to determine if Ms. Blasey Ford’s attempted assault happened within the county.

“We are prepared to investigate if the victim wants to report to us, and we can determine if it happened in the county,” he said.

Ramon Korionoff, a spokesman for the State Attorney’s Office, did not respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Weisberg said prosecutors can initiate an investigation without a police report, but such incidents are rare.

“There is no barrier to them doing it themselves,” he said. “It is pretty much universal that a prosecutor waits for a report by police, but it is not an absolute rule. There is no legal barrier to the local attorney doing an investigation before the police, just a customary one.”

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