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‘We’re Not Backing Down’: Boulder Nonprofit Continues Support Of Kavanaugh Accuser Despite Threats

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Interior of the United States Capitol building in Washington D.C.

As the Senate Judiciary Committee considers testimony from Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh and the woman who has accused him of sexual assault while they were in high school, Christine Blasey Ford, a second accuser has come forward.

Deborah Ramirez, a Boulder woman, has accused Kavanaugh of exposing himself to her while they were students at Yale University. According to her attorneys, she has received both threats and encouragement from the community.

KUNC’s Matt Bloom spoke with Ramirez’s colleague Anne Tapp, the executive director of the Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence, or SPAN, a domestic-violence nonprofit based in Boulder.

Tapp says the organization has also received threatening calls since releasing a statement in support of Ramirez earlier this week.

"We know Debbie Ramirez to be a woman of great integrity and honor," SPAN's statement reads. "We stand by her and her courageous decision to come forward."

Ramirez is a former employee and serves on the organization’s board. She first detailed her allegations of sexual assault in a Sept. 23 New Yorker article.

Attorneys for Ramirez have since released emails shedding light on negotiations for an investigation into her claims. They show Democratic staffers willing to talk with attorneys while Republican staff members want to see evidence before talking.

Kavanaugh has repeatedly denied all allegations against him, including Ramirez’s.

Interview Highlights

On how Ramirez is handling the ongoing coverage following her allegations:

Anne Tapp: As you can imagine it’s been a really difficult experience, and the backlash and having the president of the United States tweeting at you isn’t something anyone expects. So it’s been difficult.

But she is an extraordinarily strong person. She’s surrounded by family and friends who love and care for and support her. For every moment that I think the fear is there, she’s got many more moments where that courage and groundedness in how she came to make this decision and the importance of it, will really sustain her.

On why SPAN released the statement in support of Ramirez:

Tapp: When Debbie was first approached by a reporter – by Ronan Farrow – by happenstance we had a board executive committee meeting that evening. Debbie shared with me and with several of the board members what was happening and, really, from that point forward she and I and other colleagues on our staff met and tried to support her through what was clearly a very difficult decision to come forward. Largely that decision was made to support Dr. Blasey Ford.

On the atmosphere at SPAN after putting out the statement:

Tapp: By Monday morning, shortly after Debbie’s story was published, we started receiving phone calls and emails, and just the initial phone calls that we got were really troubling. One in particular that escalated into really vile language directed at Debbie and the organization and threats.

But that’s been the exception. Largely the response that we’ve gotten both through messages and people dropping by have been incredibly supportive and really recognizing the courage that it took for Debbie to come forward and the importance of that – the importance of survivors telling their story and telling their story at a time and way that really is right for them.

On precautions SPAN is taking:

Tapp: We are an organization that works on domestic and sexual violence. Oftentimes we have abusers upset with us. We do have very clear protocol around dealing with other threats to clients we’re working with. So, we’ve been very attentive this week. I think our staff are extraordinary people and very able to identify the threats when they come to us and respond appropriately. We’re not backing down. We’re not in hiding. We have ways to protect the organization and people who are receiving services here.

I cover a wide range of issues within Colorado’s dynamic economy including energy, labor, housing, beer, marijuana, elections and other general assignment stories.