Ford said that one of the people present at the house where Kavanaugh allegedly assaulted her while they were in high school was Leland Keyser but, along with everyone else named by Ford, Keyser denied remembering the alleged incident during the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings last year.
In a statement issued several days later, her lawyer clarified that Keyser was not refuting Ford’s account, but “the simple and unchangeable truth is that she is unable to corroborate it because she has no recollection of the incident in question.”
Keyser has remained silent since then but told New York Times reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly that in addition to not recalling the alleged incident, she didn’t think Ford’s story was true.
“I don’t have any confidence in the story,” she told them, according to excerpts of the reporters’ book, “The Education of Brett Kavanaugh,” that were posted online. “It would be impossible for me to be the only girl at a get-together with three guys, have her leave, and then not figure out how she’s going to get home.”
Still, she faced enormous social pressure to back Ford. “I was told behind the scenes that certain things could be spread about me if I didn’t comply,” Keyser said.
A group text including a number of mutual friends saw people discuss how to get Keyser to change her mind.
One man on the text suggested the group portray Keyser as an addict while a female, Cheryl Amitay, wrote: “Leland is a major stumbling block.”
Keyser was proud of her stand for the truth, framing a copy of a magazine that said “Was Leland Keyser the Hero of the Kavanaugh Controversy?”
Her son, Alex Beckel, wrote in a description for a GoFundMe fundraiser for his mother: “Despite her lifelong friendship with Christine Blasey Ford and her opposition to Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination, Keyser resisted immense personal pressure and courageously came forward with the truth, putting everything in her life at risk.
“As a result, she faces great personal hardship. The harsh glare of the public eye has taken a tremendous physical, emotional, and financial toll on her. The purpose of this GoFundMe is to help her deal with mounting medical and legal bills and to help redress the many grievances she faces as a result of her commitment to principle and the law. Leland stood up and did what was right when she had everything to lose and nothing to gain. Now it is our turn to stand up and help her in return.”
According to then-Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Ford never submitted material evidence supporting her claim to the committee.
Ford’s allegation relied heavily on three components: a polygraph exam she took earlier this year, notes from a therapy session in 2012, and eyewitness testimony. Ford’s lawyers declined to provide the committee with the results of the exam or the therapy notes and all of the named witnesses said they didn’t recall an incident like the one Ford described, including Keyser.
Mollie Hemingway and Carrie Severino wrote in their book “Justice on Trial” that Ford first messaged Keyser on June 28, 2018 about the situation. It was the day after Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement.
“Kinda freaking out that Brett K who tried to rape me in high school may be going on to the Supreme Court,” Ford wrote on Facebook Messenger. It was the first time Keyser had heard about the alleged assault, much less Kavanaugh’s name.
In September, a Washington Post reporter got into Keyser’s house by telling the housekeeper she was a friend of hers. Keyser met her and told her she supported Ford but when told Ford claimed she was present at the alleged incident, Keyser asked her to leave.
Keyser was not informed by Ford or her legal team that she would be named as a witness to the alleged incident. She tried to remember if she had met Kavanaugh and, if so, if any nights like the one Ford described had occurred but she could not remember meeting Kavanaugh.
After Keyser’s initial statement was released, a female friend of hers pressured her into releasing the second statement which, while reiterating that she could not recall the incident in question, she was not questioning her friend’s account.
But after thinking more about Ford’s story, Keyser “lost confidence in Ford’s account” and asked her attorney to set up a second meeting with FBI investigators, telling them about her doubts, the authors wrote in the book.