Gov. Larry Hogan on Friday ruled out involving the Maryland State Police in any investigation of allegations that U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted a 15-year-old girl more than 30 years ago in Montgomery County.
The Republican governor was asked at a news conference about a letter Democratic state Sen. Cheryl Kagan of Montgomery sent him. She urged Hogan to take the step because the White House has not ordered the FBI to look into the allegations made by Christine Blasey Ford about Kavanaugh’s actions at a high school party.
Hogan said he had not heard about the request, but he immediately turned it down.
“The Maryland State Police will not be getting involved in this,” he said. Hogan did not elaborate on his reasons.
Spokesmen for state and county police said Friday they would not investigate unless they received a complaint — which they said has not happened. State police also said that, in any case, they have an agreement with county police that means local officials investigate such crimes in their jurisdiction.
Ford, a professor at Palo Alto University in California, alleges the then-17-year-old Kavanaugh pushed her into a bedroom during the party 36 years ago, pinned her down with his body and sexually assaulted her while trying to take off her clothes. She says that when she tried to scream, Kavanaugh put his hand over her mouth, putting her in fear for her life. According to Ford, another boy in the room piled onto the bed, allowing her to escape.
She has said she did not report the incident at the time because of embarrassment and fear of punishment by her parents.
Kavanaugh, who was nominated by President Donald Trump to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, has unequivocally denied Ford’s allegations. Trump has stood behind his nominee, and tweeted Friday that “if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents.”
Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have backed Trump’s decision not to involve the FBI.
Hogan is less than two months from a November election in which he is seeking to become the first Republican governor of Maryland to win a second term since 1954. He is opposed by Democrat Ben Jealous.
In her letter, Kagan said Hogan knows the importance of an independent investigation because he signed legislation calling for such an action in cases of sexual harassment allegations against General Assembly members.
“Since you know the importance of an independent investigation, you must step up where members of your party on Capitol Hill fell down, and direct the Maryland State Police to initiate an investigation into Professor Ford’s allegations,” Kagan wrote.
Kagan said she made the request to Hogan because he is “the leader of our state.”
“It’s disappointing that Governor Hogan won’t stand up for Maryland women,” she said. “Hogan has direct authority over the Maryland State Police. He can encourage local action, but he can take state action.”
Hogan spokeswoman Amelia Chasse said the state police are free to investigate all matters that fall under their established guidelines. Chasse said to use the state police to investigate such a matter would be going down “a very dangerous and slippery slope.”
“The governor has never used the state police to pursue investigations at his personal whim,” she said.
Greg Shipley, a spokesman for the state police, said the department’s policy is to initiate a criminal investigation when a criminal complaint is filed. He said no one has filed a complaint about the Kavanaugh matter.
Shipley added that state police have a memorandum of understanding with Montgomery County that requires any crime such as sexual assault to be investigated by county police.
A county police spokesman, Officer Rick Goodale, said the department would not investigate the matter unless it received a formal complaint. The police department on Monday released a statement saying it had not received a request from an alleged victim or attorney to investigate Kavanaugh.
The county state’s attorney’s office declined to comment except to say no charges have been filed in the matter.
Chasse said that at the time of the news conference, Hogan had not received Kagan’s letter. The spokeswoman said it arrived at the governor’s office shortly before 4 p.m. — hours after Kagan sent out a press release criticizing Hogan’s decision.
Legal experts doubt that a case could be made against Kavanaugh even if someone makes a complaint.
For one thing, if attempted rape in the first degree was the most appropriate charge, that was a misdemeanor in the 1980s in Maryland. It did not become a felony in the state until 1996. Former Attorney General Doug Gansler, who also served as Montgomery County state’s attorney, noted that Maryland’s statute of limitations for misdemeanors for an offense committed in the 1980s expired long ago.
Gansler, a Democrat, also noted Kavanaugh was a juvenile at the time, further complicating any investigation and prosecution. He said the type of acts that have been alleged are not ones for which juveniles are typically charged as adults.