Washington: President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, under fire over two accusations of sexual misconduct, claimed Monday that he "never" sexually assaulted anyone and was a virgin for "many years" after high school.
As part of a concerted pushback by Brett Kavanaugh and the White House against mounting calls to put his nomination on hold, the federal judge appeared alongside his wife in a televised interview where he provided intimate details of his youth.
"I've never sexually assaulted anyone, not in high school, not ever. I've always treated women with dignity and respect," Kavanaugh told Fox News, likely telegraphing the line he will take when he appears before the Senate to testify on the matter on Thursday.
He also presented an image of his character that departed radically from what was portrayed in the allegations, seemingly claiming his virginity at the time of the accusations as a defense.
"I did not have sexual intercourse or anything close to sexual intercourse in high school or for many years thereafter. And the girls from the schools I went to and I were friends."
Kavanaugh's accusers have claimed he sexually assaulted them, but did not make allegations of rape or consensual sexual intercourse.
His wife Ashley, a one-time personal secretary to president George W. Bush, said she backed her husband's version of the events.
"It's really hard to believe… This is not consistent with Brett," she said, adding it had been "very difficult" to discuss the developments with their daughters.
'Fair and respectful treatment'
The first woman to come forward with accusations against Kavanaugh, Christine Blasey Ford, told the Senate Judiciary Committee she was telling "the truth" in claiming a drunken Kavanaugh tried to undress her and that she had feared for her life during a high school party.
"While I am frightened, please know, my fear will not hold me back from testifying and you will be provided with answers to all of your questions," she said in a letter sent to panel Chairman Chuck Grassley over the weekend that was released Monday.
"I ask for fair and respectful treatment."
Deborah Ramirez, 53, separately claimed over the weekend that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her during a 1980s college party at Yale University, thrust his genitals in her face and caused her to touch them without her consent, according to The New Yorker.
Kavanaugh has denied ever attending the parties described by the two women or even being present at gatherings where such behaviour took place.
"I never saw any such thing… I certainly never participated in any such thing. I never saw or heard of any such thing," he added.
Kavanaugh said he was "focused on trying to be number one in my class and captain of the varsity football team and going to church."
"I'm not going to let false accusations drive us out of this process," he added. "I'm not going anywhere."
He repeatedly called for a "fair process," saying Trump called him earlier Monday to say "he is standing by me."