Politics & Government

Kavanaugh was ‘heavy drinker,’ ‘often belligerent’ at Yale, NC State professor says

Charles ‘Chad’ Ludington and Brett Kavanaugh were classmates at Yale. They socialized together, Ludington says.

Now Kavanaugh is a nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, under fire over accusations of sexual misconduct, including sexual assault allegations while drunk. The FBI is investigating, after dramatic testimony by Kavanaugh and accuser Christine Blasey Ford before a U.S. Senate committee led to demands that more be done to dig into the claims.

At the Senate hearing, Kavanaugh denied ever having had so much to drink that he blacked out.

Ludington is an associate professor of history at N.C. State University. On Sunday, he issued a statement about Kavanaugh in which he referred to the judge as “a frequent drinker, and a heavy drinker,” in college. He said he felt it was his “civic duty” to tell people about his experience drinking with Kavanaugh.

On Monday, Ludington read that statement to reporters in Carrboro and briefly answered questions.

“I have seen Brett drunk to the point he could easily be passed out. ... I never saw him passed out, but I saw him quite drunk,” Ludington said, according to video from CNN.

“I saw him quite drunk. He saw me quite drunk,” Luddington said.

Though Kavanaugh testified that he did drink alcohol during that time, Ludington said “he also downplayed to a great degree the possibility that he could ever not know what was going on. I’m saying there were omissions. There were certainly many times when he could not remember what was going on.”

Charles "Chad" Ludington N.C. State University

Ludington told CNN that he had filled out a statement to deliver to the FBI.

In his statement released to The News & Observer on Sunday, Ludington said he so far had not wanted to say anything about Kavanaugh “because I had nothing to contribute about what kind of justice he would be.

“I knew Brett at Yale because I was a classmate and a varsity basketball player and Brett enjoyed socializing with athletes. Indeed, athletes formed the core of Brett’s social circle,” Ludington said in the statement.

But in recent days, Ludington said he became “deeply troubled by what has been a blatant mischaracterization by Brett himself of his drinking at Yale.”

While watching Kavanaugh being interviewed on Fox News and during his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Ludington said “I cringed.”

“For the fact is, at Yale, and I can speak to no other times, Brett was a frequent drinker, and a heavy drinker. I know, because, especially in our first two years of college, I often drank with him. On many occasions I heard Brett slur his words and saw him staggering from alcohol consumption, not all of which was beer,” Ludington said.

“When Brett got drunk, he was often belligerent and aggressive. On one of the last occasions I purposely socialized with Brett, I witnessed him respond to a semi-hostile remark, not by defusing the situation, but by throwing his beer in the man’s face and starting a fight that ended with one of our mutual friends in jail.”

In an interview with Bloomberg on Monday, Ludington said he, Kavanaugh and other Yale friends were at a local bar after a concert by UB40, an English reggae band, when Kavanaugh got into an altercation with a person the group thought was the lead singer. That led to a bar fight.

Bloomberg said it could not corroborate Ludington’s story about the events at the New Haven, Conn., bar in September 1985.

The New York Times reported that Kavanaugh was questioned by police following the bar fight.

“The police report stated that a 21-year-old man accused Mr. Kavanaugh of throwing ice on him ‘for some unknown reason,’” the Times reported. In the report, Kavanaugh “did not want ‘to say if he threw the ice or not,’ the police report said.” The report did not say whether someone was arrested or charges were filed, according to the Times.

Ludington said he did not believe that heavy drinking “or even loutish behavior” from a young person “should condemn a person for the rest of his life. I would be a hypocrite to think so.”

But Ludington said he has “direct and repeated knowledge about (Kavanaugh’s) drinking and his disposition while drunk.”

“I do believe that Brett’s actions as a 53-year-old federal judge matter,” Ludington said. “If he lied about his past actions on national television, and more especially while speaking under oath in front of the United States Senate, I believe those lies should have consequences. It is truth that is at stake, and I believe that the ability to speak the truth, even when it does not reflect well upon oneself, is a paramount quality we seek in our nation’s most powerful judges.”

Ludington said in his statement, “I have no desire to speak further publicly, and nothing more to say to the press at this time. I will however, take my information to the FBI.”

Ludington graduated from Yale in 1987. He earned a Ph.D. in history from Columbia.

Ludington has been a professor at N.C. State since 2004. He has written a book about wine and politics and has researched the “global history of cheddar cheese,” The Technician reported in a 2015 profile of Ludington.

He played professional basketball in Paris and later worked as a prep cook at a restaurant in Connecticut before moving on to a wine store in New York, all while pursuing higher degrees at Columbia, the Technician reported. He coached junior varsity basketball in London.

He’s studied the “history of wine consumption in Britain from the mid-seventeenth century to the mid-nineteenth century. His first book, ‘The Politics of Wine in Britain: A New Cultural History,’ used wine consumption as a window onto English, Scottish, and British political culture from Cromwell to Queen Victoria,” according to the university.

He has taught “Early Modern and Modern British history, European history, European intellectual history, and food history at Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University,” according to N.C. State.

Ludington has won three teaching awards, including lecturer of the year in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at N.C. State.

He is currently “investigating the role of Irish merchants in the development of Bordeaux wine into a luxury product during the period 1700-1855,” according to the university.

Charles ‘Chad’ Ludington, an associate professor of history at N.C. State University, in a 2014 file photo. Caide Wooten Technician

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