Neighbor rallies support for Palo Alto professor who is accusing Kavanaugh

Kristen Podulka holds one of the cards she’s received in support of Christine Blasey Ford. Post photo by Allison Levitsky.
Kristen Podulka holds one of the cards she’s received in support of Christine Blasey Ford. Post photo by Allison Levitsky.

Daily Post Staff Writer

When Kristen Podulka saw the news vans outside and read the vitriolic attacks online about her neighbor, she decided to help out.

Podulka lives a few houses away from Christine Blasey Ford, the Palo Alto University psychologist accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault when the two were in high school.

On Monday, the day after the Washington Post identified Ford as Kavanaugh’s accuser, Podulka called on others to mail postcards of support and appreciation to Ford at her office.

“I didn’t want to go to her house and have a candlelight vigil,” Podulka said. “I chose the card-writing because it’s an un-intrusive way of showing support.”

Podulka, a Detroit native and self-described “Hillary supporter,” said she got the idea from postcard campaigns she’s worked with for local progressive groups and the ACLU.

At first, neighbors and friends dropped off postcards at Podulka’s house to forward to Ford, but then Podulka wanted to expand the effort without sharing her home address publicly.

She posted Ford’s work address to Nextdoor and Facebook, where it was shared by the Sister District and Together We Will political groups. Podulka said other advocates have shared the message as far away as the East Coast and Singapore.

An effort to counteract the hate mail

The purpose of the effort, Podulka said, was to counteract the hate mail and violent threats that Ford has received.

“The trolls online and the people with negative thoughts … tend to speak the loudest, so I would like to send her notes of appreciation to try to drown that out if possible,” Podulka said. “I thought, ‘OK, let’s counteract her hate mail with love mail.’”

Podulka said the only negative feedback she’d gotten so far had come from a few commenters on a Nextdoor thread who objected to the post’s politics.

One commenter, south Palo Alto resident Tanya Berlaga, wrote that “not everybody believes that (Ford’s) actions are honorable.”

Another, Mountain View resident Adam Brand, called Ford a coward for waiting 36 years to come forward.

Podulka said she doesn’t think anyone who hasn’t been sexually assaulted is entitled to an opinion on Ford coming forward when she did.

“What woman would want to go through this? She hasn’t been back in her house for three days,” Podulka said. “She has children, a career… She has nothing to gain from this and everything to lose.”

Yesterday (Sept. 18), Ford’s lawyers sent a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, stating that her family has been forced into hiding after receiving vicious harassment and death threats. Her email was also hacked and she has been impersonated online, her lawyers said.

Podulka said she thinks Ford’s story resonates with many women because most sexual assault victims know their attacker.

“I have had so many women in my life that, well, everyone’s had a story,” Podulka said. “Her story is everyone’s story.”

Mayor relates to Ford’s experience

Palo Alto Mayor Liz Kniss counts herself among the women who relate to Ford’s experience. Kniss told the Post that she remembered “something like that happening to me, and I still remember it very well.”

“I simply can’t believe she would have come forward otherwise,” Kniss said, calling Ford’s alleged assault an “incredibly horrifying experience.”

Kniss said she thought that counter to anyone who suggests the alleged assault was a “youthful prank,” that sexual violence exhibited by a teenage boy “is probably going to be pretty consistent for the rest of his life.”

Kniss added that she thinks it’s “outrageous” that the Senate Judiciary Committee is continuing to consider Kavanaugh.

The postcard project isn’t the only way Palo Altans are showing support for Ford. A group of local mothers have been signing a letter to Ford telling her that “We wanted to tell you that we are here, and we have your back.”

“If there is anything that we, your neighbors, can do to help or support you or your family, please know that we are here,” the letter states. “We will bake you cookies, bring over dinner, lend a hand with your kids, help with your pets, protest in front of City Hall, sign petitions, runs for office, write to the media and to lawmakers, form a human chain to protect your house, your workplace, your kids’ schools.”

Vigil planned for Sunday

And on Sunday evening, activists from six local progressive groups will hold a candlelight vigil on the corner of El Camino Real and Embarcadero Road that they’re calling “I Believe Christine.”

Advocates from groups including Orchard City Indivisible, the Santa Clara County Democratic Club Women’s Caucus, Families Belong Together San Jose and Women’s March San Jose will hold signs at the intersection starting at 8 p.m.


  1. According to PAU webs site : Dr. Maureen O’Connor prior to becoming President at PAU in August, 2016, Dr. Maureen O’Connor completed a dual degree program in Psychology, Law, and Policy at the University of Arizona, earning both her Ph.D. and J.D. She is a member of the bar in Arizona and Washington, D.C., and she clerked for the Honorable Patricia Wald, then Chief Judge of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
    The above short information leads to the conclusion that it was no coincident that Dr. Maureen O’Connor who clerked for the Honorable Patricia Wald, the Chief Judge of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and where future nominee to the Supreme Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh is employed suddenly found herself in the middle of the 2016 Presidential election in the Paolo Alto, California as a President of the Paolo Alto University
    It is not coincident that Dr. Maureen O’Connor found herself in the middle of the 2016 Presidential election in the the Paolo Alto, California where the former Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s classmate Christine Blasey Ford was employed or still being employed a. The question is whether Ms. Christine Blasey Ford knew or had a friendship with Dr. Maureen O’Connor before or after Ms. O’Connor arrived in PAU and became a PAU’s President.

  2. Every inch of Christine Ford’s life should be investigated and scrutinized. Her associations and affiliations, finances, taxes, marital infidelities, parenting skills, resume inconsistencies, her husbands affiliations and finances, behavior in high school and college, mental stability, criminal background check, etc. I bet there is much more to this story.

  3. Sounds like Ms Ford leads an active, high-society life……in 36 years since her alleged attack…..she seems to be functioning and living much better gifted life than the majority of most hard-working, middle class Americans. Let’s clear the air and have a face-to-face with Judge K so all the facts are known. Sympathy if this actually happened to her…..but before smearing others’ reputations….BE SURE the facts are ABSOLUTELY true. If she wants to make such allegations and wants a thorough investigation into this alleged incident….she should be prepared for equal repercussions to come her way. Careful what you wish for. If the Dems were in control of Supreme Court selections….I wonder if she would have ever come forward.

    • If Kavanaugh had never been nominated, I don’t think she would have have come forward. From the looks of it, she didn’t come forward because she wants justice or revenge for herself, she came forward because she doesn’t think he’s fit to serve on the highest court and make decisions that will effect us all for decades based on her experience with her from high school. She doesn’t want her attacker on the supreme court because that effects more than just herself. If something like this had happened with Merrick Garland, I wouldn’t want him interpreting the Constitution either.

  4. Reading this article I was struck not so much by the details of the story, as by the examples of how presumably reasonable people turn into mindless partisans when it suites their political purpose.

    First was the pronouncement by Kirsten Podulka that ”she doesn’t think anyone who hasn’t been sexually assaulted is entitled to an opinion on Ford coming forward when she did.” Had she thought a bit, she would have realized that implies, for example, rape juries made only of raped women or burglary juries made solely of burglary victims. How different is that from having white-only juries when an African-American is accused of raping a white woman? And who will we select for the jury in murder trials – the spirits of murdered people?

    And then our own Liz Kniss chipped in that sexual violence exhibited by a teenage boy “is probably consistent for the rest of his life.” But we have testimonies of hundreds of witnesses and six FBI investigations that has not been the case for Judge Kavanaugh. So why doesn’t Ms. Kniss realize that, by her own measure, Christine Ford is likely lying? Further, if Ms. Kniss really believes in what she said, does she also support an unconditional unsealing of all juvenile criminal sex-related files since she seems to believe that juvenile behavior “is probably consistent for the rest of [their] life”?

  5. Christine Ford has been used by the Democratic Party. Democrats will spit her out and throw her in the trash after they have used her for political advantage. Of course the Democrats outed her. They had to attach a name to fuel the controversy. Ford’s life and the lives of her children are forever destroyed. Some day she will realize how abused and used she was.
    No matter the outcome of this event, Ford loses.

  6. Why doesn’t the newspaper interview people who objected to Ms. Podulka’s post to know the nature of the objections? That way the article could actually be objective and cover both sides. Taking one comment out of context and not reporting what I objected to is not helpful to anybody and is extremely one-sided.

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