The first source of the New Yorker bombshell wasn’t Deborah Ramirez. It was Yale alumni.

Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh on September 20, 2018.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

The second woman accusing Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct — Deborah Ramirez — just went public with her story, but Yale University classmates of Ramirez and Kavanaugh were corresponding about the alleged incident well before reporters contacted Ramirez, New Yorker reporter Jane Mayer told NBC News on Monday. Mayer said she first saw Yale alumni emails discussing the incident in July.

On Sunday night, the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow broke the story that Ramirez, who attended Yale University with Kavanaugh, said he drunkenly exposed himself to her in college and thrust his genitals in her face without her consent during a drinking game. In the process of pushing Kavanaugh away, Ramirez told the New Yorker she touched his penis.

“I remember a penis being in front of my face,” Ramirez told Mayer and Farrow. “I knew that’s not what I wanted, even in that state of mind.”

This is the second allegation of sexual assault or misconduct brought against Kavanaugh by a woman. Kavanaugh’s first accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, said he sexually assaulted her while the two were in high school. Kavanaugh has denied either incident happened.

Explosive new sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh brought by Ramirez broke in the New Yorker on Sunday night, but they’ve reportedly been a topic of discussion among Kavanaugh’s Yale University classmates for some time.

Mayer said she and Farrow saw emails sent between Yale alums discussing the incident back in July, before Kavanaugh’s first accuser Christine Blasey Ford went public with her accusations of Kavanaugh sexually assaulting her when the two were in high school.

“The story broke overnight, but it dates back 35 years,” Mayer told NBC News’s Savannah Guthrie on Monday morning. “What happened was, the classmates at Yale were talking to each other about it, they were emailing about it. We’ve seen the emails, back in July before Christine Blasey Ford came forward, and eventually word of it spread. It spread to the Senate. It spread to the media. And we [the New Yorker] reached out to her.”

This underscores the point that many women who experience sexual assault or harassment don’t immediately go public with those experiences, for a variety of reasons. Instead, these stories often stay confined to the small group of people who witnessed it or were told about it at the time.

As Ramirez told the New Yorker, she was hesitant to share her story because it happened when she was drinking as a college freshman. Ramirez admitted there were gaps in her memory, and it took “six days of carefully assessing her memories and consulting with her attorney” before she even agreed to go public with her account.

It’s worth noting Ramirez and Ford are both openly inviting further investigation into their allegations. Both women are asking the FBI to investigate the alleged incidents, something that Senate Democrats also are calling for. Ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee Sen. Dianne Feinstein has called for a halt on all confirmation proceedings until the FBI can investigate.

The big question is whether Senate Republicans — who hold the majority and want to get Kavanaugh confirmed swiftly — will agree to slowing down the process and allowing the FBI to get involved, and interview Ramirez and her Yale classmates who have reportedly been emailing about the incident involving Kavanaugh. They are eager to get the seat filled before November midterm elections and before the Supreme Court’s session begins on October 1.

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