For the duration of his time on campus, a former student recalls, the guiding principle among Georgetown Preparatory School students was straightforward: Don’t be a narc.
“Don’t tell, don’t tell,” said the former student, who overlapped at the school in North Bethesda, Maryland, with current Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, class of ’83. It was a code of preppy omerta to which Kavanaugh himself has alluded.
“But then,” the former student continued, “you’re getting all these 14-, 15-, 16-year-olds, 17-year-old kids doing whatever the fuck they wanted to do, with no repercussions. Drugs everywhere. Partying everywhere. Drinking — just whatever we wanted to do. It was unbelievable, off the rails. And that’s just how it was.”
Sexual misconduct, the former student says, was routine, shrugged off. “My friend, who went to one of the private girls’ schools, said she woke up with a guy on top of her,” the former student said. “And this was not a situation where people would talk about it. They would just say: ‘Oh, well, how’d you do? How was your weekend?’ ‘Oh, well, I got attacked.’ And that was just normal then. It was an attitude where ‘No’ didn’t necessarily mean ‘I’m going to stop.’ It meant ‘I’m going to keep going,’ and ‘I’m going to keep going because I’m privileged and I’m allowed to and I’m not going to get in trouble for it.’”
The former student would speak about his time at Georgetown Prep only on the condition of anonymity, fearing attacks from his fellow alumni. Based on the response to Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation that Kavanaugh attempted to rape her when they were both in high school, his fears are not unfounded.
In describing the culture of the school in those days, the former student pointed to the April 1984 overdose of 28-year-old David Kennedy, son of Robert F. Kennedy, who’d injected drugs into his groin, apparently to hide the needle marks. (Cocaine, Demerol and Mellaril were found in his system.) The former student spoke of Kennedy’s death as the end of the school’s free-for-all party scene and the catalyst for changes in Georgetown Prep culture.
Two Prep students — David’s brother Doug, and his friend Derrick Evans — had helped David Kennedy score the coke. Doug, class of ’86, had been at the center of Georgetown Prep social life, which the former student characterized as “weekly frat-style parties with the neighboring sister schools and other private schools,” often hosted by Kennedy at his family’s house in McLean, Virginia.
The death certainly registered on campus. The former student remembered the FBI showing up at Georgetown Prep one day and questioning a student.
“Everybody was like, ‘Oh shit, what happened? How is this going to affect us?’” said the former student. “‘Were we involved? Did this happen with us?’ That kind of thing. It was never a situation where anybody told on anyone.”
The former student recently spoke with HuffPost about the party scene in which our current Supreme Court nominee spent his formative years. The conversation, which has been condensed and edited for clarity, is below.
First, just generally, I’d be interested in hearing what you remember about the culture of Georgetown Prep while you were there.
I guess you could call it a fraternity between a bunch of rich kids. All this shit happens, and then nobody really wants to talk about it, because if one person crumbles, the whole system crumbles, and everybody tells on everybody. And that’s not the way Georgetown Prep has ever been.
And you and Kavanaugh were there at the same time?
When Kavanaugh and I overlapped, it would have been 1982, and that’s when Kavanaugh was a senior. [Current Supreme Court Justice] Neil Gorsuch [who also attended Prep] would have been a sophomore. Now, as far as Gorsuch goes, he was so straight-up. He was like, “Golly gee,” one of those kids. And Prep has always been a very elite school with 400 students. One hundred per class — that’s all they would ever let in. Some of it was academic merit, but the rest of it was privilege. I didn’t have a lot of interaction with Kavanaugh, but I did know of Mark Judge, the other guy who was named. My first reaction I had was, “Oh, that guy.”
Yeah, that seems to be the general sentiment around him.
I mean, we were teenagers, but there was sex and drugs and more drugs and more partying and belligerence and disrespect, all going on at all times while I was there. Around 1986 is when Georgetown Prep really changed, and it went back to a more strict, Jesuit-based style.
What prompted the change?
A lot of the stuff that happened in the ’70s and the ’80s and the time that Kavanaugh was there and those parties that Judge described, it was common. That’s what happened all the time. One of the biggest people and one of the most influential people there was Doug Kennedy. He was one of the youngest RFK kids, and Dougie, as we called him, was the one who had all these huge parties. There were other parties, but everybody remembers Kennedy parties because they were in McLean at the house where Ethel Kennedy lived.
The police would be there, but they would say, “Oh, are you going to the party? We’ll escort you.” That kind of thing. And, you know, they’re escorting a load of teenage kids in a car who were all going to underage drink and party. And as I remember, it was hundreds of kids — boys and girls from different schools, all private. No public schools were involved. And what would happen was a lot of drinking. There was one room full of drugs, everybody would be doing coke. And in another room, everybody would be smoking weed. And then in another room, people would be having sex. And there would be all sorts of unwanted stuff going on.
What do you mean when you say “unwanted stuff”?
These were the situations where, I think, you could talk to any prep school girl, and they would say, yeah, I was attacked or I was abused or I was touched or I was done in this improper fashion. And like I said, it was a fraternity, but it was also a situation where the girls wouldn’t talk about it later on, either. A lot of these women basically became kept women.
Was the assault that Christine Blasey Ford described typical?
Yeah, and a lot of that happened. And I think she said she was in a bathing suit, so that happened at Beach Week, I would guess.
That’s where everybody would go down to the coast, over to Ocean City [Maryland], or Rehoboth [Beach, Delaware], one of the local beaches. And somebody would have a house, or somebody would rent a house, and then it would just turn into a free-for-all there. My friend, who went to one of the private girls’ schools, said she woke up with a guy on top of her. And this was not a situation where people would talk about it. They would just say: “Oh, well, how’d you do? How was your weekend?” “Oh, well, I got attacked.” And that was just normal then. It was an attitude where “No” didn’t necessarily mean “I’m going to stop.” It meant “I’m going to keep going,” and “I’m going to keep going because I’m privileged and I’m allowed to and I’m not going to get in trouble for it.”
So the Kennedy parties were the most notorious. But every weekend there was some sort of party base during the school year where there was drugs, alcohol—which was typical, but we’re talking about 14-, 15-, 16-, 17-year-old kids.
I remember hearing about [Kennedy’s death] after it happened in Florida. It was a small school and everyone was talking about it. It came out in the news, and it was all over The Washington Post. And everybody was like, “Oh shit, what happened? How is this going to affect us? Were we involved? Did this happen with us?” That kind of thing. And it was never a situation where anybody told on anyone. That was the weirdness about all of it.
It was hushed up and cleaned up quickly because of the Kennedy connection. In the weeks after, no one really talked about it.
How would you hear about parties or meet kids from the other private schools?
Most it was based on the football schedule. Like, as a football team, we played all the other prep schools. That’s where all the parties started, and that’s where all the parties went. I don’t think it was something that we invented. I think that it was a culture that had been there for a long time, and then it just progressively got more abusive, and more and more and more and more abusive.
How often did these Beach Week parties happen?
They were considered a rite of passage. An end-of-the-year blowout. Partying at the beach was typically way more crazy than what happened during the school year. Inhibitions were thrown out the window. Fighting was a lot less common, but there was more sex involved and even more liberties taken because the parents were so far away. At least, that’s what I concluded from my experiences at Beach Week every year.
It was a game of who could party the most, who could drink the most, who could get the most girls, who could get away with the most crazy shit. A lot of these kids at these prep schools had family homes at the beach. And if not, they rented homes for the week.
Do you think people would have even remembered something like what Blasey described? Like, would it have registered?
Every weekend there was this whole idea of, “Hey, where are you going this weekend?” “Well, so-and-so’s having a party or someone’s having a party at their house.” Usually because their parents were gone — that would happen all the time. Then everybody would go over there, the entire class. Or at least, anybody who was cool or anybody who could party would go. Anybody who could get a ride, or anybody who had a car. And then all the girls’ schools in the area. If you talked to any of the girls there, they would all say, “Oh, yeah, of course there was a culture where assaults like that happen.”
But was it something people ever talked about at the time?
It was just a weird culture of how there was no telling ― you know, don’t tell, don’t tell. But then you’re getting all these 14-, 15-, 16-year-olds, 17-year-old kids doing whatever the fuck they wanted to do, with no repercussions. Drugs everywhere. Partying everywhere. Drinking — just whatever we wanted to do. It was unbelievable, off the rails. And that’s just how it was. Most of the kids I went to school with were either privileged or from foreign governments or whatever. They could get away with anything.
One last question: Blasey said her assault happened at a smaller party — four boys in total. Were smaller parties like that common, in addition to these big ragers?
It was more common to have at least 50 people there at a party. But these smaller parties ― usually what happened was that it was a Beach Week party, where the kids went to the beach. Somebody had a house, and whoever was there and whoever heard about the party went to the party. So there may have been as few as five people. There may have been as many as a hundred. It just depends. But that was not uncommon. As soon as I read the description, I was like, “Oh, yeah, that’s your typical prep school party, where it’s just a bunch of kids just going off the rails.” That’s the best way to describe it.
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.