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Rachel Mitchell’s bio: questioning Christine Blasey Ford on Kavanaugh

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chuck grassley brett kavanaugh
Senate
Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley tapped seasoned
prosecutor Rachel Mitchell to question Supreme Court nominee
Brett Kavanaugh and his accuser Christine Blasey Ford on
Thursday.


AP
Photo/Andrew Harnik



  • Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee announced they
    have hired longtime Arizona prosecutor Rachel Mitchell to
    question Christine Blasey Ford during her testimony Thursday.
  • Ford has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of
    sexually assaulting her when the two were teenagers in the 1980s.
  • Mitchell is a respected, experienced prosecutor who
    specializes in sex crimes, and has said that the innocence and
    vulnerability of victims is what first drew her to the practice.

The woman who will question Christine Blasey Ford on Thursday
during her testimony against Supreme Court nominee Brett
Kavanaugh has built her career out of investigating sex crimes
and interviewing traumatized victims of abuse.

Senate Republicans announced Tuesday they had hired Arizona sex-crimes
prosecutor Rachel Mitchell to question Ford before the Senate
Judiciary Committee. Ford has accused Kavanaugh of sexually
assaulting her during a party when the two were teenagers.

Mitchell’s retention was the latest development in a series of
controversies over the hotly anticipated hearing. Although Ford
had requested that senators question her rather than a lawyer,
Senate Republicans defended Mitchell’s hiring as necessary to
ensure a fair and respectful hearing.

It will also allow Senate Republicans to avoid the optics of
having 11 male Republicans grilling Ford with questions about a
sensitive subject.

“We have done it because we want to depoliticize the whole
process, like the Democrats politicized the Anita Hill thing,”
Grassley said in a statement, referring to
Hill’s 1991 testimony against
then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, whom she accused of
sexual harassment.

“I promised Dr. Ford that I would do everything in my power to
avoid a repeat of the ‘circus’ atmosphere in the hearing room
that we saw the week of September 4,” Grassley added.

‘It struck me how innocent and vulnerable the victims of these
cases really were’


Christine Blasey Ford
Women protest Kavanaugh’s
confirmation.

Mark
Lennihan/AP


Mitchell is the perfect candidate for the job, according to those
in Arizona’s law-enforcement community who know her. Maricopa
County Attorney Bill Montgomery sang her praises in a statement on Tuesday.

“The American people can be confident that Rachel Mitchell’s
experience as a conscientious prosecutor, trained to seek
justice, protect victims, and pursue truth will assist the Senate
Judiciary Committee in performing its important task,” he said.

A longtime prosecutor who worked her way up to the role of chief
of the Special Victims Division of the Maricopa County attorney’s
office, Mitchell is highly experienced in prosecuting sexual
assault cases. She is currently on leave from her position,
according to Grassley’s statement.

Mitchell has prosecuted several high-profile cases throughout her
career, including the 2005 conviction of Rev. Paul LeBrun, a
former Catholic priest accused of molesting young boys. LeBrun
was eventually sentenced to 111 years in
prison.

“She’s one of these career prosecutors who specializes in sex
crimes,” Paul Ahler, who formerly worked in the Maricopa County
attorney’s office, told The Arizona Republic.
“It’s hard to find those people because a lot of people get
burned out on those issues, but it’s kind of been her life
mission.”

Mitchell is particularly well-known for working with child
victims. She has helped develop best practices when
interviewing victims, and was once named the “Outstanding Arizona
Sexual Assault Prosecutor of the Year.”

It was in part the helplessness of young victims that drew
Mitchell to the specialty. In 2012, she told FrontLine Magazine that
she had never intended to specialize in sex-crimes prosecution
until she became a law clerk and was paired up with a senior
attorney who was prosecuting a youth choir director.

“It was different than anything that I would have ever imagined
it being. It intrigued me,” Mitchell said. “It struck me how
innocent and vulnerable the victims of these cases really were.
When I became an attorney with the office I prosecuted other
kinds of cases, but I was drawn back to this area.”

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