The child of two government bureaucrats — her father worked on the lunar orbiter for NASA, and her mother was a geologist at the Atomic Energy Commission — has spent most of her life around Washington. Now 55, she grew up in Maryland and graduated in 1980 from Gaithersburg High School, located in a far less affluent section of the same county where Kavanaugh lived and attended an exclusive prep school.
Swetnick’s father, 95, said Wednesday that he was shocked to learn from a Washington Post reporter that his daughter had made the explosive allegations. She said in an affidavit that Kavanaugh was present at a house party in 1982 where she alleges she was the victim of a gang rape.
Kavanaugh immediately issued a statement in response: “This is ridiculous and from the Twilight Zone. I don’t know who this is and this never happened.”
Interviewed at his home in Silver Spring, Md., Martin Swetnick said he had no idea that his daughter was suddenly in the news as he hadn’t spoken to her in 10 years. He had long fallen out of regular contact with his children, the retired space scientist said, an estrangement he blames on his focus on career over family.
“The only time we communicate is on my birthday when she sends me an email,” Swetnick said.
Swetnick said he worked for the Department of Defense and NASA, as the “program scientist for unmanned lunar exploration,” and was often away from home.
“I was busy traveling around the country,” he said. “We didn’t have a good relationship.”
He said his daughter was born in Brooklyn but grew up in Silver Spring and then Montgomery Village, where she lived while attending high school. He described her as a “typical girl.”
“She was not shy,” he said. “She was a good-looking girl.”
According to her online résumé, Swetnick attended Montgomery College, a community college, where she took pre-med courses. But by the mid-1990s, she had jumped into the exploding world of Web development, accumulating a string of IT and software certifications. A contract job at the State Department started her on government work.
Her experience has included work for U.S. embassies, Customs and Border Protection and the Internal Revenue Service. She has held security clearances at the Departments of State, Justice, Treasury and Homeland Security, according to her résumé.
“She never went to college, but she bootstrapped herself and became a computer expert,” her father said. “She’s a sharp woman.”
On her résumé, Swetnick described herself this way: “She is a hands-on team player; having no problem stepping into new or difficult roles, situations and projects,” it says. “She is highly professional, ethical, responsible and hard working.”
As she moved among government contracting jobs, Swetnick has repeatedly encountered trouble paying her taxes.
In 2015, the state of Maryland filed an interstate lien against her property in the District. The bill included over $32,000 in unpaid taxes from 2008, and another $27,000 in interest on the seven-year-old debt. Court records reflect the full amount due of nearly $63,000 was satisfied 15 months later, in December 2016. It is not clear from court records whether the bill was paid or if the lien was released because of a decision that the bill was unwarranted.
Similarly, the IRS in 2016 assessed Swetnick a bill of over $40,000 in unpaid taxes from 2014. The federal government filed a lien on her property for the amount in 2017. The debt was listed as satisfied and the lien was released in March of this year.
Miami-Dade County, Fla., court records show Swetnick was involved in a 2001 domestic-violence case filed by Richard Vinneccy, who told Politico that she threatened him after they broke up. But the case was dismissed less than two weeks later when they failed to appear in court.
In 1993, Swetnick accused a Maryland podiatrist and his wife of harassing her with repeated phone calls in a complaint filed with state prosecutors. The case was withdrawn two months later.
Swetnick now lives in a newly built apartment complex in City Center, an expensive enclave in downtown Washington. There is almost no trace of her on social media. One of the few online tidbits that appear to be posted by her: a five-star Yellow Pages review of Bistro Provence in Bethesda.
“Yannick Cam’s done it again!” wrote a “jswetnick” in 2010. “. . . Great French cuisine, a wonderful wine selection, indoor and outdoor dining, and authentic atmosphere.”
Swetnick’s accusations against Kavanaugh came the day before the Senate Judiciary Committee heard from Christine Blasey Ford, the California professor who said Kavanaugh assaulted her at a party when they were both teenagers. A second woman, Deborah Ramirez, told the New Yorker magazine that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her when they were both at Yale. Kavanaugh has unequivocally denied both allegations, as he did in response to Swetnick last week.
After President Trump ordered a new background investigation into Kavanaugh, The Washington Post reported Sunday that the FBI has reached out to Ramirez and Ford, but not Swetnick.
Swetnick, through her attorney Michael Avenatti, has been asking for days to talk with the FBI as well. But Avenatti, a possible 2020 presidential candidate who has battled Trump on behalf of adult film star Stormy Daniels, tweeted on Sunday that neither he nor Swetnick had heard from the bureau: “Still no word from the FBI. Ramirez was questioned despite never submitting a sworn stmt. Ford was permitted to testify despite never submitting a sworn stmt. My client submitted a sworn stmt and has security clearances, & yet Trump will not allow her to be questioned or testify.”
According to her affidavit, Swetnick met Kavanaugh and his friend and Georgetown Prep classmate Mark Judge in the early 1980s at house parties. Swetnick, who is two years older than Kavanaugh, alleges that the teens who attended tried getting girls drunk “so they could then be ‘gang raped’ in a side room or bedroom by a ‘train’ of numerous boys,” she wrote. “I have a firm recollection of seeing boys lined up outside rooms at many of these parties waiting for their ‘turn’ with a girl inside the room. These boys included Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh.”
Swetnick said she herself had been gang raped in one of these trains “where Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh were present” and soon after, told two others about her experience.
“During the incident, I was incapacitated without my consent and unable to fight off the boys raping me,” she said, adding that she was “drugged with Quaaludes or something similar . . . ”
One of Swetnick’s high school teachers remembers her as a student who got A’s and B’s.
“She was a good student,” said David Kahn, 76, who taught Swetnick’s modern world history class at Gaithersburg High. “She was relatively quiet but was sharp and pleasant.”
Swetnick’s father said he could shed little light on his daughter’s high school years. “I was busy traveling around the country,” he said. “We didn’t have a good relationship.”
He said Swetnick wasn’t closely supervised by her parents but never mentioned any type of sexual assault as a teen or showed any signs of trauma or depression.
“Maybe we were poor parents,” he said. “She lived her life. We didn’t discuss it.”
If her father wasn’t paying close attention, some of the family’s neighbors were.
Donald Fontaine said he will never forget how the Swetnicks welcomed his own family to their Montgomery Village cul-de-sac in 1969 or 1970.
“We were the first black family to move here, and the guy got fired for selling us this house,” recalled Fontaine, 89, during an interview in that same house. The Swetnicks, including a young Julie, brought over cake and fruit.
“That’s why I remember how appreciative we were when the Swetnicks welcomed us,” said Fontaine, who was a scientist at IBM.
Told of the accusations, Fontaine said he would “certainly believe her.”
“She was not a flirtatious girl,” Fontaine said. “She was a pretty intelligent young lady.”
The neighborhood was stocked with scientists and federal government employees, recalled another neighbor, Bob Shewmaker, 78.
“It was all PhD’s and master degrees around here,” said Shewmaker, who said he had a security clearance from his time at the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, where Swetnick’s mother worked for a time.
As the kids got older, the neighborhood became home to many parties, some in houses and others held in open fields.
“The party thing was going on,” recalled Shewmaker, who said he instantly recognized Swetnick when her face appeared on television Wednesday. “There’s no question about that.”
At least one of Kavanaugh’s classmates scoffed at the notion that Swetnick would have been a regular at parties with Georgetown Prep students.
“Never heard of her,” said the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because members of the class have agreed not to speak on the record to reporters. “I don’t remember anyone from Prep hanging out with public school girls, especially from Gaithersburg.”
But Swetnick’s attorney, Avenatti, said her credibility should be assessed in the light of the background checks she had previously passed to secure multiple security clearances.
“She has been fully vetted, time and time again,” Avenatti said on MSNBC. “She is an honest and courageous woman.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Richard Vinneccy’s name.
Marc Fisher, Aaron C. Davis, Julie Tate, Alice Crites, Andrew Ba Tran and Donna St. George contributed to this report.