Charles Ludington told The Washington Post the brawl occurred in September 1985, after a UB40 concert. At a bar called Demery’s, a small group of students thought they spotted the band’s lead singer.
Ludington said he approached the man to ask. “Turns out it wasn’t him,” he said. “He was New Haven tough. He said something aggressive, like ‘Screw off.’ ”
Kavanaugh escalated the situation, Ludington said, replying with an expletive or something similar, “and then threw his drink in the guy’s face.”
On Sunday, Ludington said publicly that he intended to discuss the incident with FBI agents in Raleigh, N.C., where he is an associate professor at North Carolina State University. Agents soon contacted him, he said Monday night. They instructed him to file a request to provide testimony, then emailed him a questionnaire and told him to come in Tuesday.
The FBI reopened Kavanaugh’s background check last week after Christine Blasey Ford, a research psychologist and professor in California, accused him of sexually assaulting her while he was, in her words, “stumbling drunk,” when both were in high school in the early 1980s. He has strongly denied the accusation.
Last week, Kavanaugh told the Senate Judiciary Committee during a hearing that he drank but was never out of control. “I drank beer with my friends. Almost everyone did. Sometimes I had too many beers. Sometimes others did. I liked beer. I still like beer. But I did not drink beer to the point of blacking out,” he said during his testimony.
Ludington told The Post that his recollection of Kavanaugh differed.
“I saw him quite drunk. There were certainly many times when he could not remember what was going on,” he said, adding that “there’s an angry streak that comes out when Brett drinks.”
A White House spokesman did not respond to emails about Ludington’s account. A police report documenting the incident was first reported Monday night by the New York Times.
In the report, a New Haven police officer wrote that after 1 a.m. on Sept. 26, 1985, a man found bleeding from the ear told officers that another man — identified in the report as Kavanaugh — “threw ice at him for some unknown reason.”
Ludington said the aggressive act by Kavanaugh touched off a brief melee. Soon the man and Kavanaugh “were connected in some headlock or wrestling form,” Ludington said.
Within moments, another Kavanaugh friend, Yale student Chris Dudley, was involved, Ludington said. In a brief interview, Dudley disputed Ludington’s account.
The police report noted that Dudley was taken to a “detention facility,” but Mark Sherman, a Stamford, Conn., lawyer representing him said in an interview Tuesday that Dudley was “never arrested by Yale or New Haven Police, was never charged with a crime, and never set foot in court.”
Sherman did not deny the accounts of the incident. “There was an altercation,” he said. But he added: “He fully cooperated with the investigation that night at the police station. He was let go because he was never charged with a crime.”
Ludington said Dudley took a pint glass or beer bottle and smashed it against the man’s head. Soon both Dudley and the man were bloodied, and friends were rushing in to pull the brawlers apart, said Ludington and Warren N. Sams III, a fourth Yale classmate who said he observed the altercation.
Sams, a lawyer in Atlanta who was a fraternity brother of Kavanaugh and Dudley, said he does not remember seeing Kavanaugh there. Sams said he and other friends helped Dudley out of the bar.
Sams said he recalled seeing blood on Dudley’s hand and worrying that the star basketball player, who went on to a career in the National Basketball Association, had injured himself. “The fight was over,” Sams said. “It was a scuffle. And then someone was pulling Dudley back and saying, ‘Help me get Chris out of here.’ ”
Richard Unger, who graduated from Yale with Kavanaugh in 1987, also recalled the brawl at Demery’s because he lived directly across the street, in Saybrook College, one of the university’s residential colleges.
Unger did not witness the brawl, but he was at the bar and remembered Kavanaugh, Dudley and Ludington being questioned by two police officers.
“The next day, it was the talk of the campus,” recalled Unger, 53, who lives in Manhattan and is retired from the military and Wall Street. He remembered seeing Dudley bleeding and wondering whether it would affect his athletic standing because he was “the star of the Yale basketball team.”
Unger said he was dismayed by Kavanaugh’s descriptions of himself as a “choir boy” in an interview on Fox News Channel last week, which he said did not match his own recollections of their time at Yale.
“All my friends were in DKE. DKE was about drinking,” Unger said, referring to the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, to which Kavanaugh belonged. “We were at Yale, and it was a party scene. I saw him at parties, and he was drinking like we all were.”
The Post could find no record of a formal charge or conviction from the event.
Reached briefly by phone, Dudley said, “I don’t know what [Ludington] is talking about.”
Dudley, Oregon’s Republican nominee for governor in 2010, has been a vocal Kavanaugh supporter.
When The Post sought comment from Kavanaugh’s attorneys last week regarding allegations of excessive drinking at Yale, the newspaper received a call back from Dudley. “There was drinking and there was alcohol. Brett drank and I drank. Did he get inebriated sometimes? Yes. Did I? Yes. Just like every other college kid in America,” Dudley said. But “he didn’t miss class, he didn’t miss practice. He was an incredibly humble guy.”
Ludington disputed that account.
“I’m sad to say my friendship with Chris is over. He’s not telling the truth,” Ludington said. “I think he has been trying to protect Brett, like some jock omertà.”
Researcher Alice Crites contributed to this report.