President Joe Biden is set to begin nominating key friends and allies to top ambassador posts, and one name, in particular, is raising eyebrows after being accused of a brutal sexual assault.
Former Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd, a longtime Biden friend and member of Biden’s vice presidential search committee, is expected by many to be nominated as the United States’ ambassador to Ireland.
While the Senate has been largely deferential to a president’s choice of ambassador, particularly when it’s a former Senate colleague, a troubling incident in Dodd’s past could lead to an explosive nomination hearing.
Dodd, along with then-Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy, has been credibly accused of sexually assaulting a waitress at a popular D.C. restaurant.
As GQ magazine reported in 1985:
It is after midnight and Kennedy and Dodd are just finishing up a long dinner in a private room on the first floor of the restaurant’s annex. They are drunk. Their dates, two very young blondes, leave the table to go to the bathroom. (The dates are drunk too. “They’d always get their girls very, very drunk,” says a former Brasserie waitress.) Betty Loh, who served the foursome, also leaves the room. Raymond Campet, the co-owner of La Brasserie, tells [waitress Carla] Gaviglio the senators want to see her.
As Gaviglio enters the room, the six-foot-two, 225-plus-pound Kennedy grabs the five-foot-three, 103-pound waitress and throws her on the table. She lands on her back, scattering crystal, plates and cutlery and the lit candles. Several glasses and a crystal candlestick are broken. Kennedy then picks her up from the table and throws her on Dodd, who is sprawled in a chair. With Gaviglio on Dodd’s lap, Kennedy jumps on top and begins rubbing his genital area against hers, supporting his weight on the arms of the chair. As he is doing this, Loh enters the room. She and Gaviglio both scream, drawing one or two dishwashers. Startled, Kennedy leaps up. He laughs. Bruised, shaken and angry over what she considered a sexual assault, Gaviglio runs from the room. Kennedy, Dodd and their dates leave shortly thereafter, following a friendly argument between the senators over the check.
Eyewitness, Betty Loh told me that Kennedy had “three or four” cocktails in his first half hour at the restaurant and wine with dinner. When she walked into the room after Gaviglio had gone in, she says, “what I saw was Senator Kennedy on top of Carla, who was on top of Senator Dodd’s lap, and the tablecloth was sort of slid off the table ’cause the table was knocked over—not completely, but just on Senator Dodd’s lap a little bit, and of course the glasses and the candlesticks were totally spilled and everything. And right when I walked in, Senator Kelly jumped off…and he leaped up, composed himself and got up. And Carla jumped up and ran out of the room.”
According to Loh, Kennedy “was sort of leaning” on Gaviglio, “not really straddling but sort of off-balance so it was like he might have accidentally fallen…He was partially on and off…pushing himself off her to get up.” Dodd, she adds, “said ‘It’s not my fault.’ ” Kennedy said something similar and added, jokingly, “Makes you wonder about the leaders of this country.”
Any Dodd nomination hearing could end up featuring testimony from Gaviglio, who spoke out publicly when Biden named Dodd to his vice presidential search committee.
“I have no idea if Biden has done this, I don’t think any of us do, but I certainly know what the senator’s done and I don’t know what they’re thinking, choosing someone like that,” Gaviglio told The New York Post last May.
“I think they should [have gone] a little deeper and thought about it. I don’t think it was a great idea and I think they could have done a little bit better. There’s so many people out there and why they had to make that choice is a little confounding,” said Gaviglio.
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