(CBSDFW.COM) – Serious and studious, but quick to smile: that’s how Mark Rist described Brett Kavanaugh as a teenager. Rist met the Supreme Court nominee at Georgetown Prep in 1980, when Kavanaugh was a sophomore in Rist’s theology class. “He just came across as gentle. He was very gentle,” said Rist.
Rist says Kavanaugh was clearly focused on his studies and his future. “Brett was one of the few who played sports who was also at the top of his class.” Rist left Georgetown Prep after a couple years and later spent almost three decades at Nolan Catholic High School in Fort Worth. He’d all but forgotten about Kavanaugh until his former student made national news. “I didn’t know the name. And then as soon as I saw the face, it looked familiar.”
Then came the bombshell testimony from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. Her account – that a drunken teenage Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her – didn’t sit well with Rist. “Not wanting to get into the political thing, [my] thought was simply… this cannot be true.” Rist says students from Georgetown Prep socialized with students from several other small private schools in the area, and he heard a lot of gossip as a lunch room monitor and resident advisor. “That’s one of the reasons that I found the allegation… less credible,” said Rist. “Simply because they all knew each other… if any of those kinds of things had happened, that would spread like wildfire.”
Rist also points to Blasey Ford’s allegation that Kavanaugh’s friend Mark Judge was in the room during the sexual assault. “Mark wouldn’t keep his mouth shut about anything.” Rist says he still keeps in touch with Judge, another of his former students. “Mark was a fun kid. Yes, he liked to stir things up… so all of the stories about him at the parties does not surprise me at all.”
The stories of Kavanaugh’s heavy drinking surprise Rist, who say the teenager seemed too focused on his future, and too busy with school and sports. “If he had been drinking heavily, it would have been very difficult for him to maintain,” said Rist. “Competing for number one in the class – because I think he had his eyes on Yale – and to be able to maintain that type of athletic performance.”
Rist left Georgetown Prep near the end of June in 1982 so he admits that if the alleged assault had happened after that, he would not have heard about it.
Rist is quick to point out that he is not defending his former student, but he says his memories of the nominee don’t match the accusations. “The core of him is integrity — without trying to sound political — but the core of him was integrity. And that’s the Brett Kavanaugh that I know.”