When Chris Dudley, the ex-NBA player who knew Brett Kavanaugh in college, stood up for his friend, the White House quickly blasted out his comments to press as a character witness for the embattled nominee.
With some light Googling, they may have discovered Dudley has some experience defending friends who find themselves under public scrutiny. One of the last men Dudley publicly backed up was a swim coach who was ultimately arrested and banned from USA Swimming for sexual assault allegations.
The case took place roughly a decade ago, when Dudley vouched for the character of disgraced Lake Oswego swim coach Don King, who was accused of felony counts of sexual abusing minors he had coached.
According to a post at the progressive website BlueOregon, which chronicled the September 2008 minutes of a Lake Oswego School Board hearing, Dudley testified as a key witness for King, who was at the time trying to get his old job back.
The document appears to have been since removed from the Lake Oswego School District web page, but according to BlueOregon’s aggregation, Dudley was wholeheartedly supportive of his embattled friend.
“Mr. Dudley resides in Lake Oswego and has three children—ages 9, 8, and 6—all of whom have been coached by Mr. King,” the passage reads. “Mr. Dudley noted that Mr. King assisted him when he had to rehab in the pool following an injury when playing for the Blazers. Mr. King assisted Mr. Dudley with water exercises that had therapeutic value, as well as some manipulation of his body…Within the context in which Mr. King provided massage therapy to Mr. Dudley, Mr. Dudley indicated that he did not consider it sexual or harassing in nature. He characterized Mr. King as a caring individual and felt valued and cared about at an emotional level…Mr. Dudley stressed that Mr. King truly cares about his swimmers and strives to ensure that everyone he works with improves.”
The quoted meeting minutes show that Dudley also had no problem with his young kids spending time with the coach.
“Mr. King coached all of Mr. Dudley’s children, as well as many of their friends. He observed Mr. King having children on his lap, having his hand on the clothed buttocks of children, and pulling children over by hooking a finger on the inside of a bathing suit, as well as other nurturing, emotionally connective interaction with children (boys and girls) of all ages,” the passage continues. “Mr. Dudley conceded that he would have been uncomfortable observing any coach other than Mr. King perform these actions with his children if he was unfamiliar with the person and/or context.”
The Daily Beast could not reach Dudley for comment.
A story published in The Oregonian in July 2008 about how "King was ousted for inappropriately touching swimmers," and corroborates that "Several parents, including former Trail Blazers basketball player Chris Dudley, said they were not concerned about King hugging and kissing their children or patting them on the buttocks."
At the time, King’s story was a major scandal in Oregon, during which the accused was arrested in 2007 and pleaded not guilty to multiple charges. A jury ultimately acquitted King in 2009, though jurors made clear they were disturbed by his physical actions toward teen girls, deeming them “inappropriate and troubling.” He was also banned that year from USA Swimming for the rest of his life.
Though King conceded he at times was “handsy” with girls he coached, the then 67-year-old argued his actions were simply "grandfatherly" and not sexually predatory in nature.
Still, as King tried to clear his name and attain a reinstatement, he faced further allegations of sexual misconduct. For instance, Lake Oswego police had interviewed a woman, then in her 40s, who claimed that King abused her when she was 16, and on his swim team in California in the 1980s. The accuser stated that King the misconduct eventually escalated to “oral sex,” according to a report in The Oregonian. (King’s attorney at the time argued that the accuser had changed her story, and that his client was working in a different area during the timeframe that the alleged abuse was said to have happened.)
During this saga, Dudley, who later ran for governor as a Republican in 2010, was perhaps King’s most high-profile character witness. Today, he’s also attempting to help exonerate Judge Kavanaugh, even in the face of several other contradictory accounts about his Yale classmate have emerged from contemporaries. Dudley is Kavanaugh’s good friend from Yale and reportedly a bar-fight comrade. On Monday, the White House even promoted Dudley’s on-record comments regarding the judge and alleged attempted rapist.
“I went out with [Brett] all the time. He never blacked out. Never even close to blacked out,” Dudley told The Washington Post last month. “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.”
These comments from Dudley prompted Charles Ludington, another former Yale University student who says he has knowledge of Kavanaugh’s past behavior, to disown the former NBA player.
“I’m sad to say my friendship with Chris is over. He’s not telling the truth,” Ludington told the Post. “I think he has been trying to protect Brett, like some jock omertà.”