The leader of a prominent conservative research organization who suggested that Christine Blasey Ford mistakenly accused Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh of sexual assaulting her while in high school, and who built a case against one of his classmates, will take a leave of absence from the organization, its board announced on Sunday.
Edward Whelan, the president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a friend of Judge Kavanaugh, offered his resignation after the organization’s board of directors convened a special meeting on Friday, officials said in a statement. But the board did not accept it, choosing instead to place him on leave.
The board’s brief statement did not specify how long Mr. Whelan would be absent or when the leave would begin, saying only that: “The board will meet in a month to review the situation.” The board said that Mr. Whelan had led the organization “with integrity and excellence for many years” and noted that he had apologized and deleted a string of tweets that contained the bizarre alternative explanation to the allegations presented by Dr. Blasey.
Mr. Whelan could not be reached for comment by phone or email on Sunday night.
Dr. Blasey, a California professor, has said that in high school, the future Judge Kavanaugh pushed her onto a bed, where he jumped on top of her, groped her and tried to remove her clothing — at one point, placing his hand over her mouth to stop calls for help. Judge Kavanaugh, President Trump’s second Supreme Court nominee, has denied the accusation, which has put his confirmation in jeopardy.
On Thursday, Mr. Whelan — a well-connected member of Washington’s conservative legal establishment — posted the string of tweets, for which he was swiftly condemned. In the tweets, he posited a theory that Dr. Blasey’s account could alternatively describe a student at Georgetown Prep, where Judge Kavanaugh went to high school, whom Mr. Whelan identified as a friend and football teammate. Using photographs from Georgetown Prep’s yearbook, Google Maps and floor plans of a home that he identifies as the classmate’s, Mr. Whelan built an argument that details of Dr. Blasey’s account fit the classmate’s home.
Mr. Whelan proceeded to post recent and high school photos of the classmate and Judge Kavanaugh, suggesting that their similar appearance could easily confuse someone.
Although he apologized Friday for what he called “an appalling and inexcusable mistake of judgment,” he has not publicly apologized to Dr. Blasey or for his broader theory of mistaken identity, and in several other posts he has sought to cast doubt on her claims.
In a statement through her lawyers, Dr. Blasey has flatly rejected the possibility that she had confused Judge Kavanaugh with the classmate identified by Mr. Whelan.
The man identified in the Twitter thread has not replied to phone messages seeking comment, and The New York Times is not naming him.