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Washington CNN —  

A longtime friend of Christine Blasey Ford – the woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault – tells CNN that Ford has previously said she needs “more than one exit door in her bedroom to prevent her from being trapped.”

Jim Gensheimer, who has known Ford for eight years, said Tuesday in a statement to CNN that she has always been “an honest, truthful and responsible person.”

“She is a devoted mother and teacher, and a woman of great integrity. I have no reason to not believe what she says about Brett Kavanaugh because she clearly has nothing to gain and much to lose by going public with her story. I know from things she has told me, including her need to have more than one exit door in her bedroom to prevent her from being trapped, that this event was serious enough to have a lasting impact on her life,” his statement read.

On Tuesday, Ford’s attorneys responded to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s request for her to testify before the panel at a hearing Monday in a letter to the committee’s chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa. In the letter, the attorneys said the FBI should complete an investigation before a hearing takes place.

Ford has accused Kavanaugh of committing physical and sexual abuse while they were both at a party in high school.

Kavanaugh has repeatedly denied the allegations.

Grassley responded to Ford’s lawyers’ letter in a statement on Tuesday night: “Dr. Ford’s testimony would reflect her personal knowledge and memory of events. Nothing the FBI or any other investigator does would have any bearing on what Dr. Ford tells the committee, so there is no reason for any further delay.”

Gensheimer told the San Jose Mercury News that he and Ford became friends when their children were training as lifeguards. He told the paper that Ford discussed with him this summer whether and how to tell her story, and confided in him about having sent a letter to Democratic Rep. Anna Eshoo of California.

In addition to Gensheimer’s statement about Ford’s personal integrity, 24 women who attended the Holton-Arms School with Ford signed a letter of support for her and sent it to Congress.

The letter says the women wrote it to attest to the “honesty, integrity, and intelligence” of Ford, and to support her for “bringing this matter forward.”

The women also call Ford’s decision to come forward with her story an “act of civic duty.”

CNN’s Ellie Kaufman and Manu Raju contributed to this report.