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Justice Thomas' wife asks Anita Hill for apology

She won't get one. The woman who 20 years ago accused him of sexual harassment stands by her testimony.

October 20, 2010|By Kathleen Hennessey, Tribune Washington Bureau

Reporting from Washington — Almost 20 years after the fact, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has called the woman who accused her husband of sexual harassment and asked for an apology.

In a message left on Anita Hill's office voice mail, Virginia Thomas asked her husband's former aide to "consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband."

Hill is a professor at Brandeis University in Massachusetts, and the message was left Saturday, Oct. 9, at 7:30 a.m. A spokesman for the university confirmed that Hill turned the message over Monday to the school's Department of Public Safety.

"And they in turn informed the FBI," said Andrew Gully, senior vice president of communications and external affairs. "They felt it was the appropriate thing to do."

At the university, Hill is a professor of social policy, law and women's studies. Hill became a household name and the subject of a national conversation about sexual harassment after her explosive testimony at Thomas' contentious confirmation hearings in 1991. On Tuesday, Hill said she had nothing to apologize for.

"I certainly thought the call was inappropriate," Hill said in a statement. "I have no intention of apologizing because I testified truthfully about my experience and I stand by that testimony."

Hill told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Thomas had repeatedly boasted of his sexual prowess and described scenes from pornographic novels. In what Hill called "one of the oddest episodes," she testified that Thomas once picked up a soda can from his desk and said, "Who has put pubic hair on my Coke?"

Thomas, a conservative, forcefully denied the allegations and famously referred to the proceeding as a "high-tech lynching." He said it was what happened to blacks who chose to think for themselves and have different ideas.

"You will be lynched, destroyed, caricatured by a committee of the U.S. Senate rather than hung from a tree," he told the committee.

Virginia Thomas, who stood by her husband during those hearings, is a conservative activist. She has recently raised her profile by forming a "tea party"-linked advocacy group aimed at blocking what she has called the Obama administration's "hard-left" agenda.

Thomas' message was first reported by ABC News, which obtained a transcript:

"Good morning, Anita Hill, it's Ginni Thomas. I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband. So give it some thought and certainly pray about this and come to understand why you did what you did. OK, have a good day."

Virginia Thomas confirmed the message.

"The offer still stands," she told ABC News in a statement.

kathleen.hennessey@latimes.com

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