After almost 20 years, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas picked up the phone and called the woman who accused her husband of sexual harassment during a contentious confirmation hearing that captivated the nation, ABC News reports.
Virginia Thomas left a voice mail, seeking an apology from Anita Hill. “Good morning, Anita Hill, it’s Ginny Thomas,” said the voice mail, which was obtained by ABC. “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."
Thinking the call was a prank, Hill -- who is now a professor of social policy, law, and women’s studies at Brandeis University -- reported the call to the police, where it caught the attention of Mark Matthews at ABC affiliate KGO in San Francisco. The police, in turn, passed the message on to the FBI.
Matthews contacted Thomas, who said her voice mail was a peace offering.
“I did place a call to Ms. Hill at her office extending an olive branch to her after all these years, in hopes that we could ultimately get passed [sic] what happened so long ago,” Thomas told Matthews in an e-mail. “That offer still stands, I would be very happy to meet and talk with her if she would be willing to do the same. Certainly no offense was ever intended.”
But Hill only saw confrontation in the message because it presumes she has something to apologize for. “I simply testified to the truth of my experience,” Hill told ABC. “For her to say otherwise is not extending an olive branch, it’s accusatory. I don’t apologize. I have no intention of apologizing, and I stand by my testimony in 1991.”
Hill testified during the confirmation hearings that Thomas made inappropriate sexual remarks to her when she worked for him at the Education Department and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a decade before Thomas was nominated to the high court. Thomas vigorously denied the allegations, calling his confirmation process a “high-tech lynching.”
This isn’t the first time Virginia Thomas has sought an apology from Hill. In an October 2007 interview on ABC’s Good Morning America, she said, “I'm sure she got swept up into something bigger than she may have understood at the beginning of whatever she was doing, but I think she owes us an apology, and I look forward to receiving that phone call or that visit one day.” The interview was conducted after the release of Clarence Thomas’s memoir, My Grandfather’s Son, in which he attacked Hill for her testimony, calling her a “mediocre” employee and a product of political opposition to his appointment.