Harassment

Groping allegations from 1999 against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas emerge

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. (Getty Images)

A lawyer from Alaska has reportedly made claims that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas groped her in 1999 at a dinner party. According to a report by The National Law Journal, the woman wrote about the incident on her Facebook page, which has since been deactivated, on the evening of October 7 — the day the Access Hollywood tape of Donald Trump speaking crassly about groping women emerged. Thomas has denied the accusation, calling it “preposterous.”

Moira Smith, who at the time was a 23-year-old Truman Foundation scholar, detailed her account of the alleged incident, the report said. Smith reportedly alleged that she was attending a dinner party at the home of Louis Blair, her boss, in Falls Church, Va., when the inappropriate contact occurred. “He groped me while I was setting the table, suggesting I should sit ‘right next to him,’” Smith reportedly wrote in the post. A spokesperson for Smith told The Washington Post that the story is true and that Smith will soon issue statement. Several other people interviewed by The National Law Journal corroborated Smith’s account, including three of her housemates at the time and her ex-husband. She said she decided to come forward after hearing the Trump tape. “Enough is enough,” she reportedly wrote in the post.

Thomas has flatly denied the accusations. “This claim is preposterous and it never happened,” he said in a statement issued through the Supreme Court’s press office. And guests at the party that night tracked down by The National Law Journal said they’d never heard of any such claims against Thomas from the evening in question. Blair, Smith’s boss who hosted the party, told the publication he doubted whether Thomas would’ve been alone with any of the dinner guests.

The accusation comes just as Thomas is celebrating his 25th year on the Supreme Court bench. Prior to his confirmation, he came under heavy scrutiny amid sexual harassment claims made by Anita Hill. Hill appeared before a Senate judiciary committee in October 1991 to answer questions about her allegations. The hearing stretched across three days and was broadcast on live TV, transfixing the nation. Hill, a law professor, testified in graphic detail about the explicit language and bizarre behavior she was allegedly subjected to while working for Thomas. In the end, the all-male committee hearing the case dismissed the claims and Thomas was confirmed to the bench. Earlier this year, the entire ordeal was brought to the small screen by HBO, with Kerry Washington depicting Hill.

Washington appeared at the Women in the World New York Summit in April and discussed playing Anita Hill on a panel moderated by Cynthia McFadden that looked at how Anita Hill changed the culture around sexual harassment. Watch the full panel in the video below.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

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