The Plank

Doubting Thomas

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As Clarence Thomas continues his global self-pity tour, the Post's Ruth Marcus helps set the record straight:

First, Hill did not wait 10 years to complain about his behavior. Susan Hoerchner, a Yale Law School classmate of Hill's, described how she complained of sexual harassment while working for Thomas, saying the EEOC chairman had "repeatedly asked her out . . . but wouldn't seem to take 'no' for an answer." Ellen Wells, a friend, said Hill had come to her, "deeply troubled and very depressed," with complaints about Thomas's inappropriate behavior. John Carr, a lawyer, said that Hill, in tears, confided that "her boss was making sexual advances toward her." American University law professor Joel Paul said Hill had told him in 1987 that she had left the EEOC because she had been sexually harassed by her supervisor.
Second, Hill was not the only former subordinate of Thomas's with complaints. Former EEOC employee Angela Wright described how Thomas pressured her to date him, showed up uninvited at her apartment and asked her breast size. "Clarence Thomas would say to me, 'You know you need to be dating me. . . . You're one of the finest women I have on my staff," Wright told Senate investigators.
Wright's account was corroborated by Rose Jourdain, a former speechwriter who, like Wright, was dismissed by Thomas. Jourdain said Wright had complained that she was "increasingly nervous about being in his presence alone" because of comments "concerning her figure, her body, her breasts, her legs."
Another former Thomas employee, Sukari Hardnett, said of his office, "If you were young, black, female and reasonably attractive, you knew full well you were being inspected and auditioned as a female."
Third, as Merida and Fletcher found, some of the behavior Hill complained about resonated with episodes from Thomas's past. Hill described an episode in which Thomas, drinking a soda, asked, "Who has put pubic hair on my Coke?" James Millet, a college classmate of Thomas's, recalled "an almost identical episode" at Holy Cross. "Pubic hair was one of the things he talked about," another classmate said. Jane Mayer and Jill Abramson, in "Strange Justice," found two others who recalled a pubic hair-Coke can comment at the EEOC.
Similarly, Thomas had a well-known taste for the kind of extreme pornography Hill said he brought up with her. "Listening to her, it was as if I was listening to the guy I knew speak," said law school classmate Henry Terry. Washington lawyer Fred Cooke saw Thomas, while EEOC chairman, checking out a triple-X video of "The Adventures of Bad Mama Jama."

Somehow, these details didn't make it into the memoir.

--Christopher Orr

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