WASHINGTON — The wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas called Anita Hill to ask her to apologize for accusing the justice of sexually harassing her, 19 years after Thomas' confirmation hearing spawned a national debate about harassment in the workplace.
Virginia Thomas said in a statement Tuesday that she was "extending an olive branch" to Hill, now a Brandeis University professor, in a voice mail message left on her office phone on Oct. 9.
In a transcript of the message provided by ABC News, which said it listened to the recording, Thomas, who married Clarence in 1987, identified herself and then said: "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. Okay, have a good day."
Hill told the New York Times that she kept the message for nearly a week trying to decide whether the caller really was Thomas or a prankster. Unsure, she said, she decided to turn it over to the Brandeis campus police with a request to convey it to the FBI.
"I certainly thought the call was inappropriate," Hill, who worked for Clarence Thomas in two federal government jobs, said in a statement released Tuesday night.
"I have no intention of apologizing because I testified truthfully about my experience and I stand by that testimony," she added.
In her statement, Thomas said she did not intend to offend Hill.
"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 past what happened so long ago. That offer still stands, I would be very happy to meet and talk with her if she would be willing to do the same," Thomas said.
FBI Special Agent Jason Pack, a spokesman at bureau headquarters in Washington, declined to comment on the voice mail.
During his 1991 Senate confirmation hearings to the high court, Justice Thomas adamantly denied Hill's accusations that he made inappropriate sexual remarks, including references to pornographic movies. Thomas said he did talk about X-rated movies while at Yale Law School, adding that so did many other young people in the 1970s.
The allegations nearly derailed his nomination.