Major areas of conflict remaining in testimony

October 12, 1991|By Cox News Service

WASHINGTON -- The Judiciary Committee hearings brought new light yesterday on several factual disputes that had emerged as points for testing the credibility of Clarence Thomas and Anita F. Hill.

1. Did Clarence Thomas ask Anita Hill for a date in 1981?

Thomas: "Contrary to some press reports, I categorically denied all of the allegations and denied that I ever attempted to date Anita Hill when first interviewed by the FBI. I strongly reaffirm that denial. . . . During my tenure in the executive branch as a manager, as a policy-maker, and as a person, I have adamantly condemned sex harassment."

Hill: She testified that he asked her out five to 10 times in 1981-1983 and that the "pressure to go out with him" embarrassed her. "I had a normal social life with other men outside of the office. I believed then, as now, that having a social relationship with a person who was supervising my work would be ill-advised. I was very uncomfortable with the idea and told him so."

2. Did Thomas discuss pornography with Ms. Hill in 1981?

Thomas: He flatly denied that, saying, "I have been racking my brains and eating my insides out trying to think of what I could have said or done to Anita Hill to lead her to allege that I was interested in her in more than a professional way, and that I talked with her about pornographic or X-rated films." He added, "But with that said, if there is anything that I have said that has been misconstrued by Anita Thomas or anyone else to be sexual harassment, then I can say that I am so very sorry and I wish I had known."

Hill: Thomas "talked about acts he had seen in pornographic films involving such matters as women having sex with animals and films showing group sex or rape scenes." She quoted Thomas as saying that "you really ought to see these films I've seen" and said that she felt his comments amounted to an "implicit" invitation to have sex. She said his comments seemed designed to make her feel vulnerable "so that I would have to concede to whatever his wishes were."

3. If Ms. Hill was sexually harassed, why did she follow Clarence Thomas from the Education Department to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 1982?

Thomas: "During my tenure at the Department of Education, Anita Hill was an attorney adviser who worked directly with me. . . . I recall being pleased with her work product and the professional but cordial relationship which we enjoyed at work. I also recall engaging in discussions about politics and current events. . . . I do not recall that there was any question or doubt that she would become a special assistant to me at EEOC, although as a career employee she retained the option of remaining at the Department of Education."

Hill: "When Judge Thomas was made chair of the EEOC, I needed to face the question of whether to go with him. I was asked to do so, and I did. The work itself was interesting, and at that time it appeared that the sexual overtures which had so troubled me had ended. I also faced the realistic fact that I had no alternative job. While I might have gone back to private practice, perhaps in my old firm or at another, I was dedicated to civil rights work, and my first choice was to be in that field. Moreover, the Department of Education itself was a dubious venture. President Reagan was seeking to abolish the entire department."

4. Did Ms. Hill know co-worker Phyllis Berry while they were both at the EEOC?

Thomas: Did not mention.

Thomas defender: In cross-examining Ms. Hill, Sen. Arlen Specter challenged her comment quoted in the New York Times this week that "I don't know Phyllis Berry and she doesn't know me." (Ms. Berry said that Ms. Hill made charges against Judge Thomas because she was frustrated that he was uninterested in her sexually.)

Hill: She acknowledged that she knew Berry as a co-worker and attended staff meetings with her, along with Mr. Thomas, at the EEOC. "We were not unfriendly with each other," she said. But she said that Ms. Berry wasn't a close friend and would have no way of knowing about her sexual interests.

5. How did Ms. Hill get her first teaching job at Oral Roberts University in Oklahoma after leaving the EEOC in 1983?

Thomas: "In the spring of 1983, Mr. Charles Kothe contacted me to speak at the law school at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla. . . . Anita Hill accompanied me on that trip primarily because this was an opportunity to combine business and a visit to her home. As I recall, during our visit at Oral Roberts University, Mr. Kothe mentioned to me the possibility of approaching Anita Hill to join the faculty at Oral Roberts University Law School. I encouraged him to do so and noted to him, as I recall, that Anita Hill would do well in teaching."

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