Specter's regret unsatisfactory to Anita Hill Thomas' accuser says she's skeptical

October 07, 1992|By New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON -- Anita F. Hill, the Oklahoma University law professor who accused Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment, said in a television interview broadcast yesterday that she was skeptical of recent expressions of contrition and regret by Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., who interrogated her harshly in Justice Thomas' Supreme Court confirmation hearings a year ago.

On the "Today" program on NBC-TV, Ms. Hill was asked about Mr. Specter's statements in his re-election campaign that he now better understands the issue of sexual harassment. Mr. Specter has said he now understands why Ms. Hill's complaint "touched a raw nerve among so many women."

Ms. Hill said she was not satisfied with Mr. Specter's comments, adding, "He is seeking re-election, and I'm skeptical." She said his statement "didn't really say enough to me."

"He says it touched a nerve in some women," Ms. Hill said. "Well, that's pretty obvious."

Mr. Specter is facing a stiff challenge from Lynn Yeakel, a Democrat who has said she decided to run because of his harsh treatment of Ms. Hill in the hearings. Mr. Specter, a former district attorney, challenged Ms. Hill's testimony, at one point saying a seeming contradiction was "flat-out perjury."

Even though Justice Thomas was confirmed to the Supreme Court, Ms. Hill's credibility appears to be gaining with time. Just after the Senate confirmed Justice Thomas, public opinion surveys showed that a clear majority believed his account. But a profound shift appears to have occurred. Some surveys now show that more people believe Ms. Hill.

U.S. News & World Report reports this week that a recent poll of 1,002 adults, with a statistical margin-of-sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points, showed that an equal number of respondents, 38 percent, believed Ms. Hill as believed Justice Thomas.

A recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll showed that 44 percent of those surveyed said they believed Ms. Hill and 34 percent said they believed Justice Thomas. Last October that poll showed Justice Thomas believed by 47 percent and Ms. Hill by 24 percent.

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