It’s the central non-surprise in a surprising turn of events.
When Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ wife, Virginia, a leading figure in Tea Party circles, left an early morning voice mail message of Anita Hill asking her to consider apologizing for testimony Hill had given to Congress about two decades ago that damaged but did not stop the appointment of her former boss, Virginia’s husband, Clarence Thomas, to the highest court, that voicemail started a peculiar chain of events that has not yet played out.
The testimony was wide-ranging but largely focused on Thomas’ behavior toward female staff members and subordinates, which, according to Hill (and others who did not testify before Congress), ran long on sexual innuendo and inappropriate, sometimes aggressive comments of a sexual nature.
Now, the woman Thomas had been dating at the time (before his marriage to Virginia), Lillian McEwan, who Thomas referred to in his testimony, has stepped forward with her first public comments on the matter.
In his own testimony, Thomas had suggested that Hill was jealous of Thomas’ relationship with the light-skinned McEwan, seeming to suggest that the dark complected Hill was envious of Thomas’ frequent companion’s light complexion. (No, really.)
McEwan, now retired after her own long and prestigious law career, has written a memoir, and she has come forward to seemingly corroborate Hill’s characterizations of Thomas as conversationally obsessed with sex, large breasts, and suggesting that he was constantly sizing up young, black, female subordinates as possible sexual conquests. Saying that it was the call to Hill by Thomas’ wife Virginia asking Hill to consider apologizing for her long-ago testimony that provoked her to finally come forward, McEwan recently gave a 30 minute interview to the New York Times.
For Ms. Thomas, [McEwan] said, the accusation of sexual harassment made by Ms. Hill “still has to be a mystery, that he is still angry about this and upset about it after all these years, and I can understand that she would want to know why, and solve a problem if she could — I mean, acting as a loyal wife.”
But Ms. McEwen said she knew a different Clarence Thomas, one whom she recognized in the 1991 testimony of Ms. Hill, who claimed that he had repeatedly made inappropriate sexual comments to her at work, including descriptions of pornographic films.
Ms. McEwen said that pornography for Justice Thomas was “just a part of his personality structure.” She said he kept a stack of pornographic magazines, “frequented a store on Dupont Circle that catered to his needs,” and allowed his interest in pornography to bleed into his professional relationships.
And the original coverage from the Washington Post, which broke the story.