On Thursday, the National Law Journal and Washington Post relayed an account from an Alaska attorney who accuses Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas of groping her and grabbing her butt in 1999. Moira Smith, who was a 23-year-old student at the time, met Thomas (who was confirmed to SCOTUS in 1991) at a dinner for Truman Foundation scholars. Thomas has called the claims “preposterous.”
The National Law Journal notes that Smith originally made the allegations a few weeks ago on her private Facebook page (which she since deactivated): “He groped me while I was setting the table, suggesting I should sit ‘right next to him.'” Smith reportedly wrote the post while reacting to the stream of women coming forward to lodge similar accusations against Donald Trump. While the publication hasn’t spoken to Smith, they talked to three of her friends who wished to corroborate her version of the story. Reporter Marcia Coyle wrote the following:
“[Smith’s] three former housemates during the spring and summer of 1999 each said in interviews they remembered Smith describing inappropriate contact by Thomas after she came home that night from the dinner or early the next morning,” Coyle wrote.
“They also remembered their own shock and inability to advise her about how to respond. Another Truman scholar that summer, whom Smith would later marry and divorce, said in an interview he ‘definitely remembered’ her sharing with him what had happened soon after the dinner party.
The Washington Post also published the above statements, along with those of other attendees at the party, who don’t recall witnessing the alleged incident. For his part, Thomas insists that the allegations are “preposterous and [it] never happened.”
In 1991, Thomas become the focus of controversy when Oklahoma University law professor Anita Hill accused him of sexual harassment in the 1980s while he was her boss at the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission. A few weeks ago, Hill penned an op-ed in the Boston Globe, in which she condemned how Trump bragged about sexual assault in 2005 hot-mic footage.