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 voicemail message left over the weekend.
In a transcript of the message provided by ABC News, which said it listened to the recording, Thomas 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. OK, have a good day," Thomas said.
When Hill heard the voicemail, she contacted Brandeis' public safety office, which in turn informed 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, Virginia 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 passed (sic) 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 voicemail.
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.
Thomas called the nationally televised hearings a "high-tech lynching."
He broke a 16-year silence about the hearings in a 2007 book, "My Grandfather's Son," writing that Hill was a mediocre employee who was used by political opponents to make claims she had been sexually harassed. The justice's wife first suggested Hill apologize in interviews the couple gave after the release of the book.
Hill had worked for Thomas at the Education Department and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She first made her allegations after Thomas had been nominated to the high court, 10 years after she began working for him and only after she was contacted by congressional investigators.
Associated Press writer Bob Salsberg in Boston contributed to this report.