On Eve Of Kavanaugh-Ford Hearing, Anita Hill Remembers Her Own Testimony | KUER 90.1

On Eve Of Kavanaugh-Ford Hearing, Anita Hill Remembers Her Own Testimony

Sep 26, 2018

Anita Hill, who testified before the U.S. Senate 27 years ago about the alleged sexual harassment she faced from a U.S. Supreme Court nominee, does not compare her situation to Christine Blasey Ford’s.

“Her story is her story, and we have to accept that,” Hill said on the eve of Ford’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee about allegations of sexual abuse by U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Hill became a national figure after she gave similar testimony against then-nominee Clarence Thomas. But in a guest lecture at the University of Utah Wednesday night, she said all victims of sexual abuse and harassment deserve to be treated as individuals.

“I will not do any kind of comparison except to say that I hope we can all be open to hearing [Ford] and evaluating based on what we hear,” Hill said.

Kavanaugh and Ford are scheduled to testify Thursday morning. Ford has accused Kavanaugh of pinning her down, covering her mouth and attempting to force himself on her at a party in the early 1980s while they were in high school.

Two other women have since come forward with additional accusations. One alleges that Kavanuagh exposed himself to her at a party while they were classmates at Yale University.

Another woman said Wednesday through her lawyer that Kavanaugh was present at a high school party where she was gang-raped, and that she witnessed Kavanaugh engage in “highly inappropriate conduct, including being overly aggressive with girls and not taking ‘No’ for an answer” at several parties.

The Senate Judiciary Committee was reportedly investigating two further reports against Kavanaugh this week, one of which alleges he violently pushed a woman he was dating up against a wall in 1998.

The federal appeals judge has vehemently denied all of the accusations against him, calling the latest pair of allegations “phony” and “ridiculous.”

Hill testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in October 1991, when she accused Thomas of sexual harassment while he was her supervisor at the U.S. Department of Education.

Nearly three decades later during her visit to Utah, Hill recalled senators who dismissed her story as “crap” and called her an “erotomaniac.” She specifically remembered Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, who brought a copy of “The Exorcist” to suggest she had plagiarized her experience from the book.

Hill said she testified because she believed the integrity of the Supreme Court was at issue — and said it is once again as the Senate weighs Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

“The matter was not one of my civil rights,” she said. “Access to equal justice for all is what was at stake in 1991 and it is what is at stake now.”

Hill noted parallels in how she was treated in 1991 and how Ford’s accusations are being received. Many, including President Donald Trump, have criticized her for not coming forward sooner. Sen. Hatch said Ford must be “mistaken.”

"When you think about why women don’t come forward, think about the toll it can take," Hill said. "The justice system is not all we can count on for people to be protected.”

When asked if she had advice for Ford, Hill said it is “unfair” to give advice to people she has never met. “If I were going to give advice,” she said, “I would have to talk with her to give it.”

Hill also reiterated her earlier statement that she believes Thursday’s hearing “cannot be fair and thorough.”

Hill predicted senators’ minds will not change after Thursday’s hearing and that many will call it a ‘he-said, she-said’ situation.

“They’re setting it up to be that,” she said. “If you really want the truth of any situation … you have to have a thorough investigation done by a neutral body” as well as witnesses and experts.

Now a professor of social policy, law and women’s studies at Brandeis University, Hill also leads a Hollywood-based commission aimed at preventing workplace harassment.

“The news today is challenging” and “discouraging,” Hill said, but “leaders around the country are looking for ways to end sexual harassment in our schools and our workplaces.”