Supreme Court Jus­tice Clarence Thomas ac­cused of grop­ing wo­man at 1999 party

The Star Democrat - - FROM THE WIRE - By DAVID G. SAV­AGE Tri­bune Wash­ing­ton Bu­reau

WASH­ING­TON (TNS) — Al­le­ga­tions that GOP nom­i­nee Don­ald Trump groped nu­mer­ous women have prompted an Alaska at­tor­ney to go pub­lic with a claim that she was briefly grabbed at a 1999 din­ner party by Supreme Court Jus­tice Clarence Thomas.

Moira Smith, then age 24 and a Tru­man Foun­da­tion scholar in Wash­ing­ton, said she was in­vited to a small din­ner party with more than a dozen oth­ers, in­clud­ing Jus­tice Thomas.

“I was so in­cred­i­bly ex­cited to meet him, rough con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings not­with­stand­ing,” she wrote on her Face­book page this month. “He was charm­ing in many ways, gi­ant, boom­ing laugh, charis­matic and ap­proach­able. But to my com­plete shock, he groped me while I was set­ting the ta­ble, sug­gest­ing I should sit ‘right next to him’.”

In an in­ter­view with the Na­tional Law Jour­nal, Smith said she was briefly alone with Thomas.

“I was set­ting the place to his right when he reached out, sort of cupped his hand around my butt and pulled me close to him,” Smith said. “He said, ‘where are you sit­ting?’ and gave me a squeeze.”

Smith said she replied that the host had as­signed her a seat at an­other ta­ble. “He one more time squeezed my butt, and he said, ‘Are you sure?’ I said yes, and that was the end of it.”

Thomas, who is mark­ing the 25th an­niver­sary of his join­ing the high court, is­sued a state­ment in re­sponse say­ing, “This claim is pre­pos­ter­ous and it never hap­pened.”

Thomas’ 1991 con­fir­ma­tion was nearly de­railed by al­le­ga­tions from at­tor­ney Anita Hill that he sex­u­ally ha­rassed her when they worked to­gether at the De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion and Equal Em- ploy­ment Op­por­tu­nity Com­mis­sion.

Louis Blair, who was then head of the Tru­man Foun­da­tion and host­ing the din­ner at his home in northern Vir­ginia, told the jour­nal he had not seen or heard of Smith’s al­le­ga­tion. He said he was busy in the kitchen pre­par­ing the din­ner and that he was “skep­ti­cal that the jus­tice and Moira would have been alone.”

Af­ter Smith posted her ac­count on Face­book, the Na­tional Law Jour­nal found three of her friends who re­called her speak­ing of the in­ci­dent in 1999.

Amy Her­tel Buck­ley, who said she worked with Smith pre­par­ing the ta­bles, said in an email that she did not wit­ness the in­ci­dent, but re­called Smith de­scrib­ing it to her.

“When I saw her re­cent Face­book post, it was in­stantly fa­mil­iar to me, and I be­lieve she told me shortly af­ter it hap­pened, but it was a long time ago, so I don’t re­call the spe­cific timeline of when she told me,” Buck­ley said in an email to the Los An­ge­les Times.

Smith grad­u­ated from the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley Law School in 2007 and re­turned to her home state of Alaska. She is a vice pres­i­dent and gen­eral coun­sel for En­star Nat­u­ral Gas Co. Her hus­band, Jake Met­calfe, was for­merly the chair­man of the Alaska Demo­cratic Party.

Smith said she de­cided to post her ac­count af­ter lis­ten­ing to the au­dio record­ing of Trump boast­ing of ag­gres­sively grop­ing women and kiss­ing them without their con­sent. He has dis­missed the record­ing as “locker room talk” and de­nied the women’s al­le­ga­tions.

“We now know that many men in power take ad­van­tage of vul­ner­a­ble women,” Smith said in the Na­tional Law Jour­nal in­ter­view. “That will­ing­ness by men in power to take ad­van­tage of vul­ner­a­ble women re­lies on an un­spo­ken pact that the women will not speak up about it.”

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Supreme Court Jus­tice Clarence Thomas.

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