Newly announced presidential candidate Joe Biden contacted Anita Hill earlier this month to express “regret” over the way her sexual-harassment allegations against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas were handled—but Hill didn’t walk away happy.
She told The New York Times this week that she was unsatisfied with their conversation and refuses to call what he said an apology.
“I cannot be satisfied by simply saying I’m sorry for what happened to you. I will be satisfied when I know there is real change and real accountability and real purpose,” she said. Hill added that she doesn’t think Biden yet understands the true consequences of his actions, and, as such, she cannot support his presidential bid.
“The focus on apology to me is one thing,” Hill added. “But he needs to give an apology to the other women and to the American public because we know now how deeply disappointed Americans around the country were about what they saw. And not just women. There are women there are women and men now who have just really lost confidence in our government to respond to the problem of gender violence.”
Biden has expressed “regret” about the circumstances surrounding Hill’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991, when he, as committee chairman, presided over hearings meant to investigate claims that Thomas sexually harassed Hill and other women during his time running the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Hill was graphically questioned about her own sex life and was accused of “flat-out perjury” by Republican senators who openly mused that her testimony was the “product of fantasy” derived from the film The Exorcist.
Biden also blocked two women, Sukari Hardnett and Angela Wright, who sought to testify before the committee about their own experiences with Thomas. Instead, the women were directed to submit affidavits to the committee, which received so little notice that even some members of the U.S. Senate were unaware that they had been entered into the record.
In March, Biden said he regretted his actions, but stopped short of claiming responsibility.
“I wish I could’ve done something... To this day I regret I couldn’t give her the kind of hearing she deserved,” he said. “She paid a terrible price. She was abused during that hearing.” During his call with Hill, he reportedly “shared with her directly his regret for what she endured and his admiration for everything she has done to change the culture around sexual harassment in this country.”
—With reporting from Scott Bixby.