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Lillian McEwen breaks her 19-year silence about Justice Clarence Thomas
Angela Wright, who in 1984 worked as public affairs director at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission -- which polices sexual harassment claims -- during Thomas's long tenure as chairman, shared similar accounts with Senate investigators.
Once, when walking into an EEOC seminar with Thomas, he asked her, "What size are your breasts?" according to the transcript of her Senate interview.
Her story was corroborated by a former EEOC speechwriter, who told investigators that Wright had become increasingly uneasy around Thomas because of his comments about her appearance.
But Wright also had problems that made committee Democrats nervous. She had been fired by Thomas, and previously by a member of Congress. She also had quit a third job in government, accusing her boss of incompetence and racism.
Concerned about Wright's credibility, Biden lifted a subpoena for her to testify at the hearing. Instead, transcripts of the interviews with Wright and her corroborator were simply entered into the record, drawing only modest press attention.
Another woman, Sukari Hardnett, who worked as a special assistant to Thomas in 1985 and 1986, wrote in a letter to the Judiciary Committee that "If you were young, black, female and reasonably attractive, you knew full well you were being inspected and auditioned as a female" by Thomas.
For his part, a parade of women who worked with Thomas defended him before the Judiciary Committee, calling it impossible that he would engage in the type of inappropriate behavior described by his accusers.
McEwen recalls writing Thomas a short note before the confirmation hearings, curious about what she should say if she were quizzed about their relationship. She said Thomas preferred that she would take "the same attitude of his first wife," who never talked publicly about their relationship.
In 2007, the Howard University Law School graduate retired and grew reflective on her life. Her career had included stints as an administrative law judge for both the Social Security Administration and the Securities and Exchange Commission. She also had turns as a law professor and a private attorney -- all after her work as a federal prosecutor and Senate Judiciary Committee lawyer.
She spends her days in her Southwest townhouse. She frequently meets up with friends for movies, golf and other outings. Regularly, she stops by the National Museum of the American Indian for lunch.
In her short leather jacket, ankle-high boots and leather cap, she looks younger than her age. And when she talks about Thomas, her tone is devoid of rancor. She sees him mainly as someone who occupied a chapter of her life.
Still, McEwen, a Democrat, acknowledges growing increasingly irritated with Thomas's conservative jurisprudence and his penchant for casting himself as a victim in the Hill controversy.