Anita Hill Not Satisfied by Joe Biden Apology, Calls for 'Real Change' and 'Accountability'

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who officially announced his 2020 presidential bid Thursday, called Anita Hill earlier this month to express his "regret for what she endured" when she testified in 1991 to the Senate about alleged sexual harassment at the hands of then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, but Hill was not satisfied with what Biden had to say.

Following their exchange, Hill told The New York Times this week that she didn't view his words as an apology, and called on Biden to properly address sexual harassment and gender violence towards women.

"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," said Hill, now a professor at Brandeis University, in Massachusetts.

Until Biden—who, as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991, oversaw Thomas's confirmation hearing—takes responsibility for his role in the event and accepts the harm he caused to her and to others who experience harassment, Hill said she would not support his bid for the presidency. Hill also expressed concern for the accusations of unwanted touching against Biden in recent months.

"The focus on apology to me is one thing," the law professor said. "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 and men now who have just really lost confidence in our government to respond to the problem of gender violence."

Biden's representatives did not immediately respond to Newsweek's request for comment.

In a statement on Thursday, a spokesperson for Biden announced that the former Delaware senator had been in touch with Hill.

"Vice President Biden has spoken with Anita Hill. They had a private discussion where he 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," the spokesperson said.

Biden's treatment of Hill's accusations of sexual harassment against Thomas — allegations he has denied — during his Supreme Court confirmation process almost three decades ago has come under renewed scrutiny in recent months, in light of Biden's bid for the 2020 presidency and the birth of the #MeToo movement.

During The Biden Courage Awards in New York last month, Biden expressed regret for his handling of Hill's claims in 1991.

"A brave lawyer, a really notable woman, Anita Hill, a professor, showed the courage of a lifetime talking about her experience being harassed by Clarence Thomas," Biden said at the event. "But she paid a terrible price. She was abused in the hearing. She was taken advantage of. Her reputation was attacked. I wish I could have done something."

While women's rights have advanced in the 28 years since, a greater cultural shift is still required to allow women to feel safe in coming forward with their allegations, Biden noted.

"There were a bunch of white guys… hearing this testimony in the Senate Judiciary Committee. So when Anita Hill came to testify, she faced a committee that didn't fully understand what the hell it was all about. And to this day I regret I couldn't come up with a way to get her the kind of hearing she deserved given the courage she showed by reaching out to us," he said.