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US lawyer says Supreme Court justice groped her: report
[WASHINGTON] A US lawyer has accused Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas of making unwanted sexual advances in 1999, a charge he vigorously denied, the National Law Journal reported Thursday.
Moira Smith revealed her allegations on Facebook on Oct 7, the same day The Washington Post released a 2005 videotape that showed Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump boasting in lewd terms about how he could grope women without their consent because he was a celebrity.
Ms Smith, 23 at the time, said in her Facebook post that Thomas grabbed her buttocks and squeezed them several times at a dinner party at the home of her boss in Falls Church, Virginia, near Washington.
"He groped me while I was setting the table, suggesting I should sit 'right next to him,'" Ms Smith wrote on Facebook, according to the journal.
"This claim is preposterous and it never happened," Mr Thomas, 68, said in a statement to the National Law Journal.
The National Law Journal said that Ms Smith's Facebook post, which is no longer visible after she deactivated her page, had not revealed the details of her encounter with Mr Thomas.
The reporter of the article said she had reviewed Ms Smith's post and the replies before Smith made the page inactive.
Ms Smith, now 41 and vice president and general counsel to Enstar Natural Gas Co, in Alaska, said she decided to make public what happened that night after hearing Mr Trump's comments about groping women.
"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," she said in an interview with the journal.
"Why? Because they are vulnerable. Because they are star-struck. Because they don't want to be whiners. Because they worry about their career if they do speak out. But silence no longer feels defensible; it feels complicit."
Mr Thomas, the only African-American on the nine-seat Supreme Court, is a pillar of conservatism who was nominated to the top court in 1991 by President George H W Bush.
His confirmation by the Senate the same year drew controversy as his former employee Anita Hill, in testimony at the hearings, accused him of sexual harassment.