How Anita Hill’s Witnesses’ Stories Did Not Add Up: John Carr

The Strange Testimony of John Carr: Anita Hill’s boyfriend at the time of the alleged harassment…until he wasn’t

When Anita Hill first filed her statement alleging sexual harassment against Clarence Thomas, she claimed that she told only one person at the time, a friend named Susan Hoerchner. She repeated that point several times, and Hoerchner herself told Committee staff the same thing. Even when specifically asked by the FBI whether she had told her boyfriend at the time, Hill stated that she had not.

Hill changed course, however, when people came out of the woodwork expressing a willingness to speak on her behalf. John Carr was one of those people. He claimed that he had been dating Hill long-distance at the time of the harassment and that she had told him about it. Despite her previous statements that she had told no one besides Hoerchner and certainly not her boyfriend, Hill was only too happy to have the support. During the hearings she testified that she remembered telling Carr about the purported harassment.

Carr’s testimony, however, was perhaps not as helpful as Hill expected. Carr could not recall Hill ever mentioning Clarence Thomas by name. [see Specter questioning Carr] He remembered that she told him her supervisor had made sexual advances told her, but knew no further details. He claimed he had not even pressed Hill for them at the time. He also remembered giving her no advice except “to calm down and to try to cheer up,” a comment far removed from what one might expect to hear from a boyfriend in such circumstances. For Hill’s part, she did not remember Carr giving her advice on the subject at all.

Years later, Hill seemed to dismiss Carr entirely. In her memoir, she referred to him only as “a friend” with whom she had “kept in touch” while working for Thomas. p. 159. She referred not at all to the long-distance phone calls they supposedly shared or to the “dating” relationship that she mentioned at the hearing. That’s some demotion. It also seems inconsistent with Hill’s assertions to the Committee that she had told only her closest friends about her allegations.