Joe Biden "needs to give an apology to the other women and to the American public," Anita Hill said

By Karen Mizoguchi
April 25, 2019 07:00 PM

Before Joe Biden officially launched his 2020 presidential campaign, he personally called Anita Hill to apologize.

Biden, who chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee during the 1991 confirmation hearing of then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, was criticized at the time for not stopping the vicious attacks on Hill when she testified that Thomas had allegedly sexually harassed her.

And earlier this month, Biden, 76, expressed his regret over “what she endured” testifying against Justice Thomas. “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,” a spokesperson for Biden said in a statement to PEOPLE.

However, in an interview with the New York Times that was published Thursday, Hill, 62, said she does not accept Biden’s call as an apology.

Credit: Cindy Ord/Getty Images for It's On Us; Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for ELLE Magazine

“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.

“The focus on apology to me is one thing. 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,” Hill explained.

“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,” she added.

A spokesperson for Biden did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Credit: Arnie Sachs/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
Credit: Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis/Getty

In September 2018, Biden said he regretted how Hill was treated in the 1991 hearings. Last fall, Christine Blasey Ford accused now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a party when they were both in high school. Kavanaugh has denied the allegations.

“What happened was [Hill] got victimized again during the process,” Biden said during a Today show interview, during which he defended his handling of the hearings, saying Senate rules prohibited him from blunting questions by other committee members.

“I wish I could’ve done more to prevent those questions, the way they asked them,” he said, adding that Hill was unjustly “vilified” by his colleagues.

During that same Today interview, the former vice president and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, were asked about his 2020 candidacy.

“I desperately want to change the landscape, and there’s more than one way to do that … you got a lot of talented people, but we got to stop this degradation of the system that’s going on,” he said as his wife added: “I think Joe, you would make a great president.”

If you or someone you care about is affected by sexual violence, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).