Clarence Thomas is accused of groping Alaskan lawyer Moira Smith in 1999


On Thursday, a lawyer from Alaska named Moira Smith accused Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas of touching her inappropriately at a 1999 Truman Foundation scholars event. 

According to the Wall Street Journal, Smith, now 41, said Thomas groped her rear end multiple times over the course of the dinner, at which point they were seated next to each other — per his request.

Thomas told the Journal the claim was "preposterous" and said what Smith describes "never happened." 

In a statement disclosed to the Journal, Smith said she hadn't reported the incident at the time because she didn't think there would be any recourse for her. "When Justice Thomas touched me inappropriately and without my consent, I was 23 years old — and felt there was nothing I could do," she said. "Seventeen years later, it is clear that sexual harassment, misconduct and assault continue to be pervasive, having an impact on all women."

Smith said she'd been moved to share her story after multiple women emerged with sexual assault allegations against "influential men" — one of these perhaps being Donald Trump, who a dozen women have accused of making unwanted advances. 

According to the Journal, Smith first went public with her allegations in a post on her now-deactivated Facebook account. following the release of the Republican nominee's "grab them by the pussy" comments.

John Duricka/AP

Thomas has a history of predatory behavior. In 1991, University of Oklahoma law professor Anita Hill testified before the Senate Judiciary committee, recounting how Thomas had sexually harassed her while she was working under him.

In April, the Huffington Post remembered her testimonies as being a crucial moment of consciousness raising for the country, as Americans "heard Hill describe the sexually explicit comments she was subjected to in the workplace, and they watched an all-male, all-white panel question her every word."

But despite Hill's visceral account, Thomas was confirmed as a Supreme Court justice. Still, it is women like Hill who have given Smith the strength to speak out. 

Smith told the Journal, "As the mother of a young daughter and son, I am coming forward to show that it is important to stand up for yourself and tell the truth."