Lessons from the past: Former Cleveland congresswoman speaks on Anita Hill and Dr. Ford

CLEVELAND - A former Cleveland democratic congresswoman has an incredibly unique take on the marathon congressional hearings of Judge Brett Kavanaugh and his sexual assault accuser Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.

Mary Rose Oakar, who served 16 years in Congress says was one of just a handful of elected women in 1991 to personally accompany Anita Hill to her hearing where she accused Judge Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment.

In an exclusive interview with Fox 8, Oakar explained why she believes little has changed.

"I do not think we've learned from Anita Hill's experience 27 years later," said Oakar sitting behind her large desk surrounded by pictures of past presidents including President Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter and Obama.

Oakar said the Hill and Thomas hearings are ones she will never forget. She said she recalls consoling Hill, who was reeling after giving testimony.

"She broke down at lunch," said Oakar. "She said, 'I didn't ask for this; why did they ask me if they were going to treat me this way?'"

Oakar said due to public opinion in the immediate aftermath of the Hill testimony, some women may not have felt comfortable coming forward with their claims. She believes little has changed in the decades since, something she alluded to back in a press conference following Hill's hearing in the early 1990's.

"Too often when women are victimized, they are treated by the courts, various proceedings as the criminal not the victim."

She cited what she calls the speedy push to confirm the embattled Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court among numerous sexual assault allegations. However, she admits the public may never know the facts about what happened in this particular case without a thorough FBI investigation.

Oakar added that victims who are bold enough to sound off on the issue should be considered courageous.

"Dr. Ford is very brave to come forward," said Oakar. "Her life will never be the same."

Continuing coverage, here.