By Peter Baker and Lois Romano
As they have in the past, Clinton's lawyers said he "vehemently denies" exposing himself and asking Jones for sex while he was governor of Arkansas and she was a low-level state clerk. But in a motion seeking to avoid a May 27 trial, the lawyers maintained that Jones had not demonstrated that he retaliated against her for rebuffing a sexual advance, assuming for the sake of argument that it happened.
The thick file of documents and exhibits delivered to U.S. District Court in Little Rock gave the first public glimpse of the evidence collected during five months of discovery that until now has been sealed by a judge's confidentiality order. Among other things, the hundreds of papers included excerpts from Jones's deposition -- including graphic questions about her alleged encounter with Clinton -- and affidavits from her supervisors in the Arkansas agency where she worked.
In the brief, Clinton's lawyers argued that the evidence-gathering phase that ended Jan. 30 showed the case was a "frivolous claim" and should be rejected to protect both the White House and working women. "If an unfounded case such as this is permitted to go to trial, all future Presidents . . . could be subjected to litigation and trial based on similar unsupportable claims," they wrote. "Such a result ultimately also would redound to the detriment of working women, for male officials and executives would hesitate before meeting or traveling alone with them for business purposes, out of fear of being sued."
Clinton filed the motion for summary judgment nearly a month before a court deadline in an effort to speed along the suit and present his side of the story to the public. The case led directly to the crisis endangering Clinton's presidency when federal investigators began looking into whether he tried to obstruct justice by urging Monica S. Lewinsky to lie about an affair if she were asked by Jones's lawyers.
"We want to get this case resolved and resolved quickly," Clinton attorney Robert S. Bennett told reporters. "We want to get this over with."
A motion for summary judgment is standard for a defendant after discovery, but the papers telegraphed the legal strategy Clinton will employ even if he fails and has to go to trial. While the Jones camp has devoted considerable time and energy to finding other women who purportedly had sexual encounters with Clinton, the president's team put forward the argument that Jones not only was unharmed but was actually happy after her meeting with the governor in a private suite at the Excelsior Hotel during a state economic conference on May 8, 1991.
Employment records cited by Clinton's lawyers showed that the $4.93-an-hour document examiner at the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission received satisfactory reviews and raises totaling 25 percent during her two years on the job. Statements solicited from supervisors denied that Clinton or his aides told them to treat her badly or even mentioned her at all.
"No one from the Governor's office, including Governor Clinton, ever requested that I take any job action with respect to Ms. Jones, adverse or otherwise," Clydine L. Pennington, her direct boss, said in a sworn statement.
Pennington added that she sometimes had to counsel Jones about her tardiness, "excessive socializing," personal phone calls and inappropriate attire. On the day Jones came to collect her personal belongings after resigning in February 1993, Pennington recalled that Jones "created a scene in the hall outside my office," screaming profanities at various officials but "at no time during this tirade did she mention Governor Clinton, his security detail or any member of Mr. Clinton's staff."
Another affidavit came from Carol Phillips, a receptionist in the governor's office who was friendly with Jones when she regularly stopped by to deliver documents. The day after meeting Clinton, Phillips said, Jones seemed excited. "Ms. Jones characterized Mr. Clinton as 'gentle,' 'nice' and 'sweet,' " Phillips said. "Ms. Jones clearly was happy about meeting with Mr. Clinton and in no way appeared distressed or upset by anything relating to that incident." In future visits, Phillips added, Jones would often inquire eagerly whether the governor was around and sometimes check his parking space to see if his car was there.
Jones's lawyers have 14 days to respond to the Clinton motion and said yesterday they could not discuss it in detail because they have not seen it. But her lead attorney, Donovan Campbell Jr., said Jones did suffer on the job, citing specifically the fact that her duties were changed after she returned to the office after having a baby and that she did not receive flowers on Secretary's Day. "She did not obtain the same kind of raises and advancement that similarly situated employees obtained," he said. "She was discriminated against after she came back from her maternity leave by being placed in a dead-end job. She did not receive perquisites in the office that others received."
Campbell also said he does not need to prove actual job consequences to sustain her suit. "It's enough that there was immediate emotional harm and suffering -- embarrassment, humiliation, et cetera," he said.
Jones also has witnesses whose testimony may help lend credence to her story. Two friends have said she told them shortly after the incident that Clinton had made a pass at her and that she seemed distraught about it. "She said, 'You're not going to believe what has just happened to me,' " Debra Lynn Ballentine recalled in a statement included in yesterday's filing. "And she was crying and she was really upset."
In his own deposition, Steve Jones, then Paula Corbin's fiance and now her husband, said she came home upset that night. "She said that, 'Bill Clinton made a pass at me and I don't want to talk about it,' " he said. "And she was very adamant about that so we didn't talk about it. We left it alone at that."
Because she waited three years after the episode, Jones could not file her lawsuit under the standard sexual harassment code, so instead she claimed that her civil rights in the workplace were violated by virtue of sexual harassment; that Clinton conspired with his bodyguard, state Trooper Danny Ferguson, to deprive her of her constitutional rights; and that she suffered severe emotional distress from the incident. Her lawyers have interviewed numerous other women in an effort to prove that those who succumbed to Clinton advances received government jobs or benefits in contrast to what they contend Jones experienced.
To prove her civil rights were abridged, Jones would have to show that as a result of refusing an employer's advance that she either was the victim of "quid pro quo" discrimination in which she suffered "tangible job detriment" or was subjected to a hostile or abusive work environment.
Clinton's lawyers are privately confident that they have disproved any quid pro quo discrimination, though the hostile workplace claim is more open to interpretation. In their brief, they pointed out that Jones only encountered Clinton three times for a total of 20 minutes over two years. However, given the high profile of the case, U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright may opt for a safe route and leave it to a jury to decide.
The documents filed yesterday offered the most extensive -- and most explicit -- description from Jones of her alleged encounter with Clinton that day. In excerpts from her deposition last fall made public yesterday for the first time, Bennett asked Jones more than 70 questions about the episode and the events leading up to it, including about 20 specifically referencing the president's private parts.
Jones, who was working the registration desk at the state conference, said Ferguson invited her to meet Clinton in a suite he was using to make telephone calls. Once in the room, she said, he tried to touch and kiss her and eventually pulled his pants down while sitting on a couch.
"You know, I can see the look on his face right now," Jones said, according to the transcript. "He asked me, 'Would you kiss it for me?' I mean it was disgusting."
Bennett asked her what she did then. "I said, 'No. I'm not that kind of girl,' " she said. "And that's when I jumped up. And that's when I said, 'I'm going to get in trouble . . . I've got to get back to my registration desk.' "
As she fled the room, Jones said, she believed Clinton threatened her by saying, "You're a smart girl. Let's keep this between ourselves."
Jones said that although no one at her office ever indicated they knew about the alleged incident with Clinton, she was sure they all did. "Just every day when I went there, it just seemed like there was a lot of smoke in the air, just cloudy, you know, the way my supervisor treated me," she said, citing the lack of flowers on Secretary's Day.
"I mean I was horrified," she said. "I was scared to death. . . . Every time I would look at this man on TV -- I don't even look. I just turn it off because it brings back that terrible day of when I had to look at his private parts, a strange man without me asking for it." Yet under questioning, Jones acknowledged she never sought professional psychological help or took medication because of the alleged incident and said her relationship with her then-fiance did not suffer as a result.
She conceded she did not receive a pay cut when she returned from leave after the birth of her first child in September 1992 but believed she had been demoted. "When I came back I no longer was at my desk. They had moved me completely to sit right outside Clydine's office, so she could watch me at all times. I was sitting right out front. And I didn't have any work to do. My work had been gone. I was sitting there doing nothing."
Jones said her title had been changed but could not say what the new one was. "I don't know what I was called," she said. "Probably a nobody sitting in front of Clydine's office. . . . I don't know how they did it. I just know I was demoted."
Ferguson, a co-defendant in the case, has told a different version of the story, saying Jones was the one who wanted to meet Clinton and afterward emerged offering to be "the governor's girlfriend."
With a general denial, Bennett dealt only in passing with the Jones team's contention that Clinton made sexual advances on many women. Her lawyers "spent 99 percent of her discovery efforts" on other women and never even asked the president during his own Jan. 17 deposition whether he tried to take revenge on Jones through adverse job actions, according to the brief. Bennett, however, did not release the president's deposition, which remains sealed and is likely to be excerpted by Jones's lawyers when they file a response.
Romano reported from Little Rock.
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