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Jones Lawyers Allege Smear Tactics


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  • By Michael Grunwald
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Tuesday, October 27, 1998; Page A09

    Lawyers for Paula Jones last fall accused President Clinton of launching a "Neanderthal" campaign to "smear" her by soliciting what they said was inadmissible testimony about her sexual habits, according to court documents unsealed yesterday.

    In a motion filed during her sexual harassment suit last November, the Jones legal team alleged that the president was using his codefendant in the case, Arkansas state trooper Danny Ferguson, as a "surrogate" to dig up salacious details about her sex life. Clinton's attorney, Robert S. Bennett, had pledged on several occasions not to pry into Jones's past -- despite Jones's investigation of Clinton's sex life -- after women's groups had lambasted him for threatening to do so. But Ferguson's attorney, Bill W. Bristow, has said all along that he is not bound by Bennett's pledge.

    The 979 pages of previously secret documents released by U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright include the deposition of an Arkansas man who said that he had sex with Jones the night he met her at a party in 1987 -- after hearing she had already engaged in oral sex the same night with his friend. In their motion, the Jones lawyers said that man had been convicted of forgery and had an acknowledged history of drug use.

    Bennett did not ask any questions during that deposition, which was conducted by Bristow. But the Jones lawyers complained that the witness, Dennis C. Kirkland, had met previously with Clinton lawyers, and that Bennett was passing notes to Bristow during the testimony.

    The U.S. Court of Appeals is now deciding whether to reinstate the Jones lawsuit, which was dismissed in April. Early this month, Wright said she would gradually make public many of the previously sealed documents in the case.

    The documents released yesterday also show that the Jones team tried unsuccessfully to subpoena Secret Service officers to testify in December, a month before the Monica S. Lewinsky scandal broke.

    They also provided new information -- and additional questions -- about how former White House volunteer Kathleen E. Willey first came to the attention of Jones's attorneys in their search for other women who allegedly had experiences with Clinton similar to Jones's. According to Jones's attorneys, they received an anonymous call in January 1997 from a women who said she had had an experience similar to the one described by Jones. In her Jones deposition in September 1997, Willey, who subsequently alleged Clinton had made an aggressive pass at her in 1993 in the Oval Office, denied making that call. Clinton has denied Willey's allegation.

    The documents also included ribald testimony by Jones's sister about the now-legendary "distinguishing characteristics" of the presidential anatomy that she said Jones reported noting during the alleged 1991 encounter in a Little Rock hotel room.

    In her 1994 lawsuit, Jones charged that Ferguson asked her, on Clinton's behalf, to meet with the then-Arkansas governor during an event where he was speaking and then delivered her to Clinton's room. Once inside the room, she charged, Clinton exposed himself and made a crude sexual proposition. Clinton has said he does not recall meeting her and has categorically denied the encounter she described. Ferguson, Clinton's codefendant, has said he brought Jones to Clinton's room after she expressed interest in Clinton and that as she left the room she told him she would be happy to meet with the governor again.

    Ferguson's lawyer, Bristow, the current Democratic candidate for Arkansas governor, was out campaigning yesterday and did not return a telephone call. Bennett did not return calls.

    Bennett has denied any attempt to sling mud at Jones, but the issue has refused to die, in part because he has changed his position on the question several times. Last spring, he openly warned that Jones's past sexual behavior was fair game in a sexual harassment suit. But after irate feminist groups noted that the 1994 Violence Against Women Act invalidates most testimony of that kind, Bennett said the president had directed him to stay away from Jones's past.

    But in March, after Jones claimed in court papers that her encounter with Clinton had left her with "consequent sexual aversion," Bennett told Wright he planned to file "sensitive information of a sexual nature about Paula Jones." He withdrew the letter the next day after Jones's attorneys sent a copy to The Washington Post.

    © Copyright The Washington Post Company

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