$1 Million Placed in Trust for Paula Jones
Friday, October 30, 1998; 7:39 p.m. EST New York real estate tycoon Abe Hirschfeld has agreed to put $1 million in trust for Paula Jones, but she will receive the money only if she settles her sexual harassment lawsuit with President Clinton, an attorney in the Jones camp said Friday.
The lawyer, speaking on condition of anonymity, described the arrangement with Hirschfeld as "a precursor to negotiations" with Clinton's lawyers. The lawyer said Mrs. Jones' attorneys would make a new overture to Clinton on Monday.
Previous attempts to reach a financial settlement stalled after Mrs. Jones rejected an offer of $700,000 from Clinton's attorney, insisting she wanted $1 million from Clinton and an additional $1 million from Hirschfeld.
But last week, Clinton's attorney, Bob Bennett, said he would only consider a settlement if it did not include "strings attached" -- referring to Hirschfeld's offer. There was no immediate comment from the White House or Bennett on Friday.
Hirschfeld planned to hand Mrs. Jones a giant mock check at a news conference in Washington on Saturday and put the real money in a trust fund in Dallas, where her lawyers are based.
"And then negotiations will begin with Mr. Bennett," said the Jones lawyer, suggesting "some common meeting ground" over money might be found.
He said the Jones camp had not talked to Bennett yet. The White House has sought to disassociate itself from any deal involving Hirschfeld, who is facing tax evasion charges.
Hirschfeld has said he interjected himself into the case in hopes of ending it "for the benefit of the country and the world." It was Clinton's testimony in Mrs. Jones' lawsuit that launched Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr's investigation of the Monica Lewinsky affair.
A spokeswoman for Hirschfeld said the news conference would announce "an important new development" and include Mrs. Jones' lawyers, but Hirschfeld would not comment Friday.
But as late as Thursday, one lawyer in the Clinton camp said his side was inclined to put settlement talks on hold until the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals rules on whether to revive Mrs. Jones' lawsuit.
Mrs. Jones's suit claims that Clinton made a crude pass at her in 1991, while he was governor and she was a clerk for the state of Arkansas.
The suit was dismissed in Arkansas by U.S. District Court Judge Susan Webber Wright, who ruled that Mrs. Jones' allegations, even if true, fell short of the standard for sexual harassment.
© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press