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Lewinsky's Change of Siege Is Called 'Breath of Fresh Air'

By William Claiborne and William Booth
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, February 5, 1998; Page A12

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 4—Monica S. Lewinsky remained sequestered inside her father's home today, hidden from the prying eyes of the assembled news media gathered on neighboring lawns and sidewalks in hopes of a peek.

The 24-year-old former White House intern, at the center of allegations of presidential infidelity and misconduct, wanted to come home to the tony westside Los Angeles neighborhood of Brentwood to be with her father, millionaire radiation oncologist Bernard Lewinsky. That she got. The two were reunited Tuesday afternoon after Lewinsky flew here from Washington. They dined at home with her attorney, William H. Ginsburg. The father, reputed to be an accomplished cook, prepared the meal, a friend of the family said.

But as for the hope that Lewinsky could escape the media maelstrom in Washington and spend a few days leading, as her attorney imagined it earlier, "a normal life," that was a more elusive quest.

About 50 reporters, photographers and camera operators milled around outside her home, some using binoculars to probe for a glimpse of the young woman. They smoked cigarettes and drowsed in their TV news vans in the warm sunshine. A few glanced into the open trash cans at the curb. But mostly for naught. The shades were drawn and nothing could be seen through the high shrubs. It was a low-energy scene, and rather sad.

Interest rustled up once or twice as a Federal Express truck or pizza delivery car pulled past the house, but did not stop. Some passersby briefly paused and gawked at the press, some simply curious, some showing signs of being repulsed by the scene.

At one point, a Sun City Tours van pulled up and a man and a woman got out just long enough to take some snapshots and talk briefly with reporters. "I didn't really want to come here, but it was part of the tour," said the man, who declined to give his name, before the van headed for the next stop -- O.J. Simpson's former mansion on Rockingham Drive about a mile away.

The only possible Monica sighting came at midmorning, and even it was unconfirmed. Photographers spotted a head of dark hair, tied in a red ribbon, on the second-floor balcony of the California-modern Brentwood home. The person remained on the balcony, apparently basking under a warm, post-rainstorm sun, for about 20 minutes before going back inside.

Apart from that flurry of excitement, the stakeout yielded nothing much more than the former White House intern's father picking up the morning newspaper, taking out the trash, driving away from the house and returning to the house -- all without comment.

Despite the siege-like atmosphere at the house, one of Ginsburg's law firm associates, Todd Theodora, said the Los Angeles visit is like a "breath of fresh air" for Lewinsky. "She's been cooped up in a small apartment all that time," Theodora said, referring to the Watergate apartments where Lewinsky lived in Washington. "She's still cooped up, but at least she's getting some time to spend with her father."

"She's very glad to see her father. A change of location has been refreshing for her," Theodora added.

Ginsburg, who remained in his office for most of the day, said only that he is continuing to develop a defense for his client, who has been informed by prosecutors that she is a likely target for indictment. Ginsburg said he expects to return to Washington "within a week, unless something occurs." But he stressed that he has "no reason to believe anything's going to occur."

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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