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Therapist Urged Lewinsky to Keep Quiet

Monica Lewinsky. (Post file photo)

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Key Player Profiles: Marcia Lewis, Monica Lewinsky

William Claiborne
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, October 3, 1998; Page A27

As a "happy, giddy and excited" Monica S. Lewinsky poured out her story of a sexual relationship with President Clinton during telephone counseling sessions, her Los Angeles therapist expressed concern that the encounters would be discovered. She advised her client that both doors in a hallway leading to a private study off the Oval Office be kept locked, according to documents released yesterday by the Office of the Independent Counsel.

Irene Kassorla, the therapist, also said that she and her young patient used a code name for the president – "Elizabeth" is the name she recalled using – and often referred to Clinton as "her" in case they were overheard during the telephone sessions, which sometimes originated with calls Lewinsky made from the White House. Kassorla said she warned Lewinsky not to tell anyone about her relationship with the president except another therapist because in the end she would be the only one harmed by a disclosure.

The advice on how to handle her affair with the president was recounted by Kassorla in an Aug. 28 interview with an independent counsel staff attorney, Michael Emmick, in Los Angeles. Lewinsky had signed a waiver of the privacy protections that normally cover psychological records.

Kassorla counseled Lewinsky from 1992 until June 1997, in office visits until the fall of 1993 and thereafter in telephone calls. Kassorla said that she sometimes discussed with Lewinsky what she was going to wear on her next scheduled tryst with Clinton because she was concerned about the young White House aide's "periodic bouts of depression and sadness." She said she counseled Lewinsky on numerous occasions that she was "an employee having an office romance with a superior" and that ultimately she would lose her job and any prospect of references for a future job. But Lewinsky was, for the most part, "happy to be desired" and appeared to be overcoming problems with self-esteem because of the relationship, the therapist said.

Kassorla said she tried to prepare Lewinsky for the "desperate ego blow" that would result when she would be fired to protect the president, but that Lewinsky "probably did not see the downside of her relationship" despite the fact that Clinton was "in charge of scheduling their sexual encounters."

Kassorla said her warning to Lewinsky about keeping White House doors locked came when Lewinsky described in detail how she performed oral sex on the president, preceded by "the usual foreplay and fondling of each other." The therapist said Lewinsky recounted the meetings with Clinton soon after they occurred. Several times the counseling sessions took place when Kassorla returned Lewinsky's calls to her office in the White House.

According to OIC documents, in November 1996 Lewinsky sought out another therapist, Kathleen Estep, who then was practicing in Tysons Corner in suburban Virginia, and began describing her sexual encounters with Clinton in detail in their second counseling session. Estep said Lewinsky was referred to her by a doctor at a nearby weight-loss clinic when it appeared to the doctor that she was "undergoing a lot of depression and anxiety."

But in contrast to the upbeat descriptions that she gave Kassorla, Lewinsky told Estep she was depressed because she was not in control of her relationship with Clinton. By their third session, according to Estep, she had concluded that Lewinsky "had a lot of the indicators which might lead to a diagnosis of clinical depression."

Estep told the OIC investigators that Lewinsky recounted a chance meeting on Nov. 23, 1996, with White House adviser George Stephanopoulos at a coffee shop in which she said she asked Stephanopoulos "if his boss was the type of person who would lead anyone on."

According to Estep, Lewinsky told her that Stephanopoulos replied that Clinton was a "very powerful, complex man," and that if Stephanopoulos found out that Clinton was stringing someone along, he would not take it seriously. According to the OIC account, Estep said she thought that Lewinsky had told Stephanopoulos some of the details of the relationship, and that she recalled thinking at the time that Lewinsky should not be revealing the relationship to anyone because it "might make the situation worse by being a 'blabbermouth.' "

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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