By Peter Baker and Amy Goldstein
In a letter sent to U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright in Little Rock yesterday, presidential attorney Robert S. Bennett said he will file "sensitive information of a sexual nature about Paula Jones" to counter her assertion that she was so traumatized by Clinton's alleged proposition that she suffers from an antipathy toward sex.
Bennett maintained in the letter that Jones effectively opened the door to this line of rebuttal by filing an affidavit from a sexual disorders specialist, who examined her last month nearly seven years after the original incident. Jones "has now placed her sexual conduct directly at issue with a brand new claim of alleged 'sexual aversion' injury," Bennett wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post.
Bennett gave no further hint as to what specific information about Jones's sexual past will be submitted. But unlike the Jones team, which last week publicly released a court filing containing hundreds of pages with explicit allegations about Clinton's sex life, Bennett said he will introduce the information under seal, preventing it from being made public.
The legal back and forth is part of arguments over Bennett's motion last month asking Wright to throw out Jones's 1994 lawsuit before trial on grounds that she does not have enough evidence to support it. In his letter to Wright, Bennett did not indicate whether he ultimately intended to use the evidence about Jones's sex life in a public courtroom should his motion fail and the case go to trial May 27 as scheduled.
Bennett declined to discuss the matter yesterday, saying his letter to Wright was private and should not have been obtained by a reporter. "I will not respond to a letter that should not have been provided to you," he said. "It is outrageous that you have been provided that letter. I will not comment."
The president's team first suggested last spring that it would examine his accuser's sexual history when Bennett said on national television that he would "put her reputation at issue." After a storm of protests from feminists and other Clinton supporters, Bennett quickly reversed gears and said he would not do so because of the great political sensitivity of appearing to attack the victim of alleged sexual misconduct.
"I will go to war with them," Bennett said a few days after his original interview, "but one of the weapons I will not use in that war is going into Paula Jones's sexual history."
In the months since then, Bennett and his team instead have passed along information about Jones's sex life to the attorney for the president's co-defendant, Danny Ferguson, the state trooper who brought Jones to Clinton's room at the Excelsior Hotel on May 8, 1991. Ferguson's attorney then collected depositions from men who testified they had had casual sexual encounters with Jones.
Jones's court filing last week included a statement produced after a Feb. 13 interview with Patrick J. Carnes, clinical director for sexual disorder services at The Meadows in Wickenburg, Ariz. Carnes concluded that Jones's meeting with Clinton in which she said he dropped his pants and asked for oral sex caused severe emotional distress akin to post-traumatic stress disorder.
"In the case of Paula Jones, these symptoms include extreme anxiety, intrusive thoughts and memories, and consequent sexual aversion," Carnes said. "The impact of the trauma is severe and long term."
The sealed information about Jones's sexual history will be part of a larger filing of more than 200 pages Bennett plans to submit today, much of which will be additional portions of depositions that were released in partial form by the Jones team last week.
Among other things, Bennett said in his letter that he will file the testimony by former White House aide Kathleen E. Willey that will undercut her explosive accusation that Clinton groped her near the Oval Office in 1993. Bennett wrote that the material he will release on Willey today "clearly established that she should not be a witness in this case."
The president's team also intends to produce more excerpts from the depositions of four Arkansas state troopers who were part of then-Gov. Clinton's security detail Larry Patterson, Roger Petty, L.D. Brown and Buddy Young and from two women who have testified under oath that they had long-running love affairs with Clinton, Gennifer Flowers and Dolly Kyle Browning.
"We have no choice but to respond in a vigorous but appropriate way," Bennett wrote. "To do otherwise would allow scurrilous and false allegations to remain in the public record unrebutted. This would be greatly unfair to President Clinton."
Meanwhile, close friends of Clinton and Monica S. Lewinsky testified yesterday before the federal grand jury investigating whether the president had a sexual relationship with the former White House aide and then urged her to lie about it under oath in the Jones case.
Natalie Ungvari, of Los Angeles, is the third in a series of Lewinsky's school friends brought before the grand jury by independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr, apparently to discuss whether she ever told them of an 18-month affair she has alleged she had with Clinton. Accompanied by her lawyer and her father, Ungvari arrived at the courthouse shortly before 9:30 a.m. and left about 1 p.m. Neither she nor her attorney, Ralph J. Caccia, made any public comments.
Caccia also represents Neysa Erbland, another longtime friend of Lewinsky's who appeared before the grand jury last month. On Tuesday, the grand jurors heard from Catherine Allday Davis, a former college classmate who was flown in from Tokyo, where she now lives.
Yesterday afternoon's witness, Marsha Scott, chief of staff in the White House personnel office and a friend of Clinton's since youth, also has testified in earlier phases of Starr's long-running Whitewater investigation. After nearly 2o hours in court, she left with her attorney, Stuart Pierson, and said she expected to return.
In a related development, a tabloid magazine editor said yesterday that he discussed with Willey's lawyer, Daniel Gecker, the possibility that she might sell her story but that negotiations broke down because Gecker wanted too much money.
Richard Gooding, a senior editor at Star magazine, said that he had been trying since last summer to persuade Gecker to consider such an interview but that Gecker had been disinterested until last month, when he said she might consider it for at least $300,000 because she has large debts.
Because Newsweek already had reported her Clinton allegation, "We felt $50,000 would be more appropriate," said Phil Bunton, Star's editor-in-chief. The discussions, first reported yesterday in the New York Daily News, broke down when Star learned that Willey was to appear on CBS's "60 Minutes."
Staff writers Lena H. Sun and Susan Schmidt contributed to this report.
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