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Woman Accused of Lying to Starr Probe Seeks Dismissal

Julie Hiatt Steele Julie Hiatt Steele. (AP file photo)

Related Links
  • Gag Order Issued for Steele (Washington Post, Jan. 30)

  • Steele Pleads Not Guilty (Washington Post, Jan. 20)

  • Steele's Feb. 1998 Affidavit

  • Key Player: Kathleen Willey

  • By Brooke A. Masters
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Thursday, February 11, 1999; Page A9

    Attorneys for Julie Hiatt Steele, the lone person charged in the White House sex scandal, have asked a judge to dismiss the indictment, saying independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr's office misled Steele and improperly brought the case in a Virginia court to avoid the overwhelmingly Democratic jury pool in the District.

    Steele's attorneys asked U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton to send the obstruction of justice case back to the District, where much of the investigation was done, if he was unwilling to dismiss it.

    Starr's office alleges that Steele, 52, of Richmond, lied to grand juries in the District and Alexandria when she cast doubt on White House volunteer Kathleen E. Willey's claim that President Clinton groped her in 1993. Willey has said she told Steele of the encounter, but Steele contends that Willey asked her to lie.

    Starr's office "has manipulated grand juries . . . made material and substantial misrepresentations . . . improperly coerced the testimony of Ms. Steele and otherwise improperly maneuvered to avoid prosecuting Ms. Steele in the jurisdiction in which its investigation began," Steele attorney Nancy Luque wrote in a 31-page motion.

    Charles G. Bakaly III, a spokesman for Starr's office, said he could not comment because the case is about to go to trial.

    The independent counsel plans to file a response opposing Luque's motion today, Bakaly said.

    The motion, which will be heard by Hilton on Friday, specifically alleges that Starr's office lied to Steele about why she was being called before a grand jury in Alexandria.

    Luque cites a letter from associate independent counsel David Barger saying that she was going to "Virginia and not before the grand jury in which she previously testified, due substantially to the latter's lack of availability."

    Luque argues that Steele was called to Alexandria to "manufacture" a reason to bring the case there and that the law forbids prosecutors to shop around to find sympathetic juries.

    However, Steele may have a more difficult time prevailing in the dispute because she lives in Virginia.

    A 1995 appeals court ruling allowed prosecutors to charge a Nebraska-based drug gang in Virginia, even though the defendants contended that they had expanded their operations into Virginia only because of a Drug Enforcement Administration sting.

    © Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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