Polygraph Issues Raised in Steele Case
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 27, 1999; Page B3
A polygraph test turned up problems with one of independent counsel Kenneth M. Starr's witnesses against Julie Hiatt Steele, the lone person to face prosecution in the White House sex scandal, her attorney asserted at a hearing yesterday.
While arguing that obstruction of justice charges against Steele should be dropped because of prosecutorial misconduct, Eric Dubelier told U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton that "there's a substantial polygraph issue involving their own witness." Dubelier did not identify the witness and said in court that a gag order prevented him from going into detail.
Starr's case against Steele focuses on her contradiction of former White House volunteer Kathleen Willey's claim that President Clinton sexually harassed her in 1993. Willey said she told Steele of the incident at the time, but Steele, 52, of Richmond, testified to two grand juries that Willey did not. Steele also has said Willey asked her to lie about the episode.
Steele's attorneys received the results of the polygraph under a legal rule that requires prosecutors to turn over evidence that could be useful to the defense. Polygraph results are not generally admitted as evidence, but they can be used to cast doubt on the credibility of witnesses.
Hilton did not comment on Dubelier's assertion about the polygraph results, but he rejected all of the defense's efforts to get the indictment against Steele dismissed. The judge ruled that he saw no evidence that Starr's office had acted improperly or failed to advise Steele of her rights.
Hilton also rejected a defense claim that the indictment violated Steele's First Amendment rights. "The First Amendment does not protect false testimony," Hilton said.
The trial is scheduled for March 30 in Alexandria.
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