The Yoakum Letter
Following is the full text of a letter that Phillip Yoakum purports to have written to a woman in 1992 in which he outlines what he says she told him about being raped by Bill Clinton 14 years earlier. The letter was released on March 28 by Paula Jones's legal team as a piece of evidence that "Clinton and his agents have exerted great efforts to suppress and obstruct testimony by [the woman] that Defendant Clinton in the past forcibly raped and sexually assaulted .. her and then bribed and/or intimidated her and her family into remaining silent about this outrage." Jones's lawyers also submitted a copy of a fax from Yoakum dated January 1998 in which Yoakum says he recently burned the tapes he made of his conversations with the woman. The Washington Post does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault without their permission, so certain identifying details have been removed and noted with brackets.
Dear [Name Withheld]:
I wanted to write this letter and give you my personal assurances on the situation that has recently occurred; and, that I am giving you these assurances as a friend and to follow up on a personal promise that I made to [husband's name] on the telephone -- that I would never do anything to hurt you. This is a promise that I can live with the rest of my life, and be at peace with my Lord that I have acted in a responsible, Christian manner without having to lie.
I would like to capsulize the events up to this date. When I first met you many years ago, I was impressed with you as a person and the quality that you brought to the nursing home profession, and I enjoyed the lively conversations we had. I was particularly distraught when you told me of your brutal rape by Bill Clinton and how it affected you. You relayed on more than one occasion the details of how Clinton first approached you as being interested in the nursing home business; how, while during [a state conference] in Little Rock, Clinton invited himself to your hotel room ostensibly to discuss business; and how, when Clinton came to your room at the Camelot, he started trying to kiss you and ran his hands all over your body, how you resisted until he ripped your clothes off, and how he bit your lip until you gave into his forcing sex upon you. At that time neither of us realized Clinton would ever aspire as a Democratic candidate for the presidency of the United States. What a shock now to realize that he will possibly be the president of a free democratic country while carrying the guilt of such an assault on someone as undeserving as you. For this I feel truly depressed and pray that God will bless this Nation in spite of the leadership that abounds in exploiting individuals for their own personal gain
When I saw Clinton win the Democratic nomination for the presidency, the memory of our conversations returned. Therefore, I prepared a document detailing the facts of the rape as you had told them to me, with names omitted, and faxed it down to Sheffield Nelson. I was concerned about the situation and wanted to have someone with integrity go visit with you concerning your situation with Clinton. To be perfectly honest, when Sheffield received the fax he didn't know if he was being set up by the Democrats -- or just what. We talked on the telephone and he agreed to come and be with me while visiting with you. The meeting was one of mutual respect. I had taken a tape recorder just to protect myself and to see if the item I had prepared for review coincided with the conversation. The tape was never to be used against you; however, it did confirm the conversation and events almost exactly to the document I had faxed him. Sheffield, when we left [the nursing home], was shocked and moved at what had happened to you.
We both simply asked you if you were interested in coming forward, if for nothing else, just to release you from the guilt you said you had been carrying for fourteen years. And you mentioned that, if you did come forward, that it would truly convince [husband's name] of your innocence in the matter and also it would help to set his mind at rest. Sheffield also mentioned that he had a friend on the West Coast, a trusted reporter that you could tell your story to and thereby prevent a circus media event. He also mentioned that he would bring his wife to San Francisco and meet with you and the reporter if you so wished. Sheffield insisted that if you were to indeed come forward that it should be done in a dignified manner, and he gave you his assurances.
On Friday, I received a call from, the Los Angeles Times, asking if indeed the story was true, and I confirmed that it was. The reporter wanted my tape, but I would not release it to him or even let him hear a part of it. As far as I was concerned, it was confidential -- and it still is. He asked me if I knew where you were staying in San Francisco, and I told him no. Somehow he bird-dogged it out and found you. If you recall, you never told us if your trip was for business or pleasure. Shortly thereafter, I received a call from the Associated Press, and again I confirmed our conversation but would not release the tape or let any part of the conversation be heard. If any statement was to be made, it had to come from you; not me.
Later that evening I had a telephone call from [husband's name] and he asked me if Sheffield had made a recording of our conversation and I said no. As far as I was concerned, my tape did not exist because it was to confirm one way or the other if the event had actually happened so this was a moot issue. [Husband's name] then told me that if anyone called, to lie and tell them it did not happen. I told [husband's name] that I would not lie but would refer calls to him or you. And to this day, I have honored my statement. [Husband's name], in no uncertain terms, threatened that I would be held personally responsible for the release of this information. He also told me that he had a call in to the Democratic party with a message for Clinton "to call [husband's full name] as soon as possible." I asked him if Clinton would know who the call was from and he assured me that "Clinton would know!" [Husband's name] said he wanted to assure me that your situation with him would not go unattended and that he was "going to ask Clinton for a couple of big favors" and that he "would get them" -- that "Clinton owed it" to you all. I taped that conversation, also. My only comment here is evidently some big favors had to occur to see such a change in your attitude, and to lie on such a tragic matter. Whatever the price for silence, I hope it is worth it and that you can both be able to look in the mirror and face yourself, and the God that [husband's name] talked about in our telephone conversation. My prayers are that God will bless you in your businesses; I sincerely do.
I believe that you will continue to be irreparably psychologically damaged by your decision to continue to hold this brutal rape inside; I believe your marriage will be irreparably harmed by never allowing you the opportunity to confront your attacker; I believe your son would demand you to come forward to confront Clinton if they had knowledge; and I believe that our country has a right to know what kind of fraud is being perpetrated upon it. However, I will not subsitute my beliefs of what is best for you, your marriage, or our country on you as I think that is improper. I will say that I hope whatever promises or favors Clinton performs for you, or [husband's name] evens the score for his brutal attack, 14 years suffering you have endured, and the never ending future burden you will be carrying. Your wishes became painfully obvious to me when [husband's name] started lying as he was coached to do; you, for the first time, tried to deny the rape as you were so being coached to do; and how the "pay off" was confirmed. I hope the "pay off" was your decision, [name withheld]. I doubt you are the first victim that Clinton has been able to silence nor will you be the last.
As I have stated above, I am not going to release the tapes and other back-up materials, and you can live your life without the fear of me ever doing so. However, for my own protection I have made copies of the tapes and everything else and given them to both my attorney and Sheffield. These tapes and materials will be held forever, for posterity, and they will never be released unless I am forced by you to have to release them in court or to the press or also, in light of [husband's name]'s threats, in the event harm should ever come to me or my family. I gave Sheffield his copies of everything without any restrictions, so that he could use them any way he might choose.
© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company