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Paula Jones Allowed to Narrow Suit

Reuters
Tuesday, November 25, 1997; Page A07

LITTLE ROCK, Nov. 24A federal judge today allowed Paula Corbin Jones to amend her lawsuit against President Clinton by dropping defamation of character as a claim while proceeding with her allegation of sexual harassment.

In a move widely viewed as an attempt to prevent an examination of her personal history, Jones had asked the court for permission to drop charges of defamation of character and loss of reputation against Clinton and his co-defendant, Arkansas state trooper Danny Ferguson.

In ruling for Jones, however, U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright seemed to leave open the possibility that lawyers for Clinton and Ferguson might still be allowed to question Jones's sexual history.

"The Court, in allowing plaintiff to drop these claims, is not thereby indicating how it will rule on any evidentiary issues that later arise in this lawsuit," Wright wrote.

"This is not a victory for Paula Jones," said Morgan E. Welch, a Little Rock trial attorney who has followed the Jones case closely. "The court is saying it may allow lawyers for the defendants to go into her past no matter what her case involves," Welch said.

Jones claims that in 1991, Clinton asked her to perform a sex act in a Little Rock hotel where both were attending a conference. At the time, Jones was a state employee, Clinton was governor and Ferguson was Clinton's state police bodyguard.

Clinton has denied the charge.

The judge today also refused to allow Jones to add to her lawsuit additional counts, which claimed that other women who allegedly engaged in sex with Clinton were granted promotions and benefits denied to her.

But the judge left open the possibility that Jones could introduce such evidence to bolster her claim of sexual harassment by Clinton.

© Copyright 1997 The Washington Post Company

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