Whitewater figure Susan McDougal, who was acquitted of charges that she stole $50,000 from conductor Zubin Mehta and his wife, sued the couple Friday for malicious prosecution, slander and libel.

McDougal, who with her late husband, James, was a business partner of President Clinton Hillary Rodham Clinton in a failed Arkansas land deal, seeks unspecified damages in her Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit.

The Mehtas could not be reached for comment late Friday.

McDougal, who worked as a personal assistant and bookkeeper for the Mehtas from 1989 to 1992, was accused by Los Angeles prosecutors of embezzling from the high-profile couple, in part because of a police report filed by Nancy Mehta.

"Due to these pending criminal charges, which were based on the false information provided to the police by defendants, plaintiff was incarcerated at Los Angeles County jail . . . in a maximum-security section, often in solitary confinement," McDougal's lawsuit said.

"Defendants [the Mehtas] acted without probable cause in filing the police report, initiating and encouraging the prosecution of plaintiff," the lawsuit said. "The money alleged to have been embezzled by plaintiff was in fact spent on authorization of defendants for the benefit of defendants."

McDougal claims in the lawsuit that as a result of the criminal charges she was forced to pay needless attorney fees and suffered "extreme emotional anguish due to the incarceration, pending charges and jury trial."

In making the slander and libel charges, McDougal refers to statements by Zubin Mehta that he believed she stole $500,000, remarks that she said in the lawsuit were printed in the New York Post and Ottawa Citizen newspapers, among other places.