Jones v. Clinton Special Report
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Case Closed

By Dan Froomkin Staff
Updated December 3, 1998

Paula Jones agreed to drop her sexual harassment lawsuit against President Clinton on Nov. 13 in return for $850,000 – but no apology or admission of guilt from the president.

Two weeks later, when the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the suit, it marked the conclusive end of Clinton's battle against Jones and her conservative backers. Seven months earlier, the case was dismissed by a district-court judge as having no merit, but Jones appealed.

The battle was immensely costly, inflicting considerable and potentially lasting damage on the president.

Most obviously, without Jones, Monica Lewinsky might never emerged as a national figure. Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr might never have started investigating Clinton's sex life. And the president might not now be facing the possibility of impeachment.

This special report includes key stories from The Washington Post, a chronology of the case, and legal documents including the court ruling, legal briefs and extensive excerpts from depositions.

You can learn more about the Supreme Court case that allowed Jones to press her case, or use our links and resources section to surf the Web for more. And our discussion area is always open.

In the Beginning...

Paula Corbin Jones filed suit in 1994, alleging that Bill Clinton propositioned her and exposed himself to her in a Little Rock hotel room three years earlier, when he was governor of Arkansas and she was a low-level state employee.

From the start, Clinton denied any wrongdoing. He accused Jones of being an opportunist who went public with her story to make money and harm him politically.

In May 1997, the Supreme Court dismissed Clinton's attempt to delay the trial until he leaves office. The court said it was unlikely the case would burden Clinton's time.

In June 1997, Clinton offered a $700,000 settlement payment to charity, but Jones said she also wanted an apology.

Lawyers on both sides of the lawsuit engaged in a brutal legal and public-relations battle during February and March, with the Jones team filing hundreds of pages of unprecedented, fascinating and often tawdry legal documents.

But U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright ultimately sided with the Clinton's team motion for a "summary judgement" throwing out the case before it could come to trial.

Even if Clinton did make a crude proposition, Wright wrote that it would not constitute sexual assault and that there was no proof Jones was emotionally afflicted or punished in the workplace for rebuffing him.

"There are no genuine issues for trial in this case," she wrote.

Nevertheless, Jones filed an appeal and both parties began a second round of settlement talks.

The case was a multiple precedent shatterer. Never before had a president's sex life come under such scrutiny. Clinton's videotaped deposition on Jan. 17 was the first time a sitting president was interrogated as a defendant in a court case.

And allegations of perjury in that deposition are among the 11 possibly impeachable offenses that Starr outlined in his September report to Congress. (For more information, see the Clinton Accused Special Report.)

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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