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Poll Finds Support for Jones Deal

November 17, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Clinton’s decision to settle the sexual harassment lawsuit against him by Paula Jones does not mean he’s guilty, say more than half of the Americans questioned for a poll released Monday.

According to the CBS News poll, 56 percent said the Jones settlement did not prove Clinton’s guilt, but only showed that he wanted to end the four-year legal battle that spurred the impeachment proceedings against him.

Clinton agreed Friday to pay Mrs. Jones $850,000 to drop her sexual harassment lawsuit with no apology or admission of guilt.

Sixty-three percent of the public felt Clinton made the right decision in settling the suit, the poll showed. But 44 percent said they still believe he is probably guilty. That’s an increase of 5 percentage points from a CBS poll taken in August, before Clinton’s televised admission of an affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

Thirty-nine percent of Americans said they do not know if the president is guilty.

Mrs. Jones alleged that Clinton, when he was governor of Arkansas and she was a state employee, made a crude advance in a room at a Little Rock hotel in 1991. Clinton has denied her accusation, and her lawsuit was dismissed last spring. An appeal of that dismissal was pending.

In an interview, Mrs. Jones described some of the hurt she endured in the public spotlight, including jokes about her nose. She said she felt Ms. Lewinsky similarly got a ``bad rap.″

``I kind of feel sorry for her. She got a bad rap as far as people making fun of her characteristics ... her being overweight,″ Mrs. Jones said on the syndicated television program ``Inside Edition″ in a two-part interview to be broadcast Wednesday and Thursday. Some transcripts were released Monday.

But, Mrs. Jones added of Ms. Lewinsky, ``She’s totally different from me. ... She came from a different part of the world.″

The poll of 762 adults was conducted by phone on Sunday. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

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