Clinton Lawyers Ask Suit Dismissal
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) _ President Clinton’s lawyers asked a judge to dismiss Paula Jones’ lawsuit, saying the ``veneer-thin″ case has little evidence of sexual harassment other than her complaint of not receiving flowers on ``secretary’s day.″
Clinton’s lawyer, Robert Bennett, filed the motion Tuesday and released portions of previously sealed depositions that Mrs. Jones gave in November.
``If the court were to permit such a veneer-thin case of sexual harassment and outrage as this to go forward against a sitting president, it would place future presidents at risk for frivolous and vexatious litigation,″ Bennett wrote.
Mrs. Jones, a former Arkansas state employee, claims that Clinton, when he was Arkansas governor, asked for oral sex and then retaliated after she rejected his advances.
``Despite months of gathering evidence, Mrs. Jones has failed to establish her case,″ Bennett wrote, accusing her of ``using the compulsory processes of the court in an attempt to humiliate and damage the president.
``There’s no need even for a trial.″
The Clinton defense included excerpts of Mrs. Jones’ deposition in its filing. In them, Mrs. Jones said Clinton never threatened her or her job.
As an example of harassment, Mrs. Jones says she was the only woman in her department to not receive flowers on ``secretary’s day″ in 1992, although her supervisor has denied that Mrs. Jones was left out.
``Everybody noticed it,″ Mrs. Jones said. ``There had to be something for me to be treated that way.″
Mrs. Jones acknowledged that she never examined her employment records before filing the lawsuit in 1994.
Bennett said Mrs. Jones also failed to prove Clinton conspired with state trooper Danny Ferguson, the president’s co-defendant, to deprive her of equal protection rights.
The trial is scheduled for May 27.
Mrs. Jones’ lawyers, who have two weeks to respond to the president’s 442-page filing, did not return telephone calls for comment Tuesday or today. U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright could rule on the motion at any time after their response or after the deadline.
Mrs. Jones claims Clinton propositioned her in a Little Rock hotel in May 1991 while she was working at a state development conference. She is seeking $525,000.
In his deposition last month, Clinton said he did not remember meeting Mrs. Jones and denied sexually harassing her.
Employment records show Mrs. Jones stayed on her job at Arkansas Industrial Development Commission for nearly two years after the alleged encounter, received merit raises and cost-of-living increases during that time and left of her own volition.
The head of the development commission was a Clinton apointee.
Mrs. Jones’ immediate supervisor at the commission, Clydine Pennington, said in her deposition that she was the one who had bouquets delivered for secretary’s day and that Mrs. Jones was not singled out. ``If she was there, she would have gotten one from me.″
In her deposition, Mrs. Jones said she went to the hotel suite because she was excited to meet Clinton.
``I had never met the governor before,″ she said.
She said that after a few minutes of small talk, Clinton tried to kiss her but she rebuffed him.
At that point, she said, Clinton told her ``I love the way your hair flows down your back.″
Eventually, she said, Clinton sat on a couch next to her, exposed himself and asked for oral sex. She said she jumped up from the couch, said, ``I’m not that kind of girl,″ and tried to leave.
``He was just red as he could be. You could tell I had embarrassed him so bad,″ she said.
``He put his hand on the door to where I could not open it up any further, and he stopped me and he says, `You’re a smart girl. Let’s keep this between ourselves,‴ she said.
She admitted that Clinton made no threats against her or her job, but said ``you can read between the lines, you know.″
Mrs. Jones acknowledged that none of her supervisors or co-workers ever mentioned the alleged encounter.
``That doesn’t mean they didn’t know,″ she said.