Evidence in Jones sex case released

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The Independent Online
HUNDREDS OF pages of hitherto secret documents from Paula Jones's sexual harassment lawsuit against President Bill Clinton were made public yesterday, casting new light on the convoluted legal manoeuvring that resulted in the dismissal of the case last April. Among the disclosures are the efforts exerted by Monica Lewinsky to escape scrutiny in the case - and the matching efforts of Ms Jones's lawyers to have her testify.

The documents are potentially most embarrassing to either side. However, the full text of President Clinton's deposition and the evidence given by Ms Jones herself remained under seal. The presiding judge in the case, Susan Webber Wright, declined to comment.

The documents tumbled on to the Internet website of the Eastern District of Arkansas early yesterday, as they were produced for reporters at the grand greystone edifice that is the US district courthouse in Little Rock. The timing of their release introduced a newly complicating element into a case that has repeatedly seemed to be fading, only to return with renewed force.

Today, lawyers for Ms Jones are due to argue before a court in St Paul, Minnesota, that her sexual harassment case was wrongly dismissed and should be reinstated. In the brief hearing the lawyers are expected to argue that Judge Wright was wrong to exclude the Lewinsky case from the evidence against Mr Clinton, and cite his subsequent admission of the relationship to demonstrate that his denials in the Jones case may be equally unreliable.

Ms Jones alleges that Mr Clinton solicited her for oral sex on one occasion in 1991 when she was a federal employee and he was Governor of Arkansas. She claims to have suffered psychological damage and harm to her career after refusing. The judge dismissed the case before it came to trial, saying she had found no evidence of psychological or professional harm.

The documents released yesterday relate to the pre-trial hearings, and show Mr Clinton's lawyers insisting that questions about past sexual relationships are an unwarranted invasion of his privacy and lawyers for Ms Lewinsky, named in the papers only as Jane Doe 6 (the name used for unidentified females), insisting that she "does not have any relevant information".

Pressed by Ms Jones's lawyers, they object: "Plaintiff [Jones] seeks to depose Jane Doe 6 to unreasonably invade her privacy and subject her to harassment through questioning, disrupt her personal life, as well as cause her to pay unnecessary counsel fees and costs."

In Washington, meanwhile, last-minute efforts to settle the case before the appeal hearing appeared to have come to nothing. Mr Clinton's personal lawyer, Robert Bennett, confirmed that the President had rejected a proposal from Ms Jones's lawyers for a $2m (pounds 1.2m) payment to end her claim and warned that even the $700,000 settlement offered by the Clinton side two weeks ago could be withdrawn.

Mr Bennett said Mr Clinton - who has refused to apologise or agree a settlement that could be construed as an apology - did not want to be associated with a $1m payment offered to Ms Jones by the millionaire New York property developer and Democrat supporter, Abe Hirschfeld, which could have formed part of the settlement.