Paula Jones' case against Clinton thrown out

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The Independent Online
IN A major victory for Bill Clinton, an Arkansas judge yesterday threw out the sexual harassment case brought against the President by Paula Jones, saying that there was insufficient evidence to proceed.

The Clinton camp was said to be "thrilled" by the news. Mr Clinton was in Senegal, on the last leg of a two-week tour of Africa. The ruling, issued late yesterday by Judge Susan Webber Wright in Little Rock, Arkansas, means that the case of Paula Jones v William Jefferson Clinton, which was set to become the courtroom drama of the year, if not of the decade, will not now take place.

Ms Webber Wright said she was halting the case because the evidence fell short of the legal requirements, adding: "The plaintiff's allegations fall far short of the rigorous standards for establishing a claim of outrage."

Ms Jones, a former Arkansas state employee, had alleged that Mr Clinton made an improper sexual advance to her in a Little Rock hotel in 1991, when he was state governor. She was claiming substantial damages for sexual harassment. Her most recent submissions included claims that she had suffered psychological trauma from the incident and that her career had suffered from rejecting Mr Clinton's alleged advance.

Susan Carpenter McMillan, a spokeswoman for Ms Jones, last night said of the decision to dismiss the case: "It's true but I'm not going to comment on it until I talk more to the lawyers. I'm on my way to Paula's house."

Mr Clinton's lawyers had initially tried to have the case deferred until after the end of his presidency. When that plea was rejected by the Supreme Court, they twice submitted pleas to have the case dismissed trial for lack of evidence. That plea has now been accepted.

Legal specialists had long argued that the evidence brought by Ms Jones was insufficient to prove sexual harassment.

They believed, however, that it would be politically difficult for the judge to throw the case out because it might be seen to smack of favouritism. Ms Jones's lawyers say that they are likely to appeal the decision.

John Whitehead, of the Rutherford Institute, which has been financing Ms Jones's law suit, said that her lawyers will take a look at the case and that "if there are suitable grounds for appeal", they will do so.

Ms Webber Wright's ruling comes more than three years after Ms Jones first went to court alleging that Mr Clinton, as Arkansas governor, made an unwanted sexual advance.

The judge's decision culminates a dramatic month in which the lawsuit erupted into battle of a contentious and sensational legal manoeuvres.