Clinton accuser vows to press on with sex lawsuit

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AS CONSERVATIVE groups start fund-raising drives on her behalf, the woman who is suing President Bill Clinton for sexual harassment is vowing to see the case through to the end, whatever the costs she might face and despite fearing her life could be in danger.

In an interview in yesterday's New York Daily News, Paula Jones, 27, expressed her anxieties: 'The only thing I've been scared of is that somebody might gun me down or something or hush me up.' But, she maintains, she is determined to press her dollars 700,000 (pounds 470,000) lawsuit into the courtroom.

Her remarks came as even Clinton supporters are reluctantly coming to terms with the likelihood that, whatever happened or did not happen in a Little Rock hotel on 8 May 1991, the lawsuit and the lurid leaks it will inevitably spawn will dog the President until the next election or beyond.

The next formal step is a response within a fortnight from Mr Clinton's lawyers, urging the suit be dismissed for lack of merit. Failing that, they will claim a sitting President has immunity from such legal actions during his term in office.

Most lawyers, however, consider dismissal unlikely, while the 1982 Supreme Court ruling on presidential immunity applied only to disputes arising in his term of office. Assuming the case goes ahead, Ms Jones's lawyers are expected to exploit the process of 'legal discovery' to the hilt, subpoenaing witnesses and taking depositions designed to portray the alleged 1991 incident as part of a pattern of reckless sexual conduct by the then governor of Arkansas.

The tactics of the President's high-priced legal team are equally clear - to discredit Ms Jones and to present her as a gold-digging tramp, whose word is not to be trusted. That effort bore some fruit yesterday when the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission, which employed Ms Jones, said she received regular pay rises after the incident - contradicting her lawsuit's assertion that she was punished on the job after rebuffing Mr Clinton's advances.

Anti-Clinton activists, meanwhile, have begun seeking funds to help Ms Jones, whose costs - like those of the President - are likely to run into six figures at least. The Christian Defence Coalition anti-abortion group is seeking donations to help her, as may the best-known US anti-abortion organisation, Operation Rescue. The so-called Legal Affairs Council, which has helped Colonel Oliver North in the past, is expected to pitch in. Ms Jones has also been a guest on the television channel of the Rev Pat Robertson, the country's most influential televangelist.