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CLINTON ATTORNEY CALLS JONES' CLAIMS `GARBAGE'.

Byline: Larry Margasak Associated Press

In a fierce legal counterattack, President Clinton's lawyer declared Friday that Paula Jones' evidence of sexual harassment was ``garbage'' unworthy of a trial and suggested to a court that her key witnesses lacked credibility.

With a 200-page filing in federal court in Little Rock, Ark., attorney Robert S. Bennett submitted testimony that Jones was looking for a ``movie business'' job, and members of Clinton's Arkansas security detail - who had accused him of womanizing - could not be believed.

Bennett also argued that Kathleen Willey's sensational claim last week of an unwanted sexual advance was irrelevant to Jones' case.

His pleadings with the court asked that Jones' lawsuit be dismissed before it goes to trial in late May. ``One would scour these materials in vain for a shred of admissible evidence,'' he wrote. And at a news conference here, he repeatedly used disparaging words to describe the 700 pages of arguments and documents the Jones lawyers submitted last week.

Bennett said Jones' lawyers had used ``their last filing to dump into the media every piece of garbage they could get before the court.''

John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute, the conservative organization paying Jones' legal bills, insisted the case will go to trial.

He said Bennett's response was simply evidence that ``he and his client do not truly uphold the standards and goals of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, signed into law by defendant Clinton himself to fully protect female victims of sexual misconduct by men.''

Jones' lawyers contended in their filing a week ago that Clinton engineered a ``vast enterprise'' to obstruct the case by using job offers and even payoffs to keep witnesses quiet about alleged sexual indiscretions. It also identified several women it claimed had improper sexual contact with Clinton.

Directly responding to Jones' claim that she was sexually harassed by Clinton in an Arkansas hotel room in 1991 and then suffered adversely in her Arkansas state job, Bennett said: ``There is not an iota of evidence to support those claims.''

As for new claims by Jones last week that she has suffered mental and physical anguish and sexual aversion, Bennett said that until now she had raised ``no medical bills, not even an aspirin. . . . I would say it was a big joke.''

Bennett also struck at the credibility of Jones' witnesses, from an Arkansas state trooper who was among the earliest to allege womanizing by Clinton, to Willey, whose nationally televised allegation of an unwanted White House sexual advance garnered headlines just last week.

In the federal court filing, Bennett included a previously undisclosed excerpt from Willey's deposition in which she acknowledged that her alleged 1993 episode with Clinton did not affect her job opportunities.

Willey, a former White House staffer, said in a deposition and a ``60 Minutes'' interview that Clinton touched her breasts and placed her hands on his genitals. She said it occurred at a meeting in which she came to discuss her grave financial problems and to ask to be moved from her volunteer spot to a paid position.

``Has Mr. Clinton at any time ever offered you any employment or favorable benefits in return for sexual favors?'' she was asked. ``No,'' she answered.

``Has he ever threatened you that if you didn't engage in sexual activity with him that somehow you would be penalized?'' Again she answered: ``No.''

Bennett said Willey's alleged incident is ``not particularly relevant to the Paula Jones case.''

Meanwhile, other Clinton lawyers and prosecutors investigating the president's relationship with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky met for four hours Friday before U.S. District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson here.

Whitewater Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr has subpoenaed several Clinton aides to testify before a grand jury under Johnson's supervision. Presidential adviser Bruce Lindsey, raising executive privilege concerns, has on occasion reportedly refused to answer questions before the panel but there is no indication that Clinton has invoked the claim.

Bennett's filing also included a deposition from Arkansas trooper Larry Patterson in which he disclosed he was congratulated by House Speaker Newt Gingrich years ago for stepping forward and linking Clinton to women in interviews with reporters.

The pleadings included a deposition from a Clinton supporter who asked Jones' original Arkansas attorney, Daniel Traylor, what it would take to settle her lawsuit.

``He told me what she really needed was a job for her and for her husband in the movie business and a certain amount of cash,'' said George L. Cook.

In a separate deposition, Raymond Buddy Young, who supervised Clinton's security detail when he was governor of Arkansas, questioned the veracity of statements made by members of the security detail.

``If Bill Clinton had a meeting with a woman behind closed doors, (Trooper) Larry (Patterson) assumed it was for the purpose of sex, because that's what it would have been had he been there,'' Young testified. ``A lot of it is Larry Patterson's imagination, and he's got a big one,'' Young said.

Bennett said he was confident that Jones' case would be dismissed. ``I don't think we're going to go to trial,'' he said, adding that ``I think the chances of settlement are most unlikely.''

Bennett's legal strategy underwent some last minute revisions. In a letter Thursday to the federal court in Arkansas handling the Jones lawsuit, Bennett warned he would submit material on Jones' sex life. By Friday morning, he had reversed course and decided not to file the material.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 21, 1998
Words:915
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