Lawyer: Jones Appeal 99 Percent Likely
But deposition of Kathleen Willey will not take place
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AllPolitics, April 2) -- The head of the Rutherford Institute, which has been bankrolling Paula Jones' attempt to sue President Bill Clinton for sexual harassment, said Thursday "it's about 99 percent sure" that Jones will appeal a ruling throwing out her case.
"By today maybe or tomorrow we will make the final decision [on an appeal]. I would say that at this time it is about 99 percent sure," said Jones' attorney John Whitehead said Thursday.
U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright ruled Wednesday that Jones' allegations fell "far short" of what was required under the law to support her claim of "outrage" and that there were no "genuine issues" worthy of a trial.
But Whitehead said he believed Jones has a valid claim under civil rights laws that should go to trial.
"We have been arguing that there was an equal protection claim here, a civil rights claim, that she was discriminated against on the basis of gender," Whitehead said. "The president, because she is a woman, preyed on her, allegedly preyed on her, stroked her, ran his hands on her genital area and then dropped his pants and asked for oral sex.
"When she didn't, there was an implied threat there, so we think that, in and of itself, under the 1983 Civil Rights Act is enough to constitute a sexual assault."
The appeal would be filed with the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis.
Whitehead said that Jones was "very tearful and very upset" following the ruling. "We all want to pursue this. We are considering all the options of how to pursue this. Hopefully, very, very soon we will make a final decision ... right now we feel it is so important to the future of this country in terms of how women are treated," he said.
Susan Carpenter McMillan, Jones' spokeswoman, said Thursday she is certain Jones will appeal the ruling throwing out her sexual harassment suit against the president.
"I have no reservations that we'll go ahead and appeal," said McMillan. "I think it's an appealable matter. I think that the count of outrage, certainly when the 8th Circuit [Court of Appeals] sees it, should stand."
Whitehead said Wright's ruling presumes that what Jones alleges may have occurred, "but what she is saying is that technically she didn't think it was outrageous enough to be actionable under law. But we disagree."
In her ruling Wright dismissed Jones' claim that her civil rights had been violated. "The court finds plaintiff's attempt to restate her sexual assault claim in the guise of an equal protection to be no more meritorious now than when it was raised in the context of a due process claim," said Wright.
Clinton's actions, said Wright, could, if true, be "characterized as boorish and offensive" but not support a claim of "criminal sexual assault."*
Despite the Jones' legal team's talk of appeal, her lawyers will not be deposing Kathleen Willey this weekend. The deposition, originally scheduled to take place Saturday in Richmond, Va., has been canceled as a result of the judge's decision to toss out the lawsuit.
The deposition had been expected to include questions about Democratic Party activist Nathan Landow. Independent counsel Ken Starr is looking into whether Landow tried to persuade Willey to alter her story about an alleged groping by Clinton in the White House.
Starr had sought to stop the deposition on the grounds it would interfere with his investigation, but failed.