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Willey says 'forceful' Clinton had 'hands all over me'

May 4, 1999
Web posted at: 11:17 p.m. EDT (0317 GMT)

ALEXANDRIA, Virginia (AllPolitics, May 4) -- Kathleen Willey told a federal jury Tuesday that President Clinton "was very forceful and he had his hands all over me," as she recounted details of her disputed assertion that he made an unwanted sexual advance in the White House.

The former White House volunteer testified for Independent Counsel Ken Starr's prosecutors in their case against Julie Hiatt Steele. Steele faces four felony counts for giving false grand jury testimony and lying to Starr's investigators after Steele changed her version of events relating to Willey's claims that she was "groped" by the president.

Clinton has emphatically denied the claims under oath.

Willey quietly, and at times haltingly, described in graphic detail her recollections of the alleged November 29, 1993, encounter near the Oval Office.

"He had me backed into a corner in a private study," Willey said. "His hands were on my breasts, his hands were up my dress. And he put my hand on his genitals."

The packed courtroom was silent, and the jury attentive but without visible reaction as Willey continued.

"I told him I needed to get out of there. I was shocked at his behavior. I couldn't believe what he was doing," Willey said.

Willey's testimony closely followed her claims made in an interview with CBS's "60 Minutes," which aired March 15, 1998.

Under questioning from Starr's lead prosecutor, David Barger, Willey said she attempted to resist Clinton's advance.

Willey also said she remembered seeing Linda Tripp as she left the White House.

In testimony most directly relevant to the charges against Steele, Willey said she went to Steele's home that evening and told her what had happened in the White House. Willey described Steele as "a very good friend."

Willey testified: "I know I was there because Julie reminded me that I was there and that I told her about what happened with the president."

Steele initially backed Willey's account, but later said she had lied at Willey's request. Steele said under oath, and still insists, that she knew nothing of the alleged incident until 1997, when Willey called her to say a Newsweek reporter was heading to Steele's house and asked her to back Willey's story that she had been "groped" by the president.

Willey described her desperation as she appealed to the president for a paying job instead of a volunteer position because of a "financial crisis."

Willey's husband, Ed Willey Jr., a prominent Democratic fund- raiser in Richmond, Virginia, had just revealed to her two days earlier that he had embezzled $250,000 from his firm.

What Willey did not know until she returned to Richmond was that her husband had committed suicide while she was in Washington seeking a job from Clinton.

Steele's lawyers are expected to hammer away at Willey's account in cross-examination Wednesday.

Also on the witness stand Tuesday was a former colleague of Willey's in the White House social secretary's office. Ruthie Eisen testified that Willey had also told her of the alleged sexual encounter on the night of the incident.

One of Clinton's lawyers in the Paula Jones case, Mitch Ettinger, testified that he had asked Steele to sign an affidavit disputing Willey's claims, but insisted that at no time did he put any pressure on her to sign it, and that it wasn't critical to the president's defense in the civil case.

A former Steele attorney testified Steele had voluntarily decided weeks later to sign the document admitting she initially lied and "now just wanted to tell the truth."


Investigating the President
AllPolitics' in-depth look at the investigation into the president's relationship with Monica Lewinsky.

RELATED STORIES

Quick start to Julie Hiatt Steele's obstruction trial (05-03-99)

McDougal trial: Steele says she was punished for telling the truth (04-02-99)

McDougal attorneys given day off to prep for Steele testimony (04-01-99)

Steele allowed to testify (03-30-99)

Grand jury indicts witness in Willey investigation (01-07-99)

TIME: The woman in Starr's trap (11-30-98)

Grand jury hears from Steele, Hernreich (06-11-98)

TIME: The lives Of Kathleen Willey (06-11-98)

DOCUMENT: Julie Hiatt Steele Affidavit (03-19-98)


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Tuesday, May 4, 1999

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