Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point
On Air
Low Graphics

Friday, February 26, 1999 Published at 17:18 GMT

Interview fails to rekindle Clinton scandal

Juanita Broaddrick's tearful interview

An excerpt from the NBC interview with Juanita Broaddrick
An Arkansas woman has gone on the record to claim she was raped by Bill Clinton more than two decades after the alleged attack.

Juanita Broaddrick, a 56-year-old owner of a nursing home, says the incident happened in 1978, in Little Rock, Arkansas, where both she and Mr Clinton - then Arkansas attorney general and running for state governor - were attending a conference on old people's homes.

[ image: She told newspapers why felt she had to finally tell her story]
She told newspapers why felt she had to finally tell her story
Twenty-one years later, Mrs Broaddrick has given an interview to NBC, in which she described, sometimes tearfully, her version of events in a hotel room in the town.

But it seems that Americans, emerging from the year-long Clinton impeachment drama, are showing clear signs of scandal fatigue.

Leading US leading dailies buried reports of the interview on the inside pages the day after the interview was transmitted.

Broadcast late on Wednesday evening in the States, her interview also revealed she is unable to remember the date, even the month, of the alleged incident.

Records, however, show that the conference took place on 25 April that year.

The president's lawyer David Kendall has already branded the accusations as "completely false", to which Mr Clinton has said he has nothing to add.

But despite Mrs Broaddrick's story having some not inconsiderable problems - it will never, for example, be heard inside a court of law - it is not being dismissed as an act of opportunism.

According to the American press, the story had been circulating amongst Mrs Broaddrick's close circle of friends for a number of years.

But in 1992, a business associate of hers who was also an ardent opponent of Mr Clinton, urged her to go public with the story.

She declined, but then lawyers representing Paula Jones approached her.

Again, she says she didn't want to get involved, and falsely signed an affidavit stating she had never been subjected to "unwelcome sexual advances" from Mr Clinton.

Later, having been given immunity from prosecution for the original false statement, she provided testimony for the impeachment hearing.

[ image: The hotel where the alleged attack took place]
The hotel where the alleged attack took place
Her determination to remain silent over the years stemmed, said the Wall Street Journal, from her circumstances at the time of the alleged incident.

She was then Juanita Hickey - married, but conducting an affair with David Broaddrick which would lead to her present marriage of 18 years.

Reluctance to reveal the affair was a factor in preventing her from reporting the alleged rape, she said.

Later, she told interviewers, she did not want to be seen as a "Clinton bimbo".

The crunch came, reported the Wall Street Journal ahead of Wednesday's broadcast interview, when a tabloid printed allegations that her husband had been bribed by Mr Clinton to stay silent about events in 1978.

Her supporters say that over the New Year, Mrs Broaddrick finally decided to put her story across to clear her family's name, and conceded to the interview which NBC had been persistently requesting.

The interview was recorded on 20 January. As some media watchers began to speculate that NBC was holding a potato too hot even for it to handle, the station defended the lapse between recording and broadcasting.

[ image: Bill and Hillary Clinton campaigning in 1978]
Bill and Hillary Clinton campaigning in 1978
The time, said NBC, was spent thoroughly researching every last detail of the claim.

Mrs Broaddrick told the New York Post that she hadn't wanted to go public, but felt that the time had come.

She told interviewers that Mr Clinton persuaded her that they should have a coffee in her hotel room, then forced her onto the bed, held her down and bit her lips.

She said: "I felt paralysed and was starting to cry."

On being asked why she agreed to let him into her room, she said: "But who, for heaven's sake, would have imagined anything like this? This was the attorney general - and it just never entered my mind."

Her choice to go to a station which offered no fee for the interview has not gone un-remarked.

[ image: The president says he has nothing to add to his lawyer's statement]
The president says he has nothing to add to his lawyer's statement
Indeed the Wall Street Journal commented that with no book and no deal in the offing, Mrs Broaddrick's credibility was high.

The newspaper's Dorothy Rabinowitz wrote: " ... to encounter this woman, to hear the details of her story and the statements of the corroborating witnesses, was to understand that this was an event that in fact took place."

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage |