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Thursday, April 2, 1998 Published at 05:08 GMT 06:08 UK

Special Report

Clinton harassment case thrown out

In a stunning victory for President Bill Clinton, a federal judge has thrown out all of the charges in Paula Jones's sexual harassment lawsuit.

Press Secretary Mike McCurry: 'The President is very pleased'
Judge Susan Webber Wright dismissed Paula Jones's case against the president, saying that her lawyers had failed to provide enough evidence to prove it could win at trial.

In her decision, Judge Wright said the allegations "fall far short of the rigorous standards for establishing a claim of outrage under Arkansas law.

"There are no genuine issues for trial in this case," she stated.

[ image: Clinton was 'pleased' with the ruling]
Clinton was 'pleased' with the ruling
Mrs Jones, a former Arkansas state employee, had alleged that the then-Governor Clinton exposed himself to her in a Little Rock hotel suite in 1991 and asked her for oral sex. She also claimed she was harassed and denied promotions after the incident.

Mr Clinton denied the allegations.

John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute, a conservative group that has supported Mrs Jones and lined up her legal representation, said Mrs Jones will appeal the ruling.

Dismissal is no joke

President Clinton's first reaction to news of the dismissal was to ask if he was victim of an April Fool's joke. But he was not the only one who was surprised by Judge Wright's strongly worded decision.

Robert Bennett: 'A strong and powerful ruling' (48')
The judgement has shocked the Washington media and political elite as well as lawyers on both sides of the case.

Analysts say nobody believed that the suit - no matter what its merits - would be thrown out entirely.

[ image: Robert Bennett: more than 'pleased']
Robert Bennett: more than 'pleased'
White House spokesman Mike McCurry, who is travelling with Mr Clinton in Africa, told reporters that the president "was pleased to hear the news."

Mr Clinton's lead attorney Robert Bennett was less cautious. He lauded the ruling as a "strong and powerful opinion," adding that Judge Webber Wright's decision was "right on the law, right on the facts."

Susan Carpenter McMillan: 'The term disappointed has a whole new meaning' (47')
Not surprisingly, Paula Jones's spokeswoman Susan Carpenter McMillan was dismayed by the ruling.

"I'd be less than honest if I didn't say I was completely blown away by this decision. I think Judge Wright made the wrong decision, but with all due respect, it hasn't been the first time she's made a wrong decision in this case. We had to go all the way to the Supreme Court just to make sure it got tried ... I dare say, we will more than likely be back before the Supreme Court again."

Long and winding road

[ image: Carpenter McMillan: not 'pleased' at all]
Carpenter McMillan: not 'pleased' at all
The judge's decision was the culmination of a dramatic month of a contentious and sensational legal manoeuvres.

Stepping up the pressure, Mrs Jones's lawyers released hundreds of pages of evidence about other alleged affairs, included an unsubstantiated allegation of sexual assault.

Mr Clinton's lawyer countered by charging Mrs Jones's case was "garbage" designed to gain sensational headlines without any proof.

BBC Correspondent Stephen Sackur is in Senegal with President Clinton adn reports on the response to the news ('2 ''09).
The Paula Jones case marked the first time that an American president was forced to give evidence as a defendant in a court case.

The suit was viewed not only as a simple lawsuit but a challenge to the character of the president of the United States.

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