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Thursday, April 2, 1998 Published at 04:45 GMT 05:45 UK

Paula Jones verdict: insufficient evidence

The judge's rigorous standards were not met

It was not a ruling that anyone expected.

More than four years after Paula Jones filed her sexual harassment suit against President Bill Clinton, the federal judge Susan Wright Webber dismissed the case, saying that it did not meet the legal standard for sexual harassment.

In her strongly worded ruling, Judge Webber Wright wrote: "The plaintiff's allegations all short of the rigorous standards for establishing a claim of outrage under Arkansas law.

"Reduced to its essence, the record taken as a whole, could not lead a rational jury of fact to find for a non-moving party and the court therefore finds that there are no genuine issues for trial in this case."

Perhaps offensive but not harassment

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Judge Webber Wright, who was appointed by Republican president George Bush in 1990, said that while the allegations were offensive, that did not mean that the case could stand up in court.

In her 39-page ruling, Judge Webber Wright knocked down each of Mrs Jones's claims.

In response to allegations that Mrs Jones had been denied promotion, Judge Wright noted that she had continued to work at the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission for 19 months after her alleged encounter with then-Arkansas Governor Clinton and never filed a formal complaint or spoke of it to her supervisors.

"The court has determined that her quid pro quo and hostile work environment sexual harassment claim are without merit and warrant a grant of summary judgement," she said.

Regarding Paula Jones's claim that she had suffered emotional distress, Judge Webber Wright wrote that whatever went on in the Little Rock hotel room, it "was brief and isolated; did not result in any physical harm ... did not result in distress so severe that no reasonable person could be expected to endure it."

And in what could be viewed as a final snub to Paula Jones's case, Judge Webber right also dismissed evidence about other incidents of sexual harassment as irrelevant.

"Whether other women may have been subjected to workplace harassment and whether other such evidence has allegedly been suppressed, does not change the fact that the plaintiff has failed to demonstrate that she has a case worthy of submitting to a jury," the ruling said.

Paula Jones's lawyers have already said that they will appeal the decision. They will be assigned a three-judge panel to hear the case. It could be months before the case is heard.

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