Her story circulated in Arkansas for years and when Bill Clinton ran for
president in 1992, his enemies tried to get her to tell the world. She
refused. Five years later, she opened her door to find private
investigators representing Paula Jones. Still, she would not talk. "I
wouldn't relive it for anything," she told them.
In the 15 months since, countless others have come calling. Agents sent
by independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr. The House Republican managers
prosecuting President Clinton at his impeachment trial. Reporters from
around the globe. She has talked and exchanged electronic mail with
scandal impresario Lucianne Goldberg and once sought advice from Clinton
accuser Kathleen E. Willey. Regular updates about her are posted on the
Internet and dissected on talk radio.
Now, after years of laboring to avoid the public spotlight, Juanita
Broaddrick, the woman known in government documents only as "Jane Doe
No.5," has decided to speak out about her sensational yet ancient and
unproven allegation that the future president sexually assaulted her in a
hotel room a generation ago.
The airing of her charges has come too late to have the impact desired by
those who had urged her for so long to go public, now that the Senate has
acquitted Clinton at his impeachment trial and virtually assured that he
will finish his term in office. But Broaddrick's story is just one of the
many loose ends of the Clinton saga that are likely to linger as he moves
through the final two years of his presidency.
"It was 20 years ago and I let a man in my room and I had to take my
lumps," Broaddrick said in an interview as she described why she waited
so long to come forward. "It was a horrible, horrible experience and I
just wanted it to go away."
It never did. Broaddrick, 55, a nursing home operator from the tiny
northwest Arkansas town of Van Buren, said yesterday that she finally
decided to break her public silence because there was "so much
misinformation out there." In one recent example, she said, she was
incensed by an account in a supermarket tabloid that reported her husband
had cut a deal with Clinton to keep quiet, an assertion she dismissed as
Clinton Team's Denial
The Clinton legal team has denied her allegation as "false and
outrageous" and the president's advisers in the past have noted that
Broaddrick once said so herself. When Jones's attorneys first subpoenaed
her in their sexual harassment lawsuit against the president, Broaddrick
swore out an affidavit and testified in a deposition that Clinton did not
make unwelcome sexual advances toward her in the late 1970s.
"Any allegation that the president assaulted Ms. Broaddrick more than 20
years ago is absolutely false," Clinton's personal attorney, David E.
Kendall, said in a statement released by the White House yesterday.
"Beyond that we are not going to comment."
Broaddrick later recanted her sworn testimony in the Jones suit under a
promise of immunity from Starr, saying she lied initially because she did
not want to be drawn into the case against the president. Only in recent
weeks did she agree to allow reporters to quote her account. NBC News
last month conducted an interview that has yet to air. The Wall Street
Journal printed a lengthy piece on its opinion page yesterday. And The
Washington Post was granted permission yesterday to use interviews
conducted off the record starting last April.
Hers has been a story hidden in plain sight since last March, referred to
in vague terms in Jones's court filings and Starr's impeachment report
yet never explicitly a part of the now-concluded congressional debate
over whether Clinton should be removed from office for trying to cover up
his affair with Monica S. Lewinsky. Few in official Washington who have
been privy to the Broaddrick story have been entirely sure what to make
Starr investigated briefly but dropped it after determining that it did
not fit the pattern of obstruction of justice he was investigating
because she stated Clinton never tried to influence her story. House
Republicans urged wavering colleagues in December to read the sealed
records of Broaddrick's FBI interview to shore up support for
impeachment. And the House managers secretly contacted her to say they
might summon her as a witness, yet quickly decided that her allegations
were not relevant to the articles of impeachment they were prosecuting in
Broaddrick, who owns a nursing home in Van Buren and a facility for
mentally retarded children in Fort Smith, Ark., said she first met
Clinton in April 1978 when he was the state's 31-year-old attorney
general making his first run for governor and she was working as a
volunteer for the campaign.
During a campaign stop at her Van Buren facility, she said, Clinton
talked with her and invited her to visit his campaign office in Little
Rock. Broaddrick, then 35, agreed to do so a week later, on April 25,
while in the capital with a friend for a conference sponsored by the
American College of Nursing Home Administrators. "We were very excited,"
she said. "We were going to pick up all that neat stuff, T-shirts,
Staying at the now-defunct Camelot Inn, Broaddrick said, she called the
campaign headquarters and eventually talked with Clinton on the
telephone. She later recalled he said he was not going to his
headquarters that day and suggested they meet in the hotel coffee shop
Arriving later in the lobby, he called and asked if they could have
coffee in her room instead because there were too many reporters in the
lobby, Broaddrick said. "Stupid me, I ordered coffee to the room," she
said. "I thought we were going to talk about the campaign."
As she tells the story, they spent only a few minutes chatting by the
window -- Clinton pointed to an old jail he wanted to renovate if he
became governor -- before he began kissing her. She resisted his
advances, she said, but soon he pulled her back onto the bed and forcibly
had sex with her. She said she did not scream because everything happened
so quickly. Her upper lip was bruised and swollen after the encounter
because, she said, he had grabbed onto it with his mouth.
"The last thing he said to me was, 'You better get some ice for that.'
And he put on his sunglasses and walked out the door," she recalled.
With no witnesses and the passage of so much time, Broaddrick's story is
difficult if not impossible to verify, although her husband and a friend
told The Post in separate interviews that she related her account to
them contemporaneously. Norma Rogers, an employee and friend who traveled
with her to the conference, said that she returned to the hotel room that
day to find Broaddrick badly shaken and her lip swollen. They quickly
packed and left, stopping to get ice for Broaddrick's lip on the way back
to Van Buren, both later said.
Rogers, who has since moved to a suburb of Tulsa, Okla., and uses a
married name, and Broaddrick said they had not talked for several years
until the episode was resurrected in the Jones lawsuit. "It's true unless
she has been lying to me for 20 years and I don't think she did," Rogers
told The Post last spring, before the two reestablished contact. "We were
close enough at the time that if something else had happened I believe
she would have told me."
Rogers's family had its own unusual experience with Clinton that could
affect her view of him. As governor in December 1980, he commuted the
life sentence of a man, Guy L. Kuehn, who had killed Rogers's father, Ray
Trentham, a school custodian, during a robbery.
Husband Supports Story
Broaddrick's current husband, Dave Broaddrick, also backs up her story,
saying she told him about the alleged encounter with Clinton days
afterward. At the time, both Dave and Juanita Broaddrick were married to
other people, but having an affair. They eventually married in 1981.
"I was very angry but there was nothing I could do," he said yesterday.
"I was put in a very helpless situation. If it happened today, it
wouldn't matter who it was, I would confront it. At the time I was not
able to because of my personal situation and I have to live with that."
Otherwise, though, there is little to document the account. Separate
items in the April 25, 1978, edition of the Arkansas Gazette indicated
that a nursing home administrators conference was held at the Camelot Inn
on that date and that Clinton had only one publicly announced event that
day, an evening appearance in nearby Conway. White House officials and
the state attorney general's office said they do not have records of his
schedule from then and the Camelot has since closed.
Broaddrick said Clinton called her at the nursing home several times
afterward but she would never take the call. The next time she recalled
seeing him was in 1991, when she said she was summoned out of another
nursing home meeting in Little Rock to meet with him.
"It was unreal. . . . He kept trying to hold my hand," she said. "I can
still remember his words. He said, 'Can you ever forgive me? I'm not the
same man I used to be.' . . . I told him, 'You just go to hell.' And I
walked away. I was shaking."
Broaddrick never reported the alleged incident to authorities and said it
never occurred to her to do so, because Clinton was a rising politician
while she was "young and vulnerable" and in the middle of an extramarital
"I had blamed myself all these years," she said. "I am a businesswoman, I
made money. But I was insecure about men."
Broaddrick's name first surfaced more than a decade later when Phillip
Yoakum, a former friend who said she had confided the story in him, took
it to Republican Sheffield Nelson, who lost a race for governor to
Clinton. Yoakum brought Nelson to her nursing home in 1992, and they
urged her to come forward, but she did not.
Jones's lawyers heard about her from another Republican activist in
Arkansas who led them to Yoakum. After their private investigators
visited Broaddrick on Nov. 13, 1997, her lawyer, Bill Walters, a
Republican state senator, contacted a Clinton lawyer and asked for a
draft affidavit for her to sign denying the "rumors and stories" about
her and Clinton. "These allegations are untrue," she said in the Jan. 2,
1998, affidavit, "and I had hoped that they would no longer haunt me or
cause further disruption to my family."
Unswayed, the Jones team used an uncorroborated letter from Yoakum to
raise the allegation in court filings last March 28, just days before a
federal judge dismissed the lawsuit.
FBI agents working for Starr then approached Broaddrick and after being
promised that she would not be prosecuted for perjury she disavowed her
previous sworn testimony without getting into details, sources have said.
Starr made note of her change of heart in a passing reference in an
appendix sent to the House along with his Lewinsky impeachment referral.
The FBI interview, which deemed her account "inconclusive" according to
the sources, has never been made public, although a variety of House
Republicans read it in a sealed room before voting to impeach Clinton on
The House Judiciary Committee Republicans who would handle Clinton's
prosecution in the Senate first got in touch just after Thanksgiving.
Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R-Ark.), who knew Walters from GOP political
circles, met with Broaddrick, focusing not on the alleged assault but on
whether anyone tried to silence her.
The House team later sent two investigators to meet with her. And another
manager, Rep. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), had "a five-minute conversation"
with Broaddrick but also told her she would not be relevant to the trial.
"From my standpoint, I think it was appropriate behavior on our part,"
Hutchinson said. They never pressed to include the Broaddrick allegation
in the trial, he added, because "it would have been wrong to throw out
something pejorative to the president and not probative to the issues
The Discussion Spreads Although her allegation had been covered in the
news media sporadically, it became the subject of widespread discussion
in political and journalistic circles in mid-January, when NBC News
correspondent Lisa Myers conducted a videotaped interview with Broaddrick
at her Van Buren home. Word of that interview was leaked to Internet
columnist Matt Drudge, whose report triggered thousands of calls to NBC
from viewers angry that the account had not been broadcast.
Fox News Channel later reported the allegations, but without an interview
with Broaddrick. As the president's impeachment trial moved toward a
verdict, the Broaddrick controversy was all over the Internet and talk
radio and was mentioned on some cable talk shows.
Her version of the allegations emerged publicly for the first time
yesterday when Dorothy Rabinowitz, an editorial writer on the Wall Street
Journal's conservative opinion pages, published a lengthy account of her
interviews with Broaddrick last week, granted after Broaddrick grew
frustrated with NBC's hesitation.
"Juanita has never been in control of this story," Dave Broaddrick said
yesterday. "She told it when she has had to in legal situations. This is
the first time, under no pressure, she has been able to be in control of
the story since it happened, and that's a refreshing place to be."
Looking back, Juanita Broaddrick said yesterday that she does not believe
she made a mistake by keeping quiet in 1978 but wishes she had come
forward in 1992. "I feel that had I come out in '92, that it may have
made a difference," she said. "I regret that."
As for going public now, she said, "I feel like I have gotten the biggest
weight off my shoulders. I did it because of my twin granddaughters --
they're 12. . . . When they ask me about this in a few years, I want them
to say, 'That was a neat thing you did.' I didn't want them asking me,
'Why didn't you come forward?' "
Staff writers Lorraine Adams, Charles R. Babcock, William Claiborne,
Juliet Eilperin, Guy Gugliotta, Howard Kurtz and Susan Schmidt and staff
researchers Nathan Abse and Alice Crites contributed to this report.