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Commentary | COLUMN LEFT / BILL PRESS

Clinton Rape Charge Can't Be Proved

Juanita Broaddrick tells a familiar story, but it suffers in the details.

February 26, 1999|BILL PRESS | Bill Press is co-host of CNN's "Crossfire."

This woman's story is different.

I believed all the rest. I believed Gennifer Flowers, Paula Corbin Jones, Monica Lewinsky and Kathleen Willey. I don't believe Juanita Broaddrick.

As recounted on NBC-TV's "Dateline," her allegation is shocking. Explosive, in fact. That back in 1978, when Bill Clinton was attorney general of Arkansas and a candidate for governor, he came to her hotel room in Little Rock for coffee and, instead, forced himself on her. The word for that is rape. Juanita Broaddrick says Bill Clinton raped her.

Sounds familiar, doesn't it? After all, if Clinton cheated with Gennifer, dropped his pants for Paula, played with Monica and groped Kathleen, why shouldn't we believe he took advantage of Juanita?

If true, Bill Clinton doesn't belong in the White House. He belongs in jail. He should have been prosecuted then. He should resign now.

The problem is, there's no way to prove she's telling the truth. The alleged incident happened 21 years ago. There is no physical evidence. There are no medical records. No telephone records. No scheduling records. No hotel records. No police records. It's totally her word against his.

Broaddrick never went to the police, she told NBC-TV's Lisa Meyers, because she was sure no one would believe her and because she felt guilty for inviting Clinton to her hotel room. No doubt, she's right about that. Twenty years ago, rape was rarely reported because, too often, women were ashamed and, in fact, were held responsible, especially if the rapist were someone she knew.

But, if Broaddrick's story sounds familiar, it also sounds fishy--and raises too many questions for me to believe her.

* Broaddrick says she can remember every detail of the rape, except the month and day it occurred. If it scarred her for life, wouldn't she remember the date? Or at least the month?

* Broaddrick says she told her husband, David, what happened. But, at the time, David was not her husband. He was her boyfriend, with whom she was cheating on her first husband. Question: What if Clinton and Broaddrick had consensual sex? If you're cheating on your husband, and then cheat on your boyfriend, do you tell your boyfriend the truth?

* Within one year of the alleged rape, Broaddrick attended a fund-raiser for Clinton and accepted appointment by him to a state advisory board. Why did she still want to support a man who raped her?

* Broaddrick claims Clinton kissed her so hard he left her lip visibly black and blue, and she covered up by telling people she'd had an accident. But her first husband, Gary Hickey, says he remembers no such injury when she returned from Little Rock, nor such a story.

* One year later, Broaddrick filed divorce papers against Hickey, claiming he struck her on the mouth. Was that the only time?

* Broaddrick also told two girlfriends, who are sisters, what happened, which both confirm. But both admit they hate Clinton because he commuted the death sentence of the man who murdered their father. Can they be trusted?

* In 1997, Broaddrick signed an affidavit and gave a deposition in the Jones case, denying twice under oath that Clinton raped her. "These allegations are untrue and there is no truth to these rumors." If Clinton did rape her, 20 years later, why would she still not tell the truth?

* Last year, Broaddrick told independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr that her Jones testimony was false, but that she had been under absolutely no pressure from the president or the White House to file a false affidavit. So, did she lie to the Jones team? Or did she lie to Starr? Or is she now lying to NBC? How do we know?

The truth is, we don't know. And we'll never know. But we do know this. We know that Starr's investigators talked to Broaddrick and listened to her story--and decided not to pursue it. That, in itself, casts huge doubts on Broaddrick's credibility. If Starr would impeach Clinton for oral sex, he would certainly indict or impeach him for rape, if he could prove it. Which nobody can.

Yes, it's disturbing to hear the president of the United States accused of rape. But it's even more disturbing to see an innocent man condemned, without the evidence. In this case, the evidence against Clinton is simply not there.

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