Jon E. Dougherty is a Missouri-based political science major, author, writer and columnist. Follow him on Twitter.
A woman who claims Bill Clinton raped her in 1978 has repeated her accusation on national television, as Hillary Clinton launched her long-awaited book that essentially ignored the allegation.
Juanita Broaddrick (courtesy: Fox News)
Juanita Broaddrick, a former nursing home administrator, said during an interview with Sean Hannity of Fox News Channel’s Hannity and Colmes program, that Clinton, while he was still attorney general of Arkansas, sexually assaulted her.
At first known as “Jane Doe No. 5″ in Kenneth Starr’s impeachment report to Congress, she had filed an affidavit in the Paula Jones case, at first denying Clinton had made any unwelcome sexual advances to her. But Broaddrick later claimed to investigators for independent counsel Starr that she was raped.
A Clinton campaign worker at the time, she described a meeting in her hotel room in which Clinton held her down forcibly on a bed and bit her lips while engaging in sexual intercourse. After the encounter, Clinton allegedly told her not to worry because he was sterile.
She first told her story to the Wall Street Journal in 1999.
Clinton, through his attorneys shortly after the Journal report appeared, claimed the allegations were false. But Broaddrick, in her interview, said the former two-term president assaulted her, then “casually” asked her to put ice on her swollen bottom lip he had bitten during the alleged attack.
“Then he … put on his sun glasses and walked out the door,” Broaddrick said.
She went on to say she told a friend – Norma Rogers – who “found me” right after the incident “that, I was sitting there crying and so upset at the time… I felt like the next person coming through the door to get rid of the body. I absolutely couldn’t believe what had happened to me.”
Rogers later said in an interview she found Broaddrick in a state of shock, her lip swollen, mouth bruised, and her pantyhose torn at the crotch.
During the Fox News broadcast last night, Broaddrick said she had told up to five people of the incident within hours or days after it occurred.
“You begged him to stop?” Hannity asked.
“Yes,” Broaddrick replied.
Later in the interview, Hannity brought up the fact that Broaddrick had waited some 20 years before reporting the incident. He asked if she regretted waiting so long, and she replied that she did not.
“I don’t regret [it] because I don’t think it would have been received any better at that time than it is now,” she said. “I don’t think that’s anything anybody wants to hear, that the attorney general of the state of Arkansas did something like this. … It was my word against his.”
Broaddrick noted that she was, at the time, a Democrat and supporter of Clinton’s, and that he had great “charisma” to be governor of the state.
“That’s how all this came about,” she said. “I thought he was what we needed.”
“In hindsight,” Broaddrick said, if authorities “had the ability to do back then what they can do now … to prove a rape, I probably would have done something” years ago.
“I felt so responsible,” she told Hannity. “I felt like it was my fault [for years] because I allowed a man to come to my room. I just felt, ‘Well, you got what you were asking for.’”
In 1991, she said, Clinton “called me out of a nursing home meeting. He called me out, and I came around the corner and there he stands. … I thought, ‘Why does this man want to talk to me?’”
She said Clinton apologized to her “for what had happened, tried to take my hand – which I wouldn’t allow – and said, ‘I’m not the man I used to be. I’m a changed person,’ and, ‘How can you ever forgive me?’”
That was 13 years after the alleged attack, Broaddrick said.
“I stood there for a minute … and I just told him to go to hell, and I walked off,” she said.
Broaddrick said she discussed Clinton’s apology with a few friends, and eventually she came to think that maybe he was genuinely sorry for what had happened. But then, she said, “three weeks later he announced he was running for president.”
“So, that was his motivation,” Hannity asked, “‘Don’t come public?’”
“Yes,” said Broaddrick.
Hannity said during his research of Broaddrick’s case, which has spanned at least three years, he has yet to find a single instance where a fact she stated has been successfully refuted or proven wrong.
But other critics questioned Broaddrick’s timing regarding her initial report of the alleged attack.
Susan Estrich, a Fox News analyst, law school professor and a professed rape victim, said she has to “draw a line between sex and rape.”
“I’ll be the last person to attack Juanita Broaddrick,” she said. “I’m a rape victim myself. I understand the pain of it. I understand why women are afraid to come forward.”
But, she said, “I want to say this. … Imagine that somebody came up 20, 25 years later. It seems to me, with all due respect to Miss Broaddrick and all the pain she’s in, [but] the reason we have a statute of limitations in the criminal law is because it’s impossible 20, 25 years later to prove a negative.”
And Eleanor Clift, another Fox News analyst, said she believed a lot of the criticism regarding both Clintons had to do with the perception among some in the electorate that Bill Clinton’s presidency was “illegitimate.”
To such critics, “he somehow exemplified the 1960s,” she said. “He dodged the draft, he had a history of being unfaithful to his wife, and he had a wife who was clearly ambitious in her own right. So I think for a complex set of cultural reasons,” as well as “desire to regain power for [conservative] Republicans – call it the vast network of conservatives or conspiracy or whatever language you want to use – but a lot of people in high places aided and abetted this effort, and they did whatever they could to advance their cause,” she said.
But, after years of avoiding the media – since 1992 when the first rumors of the story began to surface – Broaddrick decided to do an interview with NBC. The interview took place on Jan. 20, 1999, but NBC, once in possession of the story, hesitated to air it. As Broaddrick had heard, her interview was slotted to run on the Jan. 29 episode of “Dateline,” but didn’t.
In fact, a significant stir was created over the interview when anchor Tom Brokaw threatened to resign if the interview was aired. As NBC’s Lisa Myers, who had interviewed Broaddrick, told her, “The good news is you’re credible. The bad news is you’re very credible.”
Finally, several weeks later, NBC did air the complete interview with Broaddrick in prime time. After it aired, a Zogby public opinion poll showed that most Americans either believed Clinton was guilty of the 1978 rape of Broaddrick, or say that more information is needed to make a true judgment.
Hannity asked Broaddrick why she waited so long to make public the allegations, especially after initially saying there was no truth to them.
“Did you see what happened to Gennifer Flowers,” the woman who said in 1992 she was a 12-year lover of Clinton’s,” asked Broaddrick. “Did you see what happening to Paula Jones,” the woman who said Clinton exposed himself to her in an Arkansas hotel.
Broaddrick told Hannity she wasn’t afraid of telling the truth. “I just knew what would happen” – meaning, her reputation would be destroyed by the Clinton administration and, to a degree, the mainstream media.
“I can’t imagine someone covering up what a man … has done for the sake of power and money,” Broaddrick said.