|Occupation||Nursing home administrator|
Juanita Broaddrick is a former nursing home administrator from Arkansas. She alleged in 1999 that United States President Bill Clinton had raped her two decades earlier. President Clinton's attorney, David Kendall, denied the allegations on his client's behalf. Clinton refused to comment further on the issue.
Allegations against Bill Clinton
Rumors circulated about Broaddrick's allegations for many years, but she refused to speak to the media and filed an affidavit with Paula Jones' lawyers stating that the rumors were unfounded. (See Road to public disclosure.) In an interview with Dateline NBC, that aired on February 24, 1999, Broaddrick claimed she had indeed been raped by Clinton.
Broaddrick first met Clinton when he made a visit to her nursing home during his 1978 gubernatorial campaign. Broaddrick wanted to volunteer for the campaign, and says Clinton invited her to stop by the campaign office in Little Rock. She contacted the office a few weeks later while in the area for a nursing home conference. Clinton said he would not be in the campaign office that day and suggested they meet at her hotel’s coffee shop instead. Upon his arrival, however, he allegedly requested that they instead have coffee in her room to avoid a crowd of reporters in the lobby. Broaddrick agreed.
Broaddrick says the two spoke briefly in her room, with Clinton describing plans to renovate a prison visible from her window if he became governor. Then, according to Broaddrick, Clinton suddenly kissed her. Broaddrick says she pushed Clinton away and told him she was married and not interested, but he persisted. As recounted in the NBC interview:
Then he tries to kiss me again. And the second time he tries to kiss me he starts biting my lip … He starts to, um, bite on my top lip and I tried to pull away from him. And then he forces me down on the bed. And I just was very frightened, and I tried to get away from him and I told him ‘No,’ that I didn’t want this to happen but he wouldn’t listen to me. … It was a real panicky, panicky situation. I was even to the point where I was getting very noisy, you know, yelling to ‘Please stop.’ And that’s when he pressed down on my right shoulder and he would bite my lip. … When everything was over with, he got up and straightened himself, and I was crying at the moment and he walks to the door, and calmly puts on his sunglasses. And before he goes out the door he says ‘You better get some ice on that.’ And he turned and went out the door.”
When asked if there was any way Clinton could have thought it was consensual, Broaddrick said “No, not with what I told him and with how I tried to push him away. It was not consensual.”
Broaddrick shared the hotel room with her friend and employee Norma Rodgers. Rodgers attended a conference seminar that morning, and says she returned to their room to find Broaddrick on the bed “in a state of shock,” her pantyhose torn in the crotch and her lip swollen as though she had been hit. Rogers says Broaddrick told her Clinton had "forced himself on her." Rogers helped Broaddrick ice her lip, and then the women left Little Rock. Rogers said that Broaddrick was very upset on the way home and blamed herself for letting Clinton in the room.
She was having an affair with her eventual second husband, David Broaddrick, at the time. He says he noticed her injured lip, and she told him that Clinton had raped her when he asked about it. Three other friends confirmed that Broaddrick had told them about the incident at the time: Susan Lewis, Louis Ma, and Jean Darden, Norma Rogers’ sister.
Broaddrick did not recall the date of the alleged incident, but said it was spring of 1978 and that she had stayed in the Camelot Hotel. Records show Broaddrick attended a nursing home meeting at the Camelot Hotel in Little Rock on April 25, 1978. The Clinton White House would not respond to requests for Clinton's official schedule for the date, but news reports suggest that he was in Little Rock that day, with no official commitments in the morning.
Three weeks after the alleged assault, Broaddrick participated in a small Clinton fundraiser at the home of a local dentist. Broaddrick said she was “in denial,” and felt guilty, thinking that she had given Clinton the wrong idea by letting him into her room. When she arrived at the event, she says, her friend who had picked the Clintons up from the airport told her that Hilary Clinton had asked if she would be at the event. Broaddrick says Mr. Clinton did not speak to her at the event, but Mrs. Clinton approached her, took her hand, and said 'I just want you to know how much Bill and I appreciate what you do for him.” When Broaddrick moved her hand away, she says, Mrs. Clinton held on to her and said "Do you understand? Everything that you do." Broaddrick says she felt nauseous and left the gathering. Broaddrick says she interpreted the incident as Mrs. Clinton thanking her for keeping quiet.
In 1984, Broaddrick's nursing facility was adjudged the best in the state, which brought a congratulatory official letter from the governor. On the bottom was a handwritten note from Clinton, saying, "I admire you very much." Broaddrick said that in 1991, Clinton called her out of a state nursing standards meeting to try to apologize. In response to his apologies, as she told The Washington Post, "I told him to go to hell, and I walked off". Darden also attended the meeting, and said she saw Broaddrick talking to Clinton in the hallway. Clinton announced his 1992 presidential campaign soon after the alleged interaction.
Road to public disclosure
Though Broaddrick was very resistant to talking to the media, rumors about her story began circulating no later than Clinton’s presidental bid in 1992. Broaddrick had confided in Phillip Yoakum, whom she knew from business circles and at the time considered a friend. When Clinton won the democratic nomination, Yoakum, widely considered to have a Republican agenda, contacted Sheffield Nelson, Clinton’s opponent in the 1990 gubernatorial race. Yoakum arranged a meeting between Nelson and Broaddrick, who resisted Yoakum's and Nelson’s push that she go public. Yoakum secretly taped the conversation and wrote a letter summarizing the allegations, which began to circulate within Republican circles. The story reached the New York Times and the LA Times in October 1992, but the papers dropped the story after Broaddrick refused to talk to reporters and Yoakum refused to release the recording.
In the fall of 1997, Paula Jones’s private investigators tried to talk to Broaddrick at her home, also secretly taping the conversation. Broaddrick refused to discuss the incident, saying “it was just a horrible horrible thing,” and that she “wouldn’t relive it for anything.” The investigators told her she would likely be subpoenaed if she would not talk to them. Broaddrick said she would deny everything, saying “you can’t get to him, and I’m not going to ruin my good name to do it… there’s just absolutely no way anyone can get to him, he’s just too vicious.” Broaddrick was subpoenaed in the Jones suit soon after and submitted an affidavit denying that Clinton had made “any sexual advances.” The recording of Broaddrick’s conversation with the investigators was leaked to the press, but Broaddrick continued to refuse to speak to reporters.
Despite Broaddrick’s denial in her affidavit, Jones’ lawyers included Yoakum’s letter and Broaddrick's name in a 1998 filing. The letter suggested that the Clintons had bought Broaddrick’s silence, describing a phone call where Broaddrick’s husband asked Yoakum to say the incident never happened and said that he intended to ask Clinton “for a couple of big favors.” This, along with the discrepancy between the letter and Broaddrick’s affidavit, attracted the attention of independent counsel Kenneth Starr, who was investigating Clinton for obstruction of justice. After being approached by the FBI, Broaddrick consulted her son, a lawyer, who told her she could not lie to federal investigators. After they promised her she would not be prosecuted for perjury regarding her affidavit in the Jones case, Broaddrick recanted the affadavit. However, she insisted that Clinton had not pressured or bribed her in any way, and so Starr concluded that the story was not relevant to his investigation and his report only mentioned the recanting in a footnote.
Though the mainstream media was not covering the story, rumors continued to circulate in tabloids and on talk radio, now with Broaddrick's name attached. Broaddrick was upset by a tabloid report that she had been paid to keep quiet, and decided to agree to an interview with NBC's Lisa Myers. Myers interviewed her on January 20, 1999, the day after Clinton was impeached. The interview only aired on February 24, 1999, 35 days later and after Clinton had been acquitted. NBC was accused of intentionally sitting on the story and invoking unusually demanding standards of corroboration until the impeachment process ended. Broaddrick and another source said NBC gathered the key corroborating evidence within 10 days of the interview, NBC assistant producer Chris Giglio said it may have taken him 14 days—in either case, while the impeachment process was ongoing. Though the story was unaired, at least one Republican senator reportedly invoked it to convince undecided Republicans to vote for impeachment.
While NBC waited to air the interview, Broaddrick was approached by Dorothy Rabinowitz, who wrote for the Wall Street Journal editorial page. Upset with NBC's delay, Broaddrick agreed to speak with Rabinowitz, and the story debuted on the Wall Street Journal's editorial page on February 19. NBC aired Myers' interview soon after.
Public and press reactions
Because of the time since the alleged incident and the nature of acquaintance rape cases, there was limited corroborating evidence and so the allegations rested on Broaddrick's testimony. Because she had filed and then recanted an affidavit saying there was no assault, some thought she was not credible. Joe Conason and Gene Lyons' book The Hunting of the President argued that Broaddrick's claim is not credible. Michael Isikoff's book, Uncovering Clinton, and Christopher Hitchens' book, No One Left to Lie To, argued that Broaddrick's claim is credible and shows similarities to Paula Jones' later allegation of sexual harassment.
It was suggested the five people that said Broaddrick had confided in them soon after the incident could be lying. Rogers and Darden had an independent reason to dislike Clinton: as they notified NBC, Clinton had commuted the life sentence of the man who killed their father. Slate Explainer proposes that they may have a grudge against Clinton. Even the confidants were telling the truth, skeptics noted that Broaddrick could have been lying when she originally confided in them.
Some details in Broaddrick's account cooresponded with other women's allegations. In an interview that emerged after Broaddrick's allegations, Elizabeth Gracen said that Clinton got carried away and bit her lip during a consensual encounter that became rough. Broaddrick said that after the assault, Clinton told her not to worry about pregnancy because childhood mumps had rendered him sterile. When contacted about the issue, Gennifer Flowers, who Clinton admitted to a sexual encounter with, agreed that Clinton had thought he couldn't have children.
In March 1999, a few months after the allegations publicly aired, 56% of Americans believed the allegations were false, while a third believed that Broaddrick's allegation of rape was at least possibly true. Similarly, 29% of the public felt the press should continue to cover the story, while 66% felt that the media should stop pursuing the story.
The public and media had "scandal fatigue" from the repeated sexual misconduct allegations against Clinton and, after his impeachment and acquittal, many felt the charges had no where to go. Many reporters had encountered the story while it was being disseminated by Republican activists and felt they had already looked into it. Jack Nelson, Washington bureau chief of the Los Angeles Times, said "This is a story that's been knocked down and discredited so many times ... [E]veryone's taken a slice of it, and after looking at it, everyone's knocked it down. The woman has changed her story about whether it happened. It just wasn't credible." Broaddrick had refused to speak to reporters before Myers and Rabinowitz.
Julia Malone, a Cox Communications reporter, became frustrated by what she perceived as media neglect of the story and held a National Press Club held a panel on the issue entitled “Too Hot for a ‘Scandal-Weary’ New Media to Handle?" ABC News's Sam Donaldson said he was frustrated over his fellow reporters' unwillingness to press Clinton to respond to the allegations: Clinton refused to comment when Donaldson asked about the allegations, and no one else would press the issue.
Broaddrick filed a lawsuit against Clinton in the summer of 1999, to obtain documents which the White House may have gathered about her, claiming its refusal to accede to her demand for such documents violated the Privacy Act of 1974. During that time, Broaddrick's business was audited by the IRS which she charged was retaliation: "I do not believe this was coincidence," Broaddrick declared, "I do not think our number just came up."
- The Washington Post [December 23, 1998 reported that Broaddrick was "Jane Doe #5" in the Paula Jones trial] on February 25, 1999. Her affidavit as Jane Doe #5 was posted by the Washington Post on December 23, 1998.
- Dateline NBC: February 24, 1999. The Washington Post published a story about the interview on February 25, 1999.
- New York Times: On Tortuous Route, Sexual Assault Accusation Against Clinton Resurfaces. February 24, 1999.
- "Is Juanita Broaddrick Telling the Truth?". Slate. March 3, 1999.
- Kurtz, Howard (February 25, 1999). "Clinton Accuser's Story Aired". Washington Post. p. A15.
- FOX News: Interview with Sean Hannity. June 10, 2003.
- Wall Street Journal: Juanita Broaddrick Meets the Press. February 19, 1999.
- Weiss, Philip. (April 19, 1999). "NBC’s Vetting of Juanita Broaddrick: Clinton’s Accuser Discusses Agonizing Weeks as NBC Dragged It Out". New York Observer.
- Baker, Peter, and Romano, Lois. (February 20, 1999). "Another Clinton Accuser Goes Public". Washington Post.
- transcript of conversation recorded by Rick Lambert
- Yoakum's letter regarding "Jane Doe #5" was posted by the Washington Post on December 23, 1998.
- Editorial Commentary, Dorothy Rabinowitz; February 19, 1999; Page A18.
- Isikoff, Michael (May 30, 2000). Uncovering Clinton. Three Rivers Press. p. 256
- The Weekly Standard. (February 20, 1999). "A Case of the Mumps?".
- Holland, Keating (March 1, 1999). "Poll: Most believe media should lay off Broaddrick allegation". CNN.
- Kurtz, Howard (March 1, 1999). "No Rest for the Scandal-Weary". Washington Post.
- Walsh, John (February 20, 1999). "THE UGLIEST STORY YET". Salon.
- Their Lives: The Women Targeted by the Clinton Machine. World Ahead Publishing, 2005. ISBN 9780974670133 p. 241.