- The Washington Times - Friday, September 22, 2000

Former White House aide Kathleen Willey Schwicker, who accused President Clinton of groping her in the Oval Office, filed a lawsuit yesterday naming Mr. Clinton, first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and other top aides in a conspiracy to violate her privacy rights.
The civil suit, filed in U.S. District Court here, said the Clintons and others improperly released personal letters she sent to Mr. Clinton and turned over confidential information about her in a scheme aimed at "destroying her good name, credibility and reputation."
"I will not sit by while those in power come down like a ton of bricks on one woman fighting alone. I will go to court to seek redress," Mrs. Schwicker told reporters outside the District of Columbia federal courthouse. "My children have been threatened, my government files have been released and my life's innermost secrets have been dragged through the press.
"I am only one private citizen and he is the president, but that is why we have courts to protect people like me from abuses from people like him," she said.
Mrs. Schwicker, formerly known as Kathleen Willey, also named the FBI as a defendant in the case, saying the bureau "willfully and intentionally" released information about her "without … any lawful justification."
Others named included former White House Counsel Charles F.C. Ruff, current and former presidential aides Bruce Lindsey, Cheryl Mills, Sidney Blumenthal and James Carville, and David E. Kendall, Mr. Clinton's personal attorney, along with his Washington law firm, Williams & Connolly.
The suit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
White House spokesman Joe Lockhart yesterday dismissed the suit as another in a series of legal challenges aimed at the president by Judicial Watch, a conservative public-interest law firm run by Larry Klayman that represents Mrs. Schwicker.
"It is very difficult to keep track of all the lawsuits that Mr. Klayman has brought against him," Mr. Lockhart said. "There are several dozen. We will speak in court to the charges that he brought forward. It is not surprising."
The suit accused the Clintons and others of engaging in a "common scheme and unlawful conspiracy to violate the Privacy Act and thereby injure plaintiff by destroying her good name, credibility and reputation, on account of her having testified truthfully in courts of law of the United States" in the Paula Jones sexual misconduct suit against Mr. Clinton.
Mrs. Schwicker testified in the Jones suit that Mr. Clinton fondled her during a job interview at the White House in 1993. She also testified before the Monica Lewinsky grand jury as a cooperating witness for then-independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr.
The suit follows a ruling in May by a federal appeals court panel, which refused to overturn a judge's finding that Mr. Clinton violated Mrs. Schwicker's privacy rights when he released friendly letters she had written after the purported incident in the Oval Office.
Although the three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit criticized U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth's decision, it said it did not "take seriously" arguments by the White House that Mr. Clinton's work and that of his senior aides had been damaged by the ruling.
The appeals court panel said "absent a viable claim that some important privilege will be infringed" if a separate lawsuit over the White House's receipt of hundreds of confidential FBI background files on Reagan and Bush administration officials proceeds, "this court has no jurisdiction to review" Judge Lamberth's order.
The White House, through the Justice Department, asked the appeals court to overturn the March 29 order by Judge Lamberth, which said Mr. Clinton violated the privacy rights of Mrs. Schwicker in releasing her letters. It said the ruling would chill confidential discussions between the president and his top aides, including White House lawyers, and argued that the White House was not covered by the Privacy Act. It had asked that the panel dismiss the order.
The appeals court decision was made by Judge Harry Edwards, a Jimmy Carter appointee; David S. Tatel, a Clinton appointee; and Douglas H. Ginsburg, a Ronald Reagan appointee. It is unusual for the appeals court to become involved in a case still pending in a lower court.
Mr. Clinton also disputed Judge Lamberth's ruling, saying he did not believe the Privacy Act applied to the letters. He said he released them "only reluctantly" because they were "the only way I knew to refute allegations that were made against me that were untrue."
The White House released 15 friendly letters from Mrs. Schwicker to Mr. Clinton to rebut her accusations of sexual misconduct. She went to meet with the president to seek a job because of financial problems. Her husband committed suicide the same day.
The letters were released in March 1998, a day after she told "60 Minutes" Mr. Clinton kissed her, cupped her breast and put her hand on his clothed genitals during a November 1993 meeting.
Mrs. Schwicker is a former part-time employee in the White House social office and later the White House counsel's office.
Judge Lamberth's order came in a $90 million suit by Judicial Watch, which introduced the Schwicker letters in the case to show a pattern of misconduct by White House officials.

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