A Scramble For Jones' Witnesses

As both sides in the Paula Jones civil suit against President Clinton search for witnesses who could help their case, a Richmond, Virginia, woman says she was asked to lie to support a friend's contention that Mr.Clinton made an unwanted sexual advance in the White House.

The hunt for pretrial victories in Jones' sexual harassment lawsuit parallels the resumption today of federal grand jury sessions in a criminal investigation. With the grand jury scheduled to meet through Thursday, Monica Lewinsky could be summoned soon to testify about whether she had a sexual affair with the president and he asked her to lie about it - allegations that Mr. Clinton has denied.

In the civil case, comments by the attorney for Julie Hiatt Steele raise questions about the claims of her former friend Kathleen Willey, an acquaintance of Mr. Clinton who reportedly said in a deposition that the president made a pass at her in November 1993.

Steele's lawyer, John West of Richmond, said in an interview Monday that lawyers defending Mr. Clinton in the Jones lawsuit recently contacted his client. West said Willey had told his client, "It would be OK if you lied."

Jones' attorneys are attempting to prove that Mr. Clinton had a practice of making uninvited sexual advances. The lawsuit contends that as governor of Arkansas, Mr. Clinton rewarded women who succumbed to his desires while denying Jones any advancement because, as a state employee in 1991, she rejected his advances in a Little Rock hotel room.

Dan Gecker, Willey's attorney in Richmond, did not return telephone calls seeking comment.

Jones' lawyers have been pursuing the testimony of women who would portray the president as a sexual predator. They recently turned over to Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, who is conducting the criminal probe, accounts of a half-dozen women who contend they had sexual encounters with Mr. Clinton, according to sources close to the case who would not be quoted by name.

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