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Trooper: Paula Sought Meeting

An Arkansas trooper who is a co-defendant in the Paula Jones lawsuit testified that she initiated a meeting with then-Governor Bill Clinton in a hotel suite after remarking at a conference that he was good-looking and had "sexy hair."

Trooper Danny Ferguson sharply contradicted Jones in describing how events unfolded before he escorted her to Mr. Clinton's suite on May 8, 1991.

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Jones contends that Mr. Clinton and Ferguson conspired to get her to the room, where Mr. Clinton made a sexual advance. She said she rejected him, and, as a consequence, was eventually denied advancement and proper raises in her job at the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission.

She also maintains that Ferguson initiated the encounter by handing her a slip of paper with Mr. Clinton's room number and telling her, "The governor would like to meet you."

In his Jan. 17 deposition, the president said he didn't recall ever meeting Jones, let alone making an unwanted sexual advance. He has consistently denied taking any action to stunt her job advancement.

Grand juries in Little Rock and in Washington are looking into accusations that the president may have lied in his deposition and encouraged others to lie in theirs.

Meanwhile, the credibility of another accuser, Kathleen Willey, was questioned Wednesday as a publisher and a former friend took aim at her allegation that the president made a sexual advance toward her in 1993.

California publisher Michael Viner asserted on television that Willey's account last Sunday on CBS' 60 Minutes" was "a different story" from the one her lawyer gave when they discussed a possible six-figure book deal over the last two months.

CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller reports that Willey indicated in the last month she might be willing to sell her story to the supermarket tabloids for $300,000.

Phil Bunton, editor of Star Magazine, said his publication countered with an offer of $50,000, but the idea fizzled after Willey's television interview Sunday.

"We've been trying to persuade Kathleen Willey to talk to us for about six months now, and basically some time in the last month Mr. Gecker (Willey's lawyer) said she might talk for $300,000,'' Bunton said.

Court records indicate that Willey has six-figure debts left over from before her husband committed suicide in 1993.

And the Washington attorney for Julie Hiatt Steele, a former friend of Willey's, made public a sworn affidavit in which her client says hat Willey asked her to lie about the encounter with Mr. Clinton.

Steele's affidavit said she had never heard of the alleged 1993 encounter when her friend suddenly called her in 1997. According to Steele's account, Willey asked her to tell a reporter that Willey had confided the entire episode to her right after it happened.

"Mrs. Willey also asked me to describe her demeanor at the time as `upset, humiliated, disappointed and harassed,'" Steele said in the affidavit.

Trooper Ferguson said in a Dec. 10 videotaped deposition that on May 8, 1991, Mr. Clinton had delivered the opening speech at the government conference in Little Rock's Excelsior Hotel, then mingled with reporters and participants and eventually chatted with Jones and another state worker.

Although the gist of Ferguson's story has been known previously and was the catalyst for a 1993 magazine article that spawned Jones suit, his deposition provides the most detailed account of his version and is his first sworn testimony on the matter.

A transcript of Ferguson's deposition was among 700 pages of material filed by Mrs. Jones late last Friday in Little Rock along with the president's own deposition and one from Willey.

"They were kind of giggling about the governor's pants being too short," testified Ferguson, who was Mr. Clinton's bodyguard that day. "And...she (Mrs. Jones) said that she thought he was good-looking, had sexy hair, wanted me to tell him that.

After getting Mr. Clinton the suite so he could do some work, Ferguson said, the governor "told me that if Paula wanted to meet him, that she can come up. So I wrote the number down on a piece of paper, went down to her, gave it to her thinking if she wanted to go up, she'd go up."

Three or four minutes later, Ferguson testified, he was sitting on a couch on the second floor of the hotel and Jones "came around the corner. I asked her, `How did you get away?' She said she told them that she wasn't feeling well, that she needed to go to the bathroom."

When Jones didn't make any move toward the elevators, Ferguson said he asked, "Do you want me to walk up with you? And she said, `Yeah'."

The trooper said he took her to the eighth floor, pointed to the room, and went back downstairs. He said Jones came down about 20 minutes later, smiling. And, in an oft-quoted phrase in the case, Ferguson said Jones "asked me if the governor had any girlfriends. She said that she would be his girlfriend."

Bill W. Bristow, Ferguson's lawyer, asked the trooper: "Would you say she was the instigator of that meeting?"

"Yes, sir," Ferguson replied.

"Was there any time that you attempted to impose your will upon hers or to make her go upstairs?" Bristow asked.

"Absolutely not," Ferguson said.

©1998 CBS Worldwide Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report