US Elections 2016: Final countdown

Women against Clintons

(From left) Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey and Juanita Broaddrick seated for the second presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton on Oct 9, 2016.
(From left) Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey and Juanita Broaddrick seated for the second presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton on Oct 9, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

Shortly before the second presidential debate, Mr Donald Trump held a surprise news conference with three women who have accused Mr Bill Clinton of sexual assault or sexual harassment in the past. A fourth woman, who was raped by a man whom Mrs Hillary Clinton defended at trial in 1975, also appeared on the impromptu panel.

PAULA JONES

The former Arkansas state employee alleged that in 1991 Mr Clinton, while governor, propositioned her and exposed himself. She later filed a sexual harassment suit.

The lawsuit led to Mr Clinton's impeachment in 1998 because it was during a deposition in that case that he first denied having had sexual relations with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Ms Jones' case was dismissed by a federal judge. That ruling was under appeal in 1998 when Mr Clinton settled the suit for US$850,000, with no apology or admission of guilt.

At Mr Trump's news conference, Ms Jones, 50, responded angrily to a reporter who asked Mr Trump if his star power entitled him to grope women without their consent. "Why don't you ask Bill Clinton that?" she said. "Why don't you go ask Bill Clinton that? Why don't you ask Hillary as well?"

JUANITA BROADDRICK

A volunteer in Mr Clinton's first gubernatorial campaign, Ms Broaddrick alleged in the early 1990s that Mr Clinton had raped her in 1978. She retracted those accusations in an affidavit, only to recant the affidavit subsequently. She has also said that Mrs Clinton was aware of the incident and had made veiled threats to her.

"Mr Trump may have said some bad words, but Bill Clinton raped me and Hillary Clinton threatened me. I don't think there's any comparison," Ms Broaddrick, 73, said at the news conference.

No criminal case has been litigated and the Clintons deny the accusations.

KATHLEEN WILLEY

Ms Willey, 70, is a former White House volunteer who claimed that Mr Clinton made a "very forceful" sexual advance against her in his office in November 1993 when she met him to seek a job. On Sunday, Ms Willey said she was a supporter of Mr Trump's campaign.

KATHY SHELTON

Ms Shelton was raped at age 12 by a 41-year-old man in 1975. Mrs Clinton was the man's court-appointed attorney and, although she was reluctant to take on the case, succeeded in getting a plea deal in which the man was sentenced to one year in a county jail and four years' probation. "At 12 years old, Hillary put me through something that you would never put a 12-year-old through," said Ms Shelton at the news conference. "And she says she's for women and children."

NYTIMES, WASHINGTON POST, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 11, 2016, with the headline 'Women against Clintons'. Print Edition | Subscribe