Many are happy to see Jones case end

April 03, 1998|By DAVE McMILLION

Many Tri-State area residents say they agree with a U.S. District Court judge who ruled this week that Paula Jones' sexual harassment suit against President Clinton didn't merit a trial.

On the streets of Hagerstown Thursday, people complained that the case got in the way of the country's business and that a president's personal life should not be aired in public.

If Clinton did do something wrong, "there is a higher court" that will judge the case, said Jerry Hann, owner of Peter Pan Cleaners on East Baltimore Street.

Charlene Perry, a retired school teacher, said she was glad the suit was thrown out because "it just wasted a lot of time and energy. We have so many other things to worry about."


Arlene McKee, 52, of Hancock, said as long as Clinton balances the budget and takes care of the country, she is satisfied with him.

"I don't care. And I'm a woman - I should care," said McKee, who was on her way downtown to a lamp repair shop.

Others were suspicious of Judge Susan Webber Wright's decision, which was based on Jones' allegation that Clinton made an unwelcome sexual advance in an Arkansas hotel room in 1991.

Vicky Schoppert questioned why it took so long to dismiss the case, which has been in the courts for more than three years. Schoppert also wondered about Clinton's innocence, considering the allegations that he had relationships with other women.

"You're innocent until proven guilty, but they're coming out of the woodwork," Schoppert said.

Tammy Twigg, 25, of Hagerstown, said that if the allegations are true, she is worried that Clinton will think he can get away with such behavior.

For some, however, doubts about Jones' case prevailed.

At the Collins Barber Shop in downtown Charles Town, W.Va., there were more important topics to discuss than President Clinton's legal woes, said owner Sam Collins.

Golf, for instance, or the start of baseball season, he said.

During the Watergate era in the early 1970s, President Nixon was a hot topic of conversation, Collins said. People just don't take Clinton and his legal problems seriously, he said.

"I think of President Clinton just as a joke," Collins said.

George Wilson, of Shepherdstown, W.Va., thumbed through a newspaper as he waited to have his hair cut, reading all of the stories except those involving the Jones lawsuit.

"I'm a real news freak, but I'm so sick of it. I can't watch the news," Wilson said.

"With all the trouble in the world, people have to focus on this," Wilson said. "There's too much news on this. I literally run to the TV and turn it off."

Jim Keaton, 39, of Charles Town, walked out of the post office past a row of boxes containing newspapers, most with a Jones headlined plastered across the top of the front page.

"I'm glad the judge made that decision. I think it was a ridiculous case to begin with. If she really suffered, why did she wait so long to file her lawsuit," Keaton said. "My personal opinion is I think she saw a way to get money. She waited until he became president to do that."

"I strained right from the beginning to understand why the case was in court," said William Kaminski, a Waynesboro, Pa., attorney who specializes in family law.

"I saw no harm done at any point to her career," Kaminski said of Jones, who in 1991 was an Arkansas state employee while Clinton was governor.

"If I had been her, the first settlement he offered her, I would have taken," said Leslie Putt, 24, of Chambersburg, Pa. She was referring to an offer made last year by the president's attorneys that would have given Jones $700,000 and a statement from the president falling short of an apology.

"Now the only thing she got was pulling his name through the mud, and that's been done before," said Putt, who works at Wal-Mart.

"I'm delighted," Connie Lippy, 50, a legal secretary in Chambersburg, said of the ruling.

She said the real issue was between the president and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.

"I look for them, after he's done, to get a divorce," Lippy said .

Staff writers Clyde Ford and Don Aines contributed to this report.

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