Paula Jones (1966–)
aka: Paula Jones McFadden
Paula Jones is a one-time Arkansas government employee. Her lawsuit alleging sexual harassment by Governor Bill Clinton ultimately led to a landmark Supreme Court decision in Clinton v. Jones and subsequently to Clinton’s impeachment as president in 1998.
Paula Rosalee Corbin was born on September 17, 1966, in Lonoke (Lonoke County) to Church of the Nazarene pastor Bobby Gene Corbin and his wife, Delmer Lee; she had two sisters. She was educated in Lonoke before graduating from high school in nearby Carlisle (Lonoke County). She later began working in the Arkansas government. It was while she was working for the state that the incident that would later bring her to national attention allegedly occurred.
Jones’s lawsuit alleged that she was sexually harassed at the Excelsior Hotel in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in spring 1991. Jones, who was then employed as a document examiner with the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission (now the Arkansas Economic Development Commission), asserted that, while she was working as a receptionist during an economic conference at the hotel, Clinton invited her to his hotel room and then solicited sex from her, a request she refused. Jones did not initially act on the incident. However, following the publication in the American Spectator of an article by conservative commentator David Brooks, which included an account of the incident relayed by a state trooper who had accompanied the governor, Jones (although not identified in the article) decided to come forward and reveal that she was the victim.
On May 6, 1994, with the three-year statute of limitations almost expired, Jones filed a formal civil suit against Clinton, who was then in his second year as president. Detailing the events she said had occurred in 1991, Jones’s suit alleged sexual harassment. Clinton denied the allegation and sought to put off the trial, as well as any related legal action, until after his presidency. However, Jones sought speedy justice, and after adjudication in the lower courts, the case ultimately went to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In Clinton v. Jones, the Court ruled that not only was the president not immune from being a party to the suit, but that his responsibilities as president need not prevent him from offering the required deposition. His testimony in that proceeding would ultimately, in a roundabout way, lead to charges of perjury and his impeachment by the House of Representatives in December 1998.
After the ruling, Jones seemed alternately torn between trying to take advantage of her newfound notoriety and reclaiming her private life. By all appearances, she underwent extensive plastic surgery. While originally declaring that she would never pose nude, she did, in fact, do so for a pictorial in Penthouse magazine. In addition, she made a foray into reality television, appearing on Celebrity Boxing in 2002, losing to former Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding. In addition, she and Gennifer Flowers—the woman whose allegations about being Clinton’s mistress, surfacing in the midst of the 1992 presidential primaries, threatened to derail his candidacy—tried to sell tapes of discussions about their encounters with Clinton. None of these ventures were very successful. While she did ultimately accept a settlement of $850,000 from Clinton, most of the money went to pay lawyers’ fees. Jones later expressed regret that what had happened to her, as well as the resulting lawsuit, had resulted in her being used as a political pawn by Clinton’s conservative opponents.
The Clinton case had no small impact on Jones’s personal life as well. She had married Stephen Jones in December 1991, and their two sons, Stephen and Preston, were born in 1992 and 1996. However, the attention and the turmoil that arose in the aftermath of the Clinton scandal destroyed the marriage, and their divorce was finalized in June 1999. Jones married Steven Mark McFadden on October 27, 2001. Paula Jones McFadden works in real estate in Little Rock, and she and her husband are reported to live in Cabot (Lonoke County).
For additional information:
Barnes, Lindsay III. “Suing the President.” The Hook, January 24, 2008. Online at http://www.readthehook.com/81692/cover-suing-president-ten-years-later-john-whitehead-looks-back-ijones-v-clintoni (accessed November 12, 2020).
Bugliosi, Vincent. No Island of Sanity: Paula Jones v. Bill Clinton: The Supreme Court on Trial. New York: Ballantine Publishing Group, 1998.
Clinton v. Jones, 520 U.S. 681. Cornell University Law School. https://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/95-1853.ZS.html (accessed November 12, 2020).
“Where Are They Now: The Clinton Impeachment: Paula Jones.” Time, January 9, 2009. Online at http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1870544_1870543_1870458,00.html (accessed November 12, 2020).
William H. Pruden III
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