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Friend of Kathleen Willey Talks to Grand Jury

<i> From Reuters</i>

A friend of Kathleen E. Willey, the former White House volunteer who said President Clinton groped her, was called Thursday before the grand jury investigating presidential sex and perjury allegations.

Julie Hiatt Steele was expected to be asked about a sworn statement she made in March in which she said Willey asked her to lie about the encounter with Clinton.

After a full day of testimony before the grand jury, Steele read a brief statement to reporters: “Over a year ago, I made two mistakes: I did a favor for a person I thought was my friend and I trusted a reporter.

“As a result, my good name has been damaged, my health has deteriorated. I have had to hide myself and my child from news media in my driveway, and I have been called here today.”

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Steele said that her testimony was about “those mistakes.” She also apologized to Clinton and his family in her statement, saying she regretted that “my mistakes were used to cause them harm.”

Steele said in a Feb. 13 statement that Willey had asked her to lie to Newsweek magazine reporter Michael Isikoff last year about Willey’s statements and demeanor immediately after Willey’s November 1993 meeting with Clinton.

Steele said Willey asked her to tell Isikoff that Willey had told her, on the same day as the meeting, of being groped by Clinton and of feeling upset and harassed.

“I told Ms. Willey that I could not make such statements because she had not come to my house that day and had never told me of any sexual advances made by President Clinton,” Steele said in the statement.

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Clinton has acknowledged the meeting took place but said nothing improper happened and said he was “mystified and disappointed” after Willey made her accusations on the CBS “60 Minutes” program in March.

Steele’s lawyer said she would not be called back for any further testimony.

Willey has also come before this grand jury, which is looking into allegations that Clinton illegally conspired to cover up an affair with former White House intern Monica S. Lewinsky.

Clinton and Lewinsky have denied having an affair under oath, and Clinton has said publicly he never asked anyone to lie.

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