Paula Jones spoke for only 20 seconds before she needed more than a minute to regain her composure.
Then starting her news conference again with her husband's reassuring arm on her shoulder, a weeping Jones announced that she thought she has a strong enough case to appeal the dismissal of her sexual-harassment lawsuit against President Clinton."Despite the continuing personal strain on my family and me, in the end, I have not come this far to see the law let men who have done such things dodge their responsibility," she said Thursday while wiping the tears from her face.
Jones said she was surprised when a federal judge on April 1 dismissed her allegations that Clinton had violated her civil rights in a Little Rock, Ark., hotel in 1991.
"I was shocked because I believed what Mr. Clinton did to me was wrong and that the law protects women who are subjected to that kind of abuse of power," she said.
Jones' husband, Stephen, told The Washington Times Friday that Clinton could end the entire matter with only a few words and no monetary damages. "Zero dollars to us and the words, `I was there. I was wrong. I'm sorry,' " he said.
On a state visit in Chile, Clinton said he had felt good about the dismissal of the 4-year-old civil lawsuit and declined to comment on the latest turn. "It's a very unusual political environment, but I'm just not going to let the politics get in my way," he said.
Paula Jones' appeal sets the stage for a legal battle that could be lengthy. She said she had to take time to weigh the question of an appeal against the continuing stress on her husband and two young sons.
The appeal will challenge U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright's finding that damages other than emotional harm are necessary, that an Arkansas "outrage" law was not violated, and whether the president's "suppression-of-evidence and obstruction-of-justice campaign" should be considered.
In Washington, Clinton attorney Robert S. Bennett distributed a written statement saying, "We are confident that the appellate court will not permit Paula Jones and her supporters to pursue this case.
"It is unfortunate that our legal system can nonetheless continue to be abused by Mrs. Jones' political and financial supporters who wish to harm the president," Bennett added.