‘I Can’t Even Tell You How Frightened I Was’ – Ahead Of American Crime Story: Impeachment, Juanita Broaddrick Speaks Out

Broaddrick claims that Bill Clinton raped her in 1978 when he was Attorney General of Arkansas - a claim he has always denied.

Bill Clinton Impeachment

by Grazia |

More than two decades have passed since President Bill Clinton appeared on TV in January 1998 and declared that he ‘did not have sexual relations with that woman’. That woman was Monica Lewinsky, a former White House intern, and his affair with her came close to ending his presidency. The scandal turned Monica, who was just 21 when their sexual relationship began, into a figure of international scorn and derision.

Now, the scandal is the subject of a new mini-series, American Crime Story: Impeachment, written by Ryan Murphy, creator of Glee, and produced by Monica herself. Post-#MeToo, it casts the affair in a very different light, challenging viewers to consider whether Monica was the dim-witted, sex-hungry predator she was portrayed as, or a victim of Clinton – a much older, extremely powerful man – a political system that threw her to the wolves to save him, and the media, which turned her shame and distress into tabloid fodder.

The series amplifies calls for the re-evaluation of Clinton’s behaviour – not only towards Monica, but other women who’ve accused him of sexual misconduct. They include Paula Jones, who features in the show and claims Clinton exposed himself to her and sexually harassed her (he eventually agreed to an out-of-court settlement but maintained the claims were baseless), and Juanita Broaddrick, who claims, most seriously of all, that he raped her in 1978 (Clinton has denied this).

Juanita, now 78, has been watching the show (already on-air in the US, a UK transmission date is set to be confirmed soon) ‘wondering if I’ll ever be brought up’, she says. She first met Clinton when he was the attorney general of Arkansas, and she volunteered during his campaign to be the state’s governor. She says he invited her to visit him in Little Rock to discuss some problems she was having with the red tape involved in running a nursing home. He allegedly offered to meet her in the coffee shop of her hotel lobby, but when he arrived she says he called her room and suggested he came up instead, since the lobby had too many reporters.

According to Juanita, they spent a few moments talking before Clinton grabbed her and forcibly kissed her. ‘I was just in disbelief, pushing him away and saying no,’ she says. ‘I was screaming, “Help me!” and I couldn’t believe that nobody heard me.’

She says he pushed her on to the bed and raped her while biting down on her upper lip to stop her screams. ‘I can’t even tell you how frightened I was,’ she says. ‘He’s a huge man. I couldn’t fight against him. When I think back to it now I feel suffocated. I don’t care that it’s been 43 years – I can still feel the horror of what was happening to me.’ Afterwards, she says he told her to put some ice on her lip, before leaving.

At the time, Juanita says she told friends what had happened, including Norma Rogers, the director of nursing at her nursing home, who has said she found Juanita in the room crying, with a puffy lip. Juanita didn’t tell the police. ‘He was the police,’ she says. ‘He was attorney general. And he regulated nursing homes; I could have been shut down. But we’re also talking about the ’70s. I felt embarrassed and stupid – why did I not know what would happen?’

Over the following decades, Juanita kept quiet, despite receiving numerous calls from reporters who’d heard rumours. ‘It was horrible watching him become President, the most powerful man in the country, knowing what he did,’ she says. ‘I kept thinking, “I’ve got to say something,” but when I saw what they did to Paula Jones and Ginnifer Flowers [who had a long-term affair with Clinton] – they destroyed those women and I didn’t have the courage.’

She came forward only when she was interviewed by the office of Kenneth Starr, the lawyer whose investigation into Clinton led to his impeachment, and her testimony was leaked. In 1999, Juanita gave a bombshell interview to NBC News detailing her allegations, after which Clinton’s personal lawyer, David A Kendall, said,

‘Any allegation that the President assaulted Mrs Broaddrick more than 20 years ago is absolutely false.’ Clinton’s impeachment was unsuccessful and Juanita says, ‘After I went public, people just didn’t seem to care. I was attacked by the press and accused of lying, and it changed me. I was bitter.’

She says she has always recognised Monica as ‘another victim, in a way – hypnotised by the office and this very charismatic man. Unlike what happened to me, their affair was consensual, but she was too young to understand the predatory nature of the man she was in love with.’

Juanita supported Trump in the last two presidential elections, which she’s aware has made liberals less inclined to embrace her. But since the #MeToo movement exploded, she feels her claims have begun to be taken more seriously, although she believes ‘the Clintons are still too powerful to be cancelled’.

She hopes the new series ‘will lead to more questions being asked about Clinton’. She adds, ‘I hope he’ll start to be seen in a different light.’

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