Reeling from a scandal around misogynistic comments from 2005, Donald Trump’s defenses kicked in as he tried to shift the blame: “Bill Clinton has said far worse.” Just before the second presidential debate was set to begin, Trump assembled several accusers of the former president and wife of current candidate Hillary Clinton.
Among them was Juanita Broaddick, a 73-year-old retired nurse who alleged that Bill Clinton raped her in April 1978, when he was attorney general in Arkansas. Broaddrick’s accusations first surfaced when Clinton was running for president in 1992. Her story raised red flags because of a lack of evidence, and she changed her story in January 1998. In a sworn affidavit, she denied the allegations:
During the 1992 Presidential campaign there were unfounded rumors and stories circulated that Mr. Clinton had made unwelcome sexual advances toward me in the late seventies. Newspaper and tabloid reporters hounded me and my family, seeking corroboration of these tales. I repeatedly denied the allegations and requested that my family’s privacy be respected. These allegations are untrue and I had hoped that they would no longer haunt me, or cause further disruption to my family.
Broaddick later recanted her denial, stating that she was initially apprehensive about coming forward because she thought no one would believe her. She made a public appearance with her story in a 1999 Dateline NBC interview. Following that, she also shared detailed allegations with a range of print publications like the New York Times and the Washington Post.
According to Broaddick, Clinton invited her when she was 35 years old to visit his office in Little Rock. Once she reached a hotel there, she claims that Clinton offered to meet her in her hotel lobby coffee shop instead. He allegedly moved the coffee meeting to her room under the pretext of avoiding reporters. The Washington Post detailed her version of events:
Clinton pointed to an old jail he wanted to renovate if he became governor—before he began kissing her. She resisted his advances, she said, but soon he pulled her back onto the bed and forcibly had sex with her. She said she did not scream because everything happened so quickly. Her upper lip was bruised and swollen after the encounter because, she said, he had grabbed onto it with his mouth.
At the time, then-president Clinton’s lawyer, David A. Kendall, vehemently denied the allegations. Last year, when Hillary Clinton was asked what she would say to Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey, and Paula Jones, she said, “Well, I would say that everyone should be believed at first until they are disbelieved based on evidence.”
Broaddick still maintains the truthfulness of her account and singles out Hillary Clinton, who has been married to the former president since 1975, as a co-conspirator who tried to intimidate her into keeping quiet about the events. “You are the same Hillary that you were 20 years ago,” Broaddick wrote in an open letter to Hillary Clinton in 2000. “You are cold, calculating and self-serving.”
At the press conference organized by the Trump campaign just ahead of tonight’s debate, she said, “Mr.Trump may have said some bad words but Bill Clinton raped me and Hillary Clinton threatened me. I don’t think there’s any comparison.”