Paula Jones, now 54, is one of the women at the center of Impeachment: American Crime Story, the latest installment of the Emmy-winning series. Annaleigh Ashford plays Paula in the series and chronicles Paula’s journey after she accuses President Bill Clinton of sexual harassment in 1994. Paula’s lawsuit against President Clinton was one of the key components in the later impeachment proceedings against him.
So, who is Paula Jones? She is going to be a key figure throughout American Crime Story season 3. From her accusations against President Clinton to her support of Donald Trump, here’s what you need to know about Paula Jones.
1. Paula claimed President Clinton allegedly exposed himself to her.
Paula alleged that while working for the State of Arkansas’ Industrial Development Commission in 1991 that President Clinton summoned her to his hotel room at the Excelsior Hotel in Little Rock and exposed himself to her. She also claimed that Clinton allegedly “lowered his trousers and underwear, exposed his penis (which was erect) and told me to ‘kiss it.'” Paula said she got up and told Clinton that she was “not that kind of girl.” Paula claimed Clinton said to her, “I don’t want to make you do anything you don’t want to do.” Paula said Clinton’s alleged advances were “unwelcome.” She added, “I never said or did anything to suggest to Mr. Clinton that I was willing to have sex with him.” Before she left the hotel room, Paula claimed that Clinton told her, “You are smart. Let’s keep this between ourselves.” Clinton has consistently denied Paula’s claims.
2. Paula sued Clinton for sexual harassment.
Paula filed a civil suit against President Clinton on May 6, 1994, two days before the three-year statute of limitations expired. At the time, she sought an apology and $700,000 in damages for Clinton’s allegedly “willful, outrageous and malicious conduct” at the Excelsior Hotel. In court documents, Paula accused Clinton of allegedly “sexually harassing and assaulting” her, as well as defaming her with denials he “knew to be false.” After a years-long legal battle, Clinton and Paula reached an out-of-court settlement. Clinton agreed to pay $850,000 but acknowledged no wrongdoing. The Paula Jones case had a long-lasting impact on Clinton. Clinton was asked under oath in Paula’s suit about Monica Lewinsky and denied having sexual relations with her. He was accused of perjury after their affair was exposed. Paula’s lawsuit ultimately paved the way for Clinton to be impeached by the House of Representatives and acquitted by the Senate in 1999.
3. Paula supported Trump in the 2016 presidential election.
Paula attended a rally for Trump that was held in Little Rock for him in 2016. She also showed up at a press conference with Trump before his second 2016 presidential debate against Hillary Clinton. The press conference also included Juanita Broderick and Kathleen Willey, who had also accused President Clinton of alleged sexual misconduct.
4. She posed for ‘Penthouse’ magazine.
Paula posed nude for Penthouse in 2000. Years later, Paula explained that she posed for the magazine because she needed cash. “I needed the money,” she told Vanity Fair. “I was going through a separation at the time, a divorce… I had to pay taxes [on earnings from the settlement]. I had to buy a home for me and my boys… the I.R.S. was after me.”
Paula also said she felt betrayed by her former supporters, including Ann Coulter, for their reaction to her posing for Penthouse. “People that were supposed to be my friends and people that were supposed to help me [while] I’m over here in financial straits,” she said. “When I posed for Penthouse, those same people were like—they just squished me. It’s like I was a nobody. They just ignored me and dropped me like a hot potato. I never heard from them again.” When Paula’s Penthouse spread was released, Ann said, “She used to have dignity and nobility and tremendous courage. Now she’s just the trailer-park trash they said she was.”
5. Paula has been married twice.
Paula was married to Steve Jones from 1991 to 1999. They have two sons together. Paula has been married to Steven McFadden since 2001.