In November 1993, Ed Willey was confronted with the fact that he had stolen $274,500 from clients, a brother and sister, who were supposed to receive the money as payment for a piece of land on the James River. Their attorney gave Willey two weeks to pay back the money before he'd go to prosecutors and the State Bar, Kathleen Willey says.
But the attorney didn't honor the deal and went to the Virginia State Bar before the two weeks were up. "I realized the die was cast," Kathleen Willey says. As it turned out, Ed was in debt for more than $500,000 to the IRS and other clients were complaining about stolen money, too. Willey says she had no idea what he was doing at the time.
The family obviously was living beyond its means financially for a long time. It finally caught up with Ed Willey with tragic results.
On Saturday, Nov. 27, the Willeys had a family meeting that has been portrayed in media reports as an all-out battle between Willey and her husband. Willey says that's not true.
"The children were going back to college. ... He gave them a little bit of information about what had happened. Ed was very proud. He had a hard time talking to them that day. That was the last time they saw their dad."
Ed Willey left their home Sunday afternoon, saying he wanted to stay with a friend for a couple days while he sorted out things. "There have been stories written that I'd kicked him out of the house. I didn't. He left," Willey says. "I told him that I loved him, that this was all going to work out. ... He couldn't see his way clear of living with that humiliation."
Willey believed it was time to call in favors. On Monday, Nov. 29, Kathleen Willey went to Washington D.C. to help pull her family out of the crisis. In desperation, she planned to ask Clinton for help finding a full-time job that would pay the kind of money she felt she deserved.
Waiting in a wing chair across from Betty Currie's desk, she was playing with Socks the cat when Clinton emerged. "I was very distraught. He could tell it," Willey says.
As has been recalled many times before in court testimony and on "60 Minutes," Willey claims that when she went into the Oval Office to tell Clinton about her financial troubles, he led her into a private hallway and was all over her, kissing her, placing her hand on his erect penis, groping her breasts and putting his hand up her dress.
Clinton denied under oath in the Paula Jones case that he made any unwelcome advances to Willey.
"It was like an out-of-body experience. ... I was embarrassed for him. I was angry with him. ... His behavior was abominable. It is not what one would expect from the president," Willey says.
"I was trying to get him away from me and also get his hands off me," she says. "You're in a position and you don't know what to do. What do you do? Hit the president? I should have."
As she left the Oval Office, Clinton sat behind his desk, his face "real red." Not knowing what to say, Willey says, she looked back and thanked him for seeing her.
At the time, she didn't think she had been sexually assaulted, "but I do now," Willey says.
In fact, after telling her story on "60 Minutes," she's heard from many other victims of sexual assault, she says. And she keeps in touch with one in particular: Juanita Broaddrick, "Jane Doe No. 5," the Arkansas nursing-home executive who claims Clinton raped her in 1978.
Willey helped Broaddrick make her decision to come forward and tell her story on "Dateline NBC," even offering to sit with Broaddrick while she was interviewed. They call and e-mail each other at least once a month. "We've had some real heartfelt talks," Willey says.
"It seems like whenever a crisis arises for either of us, the other one is always there," says Broaddrick in a phone interview.
Several months after the alleged Oval Office assault, Willey was working in a part-time low-paying position in the White House Counsel's Office when she saw a document in which Paula Jones described Clinton's face as "beet red" during her alleged encounter with him.
"Even after what happened, I really still wanted to believe in this man. I thought this was just bad behavior on a bad day," Willey says. But when she read Jones' description, Willey says, "I thought, my God, she's telling the truth. ... I believe everything Paula Jones said without a shadow of a doubt."
In fact, months after the Oval Office incident, Willey says she consulted her lawyer about filing her own sexual harassment suit, but the idea was quickly dismissed for a number of reasons including that Willey was a volunteer and not a paid employee working for Clinton. Also, Willey feared the press onslaught it would create. "It was just a lose-lose situation," she says.
Not everyone contends she was unhappy with Clinton's attentions, though.
Famed scandal figure Linda Tripp, a co-worker, described Willey as "disheveled" but "joyful" immediately after the meeting with Clinton. Willey disputes that, saying that if she was laughing or smiling, it was only because she was in shocked disbelief at what had happened.
(In fact, the infamous "talking points" document that Monica Lewinsky later distributed to Tripp is a primer instructing Tripp to testify in the Jones lawsuit that she believed that Willey had concocted her tale, smearing her own lipstick, and untucking her own shirt.)
Either way, the day following the alleged Oval Office incident, Kathleen Willey faced tragedy at home. Unbeknownst to her, while she had been asking Clinton for help, Ed Willey had driven to a remote spot in King and Queen County and shot and killed himself.
He left Kathleen holding the bag for the $274,500 he had stolen. "He didn't kill himself over the money ... he killed himself over the complaint to the state bar," Willey says. "I never really got angry with him, just because it was just so sad."
Clinton called that week to express his condolences. She remembers crying and him saying, "You never saw it coming, did you?"
Willey now wonders if Clinton was trying to find out if his unwanted advance was the cause of Ed's suicide. "Do you think maybe he had a sleepless night?" Kathleen Willey asks angrily.
The day after Ed Willey's funeral, the clients from whom he had stolen the $274,500 served subpoenas on Kathleen Willey and her children. Willey and her children were to receive $700,000 together from Ed Willey's life-insurance policy. They offered to pay the theft victims a $125,00 settlement, which was rejected, Willey says, and then they decided to fight because they were outraged over the broken deal that they believed led to Ed's suicide.
(In fact, the attorney for Ed Willey's former clients swore out an arrest warrant against Kathleen Willey, because she called him twice in the middle of the night, blaming him for Ed's death. Sedated and grief-stricken that week, Willey says she didn't remember making the calls, but knows she did. The charge was later dismissed.)
Despite a number of court battles that went all the way to the state Supreme Court, Willey legally protected her assets by transferring her share of the inheritance and the home in Salisbury to her children.
The children formed a company that sold their family home and now pays for their mother's current home in Powhatan as well as the bulk of her living expenses.
There's a judgment outstanding against her for the money, but on paper, she has no assets, so she cannot pay. And the debt probably never will be paid, says client Anthony "Tony" Lanasa, a produce wholesaler. However, he says, "I ain't angry with nobody. I want my money, but if I can't get it, I ain't going to lose no sleep over it."
Nevertheless, in the months following Ed Willey's suicide, Kathleen Willey redoubled her efforts to find a "decent-paying" full-time job. She met with Clinton two weeks later to make it clear that she had no personal interest in him, she says, and to repeat her need for his help in finding employment. He looked through a box of ties, not acknowledging anything she said about the sexual harassment, she says.
During 1994, she was tapped by Clinton to attend two high-profile international summits, one in Denmark on economic development and one in Indonesia on the environment.
Willey, whose only previous formal work experience was a job as a TWA flight attendant 20 years before, was clearly out of place on these expeditions. Her expenses cost the taxpayers about $7,000.
Yet, it's common for political contributors to receive such perk appointments and the Willeys did contribute at least $10,000 to Clinton's campaign.
It was a heady time for Willey. In Denmark, she met Fidel Castro, Helmet Kohl and Nelson Mandela. "I stupidly, naively thought that being sent on two White House summits ... was a way to see how well I did in those arenas for possibly getting a job in the state department," Willey says.
Instead no job was forthcoming, she says. She also lobbied the White House for an overseas diplomatic position that held ambassador status. (The woman who was vacating the spot was a friend of a friend in Democratic Party circles.)
Finally, through her White House contacts, Willey was offered a $60,000 fund-raising position with the National Democratic Party, she says. Press reports have said she turned the job down, but Willey says she accepted it, only no one would return her calls when she tried to find out details about when to start.
Willey's connections never helped her, she says. In fact, in the years between when she left the White House and the scandal broke out, she was working quietly as a receptionist at Karina's Geometric Hair Co. and as a baker at Montana Gold, both in Carytown.
After her story became public, it became impossible to get or hold any job, she says. When she was one of the most sought-after interviews in the nation, she was quietly volunteering for Save Our Shelter, wrapping gifts at Willow Lawn over the holidays and providing support at a City Council hearing, she says.
But Willey's eagerness to use her close ties to the White House for a job search even after she said she was groped by the president is evidence enough for one longtime friend to believe that Willey manufactured the story.
After the alleged sexual assault, photos of Clinton hanging on the wall in Willey's home remained up, says the friend, who asks not to be named. "There was almost a shrine to the president. ... You would think, in retrospect, if she felt so bitter against the guy, why was there all this stuff there that she was obviously proud to be part of?"
The friend also mentions the infamous letters written by Willey to the president after the alleged incident. In the letters, Willey refers to herself as Clinton's No. 1 fan. The letters were "found" and released publicly right after Willey's deposition. Yet, Clinton's lawyers said they couldn't find the letters when they were earlier subpoenaed by the Jones lawyers.
Willey says she kept friendly letters coming because she wanted to let Clinton know she was still searching for a job. Furthermore, the White House didn't release the letter, Willey says, in which she wrote that she had been "trifled with" when no one would help her get a job.
Nevertheless, her friend says Willey would also talk about the possibility of the president coming to family events from Ed Willey's funeral to her daughter's engagement party.
Willey was also trying to pen a book deal, the friend says: "I think ... she was in a very, very bad financial situation and she used these events to her advantage and I truly think she was planning on getting a book deal out of this whole thing and she rode the tide of Monica but it left her on the shore."
Willey acknowledges contacting a couple of literary agents but says nothing came out. Interestingly, she pitched a novel to Patricia Cornwell's agent about the murder of the husband of the president's mistress. "You know who the villain is in that?" she asks. "The First Lady. Don't ask me why."Jump to Part 1, 2, 3Continue to Part 3