Willey Declines Invitation To Secret Meeting 

Street Talk

Willey Declines Invitation To Secret MeetingCornwell's Cherokee Road Move Is No MysteryStrawberry Street Slums Will Be RenovatedShould Catholic Church Minister to Gays?Willey Declines Invitation To Secret Meeting

Kathleen Willey will not be among the reported dozen or more women connected to Clinton sex scandals who will be gathering in a hotel room in Dallas later this month to discuss filing a class-action lawsuit against the president.

"While I'm fully in support of these women, it's just not something I want to be associated with at this time," says Willey, who lives in Powhatan County.

Willey says she was asked to attend by Juanita Broaddrick, the Arkansas nursing-home executive who claims she was raped by Clinton in 1978, and by representatives of Judicial Watch, a nonprofit conservative watchdog group based in Washington D.C.

Judicial Watch is proposing filing the class-action suit against Clinton, but did not provide details of the complaint, Willey says. The meeting was first reported in the Drudge Report last week.

Those expected to attend, Willey says she was told, include Broaddrick, Gennifer Flowers, and Dolly Kyle Browning, a childhood friend of Clinton's who has alleged a three-decade long affair with Clinton and wrote a thinly veiled novel about it. There will also reportedly be another woman whose name has not yet surfaced in press reports.

Willey says she was also told that former Miss America Elizabeth Ward Gracen, who has alleged having an affair with Clinton in 1983, will also be invited.

Willey, who claims Clinton sexually assaulted her in the Oval Office in 1993 while she was working as a volunteer at the White House, says she wants her role in the Clinton scandals to be over.

"The next thing would be depositions, and the next thing after that would be court appearances, and I don't want to ever sit in a room with Bill Clinton again," she says.

Also, Willey says, she's worried the other women will be exploited. "It just seemed kind of unseemly to me. I kind of got the feeling it's going to be like, 'Gee this is going to be a hoot — everybody sitting around comparing war stories.'"

— Richard Foster

Cornwell's Cherokee Road Move Is No Mystery

Neighbors along swanky Cherokee Road have been all abuzz this summer with the news that Richmond's most famous citizen has moved into their midst.

Best-selling mystery novelist Patricia Cornwell has purchased a $1.1 million riverfront home at 10250 Cherokee Road, not far from the home of former Gov. George Allen and just a couple houses west from the modern villa owned by plastic surgeon Dr. Joseph Niamtu.

Known for fiercely protecting her privacy, Cornwell has added a shiny new black iron gate with an electronic monitor across her asphalt driveway. A neighbor says she's seen Cornwell "just briefly" at the house, adding, "I obviously don't know her."

The purchaser of the home is listed as local lawyer Edward Trope, who declined comment on the transaction, citing client confidentiality. However, Linda Dragnich, a Realtor with Bowers, Nelms, Fonville, Long & Foster, confirms that Cornwell purchased the home.

"She's absolutely delightful, absolutely wonderful to work with," says Dragnich, who has handled other land purchases for the novelist and has known Cornwell for four years. "Writers like to be on the water ... because it really sparks their creativity, and it also offers peace and quiet, and it allows the thoughts and whatever they're writing about to flow better."

Cornwell, who lives in New York and Richmond, had also reportedly been eyeing the 10,000-square-foot Tudor home at the intersection of Cary Street Road and Libbie Avenue that has been serving as the temporary Governor's Mansion, but apparently has given up that idea, according to a Gilmore administration source.

— R.F.

Strawberry Street Slums Will Be Renovated

On a tidy, quaint block of freshly painted and refurbished pastel-colored homes, the desolate abandoned row houses at 2 and 4 N. Strawberry St. look like transplants from war-torn Bosnia.

Decorated with graffiti, the houses have long been an open haven to vagrants, who sometimes hang out on the back porches and smoke pot and drink, neighbors say. They say the vagrants tear down "no trespassing" signs and break windows in the middle of the night to get in. "One night I was in my backyard and I actually heard a girl screaming, 'Help, help me!' in there," says one neighbor, who asks not to be named.

Earlier this year, the yard behind the houses was a common junk pile, collecting area Christmas trees and unwanted large refuse, including a picnic table. This summer, the houses were condemned. Neighbors started to petition Operation Squalor, the city program aimed at forcing landlords to secure or fix up abandoned or unsafe properties.

But it appears the houses will finally be renovated. Dr. Robert Cruickshanks, a dentist who long owned the crumbling homes, has sold them to a group of real-estate investors who plan to renovate them into apartment duplexes in the next few months.

"We want to get in there. We're probably as anxious as the neighborhood is to renovate them," says Ken Martin with Commercial Investment Associates, the company that will renovate and manage the buildings. "They're not generating any revenue for us sitting there like that."

Martin says he will work with neighbors to alleviate any concerns they have about the homes before the renovation begins.

Strawberry Street neighbor Jim Mitchell says he's cautiously optimistic about the news. Mitchell, who works as an executive with a concrete-products manufacturer in Ashland, has lived in his home at 8 N. Strawberry for the last 10 years. He has long worried that the abandoned homes would harm the market value of his house, which he says is worth about $140,000.

Neighbors still see vagrants in the building, however. At night, Mitchell says, they can hear them prying open boards or breaking windows. Though he's glad to hear the buildings are planned to return from blight, Mitchell adds, "I'll believe it when I see it."

— R.F.

Should Catholic Church Minister to Gays?

Don't get Bishop Walter Sullivan wrong. As the Rev. Pat Apuzzo, director of communication for the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, points out: "He's not taking the Vatican to task on this."

This, being the recent flare-up of an old controversy in the Catholic church: Just where does the church stand on the issue of homosexuality?

The Vatican recently tried to clarify this when it asked a Baltimore priest and nun to stop their 28-year ministry work with gays and lesbians. The alternative: They would be cast from their religious orders.

The Washington Post reported that Sullivan hand-delivered a letter praising the pair's work to the president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops earlier this summer in California.

Sullivan, who is also the bishop president of the international peace-making group Pax Christi, advocates a place for gays and lesbians in the Catholic Church.

Apuzzo says Sullivan firmly upholds the teachings of the Catholic church, but supports dialogue and new insights on homosexuality.

"I think from where [Bishop Sullivan] is looking, it raises issues that need to be better clarified," says Apuzzo. "People may engage in behavior we don't approve of, but we continue to minister to them."

— Brandon Walters

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