Monica Lewinsky breaks silence about affair with Bill Clinton

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WASHINGTON -- Monica Lewinsky says she became reclusive during Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign for president in 2008 for fear that she would be used for political purposes, and that she feels "gun-shy" even now, as Ms. Clinton considers another run in 2016.

Despite Ms. Lewinsky's trepidation, she writes in a forthcoming edition of Vanity Fair that she now feels compelled to emerge from the shadows, asking, "Should I put my life on hold for another eight to 10 years?" It is time, she writes, to stop "tiptoeing around my past, and other people's futures. I am determined to have a different ending to my story. I've decided, finally, to stick my head above the parapet, so that I can take back my narrative and give a purpose to my past."

She continues: "What this will cost me, I will soon find out."

Ms. Lewinsky was 22 when her liaisons with former President Bill Clinton began in 1995. Mr. Clinton's lies about the relationship contributed to his impeachment by the House in 1998; the Senate acquitted him.

Invoking her headwear from endlessly repeated TV clips and the stained garment considered as evidence against Mr. Clinton, she writes: "It's time to burn the beret and bury the blue dress."

Now 40, she broke her yearslong silence about her affair with Mr. Clinton in the article to appear in the May 8 edition of Vanity Fair. In excerpts the magazine released Tuesday -- which include a photograph of her wearing a white dress and lying casually on a sofa -- Ms. Lewinsky sounds off about her regrets, her feelings of humiliation and the effect that the scandal has had on her career.

Indeed, Ms. Lewinsky writes that the scandal continues to affect her ability to pursue a career despite her master's degree in social psychology from the London School of Economics, because employers do not want to attract the attention of the news media. But she says she has turned down eight-figure offers to exploit her celebrity status because "they didn't feel like the right thing to do."

She writes that she regrets her affair with Mr. Clinton, but says the popular view that the president pressured her into it is wrong. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, a likely GOP presidential contender, in January answered criticisms of the Republican record on women's issues by saying the previous Democratic president engaged in "predatory behavior" with a woman.

"Sure, my boss took advantage of me," she writes, "but I will always remain firm on this point: It was a consensual relationship. Any 'abuse' came in the aftermath, when I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position," citing both the Clinton inner circle that tried to discredit her and the president's opponents who used her as a political pawn.

Ms. Lewinsky writes that she was compelled to break her silence by the story of Tyler Clementi, a gay Rutgers University student who jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge in 2010, after his roommate set up a webcam to record him in an encounter with another man, inviting Twitter followers to watch.

The student's story caused Ms. Lewinsky's mother to remember events of 1998, and that left her distraught, she says. "She was replaying those weeks when she stayed by my bed, night after night, because I, too, was suicidal," Ms. Lewinsky writes. "The shame, the scorn, and the fear that had been thrown at her daughter left her afraid that I would take my own life -- a fear that I would be literally humiliated to death."

She says she became perhaps the first Internet-era scapegoat and wants to speak out on behalf of other victims of online humiliation.

The full 4,300-word essay, taking up 61/2 pages in the magazine, will be released Thursday. These aren't her first public words on the scandal.

Ms. Lewinsky broke her silence in 1999 with a blockbuster interview with Barbara Walters, gave several subsequent interviews and cooperated with author Andrew Morton on his book the same year, entitled "Monica's Story."

Associated Press contributed.


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