Monica Lewinsky in 1997
Monica Lewinsky, the former White House aide who had oral sex with President Bill Clinton, has revealed that the suicide of a gay student led her to speak out.
In a new Vanity Fair article about the 1998 scandal, which almost led to Clinton’s impeachment, Lewinsky for the first time gives her side of the story.
Lewinsky writes that the 2010 suicide of the closeted 18-year-old Tyler Clementi, who jumped off a bridge after fellow students secretly filmed and streamed video of him kissing another man online, brought her to tears and caused her mother to fear for her life.
“She was reliving 1998, when she wouldn’t let me out of her sight. She was replaying those weeks when she stayed by my bed, night after night, because I, too, was suicidal. 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,” says Lewinsky.
She reveals that after Clementi’s suicide “my own suffering took on a different meaning. Perhaps by sharing my story, I reasoned, I might be able to help others in their darkest moments of humiliation. The question became: How do I find and give a purpose to my past?”
In 1998, when the Clinton–Lewinsky relationship broke, Lewinsky said that the affair involved fellatio and other sexual acts in the White House, but not intercourse.
Clinton famously stated in response: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.” He later explained that he did not define sexual relations as including oral sex but admitted that “I did have a relationship with Miss Lewinsky that was not appropriate.”
While Clinton and his wife Hillary moved on from the scandal, Lewinsky struggled to find a job because of the incident. She writes for Vanity Fair that she was “made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position.”
The two students who filmed Clementi with a remote webcam, Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei, were charged with spying and other criminal charges. Wei accepted a plea agreement and avoided prosecution while Ravi served 20 days in jail.