NEW YORK -- In a case that pits the freedom of the press against an individual's claim of privacy, a federal judge in Manhattan yesterday ordered Penthouse magazine not to distribute photographs of a woman who has accused President Clinton of sexual harassment.
The magazine, which said the January 1995 issue was already on the way to subscribers and retailers, assailed the order by Judge Peter K. Leisure. "It's obviously unconstitutional because it constitutes prior restraint," said Bob Guccione, the owner of Penthouse.
The photographs showing the woman, Paula C. Jones, partly nude were taken in 1987 by her boyfriend at the time, Mike Turner. Earlier this year, Ms. Jones filed a $700,000 lawsuit against Mr. Clinton, accusing him of sexual harassment when he was the governor of Arkansas.
In court yesterday, Ms. Jones's lawyers argued that the photographs were meant for Mr. Turner's eyes only, that he promised he would not give them to anyone and that she had not given Penthouse permission to publish them.
"She didn't consent to their disclosure," said her lawyer, Joseph Cammarata of Alexandria, Va. "It's an invasion of her privacy." Her lawsuit against the magazine also alleged that Penthouse had violated a New York state law that forbids the use of someone's likeness for advertising purposes without the person's written consent.
Victor A. Kovner, a lawyer for the magazine, argued that the statute did not apply to "illustrations of newsworthy articles" like the one in the magazine, "The Devil in Paula Jones."
Mr. Guccione said Ms. Jones's privacy had not been violated. "She's a public figure," he said. "She has made a public figure of herself."
Mr. Guccione said there was no way that Penthouse could halt the distribution of the January issue. "It's out," Mr. Guccione said.
"It's already with a lot of retailers. The wholesalers have it." He said the restraining order would have to have been issued about two weeks ago to keep the two million copies from being shipped.
Ms. Jones, a former Arkansas state employee, sued Mr. Clinton in May, accusing him of making an unwanted sexual advance in 1991.