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Patrick Stiley Article:

Paulsen: We Pounded Drinks, Not Each Other
Spokesman Review Jan 28, 1995
by William Miller

Clarence "Cip" Paulsen III told a Spokane County jury Friday that he and Evel Knievel became pals because they share a common interest: "Drinking."

Paulsen, a confessed cocaine dealer, said he befriended Knievel about nine years ago.

They went out to dinner on occasion, but mostly they just grabbed neighboring barstools, according to Paulsen.

"It's not like we'd go out and play baseball or anything," he said with a smirk. "It was just kind of social. He liked to hang out in bars and drink a lot.

"He'd roll into town ... and I'd be down at Albertini's, or Flaherty's, or the Ridpath, so he'd run into me."

Paulsen laughed when asked if he beat up the former motorcycle daredevil on Sept. 11, 1989.

"I never touched him," he said.

Knievel, 56, is suing Spokane's downtown Ridpath Hotel for invasion of privacy and emotional distress, claiming Paulsen barged into his 10th-floor room after a desk clerk handed him a spare key.

The celebrity plaintiff testified earlier that Paulsen _ a much bigger man at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds _ bloodied his nose and landed punishing blows to his upper body before he was able to break free.

Knievel said he grabbed his .357 Magnum revolver from the nightstand and took aim at Paulsen, who thrust his hands in the air and left the room.

Paulsen, 35, is accused of roughing up Knievel after discovering the older man in bed with his former girlfriend.

Testimony began Tuesday in Spokane County Superior Court and is expected to conclude early next week.

Knievel's attorneys, George and Carl Diana, have not requested specific damages.

They say their client was so traumatized by the surprise attack that he feared for his life, couldn't sleep and plunged into a financially crippling depression that lasted several years.

In his opening statement, George Diana portrayed Paulsen as a nuisance who followed the pop icon around during his visits to Spokane.

That's nonsense, Paulsen told jurors.

He said he played golf with Knievel and a group of other men that morning. Afterward, they had drinks at Flaherty's across from the Ridpath until early evening, when Knievel excused himself to "go take a nap."

According to Paulsen, Knievel told him to come up to the room in a couple of hours and wake him.

Paulsen said he did just that. He got the key from a woman at the front desk and entered Knievel's room at about 9 p.m.

He said he saw Knievel in bed with the woman, laughed, and left.

"I thought it was funny," Paulsen testified.

The self-described former playboy said he wasn't jealous, because he hadn't dated the woman for more than a year.

Later that night, he claims Knievel spent several hours with him in a downtown bar.

"If I would have beat him up, I don't understand why he'd be drinking with me later," Paulsen said, "if he's so afraid of me."

Knievel wasn't in the courtroom for the testimony. He told a reporter he "can't stand the sight of that man."

Paulsen, the great-grandson of mining and real estate baron August Paulsen, is facing a 12-year prison sentence for his leadership role in a cocaine ring broken up by "Operation Doughboy."

Last fall, he admitted involvement in distributing up to 110 pounds of cocaine with a wholesale value of at least $1 million.

A pair of sheriff's deputies escorted Paulsen to court Friday morning from his Spokane County Jail cell.

But instead of blue jail coveralls, Paulsen wore a neatly pressed white dress shirt, black slacks and a silk tie.

Diana repeatedly pressed Paulsen for specifics about the night in question, but the witness shrugged and said he couldn't remember very much.

"It wasn't that important of an evening," he said.

Paulsen's attorney, Pat Stiley, predicted afterward that Knievel won't make a dime off the lawsuit.

"Much ado about nothing. That's my read on it," he said.

In other testimony Friday, former Ridpath desk clerk Sherry Shields said she gave Paulsen the key to Knievel's room because she saw the two together a few times in the lounge and lobby.

"I thought they were friends," she said.

Shields, now a college student, said she was later reprimanded by supervisors at the hotel for breaking rules protecting the privacy of guests.

Testifying for the hotel, Spokane psychologist Ron Klein said Knievel's emotional and physical problems are too severe to have been caused by a simple hotel fight.

Based on psychological tests and an interview conducted in June 1992, Klein found the real Robert C. Knievel to be very much like his stuntman persona _ an egotistical "hell-raiser."

Without being asked, Knievel boasted of having sex with 4,000 women, Klein said.

He said Knievel, a diabetic, has chosen to jeopardize his health by continuing to abuse alcohol.

After making more than 200 death-defying jumps, Knievel retired in 1980, trading his motorcycle for a paintbrush. Since then, he has traveled the country, selling his paintings and endorsing products.

Copyright 1995 Cowles Publishing Company
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