Power and Politics - I am Not the Yellow Peril

The life and times of an Asian American activist who tells all the truth (and dishes news and analysis) but with a leftwards slant.

Monday, February 25, 2008

A snapshot of Hillary as a young attorney on a rape case

Glenn Thrush of Newsday has a good and deep article looking at one particular case of hers when she was a young attorney defending an indigenous client - she attacked the credibility of a 12 year old girl.
But there is a little-known episode Clinton doesn't mention in her standard campaign speech in which those two principles collided. In 1975, a 27-year-old Hillary Rodham, acting as a court-appointed attorney, attacked the credibility of a 12-year-old girl in mounting an aggressive defense for an indigent client accused of rape in Arkansas - using her child development background to help the defendant.
The case offers a glimpse into the way Clinton deals with crisis. Her approach, then and now, was to immerse herself in even unpleasant tasks with a will to win, an attitude captured in one of her favorite aphorisms: "Bloom where you're planted."
This is pretty damning for someone who continually touts her time at the children's defense fund. And it continues the meme that she's willing to do anything to win, a storyline that is currently working against her, and hard.
Rodham, records show, questioned the sixth grader's honesty and claimed she had made false accusations in the past. She implied that the girl often fantasized and sought out "older men" like Taylor, according to a July 1975 affidavit signed "Hillary D. Rodham" in compact cursive.
Ouch - it's easy to point at this and call her craven. And the fallout of the more lenient sentence that adept young legal eagle Hillary Rodham Clinton won?
The victim, now 46, told Newsday that she was raped by Taylor, denied that she wanted any relationship with him and blamed him for contributing to three decades of severe depression and other personal problems.

"It's not true, I never sought out older men - I was raped," the woman said in an interview in the fall. Newsday is withholding her name as the victim of a sex crime.

With all the anguish she'd felt over the case in the years since, there was one thing she never realized - that the lawyer for the man she reviles was none other than Hillary Rodham Clinton.

"I have to understand that she was representing Taylor," she said when interviewed in prison last fall. "I'm sure Hillary was just doing her job."
You can call this a hit piece. It sure hits on many of Hillary's weak points, and questions the morality of impugning a preteen girl. The article also grants that she would have been negligent in her duties as an attorney if she didn't provide him with the best legal defense possible, which is also true.

Don't keep reading if you have a weak stomach . . .
At 4:50 a.m., the girl walked into a local emergency room, badly shaken. The doctor's report noted that she had injuries consistent with rape. Sgt. Dale Gibson, the department's lead investigator in the case, interviewed her as she huddled with her mother. She offered a chilling detail - a threat from Taylor and his friends. "If I did say anything about it, they would catch me out later," she told the investigator.
Ugh, the details just get more and more gruesome - and Taylor was only one of the defendants - it was group rape, according to the girl. And the underage aggressor admitted to raping her as well.

The whole case sounds wretched and well, the article is a must-read.

I feel really bad for that woman who is now all grown up, but who has tried to commit suicide and can't get her life on track. It also sounds like the case affected Senator Clinton, as she "says the case spurred her to create the first rape hotline in Arkansas."

It sure sounds like a seminal case for Hillary, a real life-shifting experience, and I'm struck by how the woman doesn't blame Clinton. But I feel just terrible reading all of this.

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