In Hillary Clinton’s Village, I went to great lengths to ensure that I attacked Mrs. Clinton’s inefficient and ineffective policy positions, and not her character. I really do believe that most people who advocate poorly thought out policies have the best of intentions at heart. Therefore, I chose not to include the story below in the book, but I now feel compelled to provide it, given Mrs. Clinton’s repeated claims that she is an unblinking advocate for women and children.
As I wrote the chapter on how the Violence Against Women Act can actually put battered women at higher risk of abuse or death, the details of a 1975 rape case resurfaced in the media. In a rediscovered taped interview, Mrs. Clinton laughs uncomfortably as she describes her role in getting a greatly reduced sentence for the 41-year-old rapist of a 12-year-old little girl. Mrs. Clinton clearly believed her client was guilty of raping this child. Her defenders counter, and I agree, that in our justice system she was obligated as a lawyer to provide him the very best defense she could muster. This she did, but her laughter is something our system does not require. I found it disquieting to listen as Mrs. Clinton laughed.
But what is most disturbing to me, is the difference between her public persona and her personal actions in this particular case. Mrs. Clinton embraced the Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 in her 1996 book It Takes a Village. A key provision of this Act is the Rape Shield Law which bars an accused rapist’s defense attorney from using a victim’s sexual history to “put the victim on trial.” But that is precisely what Mrs. Clinton intended to do with this 12-year-old little girl in 1975. Granted, this was almost two decades before the Rape Shield Law went into effect, but even back then Mrs. Clinton always promoted herself as a champion of women and a champion of children. This rape victim was both.
Mrs. Clinton initiated the put-the-rape-victim-on-trial tactic on July 28, 1975 exactly forty-one years to the day that she accepted the Democrat Party nomination for President of the United States.
In an affidavit requesting a psychiatric examination for the 12-year-old girl, Mrs. Clinton wrote “I have been informed that the complainant is emotionally unstable with a tendency to seek out older men and to engage in fantasizing.” Ultimately, a crime lab error relieved Mrs. Clinton of having to pursue this defense, but she did initiate this action before the discovery of that error.
Clearly, having a judge appoint her to defend a child rapist presented Mrs. Clinton with an ethical dilemma, and a Hard Choice. Should she do her duty as a lawyer, or should she do her duty as an advocate for women and children? Her professional calling and her personal passion were on a collision course. Choosing women’s and children’s advocacy by declining this appointment would have ended her budding legal career (this was to be her very first trial). She made the Hard Choice. She chose to be a rapist’s lawyer instead of advocating for a raped little girl.
We have to honor that Hard Choice, but not what she did next. She actually leveraged her knowledge of vulnerable children, gained from her previous advocacy work while at Yale University, in her defense of this child rapist.
She wrote “I have also been told by an expert in child psychology that children in early adolescence tend to exaggerate or romanticize sexual experience and that adolescents with disorganized families, such as the complainant’s, are even more prone to such behavior.” I wonder who that “expert” was? Someone should ask her.
Having invested many years and much money myself in becoming a scientist, as Mrs. Clinton had done in becoming a lawyer, I do not envy her this Hard Choice. She chose her career over this vulnerable little girl. Her continued public portrayal of herself as an unblinking defender of women and children is therefore very unsettling. Mrs. Clinton’s defenders, and perhaps Mrs. Clinton herself will argue that as a lawyer, she had no choice: She had to take the case and provide a vigorous defense.
It is true that as a lawyer, she had no choice. But she could have chosen not to be a lawyer. A very Hard Choice to be sure, but it is not correct to say she had no choice. Much later, she did choose to no longer be a lawyer when she chose instead to devote her energies to her husband’s march to the White House. When confronted with a choice between presidential ambition and being a lawyer, she chose presidential ambition. When confronted with the earlier choice between women and children’s advocacy and practicing law, she chose to practice law. In both cases, she chose her ambitions. Add this early episode to her later treatment of the (many) women that had sexual relations with her husband and a pattern emerges: Her advocacy for others ends when it conflicts with her own personal ambitions.
Mrs. Clinton accuses Donald Trump of being concerned only for himself, and no one else. Amazingly, she does so with a straight face and with no sense of her own hypocrisy.
Mrs. Clinton is not an unblinking advocate of women and children. In 1975, she blinked. Every time Bill Clinton got caught cheating on her, she blinked again. When your wife, or mother, or sister, or daughter needs an advocate, do you really want Mrs. Clinton at the helm to blink again?
Dr. Michael Stumborg is the author of Hillary Clinton’s Village: Why Big Government is Broken and How to Fix It
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