Hillary Clinton Defends Her 1975 Defense Of Accused Rapist (I.e. Doing Her Job)
We all know what defense attorneys do, right? Right. Well, recently, Hillary Clinton came under fire for Clinton's successful 1975 defense of an alleged rapist, who was accused of assaulting a 12-year-old girl. But, as Clinton shouldn't have had to point out, she was just doing her job. Now, she's spoken out about the furor: “I asked to be relieved of that responsibility, but I was not," Clinton told British parenting site Mumsnet. "I had a professional duty to represent my client to the best of my ability, which I did."
The 27-year-old Clinton was working at the University of Arkansas' legal aid clinic when she was appointed to represent the accused rapist, Thomas Alfred Taylor. Clinton says that she requested to be removed from the 41-year-old Taylor's case. Later, Clinton brokered a plea deal for Taylor, using a loophole with the evidence to lessen the sentence. Taylor, who was facing anywhere from 30 years to life in prison if convicted, was eventually sentenced to a year in county prison and four years probation.
Last month, conservative site The Washington Free Beacon posted a recording from the mid-80s where Clinton talked extensively about the trial. In the recording, Clinton indicated that she believed that her client was guilty, saying as she laughed that his clean polygraph test "forever destroyed [her] faith in polygraphs."
The tapes, found in the archives of the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, were enough to bring the now 52-year-old assault victim forward. In an anonymous interview with The Daily Beast last month, the victim decried Clinton's work as a champion of women and girls.
“I would say [to Clinton], ‘You took a case of mine in ’75, you lied on me… I realize the truth now, the heart of what you’ve done to me," the victim told The Daily Beast. "And you are supposed to be for women? You call that [being] for women, what you done to me? And I hear you on tape laughing.”
The last time the victim spoke to the press was for a 2008 Newsday article, in which she said she didn't fault Clinton for her defense.
Clinton maintains that she was doing her job to the best of her ability, emphasizing that lawyers don't always get to pick their clients, but are still obliged to defend them fairly. “But, at least in our system, you have an obligation,” The New York Times reported Clinton as saying, “and once I was appointed, I fulfilled that obligation.”
It's a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation. The Free Beacon was clearly throwing rocks at her women's-rights armor, blatantly attempting to discredit Clinton in the eyes of what may be her strongest demographic. But Clinton's opponents would do the same if she hadn't defended her client to the best of her ability.
It's convenient ammo, but the defense is far from as callous as it sounds outside of a splashy headline. Ultimately, this situation proved to be another "hard choice" for Clinton.