06.20.14 11:24 AM ET
Exclusive: ‘Hillary Clinton Took Me Through Hell,’ Rape Victim Says
Hillary Clinton is known as a champion of women and girls, but one woman who says she was raped as a 12-year-old in Arkansas doesn’t think Hillary deserves that honor. This woman says Hillary smeared her and used dishonest tactics to successfully get her attacker off with a light sentence—even though, she claims, Clinton knew he was guilty.
The victim in the 1975 sexual abuse case that became Clinton’s first criminal defense case as a 27-year-old lawyer has only spoken to the media once since her attack, a contested, short interaction with a reporter in 2008, during Clinton’s last presidential campaign run. Now 52, she wants to speak out after hearing Clinton talk about her case on newly discovered audio recordings from the 1980s, unearthed by the Washington Free Beacon and made public this week.
In a long, emotional interview with The Daily Beast, she accused Clinton of intentionally lying about her in court documents, going to extraordinary lengths to discredit evidence of the rape, and later callously acknowledging and laughing about her attackers’ guilt on the recordings.
“Hillary Clinton took me through Hell,” the victim said. The Daily Beast agreed to withhold her name out of concern for her privacy as a victim of sexual assault.
The victim said if she saw Clinton today, she would call her out for what she sees as the hypocrisy of Clinton’s current campaign to fight for women’s rights compared to her actions regarding this rape case so long ago.
“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. 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 victim’s allegation that Clinton smeared her following her rape is based on a May 1975 court affidavit written by Clinton on behalf of Thomas Alfred Taylor, one of the two alleged attackers, whom Clinton agreed to defend after being asked by the prosecutor. Taylor had specifically requested a female attorney.
“I have been informed that the complainant is emotionally unstable with a tendency to seek out older men and engage in fantasizing,” Clinton, then named Hillary D. Rodham, wrote in the affidavit. “I have also been informed that she has in the past made false accusations about persons, claiming they had attacked her body. Also that she exhibits an unusual stubbornness and temper when she does not get her way.”
Clinton also wrote that a child psychologist told her that children in early adolescence “tend to exaggerate or romanticize sexual experiences,” especially when they come from “disorganized families, such as the complainant.”
The victim vigorously denied Clinton’s accusations and said there has never been any explanation of what Clinton was referring to in that affidavit. She claims she never accused anyone of attacking her before her rape.
“I’ve never said that about anyone. I don’t know why she said that. I have never made false allegations. I know she was lying,” she said. “I definitely didn’t see older men. I don’t know why Hillary put that in there and it makes me plumb mad.”
The victim’s second main grievance with Clinton stems from the newly revealed audio recordings, which were taped in a series of interviews of Clinton with Arkansas reporter Roy Reed, who was researching an article on the Clintons that was ultimately never published. The Free Beacon found the tapes archived at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, amidst thousands of pieces of Clinton history that are being periodically released for public consumption.
On the tapes, Clinton, who speaks in a Southern drawl, appears to acknowledge that she was aware of her client’s guilt, brags about successfully getting the only piece of physical evidence thrown out of court, and laughs about it all whimsically.
“He took a lie detector test. I had him take a polygraph, which he passed, which forever destroyed my faith in polygraphs,” Clinton says on the recording, failing to hold back some chuckles.
She then describes how she discovered that investigators had cut out and lost a section of the suspect’s underwear that they said contained the victim’s blood. Clinton brought the remaining underwear segment to a Nobel Prize-winning blood expert in Brooklyn, NY, she explained, in order to convince him to lend his heavyweight reputation and influence to her defense case.
“And so the, sort of the story through the grapevine was, if you get him interested in the case, then you know you had the foremost expert in the world willing to testify so that it came out the way you wanted it to come out,” Clinton said.
Clinton told the judge that the famous expert was willing to testify. Instead of the original charge of first-degree rape, the prosecutors let Taylor plead to a lesser charge: unlawful fondling of a child. According to the Free Beacon, Taylor was sentenced to one year behind bars, with two months reduced for time served. The second attacker was never charged.
“Oh, he plea bargained. Got him off with time served in the county jail, he’d been in the county jail about two months,” Clinton said on the recording, apparently not remembering the sentence accurately.
For the victim, the tapes prove that while Clinton was arguing in the affidavit that the victim could have some culpability in her own attack, she actually believed that her client was guilty. Taylor’s light sentence was a miscarriage of justice, the victim said.
“It’s proven fact, with all the tapes [now revealed], she lied like a dog on me. I think she was trying to do whatever she could do to make herself look good at the time…. She wanted it to look good, she didn’t care if those guys did it or not,” she said. “Them two guys should have got a lot longer time. I do not think justice was served at all.”
The office of Hillary Clinton did not respond to a request for comment. In a 2008 article in Newsday written by Glenn Thrush, now at Politico, Clinton spokesperson Howard Wolfson defended her conduct in the case.
“As she wrote in her book, ‘Living History,’ Senator Clinton was appointed by the Circuit Court of Washington County, Arkansas to represent Mr. Taylor in this matter,” he said. “As an attorney and an officer of the court, she had an ethical and legal obligation to defend him to the fullest extent of the law. To act otherwise would have constituted a breach of her professional responsibilities.”
In that book, Clinton gave vague details about her actions in the case and said that shortly thereafter, she helped set up Arkansas’s first rape hotline.
According to Thrush’s article, the victim didn’t fault Clinton for her defense of the attacker during their 2008 interview, which took place in the prison where the victim was serving time for drug-related offenses, in the presence of the warden. “I’m sure Hillary was just doing her job,” he quoted the victim as saying. After all, everyone has a right to be defended in court. And 1975 was a lifetime ago.
But the victim now claims she was misquoted. She didn’t even know Clinton was the lawyer who defended her attacker until Thrush showed her Clinton’s book and she had no other information about what had happened behind closed doors in that courtroom when Thrush approached her, she said. Thrush declined to comment.
“If I had known that day what I know now I would have told him exactly what I’m telling y’all today,” she said.
After she was released from prison in 2008, the victim read more about Clinton’s involvement in her case, but she never planned to confront Clinton about it.
“I started seeing where I had really been stomped in the ground. I didn’t really know what to do about it. I just figured life would have to go on and I would have to live with it,” she said.
But after hearing the newly revealed tapes of Clinton boasting about the case, the victim said she couldn’t hold her tongue any longer and wanted to tell her side of the story to the public.
“When I heard that tape I was pretty upset, I went back to the room and was talking to my two cousins and I cried a little bit. I ain’t gonna lie, some of this has got me pretty down,” she said. “But I thought to myself, ‘I’m going to stand up to her. I’m going to stand up for what I’ve got to stand up for, you know?”
In her interview with The Daily Beast, she recounted the details of her attack in 1975 at age 12 and the consequences it had for both her childhood and adult life. A virgin before the assault, she spent five days afterwards in a coma, months recovering from the beating that accompanied the rape, and over 10 years in therapy. The doctors told her she would probably never be able to have children.
The victim was put through several forensic procedures, including a lie detector test. At first, she failed the lie detector test; she said that was because she didn’t understand one of the specific sex-related questions. Once that question was explained to her, she passed, she said. The victim positively identified her two attackers through one-way glass and they were arrested. But that wasn’t the end of her ordeal.
She described being afraid of men for years and dealing with anger issues well into her adulthood. At one point, she turned to drugs, a path that ultimately led her to prison. Now 52, she has never married or had children. She said she has been sober for several years and has achieved a level of stability, although she remains unemployed and living on disability assistance.
“I’m living life in Arkansas, I go to Church sometimes, and I’m doing good… Being on disability I don’t get much income but I’m happy where I’m at. I’m doing really well,” she said. “[Clinton] owes me a big apology, [but] I’ll probably never get anything from her.”
The victim doesn’t remember ever meeting Clinton in 1975; she says her memories from that ordeal are spotty. But she does recall feeling exasperated by the law enforcement and legal proceedings to the point where she told her mother she just wanted it to be over so she could try to resume her childhood.
“I had been through so much stuff I finally told them to do whatever,” she remembered. “They had scared me so bad that I was tired of being put through it all. I finally said I was done… I thought they had both gotten long-term sentences, I didn’t realize they got off with hardly nothing.”
Whether or not Clinton was just doing her duty as a defense lawyer, for the victim, Clinton’s behavior speaks to her character, her ambition, and her suitability to be a role model for women or president of the United States.
“I think she wants to be a role model being who she is, to look good, but I don’t think she’s a role model at all… If she had have been, she would have helped me at the time, being a 12-year-old girl who was raped by two guys,” she said. “She did that to look good and she told lies on that. How many other lies has she told to get where she’s at today? If she becomes president, is she gonna be telling the world the truth? No. She’s going to be telling lies out there, what the world wants to hear.”
The victim is concerned that speaking out will make her a target for attacks, but she no longer feels she is able to stay silent.
“I’m a little scared of her… When this all comes about, I’m a little worried she might try to hurt me, I hope not,” she said. “They can lie all they want, say all they want, I know what’s true.”