GOP nominee Donald Trump attempted to rattle Hillary Clinton by seating the women she has allegedly intimidated throughout her long career in the front row during the second presidential debate. At one point, Trump called attention to one now-grown woman who was raped as a child on the side of the road whom Hillary allegedly trashed while defending her rapist, and later laughed about it on tape.
“One of them is a wonderful woman, [who] at 12 years old was raped. At twelve. Her client—she represented—got him off, laughing on two separate occasions, laughing at the girl that was raped. Kathy Shelton, that young woman, is here with us tonight,” Trump said.
Pro-Clinton media leapt to Clinton’s defense after Trump’s blistering debate attack.
“It is totally false to say that Hillary Clinton laughed about the rape of a 12-year-old,” Politico wrote. Clinton “chuckled,” the outlet asserted, which means Trump is “wrong.” The headline reads: “Trump is wrong: Hillary Clinton did not laugh about the rape of a 12-year-old,” which the widely-publicized tape of Clinton discussing the child rape case proves false on its face.
Similarly, Politifact wrote: “Trump is referring to an audio tape in which she does respond with amusement at her recollections of the oddities of the case, which involve the prosecution and the judge. At no point does she laugh at the victim.”
Both sites are engaging in “Ben Smithing,” named for Buzzfeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith formerly of Politico, where they pretend to investigate and explain a story damaging to Democrats in order to dismiss it.
On May 10, 1975, Shelton got into the truck of a local paper factory worker who said he would take her to get a soda. She was only twelve years old at the time, riding her bike around her neighborhood before she encountered the man, Alfred Thomas Taylor, and a 15-year-old male acquaintance of his. Taylor drove his truck into a ravine and raped Shelton while beating her, calling the child a “bitch,” and saying, “you like it, you know it” as he violated her. Shelton managed to flee to a nearby home, falling unconscious and waking up in a hospital.
Taylor was destitute and asked for a female lawyer, leading to Clinton taking the case. In court, Clinton defended Taylor enthusiastically:
One of Clinton’s first moves was to raise questions about the credibility of the 12-year-old victim.
In a July 18, 1975, affidavit, Clinton asked the court to order Shelton to undergo a psychiatric examination from a doctor selected by the Taylor’s legal team.
The evaluation was necessary, she argued, because Shelton was “emotionally unstable.”
“I have been informed that the complainant is emotionally unstable with a tendency to seek out older men and engage in fantasizing,’ wrote Clinton. ‘I have also been informed that she has in the past made false accusations about persons, claiming they had attacked her body.”
The 12-year-old girl also “exhibits an unusual stubbornness and temper when she does not get her way,” argued Clinton.
And so, Clinton had a doctor subject Shelton to a psychiatric examination. Shelton said being repeatedly questioned about the rape she endured was one of her “worst memories.”
“It got so bad that I told my mom I wasn’t going back, and whatever happened, happened. It’s sad that a 12-year-old had to go through what I had to go through, because for days I cried and cried and cried over it,” Shelton said decades later.
The crime lab that analyzed Taylor’s blood and semen-stained underwear tossed out the soiled section after testing it, and Clinton brought the remnants to a famous New York City forensic expert, who said not enough blood remained for the defense to test it again. Clinton told the prosecutor about her meeting with the forensics expert.
“I said, ‘This guy’s ready to come from New York to prevent this miscarriage of justice,'” Clinton recounted in a taped interview with a burst of laughter. “So we were gonna plea bargain.”
Shelton was a virgin when she was raped.
Taylor, whose original charge of first-degree rape carried a possible life sentence in prison, served less than a year in county jail for unlawful fondling of a minor after pleading down.
Shelton survived, but the attack left her in a coma, unable to bear children, and affected the rest of her life. She became addicted to drugs for a period of time and avoided men after the attack.
A taped interview surfaced in 2014, showing a disturbing side of Clinton as she discussed the case. As Breitbart News previously reported:
In the mid-1980s, journalist Roy Reed interviewed Hillary Clinton, and a tape of that interview has been uploaded to YouTube and is available in the Special Collections Department of the University of Arkansas libraries.
“He took a lie detector test! I had him take a polygraph, which he passed, which forever destroyed my faith in polygraphs,” Clinton said about her client Thomas Alfred Taylor, who raped Shelton in 1975, laughing.
“I asked to be relieved of that responsibility but I was not and I had a professional duty to represent my client to the best of my ability, which I did,” Clinton said at the time.
But Shelton was in disbelief that Clinton had laughed about her rapist’s clear guilt.
“She didn’t mention that she was laughing and saying [Taylor] was guilty. I guess as a lawyer it is your responsibility to defend someone… But if she’s for women and children, why would she defend someone knowing that a 12-year-old got raped?” Shelton told the Daily Mail in August. “If she brought it up there would probably be some questions asked that she wouldn’t be able to answer. Because after laughing on that tape, she’s pretty much stuck in knowing that she lied, knowing that it happened to me. And that tape’s out there to be listened to by anybody.”
Even the Daily Beast somberly called the tape “jaw-dropping” when it came to light.
“It’s hardly unusual for a criminal trial lawyer to gossip about a courtroom triumph on behalf of a less than admirable client, often with gallows humor and over drinks after a hard day’s work,” the Beast reported in June 2014. “But it’s highly unusual for a lawyer to boast and laugh about such a circumstance in an on-the-record interview with a journalist—and pretty much jaw-dropping when the lawyer is Hillary Rodham Clinton.”
“For a former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state who touts her decades-long record of championing women and children, this snapshot of her legal career is—to put it mildly—way off-message,” the Beast added.
Clinton laughing about a child rape case where she knew the rapist was guilty is disturbing on a visceral level and undermines Clinton’s professed image as a warm, loving, compassionate advocate for women and children.