Prosecutor in controversial case says Clinton had no choice but to defend rapist
June 25th, 2014
02:18 PM ET
7 years ago

Prosecutor in controversial case says Clinton had no choice but to defend rapist

Washington (CNN) – The prosecuting attorney in a nearly four-decade-old criminal case, where Hillary Clinton represented a man accused of raping a 12-year-old girl, is backing the potential 2016 candidate on the issue.

Mahlon Gibson told CNN on Wednesday the then 27-year-old Hillary Rodham (now Clinton) was "appointed" by the judge in the case, even though she voiced reservations.

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In 1975, Clinton represented Thomas Alfred Taylor, a 41-year-old man accused of raping a young girl, for free while working at the legal aid clinic at the University of Arkansas.

Based on court documents obtained by CNN and Clinton's own account in her 2003 memoir "Living History," she won a plea deal for Taylor, securing a significantly reduced charge and sentence, based on a forensic mistake that cast doubt on the semen and blood samples found in the defendant’s underwear.

Clinton’s critics highlighting the case insinuate it shows that Clinton is not the champion of women’s issues she frames herself to be, pointing to court documents that show Clinton questioned the girl's emotional state and an audio recording of Clinton from the 1980s where she says she believed her client was guilty.

The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative website that obtained and released the audio, alleges Clinton agreed to represent Taylor. In the Beacon recording, Clinton says she took the case "as a favor."

Gibson said that it is “ridiculous” for people to question how Clinton became Taylor’s representation.

“She got appointed to represent this guy,” he told CNN when asked about the controversy.

According to Gibson, Maupin Cummings, the judge in the case, kept a list of attorneys who would represent poor clients. Clinton was on that list and helped run a legal aid clinic at the time.

Taylor was assigned a public defender in the case but Gibson said he quickly “started screaming for a woman attorney” to represent him.

Gibson said Clinton called him shortly after the judge assigned her to the case and said, “I don't want to represent this guy. I just can't stand this. I don't want to get involved. Can you get me off?”

“I told her, ‘Well contact the judge and see what he says about it,’ but I also said don't jump on him and make him mad,” Gibson said. “She contacted the judge and the judge didn't remove her and she stayed on the case.”

Gibson said this was likely the only conversation he had with Clinton and said they have not once been in touch since the case.

Once Clinton was assigned, Gibson said, she had a legal obligation to represent Taylor to the fullest, and she did.

“I would say she did a heck of a job of representing her client to the best of her ability,” he said. “If you are appointed by the court, you damn better do everything you can do to defend them.”

The victim in the case, now 52 years old, spoke out last week for the first time since 2008, accusing Clinton of ruining her life.

"Hillary Clinton took me through Hell,” she told Josh Rogin, senior correspondent at the Daily Beast and CNN political analyst, who agreed not to publish the woman’s name.

Asked what she would say to Clinton today, the woman responded, "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?"

Clinton hasn’t commented on the case recently but in her 2003 memoir, she wrote that she “really didn’t feel comfortable taking on such a client, but Mahlon [Gibson] gently reminded me that I couldn’t very well refuse the judge’s request.”

Based on court records, Clinton aggressively defended Taylor.

She petitioned the court to order the 12-year-old girl to submit to a psychiatric examination “at the defendant’s expense by a psychiatrist to be selected by the defendant to examine into her mental attitudes prior to trial," according to court documents obtained by CNN.

To justify the request, Clinton questioned the victim’s emotional state and honesty, saying "I have been informed that the complainant is emotionally unstable with a tendency to seek out older men and engage in fantasizing. I have also been informed that she has in the past made false accusations about persons, claiming they had attacked her body," documents show.

Because of the plea deal Clinton orchestrated, Taylor was convicted of unlawful fondling of a child under the age of 14, instead of first degree rape. He was sentence to four years of probation and a year in county jail.

Cummings, the judge in the case, died in 2000. The defendant, Taylor, died in 1992.

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Filed under: 2016 • Arkansas • Hillary Clinton
soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. Tampa Tim

    Republicans prove day in and day out that they are stupid. As Wes would say, republicans are a disaster.

    June 25, 2014 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  2. Thomas

    Give me a brake , she was doing what the legal system was set up to do .

    At least she wasn't lobbying as attorney for Bernie" Madoff like a New Jersey Governor that we know.

    June 25, 2014 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  3. sonny chapman

    Good Ole Karl Rove. He must stink from digging in Garbage Cans.

    June 25, 2014 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  4. smith

    This typical and it will get worse, it always does.

    June 25, 2014 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  5. carlos

    What a "train wreck" the Republican party is turning out to be.

    June 25, 2014 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  6. O'drama ya Mama

    Damage is already done. Republicans take things like that and run with it. Once the truth comes out they just repeat the original lie over and over and over.

    June 25, 2014 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  7. Patriot

    No one in their right mind will condemn an attorney for defending an accused person if a judge has ordered the attorney to do so. But of course, many Republicans will condemn an attorney for doing exactly that, if they see political gain to be made. Republicans have NO honor.

    June 25, 2014 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  8. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Time to put the focus back on Hillary. Let's dig up a 20 year old scandal of her husbands and while we're at it let's dig up a 40 year old court case where she actually defended her client and didn't just go along with the prosecutor like so many court appointed attorneys do. Especially in the inner city.

    June 25, 2014 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  9. Boomer in Mo

    Internet trolls never want an accused person to have effective representation. But let them get arrested! Then it's different.

    June 25, 2014 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  10. Luc

    I think that the GOP critics are not going back far enough to find dirt on her. I think they should find out what she was doing between the years of 1yr old and 10 year old to see what her eating habits were. Are you kidding me can't the GOP find something good to run on instead of always looking through the rear view mirror. GOP lost cause please spend your money for nothing. See you in 2024. This 2016 election will be one too remember. If you think Romney got smoked in 2012 wait until you see what Hillary wins by it will be epic.

    June 25, 2014 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  11. jboh

    Karly stinks because he should be DEPOSITED in a garbage can. After all, putting refuse anywhere else is littering, and punishable by a heavy fine.

    June 25, 2014 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  12. GOP = Greed Over People

    1975? Really??

    Anyone with more than brain stem activity knows that a lawyer's job is to do cut the best deal for their client possible, even if the client has done some very unsavory things.

    But wait, we are, talking about the comprehension level of cons, Reds and tea baggers, my bad!

    June 25, 2014 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  13. Silence DoGood

    Seriously? A 40 year old non-troversy where Clinton is following normal law practices? Even Benghazi got more traction than that. I think the tin foil hats need to branch out a little. I mean you have the Illuminati, space aliens, contrails. C'mon folks. A little imagination is needed.

    June 25, 2014 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  14. rs

    Really Republicans? You trashed a U.S. POW and tried to ruin his name without any sort of due process, and now you want to take away the rights of arrested citizens? And you think Obama is out-of-control!

    June 25, 2014 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  15. Silence DoGood

    Wait – I just heard that in 1975 Obama was obeying the law too.
    Oh no – it turns out millions of liberals were obeying the law in 1975.
    My God – It's a conspiracy!

    June 25, 2014 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  16. S.B. Stein

    If she didn't do the best job that she could with the client she had, she could have been disbarred or have it come back to bite her now as being a slacker or incompetent. If she couldn't do the job, she wouldn't be doing it later. Every president, member of Congress and other leaders will have to make decisions on situations that they'd rather pass on. To me, this shows that she could do a good job for the client even if she didn't like the client.

    June 25, 2014 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  17. Lizzie

    At least if Hillary gets elected we get TWO for the price of one

    June 25, 2014 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  18. barky

    Do you people have a job.

    June 25, 2014 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  19. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    The Faux "News" propaganda machine just keeps rolling and rolling along. Ignorant cretins actually believe the nonsense it spews.

    June 25, 2014 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  20. Rapists For Hillary Clinton

    Hillary Clinton: 'My record speaks for itself'

    Yes, it does. And we all thank you for that.

    June 25, 2014 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  21. Rudy NYC


    @Rudy-Being in debt is not what would I call doing fine. This is the exact reason so many people are struggling out there, they run up massive debt and try and blank it out of their minds.
    Only totally conservative ideologue would see fit to criticize a liberal governor running a surplus that is paying of the debt ran up by his conservative predecessor. But, hey, I'm not surprised. You guys have been doing almost the same thing to Pres. Obama since he first took office. We're not back to running a surplus, yet, but give it more time .... and no Republicans in the White House.

    June 25, 2014 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  22. Ernie

    Did the republicans make her laugh on the tape while discussing the violent beating and rape of a 12 year old girl? Did republicans force her to say that when her client passed a lie detector test that it was the last time she would ever trust lie detectors? Those commenting should do a bit of research. Her client violently beat and raped a 12 year old girl and then admitted to it. Where is the frivolity in that type of crime? Would you attempt to paint a 12 year old as a story teller to assist an admitted violent rapist? What is that sound, crickets?

    June 25, 2014 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  23. Rick McDaniel

    She had a choice of profession........and she chose to defend criminals.

    June 25, 2014 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  24. sonnie3

    To defend a rapist like this would be something I would consider immoral. But our system let OJ off and so goes the merry go round. It is sick, but that is the way it is.

    June 25, 2014 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    Democrats are ALWAYS protecting the criminals at the expense of the victims and the rest of the law abiding citizens. It is almost as if they are family, the Gambino family that is.

    June 25, 2014 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
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