Hillary Clinton, viewed by most as a likely Democrat presidential candidate in 2016, has explained her defense of a child-rape suspect as just part of the job. But she hasn't explained her laughing about his passing of a lie-detector test, which "destroyed" her faith in such evaluations.
"Once I was appointed I fulfilled that obligation," she said in an interview with Mumsnet, a U.K. community of parents providing and sharing information on a variety of subjects and issues.
In the video she is asked, "As a lawyer, you defended the rapist of a 12-year-old girl, calling the victim 'emotionally unstable' and saying that girls have a tendency to 'exaggerate or romanticize sexual experiences especially when they come from disorganized families.'"
Clinton said, "When I was a 27-year-old attorney doing legal aid work at the law school where I taught in Fayetteville, Arkansas, I was appointed by the local judge to represent a criminal defendant accused of rape. 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.
"He later pled guilty to a lesser included offense. When you're a lawyer you often don't have the choice as to who you will represent, and by the very nature of criminal law there will be those who you represent you don't approve of, but at least in our system, you have an obligation and once I was appointed, I fulfilled that obligation."
However, she did not address the reports of unearthed recordings in which she almost boasts of knowing of her client's guilt and laughing about the case.
The tapes reveal her discussing the case of Thomas Alfred Taylor, then 41, who was accused of raping a 12-year-old in Springdale, Arkansas, on May 10, 1975.
"It was a fascinating case, it was a very interesting case," Clinton said on the tape. "This guy was accused of raping a 12-year-old. Course he claimed that he didn't, and all this stuff. … I had him take a polygraph, which he passed – which forever destroyed my faith in polygraphs." She laughed at the statement.
The Wasington Free Beacon report on the recordings also confirmed she was laughing several other times while discussing the case, including "when discussing the crime lab's accidental destruction of DNA evidence that tied Taylor to the crime."
Even lawyers, who agreed that they have a duty to represent their clients' interests, however, noted that her statements about her client's testing could be considered detrimental to the client.
"You can't do that," Ronald Rotunda, a professor of legal ethics at Chapman University, told the Beacon. "You're free to tell people that you really think I'm a scumbag, and the only reason I got a lighter sentence is because you're a really clever lawyer."
Eventually, Hillary Clinton was suspended by the Arkansas bar for failing to keep up with continuing legal education requirements.
Published profiles of the case reveal that Clinton's strategy at the time was to attack the 12-year-old. She submitted an affidavit that said she was told the girl was "emotionally unstable" and was viewed as having a "tendency to seek out older men and engage in fantasizing."
She claimed the child "in the past made false accusations" and she exhibited "an unusual stubbornness and temper when she does not get her way."
The records were part of a series of interviews by reporter Roy Reed more than 30 years ago. They are at the University of Arkansas special collections library.
Her Mumsnet answer, in which she said she asked to be removed from the case, also conflicts with her recordings.
She's recorded saying: "The prosecutor called me a few years ago, he said he had a guy who had been accused of rape, and the guy wanted a woman lawyer. Would I do it as a favor to him?"
The Beacon said its reporting also stirred up antipathy at the University of Arkansas, which barred the organization "from conducting research at its special collections archives after the 'Hillary Tapes' story was published in June, arguing that the news outlet broke library policy by failing to get permission to publish."
Library dean Carolyn Henderson Allen, a Hillary Clinton donor, demanded in a June 17 letter that the Free Beacon "cease and desist your ongoing violation of the intellectual property rights of the University of Arkansas with regard to your unauthorized publication of audio recordings obtained from the Roy Reed Collection."
However, the Free Beacon said the library then changed its position and now denies it holds the copyright for Roy Reed's interviews.
The victim in that decades-old case later told the Daily Beast that Clinton lied 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 told the Beast. "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 said the lies include Clinton's accusation that she complained of others attacking her, and the victim said she didn't see older men.
"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. I definitely didn't see older men. I don't know why Hillary put that in there and it makes me plumb mad," she said.
The Mumsnet interview also includes questions about women in politics, equal treatment, abortion, the Supreme Court and women's rights.
Clinton also recently pushed back against a challenge from Todd Akin that she "de-legitimized" the 12-year-old rape victim's claim in defense of a perpetrator she knew to be guilty as charged.
She said in a retort to Politico through her rapid-response team: "Nobody should take advice from Todd Akin on women's rights following his opposition to equal pay laws, his opposition to choice and opposition to rape protection laws, and his belief that women's bodies 'shut down' during 'legitimate rape' to block unwanted pregnancy," said communications director Adrienne Elrod.
Akin, a member of the House from Missouri who was attacked for a comment about "legitimate rape" during a 2012 campaign for the U.S. Senate, quickly responded in kind.
"It is curious to see that the Clinton camp chose to assassinate my character rather than to address my basic charge," he told WND. "It is not so much that Hillary Clinton defended a child rapist – lawyers are required sometimes to do those things. But how can Ms. Clinton say she is for women's rights when she laughed her way through an interview about getting a man she knew to be guilty off the hook for raping a 12-year-old?"
Akin, author of the upcoming book, "Firing Back: Taking on the party Bosses and Media Elite to Protect Our Faith and Freedom,” continued: "Hillary's indifference to a female victim was not an aberration but the beginning of a pattern. So was the strategy of attacking her accusers. How can Ms. Clinton say she is for women's rights when she hired private investigators to threaten women who had been involved sexually with her husband or who had been physically assaulted by him? If Hillary really cared about women's rights, it was not obvious to Sally Perdue, who was threatened with the disfigurement of her 'pretty little legs,' or Kathleen Willey, whose cat's head was severed to silence her."
Here's Hillary Clinton's full interview: