Hillary Rodham Clinton didn't laugh at a rape victim in a 1980s interview as Donald Trump alleged during the presidential debate Sunday night, said the reporter who conducted that interview.
"As far as her laughing, God knows she was not laughing over the notion that this rapist was going to go free," said Roy Reed of Hogeye, who was working on a story for Esquire magazine when he interviewed Gov. Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary, in 1983 and 1984.
"I challenge any fair-minded reader of that transcript to make a case that Hillary Rodham was a coldblooded lawyer who was laughing over the plight of the 12-year-old rape victim," said Reed.
Reed, a former reporter for The New York Times, said Esquire wanted profiles of the country's 100 most important young couples to watch in the future. But advertising sales didn't come through as expected, so the magazine's editors decided not to publish some of the articles, including the one on the Clintons.
Hours of audio-taped interviews that Reed did with the Clintons are stored on DVDs in the Special Collections Department of the library at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. The Roy Reed papers have been open to the public since 2014.
On Sunday, Trump said Hillary Clinton can be heard "laughing at the girl who was raped," in an apparent reference to the Reed recordings.
Reed said Clinton laughed at the "absurdity" of the state Crime Laboratory, which apparently destroyed evidence, and at the judge for saying he didn't want to discuss the case with Clinton in the courtroom, even though she was the defendant's attorney.
Clinton told Reed that someone at the Crime Lab cut a hole in the suspect's underpants to examine a bloodstain and sent the holey underwear back to her. She told Reed that she took the underwear to a blood expert in Brooklyn, N.Y., to see whether there was any evidence left but that he couldn't find any.
Clinton wrote to the prosecutor, listing the expert's accomplishments and saying, "Well this guy's ready to come from New York to prevent this miscarriage of justice."
At that point, she and Reed can both be heard laughing on the DVD.
Clinton and Reed also laugh after she tells him that her client passed a polygraph test.
"I had him take a polygraph, which he passed, which forever destroyed my faith in polygraphs," she said.
The Crime Lab had thrown away the piece of fabric that they cut out to examine, Clinton told Reed, so crucial evidence was missing. "I plea bargained it down because it turned out they didn't have any evidence," she said.
In the 1975 case, Clinton's client, Thomas Alfred Taylor, then 41, pleaded guilty to unlawful fondling of a child under the age of 14. He was sentenced to five years in the Washington County jail with four years suspended, according to court records.
"The transcript makes it perfectly clear that the case was settled with a plea bargain not because of any sly legal work by Hillary but because the vital forensic evidence that the prosecutor needed to get a conviction was lost or thrown away by the Crime Lab," said Reed.
"I'm probably in a better position than anybody in the world to know what was going on in that interview because there was just the two of us there," he said. "I was able to look her in the eye and judge her attitude, and I guarantee you there was nothing sinister in her responses to my questions."
On Sunday, Trump held a news conference with three women who have accused Bill Clinton of improper sexual advances -- Juanita Broaddrick, Paula Jones and Kathleen Willey -- and one woman whose accusations involved Hillary Clinton and the rape case. The accusations against Bill Clinton have been heard before, but many people hadn't heard about the rape case.
"At 12 years old, Hillary put me through something that you would never put a 12-year-old through," said Kathy Shelton. "She said she's for women and children. When she was asked last year on what happened, she said she was supposed to defend whether they did it or not. Now she's laughing on tape saying she knows they did it."
A website raising money for the Kathy Shelton Fund, gofundme.com/kathyshelton, states: "Hillary ... began to attack my character, forcing me to undergo multiple polygraph tests where I was asked explicit sexual questions I didn't even understand. Next I was sent for a psychiatric examination. It felt like I was the one on trial. I have heard that Hillary filed more subpoenas in those few weeks defending a child rapist than are typically filed in capital murder cases. I was asked the same questions by investigators again and again, as if they were trying to catch me in a lie. It seemed like it would never end. I was tired and scared and finally told my mother I wanted to stop."
It wasn't until years later that she learned Clinton was Taylor's attorney and had written in an affidavit that Shelton was "emotionally unstable with a tendency to seek out older men and engage in fantasizing."
At Sunday night's debate, the four Clinton accusers took seats on the front row.
During the debate, Trump said: "Hillary Clinton attacked those same women and attacked them viciously. Four of them here tonight. One of the women, who is a wonderful woman, at 12 years old, was raped at 12. [Clinton's] client, she represented, got him off, and she's seen laughing on two separate occasions, laughing at the girl who was raped. Kathy Shelton, that young woman is here with us tonight."
Mahlon Gibson, the prosecutor in the rape case, said Clinton didn't want to represent Taylor but had to. Gibson said Washington County Circuit Judge Maupin Cummings had asked about lawyers who could represent Taylor and that Gibson recommended Clinton. Gibson said this was before the county had a public defender program, so judges would assign lawyers to cases when the defendants were indigent.
Clinton was 27 years old and head of UA's legal aid clinic.
"She didn't do it as a favor to anybody," said Gibson. "She was forced into it. This guy was charged with rape. He started screaming for a female attorney, and there weren't many in Fayetteville at that time, particularly ones that practiced criminal law."
Gibson said he got a call from Clinton after the judge told her she would be representing Taylor.
"She was upset," said Gibson. "She said: 'I don't want to represent him. I can't represent him, and I want you to get me off this case.' I said: 'Ms. Rodham, I didn't appoint you to this case. The judge did, so you're going to have to call him.'"
Cummings didn't let Clinton off the case.
"She took it, but she didn't have any options if she was going to be an attorney in this area," said Gibson. "And she did a good job with it. She, in my opinion, did not want that case, was not pleased with it but was put into a situation where she didn't have much choice, but she did the best she could."
Emails requesting comments from Trump spokesmen Brian Lanza and Sarah Huckabee Sanders weren't answered on Tuesday.
Metro on 10/12/2016