WASHINGTON — A claim from the second presidential debate and how it stacks up with the facts:
DONALD TRUMP: When Hillary Clinton defended an accused child-rapist in court, she “got him off, and she’s seen on two separate occasions, laughing at the girl who was raped.”
THE FACTS: Trump’s depiction of Clinton laughing at a child rape victim is false, and his statement that she got the man off the hook isn’t quite right.
Clinton defended the man in 1975 at the demand of the judge in the case.
According to both Clinton in a recorded interview and later statements by the prosecutor who handled the case, Clinton asked not to be assigned to defend the attacker of Kathy Shelton, but ultimately Clinton agreed to defend the man at the judge’s insistence.
According to audio of an interview Clinton gave to a reporter one decade later, Clinton suggested she believed her client, Thomas Alfred Taylor, was guilty, saying that his successful questioning under a polygraph test “forever destroyed my faith in polygraphs.”
Despite her discomfort with the case, Clinton aggressively defended her client. In an affidavit to the court, she said a child psychologist had told her that children “from disorganized families,” such as the victim, “tend to exaggerate or romanticize sexual experiences.”
But it was a misstep by the prosecution that broke in favor of Clinton’s client. The crime lab in the case lost a swatch of the victim’s underwear that the prosecution had said contained Taylor’s semen and the victim’s blood. Clinton seized on the mistake, arguing that the absence of evidence fatally undermined the prosecution’s case — prompting the prosecutor to offer Clinton’s client a plea deal to a lesser charge, “unlawful fondling of a child.”
In the recorded interview, Clinton never laughed at Shelton, calling it a “terrible” case and saying it was sad that prosecutors had lost the evidence against her client. But she did laugh at procedural errors in the case, and the judge’s request to speak privately with her client at one point.
Contributed by Associated Press writer Jeff Horwitz.
EDITOR’S NOTE _ A look at the veracity of claims by political figures