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Bad Decisions by Judges

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," May 18, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.

Watch The O'Reilly Factor weeknights at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET and listen to the Radio Factor!

BILL O'REILLY HOST:  In the "Unresolved Problems Segment" tonight, bad decisions by judges.  This evening on the CBS TV program "Judging Amy," I appear and scold Judge Amy for her ruling regarding a violent teenager.  Obviously the show is fiction, but the problem is real.

In Florida, Judge O.H. Eaton sentenced Mark Vansandt to 10 days probation after Vansandt pleaded guilty to having sexual intercourse with a 12-year-old girl.  He was 20 years old at the time. 

Judge Eaton said, "(Vansandt) is not a pedophile.  He's not a rapist.  He's not a violent sex offender."  The judge went on to say the man was simply "immature."

Joining us now from Orlando is Norman Wolfinger, who is with the prosecutors office and knows the judge and the 12-year-old girl's mother, whose identity we are protecting for obvious reasons. 

So madam, when you heard 10 days probation for the guy who raped your child, statutory rape, what did you think?

"MARGARET", MOTHER OF SEXUAL ASSAULT VICTIM:  I was outraged.  I just couldn't believe that he could just get a little slap on the hand for what he did.

O'REILLY:  Did you address the court at all before the sentencing?

"MARGARET":  I attempted to address the court, but the judge kind of interrupted me and told me I couldn't say things like that even though my statement was looked over and I really don't believe he even listened to me. 

O'REILLY:  Do you have any opinion on why Judge Eaton gave such a light sentence in such a heinous crime?

"MARGARET":  My opinion, I don't think he cares about children. 

O'REILLY:  Yes, I concur, because we have a couple of other cases here.  Now tell us about your daughter.  She's 14 years old now?

"MARGARET":  Yes, she is. 

O'REILLY:  What effect did this have on her life?

"MARGARET":  My daughter has lost all her self-esteem, she has been violent towards me because she thought I was betraying her for turning Mark in.  It has been a very hard battle these last two years with her. 

O'REILLY:  She evidently consented to the sex, not that that matters, it doesn't, but the judge took that into consideration I guess, right?

"MARGARET":  I don't see how a 12-year-old can consent to having sex, but yes, that's what they say. 

O'REILLY:  Now is your daughter getting counseling, is she going to be able to get through this do you think?

"MARGARET":  Yes.  I think she's going to make it through.  She has been getting counseling, and since the sentence was made, she's really opened up her eyes with all the outcry of how the public is so upset about it.  And she has really started to realize what was done wrong to her. 

O'REILLY:  All right.  You're having a little trouble with your ear piece.  That's OK.  We'll go on to counselor Wolfinger.  You know this Eaton guy, and I mean, I've got three cases right here, we're going to do one tomorrow night where a 5-year-old was killed and this Eaton guy gave the killer, the stepfather, five years in prison.  What's the matter with this guy, Judge Eaton?  What's the matter with him?

NORMAN WOLFINGER, PROSECUTOR:  Well, I would say he's a very intelligent judge but sometimes we see things through a different window I believe. 

O'REILLY:  Well, explain that.  I mean, nobody watching tonight, Mr. Wolfinger, is going to agree with giving a 10-day probation sentence to a 20-year-old who rapes a 12-year-old, and a five-year sentence to a guy who kills a 5-year-old.  There's nobody watching this broadcast who is going to agree with that, sir, so there has got to be something the matter with the judge. 

WOLFINGER:  Well, you know, this is one of those sentences where you just have to say to yourself, what are you thinking?  What are you thinking on this?  And certainly at the same time he was sentenced to consecutive four years probation for a possession of cocaine case, so what we're dealing with is 10 days sexual offender probation for lewd and lascivious activity, a 20-year-old with a 12-year-old, and you know, basically a meaningless sexual offender sentence because you can't complete the conditions.  It's an impossibility. 

O'REILLY:  Yes, because after 10 days he's out of the state supervision. 

WOLFINGER:  Well, no, no he's not.  He has four more years as a drug...

O'REILLY:  The cocaine, yes, but look, look, that's not the point.  There's supposed to be crime and punishment in this country.  There is supposed to be justice.  Now we're looking at this guy now.  Has anybody from your office confronted Judge Eaton or said, what the hell are you doing?

WOLFINGER:  Many times.  We're going to be appealing this like we have cases in the past.  We've been in touch with the attorney general.  I've been in touch myself with the legislature today. 

O'REILLY:  Is there any outrage about this judge down there?

WOLFINGER:  You know, there has been in the -- you know, we do have times where we fight him over sentences and what we're left to do is appeal. 

O'REILLY:  OK.  But is there any public outcry about it?

WOLFINGER:  Some, but you know...

O'REILLY:  All right.  Well, after tomorrow, there will be more because we're going to have another story about a murder that this judge botched.  And you know, we got rid of the other judge in Sarasota, maybe we can do the same here. 

Madam, we're sorry for your daughter.  Counselor, thanks for helping us out.  All right.  In my opinion, Judge Eaton is a danger and we'll have that story tomorrow and we'll be right back. 

SNOW: Allan Lichtman, thanks so much.

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