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Vt. Atty. General Addresses Judge Cashman Controversy

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," January 18, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

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Now for the top story tonight, joining us from Burlington, Vermont, Attorney General William Sorrell, a Democrat.

I appreciate you being a standup guy. What do you want to say? Say whatever you want.

WILLIAM SORRELL, VERMONT ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, some suggestion that Vermonters don't care about sex crimes, that we don't care about protecting kids is just unfair and untrue.

We're the safest state in the Union. Or if not, we're just behind North Dakota and maybe Maine with violent crime rates that are less than one-quarter of the national average.

Our jails are full, primarily of sex offenders and those guilty of domestic violence. And in this case, we disagree with the sentence. And we our office and the County D.A.'s office filed a motion for the judge to reconsider his sentence last week.

And it's a sentence of 60 days to life. We think it ought to be eight years to life, which is what the family thinks it ought to be. We're hopeful that the judge will reconsider his sentence.

But the judge, the victim and the defendant are entitled to rights under Vermont law. And as long as I'm the attorney general, we're going to see that those rights are afforded.

O'REILLY: So you have a problem with the sentence? You feel the sentence is too light?

SORRELL: Yes.

O'REILLY: All right.

SORRELL: Our office filed.

O'REILLY: Would you say it's an outrageous sentence? Would you say it was outrage? Are you angry about the sentence?

SORRELL: We think the sentence is illegal. We think the judge should have considered punishment.

O'REILLY: OK.

SORRELL: And not just rehabilitation.

O'REILLY: Now that's interesting. All right, so you, the attorney general of the state, think the sentence is illegal. OK?

SORRELL: And we filed a motion to that effect.

O'REILLY: Fine.

SORRELL: And filed it in the court.

O'REILLY: Fine. If that's true, why hasn't Judge Davenport removed this judge, put him in civil court while you get to the bottom of this whole thing as would happen in most states? Why hasn't anything happened? She could do that today.

SORRELL: This is not a case of a judge having taken a bribe or lacking integrity. He's been a hard working judge.

O'REILLY: You just said this — you consider the sentence illegal, sir.

SORRELL: That it didn't take into account punishment.

O'REILLY: Yes.

SORRELL: ...which...

O'REILLY: I agree with you.

SORRELL: ...should be a factor in sentencing...

O'REILLY: I think it's illegal.

SORRELL: ...afforded by law.

O'REILLY: I think it's illegal and atrocious, but I think that the impotence of the state of Vermont and the face of this atrocity that both you and I know is not fair to the girl, the girl's family, or any other crime victim. This is insane.

Now can you point to me one demonstration, one, in the state of Vermont...

SORRELL: We have.

O'REILLY: ...public demonstration, anywhere objecting to the Judge Cashman's sentence?

SORRELL: This case is in the court.

O'REILLY: No, no, by the folks. You're saying that Vermonters, they care. They're engaged.

SORRELL: But we don't practice vigilante justice.

O'REILLY: What? A demonstration is vigilante justice?

SORRELL: No, I'm suggesting that we have filed a motion to have the judge reconsider. And there's a rule of law. And we're following it. And Vermont has a proud history of its treating sex offenders seriously.

We have treatment programs that are — have been the other states have come to Vermont to see what we do. They've been effective. We want to see this guy in prison, protect the victim, but we want him to get treatment. And this.

O'REILLY: All right. Well, treatment is fine. I mean, but if the guy committed the same crime in Florida and 10 other states, he'd be doing 25 to life.

SORRELL: Well.

O'REILLY: In your state, he's doing 60 days.

SORRELL: I...

O'REILLY: That's not equal justice under the law. And it's not the punishment fits the crime. It's not.

SORRELL: I tried a sexual assault case before Judge Cashman.

O'REILLY: Doesn't matter.

SORRELL: And I asked that he sentence the guy to 18 year minimum. He did, 18 to 25.

O'REILLY: It doesn't matter what he has done in the past. It matters that this little girl was violated for four years and the perpetrator, the confessed rapist, got 60 days.

Now the Brattleboro newspaper, the Rutland newspaper, the Bennington newspaper all sticking up for Cashman, all attacking me.

SORRELL: No, they're...

O'REILLY: OK? I mean, what is that?

SORRELL: They're sticking up for a rule of law here.

O'REILLY: Look, it's not about the rule of law.

SORRELL: Sure it is.

O'REILLY: No, it's not. It's about holding a judge accountable for what you say is an illegal sentence. That's what it's about.

SORRELL: And we've asked the judge to reconsider his sentence. And we hope that he will.

O'REILLY: Do you — look, with all due respect, do you know how passionless you're coming off here and how, well we've asked him and he might. And you got a little girl who was brutalized for four years.

SORRELL: I...

O'REILLY: And the family looking at a guy who's going to get out March 4th..

SORRELL: I'm passionate about Vermont. I'm proud to be a Vermonter. I'm proud that we're the first state in the union to outlaw slavery. To suggest that I don't have passion about this case or about Vermont is just — I just fundamentally disagree with you.

O'REILLY: What do you disagree with me on?

SORRELL: I disagree that we should do — that people should take to the street to have us not follow, approve.

O'REILLY: You don't want to see people get out and protest this sentence with a sign?

SORRELL: No, I'm saying that we shouldn't be making decisions based on people outside the courthouse with signs. We should be following court procedures to respect the rights of all of those in our criminal justice system, judge, defendant and particularly victim.

O'REILLY: I'll tell you what. You have a legislature there. The legislature put the resignation vote into committee. They ducked it. Cowardly.

You have a governor there who's hiding under his desk. Won't say anything.

SORRELL: The judge.

O'REILLY: If you think that's leadership, if you think that's passion, and if you think the rest of the country is impressed by that, with all due respect, Mr. Sorrell, you're wrong. I'll give you the last word.

SORRELL: We've got a tremendous environmental ethic. We've got in Vermont — people all over the country come here. And we have the safest state in the country.

O'REILLY: All right.

SORRELL: They should know that they can come here, enjoy the beauty, and be safe while they're here. And we welcome that.

O'REILLY: OK, sir. We appreciate you coming on in.

SORRELL: Thank you.

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