Interviews

Vermont Child Molester Goes Free

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," January 17, 2007, that has been edited for clarity.

BILL O’REILLY, HOST: What about prosecuting a sexual molestation case that's not airtight? Joining us from Washington, Georgia Goslee, former federal prosecutor and current defense attorney, who does handle some of these kinds of cases.

All right, counselor, let's be fair. I don't - you know, my temptation is not to be fair to the Vermont people, but Costello, the prosecuting attorney, said look, we listened to the boy's testimony, and we didn't think he was that credible. He's got a learning disability. We didn't want the guy to walk out with nothing, so we gave him probation and treatment. So he's on the record. What say you about that?

GEORGIA GOSLEE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, I'm rather outraged about it, Bill, actually, because statutory authority in Vermont allows a couple of things to happen.

First of all, there can be a determination by the court as to whether or not the child testifying in court may become traumatized. Upon the finding by the court, and that can be made by the judge who assigns it or by any party, by the prosecution or by the defense attorney or by guardian ad litem.

Once that determination has been made, then there are several alternatives to the child actually testifying in person, in court. If that child's going to be traumatized, for example, you can be having two-way circuit court television where the child can testify without being traumatized, without any persons around, other than the actual attorneys who are asking the questions of the child, maybe the operator of the machinery. But other than that, that child is isolated. He's separated. And he’s asked questions.

O'REILLY: All right, so he would be cross-examined by the perpetrator, the alleged perpetrator's lawyer, but there wouldn't be a jury. There wouldn't be a judge. There'd just be...

GOSLEE: There would be no jury. There would be no judge.

O'REILLY: OK.

GOSLEE: And the child apparently would not be as traumatized if he's sitting there looking at the person who has allegedly committed these crimes against him. And you can also have — take testimony outside of court, so that it can be presented inside of the courtroom during the trial.

O'REILLY: OK. Now let me say what - you're the prosecutor. I'm putting you in charge. You're Costello, OK?

GOSLEE: OK.

O'REILLY: You got this case. Here's what you have, and you tell me whether it's enough to go to trial. And remember this guy, Costello, we went up and politely asked him to explain his point of view. He literally hid from us. We would have had an off the record conversation with him, hiding. So that's him.

All right, now what you have here is you have the aunt. She was the original person the four-year-old told I'm afraid of this guy, James. You have the brother, who's a couple years older than the victim, who says he told me, the four-year-old told me this guy was molesting him. All right, that's two. You have the mother of the boy, who confronted James, knows James. And James at first denied and then admitted the crime to the mother. Then you have social worker Kyle Hoover from Family Services in Vermont, who interviewed the little boy in front of police officers from the Manchester department. They heard what the little boy said. And then they gave the little boy a drawing, an anatomically correct drawing and said tell us on this drawing, point out what happened. And the kid did. This is in front of the social worker and the police. All right, that's what you have. Is that enough?

GOSLEE: I'm going to trial with that, Bill, because first of all, I think the most outrageous thing about Costello was he said that one of the reasons that he entered into this plea bargain agreement with the defendant is because of the substantial youth of the victim. Well, if that's the case, what kind of message does that send to any wanna-be perpetrator? Just grab a kid who's two or three-years old, who you may say that he's not - he's unreliable and not trustworthy?

I think if I had that kind of evidence, even though it may not be direct, there may be questions about hearsay, but I'm going to trial with that.

O'REILLY: OK, so am I. Because even if he walks, this guy, everybody in the state knows. And you could get him for 50 years. And remember, this guy has a sheet. He's a violent convicted felon.

GOSLEE: He has priors, absolutely.

O'REILLY: Right, he attacked his wife with a screwdriver.

GOSLEE: Absolutely.

O'REILLY: So we're not talking about somebody who's like you know, could be — presumed to be not dangerous to society. Now...

GOSLEE: And I think there were young children around when that happened.

O'REILLY: Yes, two little kids witnessed the attack on the wife.

Now the final thing is that you basically have the state. It's almost like the south, it's almost like the south, in a civil rights, where they ban together, the media, the governor, the senators, the legislators, they ban together. And they say don't tell us what to do. We're going to do this restorative justice stuff. And we don't really care whether these guys are getting - and then, we're going to tackle O'Reilly or whoever else comes up against us. And they succeed in intimidating everybody else in the state.

We can't even get the child health workers to speak to us. They're so afraid. That's the climate in Vermont right now.

GOSLEE: I'd like to just respond to that, Bill, by saying I'm surprised that there is not an outcry, more of an outrage by the parents, specifically the mothers. If you look at what's going on in this country now, specifically in Vermont, I mean, some of these terrible men are just basically given carte blanche to go out and rape and abuse these children. It is awful and outrageous.

O'REILLY: And the other final thing is the little kid is poor. The family is poor.

GOSLEE: And you know? And guess what, Bill, the jury just might have convicted him.

O'REILLY: Oh, you bet. I think he would have been convicted based upon all that we know...

GOSLEE: I think so, too.

O'REILLY: ...and we know plenty. Counselor, thanks very much.

GOSLEE: And even though it's circumstantial, I think they might have convicted him.

O'REILLY: Well, if they had a good lawyer like you up there as a prosecutor...

GOSLEE: Thank you

O'REILLY: ...I think this guy would have been put away for 50 years.

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