An Ohio Judge Explains Why She Let an Accused Child Rapist Walk Free

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This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," July 11, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O’REILLY, HOST: "Unresolved problem" segment tonight, prosecuting child rapists. As you know, some judges and prosecutors are having a hard time doing that. In Ohio, Norman Craig, 22, was charged with raping a 9-year-old girl. He was 16 at the time of the crime.

Craig faced life because Ohio does have mandatories in this situation, but Judge Eileen Gallagher threw the case out, let Craig walk because prosecutor Mark Schneider was late for court. Mr. Schneider told us he was filing an emergency motion and informed the court about that.

Joining us now from Cleveland is Judge Gallagher.

First of all, I want to tell everybody around the country and the world that you're a stand-up person, unlike Judge O'Connor in Columbus who lied to us, said he couldn't talk about it. You know you can legally talk about any of your rulings.

Now it's a he said-she said. You say the prosecutor booted it. He says that you were prejudiced from the beginning, didn't believe the client — the accusation.

But here's what Judge Napolitano says about the case. And I want you to react to this, Judge, if you would. "The rule is that when a lawyer breaks the rules, you never punish the client, especially one who is allegedly raped. The judge can sanction the prosecutors, fine him or even say you can't handle the case. Everyone is entitled to a day in court, especially the public safety issue. The judge must have a personal beef." This is Judge Napolitano accusing you, judge, with this prosecutor. I've never heard of this in 30 years. The case will be reversed on appeal and the judge will be admonished.

What say you, madam?

GALLAGHER: I say that's absolutely incorrect. First of all, the prosecuting attorney, Mr. O'Reilly, failed to appear. He failed to notify us of where he was.

In fact, the appeal was filed three days after the case was dismissed. The appeal was summarily dismissed by the court of appeals. That was the first story Mr. Schneider told us about why he was not present in the courtroom at the appropriate time.

He had then changed his story and said that he was preparing an emergency writ, which is a fancy name for an appeal. That was never filed.

Ultimately, he told a lawyer whose word and reputation are above reproach, that he had a news conference scheduled for 1 p.m. that afternoon. And in fact it was at 1 p.m. when he was scheduled to be in court.

O'REILLY: All right, but the bottom line is that Schneider says that you were mishandling the case, and you say that he was booting the case. Fine, I don't know. I wasn't there.

But I do know this, that a 9-year-old girl says she was raped. The guy, the alleged rapist, is now walking around the streets of Ohio because of a fight between you and a prosecutor. Wasn't there another way you could have handled this rather than letting the guy walk out?

GALLAGHER: Well, first of all, I have to explain to you the defendant in this case — and we have to remember the cornerstone of criminal justice system is that everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

In this particular case, the defendant made a bond in September after he was formerly charged. He's been on the streets...

O'REILLY: OK, OK. But you've dismissed the case. This guy now, unless the prosecution refiles, all right, is free. And I'm saying to you, I don't know whether this is the way our system should work. You and the prosecutor should have worked out your differences. You should have sanctioned him and had the trial continue. Should you not?

GALLAGHER: Well, Mr. O'Reilly, the fact of the matter is, I couldn't sanction somebody whom I could not find, and whether we...

O'REILLY: Come on, Judge, it's the same town. You know this guy all day long. Hold him in contempt.

GALLAGHER: Every day, the 34 judges in my county dismiss cases because the prosecutor...

O'REILLY: This is an alleged rapist of a 9-year-old, Judge. Come on!

GALLAGHER: Pardon me?

O'REILLY: This is an alleged rapist of a 9-year-old. This isn't some drunk driving deal.

GALLAGHER: Mr. O'Reilly, in 2005, 25 cases were dismissed in our court out of 130, and they were rape charges; 130 rape charges pending...

O'REILLY: But you could have done it another way, Judge. You know you could have done it another way. Are you comfortable with this guy being out on the streets?

GALLAGHER: I certainly could have done it another way. I could have held Mr. Schneider in contempt. I assumed his boss would take issue with him and, in fact, I knew, as everybody in the criminal justice system...

O'REILLY: Are you comfortable with this guy being out on the street, this alleged rapist?

GALLAGHER: It should be refiled, and as of this date it has not been refiled by the prosecutor, one month later.

O'REILLY: I just hope he doesn't hurt anybody else, and I hope they do refile. And we will follow the case. We appreciate you stepping up.

GALLAGHER: I hope they refile, too. They should refile.

O'REILLY: All right, we'll make sure they do that. We'll make sure they do, Judge. We'll make sure they refile.

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