Gang Rape Trial in California

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," April 27, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY HOST:  In the "Factor Follow Up" segment tonight: Brutality Against Women.

Three California teenagers are accused of raping an unconscious 16-year-old near Rancho Cucamonga (search).  Apparently they also videotaped the alleged crime.  Jury selection is now under way.  And there's a twist to the case.  One of those charged is Gregory Hadel (ph), whose father works for the Orange County Sheriff's Office and has been defending his son.  Joining us now from Irvine, California Al Stokke, a defense attorney advising on the case, and from Anaheim, Tony Rackauckas, the Orange County D.A.

Mr. District Attorney, we'll begin with you, how do you see this case, you have a videotape, obviously a slam dunk or what?

TONY RACKAUCKAS, ORANGE COUNTY DA:  Well, I don't think there's any such thing as a slam dunk.  We never say that.  But what we do have is the fact that there was a videotape and basically there are 24 counts of various sexual assaults that are charged against each of these three young men.  And it's based on acts that are clearly seen in the videotape.   Each act is -- can be viewed and sort of checked off as it occurs.  And that's what the case is about.

O'REILLY:  All right.  Yes.  It's a horrific crime, this young woman, 16 years old, gang-raped on a pool table, sodomized with a bottle.  They put cigarettes on her.  These guys could get 55 years in prison if convicted.  Counselor, how do you see it?  You're advising the defense.  Do you think with the videotape it's all over?

AL STOKKE, DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Well, no, I don't think it's all over.  These things -- the whole -- the totality of the circumstance is what's important.  The tape does not show everything.   There's a great deal of history between these individuals, between the three boys charged here and the young lady that's involved.  She had sexual activity with each one of these three boys the day before and on other occasions.  She had been videotaped having sex on other occasions and it was something that she was OK with doing.  They had every reason in the world to believe that she was consenting.

O'REILLY:  All right, what we hear -- we hear the defense attorney for the young girl is going to say that this tape was edited by the prosecution.  Are they going to do that, sir?

STOKKE:  Well, I think that the tape itself will be seen to be not complete and not showing everything, whether it was edited or whether it is not complete, either way there's a lot more to the story than what appears simply on that tape.

O'REILLY:  All right, now Mr. District Attorney, it sounds to me like they're going to put the victim on trial and they're going to put the police department on trial.  Are you prepared for that, sir?

RACKAUCKAS:  I think certainly they're going to do everything they can to trash the reputation of this young 16-year-old girl, which is not that unusual in a sexual assault case.  And clearly that's what they're going to do.  And as far as putting the police department on trial, well, they'll be making some effort at that as well..

I don't think there's any evidence that the tape was tampered with in any way.   That's been reviewed by the judge and he couldn't find any kind of tampering or anything like that.  So we have a situation here where this young girl was -- very, very clear, she was unconscious at the time.  So there's really no issue of consent.  You just can't consent when you're unconscious.  And, you know, all this business about prior conduct is really not even going to be relevant in this case.  I mean, this is about...

O'REILLY:  Will the judge let it in, though, Mr. District Attorney, is going to let that in?

RACKAUCKAS:  You know, I think we're going to have to wait and see what the judge does.  Certainly the defense is going to make every effort to get it in.  But it doesn't relate to consent, and under our law, there's no -- the law doesn't recognize any notion of advanced consent where she night have agreed in advance and then later on...

O'REILLY:  Yes, I mean, prostitutes can be raped.  That's been proven time and time again.  Now what about the unconsciousness of this case, Counselor?  I mean, if the girl is clearly unconscious on the videotape, as the district attorney says, what are they going to say?

STOKKE:  I don't think it's at all clear that she's unconscious at all points on that tape.

O'REILLY:  Have you seen it?

STOKKE:  To say we're trashing this person is not at all fair, at all.  To defend a case, everything must be known.  And if there is something that must be known about this person and her activities at a prior point in time, then it's perfectly proper and necessary for a fair trial.

O'REILLY:  Yes, it's the Kobe Bryant situation.  But Counselor, have seen the tape, sir?

STOKKE:  Yes, I have.

O'REILLY:  OK.  Now are you going to tell me on national television that the girl was conscious?

STOKKE:  I'm going to tell you that the facts are not at all clear whether she's conscious or unconscious.  She may very well be conscious at many points in that tape, and there may very well be other factors that are not shown on the tape that the jury will see and that they will hear about.  That will come out with the evidence as it goes along.

O'REILLY:  Now how important is the boy's father, Don Hadel (ph), who's reportedly worth $90 million, who held a job as assistant Orange County sheriff's department official, I guess that was a volunteer job, but the guy is very, very wealthy, and Mr. District Attorney, he has been out doing media campaign on a lot of the programs, basically saying his son is being railroaded.  So how important is this guy going to be?

RACKAUCKAS:  Certainly, first of all, Mr. Hadel is a businessman, he's an assistant chief in the Orange County's Sheriff's Department and his son has gotten into this terrible trouble.  And he's out there doing all that he can to defend him.  He's able to spend, I don't know how much money, certainly millions of dollars on his defense.  And he's doing everything he can.  He's had a very aggressive campaign on the media himself.  And his attorneys are doing a very aggressive campaign.  I think they have a team of seven or eight very fine lawyers including Mr. Stokke, Mr. Barnett (ph), some of the best attorneys...

O'REILLY:  Oh yes, listen, he's pulling out all of the stops.  This is a Kobe Bryant situation where the best lawyers money can buy are going to be on the case.

RACKAUCKAS:  Absolutely.

O'REILLY:  Where is the girl now, Mr. District Attorney?  And will she testify?

RACKAUCKAS:  Well, sure she'll testify.  She'll have to testify.  You know, she's not in a place where she's making any public appearances or anything of that nature.  She's trying to -- you know, trying to have a life.

O'REILLY:  Is she back in school, because people know who she is?

RACKAUCKAS:  Well, I don't want to give any indication as to where she might be.  She's had a very difficult time of it since all of this occurred.  She was -- immediately she was subjected to a great deal of harassment at her home and at her school.  And so we need to try to do all we can to protect her from that.

O'REILLY:  All right.  But she will testify.  All right.  Counselor, I'm going to give you the last word on this case.  It begins -- obviously they're picking the jury this week.  It's very disturbing, I mean, that a woman like this, you know, do you feel any guilt or anything by -- what if these guys did this to her?  That's a question I always ask about defense attorneys.

STOKKE:  I feel no guilt in seeing someone get a fair trial.  And that's what we're attempting to do here, is to make sure the jury sees everything in this case.  It's degrading to this girl to have all this happen, there's no question about it.  But it's degrading to anybody who sees this film as well.  But having something that's degrading and having something that's uncomfortable to watch does not make a crime.  And that's what I think the jury will see.  It may be bad but it isn't a crime.

O'REILLY:  Gentlemen, well, I hope you'll come back.  We are going follow this case and see where it leads and how it turns on.  And we appreciate you guys coming very much this evening.

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