Who's Looking Out for America's Children?

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," Sept. 9, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Back of the Book segment tonight, updates on two horrendous criminal cases. You may remember 14-year-old Lionel Tate (search) was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of six-year-old Tiffany Eunick. That conviction was overturned last year, unanimously, by a three-judge panel of the fourth district court of appeals in Florida, and Tate was placed under house arrest and probation.

We criticized that decision, and now, Tate has been re-arrested, charged with carrying a knife outside of his house. Also, you may remember four-year-old Rilya Wilson (search), who disappeared more than three years ago from Miami. Nobody did very much. We screamed, and now, the little girl's caregivers, Geralyn and Pamela Graham, have been charged with child abuse.

Joining us now from Miami is Brian Tannebaum, the lawyer for Geralyn Graham, and from Davie, Florida, Richard Rosenbaum, Lionel Tate's attorney. All right, we'll get to you, Mr. Rosenbaum, first. You've got Tate, who I just thought, even though he was 12-years-old when he killed this little girl, you know, should at least have been punished until he was twenty-one. But these soft judges let him out, and now, he could go back for life, right?

RICHARD ROSENBAUM, LIONEL TATE'S ATTORNEY: Well, he does face a maximum of life. I wouldn't say soft judges. He did three years in the department of juvenile justice. He's doing a year on house arrest. He's doing 10 years probation, and he's got to perform a thousand hours of community service. He sees counselors every single week. It's tough on a child to be sentenced for a long time like that.

O'REILLY: Well, wait a minute, now, he killed a six-year-old girl.

ROSENBAUM: Yes, he did.

O'REILLY: And it's a human being. And you're telling me that I should feel sorry for this guy, Tate. And now, with all of the counseling and all of the attention, he runs around with a knife? Come on.

ROSENBAUM: Well, he didn't have a knife. And first of all, it was a pocketknife. And in Florida, anything under four inches doesn't count as a weapon. Also.

O'REILLY: Well, it was a four-inch blade, was it not?

ROSENBAUM: It was a four-inch blade. It was thrown on the ground, we think, by his cousin, who was with him. The who thing was prompted by a verbal altercation that Lionel had with his mom. Lionel walked away from the house in the middle of the night. He was on his way back home. He was just out for a walk. He shouldn't have done it.

But he's still a child. We must keep in mind, he's only 17. He's under a lot of pressure. He sits in the house all day long, every single day, and it's difficult on him. He only has three months left to do, and we still think that he can be a beneficial person to society.

O'REILLY: You know, I just can't take the chance. I just can't take the chance that he's a beneficial person to society.

ROSENBAUM: What are you going to do, lock up every kid and just throw away the key?

O'REILLY: Yeah, I'm going to lock up everybody who kills a six-year- old girl.


ROSENBAUM: ...think so. I think that if they can be rehabilitated, we should give kids every chance.

O'REILLY: Well, they can rehabilitate them while they're locked up. I mean, I'd send him to juvie center, but I'd keep him off the street. And now, look, you say his cousin had the knife, but the cops say he had the knife. Now, where does it go from here? What are you going to do?

ROSENBAUM: Well, there is a first violation hearing next week. At that point, he can either admit or deny the accusations. In all likelihood, there will be a denial, and then there will be a final evidentiary hearing. The judge could reinstate him on his house arrest and his probation. The judge could modify it to give him something additional.

The judge could give him a Florida sentencing guideline sentence of 18 years, or the judge could give him the top of the guidelines, which is 25 years in Florida state prison.

O'REILLY: Any prediction?

ROSENBAUM: I can tell you what I hope.

O'REILLY: No, I know what you hope.

ROSENBAUM: My prediction is Lionel's going to understand that you don't step out of that house when you're on house arrest.

O'REILLY: All right, we'll let everybody know what happens, Counselor. Thanks very much. Now, let's go to the Rilya Wilson case. Where is Rilya Wilson, Counselor?

BRIAN TANNEBAUM, GERALYN GRAHAM'S ATTORNEY: Nobody has any idea. But the pressure tactics continue against my client, and they've now charged her with child abuse and kidnapping, because nobody knows where the child is, and they assume that my client does.

O'REILLY: Well, how can nobody know -- if these two women, Pamela Graham and your client, Geralyn Graham, no relation, were living in the same house with a four-year-old child, how can no one know where she is? How does that happen?

TANNEBAUM: Because my client has said from day one that somebody from DCF came and picked up this child. And just because DCF says that they don't believe that happened, and my client has a history of fraud, they believe that my client is lying. And because they can't find the child, they assume it's her.

O'REILLY: OK, now, your client can't put a name on the DCF person, right?


O'REILLY: Can your client describe the DCF person?

TANNEBAUM: She has made descriptions before. She has given statements to authorities. But the problem is, this has been the biggest embarrassment for DCF in the State of Florida.

O'REILLY: Well, I don't want to get into DCF or the State of Florida. We know they're chaotic. But I don't believe your client. I don't believe any responsible adult would hand over any four-year-old to anybody and not know the name of the person.

TANNEBAUM: But Bill, you may not believe my client, but you don't charge somebody with kidnapping just because you can't find the child. Everyone I say that my client was charged with kidnapping to.

O'REILLY: Just because?

TANNEBAUM: ...says, "Where's the child?"

O'REILLY: Just because? You've got two adults in a house, Counselor, supervising a four-year-old, and they can't tell you who they gave the four-year-old to. Just because.


O'REILLY: That's child neglect all day long.

TANNEBAUM: Bill, you don't charge somebody with kidnapping for a kid you can't find.

O'REILLY: I'd charge them with anything I can. I think both these women should go to jail until they give the authorities some information about where this poor little girl is. All right, Counselor, we'll follow that as well, and we appreciate you taking the time.

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