Why Is Vermont so Lenient on Child Predators?

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," November 5, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Factor Investigation" segment tonight: As you may know, Vermont has rejected Jessica's Law, which gives mandatory prison sentences to child molesters. The state did that because it believes in restorative justice, where the child rapist and other heinous criminals must be healed, not punished to a great degree.

Now, we believe that philosophy puts Vermont's children in grave danger. We began our reporting on the Green Mountain State in January 2006 when Judge Edward Cashman sentenced this man [Mark Hulett], who sexually abused a 6-year-old girl for years, to 60 days in prison.

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EDWARD CASHMAN, VERMONT JUDGE: So you wake me up on a Sunday morning when I'm getting my newspaper, and you want to put me on TV in my sweat suit?

JESSE WATTERS, "FACTOR" PRODUCER: Well, people — people want some answers.

CASHMAN: Well, I understand that, and I understand their concerns, and I would very much like to respond to what's going on. It's very difficult for a judge to have to remain silent.


O'REILLY: He doesn't have to remain silent. That was total BS, and after a few weeks Cashman was forced to give the predator three years in prison. He had to go in, rip up his original sentence and up it, but that was still way too lenient. And shortly after that, Cashman quit the bench.

The Vermont media and legislature largely supported Judge Cashman, which prompted "Factor" producer Jesse Watters to visit Vermont House Judiciary Chairman Bill Lippert.


JESSE WATTERS, "FACTOR" PRODUCER: Why aren't you protecting the children against child rapists? Instead, you're passing bills to protect transsexual rights.

BILL LIPPERT, VERMONT HOUSE JUDICIARY CHAIRMAN: You're disgusting. You people don't even begin to know what the truth is. Yesterday we passed a strong bill against sexual predators. If you'd start with getting your facts straight for once, it would be a refreshing change.


O'REILLY: Another BS statement. There was no change when it came to child predators.

Thirty-seven-year-old Andrew James pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 4-year-old boy. James got a suspended sentence — suspended sentence — from Vermont Judge David Howard.


WATTERS: Hey, Judge? Jesse Watters with the Fox News channel. How are you doing? Can I talk to you for a second?


WATTERS: That guy who sexually assaulted a 4-year-old. You didn't give him any jail time. Can you explain that, sir? Don't you think you owe us an explanation? What, you don't believe in punishment? Judge, don't you think you owe us an explanation?


O'REILLY: It just makes me angry, and once again, some in the Vermont media ignored allowing a child molester to walk free. The guy just walked free. So Jesse caught up with Bennington Banner editor James Therrien.


WATTERS: Should a guy who molested 4-year-old boy walk off scot-free? Is that the position of your paper, to let something like that slide, just decide it's some sort — wouldn't the people of Bennington want to know that this guy's running around?



O'REILLY: Yes, you're pathetic, pal. And guess what? Andrew James has now violated his probation. Some kind of drug beef. So maybe he'll finally be put in prison where he belongs. But still, still, the Rutland Vermont Herald refuses to acknowledge that Vermont has a problem. Jesse caught up with editorial page editor David Moats, who has consistently attacked our reporting.


WATTERS: So why do you keep sympathizing with Judge Cashman? What about Judge David Howard, who gave probation to a guy who sexually assaulted a 4-year-old?

DAVID MOATS, EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR, RUTLAND VERMONT HERALD: I don't even know the case you're talking about.

WATTERS: Judge David Howard. You attacked Bill O'Reilly for that.

MOATS: I don't even remember the details of the case you're talking about.

WATTERS: Sir, with all due respect, you continually attack "The O'Reilly Factor." Your paper ran an op-ed that accused Bill of being a bigot and a homophobe for pushing Jessica's Law.

MOATS: We run all kinds of op-eds. They say lots of different things. People have their points of view. I'm going to go in here, because I have to buy some stuff, so I'll see you later.


O'REILLY: Bottom line: The state of Vermont remains the most lenient place in the nation for child predators, and the predators know it. The question is why?

Joining us now from Boston, attorney and child advocate Wendy Murphy. OK, now you've been with us on — you know, we've been doing this for three years up in Vermont. Things aren't getting any better up there. I mean, they passed some wishy-washy law. But as we've seen, this guy who got probation now violated his probation, and they had to haul him back in. So why do you think this is going on in Vermont?

WENDY MURPHY, ATTORNEY & CHILD ADVOCATE: You know, I think, frankly, the answer is pretty simple. All the branches of government responsible for primarily protecting the people, especially children, are run by myopic ideologues, and you know, they march like lemmings. It's a big problem called group think. No one thinks for themselves, so nobody's willing to stand up and say, "We can't keep doing this, guys." These predators are moving to Vermont in droves, because they know they're going to get away with raping kids.

O'REILLY: Are the predators moving there?

MURPHY: Absolutely. And you know how I know? I mean, I've been working in this field for 20 years, and the way that I know this is sex offenders talk to each other, and then it comes out at conferences and it comes out at things that I give lectures at and so forth. And they say to each other, "Where should we move that we can be free from these terrible, you know, Jessica's Laws people?" And they say Vermont, first, Massachusetts. Florida has its share of problems. We keep hearing about little girls down there. You know, and it...

O'REILLY: Florida's tough. If you get caught — if you get caught in Florida, you're going away for life, OK.

MURPHY: Only because of what happened to poor Jessie Lunsford, that they had such a tragedy. Vermont is going to have that happen to them.

O'REILLY: They already have. They already have. They already had a girl murdered up there.

MURPHY: I agree. I don't know what else...

O'REILLY: Look, you saw the pinhead press people. You saw the guy from the Rutland paper. I mean, "I don't really remember." That was a huge case. It was huge, all right? And that guy, his paper attacked us, you know, like, what right do you have about coming up here? Well, we want to protect the kids, sir.

MURPHY: Well, I'll tell you something. Thank God for "The Factor," because but for what you did and calling attention to Cashman and all the other crazy people up there that have allowed some of these crimes to occur. The media is supposed to hold the government accountable when it falls down on the job. That was you, "The Factor," holding Vermont officials accountable. But you know who's supposed to do it? Newspaper editors. They're not supposed to pick a side, be ideological, line up like the lemmings and let them keep doing things wrong. What's the media's job? It's to make sure power doesn't get lopsided and become corrupt.

O'REILLY: And they're supposed to be watchdogs and protecting the defenseless, the children.

MURPHY: Especially for the defenseless, especially for the kids.

O'REILLY: Wendy, thanks very much. Nice to see you again.

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