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Bill O'Reilly to Vermont: Do My Bidding or Face Economic Armageddon

Reported by Marie Therese - January 17, 2006

As Deborah reported on January 14th, Bill O'Reilly has declared war on the state of Vermont because that state's leaders refuse to dance to his tune and impeach or reassign District Court Judge Edward Cashman. In a typical flurry of half-truths, bombast, bluster and deliberate omissions, O'Reilly painted Cashman as the "worst judge in the United States," because he gave a very short 60-day sentence to a convicted child molester, Mark Hulett, age 34. O'Reilly cross-promoted his jihad last week by appearing on FOX and Friends and Heartland. The judge has been discussed (unflatteringly) on Hannity & Colmes and The Big Story.

However, Judge Cashman it turns out doesn't fit the "bleeding heart liberal" profile O'Reilly is so fond of condemning.

Judge Edward Cashman should be the darling of conservatives: a churchgoer, a former prosecutor, a Vietnam vet and a member of the bench known for his hard-line stands: A decade ago he jailed for 41 days the parents of a suspect in a rape case because they refused to cooperate with prosecutors. - Associated Press 1-13-06

Later, the AP went on to report:

The Corrections Department had concluded that Hulett was unlikely to commit another such offense, and Vermont does not provide sex-offender treatment to such inmates until they reach the end of their jail time.

Cashman said he would have imposed more jail time - a three-year minimum - if the state promised treatment while Hulett was jailed.

"The solution to these concerns requires quick and effective treatment," the judge wrote. He also noted that Hulett tested at a borderline intelligence level, has the emotional maturity of a 12- to 14-year-old and did not understand why others were so upset by his actions.

Not once has O'Reilly or any of his guests mentioned that Hulett is also mentally challenged.

Last night [1-16-06] Bill O'Reilly interviewed Vermont State Representative Michael Kainen (R) who clearly didn't understand what he was up against. Mr. Kainen tried to explain the complexities of the case to O'Reilly, telling him that the actual sentence was 60 days to 10 years, that Hulett will be monitored every step of the way, required to enter and continue in treatment, and subject to a sentence of up to 115 years, should he fail to fulfill any part of his sentence. Kainen also noted that the Vermont legislature is considering enacting a mandatory minimum sentencing law. Kainen is clearly a thoughtful man, not prone to knee-jerk reactions (which might be a good description of many Vermonters, who are a fiercely independent lot.) Here's a portion of their interchange:

KAINEN: ... there is a Jessica's Law proposal that is currently in my committee and we're reviewing that right now. Until I review it completely, I don't know that I'm going to make a comment on it. I would say, in terms of what we're talking about on Judge Cashman, he's been on the bench for 24 years. He used to be thought of as a hangin' judge. He may know something that you and I don't in terms of ...

O'REILLY: Well, we should know it.

KAINEN: ... what works and what doesn't.

O'REILLY: I tell you what. I hope you pass the Jessica's Law and I hope you rethink this. I think you're a good man, Mr. Kainen, but there are two things I'm gonna say to you. The state of Vermont's never gonna recover from this- ever! - unless Cashman is removed. People will not go there. They will not buy your products. They will turn their back (sic) and your state will be - have a stigma for-ever. People will remember. This isn't goin' away. And the second thing is, think about that little girl, sir. This was the most vulnerable girl in your state. Mentally challenged parents. Raped by a brutal guy and his friend allegedly. The guy confessed to it. And you say three years [is enough].


As someone who has known five women who were the victims of molesters (all family members, not strangers), I am generally in favor of the Jessica's Law concept. Personally, given the state of modern psychiatry, I do not believe pedophiles can be successfully treated.

In light of this, I will admit to having difficulty reporting on this whole story.

However, after reviewing the facts, I see that Judge Cashman had legitimate reasons for his decision, reasons grounded in his concern for the long-term health of his community and his detailed knowledge of the case. This was not a capricious ruling on his part, especially when one realizes that all of the participants (possibly even the young girl) are mentally challenged. While I may not agree with Cashman's 60-day sentence, I understand his reasons for it. From everything I've read, he is definitely not averse to the concept of punishment and has a reputation for being very tough. He also put strong protections for the community in his ruling.

Cashman's early years as a judge were marked by complaints that he was insensitive to the concerns of female victims of abuse and that he unfairly favored fathers in custody cases. But those concerns seemed to have vanished by 2001 when Cashman won a new six-year term by a legislative vote of 137-15.

Sen. Vincent Illuzzi, a Republican who is also a prosecutor, said the criticism that Cashman is a lenient judge and should be thrown out of office is "contrary to his judicial philosophy and career."

"Over the years, if there's been criticism of Judge Cashman, it has been he has been overly harsh on offenders when it comes to sentences and conditions of probation," Illuzzi said.

In Cashman's most-publicized case before this one, he threw Arthur and Geneva Yandow in jail after they refused to help prosecutors make a case against their son, a suspect in a rape. The parents said it would violate their Roman Catholic beliefs; Cashman, himself a Catholic, argued otherwise. - AP, 1-13-06

As for Bill O'Reilly, this attack is just another in a long series of prodigiously flawed assaults on public servants, especially judges and district attorneys. While most of his victims are Democrats, he has, as in this case, gone after Republicans on a couple of occasions. This gives him the right to say he's "fair and balanced" when the truth is quite the opposite.

As a man ever in search of new viewers and higher ratings, O'Reilly has learned well the cardinal rule of tabloid journalism, i.e., hot-button issues are sure-fire ratings grabbers that can be counted on to engender a visceral reaction in an established base and also attract a new audience. And, as any good marketer knows, people need a human face on which to focus their attention.

It's hard to arouse anger and bloodlust when discussing a judicial concept or the fine points of law. It''s a lot easier to focus anger if you paint a target on a guy's back and loose the dogs on him, a skill that Bill O'Reilly, much to society's detriment, practices daily on the FOX News Channel.

As for O'Reilly's claim that his two million viewers represent all of America and that Vermont will suffer economically as a result of some kind of Factor boycott, why, I think that should be high on the list as his next "Most Ridiculous Item of the Day."

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