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Who is Wendy Murphy and Why does She Hate O’Reilly Protestors?

Reported by Alex - March 26, 2009 -

On Monday 3/23/09 we were treated to a hateful, lie-a-second tirade by alleged sexual harasser and victim - blamer , Bill O’Reilly against the people who had protested - via email, phone and petition - his appearance at a fundraiser for the rape victim support group It Happened to Alexa. Well, duuuhhhh - he would, wouldn’t he? But what was truly shocking was the appearance of Wendy Murphy, legal advisor to the foundation and Alexa Branchini’s attorney in her civil and criminal rape cases, to contribute to the hate-fest. It strikes this writer as very odd that a woman who has made her name as a victims ’rights advocate - with a take on rape that even some feminists might see as extreme – is “in bed” (so to speak) with a man who called the protesting rape victims and their supporters “loons”. What’s wrong with this picture? Just who is Wendy Murphy and why does she apparently hate those who protest a man who has perpetuated the very myths surrounding rape that she decries?

Okay, folks, this post is somewhat lengthy and analytical. So get yourself a nice cup of coffee or a glass of wine and settle in for a long, but hopefully worthwhile, read:

According to Wendy Murphy’s bio, she is “an ex-prosecutor who specialized in child abuse and sex crimes cases. The first lawyer in the country to run a program to provide free legal services to crime victims, Wendy has been fighting for victims' rights for twenty years…[She] now represents crime victims in civil and criminal cases and teaches an advanced seminar on sexual violence at the New England School of Law in Boston. As an adjunct professor, she also manages the Sexual Violence Legal News and Judicial Language projects at her law school and consults with crime victims across the country to help them achieve justice… [as well as lecturing] widely on victims' rights, sex crimes, violence against women and children, media coverage of crime and the criminal justice system… [and appearing] regularly on cable and network news programs to provide commentary on legal news stories.

On the “Alexa” foundation website Ms. Murphy tells us that, among other things, she has represented victims in criminal and civil cases free of charge, making sure that the victim is aware of her rights and taking steps to protect victims from harm, enforce victims' bill of rights laws, and help them to fight back against intimidation and violation of privacy.

Pretty good, right? But that’s just for starters. Wendy Murphy says that she has “never, ever met a false rape claim…My own statistics speak to the truth” and that

[Rape] is, in fact, the easiest and least expensive crime to investigate and prosecute. The victim takes the stand and says she was forced to have sex without her consent. If the jurors believe her beyond a reasonable doubt, they vote guilty. If not, they vote not guilty… We've never valued women's personal autonomy and bodily integrity enough, and we've always used the law as a way of indulging male entitlement over women's freedom…That we allow defense attorneys to obfuscate and eroticize rape trials as a way of distorting the truth to produce an unfair result only adds insult to injury. ( Boston.com, 11/16/08) (H/T Priscilla)

I’m sure anyone reading this will agree that Wendy’s resume is quite admirable and that it ticks all the required boxes for victims-rights and feminist creds, and then some. So why on earth is the woman who made statements like the above lending support to the blustering, bloviating and blatantly sexist Bill O’Reilly in the smear campaign that he kicked off on Monday night?

Well, as they say, politics makes strange bedfellows, and that may indeed be what makes bedfellows of erstwhile feminist Murphy and the King of Fox News Porn. O’Reilly is well-known for his complaints about what he calls “judicial activism” – in his world, code for “Judges who have minds and use them in line with accepted legal practice to come to conclusions that I disagree with” – complaints that go far beyond the distaste we all feel when, for example, convicted child-molesters and rapists receive apparently light sentences (see here, here,and here for examples of Bill blustering about “activist judges” on other matters). His greatest and most enthusiastic scorn just gushes forth when he gets a chance to combine his routine criticism of “activist judges” with vitriol directed at another dreaded bogeymen, “secular progressives” such as the ACLU (see here).

Yeah, you gotta love it when they're waving the flag of constitutional rights around for kids so they can have sex with adults…It appears to be their policy…that we should -- absolutely, ‘let's celebrate their constitutional right to engage in sex with adults even as young as age 13!’ In other words, [the ACLU] don't want any laws on the books … that make it a crime for a child to be abused by an adult.

Vintage O’Reilly, right?

Wrong! It was non other than Wendy Murphy, falsely describing, in cahoots with O’Reilly on the Factor (quelle suprise!) the ACLU's postion in a child sex abuse case, which was in fact limited to arguing that Kansas law unconstitutionally imposed a higher penalty for sexual conduct between same-sex partners.

It gets worse. Apparently Ms. Murphy is considered something of a loose cannon in the legal world, where statements like the above from her are considered nothing unusual, especially when it comes to cases of sexual assault. Here’s another one :

You [Bill’O’Reilly] say it all the time that the classic liberal left ideology is anti-state, anti-prosecution. It's always bad to lock somebody up. Punishment is bad. That ideology trumps almost everything else. But what I dislike about the media's political bias is they're also supposed to be minding the business of the government, right? And the government has a responsibility to protect, especially defenseless kids, who have no power, no voice, no money -- they don't vote. And that, the media has fallen down on the job about.

Got it. Liberals are bad. The media is liberal and bad. The ACLU is liberal and really bad. But so, apparently, is due process:

“Stop with the presumption of innocence. It doesn’t apply to Duke . . . When they make administrative decisions about student behavior they don’t owe them any due process.” “I’m really tired of people suggesting that you’re somehow un-American if you don’t respect the presumption of innocence, because you know what that sounds like to a victim? Presumption you’re a liar.” “How about the defense attorneys shutting up.”

For those who don’t know, Wendy Murphy made quite a name for herself during the Duke rape case, trumpeting far and wide that of course the Duke three were guilty as hell of raping Crystal Magnum. According to KC Johnson, professor of history at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center (teaching 20th century US political, constitutional, and diplomatic history), his Lexis/Nexis search of her case-related appearances turned up at least 18 occasions in nine months where Murphy made demonstrably untrue statements as well as engaging in “a pattern of wholly unfounded speculation and … routinely denigrated due process.” Even Foxnews.com got in on the act, harshly criticizing Murphy for defaming, and continuing to defame, the Duke lacrosse players even weeks after the charges were dropped, in defense of what the author called the “paradigm of victimhood” by which Murphy earns her living.


So here we have a woman who appears to be a feminist, and who supports victims’ rights (and that is in no doubt), but who in fact is also on a jihad against judges who don’t see things her way and use the powers vested in them to make decisions, agreeable to us or not, based on the merits of individual cases rather than on a strict, one-size-fits-all interpretation of the law. The latter position, known as “strict constructionism”, is embraced by those who believe that they know for a fact exactly what the framers of the Constitution meant when they wrote it, meaning that the Constitution is not at all open to interpretation and is an eternal rather than an historically-embedded document. It is an inherently conservative, anti-liberal position – the same position taken by the far right and used to club liberals over the head when we or “activist judges” champion civil liberties in a way that clashes with their idealistic (and fictional) Leave-It-To-Beaver vision of what America should be (or supposedly once was).

So now we know why Wendy Murphy was, metaphorically, "given a cot in Bill O'Reilly's office so she could be ever-ready to spew” during the Duke rape case, even though she and O’Reilly were on opposite sides of the fence on that one. Apparently trifling issues like the presumption of innocence until proven guilty don’t matter when there is liberal-bashing to be done in the service of reigning in the judiciary.

Yes, Wendy Murphy is a mass of contradictions, and this is why she was able to ignore the fact that so many of those who protested O’Reilly’s appearance at the Alexa foundation’s luncheon were rape and child abuse victims, many of whom shared heart-rending stories along with their signatures on a petition. If she had truly paid attention and been consistent she would have had some sympathy for their feelings even as she expressed unhappiness that the protests had allegedly upset Alexa Branchini and her family. But why be consistent?

I leave you with this gem reported by Newshound Ellen in 2005. Put your coffee down now or you’ll be wiping it off your screen:

"A lot of people don't get convicted and they're guilty” [said Murphy]. “I think Hitler was never convicted either. How innocent was he?" ... 'Innocent until proven guilty' is a presumption in a rule of law that is applied in a courtroom. It doesn't really work in the real world. We, in the real world, are allowed to think what we want. I'm allowed to think that Hitler is guilty.. that OJ is guilty and I'm allowed to think Michael Jackson... "

[Murphy] then made the outrageous statement that Jackson's multi-million dollar settlement in 1993 - which was entirely legal - not only made her think he's guilty, "I call that obstruction of justice."

I told you to put that coffee down!

[H/Ts to Priscilla, Michael J. Mooney, and Concerned Citizens Against Sexual Violence].

Update: Apparently these two have been scratching each others' backs for a good while. I just found this:
"Bill invited me to the Emmy Awards dinner as his “date” (along with a few other Boston friends and pundits who appear on ‘The Factor’). He also wrote the foreword for my book, “And Justice For Some,” gave a talk at the New England School of Law where I teach, at my request, and he hired me to work with him on his Jessica’s Law campaign." How cozy.

PhotobucketWendy Murphy on the Factor, 3/23/09
Screen grab courtesy of Michael J. Mooney, www.browardpalmbeach.com

wendy murphy mouth