EXCLUSIVE: Child rape victim comes forward for the first time in 40 years to call Hillary Clinton a ‘liar’ who defended her rapist by smearing her, blocking evidence and callously laughing that she knew he was guilty
- ‘Hillary Clinton is not for women and children,’ says Kathy Shelton, 54, who was 12 years old when she was raped by Thomas Alfred Taylor in Arkansas
- Clinton was the rapist’s defense lawyer, pleading him down to ‘unlawful fondling of a minor’
- The 41-year-old drifter served less than a year in prison
- The plea came after Clinton was able to block the admission of forensic evidence that linked her client to the crime
- Shelton says she’s furious that Clinton has been portraying herself as a lifelong advocate of women and girls on the campaign trail
- Clinton accused Shelton of ‘seeking out older men’ in the case and demanded that she undergo a grueling court-ordered psychiatric examination
- The presidential candidate later laughed while discussing aspects of the case in a recently-unearthed audiotaped interview from the 1980s
A child rape victim says she cannot forgive Hillary Clinton for defending her rapist in court 40 years ago, saying the Democratic presidential candidate attacked her credibility despite knowing that her assailant was guilty – and later laughed about it in a taped interview.
Kathy Shelton was just 12 years old when a 41-year-old drifter raped her on the side of a desolate Arkansas road in 1975.
Now, four decades later, she has agreed to be named and pictured for the first time in this Daily Mail Online exclusive because she is furious that her rapist’s defense attorney – Hillary Clinton – has been portraying herself as a lifelong advocate of women and girls on the campaign trail.
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Kathy Shelton was just 12 years old when 41-year-old Thomas Alfred Taylor raped her on a desolate Arkansas road in 1975
Clinton (pictured in 1974 as a lawyer for the Rodino Committee) served as Taylor’s lawyer in 1975, when she was just 27 years old
‘It’s put a lot of anger back in me,’ said Shelton, now 54, in an exclusive interview at her Springdale, Arkansas, home in August. ‘Every time I see [Clinton] on TV I just want to reach in there and grab her, but I can’t do that.’
In 1975, Clinton served as the defense lawyer for Thomas Alfred Taylor, a 41-year-old factory worker accused of raping Shelton after luring her to his car.
Taylor pleaded down to ‘unlawful fondling of a minor’ and served less than a year in prison after Clinton was able to block the admission of forensic evidence that linked her client to the crime.
In a lengthy interview with the Daily Mail Online, Shelton said Clinton is ‘lying’ when she claims to be a lifelong defender of women and girls.
Shelton said Clinton accused her during the case of ‘seeking out older men’, and demanded that the 12-year-old undergo a grueling court-ordered psychiatric examination to determine whether she was ‘mentally unstable’.
‘I don’t think [Clinton’s] for women or girls. I think she’s lying, I think she said anything she can to get in the campaign and win,’ Shelton said. ‘If she was [an advocate for women and children], she wouldn’t have done that to me at 12 years old.’
While Shelton gave an anonymous interview to the Daily Beast in 2014, she said wants to start speaking out publicly, in part because ‘I think a lot of people would look at [Clinton] in a different way’ after hearing her story directly.
‘I want to speak to the world. Out there at the White House, so everyone can hear me,’ said Shelton. ‘That’s always been my thing since the anger’s built up. I want to speak out like [Clinton] does, and let the whole world hear it.’
For decades, Shelton said she had no idea that Clinton was the same woman as the lawyer who defended her rapist in 1975.
During the case, Clinton accused the 12-year-old of ‘seek[ing] out older men’ and ‘engag[ing] in fantasizing’ in court affidavits, and later laughed while discussing aspects of the case in a recently-unearthed audiotape from the 1980s.
On the audiotape, Clinton indicated that she believed Taylor, her client, was guilty, saying that his ability to pass a lie detector test ‘forever destroyed my faith in polygraphs’.
Shelton’s (pictured left as a child and right as an adult) rapist’s defenses lawyer was now-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Shelton says she’s furious that Clinton has been portraying herself as a lifelong advocate of women and girls on the campaign trail
She also laughed while describing how she was able to get a world-famous New York City blood expert to question the admissibility of forensic evidence that was misplaced by the crime lab after it was tested.
The tape, which Shelton said discredits the notion that Clinton truly cared about protecting young girls, raises new questions that she wants to ask Clinton directly.
‘I heard you on tape laughing,’ said Shelton. ‘I just want to know, you’ve got a daughter and a grandbaby. What happens if that daughter of yours, if that would have been her [who was assaulted at age 12]?’
‘You would have protected her. You don’t know me, so I’m a piece of crap to you,’ added Shelton, who lives in the same small northwest Arkansas town where she was raised by a single mother. ‘Who cares about me, as long as you can win your first case as an attorney?’
The criticism of Clinton comes as Democrats seek to highlight the candidate’s early career legal work in support of women and children.
At the Democratic National Convention last month, the candidate and her surrogates repeatedly highlighted Clinton’s year-long stint at the Children’s Defense Fund after she graduated from law school in 1973.
‘I went to work for the Children’s Defense Fund, going door-to-door in New Bedford, Massachusetts, on behalf of children with disabilities who were denied the chance to go to school,’ said Clinton in her speech.
‘It became clear to me that simply caring is not enough. To drive real progress, you have to change both hearts and laws,’ she added.
Former president Bill Clinton also praised his wife’s work at the Children’s Defense Fund, and Donna Brazile told the convention that during that in the 1970s, ‘Hillary didn’t want to talk about anything other than how to make children’s lives better’.
One year after her job at the Children’s Defense Fund ended, 27-year-old Clinton moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas, where she married Bill Clinton.
There, she helped launch a legal aid clinic at the University of Arkansas, which provided legal advice to individuals who could not afford it.
Shelton (pictured aged 12 with her mother) was raised in Springdale, Arkansas by a single mother
In 1975, Clinton was given the most consequential criminal case of her legal career – defending Taylor on charges of first degree rape, after the defendant requested a female attorney.
Since then, Clinton has spoken about the case only rarely, writing in her biography that she successfully ‘cast doubt on the evidentiary value of semen and blood samples the prosecutor claimed proved the defendant’s guilt in the rape’.
After the Roy Reed interview was published in 2014, Clinton defended her role, saying that as an attorney she was required to defend her client to the best of her ability, despite the nature of the crime.
‘I asked to be relieved of that responsibility but I was not and I had a professional duty to represent my client to the best of my ability, which I did,’ Clinton said.
According to Shelton, Clinton’s public response left many questions unanswered.
‘She didn’t mention that she was laughing and saying [Taylor] was guilty. I guess as a lawyer it is your responsibility to defend someone,’ Shelton said.
‘But if she’s for women and children, why would she defend someone knowing that a 12-year-old got raped?’ she added.
Shelton said she ‘wasn’t surprised’ that Clinton has yet to express sympathy for the plight she went through as a victim.
She said: ‘If she brought it up there would probably be some questions asked that she wouldn’t be able to answer.
‘Because after laughing on that tape, she’s pretty much stuck in knowing that she lied, knowing that it happened to me. And that tape’s out there to be listened to by anybody.’
On May 10, 1975, Shelton, an outgoing 12-year-old tomboy, had been riding her bike around the neighborhood when she first encountered Taylor – who worked at a paper factory at the time – and an underage male at one of her friend’s houses.
Shelton still lives in the same small northwest Arkansas town where she was. Pictured above is her home in Springdale
The Washington County Sherriff’s Office said the case files from the assault were unavailable and may have been lost in a flood, making it difficult to compile an independent account of the case.
But according to a timeline reported by Newsday in 2008, Shelton got into Taylor’s truck after he said he would take her to get a soda.
Taylor drove to a ‘weedy ravine’, where he and his 15-year-old male acquaintance raped her.
Taylor and his 15-year-old accomplice denied raping Shelton, although one unnamed witness of the attack told prosecutors that he overheard Taylor sexually assaulting Shelton, according to court records.
‘They denied it and said I asked for it,’ said Shelton. ‘Do you think I would ask to have several stitches down there and not have kids? No, I wouldn’t.’
Shelton said she was a virgin before she was raped, and her mother was very strict about her relationships with members of the opposite sex.
‘My mom didn’t even let me start dating until 18 and then I didn’t want to because of what happened,’ said Shelton. ‘I didn’t deserve it…I was a virgin, let’s put it that way, when it happened. And I was totally freaked out.’
Shelton said she was physically beaten during the attack.
‘I can’t cuss, but [Taylor] was calling me the ‘b’ word, and [saying] ‘You like it, you know it’,’ said Shelton. ‘Slapping me and hitting me with his fist.’
A witness to the assault told the prosecutor that ‘he overheard Thomas Taylor having had sexual relations with the victim’.
Medical examinations ‘reflected that the victim herein had, in fact, had sexual relations consistent with the time stated by her wherein she was attacked,’ according to court filings.
Shelton said she managed to escape her attackers to a nearby house that had a light on, and later woke up in the hospital.
Shelton, pictured biting into an ice cream bar at a Baskin Robbins shortly after the attack, said it took her a long time to trust men again following the traumatizing rape
Shelton recounted the brutal assault that she said left her with severe internal and external injuries. She said she was knocked into a coma, and later required stitches in her genital area.
‘When I came out of the coma, I had several stitches down there. They tore me up bad,’ she said. ‘The doctors said there was a 99 percent chance I couldn’t have kids. I have been with a couple men after that, it took me a long time to grow there. But I never had any kids.’
As a result of the attack, Shelton said doctors told her it was unlikely she would ever be able to have children. She said she was devastated by the prognosis.
‘When I was younger I really wanted a kid so bad,’ said Shelton, who has never had children. ‘I love kids.’
Hillary Clinton, pictured above in 1979 with husband Bill, was Taylor’s defense lawyer. Despite spending years working for the Children’s Defense Fund, once Clinton was appointed she dove in to defend her client with characteristic vigor
On May 13, 1975, Taylor was charged with first-degree rape, which carried a sentence of 30 years to life in prison.
Although the court initially appointed a male attorney to represent him, Taylor later demanded a female lawyer.
The lawyer Taylor received was Hillary Clinton, who has given varying accounts about how she ended up on the case.
In an unpublished interview in the 1980s with Arkansas reporter Roy Reed – which was first reported by the Washington Free Beacon in 2014 – Clinton said she agreed to take the case as a personal favor to the prosecutor.
‘The prosecutor called me a few years ago, he said he had a guy who had been accused of rape, and the guy wanted a woman lawyer,’ said Clinton in the interview. ‘Would I do it as a favor for him?’
HILLARY CAUGHT LAUGHING ABOUT RAPE CASE ON TAPE
Hillary Clinton joked about the guilt of an accused child rapist she defended in court, according to long-buried audio recordings from the 1980s that were first published in 2014.
During a taped interview with Arkansas reporter Roy Reed in the 1980s, Clinton can be heard laughing at several points while recounting her legal defense of Thomas Alfred Taylor, the 41-year-old man who was accused of raping a 12-year-old girl in 1975.
‘I had [Taylor] take a polygraph. Which he passed – which forever destroyed my faith in polygraphs,’ said Clinton, chuckling.
Although the interview was not published at the time, Reed later donated the recording to the University of Arkansas Special Collections library. It was first published by the Washington Free Beacon in 2014.
Clinton said the ‘sad part’ of the case was the ‘prosecutors had evidence,’ including Taylor’s underwear that was stained with blood and semen. According to Clinton, crime lab investigators cut out the stained section of fabric when they tested it, but accidentally threw it away afterward – which gave Clinton an opening to get the key piece of evidence against her client tossed.
Clinton took the underwear to New York where she tracked down a famous forensics expert, who confirmed for her that there was no material left on the underwear for the defense to independently test.
Clinton said she returned to Arkansas and handed the prosecutor a clipping of the renowned forensic expert’s biography.
‘And I said, ‘Well, this guy’s ready to come from New York to prevent this miscarriage of justice,’ said Clinton, laughing. ‘So we were gonna plea bargain.’
The charges against Clinton’s client were dropped from first degree rape – which carried a 30-years-to-life prison sentence – to unlawful fondling of a minor. Taylor was sentenced to less than a year in prison.
On the recording, Clinton said she took the case – in which Taylor was accused of raping a 12-year-old girl after luring her into his car – as a favour to the prosecutor.
‘A prosecutor called me years ago, said that he had a guy who was accused of rape, and the guy wanted a woman lawyer,’ said Clinton. ‘Would I do it as a favour to him?’
Clinton gave a slightly different account in 2014 after the tape was published. She said she was appointed to the case and had asked the judge to remove her, but the judge ordered her to stay on. The prosecutor told CNN a similar story.
Later, Clinton said she was ordered by the court to defend Taylor, and unsuccessfully petitioned the judge to remove her from the case.
The prosecutor gave a similar account to CNN in 2014.
Whatever the circumstances, once Clinton was appointed she dove in to defend her client with characteristic vigor.
One of Clinton’s first moves was to raise questions about the credibility of the 12-year-old victim.
In a July 18, 1975, affidavit, Clinton asked the court to order Shelton to undergo a psychiatric examination from a doctor selected by the Taylor’s legal team.
The evaluation was necessary, she argued, because Shelton was ’emotionally unstable.’
‘I have been informed that the complainant is emotionally unstable with a tendency to seek out older men and engage in fantasizing,’ wrote Clinton. ‘I have also been informed that she has in the past made false accusations about persons, claiming they had attacked her body.’
The 12-year-old girl also ‘exhibits an unusual stubbornness and temper when she does not get her way’, argued Clinton.
Clinton has been portraying herself as a lifelong advocate of women and girls on the campaign trail
Shelton said Clinton accused her during the case of ‘seeking out older men’ in court papers
Clinton made a motion for Shelton to go through a psychiatric exam as part of the 1975 trial
Clinton said she spoke to a child psychology expert who told her that ‘children in early adolescence tend to exaggerate or romanticize sexual experiences’, and that this was particularly true for ‘adolescents with disorganized families,’ such as Shelton’s.
Although Clinton’s legal maneuver would likely be prohibited today under Arkansas rape shield act, the law was not passed until two years after the case.
Shelton said one of her worst memories of the case was being questioned repeatedly by appointed experts.
‘It got so bad that I told my mom I wasn’t going back, and whatever happened, happened,’ said Shelton. ‘It’s sad that a 12-year-old had to go through what I had to go through, because for days I cried and cried and cried over it.’
In the end, the psychiatric examination wouldn’t make or break the case, Clinton disclosed in her interview with Reed.
The prosecution’s case centered around forensic evidence – a pair of blood-and-semen stained underwear worn by Taylor.
‘The sad thing was,’ said Clinton, ‘The prosecutor had evidence. A pair of underpants, which was bloody.’
But, Clinton explained, the crime lab had accidentally thrown away the soiled section of cloth after testing it.
She took the remnants of the underwear to a renowned forensic expert in New York City.
He told Clinton there was not enough blood left on the clothing for the defense team to conduct its own independent testing.
Clinton returned to Arkansas and presented the prosecutor with the famed forensic expert’s biography.
‘I said, ‘This guy’s ready to come from New York to prevent this miscarriage of justice’,’ Clinton told Reed, breaking into laughter. ‘So we were gonna plea bargain.’
Shelton said she decided to start speaking out publicly, in part because ‘I think a lot of people would look at [Clinton] in a different way’ after hearing her story directly
The prosecution affidavit shows that investigator Kim Smith spoke to people who Shelton said were present when the incident occurred
Taylor, who had been facing 30 years to life in prison, was able to plead to significantly reduced charges.
‘Got [Taylor] off with time served in the county jail,’ Clinton said. ‘He’d been in the county jail about two months.’
According to court records, Taylor was sentenced to one year in the county jail with two months reduced for time served.
At one point on the tape, Clinton suggested to Reed that she believed Taylor was guilty of rape.
‘Of course, [Taylor] denied [raping her]… I had him take a polygraph, which he passed – which forever destroyed my faith in polygraphs,’ said Clinton, chuckling.
Shelton said this was one of the most upsetting parts of the tape.
‘[Clinton] was just trying to make herself big and look good, and it’s what she’s doing now,’ said Shelton. ‘She’s not for women or children.
‘I think if she got called in another case of a rape, and she didn’t know the people, I think she’d do the same thing again.’
Shelton said she has led a difficult life since 1975. She previously struggled with drug addiction, and, about a decade ago, she served time in prison for fraudulent checks.
Shelton told a Newsday reporter who interviewed her in jail in 2008 that she had no hard feelings toward Clinton for defending Taylor.
But she said after the memories of the case came back and the Roy Reed tapes were released, she is no longer forgiving.
‘I’ve been in trouble before… and I think it’s because of the life I led,’ said Shelton. ‘That can make you think bad thoughts, and go down a wrong road, thinking I’m no good.’
The city of Springdale, where Shelton grew up and still lives, is the fourth largest city in Arkansas
Taylor, who was 41 at the time, was charged with rape in the first degree after attacking Shelton in 1975
The rape in the first degree saw a sentence of 30 years to life, but in the end, Taylor was sentenced to only one year in prison
Shelton said for years after the assault she also found it difficult to have friendships with men or be alone with them.
‘For years I would hardly even be around men,’ she said. ‘I felt like I wanted nothing to do with men at all. I would dress like a guy so they’d leave me alone.’
Shelton, who says she’s is a lesbian, also said she has not dated for many years and prefers to be on her own.
Since 2008, Shelton said she has turned her life around. She lives in a modest rental house in the same town where she was born.
She likes to spend time at home with her two cousins and their children, who call her ‘Aunt Kathy’, and other friends in the area.
Shelton went to therapy for over a decade after the rape.
In one photo of her taken shortly after the attack, she gives a toothy smile as she bites into an ice cream bar at a Baskin Robbins.
Her brown hair is cut in a shaggy style and she is wearing a boyish button-down plaid shirt.
She said the photo was taken by her therapist, remembering that she was allowed to take that day off from school.
In the photo, Shelton looks younger than her 12 years. Today she looks older than 54, with wrinkles and heavy bags under her piercing blue eyes.
She said she sometimes finds it hard to talk about the attack, all these years later.
‘Sometimes I still break down and cry, since it’s been brought back up,’ she said. ‘I’m trying right now not to tear up, but it’s kind of hard sometimes.’
But she said that won’t stop her from speaking out about what she went through – even if it is politically uncomfortable for one of the world’s most powerful women.
‘I’m being restored for something that was stolen from me,’ she said.