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Jewish World Review Feb. 6, 2006 / 8 Shevat 5766

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Darfur vs. Vermont | Here's an update on that young Vermont girl whose life has been made a living hell by a justice system that literally could not care less about her. You may remember that 34-year-old Mark Hulett pleaded guilty to raping the child over a four-year period beginning when she was just 6 years old. The judge in the case frowned when he heard the confession and promptly sentenced the vicious criminal to 60 days in prison. A few journalists, including myself, picked up on the outrage and, under enormous pressure, Cashman was forced to change the sentence to three years.

The girl is now 10 years old and is being raised by foster parents. Vermont authorities believe her mother and stepfather are incapable of properly protecting the child. She is undergoing counseling and is in school, but, according to those who see her every day, she's confused and unhappy.

Surely this young girl's human rights have been violated; no person on this earth should have to suffer the way she has.

A few weeks ago in this space, I wrote about New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who criticized me for reporting on the Christmas controversy. Kristof believes that I fabricated the Yule story. He also accused me of ignoring "real" stories like the suffering in the Sudan.

On Dec. 18, Kristof wrote: "So I have a challenge for Mr. O'Reilly: If you really want to defend traditional values, then come with me on a trip to Darfur. I'll introduce you to mothers who have had their babies clubbed to death in front of them, to teenage girls who have been gang-raped "

Now, I would love to report from Darfur and raise awareness of that terrible situation. But as Kristof must know, I do three hours of daily news analysis on TV and radio. There's no way I can go to Africa in light of that obligation. I'm glad Kristof can go, however, because somebody needs to spotlight the situation.


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But an interesting thing happened shortly after that Kristof column: the 60-day sentence for a child rapist came to light. Because Kristof had referenced teenage rape in his criticism of me, I fully expected to see him and The New York Times all over the Vermont story. After all, this human rights violation happened just a few hundred miles north of New York City.

But The New York Times did not cover the Vermont story — did not even mention it. And there was not a word from my pal Nicholas Kristof, the human rights guy.

So what's going on here?

The truth is, I don't know. I am stunned the Times, The Boston Globe and the other big liberal newspapers barely mentioned the story. Surely this little girl is one of the downtrodden in our society. Aren't liberal press advocates champions of the downtrodden?

So maybe Nicholas Kristof can write another column explaining to me why the Vermont child does not matter to him or his newspaper.

I hope that doesn't sound bitter, because I don't mean it to be. I am genuinely perplexed by the sanctimonious left-wing press, who doesn't consider a 60-day jail term for a child rapist an outrage.

While The New York Times rails against alleged human rights violations in Guantanamo Bay and other far-off places, it apparently has no interest in protecting poor American children from predators and bad judges.

Something isn't right here. What say you on the left?

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JWR contributor Bill O'Reilly is host of the Fox News show, "The O'Reilly Factor," and author of, most recently, "Who's Looking Out for You?" Comments by clicking here.

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