Jewish World Review Sept. 23, 2002 / 18 Tishrei, 5763

Bill O'Reilly

Bill O'Reiley
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Consumer Reports

The death of outrage | After a summer of horrendous attacks on children in the United States, the kids are back to school, but we adults remain out to lunch. In Florida, there are still no arrests in the disappearance of 4-year-old Rilya Wilson, a little girl under state supervision. The authorities in the Sunshine State continue to investigate, we are told, but the caseworker assigned to assure Rilya's safety remains uncharged. So does Rilya's "godmother," who apparently cashed assistance checks for months after Rilya went missing and told no one about her disappearance.

Surely neglect and child endangerment charges are being considered, especially since the state caseworker allegedly filed false reports on Rilya while working at another job the state apparently didn't know about. Surely, the Florida authorities are close to doing something -- after all, it's been two years since she disappeared.

And then there is 5-year-old Samantha Runnion and 7-year-old Danielle Van Dam. Vicious men murdered both of these little girls in California. Danielle's killer, David Westerfield, has been convicted and could be sentenced to death in November. But listen to this: The San Diego Union-Tribune is reporting that two lawyers for Westerfield offered prosecutors a deal before the trial began. Westerfield would tell authorities where he buried the little girl's body, and in return the state would not seek the death penalty against him. According to the newspaper, the deal was just hours away from being completed when the police found Danielle's remains on their own. Prosecutors then rejected any agreement.

But the knowledge that their client had indeed killed the little girl didn't deter Westerfield's lawyers one bit. They went into the courtroom and told the jury that Danielle's parents might have let someone into the house and that someone might have murdered the little girl. The attorneys made a big deal about the so-called "swinging lifestyle" of the Van Dams, humiliating them in front of the entire nation. And all the while these lawyers knew that their client brutally molested and murdered the Van Dam's daughter.

Intentionally misleading a jury with a fabrication is a violation of the California Bar's code of ethics, but more importantly, what these attorneys did is so reprehensible that words cannot describe it. Suppose they were successful in creating reasonable doubt with their fabricated scenario and Westerfield was acquitted? Well, he would have walked right out the door and perhaps joined O.J. Simpson on the golf course.

So where is the outrage against those lawyers? Are they pariahs in Southern California? At this point they are not, and a number of other attorneys are even defending their conduct. Depressing and sickening.

Finally, there is the case of little Samantha Runnion, who was kidnapped in front of her home and brutalized beyond belief, her battered body found in the dirt. Police have arrested a man named Alejandro Avila and say they have overwhelming evidence against him. The interesting thing about Avila is that two years ago, he was acquitted of molesting two 9-year-old girls -- both of whom testified against him in court. Avila also volunteered to take a lie-detector test and failed miserably.

But his lawyer confused the little girls on the stand and concocted a scenario that Avila's former girlfriend coerced the girls to accuse him. Of course, there was no evidence of that at all. Nevertheless, Avila walked.

Fox News sued to get the names of the jurors in the case so that we could ask them what swayed their decision. But the court ruled against us -- the names will remain sealed. So Americans will not be able to find out how Avila's acquittal came about.

Avila's lawyer says he just did what the law demands -- he put on an aggressive defense.

But that argument is bogus. What is happening now is that many defense lawyers are creating scenarios based purely on imagination and the judges are allowing them to get away with it. All Americans should be mad as hell about this, but the silence is deafening.

Just consider one final thing: You have a baby daughter. She is murdered. Her alleged killer is on trial, and his attorney is portraying you as an irresponsible parent -- someone whose actions may have led to the killing. But the attorney knows this is a lie, just as you know it is. So what do you think about this attorney?

There is no justice in America when the authorities in Florida refuse to track down those responsible for the disappearance of Rilya Wilson. And there is no justice in this country when attorneys are allowed to brutalize a grieving family and tell lies in an attempt to free a child killer. Two little girls are dead, and another is probably gone as well. And dying right along with them is the American system of justice.

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JWR contributor Bill O'Reilly is host of the Fox News show, "The O'Reilly Factor," and author of the new book, "The No-Spin Zone: Confrontations with the Powerful and Famous in America" Comments by clicking here.


09/17/02: Singing a different tune
09/09/02: Answering my critics about the Roush case
09/03/02: Let's misbehave
08/26/02: Money makes the world go 'round
08/19/02: Long live the King
08/12/02: A friendly reminder
08/05/02: Heaven only knows
07/29/02: Blood money
07/22/02: Suffer the children
07/15/02: Reaching critical mass
07/08/02: Believe it or not
07/01/02: Charity begins at home
06/24/02: Spinning a tale and the case for "Stupid White Men"
06/17/02: Blank those Europeans!
06/10/02: What does Bono want from us?
06/03/02: On fighting evil
05/28/02: A Tale of Two Churches
05/20/02: Crimes against humanity
05/13/02: Silence of the lambs
05/06/02: Hide the children
04/29/02: 'Paul, Paul, Paul!'
04/22/02: Barbarians in the Church
04/15/02: Pray for peace, polish the weapons
03/11/02: Do no harm? Time to spank "Dr. Phil"
03/04/02: Promoting the general welfare
02/25/02: Who's responsible?
02/19/02: Lay it on them
02/11/02: Buy dope, fund terror
02/04/02: Back room deals
01/28/02: From boom to bust
01/21/02: The Fairness Doctrine
01/14/02: Hey, Paula, take it to the bank and hush up
01/07/02: And justice for none
12/31/01: All that's left
12/24/01: Santa is appalled
12/17/01: Fight the power
12/10/01: The black challenge
12/03/01: How things have changed
11/26/01: Waiting in the Bushes
11/19/01: The sign of the Cross
11/09/01: Hollyweird strikes back
11/06/01: The fear factor
10/26/01: Show me the money
10/22/01: See no evil
10/15/01: Peace, but no quiet
10/08/01: The air war
10/01/01: I don't understand
09/24/01: We are all soldiers, and we have a job to do
09/14/01: Evil on display
09/11/01: Family matters!
09/04/01: End of summer blues
08/27/01: Summertime -- and the livin' ain't easy
08/20/01: The rap on rap
08/13/01: The truth hurts
08/06/01: Amnesty for illegals: Bush's political investment
07/30/01: The big picture on Condit-Levy
07/24/01: Silence of the Shams
07/16/01: Condit, Kennedy and cable news
07/09/01: Heather needs a childhood: The unnecessary loss of innocence
07/02/01: What would have happened if Steven Spielberg had recut "Schindler's List" for German audiences so they wouldn't be confronted with "emotional issues"?
06/25/01: Freak dancing
06/18/01: Work or die
06/11/01: Soundbite nation
06/04/01: Paying through the nose
05/29/01: Graduation Day 2001
05/21/01: Accepting the unacceptable
05/14/01: The Clinton legacy
05/07/01: Kerrey's ordeal
04/27/01: Is the party over?
04/20/01: Racism in public education
04/16/01: The fleecing of America
04/10/01: People who need perspective
04/03/01: Dubya's bottom line --- and ours
03/27/01: Don't tell, don't ask
03/20/01: Greenspan with envy
03/13/01: Clinton and Jackson
03/07/01: All that's left in America
02/27/01: The Letterman experience
02/20/01: Bread and circuses
02/06/01: How the Clintons do it
01/30/01: The Bush dilemma
01/24/01: I have been investigating Jackson's finances for the past two years
01/17/01: Sifting Ashcroft's record

© 2001 Creators Syndicate