Fox News host Bill O'Reilly smeared Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring by accusing him of turning a blind eye to child rape. In reality, Herring simply told health officials that teen pregnancy alone is not evidence of child abuse.
O'Reilly Accuses Herring Of Not Caring “If Little Girls Are Raped.”
Fox's Bill O'Reilly: Herring Has Said “No, We In The Commonwealth Of Virginia Don't Care If Little Girls Are Raped.” On the October 7 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly reported on a legal opinion Herring issued to the state health commissioner. O'Reilly claimed that the opinion showed that Herring doesn't care if minors are raped, and added that “it's now open season on little girls in Virginia” :
O'REILLY: The attorney general is Mark Herring - very liberal man - who is now saying to the people of the Commonwealth of Virginia, 'I will not enforce the statutory rape laws for girls 13 to 15,' is that correct?
GUILFOYLE: Yes. He's saying that it's his opinion that specifically they don't need to make a report of crime of carnal knowledge of a child between the ages of 13 and 15 years of age. This is not law though, this is an opinion that he is giving to give direction -
O'REILLY: But he's not going to enforce it.
GUILFOYLE: He's also not going to enforce it -
O'REILLY: Right, so just to be clear here, just to be very clear: statutory rape is of a minor, and then when an abortion clinic or a doctor or a nurse or whatever finds that that has happened they have to report it by law to state authorities. [CROSSTALK] But Herring says no, we in the Commonwealth of Virginia don't care if little girls are raped. We don't care because, I the Attorney General, am too damn lazy, or an ideological zealot, or both, to enforce this law. Do I have it wrong?
GUILFOYLE: You have it absolutely correct. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 10/7/14]
In Reality, Decision Holds That Teen Pregnancy Alone Not Sufficient Evidence To Report Abuse By Parents Or Caretaker
Richmond Times-Dispatch: Teen Pregnancy Alone “Does Not Provide Enough Evidence To Trigger The Reporting Requirement.” An October 7 editorial in the Richmond Times-Dispatch pointed out that Herring's opinion is in line with the Code of Virginia (emphasis added):
The outrage and fury, however, are misplaced. In a September letter to state Health Commissioner Marissa Levine, Herring cites chapter and verse from the Code of Virginia. The code stipulates that nurses and certain other professionals must report suspected cases of child abuse and neglect. That can include sexual contact with minors, but only if a parent or guardian “commits or allows to be committed” such exploitation.
A 14-year-old can get pregnant without her parents' knowledge. Since allowing something requires knowing about it in advance, the mere fact of a pregnancy does not imply that a parent committed the sex act, or even permitted it. By itself, it does not provide enough evidence to trigger the reporting requirement for suspected child abuse as defined in state law. (It does, however, provide ample grounds to suspect statutory rape -- and nothing in state law forbids reporting that.) [Richmond Times-Dispatch, 10/7/14]