An early look at how Clinton deals with crisis

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The victim was visibly stunned when handed the affidavit by a reporter this fall. "It kind of shocks me - it's not true," she said. "I never said anybody attacked my body before, never in my life."

In December, when Clinton was campaigning in Iowa, the woman was being released from a state prison after serving a year for forging checks to pay for her methamphetamine addiction.

She doesn't blame Taylor for all her problems, but says the incident continues to haunt her, compounding her bouts of depression and anxiety.

"I remember a lot of bad things about what he did to me in that pickup of his," said the woman, who says she attempted suicide a year after the incident. "I've had a lot of counseling and saw a psychiatrist for five to ten years ... It really affected me mentally. I was always kind of scared to be alone with a guy afterwards."

In the early 1970s, Rodham studied children with similar problems as a Yale Law School student working at the university's renowned child study center. As part of her course work, she helped train medical personnel to identify physical and behavioral clues of child abuse at the Yale- New Haven Hospital.

"She's clearly wired to be empathetic, concerned and can-do about children," said Penn Rhodeen, a New Haven Legal Aid lawyer who worked with Rodham on a foster-care case while she was at Yale. "It's personal to her."

Rodham's fluency on the topic is evident in her filings. "I have ... been told by an expert in child psychology that children in early adolescence tend to exaggerate or romanticize sexual experience and that adolescents with disorganized families, such as the complainant's, are even more prone to such behavior," she wrote in her July 28 affidavit. "She exhibits an unusual stubbornness and temper when she does not get her way."

Prosecution case crumbles

The judge granted Rodham's request for the exam, but the results, like the other prosecution files, were apparently lost in the flood.

By the fall of 1975, the prosecution's case was crumbling under pressure from Rodham and other factors relating to the evidence and the witnesses.

Taylor was a tight-lipped client, never wavering from his claim that he'd driven all the passengers home that night without stopping in the ravine, according to Dale Gibson. (Taylor was less guarded around his 15-year-old companion, who recalls the older man whispering "Let's keep our stories straight" when the two met in county jail.)

Most damaging to the case, the retired detective says, was the girl's "infatuation" with the teenage boy, which she refused to admit, leading to serious inconsistencies in her statements about the incident.

The victim says it was her mother, who had recently been abandoned by her husband, who pushed for a quick plea deal to avoid the humiliation of having her daughter testify in open court. The mother, who died several years ago, was so eager to end the ordeal she coached her daughter's statements and interrupted interviews with police, Dale Gibson recalls.

"We both wanted it to be over with," the victim told Newsday. "They kept asking me the same questions over and over. I was crying all the time."

On Nov. 4 that year, Mahlon Gibson agreed to reduce the charges from first-degree rape to unlawful fondling of a minor under the age of 14, which carried a five-year sentence. During the plea hearing, Cummings asked Rodham to leave the room while sexually explicit details of the case were discussed with the girl. "I can't talk about any of these things in front of a lady," he told her, according to the senator's autobiography.

She refused and Cummings interviewed the girl in court. A few minutes later, he reduced Taylor's five-year sentence to four years probation and a year in county jail - with two months taken off for time he had already served.

Taylor was out of jail by the summer of 1976 and remained on probation until 1980. There's no record that he was ever incarcerated or charged with a serious crime again in Arkansas or Missouri, where he relocated.

Rodham was paid a $250 retainer for her services, minus 10 percent for court costs, records show. In her book, Hillary Clinton says the case spurred her to create the first rape hotline in Arkansas.

In 2005, while working in a laundry, the victim stole several hundred dollars worth of checks from her boss to buy drugs. She is now living in a halfway house and looking for work.

Despite these problems, she bears Hillary Rodham Clinton no ill will and was eager to read "Living History" - at least pages 72 and 73, which contain her case.

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