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Local woman matches wits with O'Reilly

LAWRENCEVILLE - Christy Mellinger didn't convince Bill O'Reilly of her cause, but he complimented her debating skills.

The Suwanee woman appeared on Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor" on Tuesday night as one of six winners of the "Bloviate with Bill" contest.

O'Reilly filmed the episode in Los Angeles, where he was promoting "Jessica's Law," a sexual predator bill named after Jessica Lunsford, who died in Florida last year.

But Mellinger said the mandatory sentencing minimums outlined in the California proposal could make it difficult to prosecute people of sex crimes.

The clinical social worker pointed out that many convictions occur when people admit their crimes and plead guilty. With the minimums, though, that would be less likely, she said.

"I'm concerned that if we take that option away, these guys are not going to plead guilty and the cases are going to go to trial, risking them being loose without any jail time," Mellinger said.

O'Reilly argued that punishments should be stiff to match the crime's impact on a child's life.

In the end, he wasn't swayed by the blond Georgia woman.

"You know, I think she did very well," O'Reilly said at the end of his show.

About 30 minutes after Mellinger's Fox News debut, 286 viewers gave her a C+ on a poll on O'Reilly's Web site.