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CNN CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT

Debate Over Corporal Punishment Rages; Do Animal Cruelty Laws Have Teeth?

Aired August 27, 2002 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CONNIE CHUNG, HOST: Good evening. I'm Connie Chung.
Tonight: Prosecutors move closer to an indictment in the Oregon murders.

ANNOUNCER: A community copes with a staggering tragedy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GORDON HUIRAS, OREGON CITY POLICE CHIEF: The state medical examiner's office has advised that these remains have been identified through dental records as those of Ashley Pond.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: As the FBI focuses on Ward Weaver, the prime suspect in the missing Oregon girls case, tonight a look into a violent and troubled family.

The Kennedy cousin awaits his fate. Michael Skakel could face life behind bars for the murder of Martha Moxley. And now a new twist: Did the prosecution suppress evidence of another possible suspect?

Spare the rod?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VICKY WATERS, MOTHER: We do not believe in corporal punishment. We do not believe in our children being hit with boards. And she said, "Well, that's what we do."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: As your children return to school, do they face a spanking for misbehavior?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE WATERS, FATHER: As a parent, you always feel like there's something else you could have done to stop what happened.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: "Crisis in the Classroom": corporal punishment, discipline or abuse?

Her landlord said the cats had to go and then used a shotgun to do the job.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

APRIL RITCH, PET OWNER: He shot the girls. He shot the girls.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Tonight: Do animal cruelty laws have any teeth?

This is CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT. Live from the CNN Broadcast Center in New York: Connie Chung.

CHUNG: Good evening, everyone.

Tonight: The case of two missing Oregon girls reaches an ending and begins a new stage. First, there was confirmation the remains found on Ward Weaver's property were identified as Miranda Gaddis and Ashley Pond; then today official confirmation prosecutors will seek to indict Weaver and charge him with murder.

The search of his property is over, but the search for what happened is still under way, and so is Oregon City's struggle to come to terms with the loss of two of its own.

CNN's Rusty Dornin is there on the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Words that brought closure were ones no one really wanted to hear.

HUIRAS: The state medical examiner's office has advised that these remains have been identified through dental records as those of Ashley Pond.

DORNIN: Finding the bodies of 13-year-old Miranda Gaddis and Ashley Pond in the yard of 39-year-old Ward Weaver came as no surprise to some neighbors here, neighbors like Jennifer Alvarado, who lived next door to Miranda Gaddis. Gaddis disappeared in March, her body found in Weaver's shed on Saturday.

JENNIFER ALVARADO, NEIGHBOR: Everybody kind of had suspicious that this might have been the case, because the girls would not have gone with anybody they didn't know. And way too many kids trusted Mr. Weaver.

DORNIN: Hundreds continue to bring tributes here: a letter, a candle, notes of love and sadness.

Nine-year-old Mercedes Alvarado brought a teddy bear.

MERCEDES ALVARADO, NEIGHBOR: We miss Miranda. She was our next- door neighbor. Well, we loved her because she used to be some of the baby-sitters around our apartment.

DORNIN: A case with so many disturbing questions. Weaver gave permission for dogs to search his property after Ashley Pond disappeared. Why was nothing discovered? Were the bodies moved? Questions the FBI won't answer.

CHARLES MATHEWS, FBI: The search of the property concluded late last night. And we are confident that we have obtained the evidence that's there and in a format suitable to assist the prosecution.

DORNIN: One bizarre question continues to loom: Did the sins of the father become those of the son? Ward Weaver's father is on death row, convicted of clubbing to death a man and raping and killing the man's fiancee. Then, after moving the body three times, he buried the woman in his own backyard. Did his son follow a similar path?

Ron Shumaker prosecuted Weaver's father in 1981.

RON SHUMAKER, KERN COUNTY PROSECUTOR: I don't think it's genes. Whether he just wanted to be like his dad, I don't know -- whether he could do it and get away with it. I don't have a clue.

DORNIN: Prosecutors here are building a case to give to a grand jury.

QUESTION: Are you seeking an indictment of Mr. Ward Weaver?

GREG HORNER, CLACKAMAS COUNTY DEPUTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: We'll present the case to the grand jury and we will seek an indictment, yes.

DORNIN: At Weaver's house, neighbors continue to search for solace. Ellen Lewis brought her five children. She knew both victims. Her daughter was on the dance team with both girls.

ELLEN LEWIS, FRIEND: I'm just -- I'm devastated. I'm just totally devastated.

DORNIN: For now, the fence designed to keep people out of the search site will stay up, giving this community a chance to mourn its loss.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DORNIN: And we've just noticed, Connie, that the people here just keep flocking to this site. The numbers just aren't diminishing. Meantime, the community will hold a memorial service for the girls at the Oregon City High School on Thursday night.

Now, we did talk to the attorney for Ward Weaver, who says that he is not expecting any charges to be filed against his client for maybe two, up to four weeks. He also says, when that does happen, he will apply for a change of venue because of the massive media publicity -- Connie.

CHUNG: Rusty, the investigators found the second body, identified it as Ashley Pond, but continued digging in the area. Why?

DORNIN: It was interesting, Connie, because they kept saying that they did not expect to find any other remains. But they did want to keep searching for other evidence. And they were using a lot of high-tech equipment to do that. They did find some other barrels apparently similar to the one that Ashley Pond was buried in. But they kept saying they weren't looking for more remains, but they just wanted to make sure they got all the evidence.

CHUNG: Now, Ward Weaver's backyard was searched before. And dogs went through that entire area. Is it possible that the dogs missed the bodies? Or is it possible, do you think, that in fact the bodies were not there at that time and were moved there later?

DORNIN: Those are the questions that keep cropping up, because, apparently the dogs -- he did give permission. And the dogs came on to the property and did even go into the shed, which apparently -- which is where Miranda Gaddis' body was found.

Also something interesting was that Ashley Pond disappeared in January. She was buried underneath the concrete slab. Now, he didn't even pour this concrete slab until some time in March. So there are a lot of questions about whether there is a possibility he could have moved the bodies before he buried them, if indeed he did.

(CROSSTALK)

CHUNG: Yes, absolutely.

Rusty Dornin, thank you so much, in Oregon City.

Now, one question that hangs over this story is: What did people know about Ward Weaver and when did they know it? Weaver reportedly had a number of teenage girls visit his house. Many of them were friends of his daughter Malorie (ph). One of Malorie Weaver's best friends is Vanessa Schiel. She was often at Weaver's house, going to church and family dinners with him and Malorie.

And Vanessa joins us now from Oregon City, with her mother, Rita.

Thank you so much for being with us, Rita and Vanessa.

RITA SCHIEL, ACQUAINTANCE OF WARD WEAVER: Thank you.

VANESSA SCHIEL, FRIEND OF MALORIE WEAVER: Thank you for having us.

CHUNG: OK.

Rita, when you realized that indeed Ashley and Miranda's bodies had been found in Ward Weaver's backyard, could you ever have imagined?

R. SCHIEL: No. No. It was just incredible. I just couldn't believe it when they said they found remains in the backyard in his shed. It was just -- I couldn't believe it. CHUNG: Well, how would you describe the Ward Weaver that you know?

R. SCHIEL: Well, I know Vanessa has been friends with Malorie since the fifth grade. And she spent a lot of time over there. And I've been invited in and met him. And he seemed like a really nice person. And he took Vanessa with him to dinners.

And, like I said, he would take Malorie and Vanessa to a youth group during the week. And he would even pick her up from our apartment, if I would have to work late, and pick her up and take her and Malorie over to the youth group.

CHUNG: Vanessa, did you ever notice anything inappropriate about his behavior, especially towards you or your girlfriend Malorie, who was his daughter?

V. SCHIEL: No, never. Like, she -- Malorie was a definite daddy's girl. She loved her dad. She always said how much she loved her dad. I don't know what -- I stuck up for him a lot when he was first suspected. And I had no idea.

CHUNG: All right, back to your mom, Rita.

There was an interview that Ward Weaver did just last month that really kind of disturbed you. It was a television interview. What did he say in that interview?

R. SCHIEL: Well, he was talking about the girls. They asked him if he knew anything about the disappearance of the girls. And when they asked him about Ashley, he made a rough comment that she was probably a runaway and she was better off where she was than with her mother. And that just struck me as odd.

CHUNG: Why, because you didn't believe it?

R. SCHIEL: I kind of lost respect for him.

Yes, I didn't believe that she was a runaway. I never did.

V. SCHIEL: I don't think that she was a runaway.

R. SCHIEL: And when

(CROSSTALK)

CHUNG: Go ahead, Vanessa.

Rita, one second. I know Vanessa just said she didn't think that Ashley was a runaway, right?

V. SCHIEL: I didn't think that -- I didn't think that she was a runaway, because she was going to have a little baby brother. And she wouldn't miss out on that, because she loved her siblings. She loved her sisters. And she was actually going to get a brother. CHUNG: And, Vanessa, in actuality, your mother forbid you to go over to Ward Weaver's house after she saw that interview. But you went anyway, didn't you?

V. SCHIEL: Yes. I didn't think anything of it.

CHUNG: Because you trusted Ward Weaver?

V. SCHIEL: Yes, I did.

CHUNG: But knowing now what you know, that your girlfriends Miranda and Ashley's bodies were found in his backyard, doesn't that frighten you to death?

V. SCHIEL: Yes, it does, because, if I would have figured something out, then it might have been me. It may have been me buried in his yard. It might have been me in a barrel. It might have been -- I could have been in a trash bag, dead and murdered. And that's very disturbing.

CHUNG: Tell me, have you talked to Malorie, who is Ward Weaver's daughter? She's about your age. And she's one of your best friends.

V. SCHIEL: No, I haven't. I wrote her a letter at a thing that we had at Gardner Middle School. But I do know that Miranda's younger daughter, Mariah (ph), who I'm friends with, she has talked to Malorie, like yesterday, I think.

CHUNG: Is she OK?

V. SCHIEL: Mariah said that she was fine.

CHUNG: OK. All right, Vanessa Schiel, thank you so much. Rita Schiel, we thank you as well for being with us tonight.

R. SCHIEL: OK.

V. SCHIEL: Thank you.

CHUNG: All right.

Now, the growing list of questions about Ward Weaver has brought to light details about his father. His father committed a double murder more than 20 years ago, a double murder with some disturbingly familiar details.

Garry Davis was a detective on that case in the Kern County Sheriff's Office. And he joins us now from Bakersfield, California.

Mr. Davis, thank you for being with us.

Now, Ward Weaver's father was convicted of murdering two individuals, a young man and a young woman, more than 20 years ago. You were the detective on that case. And, as I understand it, he was a truck driver. He came upon these two people and killed the man, young man first. Can you describe how he described it to detectives more than 20 years ago?

GARRY DAVIS, FORMER DETECTIVE: Well, approximately a little over a year and a half after the murder of the young man, we talked to Ward Weaver while he was in prison.

And Ward Weaver consented to an interview and described how he stopped alongside the road with an offer of assistance to this young couple, and shortly thereafter murdered the young man by beating him in the head with a pipe, and kidnapped the female, Barbara Levoy, and took her to the San Francisco Bay area, then subsequently took her to his -- near his residence in Northern California.

CHUNG: And, in fact, did he bury her in his own backyard?

DAVIS: He initially told us that he buried her out in the country, then went home. He got a vehicle and went back, dug her up, brought her to his house, buried her at one location, and, a few days later, moved her to another location and buried her again.

CHUNG: And then apparently placed cement on top of the burial site.

DAVIS: The people at the residence told us that he placed some cement, poured some cement at the burial site, which was underneath a clothesline under the premise, that he didn't want the people to get their feet muddy while they hung the clothes. That cement was very poorly mixed and was breaking up very badly. So, he put some wooden truck pallets, some wooden pallets over that cement that was very, very crumbly.

CHUNG: I understand that you actually spoke with Ward Weaver, the father, when he was in prison. How did he strike you?

DAVIS: You know, I talked to him for about six hours while he described the murder of both of these people. And he was very glib. He liked to talk to us about it, was often volunteering information, and would carry the conversation on when I would run out of questions.

CHUNG: Detective Davis, I think there isn't any question that anybody who hears about this case thinks it is just so eerie that there might actually be an identical situation with his son.

Certainly, his son, Ward Weaver, has not been charged with anything, is accused certainly at this point and is the main suspect in this case with two Oregon girls. But how does -- how do the similarities strike you as you look at both of these cases?

DAVIS: It's just real eerie.

When the press began with the missing Oregon girls, it was really a tragic case. And then when I subsequently heard that Ward Weaver III, the son, was volunteering to the media that he was a suspect, the name just set bells off and chilled my heart.

CHUNG: Detective Davis, we thank you so much for being with us.

And still ahead: If you think that killing two cats with a shotgun is a case of cruelty to animals, you would be wrong.

Stay with us and find out why.

ANNOUNCER: Next: the Kennedy cousin facing life for murder. Does evidence exist that could warrant a new trial for Michael Skakel?

CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHUNG: Just a day before he was to hear his punishment, lawyers for Michael Skakel today asked for a new trial. They are claiming prosecutors convicted the Kennedy nephew by withholding key evidence that may implicate another suspect.

Skakel is the nephew of Robert Kennedy's widow, Ethel. He was convicted in June of beating neighbor Martha Moxley to death in 1975 when they were both 15. After lying dormant for two decades, the case heated up as prosecutors learned of statements Skakel made implicating himself in the murder. Skakel was to be sentenced tomorrow, but the defense claims have cast some doubt on that.

CNN's Deborah Feyerick is outside the Norwalk, Connecticut, courtroom with more on the story -- Deborah.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right.

And part of the delay certainly could be just how long it takes the judge to hear numerous motions which have now been filed by Skakel's new legal team. And if that takes a couple of hours or if it takes a couple of days, that's what could ultimately postpone the sentencing, although it does look like, at least for now, that it's going to happen tomorrow.

CHUNG: Deborah, Skakel's attorneys are saying that there is this artist's rendition, a sketch, that should have been part of the case and that the prosecution did not give it to the defense early enough. Can you explain what that is all about?

FEYERICK: Absolutely, Connie.

What you are referring to is a composite drawing of a man that was seen in the area of the Moxley home the night that she was killed. It definitely does not look like Michael Skakel, who had blonde hair and no glasses at the time. It looks more like Ken Littleton, who was a Skakel family tutor, who was long considered a suspect in this crime.

CHUNG: But did Littleton have an alibi?

FEYERICK: Well, Littleton did have an alibi. And what's kind of interesting is that the reason that this -- that prosecutors never gave this picture over to the defense is because they ruled it out as being Ken Littleton.

It's not Ken Littleton at all. Even though it looks like Ken Littleton looks today, back in 1975, he had long hair. He didn't wear any glasses. They determined that the man in the sketch was a man who lived on the Moxleys' street. He had an airtight alibi, according to a source. Police questioned him. They ruled him out as a suspect.

And a source tells me that the reason prosecutors did not give this sketch over to the defense team is because it was not considered exculpatory evidence. That is, it would not have cleared Michael Skakel. And so, even though the defense had numerous opportunities to say, "You know, I keep reading about this sketch in these reports; I want to see the sketch," they never did. So they could have had it, but they didn't ask for it. And the prosecutors didn't offer it.

CHUNG: All right, so what is the defense strategy here? It seems pretty obvious.

FEYERICK: Well, the defense strategy -- the defense team is doing exactly what they should be doing. They're trying to get their client out of jail and they're trying to get this verdict overturned.

They're using every legal tactic that they have got at their disposal, as they should, as good lawyers will do. They're basically filing four different motions. They are setting up the groundwork for appeal. They are showing mistakes that they believe the judge made in different rulings. They're showing mistakes that prosecutors may have made in introducing certain pieces of evidence in the evidence that they used.

They're also, in a way, showing mistakes that Michael Skakel's trial lawyer made during this whole process. So they are laying the groundwork, so that, when they do appeal, at least all of this is on record. And that's what's going to happen tomorrow when the judge goes through these motions.

CHUNG: All right, Deborah Feyerick, we appreciate your being with us. Thank you.

If Skakel is sentenced tomorrow, he faces anywhere from 10 years to 25 years to life. But because the murder was in 1975, older sentencing guidelines long since tightened, could mean a sentence of less than six years.

Joining me now are criminal defense attorney Jayne Weintraub in Miami; and here in New York, Court TV's "Closing Arguments" anchor and a former prosecutor, James Curtis.

Thank you both for being with us.

James, let's start with you. What do you make of this sketch?

JAMES CURTIS, COURT TV: Well, the sketch, I think, as Deborah pointed out in her report, really hits the nail on the head with respect to the importance, or lack thereof, of this sketch. This sketch does not look like the individual that the defense was pointing to. That is the tutor that was in the house, Mr. Littleton, during that time.

CHUNG: Twenty years ago.

CURTIS: Twenty years ago.

Not only did he look a lot different, Connie. He had absolutely no motive to commit this kind of crime. He had just then, at the time this crime was committed, become the tutor for the household. He was new to the area. He didn't really even know Martha Moxley at all. And, indeed all of the other evidence that supports the conviction points to Mr. Skakel.

CHUNG: Jayne, do you think that the defense is correct, that this could have turned into a not-guilty verdict?

JAYNE WEINTRAUB, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, Connie, remember, all that the defense has to prove at this point is that there was a reasonable probability that the verdict would have been different based on the newly discovered evidence being the sketch.

Now, also remember that part of the defense at trial was that Littleton was the actual perpetrator of the crime. And this evidence that was suppressed intentionally supports the defense theory. And that, that is why it should have been turned over to the defense prior to trial.

CURTIS: But the problem is that it wasn't suppressed intentionally.

(CROSSTALK)

CHUNG: I was just about to get to that as well.

CURTIS: I knew you were.

It was in all the reports. The defense knew about it. They made no effort to try to get information

(CROSSTALK)

WEINTRAUB: Blame it on the defense, where the burden is on the prosecutor. James, you know better.

CURTIS: Oh, absolutely, we know that there is a burden on the prosecution to actually produce the exculpatory information. However, this, based on the prosecution's analysis, was not exculpatory.

CHUNG: So, what are you saying? Did it need to be put in a little box with a ribbon on it and given to the defense attorney? What is correct?

CURTIS: Well, actually, the law with respect to what's called Brady material, under a United States Supreme Court case, Brady vs. Maryland, is the idea that, if there is anything that's going to get the defendant off the hook, there is indeed an affirmative duty on the government to put that information forward into the hands of the defense. This was not that kind of information.

(CROSSTALK)

CHUNG: Jayne, another accusation that came from the defense attorneys is that there was subliminal messaging occurring during the trial. Can you explain what this is about?

WEINTRAUB: What this is about is theatrics. It was said that the prosecutor was kind of bland and just very remote-control putting on his case.

But his closing argument had some magnetism, had some charisma. And, in fact, they are probably correct that they were using subliminal messages. Is that really what we want: theatrics and trickery? The prosecution is supposed to seek truth and justice, not a conviction at all costs, as the Supreme Court has admonished prosecutors all over the country.

What I do think really happened here? Like many, many other times of celebrity roundups, I think this was a case where the prosecutor was really anxious to get a Kennedy and that it was getting a Kennedy at all costs. And it is not a coincidence that they handed over this sketch afterwards.

(CROSSTALK)

CHUNG: All right, Jayne, there was also some accusations of subliminal messaging by playing a recording by Skakel and then showing pictures of Martha Moxley.

James?

CURTIS: I don't buy it.

You know what, Jayne? And you know as well as I do that the defense attorney -- and Mickey Sherman is not only a defense attorney. He's a great defense attorney, as you well know. And he had an opportunity to say: "Your Honor, I object. Make him turn that off." Did he do it? No, he didn't.

CHUNG: All right.

WEINTRAUB: But don't you know that the investigators also had Littleton's wife tell him that he had confessed to committing the crime in an alcoholic blackout? I think there's a lot going on in this case that needs to be looked at. And I'm not so sure that the sentencing will go on tomorrow, won't be delayed.

CHUNG: Jayne, thank you so much.

WEINTRAUB: Thank you.

CHUNG: James, do you think it will delayed quickly? CURTIS: Absolutely not. This is a shot in the dark, a stab by the defense to try to do whatever they can. They're grabbing at straws.

CHUNG: All right, thank you so much for being with us.

Still ahead: Is it OK for teachers to hit kids, to hit your kids?

But first, tonight's "Off the Radar" looks at a case that helped revive interest in Martha Moxley's murder. It involves another Kennedy in court in a case that was also very high profile more than 10 years ago.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: William Kennedy Smith became famous not because he was a Kennedy, the nephew of President Kennedy and Senator Ted Kennedy, but because he was a Kennedy accused of rape. His 1991 trial became a national obsession.

WILLIAM KENNEDY SMITH, DEFENDANT: She unbuttoned my pants. And I took her panties off with her help. And I asked her if she had any birth control.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was her response?

SMITH: She said, "We better be careful."

ANNOUNCER: Though her identity remained a mystery, she told her side of the story to the world.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I tried (INAUDIBLE) to get him off of me. Then he slammed me down. And then I just -- and then he pushed my dress up and he raped me.

ANNOUNCER: The jury sided with Kennedy. And he went back to medical school, becoming a specialist in prosthetics. Just last year, he considered a run for Congress. He said his decision had little to do with the 10-year-old trial.

So, why didn't he run? The answer when we return.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Why didn't William Kennedy Smith run for Congress in a Chicago district this year? Acquitted of sexual assault in 1991 and accused of similar behavior by three women whose stories were not heard by the jury, Smith said scandal had little to do with his decision. Instead, he says his work as a crusader against land mines is simply too time-consuming. He said, however, that he would love to run for office some day. (END VIDEOTAPE)

CHUNG: We'll continue in a moment.

(NEWS BREAK)

CHUNG: We'll be right back.

ANNOUNCER: Still ahead: Back to school means back to the corporal punishment argument. What are kids learning when they are hit for bad behavior?

CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT continues in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHUNG: Like many of you, I'm sending my son off to school. And one of my many fears, I think, is the fear of violence.

But as we continue our series looking at problems in America's classrooms, today we look not at student violence, but violence against students in the name of discipline. Corporal punishment is legal in 23 states. And public schools reported 365,000 incidents of corporal punishment five years ago, the most recent period we have numbers for. Now, that's a lot of children.

So, we sent CNN's Ed Lavandera to report on one family that considers it a "Crisis in the Classroom."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

V. WATERS: Bye. See you tomorrow.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jared Waters is looking forward to second grade at Harper Elementary School.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How you all doing?

LAVANDERA: A new teacher and a new classroom: His parents hope this new environment will help erase the memory of what happened in first grade.

V. WATERS: To see the look in his eye, and how embarrassed and how upset and how scared he was to go back there. They violated his trust and they violated our trust.

LAVANDERA: Last January, Jared was sitting in class taking a test.

(on camera): So you're doing a spelling test and you say...

JARED WATERS, STUDENT: Boring.

LAVANDERA: The test was boring? And then the next thing you know?

JARED WATERS: Ended up in the principal's office getting a spanking.

LAVANDERA: Did you know that was going to happen?

JARED WATERS: No.

JOE WATERS: You have those butterflies in your stomach when you drop him off.

LAVANDERA: The principal called Jared's father to explain what happened. Joe Waters was furious.

JOE WATERS: So, I couldn't believe what they had done. It just totally -- it appalled me in every manner possible.

LAVANDERA: When Jared got home, his father took a closer look. The family says the principal's swat left this bruise on Jared's leg.

JOE WATERS: If I would have done what they did, I probably wouldn't even have my kids anymore. They'd have taken them from me.

LAVANDERA: Harper school officials denied our request for an interview. But in a letter to the family, the school superintendent said the principal followed the policy and procedures of the Harper School District and that excessive force was not used.

Several months ago, Principal Jay Harper publicly stated his support of corporal punishment.

JAY HARPER, HARPER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL PRINCIPAL: I've never felt it's harmed a child. In fact, we're here to educate the kids and do what's best for that child.

LAVANDERA (on camera): Part of the reason Joe and Vicky Waters are so angry is because they say they asked the school not to paddle their child. On two different occasions, school officials had called, saying that Jared needed to be disciplined. Both times, they asked if they could use corporal punishment, and his parents told school officials that they were definitely not allowed to touch their child.

JOE WATERS: My rights as a parent were stomped on. Someone else had the right to say whether or not my son deserves a spanking and to go ahead and give it to him, without my knowledge or consent. It did violate me.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Jared's discipline problems have now been connected to a severe case of attention deficit disorder. His parents say the spanking has had a lingering effect. Jared started wetting his bed again and he's scared of the principal.

V. WATERS: They aren't the ones that are here staying up all night with him. And they're not the ones that are telling him that everything is going to be OK. And they aren't the ones that have to look in his face every time we take him up there. And then he begs us not to leave him.

They just ended it. They didn't go any further. They didn't care. And I think that's what really bothers us, because it's something that bothers him today.

LAVANDERA (on camera): Jared, do you think you'll ever be able to forget that, what happened?

JARED WATERS: No, not in a million years.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): The irony is, Joe and Vicky Waters used to spank their children every once in a while. But now they say they've learned a valuable lesson: Physical punishment might be quicker and easier, they say, but teaching discipline is a lesson that will last a lifetime.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, Harper, Texas.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHUNG: Joining me now are two people with personal experience in this area.

Robert Fathman started the National Coalition to Abolish Corporal Punishment after his then 6-year-old daughter was paddled with a thick board, even after he told the school not to touch her. He joins us from Columbus, Ohio; in Nashville, Tennessee, former principal and teacher Anne Whitefield, who used corporal punishment on her students during her 38-year career. She's now an assistant professor of education at Cumberland University.

Thank you both for being with us.

Ms. Whitefield, you just heard this little boy say that he's not going to forget it in a million years. And it had obviously a profound effect on him. He was wetting his bed again. His mother was really upset about it. It obviously caused an emotional trauma for him. So how can you possibly justify hitting him?

Yes, we can't -- Ms. Whitefield, we can't hear you. So we're going to try and correct that. And I will -- oh, now I hear you.

Go ahead. Do you want to try again?

ANNE WHITEFIELD, FORMER TEACHER: Right.

I think we need to be fairly specific about corporal punishment and about spankings and about when they are used and how they are used. And as a parent of several children and a grandparent, I think that parents need to be a part of the decision. And...

CHUNG: Well, in that particular case, his parents told the school, "No, we don't want corporal punishment when it comes to our child."

WHITEFIELD: Well, and I can't speak for that principal's behavior after that. So let me be clear about that.

I can say to you that I think that spankings applied appropriately, with proper planning, and with understanding are a part of disciplinary policies and practices that help children understand where boundaries are and help define behavior and how they should behave.

CHUNG: All right, let me turn to Mr. Fathman.

Mr. Fathman, couldn't you look at Jared's example and say to yourself: "Well, here's an example in which he says he won't forget it in a million years. He learned his lesson. This boy is not going to say that a test is boring the next time he takes a spelling test"?

ROBERT FATHMAN, NATIONAL COALITION TO ABOLISH CORPORAL PUNISHMENT: It's the wrong kind of lesson that we are teaching children with that, Connie.

Those are not the memories of their childhood, the memories of their school experiences that we want to have our children remember. And I wouldn't call it a spanking. When you take a board like this, that is a paddle actually used in Ohio schools for many years, and you hit a child like that, that's not a spanking. Webster's defines spanking as hitting with a hand. That's an act of violence.

And we don't want children to remember that. We don't want children to have those kinds of lessons in how to handle disagreements with people.

CHUNG: Ms. Whitefield, I think that sounds awfully reasonable. I'm sure there are a lot of people out there who are parents who would agree with Mr. Fathman.

Aren't you, if you support corporal punishment, as you do, telling kids, "If somebody does something wrong, it's OK if you hit that person; it's OK if you are violent against that person"?

WHITEFIELD: Well, I think to equate a spanking with violence is a misconception. Mother Nature...

(CROSSTALK)

CHUNG: But look at the paddle that this Mr. Fathman was using.

WHITEFIELD: I'm sorry. I...

CHUNG: You can't see him, can you?

WHITEFIELD: No, I cannot.

CHUNG: Oh, but you know what the big paddles look like. You had them there in your state as well, didn't you?

WHITEFIELD: I did not have a big paddle. I had a ping-pong paddle. And I can't see what the gentlemen is holding up. So, unfortunately, I'm at a disadvantage there.

CHUNG: But what do you have to say about the whole idea of basically promoting hitting?

WHITEFIELD: Well, a spanking applied at the appropriate time is a consequence of certain behaviors.

FATHMAN: You know, hitting is hitting. I don't care what you call it, spanking, whatever.

But if the superintendent hit a teacher, we wouldn't call it spanking applied at an appropriate time. We'd call it assault and you would own the superintendent's cars, his pension plan. If your dean hits you at Cumberland College, you would call that assault. If we did this to a dog, we would call it cruelty to animals.

How can you call this something appropriately applied when we hit a child with a 2-foot-long board?

CHUNG: Ms. Whitefield?

WHITEFIELD: Well, first of all, I'd like to say that I'd like for us to take turns here.

And, secondly, I think that, as adults in this world, we have to own our responsibility of helping to shape and mold the behavior of children. That's why tall people were put in charge of short people. And we use a variety...

CHUNG: Wait a minute. Let me hear that again. You said tall people are put in charge of short people. And you just mean adults are in charge of kids.

WHITEFIELD: Adults and parents and teachers and guardians are folks who are supposed to give direction and guidance to children to help them develop into responsible people.

(CROSSTALK)

CHUNG: Well, even the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that corporal punishment be eliminated in all these states.

FATHMAN: And so does the American Association of Elementary School Principals.

CHUNG: All right, let me just say one thing to you, Mr. Fathman. Isn't there any use or value in some type of corporal punishment? Because, obviously, you have not been a teacher, correct? So how...

FATHMAN: No, but my wife is a teacher.

CHUNG: All right.

How can you maintain discipline in a classroom? Don't you need something, because some classrooms really are out of control?

FATHMAN: Oh, discipline doesn't mean punishment and it doesn't mean hitting.

Certainly, we all believe in discipline in the classroom. And we have models. We have teachers in 27 states successfully educating children without hitting them. In fact, the U.S. is one of only three democracies in the world where it's still legal to hit children. We can have good discipline without hitting.

CHUNG: All right, Ms. Whitefield -- I need to go back to her for a final word.

Ms. Whitefield, you still stand by corporal punishment, don't you, after all these years?

WHITEFIELD: Yes, I do.

CHUNG: In today's world, you still do?

WHITEFIELD: Yes, I do. I certainly do.

CHUNG: All right, thank you so much, both of you, for being with us. We appreciate it.

FATHMAN: Thank you, Connie.

CHUNG: We'll be back in a moment.

ANNOUNCER: Next: animal cruelty or a landlord's rights? We'll meet the pet owner who lost a cat fight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RITCH: It is cruel what he did. I do not agree with her decision at all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: When CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHUNG: If you are a pet owner, you probably are familiar with the animal cruelty laws passed in 37 states last year. Basically, the laws make animal cruelty a felony, not just a misdemeanor. You presume that these laws offer total protection for your pets against horrible things. Well, you might think so, but it turns out that killing doesn't necessarily constitute cruelty.

It's a lesson April Ritch learned in an awful way the day the laws went into effect last year, the same day her landlord, Eric Grossnickle, took a shotgun and killed two of her cats.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RITCH: I just remember, when I went to get out of the car, my legs just buckled. I hit the ground, just vomiting and screaming.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHUNG: We asked, but so far Grossnickle and his attorney have declined to comment. But just last week, he was acquitted of animal- cruelty charges, but convicted on two counts of malicious destruction of property. April Ritch joins us today from Washington, along with Scott Rolle, state's attorney in Frederick, Maryland.

And thank you so much, both of you, for being with us.

April, let's start with you. You were coming home. You got out of your car. You headed into the house. And what happened?

RITCH: As I went into the house, Buffy, the surviving cat, she came running up to me just meowing and crying constantly. And I looked at her and spoke with her, just like I always did, just like my children. And I asked her, I said, "What's the matter, baby girl?" And she just kept crying. And I said, "Where are your sissies?"

And I immediately started looking for Angel and Babe.

CHUNG: And so then you went and you found your landlord and you asked your landlord where your cats were, right?

RITCH: Yes, yes, I did.

CHUNG: And what did he say?

RITCH: His response to me was, "I shot them and I have one more to go."

CHUNG: Why did he kill them?

RITCH: Very good question. Very good question.

(CROSSTALK)

CHUNG: Go ahead.

RITCH: He has a lot of reasons as to doing it, saying that I had given him permission, which are all false statements.

CHUNG: All right, he also said that he had told you five times to get rid of the cats, and, if you didn't, he would, that they were urinating in the house and the like. Is that true?

RITCH: No, that testimony is incorrect, Connie.

CHUNG: Tell me, how did he kill them?

RITCH: He took them outside.

CHUNG: I'm sorry.

RITCH: And he took the girls outside, Angel and Babe. And he shot them with a 12-gauge shotgun. He shot one in the head and he shot one in the abdomen. And the one in the abdomen definitely suffered. She was not killed instantly.

CHUNG: Now, Mr. Rolle, did you think you could win this case?

SCOTT ROLLE, MARYLAND STATE'S ATTORNEY: Absolutely.

We passed an animal cruelty law in Maryland last year which now makes this crime a felony. When we were confronted with this case, we're looking at a situation where somebody took a shotgun to two family pets. We're talking about a rabid raccoon or a barn animal. We're talking about some animals that meant to April what people's children mean to them.

CHUNG: Well, but the judge in this case said -- and I'll quote -- "I don't think what he did -- I don't like what he did, but it's not a crime under Maryland law."

He did not think that it was cruel. He thought it was legally acceptable, the way he killed the cats.

ROLLE: See, I don't buy that. If you're going to take a cat and shotgun it to the side, and then expert testimony is offered, like we did in this case, by a veterinarian who did the animal autopsy that the animal did indeed not die immediately and suffered, then you have got a definition of cruelty.

I don't understand why cruelty is very difficult to understand. I think anybody would agree that grabbing two pets out of someone's house and putting a shotgun to them and then throwing them in a creek constitutes cruelty.

CHUNG: So, Mr. Rolle, what does he face, potentially, for the conviction on two counts of malicious destruction of property?

ROLLE: Well, now he's only facing 60 days in jail on each count. The animal cruelty law, if he had been convicted, he would be facing three years in jail on each count, which would have been six years.

CHUNG: All right, April, does he deserve to go to jail?

RITCH: I believe he does.

CHUNG: All right, Scott Rolle, April Ritch, thank you so much for sharing your story with us.

And just a reminder, we did ask the landlord and his attorney for comment, but they declined.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHUNG: We all agree that life is not the same since September 11. We want to know how yours as changed. Did you move, change jobs, volunteer? Whatever it is, we want you to tell us about it on videotape. Send your tapes to CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT, P.O. Box 5138, New York, New York, 10185.

For more information, log on to CNN.com/CONNIE.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CHUNG: Tomorrow: sentencing day for Michael Skakel in the murder of Martha Moxley.

And coming up next on "LARRY KING LIVE": Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura, will he run for president in 2004?

Thank you for joining us. And for all of us at CNN, good night. And we'll see you tomorrow.

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