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Stem Cell Research Bill Battle; Texas Prostitution Scandal; Update of Michael Jackson Trial

Aired May 24, 2005 - 19:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, HOST: Good evening, everyone. A life-and-death battle. Congress versus the president. 360 starts now. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
COOPER (voice-over): The stem cell battle comes to a head on Capitol Hill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What could be more life-affirming than using what would otherwise be discarded to save, extend and improve countless lives?

COOPER: Tonight, what's at stake in the controversial bill? And would President Bush make good on his veto threat?

Iraq's top terrorist wounded, says a terror Web site. But is Abu Musab al-Zarqawi really down for the count? Or is this an attempt to slow the hunt for Iraq's most wanted man?

Jay Leno takes the stand in the Michael Jackson molestation trial. Tonight, what did the accuser really say to the late-night comic over the phone?

And a Texas town stunned by a police raid on a massage parlor. The charge, prostitution. But you won't believe who the clients were.

ANNOUNCER: Live, from the CNN Broadcast Center in New York, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360.


COOPER: And good evening again. We begin tonight with a life-and- death battle. A developing story out of Washington tonight. Just about an hour ago, the House passed a bill to expand the use of embryonic stem cells -- in other words, cells taken from human embryos. The president vows to veto the bill, equating it with the murder of a life, the murder of potential children.

Now, pretty much everyone in Washington agrees that stem cell research is good. Where the disagreement comes in is the source of those cells. The science is complicated, and right now so are the politics.


COOPER (voice-over): Congressman James Langevin calls himself pro-life, yet he supports expanded embryonic stem cell research.

REP. JAMES LANGEVIN (D), RHODE ISLAND: To me, being pro-life also means fighting for policies that will eliminate pain and suffering and help people enjoy longer, healthier lives. And to me, support for embryonic stem cell research is entirely consistent with that position.

COOPER: Some of the parents standing behind President Bush today called themselves pro-choice, yet they are against destroying embryos to conduct such research. The families had either adopted or given up for adoption embryos remaining after fertility treatments.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These children here today remind us that there is no such thing as a spare embryo. These lives are not raw material to be exploited, but gifts.

COOPER: The complexities of the debate no more apparent than in the possibility the president might cast his first ever veto on a bill supported by many in his own party.

BUSH: This bill would take us across a critical ethical line, by creating new incentives for the ongoing destruction of emerging human life. Crossing this line would be a great mistake.

COOPER: The so-called Castle bill would extend funding to research on embryonic stem cell lines that were nonexistent in 2001, when Mr. Bush limited funding to lines in existence at the time.

According to scientists, many if not all of the previous lines are now contaminated and unusable for actual treatment.

Supporters of embryonic stem cell research hope they would lead to cures for diseases like diabetes, and Parkinson's, and spinal cord injuries.

REP. CHRIS SHAYS (R), CONNECTICUT: These are discarded embryos that were never in the womb. They weren't taken from it, and they weren't put into it, but they can help save lives.


COOPER: Well, by the way, a recent CNN/"USA Today" Gallup poll found that 53 percent of those asked were in favor of fewer restrictions of government funding of stem cell research. I spoke with White House Communication Director Nicolle Devenish right after the vote.


COOPER: Nicolle, the bill has now passed in the House, likely to pass in the Senate. Will the president still veto it?

NICOLLE DEVENISH, WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: The president will veto the bill, Anderson.

When we looked at the question of what role the federal government would have in funding embryonic stem cell research, the president made a very thoughtful decision and drew a fine line between what we would use federal taxpayer dollars to do as far as research with embryonic stem cells. And the line he drew was that we would not encourage as a government the destruction of embryos. And I think you saw the president today with -- surrounded by children that came from embryos. So we are talking about real lives.

COOPER: Well, let me ask you about that, because I mean, we did see the president surrounded by kids who were adopted as embryos, as he said.


COOPER: But according to supporters of the Castle bill, only about 10 percent of these excess embryos are ever put up for adoption. The majority are thrown out now -- some 90 percent, according to the supporters of the Castle bill. So, does the president believe it is better to just throw these embryos than it is to actually use them for research?

DEVENISH: Anderson, they are not -- I would quibble with your word of "excess embryos." They're all lives. And I think we saw that very plainly and very clearly today.

COOPER: Well, but if 90 percent of those lives are being thrown out now, I mean, is that something that the president is going to try to stop if he believes...

DEVENISH: Any parent that goes through the in vitro fertilization process and wishes to donate their embryos for research may do so. There's private research on embryonic stem cells that takes place in an unlimited capacity in this country. The president's position governs what we do with your tax dollars and mine, all of our taxpayer dollars. And the president's position is that federally funded embryonic stem cell research should only take place in those lines that came from embryos that were destroyed when the policy was created.

COOPER: So the situation now, as it exists now, though, if 90 percent -- if it's true that 90 percent of these embryos are being thrown out, basically tossed in the garbage, the supporters of the Castle bill say it would be better to use those 90 percent for research.

DEVENISH: Again, it is an option for any parent that undergoes fertility treatments to donate embryos for research in the private sector. But the decision that the president has made draws a very careful line about what we will do with federal taxpayer dollars.

COOPER: Supporters of the Castle bill say that the existing stem cell lines are now basically unusable. These are the ones the president allowed to be used back in 2001. If that's true, what hope can the White House, can the president offer people whose lives are literally hanging in the balance right now?

DEVENISH: Oh, gosh, Anderson. There's a lot of hope. Six hundred shipments of stem cells have already been delivered from the lines that the president made available in 2001. And 3,000 additional shipments of stem cell lines remain available for future research projects.

COOPER: But they are saying a lot of those are unusable.

DEVENISH: Well, that's not true. The shipments have gone out. And there are 3,000 more available. And I think in the scientific community, anyone who wants to conduct research on embryonic stem cells has access to stem cells and to research that's funded by the United States taxpayers and by our government. And you can't look at this in such a narrow fashion. Private research on embryonic stem cells is unlimited in this country.

COOPER: Nicolle Devenish, we appreciate you joining us. Thanks very much, Nicolle.

DEVENISH: Thanks a lot.


COOPER: And the debate goes on.

In the Senate today, one day after the last-minute compromise that headed off the so-called nuclear option over change in the filibuster rule, there was a vote finally to end debate on the nomination of Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owen to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. This clears the way for an actual up-or- down vote on confirming Ms. Owen, and that will probably take place tomorrow. We will, of course, bring that to you as well.

Some tantalizing news out of Iraq today. And if it's true, it could be very good news indeed for U.S. and Iraqi forces there. According to several militant Islamic Web sites, the most wanted man in Iraq, this man, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, has been wounded. Now, he's believed to be behind many of the deadliest attacks and cold-blooded murders of Americans in Iraq. CNN's Ryan Chilcote investigates.


RYAN CHILCOTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A surprising message, purportedly from al Qaeda in Iraq, this time concerning one of their own, Iraq's most wanted terrorist, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The message says he has been wounded and calls on Muslims to -- quote -- "pray for the healing of our Sheikh Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, from an injury he suffered in the path of God. The injury of our leader is an honor, and a cause to close in on the enemies of God, and a reason to increase the attacks against them."

The Jordanian-born extremist is believed to be responsible for the highest profile terrorist acts in Iraq in the last two years, including this suicide bomber attack that killed 127, and the beheading of American hostage Nick Berg.

In an audio message, purportedly from bin Laden five months ago, he called Zarqawi "al Qaeda's prince in Iraq." Even if Zarqawi is wounded, it has had no effect on the violence that never seems to quit. Insurgents killed a total of nine U.S. troops on Monday and Tuesday, three of them here when a car bomb went off beside their convoy. They also hit Iraqi security forces.

But ordinary Iraqis were as usual the worst hit. More than 50 Iraqis were slaughtered, hundreds more maimed in attacks on restaurants, parties and mosques in the first 24 hours of this week.

Iraq's Shiites and Sunnis are increasingly blaming one another for the violence, prompting a prominent Shiite and Sunni leader to meet Tuesday in an effort to quell the tension.

The U.S. government is also concerned that Sunni Arabs, who have largely been left out of the new government, are supporting the insurgency. It says Zarqawi represents just one strand of the insurgency.

The bottom line, Iraq has become a battlefield for multiple groups with multiple interests.

(on camera): There have been rumors about Zarqawi's condition before. CNN can't independently confirm the new reports, and the U.S. and Iraqi militaries have always said they just don't know. They do say that while Zarqawi's loss would be a blow to the insurgency, they don't think it will stop there.

Ryan Chilcote, CNN, Baghdad.


COOPER: Well, coming up next on 360, Jay Leno called to testify for Michael Jackson. There he is arriving. So is Chris Tucker. We're going to take a look at what they had to say and how damaging it might have been to the prosecution.

Also ahead tonight...


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I can't even see more than a couple of feet in front of me. And the smoke does seem to fill you quickly.


COOPER: That's Rick Sanchez there on how you and your house can survive a fire. Part of our week-long special "Survivor" series.

Also ahead tonight, the beating caught on tape. A bus driver striking a student passenger, a teenager. Was it fair or foul? We've been getting your e-mails all day on this story. We'll try to look at all sides later on.

All that ahead. First, let's look at your picks, the most popular stories right now on (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


JAY LENO, HOST "TONIGHT SHOW": And listen to this -- I was called by the defense. I'm a defense witness, so, apparently they've never seen this program. Actually, I'm kind of flattered by the whole thing, you know? I mean, I'm thrilled that I'm being called to testify, because you know what that means? You know what that means, me being called to the stand? Michael remembers me.


COOPER: What a difference a day makes. Last night Jay Leno joked about being called as a witness for Michael Jackson. This morning he got the chance. The funny thing, though, is the "Tonight Show" host wasn't the only comic who testified. Chris Tucker also took the stand. All of this, of course, comes as we get word the defense is going to rest its case tomorrow, without, it appears, calling the famous defendant, Michael Jackson as a witness.

CNN's Ted Rowlands is covering the case for us in tonight's "Justice Served."


TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Built up by the defense as a key witness, comedian Jay Leno, who's been making jokes about Michael Jackson for months, took the stand. Leno testified he received a number of phone messages that -- quote -- "seemed a little odd" from the then 10-year-old boy now accusing Michael Jackson. Leno said the messages were full of praise and seemed scripted. He said, eventually, through a mutual acquaintance, he had the calls stopped.

But Jay Leno never said the boy or his family asked for money, which seems to contradict what the defense promised in opening statements, when it said that Leno was the victim of an attempted shake-down by the accuser and his family. Leno did contradict the accuser's testimony, saying that, in fact, they did speak on the phone. The accuser had said that he never directly spoke to the comedian.

TRENT COPELAND, LEGAL ANALYST: He should have been one of these knock-your-socks-off final, flourishing witnesses. He was not.

JIM MORET, LEGAL ANALYST: The important thing is he said he was never asked for money. He didn't feel that he was being set up for a shakedown.

ROWLANDS: Comedian Chris Tucker, the last defense witness, took the stand late in the day. Tucker was close to the accuser and his family during the time that Jackson is accused of molestation and conspiring to hold the family against their will at Neverland Ranch.

Tucker, who appeared with Jackson in a music video, is considered to be a friend of Jackson. So far on the stand he's testified that he bought the accuser's family clothes and gave them over $1,500 in cash.

With his lawyer Tom Mesereau at his side, Michael Jackson had no comment as to why he will not be taking the stand in his own defense.


(on camera): When Chris Tucker finishes, the prosecution has said that they plan on putting on a short rebuttal case. Then early next week we do expect closing arguments. The bottom line, Anderson, the jury should start deliberating Michael Jackson's fate by the end of next week.

COOPER: All right. Ted Rowlands, thanks for that.

Tonight, we're following several other stories as well. Erica Hill from HEADLINE NEWS joins us with the latest, about 16 past the hour. Good evening.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS: Good evening, Anderson.

We start off actually in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, where the Amber Alert is canceled but the search continues now for eight-year-old Shasta Groene and her nine-year-old brother Dylan Croene. A $100,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to their safe return. They've been missing since May 16 when their mother, her boyfriend and an older brother were murdered in their home.

On to Pembroke Park, Florida, where Lionel Tate is back in jail. In 2001 Tate was sentenced to life without parole for the beating death of a six-year-old playmate. He was later set free. Tate, who is now 18 and on probation, was arrested last night for allegedly pulling a gun on a pizza delivery man.

In Colima, Mexico, the Fire Volcano spews lava and smoke in its biggest eruption since 1999. There are no reports of injuries or damage in last evening's eruption about 300 miles northwest of Mexico City.

Speaking of volcanoes, in Los Angeles, what you might call a bad hair day for murder suspect Phil Spector. I wonder how he gets it to do that. The record producer also got bad news from the judge yesterday who ruled prosecutors can present evidence that Spector allegedly pulled guns on four women in the past. Spector is accused of shooting to death a movie actress in his home in February of 2003.

And, just a quick look for you here, that's the before. And now the after of...


HILL: ....Phil Specter's hair.

COOPER: It was humid that day, maybe.

HILL: Apparently. Either that or I don't know maybe he brushed by a light socket on his way to court. COOPER: Oy, man. Well, at least it -- you know -- It's a way to get the jury's attention, I suppose.

HILL: It will definitely get the jury's attention.

COOPER: Erica, thanks. We'll see you again in about 30 minutes.

Coming up on 360 tonight, ever wonder how you can survive a fire? Rick Sanchez takes you into the smoke. Find out how you and your family can get out alive.

Also ahead tonight, it was advertised as a massage parlor. Police found out it was, well, so much more. How what they found and who they found as customers there turned a Texas town upside down. A fascinating story, ahead, on that.

And, a little later, two fishermen stuck on a jetty. A dramatic Coast Guard rescue caught all on tape.


COOPER: You know, there are few things more terrifying than a fire. Fast moving infernos, they engulf homes while families sleep. According the federal government, on average, fires kill about 4,000 Americans every year. You know, most of those fires happen in the home. And fires kill more Americans than all natural disasters combined. We see so many fires covered on the evening news, tonight we thought we'd look at ways you can survive a fire if one ever strikes your home.

CNN's Rick Sanchez investigates.


SANCHEZ (voice-over): It is one of our worst nightmares, a stranger who arrives uninvited into our most private place in the dark of night, leaving us often in a panic. It happened to George And Trellene Benning.

GEORGE BENNING, FIRE VICTIM: I was sitting right here. Right there. Sitting right there in that chair right here.

SANCHEZ: This is what George and Trellene are left with. The burned out shell of a place they used to call home. It all but vanished in just moments one night when they saw smoke coming from their vents, then more smoke, then flames. In a panic they ran outside. But suddenly Trellene realized she had to go back.

TRELLENE BENNING, FIRE VICTIM: And so when I got here, they had -- like my daughter, this is her bed. She can't walk. She just sits. This is my mother's hospital bed.

SANCHEZ: Blinded by the smoke, she had to negotiate the turns by feel until she found her way to the back bedroom, where her daughter and her mother were screaming that the house was on fire. They were literally trapped. (on camera): Your mother is 92-years-old. T. BENNING: Sure is.

SANCHEZ: Your daughter is an invalid.


SANCHEZ: And you somehow were able to get them both.

T. BENNING: Yes. Yes.

SANCHEZ: And you dragged them out of the house.

T. BENNING: Yes, I did.

SANCHEZ: With a fire inside burning.


SANCHEZ: How did you do that?

T. BENNING: I don't know. I don't know.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): It's almost hard to imagine as you look at how little is left of this house, how George and Trellene could have done just about everything wrong, according to fire officials, and still survive. What's more, they got two more people out of the house. We took their case to a fire college to find out how it's supposed to be done.

Lesson one, an item that can cost just $5, but in a fire, priceless, a smoke detector.

LT. SCOTT DODSON, COBB CITY FIRE: It's the number one most important thing for life safety for you to have in your home.

SANCHEZ (on camera): What happens if you don't have a smoke detector?

DODSON: If you wake up and you realize there's a fire, you may have two to three minutes to get out of the house, depending on if the fire has cut off your primary exit, your front door that you're normally coming out of.

SANCHEZ: You said if you wake up. You mean if you don't have a smoke detector you could die in your sleep?

DODSON: Absolutely. Happens all the time.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): And here is how it can happen, and how fast it can happen. In just one minute the curtains have caught fire. At two minutes the smoke is banking and you can see how the upper part of the room is filling first. The window we used to be able to see in the background is still visible, but fading. By three minutes it's half covered. Then the smoke begins to darken. And as it fills the room, it gets almost impossible to see anything. Here's another vantage point -- this one from a camera placed in the living room. It takes just minutes for the wall to catch fire. Then the lampshade ignites. Four minutes into it, a billowing blanket of smoke rolls across the ceiling. Eventually the entire room fills with smoke. An area in your own home you may be perfectly familiar with could suddenly become a maze. You can't see. And the gases and the smoke may be poisonous.

DODSON: First thing we recommend is that you sleep with your door shut. What that's going to do is keep smoke -- the majority of smoke out of your room.

SANCHEZ: Here is what else can save your life.

DODSON: When you hear your smoke detector, roll out of the bed and get on the floor closest to the ground. That's where the fresh air is. You want to go to the door -- the wall, find your way to a door or window. If you find in your door, you want to test your door with the back of your hand to see if there's any heat on the door. If that door is hot, then it tells you that there's smoke and flames on the outside of that door, so, you don't want to open it. Open your window, crawl out the window. If you are on the second floor you either want to have a knotted rope or ladder.

SANCHEZ: Those on the basics. We wanted to see how it's actually done -- how to find an exit in a room filling with smoke. You can see how it layers from top to bottom. This smoke is not lethal. But you can still see how it clouds your ability to see anything.

(on camera): I'm going to try and find an exit, although the smoke makes you feel extremely disoriented. And you don't know in which direction you are going.

(voice-over): Fire officials say the key is to stay low, but it seems even down here everything looks the same.

(on camera): I can't even see more than a couple feet in font of me. The smoke does seem to fill you quickly. I remember being told that I should feel the door, see if there's any heat coming from it, and then look for an exit. However, the door doesn't open. I'm not familiar enough with how it works. I can see how in a panic victims can become confused and disoriented. I need to find a window. And I have found just that. And what I'm going to do now is just try and get out of here to avoid the fire and the smoke.

(voice-over): Finally I'm out. And I can see how it can be a harrowing experience -- as it was for George and Trellene Benning.

(on camera): Have you ever had anything more frightening happen in your life?

T. BENNING: No, sir, oh, no.

(END VIDEOTAPE) SANCHEZ: Isn't that amazing? I mean, what an amazing story, what this woman was able to do. She said it was a higher power, something else. Something else that moved her. Here's what fire officials who I was just on phone with a little while ago say. They say, Rick, tell your viewers and make sure that they understand, even if they feel silly doing this, that they should practice this stuff. It's too late once you're actually in a fire. So take your kids, take the elderly if they live in your home, and do whatever it takes to find out what the plan is going to be to be able to get out of the house in case there is a fire.

COOPER: So, when you're in smoke like that, I mean, how far ahead of you can you actually see?

SANCHEZ: Very little. I mean, the smoke becks (ph). That's the term that firefighters use. It starts from the roof (ph). At the very end, the best way for to you get out is going to be very low toward the floor. That's the only place you're going to be able to be both visible and that's also where the smoke tends to be less gaseous and fewer dangerous fumes will be contained in that smoke. That's why they say you you've got to stay low and try to get out that way.

COOPER: All right. Rick Sanchez, thanks very much.

SANCHEZ: All right.

COOPER: Coming up next on 360, turning tricks to save her family. That's what she said. A young mother finds work as a prostitute. Her list of clients shocked a Texas town.

Also tonight, heated reactions out there over the school bus brawl between a driver and a teenage boy. Did the kids get what they deserved? Or was the driver way out of line? We're bring you all the angles.


COOPER: Well, there's a town in Texas called Odessa. It's a place where tradition runs deep and secrets, it turns out, run deeper. Heidi Collins found out firsthand -- Heidi.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Boy, that's for sure. And Anderson, those secrets swirled around another old-fashioned tradition, prostitution.

Paying money for sex is hardly anything new. But in Odessa, the Johns were some of the most respected business leaders and family men in town.


COLLINS (voice-over): West Texas is the kind of place where small dramas play out big, and Odessa is no exception. This region pumps one-fifth of the nation's oil and gas supply. And many of the locals work the oil rigs. Raise a family in Midland, the saying goes, raise hell in Odessa. The town's high school football program captured Hollywood's attention in the movie "Friday Night Lights." Something about this town invites intrigue. And when a young physical therapist came to town looking for work, intrigue became her calling card.

CRYSTAL BURCHETT, FORMER PROSTITUTE: My husband's friend had said, hey, you know, I know this job in Odessa that's hiring. And you know, they pay really good. And you don't have to work full time. You know, it's the same thing you are doing over here at the rehab center.

And I thought, OK. You know, it's a little farther drive, but he said, you know, the money would make up for it.

COLLINS (on camera): So when you first got to this place, what did the signs say? What did it look like?

BURCHETT: It was a little square sign, and it said "Healing Touch." Right before we were going to go inside, he said, there's a little more to it than I told you.

COLLINS (voice-over): He explained they do the massage topless, and suggested she just sit in on a session.

BURCHETT: I followed him to the back, and they are totally getting undressed, both of them. I'm sitting in a chair just -- I have never been exposed, you know, to anything.

And she really gave him a massage, you know, a legit massage, she gave him one. And then at the end, he flipped over. And so -- and I was like, you know, kind of getting scared, but didn't really want to say a whole lot at this point, and then they proceeded to have sex from there.

And I'm just sitting here.

COLLINS (on camera): What on Earth were you thinking?

BURCHETT: I was embarrassed being there. I was mad at him for bringing me there. And I don't know -- I had so many emotions going through my head. I felt disgusted.

COLLINS (voice-over): But not disgusted enough to rule out doing it herself. Crystal Burchett, a former cheerleader, married at 18, and had two children. When she and her husband both lost their jobs, bills started piling up, and she decided to take a job at the Healing Touch.

BURCHETT: We got to a point where we didn't have enough money for food for the kids, and we didn't have money for anything. You know, and if it meant me doing that and my kids having food, then I was going to do whatever it took.

COLLINS (on camera): There are people who would say, go work at the grocery store, go be a waitress, sell a car, downgrade, different house. What happened with all those options? BURCHETT: I guess we had too much pride, you know, between the both of us. My husband really never knew exactly how bad our financial situation were, because I always handled all the money. And you know, it got to the point where I couldn't do it anymore. And I thought, I can go do this for a little bit, get caught up, and then nobody would ever know.

And it didn't work out that way.

COLLINS (voice-over): You could say Crystal was a victim of her own success. The Healing Touch didn't advertise. It didn't need to. Clients were logging into discussion boards like this and writing glowing reviews about Crystal, who took the working name Lexus.

Deputy Police Chief Lou Orras says the comments were surprisingly descriptive.

LOU ORRAS, DEPUTY POLICE CHIEF, ODESSA, TX: They would evaluate some of the girls, to let other viewers and potential customers know what to expect, cost, what they were like, what they could get away with.

COLLINS (on camera): Word spread quickly through Odessa, but what may shock you is who was listening. Doctors, lawyers, accountants, church deacons, not to mention an assistant district attorney.

BURCHETT: I had people fly in from Germany, New York, I mean, San Antonio. They would fly into Midland Airport and come see us, and then go home.

COLLINS (voice-over): Crystal's husband started wondering where the extra money was coming from. But she assured him that she was doing legitimate massage therapy.

BURCHETT: And I kept telling myself, you know, I may get out of this next week. You know, this is going to be my last week. And then something would come up. Mentally, it's hard, you know, to go do what you do every day over there, and then come home and kiss your kids at night. You know, you know what you have been doing over there. And you know, you can shower and you can clean, but you still feel guilty, you know, kissing your kids at night.

COLLINS: She had hoped the money would solve her family's problems, but it created new ones instead. Her husband separated from her; her kids moved in with her mother-in-law, and she started using cocaine.

BURCHETT: Every time I'd have a customer, I would do a few lines before I would go in there. That way, I would seem happy and in control.

COLLINS: In November 2003, just five months after the Healing Touch opened, business was clearly booming. Police were getting as many as 15 tips a day about the place. And they took action. (on camera): This rundown strip mall became the site of a lengthy sting operation. Police began noticing a steady stream of strictly male customers. And even though that was suspicious, they still had to get the evidence they needed to avoid a he said/she said showdown in court. ORRAS: We set up a 24-hour video surveillance, where it allowed our agents to see who was coming and going. We had some great evidence as far as being able to identify who the people were as they exited the car, or entered the business. We were able to get license plates.

COLLINS (on camera): You guys (INAUDIBLE) picking up a bunny -- or dropping a bunny off.

He looked about 80.

ORRAS: Yeah. There was all ages, young and old.

COLLINS (voice-over): Given the stature of some of the men, the police needed to have an ironclad case. It took them three months to build it. And as rumors of an investigation leaked to the local paper, those months would test the nerves of the people in this town.

BURCHETTE: It's the way people started acting. It's just suddenly everybody would get quiet, or, you know, distance themselves.

ORRAS: This particular investigation consumed the city. That's the first thing that they wanted to talk about. Am I on the list?


COOPER: Are they on the list? Next on 360, part two of Heidi Collins' report. The list of the men under investigation for having sex with prostitutes, and the woman who could not believe whose name turned up on that list.

Also ahead tonight, saved from the sea. Two fishermen plucked to safety in a daring helicopter rescue caught on tape.


COOPER: Thanks, Kellen (ph).

Before the break, we introduced you to a young mother named Crystal who started working as a prostitute in the Texas town of Odessa. Now, her clients included men of power in the town, men of respect, church deacons, assistant district attorney. Police got wind of the prostitution ring and they compiled a list of the clients. And people in this town became obsessed with that list, waiting and wondering who among them would turn up on it.

Heidi Collins picks up part two of her story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ORRAS: It was like walking on egg shells. It is my understanding people were talking about it in church. Anywhere where we went, and represented the police department, that's the first thing that they wanted to talk about. Am I on the list? Who's on the list? Of course, our response was, if you have to ask, you are probably on the list.

COLLINS: After six months of surveillance, police raided the Healing Touch massage parlor, where dozens of men visited an especially popular 22-year-old prostitute named Crystal Burchett, or Lexus, as she was known.

BURCHETT: I could hear mumbling going on up front, and it was really chaotic, and local police officers were there. And you know he -- they were like, hi, Lexus. So I knew, right then, they knew what was going on in there.

COLLINS: The bust was only the beginning. The prostitutes helped police identify the Johns, but it would take weeks to compile a final list.

Meanwhile, when someone leaked word to the local paper that the assistant district attorney was under suspicion, it opened the flood gates of gossip and distrust.

BURCHETTE: Well, the community kind of -- it fell apart in some ways, it did, because, you know, women were turning against their husbands.

COLLINS: Shawna Florey started wondering about her husband when he unexpectedly bought her a car.

SHAWNA FLOREY, EX-WIFE: The big suspicion came when he bought me a MGB. His friend had this MGB that we had went to a shop and I seen, I said, oh, I love it. I love little MGs, always have, and the next thing I knew, he was buying it for me.

COLLINS: One entrepreneur tried to cash in on all the rumors.

For months, suspicion ran high, awkward glances, stares, whispers, until finally the day the police released this, "The List," as it became known around town and people who thought they really knew each other started to look a whole lot like strangers.

When the suspects got the dreaded phone call, they were more than cooperative with police.

ORRAS: And we just explained to them, hey, your name showed up. We want to hear your side of the story.

COLLINS: Why do you think they confessed?

ORRAS: Well, a lot of them thought we -- we told them we had video, and we did. But I think some of them thought we had it a little bit more video than what they thought.

COLLINS: The list was published in the local paper and it read like a roll call at a community club meeting: a prominent rancher who bankrolled the town's football stadium; a former school board member; the assistant managing editor of the Odessa newspaper; a local accountant; the owner of a local insurance company.

On a rainy, June morning, those men were among the 68 who turned themselves in and pleaded guilty to misdemeanor solicitation charges. Crystal and five co-workers were charged with misdemeanor prostitution.

When Shawna heard the news, she started to wonder who she'd married.

FLOREY: I never knew if I was dealing with Jekyll or Hyde. I literally found out some of the dates he was there and stuff. He left this prostitute and came to my daughter's orchestra concert, sitting beside me. You know, is that not a little bit strange?

COLLINS: Strange, too, for Crystal's husband, who was also blindsided by the news.

So, your husband found out that you were doing this, that you were having sex for money, on television?

BURCHETT: Uh-huh. I didn't talk to him for about four months. He wouldn't talk to me. I called and he just was crying and, you know, he would tell me he hated me. Why? You know, what did he do to deserve this?

COLLINS: Odessa was torn apart and families were hanging in the balance. Shawna, whose husband had given her a sports car, ended up getting divorced. But just like the oil drilled in this part of Texas, forgiveness runs deep in this town.

FLOREY: I'll get over it but I'll never forget it. I still want to spend my life with someone, but I probably will check him out next time a little closer.

COLLINS: Crystal says she has her life back. She claims to have been drug-free since her arrest 10 months ago. She paid a $500 fine and is now back together with her kids and her husband after a six- month separation.

BURCHETT: I mean, it's hurt a lot of people. And, I mean, I regret everything that's happened. But I can't change it. Or I would.

COLLINS: Is that why you are here today?

BURCHETT: I mean, I can't change what I've done. And I know people probably think I have no remorse and I just did it, just to do it.

COLLINS: This isn't something you are going to tell those kids about ever?

BURCHETT: You know, when the time is right, I will tell them one day and it's going to be the hardest thing I know I will ever have to do.

COLLINS: What do you think you might be able to say?

BURCHETT: I don't know. I played this in my mind a few times because my mom's asked me and my husband's asked me, what are you going to tell the kids? And I have no idea how, because, you know, now I think about it and I say, well I did this for them. But doing something for them has caused a lot of pain to them and to my family, and I don't see how I did it now. I don't see how I justified doing it. I don't. (END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS (voice-over): Other families in Odessa have felt the pain from this, too. Shawna Florey decided to divorce her husband over his infidelities with the women of the Healing Touch as we mentioned in the piece. And Shawna says, if there's one thing she would like people to understand about what happened in her town, is that prostitution is not a victimless crime. Many of the Johns in this story had families and that means there are often children to think about. When the list became public, that's when the pain of what their fathers and husbands did hit the hardest.

COOPER: Yeah, no doubt about it. Fascinating, fascinating story. Heidi Collins, thanks.

Coming up next on 360, a school bus brawl, a shocking confrontation, the bus driver hitting a student right there. The student later hits the bus driver. A lot of you had something to say about this. We'll read some of your e-mails ahead.

Also, tonight, windows smashed, tables toppled, and elephant prints everywhere. Would you believe it's a blessing in disguise? An update when we come back.


COOPER: All right. Time now for a quick check of other news happening in the world. Erica Hill from HEADLINE NEWS joins us with the latest at about eight to the hour. Erica.

HILL: Hello again, Anderson. More U.S. soldiers, we're learning, have been killed in Iraq, nine within the past two days. Four were killed today in two separate attacks, a car bombing and a drive-by shooting, both in Baghdad. 1,643 Americans have died in Iraq since the war began.

In South Africa, an alarming study. Researchers say every six hours, a woman in South Africa is killed by her partner. They say it's the highest that has ever been reported in research anywhere in the world, and they blame social scars that still exist a decade after the end of apartheid. Less than 40 percent of the homicides lead to a conviction.

In San Mateo, California, a daring rescue caught on tape. Two fishermen stuck on a jetty pounded by waves around 45 minutes after their boat sank. The Coast Guard used a helicopter to lift them to safety one by one. Amazing.

And in Seoul, South Korea, who would have thought all this destruction was a good thing? The eatery trampled by runaway elephants last month. You got to remember this video. Well, now, it's reopened under a new name, name, rather, which translated means "restaurant where elephants have been." Catchy. It even serves a new vegetable dish called an elephant set. Ever since people have visited the restaurant out of curiosity, their sales have doubled. No word yet on if any of the elephants, though, have come back for the blue plate special, Anderson.

COOPER: My favorite is this guy. Watch. He's about to like -- he's just out of the crowd, he just pops in there and decides, I'll just hit the elephant with a stick, and now I'll move on. OK.


COOPER: What was he thinking?

HILL: I don't really know. I think...

COOPER: This is the other guy I like...


HILL: ... hungry.

COOPER: I like the guy who checks his fly in the midst of the crowd. It's the little things I appreciate.

HILL: You don't want it left open when there's video cameras around. I mean, come on. You would be the laughingstock of Korea and the world.

COOPER: That's right. Erica Hill, thanks very much. See you again in about 30 minutes.

Let's find out what is coming up at the top of the hour on PAULA ZAHN NOW. Hey, Paula.

PAULA ZAHN, HOST, "PAULA ZAHN NOW": Hi, Anderson. Thanks.

All this week, we are bringing you "Survivor" stories. At the top of the hour, meet a cop who actually wanted to take down criminals of New York's meanest streets, but eventually his own world came crashing down on him. He lost his family, he lost his hope, and the desperate effort to redeem himself nearly cost him his life. You'll hear his incredible story coming up.

Plus, we'll also be taking a look at the stem cell transplant debate, a heated one at that. Dana Reeve will be joining us, the wife of Christopher Reeve.

COOPER: All right. We'll look forward to that, about five minutes from now. Paula, thanks. Coming up next though, on 360, the video that America is talking about, the bus driver who hit -- well, you see him there what he's doing to one of the kids. A lot of you have different views on exactly what happened and what should happen in terms of the law. We'll take a look at all your views ahead in a moment.


COOPER: Welcome back. We have been getting a lot of e-mail, both yesterday and today, even during the show and over the course of the last hour about the school bus story that we brought you yesterday. It has got a lot of you fired up.

It's the case where the driver of this Florida school bus -- as you see here, he pulls his bus over and he gets into a physical confrontation with two teenage brothers. The driver grabbed the older boy, 15 years old, around the neck, strikes him in the face. And the same boy then later strikes the driver. That's a little bit harder to see. As soon as that kid moves out of the way, you'll see that. There, that's where he hits the driver.

The boys are facing a possible felony charge, while the driver faces only misdemeanor battery charges.

A lot of you had different perspectives on this. As always, we don't take sides. We try to report all the angles. You certainly seem to have many different angles on this story.

Dave from Tinley Park, Illinois, took the driver's side. He writes: "Those kids on the bus got what they deserved. It's obvious the parents aren't teaching them to respect others. I hope they get sent up, just to teach those spoiled brats a lesson."

Andrea from Amarillo, Texas disagrees, though. She writes: "The bus driver should be the one in serious trouble, hitting these children. School officials are all supposed to take care of our children, not hurt them."

And Gale (ph) from Peekskill, New York, has her own unique perspective on the story. "I'm a bus driver," she writes, "myself, and have to listen to parents on a regular basis when a bus driver, complain about their child's behavior constantly -- get the not my child syndrome response. I wish each parent had to ride a school bus just one day, and they will see what a bus driver must deal with on a daily basis."

Appreciate your e-mails. Log on to Click on the "Instant Feedback" link. Let us know what you think.

I'm Anderson Cooper. Thanks very much for watching this edition of 360. I'll be on NEWSNIGHT a little bit later, at 10:00 Eastern time. Hope you join me for that, if you're not too sick of me already. CNN's primetime coverage continues right now, though, with Paula Zahn. Hey, Paula.

ZAHN: We'll be there. Appointment television, Anderson, thanks.



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