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ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL
Illinois Governor Arrested on Corruption Charges; Mother Arrested for Cash-for-Sex Party
Aired December 9, 2008 - 19:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, a Detroit mother arrested for throwing a cash-for-sex party that included her 16-year-old daughter. What in the world would make a woman pimp out her only daughter? I`ll tell you why it`s a lot more common than you think.
Bombshell allegations of extortion at the highest levels of Illinois government. The governor arrested on a laundry list of corruption charges, including trying to sell Obama`s Senate seat. One minute he`s standing by unemployed factory workers. The next he`s behind bars. Why are so many politicians big, fat hypocrites?
And a fresh update in the war on women. Shocking new details in the brutal killing of Anne Pressly. New reports suggest the prime suspect in the murder of this popular anchorwoman was a stalker. So why were we led to believe this was a random act? We`ll take your calls.
Those issues and more tonight.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`ll be taking your calls on the shocking story of a mother who allegedly had her own daughter working a cash-for-sex party at her Detroit home. Call me at 1-877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 1-877-586-7297.
But first, a story so unbelievable, you`d swear it came from a screenplay. Illinois governor, Rod Blagojevich, who was arrested this morning in his home and accused of staggering levels of corruption and extortion, staggering. Wire taps revealed he was allegedly trying to sell Barack Obama`s vacated Senate seat, which is an appointment the governor makes. "I want to make money," he`s quoted as saying.
He also allegedly tried to use his position as governor to get newspaper journalists who were critical of him fired. And he allegedly tried to extort $50,000 from an executive at a children`s hospital in exchange for millions of dollars in government funding.
The U.S. attorney said even seasoned investigators were totally stunned by what they heard on the wire taps.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PATRICK FITZGERALD, U.S. ATTORNEY: This is a sad day for government. It`s a very sad day for Illinois government. Governor Blagojevich has taken us to a truly new low. Governor Blagojevich has been arrested in the middle of what we could only describe as a political corruption crime spree.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So what does this mean for the vacant Senate seat and how, if at all, will this corruption sting affect President-elect Obama? We`re going to get to those questions in just a moment with our fantastic panel.
First for the very latest, I want to turn to Alden Loury, editor and publisher at the "Chicago Reporter."
Alden, lay out the entire scenario, in which this slime bag governor allegedly tried to sell Barack Obama`s Senate seat. What did he want in return and who did he want it from?
ALDEN LOURY, EDITOR AND PUBLISHER, "CHICAGO REPORTER": Well, it`s a pretty -- pretty elaborate scenario. Apparently, the governor -- he`s accused of anyway, trying to solicit not only bargains or deals from some of the individuals who were considered potential candidates, people that he might select as Barack Obama`s replacement. But he was also trying to finagle deals with groups that were perhaps going to be in close contact with or were favorites of Barack Obama.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Didn`t he want something for his wife? Didn`t he want, like, an appointment in the cabinet, health and human services?
LOURY: He was -- potentially, one of the things he was talking about was an appointment as the health of human services, an ambassadorship. He was looking, perhaps, to be installed as the head of a nonprofit group, a labor organization. There were a number of -- I mean, this is something that was -- allegedly anyway -- was really thought out, and he looked at a number of different angles and scenarios that just...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Let me ask you about -- candidate No. 5, according to the affidavit, one hopeful for the U.S. Senate seat is identified simply as candidate No. 5. Presumably, the authorities know who this is. An associate of that candidate allegedly promised to raise big money for the governor in what appeared to be a pay-to-play scenario. So is candidate No. 5, whoever that is, in big trouble?
LOURY: The attorney -- the U.S. attorney tried to keep people from going too far on that. But he did say that this thing was not done. So I think candidate No. 5 may have a little to worry about. And there may be others, then, other dominos that fall as the investigation continues.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to thank you for taking the time to bring us up to date.
Now, you`ve heard of Mambo No. 5. This is candidate No. 5. Thank you, Alden, for explaining all of that.
Let`s turn now to our panel. Greg Palast from "The Rolling Stone" and Peter Fenn, Democratic strategist.
Greg, some are now calling Illinois the corruption capital of America. President-elect Obama is an Illinois politician. Even though the U.S. attorney went out of his way today to say there is absolutely no evidence that Obama was involved in any way, in any of this, could this still hurt Barack Obama? And if so, how?
GREG PALAST, "ROLLING STONE": Well, Chicago`s not going to take the title from Alaska, so don`t worry. But I would say that -- I would say that Obama actually came out really well, because I looked at the snippets of tape that they had, and Obama, for his candidate, Valerie Jarrett, apparently, that for his candidate, he said he would only give Blagojevich appreciation.
Well, Blagojevich went straight ballistic over that. So Obama comes out smelling like a rose, because appreciation is not what Blagojevich was looking for.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Exactly. It almost -- in denouncing Obama, he`s giving him a compliment, because it appears that Obama wasn`t willing, or any of his people, to play ball with this slime bucket.
Now, President-elect Obama did comment on the scandal today, but very, very briefly. This is exactly what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT-ELECT: I had no contact with the governor or -- or his office, so we were not -- I was not aware of what was happening. And as I`ve said, it`s a sad day for Illinois. Beyond that, I don`t think it`s appropriate to comment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Peter Fenn, you are a former Gore adviser. You`re a Democratic strategist, so let me ask you about the potential fallout here, because there is that phrase "six degrees of separation," and it turns out that there is a connection between Tony Rezko, who was convicted of fraud and bribery earlier this year. And in the affidavit, Rezko is described by somebody as close to the governor and doing fund-raising for the governor.
Of course, during the election we heard so much about the tenuous ties between Barack Obama and Tony Rezko.
PETER FENN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: True. But I think that nothing was ever really put out there that -- that tarnished Barack Obama. He said he made a mistake, a bonehead move, buying that piece of property next door.
But I think on this one, you have a sleazy governor here. I mean, the very notion of selling a Senate seat is ludicrous. There are other things in the indictment -- I read it this afternoon -- which is -- which are shocking. He wants to get $500,000 in contributions from people who do business with the state before a new law takes place.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you know, I`ve got to tell you, I`ve got to read one of these quotes, because you`re right. It`s actually shocking to hear -- it sounds like something out of "On the Waterfront," the way this guy talks, you know, Marlon Brando or something. Listen to this one. This is one of his recorded statements on the Obama seat.
"I`ve got this thing, and it`s F`ing golden, and uh, I`m not giving it up for F`ing nothing. I`m not gonna do it. And I can always use it. I can parachute me in there."
Now, look, I`m not exactly up to date on my corruption lingo.
FENN: But you`ve got the accent right, Jane. You`ve got the accent right.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you. Greg, what does it mean, "I could parachute me in there"?
PALAST: What he`s trying to do is say, "Look, if Obama doesn`t come across -- if I don`t get someone to pay me off for the Senate seat, I`ll take the Senate seat. I`ll parachute into the U.S. Senate, and that will also allow me immunity and get me off the hook from being impeached as governor."
So he had quite a scheme going.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s listen to what this dirt bag said yesterday. He went to a Chicago factory sit-in, saying he wanted to stand up for the little guy. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ROD BLAGOJEVICH (D), ILLINOIS: I don`t care whether you tape me privately or publicly, I can tell you that whatever I say is always lawful, and the things I`m interested in doing are always lawful. And if there are any things like that out there, which you`ll hear, the governor who tirelessly and endlessly figures out ways to help average, ordinary working people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And Peter Fenn, Babyface also said, "Are you kidding me?" when he was informed he was going to be arrested? Is -- this guy is in denial.
FENN: He`s in total denial, Jane. Complete denial. In my view, he should resign. If he doesn`t resign, they ought to impeach him. They ought to have a special election, if they can figure out how to do it, as fast as possible, for his Senate seat or get him out and have a lieutenant governor come in and do it. But I`ll tell you: there`s -- there`s no reason for this guy to stay in serving, quote, "serving" the public any longer.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Greg, let me ask you. He can still make the appointment even from a prison cell, which is mind-boggling to me. What should the state of Illinois do to prevent him from tainting this any further?
PALAST: There`s got to be some punishment that can be exacted. They can take away his pension. He`s worried about money. They can say, "Look, if you cede the Senate seat..."
VELEZ-MITCHELL: No, but I mean, what about the Senate seat? I mean, how are we going to choose this...
PALAST: No, no, I`m saying -- I`m saying put some heat on this guy and say, "We`re going to take away your pension, Governor, if you play games with this Senate seat. Hands off now or we -- or we slice it out of your bank account."
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Resign, resign, resign!
Peter, Greg, thank you so much.
Now, here is a totally different shocker. A Detroit mom threw a cash- for-sex party with 19 prostitutes in her own home, and guess who she hired as a half-naked dancer for these festivities? Her 16-year-old daughter. Isn`t that special? Not! Call 1-877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 1-877-586-7297 to sound off on this disgusting story. After the break, how could a mother do this?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Police continue their investigation into the brutal murder of beloved anchorwoman Anne Pressly. Was it a random crime or was the suspect a stalker? Stunning new information just in. That is coming right up.
But first, a shocking story out of Detroit. A mother charged with throwing a -- get this -- cash-for-sex party with 19 prostitutes and 20 customers at her own home. But it gets worse.
Guess who she hired as a semi-naked dancer? Her own 16-year-old daughter and another teenage girl.
Thirty-four-year-old Tracy Abdur-Rasheed -- there she is -- was arrested and ordered held on a $500,000 bond. The authorities also found - - no surprise here -- drugs, cash, handguns at the scene. Let`s just say this woman is not going to win the mother-of-the-year award anytime soon.
Investigators still don`t know whether the underage daughter and the other teenage girl were paid to have sex with any of the men in attendance. But they`ve taken that daughter into protective custody, which is precisely where she belongs.
I am personally outraged at this story, and I want to hear what you have to say. How could a mother do this? Call 1-877-JVM-SAYS. That is 1- 877-586-7297 with your thoughts.
But first, Greg Hunter, a reporter from the "Detroit News," has been following this story.
Greg, authorities actually got an undercover officer to infiltrate the sex party and what he saw triggered this raid. Paint a picture of what was going on. There was a guard at the front door. And then take us inside.
GREG HUNTER, REPORTER, "DETROIT NEWS": Well, apparently before that, they were making it known in advance that there would be underage girls at this party, because the undercover officers found out, you know, that there were going to be -- there were going to be teens there. So apparently, that was one of the selling points to get people to come.
They were charging $15 a head. And when the police -- an undercover officer infiltrated it first so they could get a warrant. And then once they got the warrant, the police raided the place. And they found the two 16-year-old girls, who were partially nude, dancing. It`s unclear whether they were engaging in prostitution, as well. But there were 19 other prostitutes there.
So in addition to the $15 cover charge, then the 20 men who were there would negotiate with the prostitutes as far as what they were going to pay for that.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is so sick. And you know what really bugs me, George, is why was the other 16-year-old girl, who was apparently semi- naked and dancing, as well, in this horrific party with all those johns and all these prostitutes, released to the custody of her parents? I mean, she`s there at 4 in the morning at some wacky party where there`s drugs and there`s guns and there`s sex. And shouldn`t they investigate to see whether her parents knew what was going on?
HUNTER: They may be investigating that at this time. I think they don`t -- at this point they don`t have enough to charge the parents with anything, would be my guess on that. But I`m sure they`re looking into that to see if they knew about what was happening.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me ask you. You know, you`re a reporter in the Detroit area. Is this area kind of known for that? Is this a troubled area where there are a lot of guns and a lot of drugs and this kind of thing happens?
HUNTER: Yes, I`ve been covering crime here in Detroit for about ten years now. And you`d think nothing can shock you, you know, and things -- people like this just keep popping up. And it`s incredible.
Even the judge who arraigned this woman -- generally, arraignments are, as you know, perfunctory matters.
HUNTER: They just read the charges and move on. And the judge in this case, or the magistrate, took the time out to say that the facts of this case were particularly despicable, to use her words. So...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, yes. Listen, George, thank you so much for bringing us up to date on this disgusting case.
I want to hear what you have to say about this very sicko sex party. Call 1-877-JVM-SAYS. That is 1-877-586-7297 to sound off.
Now let`s check in with our panel to see if they`re as outraged as I am. Sari Locker, psychologist and sexologist and Drew Findling, criminal defense attorney. Thanks for joining us.
Sari, this mom was reportedly charging -- get this -- 15 bucks at the door as a cover. That didn`t include the sex. The daughter, at the very least, playing the role of stripper at this party, perhaps doing a lot more. We don`t know yet. This mom is treating her daughter like a cash crop. How sick is that? How does a mom end up doing something like that?
SARI LOCKER, PSYCHOLOGIST: This is a very serious story of a crime. This isn`t just a story of parental neglect and abuse. This is a mother who, as we`re hearing, had issues with drugs and, of course, with her interpretation of sex and what she thought she should be doing with her child.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I guess what I`m asking you is, you know, most moms have a natural instinct to protect...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... their children, their daughters, particularly, and protect them and make sure nothing happens to them. What happened to this woman`s instincts?
And again, she hasn`t been convicted. She`s just been accused.
LOCKER: But I think it`s OK to say that, if these allegations are true, she went from a parent who should be protecting their adolescent to a parent who was exploiting her adolescent. So clearly, there`s some problem that she might have.
Often the cycle of abuse and neglect continues from generation to generation. So this might be something that happened there. Also, drug addiction or alcoholism, socioeconomic factors. There might be some other things going on, too, as well.
But it`s a very sad story, because the teenagers involved are going to have an extremely hard time as they try to progress in life.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: This has got to be horribly traumatic for them. And I want to get to that in a second. But I don`t think it`s sad; it makes me angry. You know, this is -- this is absolutely beyond comprehension.
Drew Findling, most of the prostitutes and the johns involved -- and there were approximately 40 people between the prostitutes and the johns, they were given a ticket and allowed to go home.
Here`s my point: either we make prostitution illegal or we start prosecuting these johns and these prostitutes across the board. Because this sends a terrible message that, hey, you could go to these sex parties, you could even get caught. It could even be a horrible sex party with underage girls, and you go home with a ticket.
DREW FINDLING, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, Jane, you and I talked about this two weeks ago, with the governor of New York on the johns getting off thing. And I think that we need to focus on the issue of the johns or the customers. Because to me, I reached out to my colleagues in Michigan about this case, and they seem to feel that this is a 100 percent economic crime, from the johns.
From the customers` perspective, this mommy dearest had a one-stop shopping deal here. Instead of a normal economy where people go over the border, they go to Windsor, they go to strip joints, prostitutes, they just go to some house, pay 15 bucks. There`s 16-year-olds dancing. There`s drugs. There`s guns, prostitution.
And we`re talking about the worst economy in the United States of America. And that`s what this is a reflection of. You combine that with this mommy dearest, who had problems beyond comprehension...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`d respect her more if she sold her own body. But I don`t think anybody would want her, frankly. I mean...
FINDLING: I`m with you.
FINDLING: But as long as there`s customers that are willing to be attracted to this kind of atrocity -- but where she crosses the line, across the board, is involving not only her daughter but another 16-year- old kid. That`s just beyond understanding.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It really is. And you know, we`re going to get back to this in a second. I`d like you guys to hang tight.
And think about this: as you get ready to make your calls, there was, according to cops, heroin, Ecstasy and marijuana found. I`m going to be taking your calls on this twisted sex party after this break. Stick around.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re back talking about the young mother who threw a sex party at her Detroit home and, allegedly, had her underage daughter dance almost naked. We`re taking your calls.
Back with me, Sari Locker, psychologist and sexologist, and Drew Findling, criminal defense attorney. The phone lines lighting up on this one.
Kimberly in Michigan, your thought or question, ma`am?
CALLER: Hey, Jane. I`m really calling from Detroit. And I just wanted to let you know that this is nothing new here in Detroit. This goes on every day. This person just finally got caught.
And now with the economy the way it is, people are going to do whatever they have to do to make ends meet. And I`ve been outraged for the longest, reported this type of stuff that I`ve seen, and nothing has been done.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Kimberly, can I ask you a question before you hang up? Why? I mean, there are so many other ways -- I would think I`d do anything before I would sell my -- my child. I mean, that`s absolutely astounding.
But you know what? I take issue with the idea that this is just about poverty, because it`s across the board. I don`t think depravity knows any social or economic boundaries.
You know, there was a very famous case in New York involving a guy named James Collison (ph), a prominent, wealthy tax lawyer -- there he is - - at a New York law firm, White Shoe Firm, married, father of five. And he pleaded guilty to having sex with teenage girls and pleaded guilty to statutory rape and prostitution.
So, Dr. Locker, it`s not really, oh, just, you know, people are poor, and they`ve got to do this for economic reasons. No.
LOCKER: And also the story you were just mentioning, this isn`t about teenagers who chose to become prostitutes, maybe because they were runaways or something like that. This is a situation in which a very troubled woman -- I assume a very troubled woman decided that she would want her or make her adolescent do these things. So it`s a very serious issue.
And I think it`s kind of unusual that we`re calling it a sex party and that there was a graphic of some kind of alluring kind of scene. Sure, it was. But it was more a crime scene than anything else, the way I look at it.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, certainly, you know. And the one word that pretty much explains it all. Heroin, they found heroin at the party. And when you`re -- when hard drugs are involved, people are capable of anything.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I say that as a recovering alcoholic with almost 14 years of sobriety. That is what really is the dividing line between sane behavior and insane behavior.
LOCKER: Yes. You mentioned -- sorry.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Chris from Michigan -- we`ll get to you in a second. Chris from Michigan, your question and thought, sir.
CALLER: Hey, Jane. This is Chris, calling from Michigan. Since this is a sex-related crime, will the mother have to register as a sex offender?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Very good question. Drew Findling.
FINDLING: Well, if she gets convicted of a sex-related crime -- and these days, across the country, the interpretation of a sex-related crime is broadening with each and every passing day. There`s a very good chance she would have to register.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Dr. Sari Locker, what do these girls need? Do they need therapy right now to heal?
LOCKER: So much so. And you were just mentioning having to recover from an addiction. They have a lot of hardships that may come to them. Not just because of drugs and alcohol and prostitution that`s already been in their young lives, but also because they did not develop with a parental support system.
And now one, at least, is in productive custody, again being taken away from the opportunity to learn that she can trust people. So hopefully, she will find a parent, foster parent, someone who she`ll be able to trust and rebuild any sense of belonging.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, yes. Yes. I mean, a violation like this by a mother, that is damaging.
Thank you Sari, thank you, Drew, very much for your insight.
In just minutes, new details on the brutal murder of Arkansas TV anchor Anne Pressly. The judge issues a gag order. Shocking new developments. Call me, 1-877-JVM-SAYS.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: The brutal murder of beautiful anchorwoman, Anne Pressly, continues to baffle the country. Police originally said the attack was an act of random violence. Now new reports say the prime suspect was stalking her. What are we to believe?
Give us a call and tell us what you think. 1-877-JVM-SAYS, that`s 1- 887-586-7297.
Your calls on the latest stunning details on the Anne Pressly murder case in just moments.
But first, top of the block, an update in the tragic case of the 8- year-old Arizona boy accused of killing his father and another man.
As of tonight, the boy still faces two counts of murder. Now, the prosecution wants to drop one charge but only so they can have the option of charging him when he`s older as an adult. The judge has not signed-off on that just yet; smart move, your honor. Does it really make sense to punish an 18-year-old for what he did when he was 8-years-old? No, of course it doesn`t.
Anyway, a mental evaluation of the child set for next Wednesday could reveal a whole lot more. It seems the entire nation is wondering what could have motivated such a young child -- 8 years old -- to gun down two men, one of them his dad.
Joining me now, my dear friend, Diane Dimond, journalist, columnist and author of "Be Careful Who You Love". Diane, it`s great to see you first of all.
DIANE DIMOND, AUTHOR, "BE CAREFUL WHO YOU LOVE": Jane, it`s great to see you, my friend.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You just wrote a column in the Huffington Post about this, "Is evil born or made?" Now, you`ve covered so many huge crimes, what is your theory, I want to know about this very tragic and unusual case?
DIMOND: Well, I write this weekly newspaper column and so many people have said to me, how come you`re not writing about this 8-year-old kid? I mean, he killed his dad and this other guy? And it took me a while to want to write about it Jane, because as a reporter, sneak around and sniff around the story, sometimes great little tidbits come out.
Well, nothing has come out about this. So I got the thinking is this like the old bad seed movie, remember that movie --
DIMOND: The Patty McCormick, the kid with the long braids. Was this like a bad seed kid or did something horrible happen to this child to make him so desperate, so devoid of emotion that he could pick up a gun and do this?
I talked to a lot of people who deal in that realm and almost every single one said something terrible had to have happened to the home life of this child or the school life or something.
Now, having said that, there could be 99 percent that`s what it was, but one percent, maybe there`s something physical wrong with this child. Maybe he has a brain tumor. Maybe the fluid in his spinal column that washes into the brain is infected.
I mean, there could be other things and this judge is smart. He`s checking that out first.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, absolutely they`re going to have a psychological evaluation. To me, it`s very simple. They trained him to hunt, they taught him how to shoot, they instructed him to kill prairie dogs. And then, according to him -- and again, I have no independent corroboration of anything -- but according to him, they spanked him over and over again.
DIMOND: A thousand times he said.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, well, he said, once it hits 1,000, that`s it I`m not going to take it anymore. So I think that that`s a cause-and-effect scenario. You don`t over spank a kid and then give him a gun and train him how to use it.
DIMOND: Well, now let`s look at both sides of this, Jane. We do know -- and I`m a mother -- I mean, I so empathize with children -- it makes me weep to think about this. But we know that this child is a liar.
I mean, we watched the videotape of him being interrogated by these two policewomen which we can talk about that in a minute and he weaves these elaborate tales of, yes, well, I got off the bus and I walked here and I walk there and I saw a car and this is the color and it had this kind of tires -- all of it, if we now believe his confession, all of that -- those were all lies.
So the 1,000 spankings, is that the truth? I don`t know, I looked at the search warrant return and there was no returned item there for a like spanking tally sheet.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But see I don`t really buy the whole notion, respectfully, that a kid lies. They don`t know the difference between reality and fantasy. They make up stories; I had invisible friends when I was 8. I still have a couple of them.
DIMOND: Oh, really?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: No, but I mean, seriously kids live in fantasies. So I don`t think -- I just don`t want to describe him as a liar, especially when these two -- these officers without an attorney present, without any adult, without any psychiatrist present --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Are asking him leading questions.
DIMOND: Yes, yes. It`s going to come back to bite them and that video may very well never make it into court.
I had a commenter on my Website write in something that really made me stop and think. She said, maybe he`s just a very, very immature 8-year- old. Maybe he`s been seeped in roadrunner-type cartoons where people get shot or dropped off a cliff and then, they get up and walk away and everything is fine. And there was gun and he just thought, well gee, how does this work?
All right, well maybe, but you know what, Jane, this was a single action .22 rifle. What does that mean, well, there were ten bullets shot. That means ten times this child deliberately went bang, bang, bang -- not only to his father but to another guy.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes and he said that at one point he said he wanted to put his dad out of his misery because he was suffering and he didn`t want him to suffer. That`s what you do when you shoot an animal and you wound it. You decide that I`m going to try to kill it because let`s face it usually when you shoot an animal, they don`t die instantly. They writhe around for a long period of time.
DIMOND: Right, right, and again, they taught him to do that. His father taught him to shoot and to handle a rifle. So you wouldn`t think he`d pick it up and oops, it went off and certainly not ten times.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I think the moral of this story don`t teach 8- year-old children how to shoot a weapon. They can`t handle it; they don`t even understand the concept of death.
Stay right there, Diane. You`re always fantastic.
I want to turn to our continuing coverage of the war on women tonight.
Stunning new revelations in the brutal murder of popular and beautiful Arkansas, TV anchor, Anne Pressly. Police arrested suspect Curtis Vance after matching up DNA found at the Pressly crime scene to a sexual assault of another woman in a neighboring town.
Now, after weeks and weeks of authorities insisting that this was a random robbery gone bad, new reports suggest that Curtis Vance is a stalker. Witnesses have reportedly told police they observed him stalking other women, both in a neighboring town and near a fitness center close to Pressly`s home.
Our question tonight, was Anne Pressly a targeted victim rather than a random one? Call 1-877-JVM-SAYS, that`s 1-877-586-7297, with your comments and questions.
Joining me now: Rhonda Saunders, deputy district attorney in Los Angeles and author of "Whisper of Fear"; and back again, Diane Dimond, a journalist and columnist and author of "Be Careful Who You Love."
Rhonda, a Little Rock judge has just refused to release Vance`s jail records to members of the media saying, oh, it might hurt his right to a fair trial. What does that tell you about this guy`s history that the judge would consider jail records so prejudicial that he would refuse to comply with the state`s Freedom of Information Act?
RHONDA SAUNDERS, AUTHOR, "WHISPER OF FEAR: I`ve seen judges do this before because they want to keep the trial untainted. They don`t want to have to try a case two or more times because juries have been tainted by what they`re reading in the media. So it is very unusual for a judge to seal records like this. But it`s not unprecedented.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But don`t you think that ship has sailed? We`ve been talking about this for weeks now and I don`t think jail records are going to be what prejudices a jury. It`s going to be all the stuff that we`ve been talking about, the fact that he`s a suspect in a rape.
And I want to ask Diane and you to listen to this ABC`s "20/20" interview.
The very courageous woman, Kristen Edwards, the Mariana schoolteacher whose rape investigation provided critical DNA evidence that led to the arrest of this guy in the Pressly murder. Take a listen to how she reacted today her attacker.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KRISTEN EDWARDS, ATTACK VICTIM: It was a surprise. He was hiding in my living room. And I never saw it coming. I pretty much did as I was told to do. I didn`t look. I didn`t fight. I stopped yelling, that sort of thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, first of all, Diane, I think this is one incredibly courageous woman for coming forward. Kudos to her; by actually speaking out, I think she is helping women who might have experienced the same thing, overcome their shame and say, hey, you know I`m going to talk about this because we`ve got to speak out to stop this.
DIMOND: Yes, you know, I look at those pictures, those mug shot pictures there. And if this is the man -- I remind everybody his DNA was apparently found on Pressly`s body and in her bed -- that was the last face that Pressly looked at right before she died or right before she was beaten almost to death.
It is the only way it`s going to stop, the only way I think police departments are going to take it seriously all across the country -- and many do already -- is that if women start speaking out about it. I have such pride and I`m in awe of women who do what that woman did on "20/20."
And I want to talk about this other issue, Rhonda, because that woman -- ok had to wait seven months for the DNA to come back.
SAUNDERS: Oh, my.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And had they brought it back in a couple of months or a couple of weeks, they might have been able to arrest this creep before he had a chance to allegedly assault Anne Pressly. I know they can get it back quicker -- how do I know that because they got Anne`s Pressly`s DNA back in less than two months.
SAUNDERS: I totally agree with you. That DNA was definitely a tool that they could have used. The only problem is, even here in Los Angeles, we`ve found that there are backlogs sometimes of five, ten years on DNA testing.
And they claim that it`s a matter of money; that they don`t have enough money for the people doing the analysis. So meanwhile, we have these rapists out on the street and these are the people who need to be stopped.
SAUNDERS: So I think the solution is, we need to put more resources into fighting these crimes against women.
DIMOND: Jane, I also wrote a column about this just recently. There is money out there. There was legislation passed by the United States Congress. There`s money out there. But it`s not being allocated right. And boy, if anybody has a child out there who`s wondering what to take in college, take forensic science because there`s not enough forensic scientists.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Great point, everyone. Stay right there.
We`re going to be back with more of your calls on the Pressly murder and the war on women. Call 1-877-JVM-SAYS, that`s 1-877-586-7297. Back in a minute with more on it.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re back taking your calls on the brutal murder of Arkansas anchorwoman Anne Pressly and asking the question was her killer a stalker and could he have been stopped? Call 1-877-JVM-SAYS; that`s 1-877- 586-7297 with your comments and questions.
Joining me now Rhonda Saunders, deputy D.A. in L.A. and author of "Whisper of Fear" and Diane Dimond, journalist, columnist and author of "Be Careful Who You Love."
The phone lines are lighting up. Jason in Arkansas, your questions or thoughts, sir.
JASON, CALLER FROM ARKANSAS: Hey, Jane, how are you doing?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hey, how are you doing?
JASON: I`d like to say that this guy is sick -- any man who would treat any woman like that is just wrong -- how he was raised. I have four little daughters and any man that would treat them like that, he wouldn`t be -- there`s something serious would happen to him. It`s wrong.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, what`s fascinating, Diane, is that he doesn`t have an extensive criminal record. He is a suspect --
DIMOND: Oh, I bet he does, Jane. I bet we just don`t know about it. I mean I bet he`s just been crafty enough not to get caught. If he was indeed guilty of the librarian rape and now this rape, he doesn`t just rape twice in his life. This man is in his 30s or so and it hasn`t just happened twice.
What really worries me though is that stalking charge. I`ve been a reporter out in the field, so have you. We`ve done it together.
DIMOND: I know I`ve been stalked. You probably have been, too.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I was there when you were stalked. We both covered the Michael Jackson case and they were stalking you and they were horrible to most of the media.
DIMOND: Yes, it`s very threatening. And I`ve been stalked before that. There was a woman who liked me very much at one point in my career. Paula Abdul is another good example. It`s the ugly secret about what we do. When you`re on television, you really are a target.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely. And the sad part is, we both -- I`ve been a reporter in small markets. You`re meeting a lot of people, you`re going out, it`s easy for them to follow you home. It`s not like you jump into some kind of a town car.
This is absolutely horrific. And to give you an idea of how horrific, the severity of Anne Pressly`s wounds, oh, my gosh. It`s painful to even say; ribs broken, bones in her face broken, her left hand in perhaps a defensive action broken.
Here`s what her distraught parents said recently on ABC`s "20/20." Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GUY CANNADY, ANNE PRESSLY`S STEPFATHER: The severity of the beating was far in excess of what anyone would expect could be done with a human fist or hand.
PATTI CANNADY, ANNE PRESSLY`S MOTHER: And we`re hoping if that was the first hit, that maybe after that, she felt nothing else.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: The police have always maintained this was a random incident, Rhonda. And they insisted this was a robbery by a stranger. And of course, the brutal nature of the injuries, very personal, suggested otherwise. Why is it, do you think that they insisted on labeling this a random robbery and they also did not reveal that she was apparently sexually assaulted? Her parents actually revealed that.
RHONDA SAUNDERS, AUTHOR, "WHISPER OF FEAR": Well, you can`t say that every predator is a stalker. Although I find that every stalker is a predator. What I`ve been hearing about this case, there is some margin to wonder whether or not he actually had been stalking her under the legal definition. Arkansas has the same type of stalking law that we have here in California.
And in order to be a stalker legally, there has to be two or more instances of following or harassment. And what we`ve been getting from the media is that, yes, he may have come to her house. But we don`t know if he had followed her on different occasions, if he had just followed her home from the gym. We`re not really sure that this is legal stalking. But I think it`s pretty well settled that he definitely is a dangerous sexual predator.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, again, he has not been convicted, he`s just been charged. But we`ll see what happens when this case goes to trial.
Jerry in Louisiana, your thought or question, sir.
JERRY, CALLER FROM LOUISIANA: Yes. I want to know why has it taken so long to get the DNA test back from him?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s what we`re all asking. It`s an excellent question.
We`ve got to make this a higher priority, Diane. I think we as women have to band together. We live in this post-feminist age where we`re all worried about our families and our own jobs and our own lives. We need to get back to the more radical feminism where we banded together and we marched and we protested because that`s the only way the powers that be are going to change this and put DNA of alleged rapists the top priority.
DIMOND: They`re going to have to clear up the backlog. Some of these cases, as Rhonda mentioned, are so old, even if you did the testing now, it would never stand up in court. The statute of limitations is over.
So from henceforth, let`s all make a pledge to hurry up with the DNA because if you do, you might get a rapist off the street. It`s as simple as that.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Rhonda, I don`t think it`s going to take a pledge. I think that somehow women have to band together. Politicians and powers that be only respond to pressure. We could be so very polite and say, we need to get the DNA back -- it`s not going to happen until somebody gets their you know what on the skillet.
SAUNDERS: I think that if men were out there getting raped we`d see a lot more resources being given towards DNA testing and we`ll see results coming out a lot faster.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s exactly what I am talking about. It has to become a priority. And again, I get back to the point that women are not banding together the way they did, let`s say, in the `60s.
There was a "Take Back the Night" movement from many years ago, and I`ve been getting all these e-mails from women who were involved in it, saying we`ve got to get "Take Back the Night" going again. And I don`t know if it`s officially stopped, and if it hasn`t I apologize. But we have got to take back the night and the day.
DIMOND: You make the t-shirts, Jane, I will buy one, I will wear one and I will buy them for all of my girlfriends.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. That`s what we`ve got to do.
SAUNDERS: Me, too.
DIMOND: And I`ll walk out there with you.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, we`ve got to do it, because you know why, Diane, you and I, we go way back, we have covered so many of these cases year after year, decade after decade. I don`t want Anne Pressly`s death to be in vain. And her parents have been through such hell.
If we could use this as a turning point, and I personally relate to this, because, you know, I was a local anchor, and it touches me personally, because I was out there on the streets, just like she was. And you know, every murder is horrific, but I think if we -- if we banded together, and made it change, then her parents would know that their beloved daughter did not die in vain. Let`s try to do that.
We`ve got to take a quick break. Back with more of your calls in just a minute.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Back taking your calls on the brutal slaying of Arkansas anchorwoman Anne Pressly and asking could her murder have been prevented? Rhonda Saunders, deputy D.A. in L.A. and author of "Whisper of Fear," Diane Dimond, journalist, columnist and author of "Be Careful Who You Love."
Just yesterday, Rhonda, Diane, I covered this case here on this show, of a beautiful girl, Laura Garza who left a nightclub with a man who turned out to be a convicted sex offender who had a history of masturbating on women and was never given a moment of jail time for that. And now this woman is missing and police believe she is dead.
I see the theme here, Rhonda, and the theme is that these crimes against women are not being taken seriously enough. Masturbating on a woman should not be considered a misdemeanor.
SAUNDERS: I totally agree with you. And I think part of the problem is that the police still are not taking it as seriously as they should. And victims don`t want to come forward, because they`re afraid that they`ll be laughed at or embarrassed.
So we really do need to take back society. We need to take back the night. And women need to be out there and insisting that they are taken seriously, that these crimes against them are taken seriously. And misdemeanors just don`t make it. These are sexual predators who need to be sent to prison for long periods of time.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And Diane Dimond, you know what`s astounding is this very courageous woman who spoke up about her experience had to wait seven months, not knowing who it was that assaulted her. It turns out that the suspect that they`ve arrested lives in the same small town, Mariana, which is a drive outside the area of Little Rock, where Anne Pressly was tragically killed.
DIMOND: Right. And seven months she waited. And the question is, what did this guy do in those ensuing seven months that we still don`t know about yet? Are other DNA tests still sitting on the shelf or in the freezer waiting to be tested that could close some other rape cases?
I agree with Rhonda. I agree with you. We have to make it a priority in this country.
You remember when everybody used to smoke?
DIMOND: Then it wasn`t cool to smoke.
Nobody ever wore their seatbelt, and then it became de rigueur; everybody -- we changed the mind-set in the country. Everybody wears a seatbelt.
We can change the attitude in this country, but it`s going to be a long, hard fight, Jane.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Women are -- I want to thank Rhonda, Diane; both incredible work. Thank you for your insights.
Women are 50 percent of the population. We`ve got to get together; we`ve got to fix this and stop the war on women.
Tomorrow we update the case of that beautiful missing 25-year-old Laura Garza.
Thank you so much for joining me. See you tomorrow at 7:00 p.m. Eastern for more "ISSUES."