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ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL
New Developments in Haleigh Cummings Disappearance
Aired February 25, 2009 - 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, stunning new twists and turns in the disappearance of Haleigh Cummings, centering around her own family. Tensions were building in the days leading up to her abduction. One week before Haleigh vanished, dad, Ronald, reportedly filed a complaint against mom, Crystal Sheffield, for allegedly failing to pay child support. What does Crystal have to say about this? And could the drama provide clues?
And new questions emerge about Ronald`s arrest record. He fiercely denies reports he was a police informant. But why were his drug charges mysteriously dropped? We`ll take a closer look at this issue.
Then, more fallout from the brutal chimp attack in Connecticut. Victim Charla Nash remains in a medically-induced coma in grave condition. Meantime, her brother preps for a lawsuit on her behalf. I`ll have the very latest developments.
Plus, the Octomom`s psycho drama continues. TMZ reports Nadya Suleman has been offered one million bucks to do a porno. And the Octomom`s media campaign continues as she sits down with Dr. Phil and tells him she may not get immediate custody of her children. And I`ll have more fallout from the outrageous argument between the Octomom and her mother.
ISSUES starts now.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It is day 16 in the search for missing Florida girl Haleigh Cummings. Investigators have been chasing down false Haleigh sightings as almost 2,000 leads pour in. An exhausted and frustrated family suffers the agony of not knowing.
Meantime, new reports now reveal the tensions between the beautiful little girl`s estranged mother and father reached a fever pitch the day before she disappeared. The reason? Child support. Court documents show Haleigh`s mother, Crystal, owes more than $4,000 in back child support. Her mom says she couldn`t pay, because she can`t find work in this bad economy.
Still, Ron took legal action against Crystal, and the timing is startling. Court papers are dated just one week before Haleigh vanished. But even more shocking: reports that Ron got court documents about the hearing on the day before Haleigh disappeared. Could this simply be a heart-breaking coincidence?
Meantime, questions continue regarding Ron Cummings` arrest record. Why so many drug charges but no convictions? Ron has said flat out he does not do drugs and is not a drug informant for cops. So much to talk about. And I am taking your calls.
First, my fantastic panel. Pastor Terry Wright, the Cummings family pastor; Pam Bondi, Florida state prosecutor; Paul Callan, criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor; plus Vinny Parco, private investigator; and Cindy Adams, the crime examiner for Crime.com.
Cindy, what is the very latest that you`re getting from CrimeExaminer.com?
CINDY ADAMS, CRIMEEXAMINER.COM: Well, as you talked about, the rap sheet is an issue. Ron has many offenses. He doesn`t seem to have many convictions. He -- he had possession of marijuana, possession of cocaine. And I don`t think that really an issue in Haleigh`s disappearance, but I do think it becomes an issue regarding who he`s associated with and who may, you know, have a vendetta against him.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. It`s such a fascinating case. Let`s dive into it. Crystal Sheffield made accusations about her ex, Haleigh`s dad, Ron Cummings` alleged drug use. Geraldo Rivera from FOX asked Cummings about his drug history. Here`s what he said. Listen to Ron.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GERALDO RIVERA, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: What about the allegations of cocaine use, methamphetamine use?
RONALD CUMMINGS, FATHER OF HALEIGH: There`s nothing. I do not do drugs.
RIVERA: You don`t do drugs? All those arrests were all...
R. CUMMINGS: No.
RIVERA: Do you work for the police? Are you an informant?
R. CUMMINGS: No, I am not an informant. I do not work for the police. I work for PDM, which is a bridge-building company. That`s who I work for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. There you hear it. But let`s look at his arrest record from Putnam County, Florida. Possession of cocaine and cannabis. That was dismissed. Use of drug paraphernalia, no action taken there. Maintaining a drug vehicle, no action taken. Hunting deer with gun from roadway, assault, that was dropped. Possession of a firearm, guilty.
Vinny Parco, you`re the private investigator. Overall, he seems to have gotten a lot of breaks when it comes to his drug arrests. Now, he had absolutely no convictions for drugs.
It`s very important to point out, once again, police say Ron`s alibi is firm. This is not about whether he did anything to his child. He was at work at the time of little Haleigh`s disappearance. But when asked whether he was a drug informant for cops, authorities would neither confirm nor deny it.
Vinny, your thoughts?
VINNY PARCO, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR: OK. Well, many times law enforcement will not confirm or deny a statement like that. And that`s just standard operating procedure.
But if I was running a drug -- a drug operation for the police, he would be a prime -- prime informant for me. His arrest 4 1/2 years ago was for marijuana, for over excess of 20 grams, which in my opinion is intent to sell. Now, he skated on that. He skated on a lot of -- a lot of these crimes.
Now, he would be the perfect guy to be an informant, because he`s a local guy. He knows everybody. And he`s got a -- I mean, arrest record is extensive, but it`s all minor things.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Listen, I have to say again -- and I want to go to Pastor Terry Wright, who`s the Cummings family pastor. We are not discussing this to, in any way, shape, or form, imply that this poor man who`s been through hell did anything untoward toward his daughter. Authorities have said this guy was at work when his little girl was abducted.
The reason, Pastor, that it has become relevant is that people don`t have any answers. Nothing adds up. The entire community is living in fear. And there were questions raised as to whether somebody might be trying to retaliate against him, if he had done or said something that had perhaps gotten somebody locked up, for example.
Now, Pastor, you spoke to Ron, and you`ve also spoken to Crystal. Tell us about your conversations, particularly with Ron.
Pastor? Are you there? Oh, we -- we can`t hear the pastor. So as soon as we hear him, we`re going to get back to him. But we`re going to -- I want to hear what the pastor has to say. That is absolutely crucial.
Because we`re not trying to gang up on this guy. We`re trying to get to the heart of a perplexing mystery. And I hope that our viewers make that decision. I mean, this poor man has been through hell. And it really pains us to have to go into his record, but unfortunately, it could be relevant.
So, guys, tell me in my ear when the pastor is back, and we`ll go to him.
Meantime, just today, we also received Ron Cummings` arrest report for Sarasota County, Florida. Possession of controlled substance, morphine and Xanax, possession of a drug without valid prescription, possession of drug paraphernalia, violation of domestic injunction. Again, all the drug charges dropped.
Pam, you`re the Florida state prosecutor. You`ve analyzed the Sarasota County arrest record. What can you tell me about the drug charges and also this violation of domestic injunction? What does that mean?
PAM COUNTY, PROSECUTOR: Well, you know, Jane, and it`s interesting because, yes, I`ve been reviewing this. and we have a copy right here of the injunction.
He was pulled over on a routine traffic stop. And the police officer noticed some suspicion, brought in a drug dog, and he had all these drugs in his car, on his possession.
Now, also in the report it tells us -- we had known he had this violation -- an injunction. But now we know that he was not to possess firearms. He was not to come within 100 feet of Crystal, who was the petitioner at the time in the injunction.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So wait. In plain English, is that like a restraining order?
BONDI: Exactly. That`s exactly what it is. She had a restraining order. And this also mentions that they had minor children together.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Let`s go to the pastor. We have Pastor Wright. We`ve been -- we`ve been going through all of this. The friction between the two sides of the family, the problems with Ron. You spoke with them, both sides last night. What were your conversations, sir?
REV. JERRY WRIGHT, CUMMINGS FAMILY PASTOR: Yes. Here`s the situation. With Crystal, the mom, she is obviously very distraught, very upset, just wanting her daughter back. That is for sure.
Obviously, I spoke with Ronald just after that. We spent an hour, hour and a half together. Look, everyone understands that he, as the dad, and Crystal, as the mom, have not had a perfect past. We get that, right? That`s true.
However, they have come to the place at this point in their life where they`re doing things a lot better. Obviously, Ronald is working on a bridge company. He`s trying to do good, trying to make an honest living. And Mom is getting ready to be married again with an honorable guy. And, you know, that`s what`s going on there. But I...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Did you talk to him about -- and again, this has only come up not to suggest that he has done anything to his daughter. We know that he was at work.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But have you talked to him about this speculation that he might have been a drug informant for the cops? Because the cops are refusing to say one way or another. They were asked on Headline News, and they said, "We`re not going to comment."
WRIGHT: You`re correct. He told me absolutely not. He was not an informant for the Putnam County Sheriff`s Office. He was not an informant (UNINTELLIGIBLE). He was not an informant in any way, shape, and form. That`s not saying he didn`t do some things he regrets, but he was not an official informant. That is correct.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, Pastor.
Well, let -- let me know back, then, to Vinny Parco. Let`s assume that he`s absolutely telling the truth. He was not a drug informant for cops. What are the other possibilities, given this drug -- alleged drug history with all these arrests that had no convictions in terms of how it could factor into missing Haleigh? I mean, we have heard about drag deals gone bad, for example, in the past, where a family member is taken in retaliation.
PARCO: I just have got to tell you, Jane, I truly believe that he has done nothing wrong in this respect. I don`t think he violated any code or any operation that might be present within the drug world. I don`t think he`s done any of that. I don`t believe any of that has a bearing on this particular case. He is incredibly distraught and upset. Let me tell you what he said last night.
I spent an hour and a half with him last night. He told me last night -- we were out in the middle of the cold in North Florida. Believe it or not, it does get cold in North Florida. We were out in the middle of North Florida, and he told me this. He said, "Pastor," he said, "I kissed my daughter, went to work, trying to make an honest living, trying to make an honest wage. I came home eight hours later, and she was gone."
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Period. End of story. Yes.
PARCO: End of story.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you so much. But it`s not the end of this story.
Stay right there, everyone. So much more to cover in the search for little Haleigh Cummings, now in a second heartbreaking week. Do you think family turmoil was a factor in the disappearance? Call 1-877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 1-877-586-7297. And let me know.
First, here is Haleigh`s dad yesterday, again, begging for his daughter`s return.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
R. CUMMINGS: I`m here to plead for the life of my daughter. I want her to come home. If you have her, please send her home. I don`t care how she gets here. Just bring her home. And if you`re watching, baby, I love you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
R. CUMMINGS: I just got home from work. My 5-year-old daughter is gone. I need somebody to be here now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I understand. We`ve got two officers...
R. CUMMINGS: If I find whoever has my daughter before y`all do, I`m killing them. I don`t care if I spend the rest of my life in prison. I`m telling you. You can put it on recording. I don`t care.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. It`s OK, sir. We`ve got them on the way. OK. Can you give me -- what kind of description of her pajamas that she was wearing?
R. CUMMINGS: I don`t (EXPLETIVE DELETED) know. I was at work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Such agony on the part of Ron Cummings, the father of little missing Haleigh. And right now on the phone, we have a woman by the name of Crystal Cummings, who says she is Ron Cummings sister.
And Crystal, you reached out to us. And we called you back, and you are reportedly at the campsite right near the double wide trailer from which little Haleigh was abducted on February 10. Is that correct, ma`am?
CRYSTAL CUMMINGS, SISTER OF RON CUMMINGS: Right now I`m at work. I tried to get a hold of you last night, and I couldn`t. I had to come home to take care of -- I have a daughter myself. And I had to come home and take care of her. But I will be back down there tomorrow. I just wanted to speak on his behalf.
C. CUMMINGS: Because he was told not to speak to anybody by the detectives.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, speak on his behalf then. There`s so much speculation surrounding his history, and he was confronted with this question, was he ever a drug informant for police.
Again, not to suggest that he did anything with his daughter, but that perhaps somebody might want to retaliate against them. He said no, but others have looked at his record. I mean, we`re talking about high-powered prosecutors have said this seems very indicative of somebody who would have gotten a pass to be an informant.
C. CUMMINGS: Right. It is my understanding that he has had lawyers cover -- cover his case. He was put on probation and successfully completed all of that. It was held for adjudication.
I know that he is not an informant. And not trying to be rude or anything, but for someone to get on the TV and say that is actually putting his life in danger and his other child`s.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me ask you this question. What are your thoughts as to who might have taken little Haleigh? The only reason we`re even discussing this is because we all want to find little Haleigh, and the facts of the case don`t seem to add up.
C. CUMMINGS: Personally, me, I think it was a predator.
C. CUMMINGS: I mean, I don`t see anybody -- I know he didn`t have any -- anyone that was against him or anything. So, I mean, really -- we -- we`re not getting any more information than you guys are. So I really couldn`t -- I mean, from me, my point of view, I think somebody that had been watching the house and knew when my brother went to work, because he`s only been on the night job for three weeks. So I think somebody -- somebody that knew that he was gone and went in that house and took Haleigh.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Just one last question. Yes or no. Does your brother have any enemies?
C. CUMMINGS: No.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Has he had any fights with people at all?
C. CUMMINGS: No, he hasn`t.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Well, Ron Cummings` sister, Crystal Cummings, I hope you call us back again. And we want to hear from you. We want this to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
And again, it`s nothing that we are getting any pleasure out of discussing, but there are so many bizarre aspects to the family friction that we have to take a look at it, because there are those who feel maybe somewhere in this, like searching for a needle in a haystack, we might find something that can help bring little Haleigh home. I thank you so much for calling, and we all pray that Haleigh is found, found alive and brought back. Thank you.
All right. Let`s talk about this. Haleigh`s has been missing since the early hours of February 10th. The family and police believe that this is an abduction. Is that why there`s an air of fear in this community?
Watch Connie Sheffield, Haleigh`s maternal step-grandmother, talking about her concerns for Haleigh`s 4-year-old brother, R.J., also known as Ron Jr., just last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONNIE SHEFFIELD, HALEIGH`S MATERNAL STEP-GRANDMOTHER: I think there`s concerns for R.J.`s safety. People are tired, angry, hurt, and we don`t have any answers.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So when you say R.J., you`re talking about Junior, the little boy?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And you have concerns about his safety? Well, that`s a new one. I had not even thought about that. Obviously we`re all looking for little Haleigh. But the implication is that he might not be in safe hands right now?
SHEFFIELD: Not necessarily in reference to whom he`s with, but whoever took Haleigh may target the family again. We don`t know this.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So you`re...
SHEFFIELD: I`m concerned for my son myself. He`s 3, and you know, when nightfall comes about in this neighborhood, we left. We wouldn`t even stay for the vigils.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Vinny Parco, there`s so much fear in this community. Is it time for police to come out and speak and say, "This was eliminated as a suspect. That one is. This one" -- they will not confirm one way or another whether Ron was a drug informant. He says no. But wouldn`t it be helpful? This man is going through hell.
PARCO: Yes, but you know, it`s possible -- maybe he`s not a drug informant, but maybe a drug deal went bad. You know, he`s got a long history of drug abuse. And I`m not accusing him of anything, but you know, it`s possible that he`s involved with some people that retaliated by taking the child.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Pam Bondi, what`s your...
WRIGHT: Jane, that is absolutely not true. Listen, I was with Ron last night for an hour and a half. That is absolutely not true. He is not in any way involved with people that are going to come and take Junior.
However, he is concerned, because Haleigh was taken far beyond his understanding that that would ever happen, but Junior is not in any danger of being taken. I promise you that -- that Ronald is doing a great job of taking care of his son.
PAUL CALLAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Jane, I just want to jump in for a minute on this and disagree with Vinny. You know, drug records can be very, very deceptive in the sense that a lot of times, charges are made, and because it was a bad search by the police, the case gets thrown out. Sometimes when they seize the drugs and they test the drugs, they don`t turn out to be the controlled substance the person was charged with.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Got it.
CALLAN: So it doesn`t mean that he`s an informant.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Stay right there. We`re back in just a minute with more of this debate so that we can hopefully help find this beautiful little girl.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TERESA NEVES, HALEIGH`S PATERNAL GRANDMOTHER: I don`t feel like anybody should have said that, you know? I mean, you don`t know who has my grandchild. We don`t know who has my grandchild. And if it`s somebody who would hurt my grandchild -- you know, if you are that person and you feel like we can identify you, what would be your next move then? You know?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: and the phone lines lighting up on this terrible case. Gabby in New York, your question or thought, ma`am?
CALLER: Well, I understand that you have a job to do with trying to get to the bottom of this, but it seems to me, comment and question, that you people are vilifying the father when the mother herself has her own arrest record. She`s $4,000 behind in child support. If she was a man, she`d be in jail for that already.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, it sounds like you`re vilifying her a little bit. I mean, listen, the facts are the facts. And if we recite them, it - - I would say don`t blame the messenger. This would not be relevant, except that questions have been raised, and we`re trying to answer those questions and then move on.
And I want to ask, Paul Callan, about the mother issue and the fact that reportedly Crystal, Haleigh`s mother, owed $4,000 in back child support. Ron went to get the child support, took legal action, and the paperwork announcing that there would be a March 27 hearing, which has since been canceled, arrived the day before little Haleigh went missing. Just a sad and odd coincidence?
CALLAN: Well, I`m just going to step back and look at it like I think a police officer or a prosecutor would look at it. And they`ve said everybody is a suspect in this case.
And the reality is that this is a possible motive. You know, I`m not saying that it supports charges against her, but certainly the police are going to say there`s a motive here because of the problems and the fight over back child support. So that`s something they`re analyzing. And you know, how it plays out ultimately depends upon all the other facts in the case. But that`s certainly on the table.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Pastor Wright, the reason why all of this is coming to a head is because the authorities have not excluded anyone as a suspect. I`ve covered many cases where, as the days and the weeks go by, the authorities will come out and say, "You know what," for example, in a case where a woman is murdered, and always the husband and the boyfriend is looked at first.
When they are cleared, they say that person is no longer -- they`ve been cleared as a suspect. Don`t you think police need to come out now and say something to clear the air, given the fear that has been expressed about children in this community? Everybody is looking at everybody, because nobody has been excluded as a suspect.
WRIGHT: Yes. Let me speak to two things you mentioned. First of all, I`ve been approached by no less than a dozen -- maybe a dozen and a half people over the last week, week and a half that have said, "We have changed our sleeping arrangements based upon this case." In other words, parents have come to me saying the mom is sleeping in the bed with children, the dad is on the couch.
Matter of fact, I had a lady just two nights ago -- catch this -- saying, "I have booby trapped the windows just in case someone is trying to come in and get my child." So that`s going on. So that`s issue one.
But issue two is this. The sheriff`s office cannot come out and make some sort of statement if they don`t have evidence for it.
Now, look, the psychosocial dynamics of our community have really been in upheaval. And that is horrible, because we are a simple community with great people just wanting to live the simple life.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We just want to solve this case. Thank you so much, gentlemen. Please come back soon.
Want to know what porn, tumors and Dr. Phil have in common? Octomom. We`ll explain next.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Breaking news in the Caylee Anthony case: an emergency court hearing was held today ruling that Casey`s parents George and Cindy Anthony will not have to give sworn depositions tomorrow in the Zanny the nanny civil suit. I`ll have the very latest on the legal wrangling.
Plus, the circus surrounding the octo-mom heats up; TMZ reports Nadya Suleman has been offered one million bucks to do a porno. Perhaps going for a more wholesome image Suleman sat down with Dr. Phil today. You won`t believe what she told him.
Breaking news tonight in the Caylee Anthony case -- a stunning turn of events in the Zenaida Gonzales defamation suit against Casey Anthony. You`ll recall that Zenaida is the woman who said Casey ruined her life in an 11th hour emergency hearing.
Today, the lawyer for Casey`s parents, George and Cindy, fought tooth and nail to prevent them from having to testify under oath tomorrow. In a surprise decision, the judge delayed their deposition but just for 20 days; that, to allow their attorney to present evidence of the psychological trauma George and Cindy are suffering.
But is putting off what is perhaps inevitable fair to Zenaida Gonzalez? Zenaida claims her reputation has been destroyed after Casey Anthony linked her name to the case with the now-infamous claim that Zanny the nanny abducted the child. Of course, we say it`s complete nonsense. Zenaida is asking for more than $15,000 in punitive damages.
Joining me now to thrash all of this out: criminal defense attorney Rebecca Woodland; and Steve Helling, staff writer for "People" magazine who has been covering this case from the very beginning.
Steve, the attorney for Cindy and George now has to present evidence of their psychological trauma. The world knows that George apparently tried to commit suicide recently. Isn`t that enough?
STEVE HELLING, STAFF WRITER, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: Well, it would be enough, but then again, there`s also Cindy who has to be deposed as well. So they`re going to have to go into a little bit on both of them and just what the -- what the doctors have to say about them.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Why didn`t he bring all that to the hearing today so that instead of having to go back in 20 days and do this all over again we could have gotten some resolution?
HELLING: Well, he bought himself 20 days and that`s really what he was looking for.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Well, Zenaida says her life was ruined -- ruined, when Casey linked her name to an abduction of little Caylee, something cops say is a complete fiction anyway.
Here is Zenaida this past summer before she was comfortable revealing her face.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What has your life been like?
ZENAIDA GONZALEZ, SUING CASEY ANTHONY FOR DEFAMATION: Oh, horrible. Horrible. My name -- because it`s not so much because they know my face, it`s more or less because they know my name. And so they know my name and everywhere I go they are obviously are insinuating that I did something wrong because my name is so much on the news.
Plus, I haven`t been able to get a job. I haven`t been able to do much of nothing because everybody is just judging me by my name.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Zenaida is asking for more than $15,000 in punitive damages. Rebecca Woodland, what do you need to prove to win punitive damages?
REBECCA WOODLAND, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, that she has to prove, Zenaida and her attorney, has to prove that this was reckless beyond negligent. It was reckless. It was intentional. That Caylee Anthony -- that the Anthony`s in general, she may be suing all of the parents, the daughter.
She wants the parents to discuss with the attorneys and at the deposition exactly what happened, where this information -- upon which it was based. Where did anyone come up with her name?
She is saying I went to the Sawgrass apartments once. I don`t know this people, I never had and contact with this child and now. So that`s reckless. Not only was there no interaction and I didn`t take the child, I don`t even know the child.
So they have to prove recklessness beyond negligence for the punitive in this case.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now part of the problem here is that the Anthony family isn`t budging from the story that somebody named Zenaida took little Caylee. Listen to what Brad Conway, George and Cindy`s attorney said back in December.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you still think that Zenaida Gonzalez had something to do with this?
BRAD CONOWAY, ANTHONY FAMILY ATTORNEY: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why?
CONWAY: But not the Zenaida Gonzalez that Mr. Morgan represents. And Casey Anthony has made it clear from the beginning that the individual that Mr. Morgan represents is not the Zenaida Gonzalez that she was referring to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So, Steve Helling, does the fact that the family is basically sticking to the story and saying, well, it`s a different Zenaida, does that impact the civil case?
HELLING: Well, of course it will. But the point is has it affected this specific Zenaida Gonzalez? And she would say the answer is yes. Whether or not she`ll be able to get a jury to award her anything remains to be seen.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, now, let me just ask you a follow-up. Lee Anthony is going to do his deposition on Friday, no questions asked. He`s not making a big deal about it. He`s saying basically I don`t know anything and that`s what I`m going to tell them.
So Steve, why are Cindy and George so afraid of having to say whatever it is that they know? Steve? Hello, Steve? Are you there? All right, everybody has just gone silent. That was such a shocking question.
WOODLAND: I hear you.
WOODLAND: Yes, I hear you, Jane.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You go ahead. You take it.
WOODLAND: The Anthony`s maybe -- their attorneys are claiming -- let`s first say their attorneys are claiming that they are very traumatized by their daughter being in jail and by their granddaughter.
Now, we know the evidence of her remains were found. They are traumatized. What could be is that they are traumatized. They`re not ready to relive it psychologically. Could also be that they are afraid they may remit or somehow release information that should only be released or they feel would be in their best interest to be released in the criminal case, which may help the criminal case or help their daughter.
There may be other issues that we`re not aware of, but their attorney is stating it`s for psychological reasons.
VELEZ-MITHCELL: All right, well listen, we`ve got so much more, of course.
Friday is when Lee does his depo, so we`re going to have an update on that on Friday. Thank you, Steve and Rebecca both for your insights.
And now, octo-drama reaching a fever pitch with Dr. Phil, Oprah, TMZ, Radar Online and various other media outlets all uncovering stunning new information.
Meantime, octo-mom says she`s worried the local hospital won`t let her take eight newborns home. TV`s Dr. Phil tells the L.A. Times today a distressed octo-mom called him on the phone saying she was just all afraid that Kaiser Permanente, the hospital where she gave birth to the octuplets wouldn`t release her eight babies until she proved she can care for them. You think?
And in a separate conversation airing today, she made this shocking admission to the good doctor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. PHIL MCGRAW, HOST, "DR. PHIL SHOW": I wonder if you have gotten addicted to being pregnant.
NADYA SULEMAN, MOTHER OF THE OCTUPLETS: I loathe pregnancy. I hate it more than anything in the world.
PHIL: But you`ve been pregnant so --
SULEMAN: The only way to have the children is through IVF and it was through the pregnancies. It`s the result, the baby, the child. This pregnancy I could have done without. I actually -- after my third, I looked into adoption.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Meantime, another bizarre twist: TMZ reports that a notorious pornography producer has made Suleman a $1 million offer for a starring role.
Plus, the latest outrageous accusations by octo-granny during that confrontation with her daughter that was caught on tape by Radar Online.
I`m going to be taking your calls on this in just a moment. But first, my expert panel: Kelly Burning, producer at TMZ; Mary Margaret, senior news editor with Radaronline.com and Dr. Gail Saltz, a clinical psychiatrist and associate professor at New York Presbyterian Hospital.
Dr. Saltz, the babies might soon be healthy enough to leave the hospital. Nadya is afraid the hospital still won`t release them because of all the craziness going on. How might this play out with the hospital and Child Protective Services?
DR. GAIL SALTZ, CLINICAL PSYCHIATRIST: Well, the hospital is under an obligation, really, to -- before they send any mother home to make sure that the mother`s capable or somebody is capable and going to take care of the children adequately, that the environment that they`re going home to is well-supervised and a healthy environment.
And there`s usually a social worker on a case to make sure that this is happening. And certainly in the case where there are so many babies going home, of course they`re going to step in and take a look at that. And if she`s worried, well, I can only assume she`s worried because she`s not necessarily able to prove that.
But that is their responsibility legally and ethically.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So it looks like that they`re not going home. They`re, I think, 34 weeks and there`s a possibility if they`re healthy, they might go home at 35 weeks. That`s a week from now. But it looks like unless she can resolve all of these problems those children might remain at the hospital.
Now, the confrontation between octo-mom and her mom, octo-granny, has taken another very, very, very, very weird turn. Listen to this exchange which appears at radaronline.com.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANGELA SULEMAN, GRANDMOTHER OF 14: You won`t really know in the beginning whether she`s kind of -- I don`t know how to say this. She`s done the other ones, you know, without letting me know and then all of a sudden her stomach is growing bigger and bigger and I say what`s going on and she says, oh, I have a tumor. Yes, right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I have a tumor. Mary Margaret, senior news editor, Radar Online, you got that. I mean, obviously she didn`t have a tumor. So we`re talking more lies.
Now, remember what Denis Beaudoin, who claimed to be the octo-sperm donor, told ABC`s "Good Morning America". He said Nadya said time was running out and he had to donate his sperm ASAP because she had ovarian cancer.
MARY MARGARET, SENIOR NEWS EDITOR WITH RADARONLINE.COM: Right.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So we`re seeing lies here with a pattern to them.
MARGARET: No, that`s definitely something that we found the most interesting in this interaction, was as you said this pattern of deception.
One big question on everyone`s mind is; is she going to have more children and what exactly is her mental state? And from what we can see from this interaction with her and her mom, clearly she`s someone to watch. She`s someone who will say one thing and do another. And that`s a scary and dangerous prospect.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Kelly Burning, tell us about the porn angle to all of this.
KELLY BURNING, TMZ PRODUCER: Well, it`s a weird development, but a very large, very big porn company has offered her $1 million to be one of their contract girls, which means she has to actually be in multiple films.
And then in a weirder twist, there`s another porn company that has offered her one year`s worth of diapers not to do the $1 million for porn.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh my God.
KELLY: So they`re afraid of her ridicule and scorn.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is just too much. We got to get in to all of this. There`s so much more, sit tight. A lot more to sort through in the octo-mom story and I want to hear your take. Call 1-877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 1-877-586-7297.
Back in a moment.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`ll have more on the outrageous octo-mom developments.
But first, "Top of the Block" tonight.
An update on the savage beating of Rihanna: On February 7th, she suffers severe cuts and bruises and was reportedly even bitten. The alleged attacker was her boyfriend, allegedly, fellow pop star Chris Brown. Brown was arrested for making criminal threats against her, but he`s not been charged. Still, he`s now taking anger management classes.
Legally he doesn`t have to take those classes, but reports claim Brown is attending the classes at the behest of his PR guru. After the alleged abuse, brown lost lucrative endorsement deals with Wrigley`s gum and other campaigns. Some stations even stopped playing his songs.
But if he voluntarily goes to anger management classes, that could help fix his image. However, what`s more important is that he learns something from those classes, namely that violence is not a sign of power. It`s a sign that your rage is controlling you.
That`s tonight`s "Top of the Block."
Now back with my panel and your calls with more real-life drama in the octo-mom story. Denise, South Carolina, your question or thought, ma`am?
DENISE, SOUTH CAROLINA: Hi.
DENISE: I was just wanting to know, if she was getting all those food stamps and stuff with the six children, where was she getting the money to have all of these plastic surgeries and the things to getting her pregnant, the shots and stuff?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, that`s an excellent question. And of course, she denies, Kelly Burning, having plastic surgery. But obviously all of these -- these embryo implants are very, very expensive. Didn`t she get some kind of disability thing from an injury?
KELLY BURNING: Yes. I mean, she`s received -- she received a lot of different monies from different places through the government, through taxpayers.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Mary Margaret, she had injured herself on the job several years ago and she got a lump sum payment or pay-out of a pretty substantial amount, didn`t she?
MARY MARGARET, RADAR ONLINE: Right. Yes, she did. Of course, as we know, she set up that website currently where she, you know, is able to get donations and that kind of thing from people who, you know, don`t really necessarily care about her but care more about the well-being of the children. So obviously, she has a very enterprising and entrepreneurial mind.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s one way of putting it. Mary Margaret, you`re an optimist.
Kathy in Ohio, question or thought, ma`am?
CATHY, OHIO: I was wondering, if Nadya proves to be an unfit mother, what will happen to the babies?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Dr. Gail Saltz, you`ve sort of outlined a bit, but go through the actually process. They`re in the hospital now. What if the Child Protective Services gets involved? What could be the possible outcomes?
DR. GAIL SALTZ, PSYCHIATRIAST: Well, the most likely outcome is that they`d discharge them to foster care. That would be temporary until -- I mean, unless, you know, this proved to be a long-term situation that she was deemed unfit.
And the question is what does unfit mean? Is she really unfit to take care of a child or would she be deemed to be unfit to take care of 14 children? Many people would not be able to provide a healthy environment for 14 babies.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Who could? I can`t imagine anybody, especially a single mom who doesn`t have a job.
DR. SALTZ: Yes, exactly. And unfortunately, foster care is not a great solution. That`s not an optimal care situation for babies either who really do need to be with a mother, with a consistent parent. They need that bonding. It can be pretty traumatic for a child, quite honestly, to be in a foster care, to move from place to place, and to not be able to be with their mother. They have to weigh that carefully.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: My heart goes out to these little tiny, angelic children. Gosh, who knows what they could face in the future.
Peggy in Washington, your question or thought, ma`am?
PEGGY, WASHINGTON: I just am amazed that no one has ever told the parents of Nadya that they`re really enabling her to do all of this. It`s never going to be over.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I love that question.
PEGGY: They have to stop enabling her right now or they have to stop when they die, which won`t be too long probably.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I agree with you 100 percent. I do believe that octo granny is co-dependent and needs to get some help for that.
DR. SALTZ: Jane, I would just add here that, you know, parents -- they often find themselves in this horrible, tough situation. Do they let their grandchildren, you know, fall along with this child who`s doing this? It`s so conflicted for a parent.
You see this with parents where the child is, you know, involved with alcohol and drugs. At what point do I just step away, tough love, let them fall? And you can see unfortunately the flip side, what enabling can do. And, you know, the terrible future that this is going to predict.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s easy to say, hypothetically, don`t enable her, but when there`s six crying mouths, which there were before she had eight more, what are you going to do? You have to feed these grandchildren of yours.
If you`re outraged at octo-mom, well, guess what. The feeling is mutual. Listen to what she has to say to her critics and how she deflects her mom`s question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANGELA SULEMAN, NADYA SULEMAN`S MOTHER: I mean, is 14 enough?
NADYA SULEMAN, MOTHER OF OCTUPLETS: Well, I don`t have any further embryos. I keep hearing the word responsibility -- this is enough. This isn`t a right. This is a responsibility. I have no choice. I have to delve completely into the role of motherhood.
I have to disagree with anyone who would have the audacity to say that any of these children should be adopted because I have more love for these children than I think -- well almost. I`m sure many parents would have just as much love. But this is something that I find to be really a joke.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mary Margaret, what`s shocking is she doesn`t say absolutely no way, I would never have another child. She doesn`t say it that way.
MARY MARGARET: Right. That`s exactly what Angela`s concern was and echoes the concern of America is this feeling that she actually secretly enjoys the attention, even though she claims it impedes on her life at the same time, obviously she courts it in a way. That is something that, again, we have to watch since this is obviously a woman who seems like she might be imbalanced.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I do feel that Dr. Phil hit the nail on the head when he said are you addicted to pregnancy. Even though she says she abhors being pregnant, the fact is there is an addictive component to her behavior. They say one drink isn`t enough, a thousand is too many.
It`s the same thing with her except instead of a drink, it`s a child. And it`s just bizarre. Stick around, more octo-mom drama in just moments.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you a big fan of Angelina?
N. SULEMAN: No. I`m actually not a fan of anybody. I don`t put people on pedestals.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. PHIL, HOST, "DR. PHIL" SHOW: If you don`t have the plans in place, you need to say so, so we can help. If you`re saying, "I`ve got it," people are going to say, "Hey, she`s got it."
N. SULEMAN: Not all of it. Not all of it.
DR. PHIL: But you don`t have it, do you?
N. SULEMAN: Not all of it. No. We`re working on it. It`s starting to look a lot more positive.
DR. PHIL: You don`t have the money. You don`t have the manpower, you don`t have the housing. You didn`t have a plan for these children. The plan that you had for the six that you have --
N. SULEMAN: Right.
DR. PHIL: -- is a substandard plan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: There is Dr. Phil holding Nadya Suleman`s feet to the fire and confronting her with very important but tough questions about her lack of planning while she proceeds to have 14 children with no job, while she`s getting food stamps, while three of her kids are disabled and they`re getting disability payments. The list goes on and on.
Mary, what`s so astounding is that this organization called Angels in Waiting has been waiting for her to take them up on her offer to offer round the clock help with these kids. What`s going on?
MARY MARGARET: Right. Radar on line this morning talked exclusively to Gloria Allred who said that Angels in Waiting were ready and waiting to, as you said, offer round the clock care and also actually even give them a home to be in.
As radar online showed today, the standards that they live in right now are definitely substandard as Dr. Phil says. I mean, wall to wall are toys, and clothes are littered everywhere. It`s not a place that you want children to live in.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, she better take them up on that offer, I think, before the deadline because she knows the hospital may not release. If the hospital knew that Angels in Waiting was waiting there to take the kids, they might release the children. That would be a win-win for everybody, especially for the kids, which is -- they`re the people we care about the most.
Kelly burning, as a producer at TMZ, you are constantly covering these media storms. Have you ever seen anything like this in a case of this nature? We`ve seen media storms with murder trials but nothing like this.
BURNING: I think it started out kind of as sweet, everybody was like, "Octuplets, that`s so sweet." Then it was just like, "Wow, she has six other kids. She doesn`t have a job." So then it turned into kind of like we`re starting to question the fertility drugs, who should get them, brings up a lot of questions.
But, no. She`s the perfect candidate, very willing to talk to the media, loves the attention and she looks like Angelina Jolie.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I don`t think Angelina Jolie would be too happy about that comparison. She`s one of the most beautiful women in the world.
But we`re out of time. Mary, Kelly, Dr. Saltz, thank you.
I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell. You`re watching "ISSUES."