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ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL
Father of Missing Girl Proposes to Girlfriend; New Video Surfaces of Caylee Anthony; Prosecutors Question Casey`s Defense Team; Victim of Madoff Angry at Talk of a Plea Deal
Aired March 9, 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, Haleigh Cummings` grand-grandmother breaks down. The family endures torture, not knowing Haleigh`s fate as the county forces them to move their cam campsite vigil off county property. Why is the county giving this heart-broken family such a hard time about some minor land code?
And 70 miles away, the Caylee Anthony case heats up, as mom Casey is due back in court this week. And we get our hands on more adorable video of little Caylee that fell through the cracks. Why hasn`t the world seen this footage?
Then, shocking news in the Rihanna/Chris brown saga. Oprah issues a stark warning to Rihanna with a frightening prediction. It seems just about everyone has an opinion on this case, except Rihanna`s dad. Reports say he hasn`t spoken to his daughter since the alleged beating. I`ll try to figure out what`s going on.
And where does the violence end? A pastor in Illinois gunned down in the middle of a church service. I`ll have the details.
Plus, outrage escalates as Ponzi mastermind Bernie Madoff schemes for a plea deal as he prepares to go to court this week. Could he escape justice? I`ll talk to one of his furious victims.
And Octomom`s latest publicist quits, saying Nadya Suleman is nuts. Meantime, Octograndpa is back in the media, saying he`ll fight any attempt to separate his daughter from her brood of 14. The octuplets set to be released from the hospital this week. I`ll tell you if they`re going to be coming home.
ISSUES starts now.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Stunning new developments tonight in Florida`s twin tragedies: the Caylee Anthony murder case and the disappearance of 5-year- old Haleigh Cummings.
I want to start in Satsuma. Breaking news right off the top. Haleigh`s father, Ron Cummings, has reportedly proposed to his 17-year-old girlfriend, Misty Croslin, the last person to see little Haleigh alive. We will have more details on this shocking engagement announcement and what it could mean.
It has now been one month since little Haleigh went missing from her home. Her family is more emotional than ever. Now, Haleigh`s great- grandmother is speaking out about that fateful night and what may have happened before Ron`s new fiancee, Misty, noticed the little girl was gone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNETTE SYKES, HALEIGH`S GREAT-GRANDMOTHER: I mean, when she got up and came back out, she seen Haleigh gone. When she got up, you know, you get up half asleep and go to the bathroom and you don`t -- you know, you don`t expect your baby to be gone. She noticed, I think, that the light was on. I`m not sure. I just know that, you know, she got up to go to the bathroom. Then when she came back out, the baby went -- there was nobody there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: This poor family. As the family continues their desperate search for little Haleigh, backlash growing against Putnam County`s decision to force the Cummings family off the land where they have set up their tents. The county says it`s not a campground and they have to move. The request leaves Ron Cummings stranded, since he refuses to return to the trailer where little Haleigh disappeared.
Is the county kicking this family when they`re down? Shouldn`t the local government be for them, not against them? We`ll explore that question.
But right now, I want to get to the breaking news about this engagement. Stunning stuff.
Joining me, my expert panel. Drew Findling, Atlanta criminal defense attorney; and Sharon Liko, family lawyer and criminal defense attorney. Plus, Dr. Gaby Cora, psychiatrist, as well as reporter Diane Cho from CNN affiliate WJXT.
Let me start with Drew Findling. I thought I`d seen it all, but to see this engagement is quite extraordinary, given that Ron Cummings, the father of the missing child, is marrying -- or says he wants to marry -- he`s getting engaged, reportedly, to the very woman who -- the child disappeared on her watch.
DREW FINDLING, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You know, sometimes when people aren`t even suspects, Jane, they hire a criminal defense attorney just because we`ve been through this process of investigation before. And I wish he had a good attorney, because any good attorney would have told him not a good time to do something like that.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Why not?
FINDLING: Because it`s going to raise the whole suspicion and people are going to be out there, particularly some people in the media that have nothing to do than try to make him a suspect, and say, "Aha, somehow he had something to do with this. Why don`t they get rid of her so he could be alone or be one child less and spend more time with his, you know, 11th- grade-age girlfriend." It`s going to -- it`s going to create suspicion and rumors and create problems that he doesn`t need.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Sharon Liko, also a criminal defense attorney and family lawyer, the first thing the folks in the studio here said, "Oh, spousal privilege, right? That means that one doesn`t have to testify against the other." Does that hold in this case?
SHARON LIKO, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Actually, maybe, maybe not. If they are married, then she could assert the spousal privilege. However, if it`s a domestic violence case, that doesn`t apply. So she could be forced to testify. But in most of the country, people seem to think that this is a case of trailer trash versus middle class.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I don`t like to use that -- I don`t like to use that phrase. I find it extraordinarily offensive. I really think that these people have shown tremendous dignity, tremendous dignity in a time that would leave most of us on our knees and perhaps not showing our best selves. And I just find that those kinds of descriptions...
LIKO: I agree with you, but that...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... to be highly offensive.
LIKO: And I`m saying that that isn`t the case. The salacious details of the Caylee Anthony case are just so paramount that this case is going to fade away, because it doesn`t have some of the nutcases that the Caylee Anthony case has.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I don`t know. I think the word "nutcases" can apply to a lot of people. You know what I mean?
Let`s bring in the shrink. Dr. Gaby Cora, let`s look for the innocent explanation to this engagement proposal. When people are in crisis, when they`re in panic, don`t they have a tendency to come together and hang on to each other? And couldn`t this engagement be a manifestation of that?
GABY CORA, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Yes, it could very well be. And that is an extension of that. And life goes on, so to speak. And in a way, it looks like this father had already been engaged with this 17-year- old in some shape or another. So this is just making things a little more formal.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Diane Cho, your station broke this story. What can you tell us about this astounding news that has reportedly proposed to Misty?
Well, I`ll tell you what, we`re going to go back to Drew Findling. We do not have Diane Cho. But we`re efforting her. I think we have a little sound problem there.
Drew Findling, is this a mountain out of a mole hill or is the timing just too extraordinary for us to just let it be?
FINDLING: Well, look, I mean, if I had been his attorney or consulting the family, I would have just said, "Ron, bad time to do this. Let the focus be on finding your daughter and not on your nuptials." That`s what I would have said.
Now, that being said, I agree with you about the dignity of this family. And why not contrast it to what happened in Anthony? You know, you brought up a good fact when you introduced this. That is, 30 days since Haleigh has been missing.
Well, for 30 days when Caylee was missing, nothing happened. Look at what has happened here. We may not realize the progress that law enforcement has made. They say they don`t have clues, but we don`t know that. We know that they had a 30-day head start.
LIKO: Hang on a second, partner. Let`s look at the fact that this father decides he`s going to marry the girlfriend. I mean, his kid is missing. He doesn`t even know whether she`s alive or dead, and he`s thinking of getting married? What is up with that?
LIKO: The guy is totally inappropriate to the situation.
FINDLING: Yes, well, I`m agreeing. I`m just saying I would have advised him not to do that.
LIKO: But advice versus just human nature -- does he need a lawyer to tell him not to do something like that? What`s wrong with him?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: These are young people, you know. These are very young people.
FINDLING: Maybe his upbringing and his relationship with his family and the way that he looks at his father and his mother and their relationship is different than yours. We can`t tell him what is culturally relative...
LIKO: Yes. Well, if your kid was missing, would you be thinking of getting married?
FINDLING: I`m not -- I don`t -- I don`t dare to compare myself to him.
LIKO: I don`t think he has any boundaries, whether it`s age or socioeconomic...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I really feel like -- to be honest with you, I have to jump in and cut you off, Sharon. Because this -- this guy is, to all intents and purposes, a victim here. He lost his child.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I don`t think we should be beating up on him.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I mean, if he needs the comfort of being married because his heart is broken, how are we who are not living and walking in his shoes...
FINDLING: Exactly. That`s exactly right.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... going to judge him? I just find it extraordinary. But, you know, it`s a free country, and we`re listening to your opinion. And you have a right to your opinion. But I`m just responding that I think that we have to give this man the benefit of the doubt at this stage.
Diane Cho, your station broke the story. You`re back with us. Tell us what you know about this engagement.
DIANE CHO, REPORTER: Ronald Cummings, Haleigh`s father, proposed to his 17-year-old girlfriend, Misty Croslin, last night at a Chili`s restaurant in the neighboring city of Palaca (ph). We`re told that he apparently got down on one knee, told her that he loved her and then proposed in the middle of the restaurant in front of several family members.
Now, we spoke to Misty today for the first time, really, in a couple of weeks, and since Haleigh disappeared, this is the first time we`ve also seen a smile on her face. And her seemingly very genuinely happy as they were walking down to the courthouse to fill out the application for the marriage license.
Now, of course, because she is 17 years old, Misty`s mother did have to accompany them down to the courthouse to give the court the OK for this marriage.
Now, Misty also told us that she what thought was that, you know, she thinks that despite what everyone is thinking or what they`re going to say about this after they learn about this news, she says they`re only doing this for one reason. That reason is because of Haleigh.
They say that this is what Haleigh`s wanted all along, since the two of them have gotten together, since they started dating six months ago. They say that Haleigh wanted them to live as a family. So this is what they`re doing, and they hope that when she does return, that this is what she can fulfill for them.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dr. Gaby Cora, your thoughts as a psychiatrist?
CORA: There`s many things that we don`t know that may have been going on behind the scenes, and this may explain it. There may be even more things that we don`t -- we`re not aware of.
But, you know, the other -- the other thing that`s so important for us to discuss is the judgment. It looks like so many people have such strong opinions about this. and this family is grieving. And they still don`t know if Haleigh is alive or -- or what`s -- what`s happened to her.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Absolutely. We have to always keep compassion in our hearts for this family. I mean, we have no idea what it`s like to go through something like this.
Diane, thank you so much for that report. We`re going to talk to you again a little bit later in this broadcast. Everyone else, hang tight. We have so much to cover.
I`m going to be taking your calls on the Caylee Anthony murder case. That`s right: the Caylee Anthony murder case is up next. Call 1-877-JVM- SAYS. That`s 1-877-586-7297.
In other shocking news tonight, is Rihanna putting herself at risk? I`m going to tell you about Oprah`s dire warning for the pop star.
But when we come back, I will show you adorable home video of little Caylee Anthony that slipped through the cracks. And I will try to find out why the world hasn`t seen it until now.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Adorable video of little Caylee Anthony resurfaces on YouTube and prompts a lot of questions. Where is this video from and why did it fall through the cracks in the first place? This is the first time a lot of people are seeing this video. We will have plenty more of this to show you tonight.
Plus tonight, the person who says she posted the video responds.
Meantime, Casey Anthony and her defense team head to court again this week. This time they will ask the judge for evidence taken from Casey`s car and her ex-boyfriend`s computer. Prosecutors, meantime, just filed -- get this -- a motion asking the judge to find out who is paying for Casey Anthony`s star-studded defense team.
I am back with my expert panel along with reporter Bob Kealing from CNN affiliate WESH.
Bob, what is the very latest?
BOB KEALING, WESH REPORTER: Yes, well, that certainly is the latest, that motion filed by the state today. And what they want is from Judge Stan Strickland to basically tell Jose Baez, show us the money. Where are you getting the money? Where is Casey coming up with the funding to pay for eight attorneys, including one just announced last week?
He is also asking -- in fact, in his pleading, the prosecutor who wrote this, said that it seems that Casey is seeing a conversion from pauper to princess. So they want the judge to have Jose Baez come in, in his chambers, if necessary, to basically disclose where Casey is getting the money for her defense team.
Also, I talked to Jose Baez on the telephone about an hour ago about this. And this one seems to be something that he`s taking a little bit personally. He`s saying that this is some sort of witch hunt. He called this speculation and fishing. He told me that the prosecutors, the state, does not have any evidence that he has done anything unethical.
He also told -- he`s actually employed an ethics attorney to make sure he`s been doing this the right way all along. But the bottom line here, Jane, is that the state wants the judge to literally be the judge of that, get all the finances on the table and make sure that this is on the up and up so Casey would not have grounds somewhere down the road to say, "I didn`t know about any of this, and I want a very expensive retrial. I want a do-over."
And the bottom line here is that the state wants Casey to sign a waiver saying, "I`m aware of the financial dealings, and I`m giving Jose Baez the authority to do that."
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s absolutely fascinating. We`re going to get to more of the newly resurfaced video in a moment. But first, Drew Findling, what do you make of this? If they have legitimate funding for their dream team, why not just say, "Here`s how we got the money?"
FINDLING: Well, because why would you? What business is it of theirs? If it came from a family, it wouldn`t be their business. It`s never their business.
This is yet another panicky move by the prosecution and law enforcement where they don`t need to. They have a great case to prosecute. This is an unnecessary diversion.
And it`s cloaked in -- in this -- this statement that "we`re concerned about some conflict." So what they`re really saying, Jane, is they`re saying, "We want to make sure that Baez and his lawyers are conflict-free, that some third party isn`t motivating them to take a strategy they would not otherwise take."
But you can do that on every case. The bottom line is they`re wondering. They`re saying, "Wow, we..."
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re all wondering. I mean, we`re all wondering where -- where they`re getting all this money.
FINDLING: It is none of our business.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Do you agree, Sharon Liko, that this is none of our business when you have a dream team that could cost, potentially, unless they`re all working for free, literally millions of dollars?
LIKO: Absolutely. It is nobody`s business who`s paying for her defense. The queen of England could be paying for her defense. So what? When O.J. Simpson was on trial, nobody questioned whether his friends were contributing, whether he was the one that took his savings and cashed it out. He was a rich and famous guy, so somehow he had the money, and nobody cared.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. I`m glad that we have both attorneys agreeing on something. That`s a major accomplishment right there.
All of this video of adorable little Caylee, which breaks my heart to look at, resurfaces on YouTube recently, and many are wondering what impact it could have on the case.
Take a look at this adorable video of little Caylee dancing. Again, it`s so bitter-sweet because this child is no longer with us. Could this hurt Casey`s case because it -- it really rehumanizes little Caylee and reminds us, Dr. Gaby Cora, that a precious life was lost.
CORA: But it also shows, Jane, that a caring mother was taking good care of her little one, who seems to be smiling and dancing and having a good time. So I think it could be taken both ways. You know, on the one end, people can be very, very empathic to the loss of the child, but on the other hand, we can also see her mom as a person who loved her daughter.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Right. And now let me ask you this. After doing a little research, we learned that somebody who goes by the name Momtective was posting his videos to YouTube.
Questions arose about her identity and why she was posting them, and so she went on her blog to explain, quote, "The videos were found September 19 by a fellow member of Websleuths. Since they were on a public MySpace video account, I downloaded them and put them in a public YouTube account. And I`m glad I did, because the videos were removed from the MySpace account shortly after I downloaded them. In respect to the videos, they will remain public in an attempt to prevent them from being sold and the proceeds being funneled into Casey Anthony`s defense fund. I am an advocate for children and an armchair detective (sleuth)."
All right. Bob Kealing, what do you know?
KEALING: Yes, that`s exactly what she reiterated to me when I`ve been e-mailing her this afternoon. I mean, when you think about it, this is someone who took it upon herself to go to these MySpace accounts belonging to Casey Anthony, downloading them with -- with the very thing in mind of trying to keep her or perhaps her family from selling them.
It`s been widely reported that months ago, some of those videos were bought by a media organization for a six-figure amount, Jane.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. So much to talk about. We`ll have to do it tomorrow. Thanks to my panel.
We`re going to Octomom next.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: In the spotlight tonight, a financial predator who has ruined the lives of thousands of people. Just the mention of Bernie Madoff`s name is enough to get people screaming mad.
Now, very disturbing news that a plea deal could be announced this Thursday. That has many of his victims in an uproar. Among them, my next guest. She lost her life savings in the $50 billion Ponzi scheme Madoff allegedly orchestrated.
Joining me now, Phyllis Molchatsky and her attorney, Howard Elifsofen (ph).
Phyllis, thank you so much for joining us tonight.
PHYLLIS MOLCHATSKY, VICTIM OF BERNIE MADOFF: Thank you, Jane, for having us.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: The Madoffs claim about $69 million in assets belong to Bernie`s wife, Ruth, and shouldn`t be touched. What are your thoughts on the Madoff family and what should happen to them?
MOLCHATSKY: Well, I have a lot of thoughts about that.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, go for it.
MOLCHATSKY: Primarily I think the only people he might have some compassion for, some feelings for, might be his family, his wife, his children, his grandchildren.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: What do you think about it?
MOLCHATSKY: Well, I want these people to suffer and feel the devastation and the fear that the victims -- he has made all these victims feel.
You know, most of us work our whole lives, and we want to leave something to our children, to their children. Not just a good sense of values and a sense of morality, but material things, as well, whether it be for a college education, whether it be for a home, for whatever.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Could I ask you a question? How much did you lose and how has this impacted your life?
MOLCHATSKY: Well, at one point, $7 million. I put in $2 million, and I`m asking for 1.7. Of course, on the other side of the coin is, you know, of the people, by the people, and for the people, except what about protect the people? That`s where the SEC is.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. There`s a possibility of a plea deal this Thursday, and I know that potential victims want to speak out. Phyllis, if you were to speak before the judge and argue and say this guy should go to jail or not, what would you say? What would your argument be?
MOLCHATSKY: Well, of course he should go to jail. Why shouldn`t he go to jail? He victimized so many people. I mean, you want to tell the people that -- of the families of the people that -- that took their own lives because of this that this man shouldn`t go to jail? Of course he should go to jail.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Do you want him to go to jail for the max of 20 years that he should get?
MOLCHATSKY: Yes, I do. But more than that -- or in addition to that, I want -- I want -- I want them to speak with his wife. I want them to go after his wife, his children, because he did not do this alone. There are many, many people that were involved in this. And if the deal is just -- he`ll plead guilty and go to jail and leave everybody else alone, that`s -- that`s not good. That`s -- no deal. That`s not good.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Phyllis, I know you`re very upset. And I want to also apologize to Howard, because this is a short segment. We won`t be able to get to you. But I want you to come back, Phyllis. Because on Thursday, he`s going to court, and I want to hear how you feel about that. Will you come back Thursday?
MOLCHATSKY: I certainly will.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Thank you so much.
Octomom`s dad says he`ll fight any attempt to separate his daughter from her kids. Meantime, Octomom`s publicist quits, saying she`s nuts. You don`t want to miss this.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Twists and turns in the octo-mom soap opera. Nadya Suleman`s latest publicist quits saying Suleman is nuts. And octo-mom`s dad back in the media saying he`ll fight any attempt to separate his daughter from her brood of 14.
Then, shocking news in the Rihanna/Chris Brown saga -- I`ll show you Oprah`s stark warning to Rihanna. And why hasn`t Rihanna`s dad spoken to his daughter since the alleged beating? I`ll try to figure out what`s going on.
Octo-mom and Rihanna in just moments.
But first, back to the disappearance of five-year-old Haleigh Cummings from her Satsuma, Florida home. It has been one month since little Haleigh went missing and still no suspect, but there is breaking news to report. Haleigh`s dad, Ron Cummings, has reportedly proposed to his 17-year-old girlfriend, Misty Croslin, the last person to see little Haleigh.
I am back with my guests Drew Findling, Atlanta criminal defense attorney, as well as Diane Cho, a reporter with CNN affiliate WJXT.
Diane, what are some of the other breaking news and late developments in terms of the investigation? I`ve been hearing about DNA tests of other family members.
DIANE CHO, WJXT: Jane, that all took place last Wednesday here. They are saying that this is routine investigation, that they were only doing it to test those people that were in and out of that home as a part of the investigation, but we have heard nothing since then at this time.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right.
Now, Ron Cummings still cannot bring himself to enter the house from which little Haleigh was taken. But Haleigh`s grandmother did go inside and allowed cameras to go with her.
Listen to Nancy Grace`s producer describe the scene.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARLAINA SCHIAVO, NANCY GRACE PRODUCER: We`re at the back door. And we`re coming through the kitchen here. Into the living room for a minute and then around this corner is where the bedroom is.
NANCY GRACE, HLN "NANCY GRACE SHOW" HOST: Keep going.
SCHIAVO: So it`s about, you know -- about 20 feet. So here we are into the bedroom. And what I was saying to you earlier, that we couldn`t see before here is the master bathroom. Here`s the bed where Misty Croslin was sleeping with junior.
Now, basically she would have to get up and either go to this bathroom or she would have to turn around, go that way into the other bathroom. At this point --
GRACE: So how many feet is that approximately, Marlaina, from where they were sleeping, where the little girl was asleep in the middle of the night, to that back door where the perp allegedly came in?
SCHIAVO: I`m going to say about 25 feet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: A couple of observations that have been made, Drew, one is that they talked about, oh, the creaking, but there`s wall-to-wall carpeting in every area except I think the kitchen. So that creaking may not have been there.
And the second thing is that it seems that there was another bathroom that would have been closer for Misty to use other than the second bathroom, which is where she would probably have gone to notice that the door was open. Any of your thoughts?
DREW FINDLING, ATLANTA CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I have no doubt that law enforcement has scaled this, put it to scale, and has gone through every conceivable way that somebody could have gotten in and abducted Haleigh without Misty have heard -- listening to it.
I mean, we have no idea whether she`s a deep sleeper. And I don`t think for a second they`ve eliminated that she may have gone out socializing. I think they are considering all the possibilities right now.
They`re looking at the locations of the bathroom, the bedroom. They`re taking that into consideration and they`re also thinking maybe she wasn`t there. They`re looking at --
FINDLING: -- everything right there.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re just playing detective because we`re looking at this video and trying to make sense of it.
Crystal, Massachusetts, your question or thought, ma`am.
CRYSTAL IN MASSACHUSETTS: Hi Jane. Thank you for taking my call.
CRYSTAL: After looking that video myself and watching it, the layout of the home and the door to the bedroom. The way the -- Haleigh would have had to have been taken from the room out the door, it seems probable to me that there may be not one but possibly two people to actually hold that inside door, and not just the -- with the cinderblock, but someone to actually help with the inner door. But also it seems --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, that`s a really good comment that I don`t think anybody has really brought up before, Diane Cho, the possibility of not one abductor, but two.
CHO: You know, that hasn`t been mentioned at this time and like he was saying earlier, that the investigators are really not ruling out anything at this point. They are looking at every single aspect of this investigation. And they are still empty-handed.
They`ve come up with more than 2,000 leads since Haleigh has disappeared and nothing has led them to where she is right now. So really, they are just lost at what to look for, what they`re doing at this point. But they are going to investigate every aspect until they figure out what happened.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s so incomprehensible that all these law enforcement people are working on this case and they`re at a dead end. It just breaks my heart.
All right, Drew and Diane, thank you.
Turning now to octo-mom and the burning question she faces today. Will her babies be going home or will authorities step in to stop them from being with their biological mother, Nadya Suleman?
The grandfather of the octuplets spoke out today on "Good Morning America."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ED DOUD, GRANDFATHER OF OCTUPLETS: I`ll stop anybody, anybody, I don`t care who they are, from taking my grandchildren away.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: There is no doubt these tiny lives are loved, but what about their physical and their emotional needs? Will that be a factor before the hospital releases these infants?
And in a very tantalizing twist, Suleman`s second publicist just quit saying octo-mom is "greedy and nuts."
Joining me, my fantastic panel: Mary Margaret, a senior new editor with RadarOnline.com; and Dr. Dr. Gail Saltz, clinical psychiatrist and associate professor at New York Presbyterian Hospital; and back with me, Sharon Liko, family lawyer and criminal defense attorney.
Sharon, last week we heard that frantic 911 call with Suleman saying in front of the kids, I`ll kill myself. Last month her dad told Oprah, Nadya might need psychological help. And today the publicist calls her nuts. Might child services be building a case against Suleman?
SHARON LIKO, FAMILY LAWYER AND CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Child Services may be building a case against Suleman if they -- all the pieces add up. And they`ve got to show that her home is not going to be appropriate.
But let me just back up. I`ll tell you what the real problem with this case is. This Nadya Suleman is the poster child for what is wrong with the welfare system. People are absolutely enraged that she is going to most likely be on the welfare system because she`s not going to have --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Whoa, whoa, wait. Let me jump in right there and go to Mary Margaret, senior news editor for radaronline. And because what I`ve been hearing is that the money is pouring in from very mysterious outlets but -- to the extent that Nadya`s dad was able to put a significant down payment, according to TMZ, on a very nice 2,500-square-foot house that listed over $500,000.
What do you know?
MARY MARGARET, RADAR ONLINE: Well, I mean, obviously, you know, there are tons of rumors out there. And I`m sure the truth is kind of in the middle. Obviously, you know, she has been in -- her team has been licensing photos and videos and there`s income coming from there.
They have actively been trying to broker deals with other outlets, but at the same time, that`s not going to last forever. It isn`t pulling in the millions of dollars that have been thrown out there.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you can`t make a down payment with a rumor.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You make a down payment, especially in this economy where lending is very tight, with cold, hard cash. We know --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- that there were reports that at the home they`re currently living on, they`re actually threatened with foreclosure because they`re behind at least ten weeks when the report first came out on their payments.
So how did they suddenly end up with all this money unless they`re making major deals?
MARGARET: Right now. I`m not saying that they`re -- you know, they haven`t -- they haven`t had deals on the table; that they haven`t gone into deals.
Radaronline, we`ve never paid for an interview. We`ve only kind of gone through agencies to do photos just like everyone else.
But at the same time, going back to the welfare idea, they`re going to get money from wherever they can, whether it`s deals, whether it`s the government. I mean, they`ll do whatever they can to take care of these kids is the bottom line.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I thought that what Radar has said was that they hadn`t done any deals whatsoever, and not just not paying for interviews?
MARGARET: No, we`ve never paid for interviews. I think you know, if people who are not in the media, everyone -- the perception is -- what people in the media know is that photos and videos, those things get licensed, like any other commodity.
But in terms of interviews, that`s a journalistic integrity thing and we don`t go there. We don`t pay for interviews.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. But the way around that is to pay for photos and video, and licensing a video, so.
MARGARET: No, I mean, it`s just like any show like --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Isn`t that the same thing at the end of the day and not to put you on the spot?
MARGARET: No, no CNN does it, every single news --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I`m not going to speak for CNN. I think we should leave CNN out of this.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I don`t know what -- I certainly am asking you because you`re the one getting the exclusives with octo-mom. And again, not to put you on the spot, but it just came up because of this house issue.
Now, let me move on octuplet grandfather, Ed Doud, reminded people how much love his daughter showers on her babies. Let`s watch what he said on "Good Morning America."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOUD: She holds every single one of them for like half an hour. So you`re talking about eight of them. Can you imagine the time she spends over there?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right.
Dr. Gail Saltz, she holds every single one of them for a half an hour. Is that the extent of the kind of love from a mother that a newborn needs?
DR. GAIL SALTZ, CLINICAL PSYCHIATRIST: Well, obviously a newborn, frankly, needs more than love. They need food and they need shelter and they need a very structured environment with a lot of caretaking so that they don`t get hurt.
And of course, they need a lot of love. But --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me ask you a follow-up question.
Do you think that Child Protective Services is going to step in and prevent these kids from going home with Nadya Suleman now that she has apparently a house worth at least $500,000 to take them to?
SALTZ: I think it`s still a real possibility. The question is not just does she have the space, but does she have the manpower? Because you know, babies need to be attended to in a certain kind of way. And I think that because of all the publicity, they are probably obligated to take a look at her character.
And you know, "nuts" is not a DSM for diagnosis. You know, it is not a psychiatric diagnosis. So I don`t know that this woman has a psychiatric diagnosis. I mean, obviously, people are looking and they`re saying anybody who had 14 kids must. But she didn`t actually --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Got it.
SALTZ: -- plan to have 14 babies from the get-go.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, we`re going to have to see. We`re going to stay on top of this story. I hope you all come back real soon. Mary, thank you so much. Gail, sit tight.
Is Rihanna at risk? Oprah seems to think so. I will show you her dire warning for the pop star.
And do you think Rihanna will testify against Chris Brown? Call 1- 877-jvm-says. That`s 1-877-586-7297. Let me know.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oprah has a stern warning for Rihanna and I will be taking your calls on the shocking details.
But first, "Top of the Block" tonight.
An update on the horrific Illinois church shooting: murder charges today after an Illinois pastor was gunned down yesterday while giving his Sunday sermon. Where is this violence going to end?
The first bullet reportedly stopped by his bible, amazing. But another struck Reverend Fred Winters in the chest. The assailant then pulled out a knife and began stabbing himself before bystanders tackled him. Reverend Winters died in the hospital. Two parishioners were injured.
Authorities charged 27-year-old Terry Sedlacek with first-degree murder this afternoon. He`s currently in serious condition from the self- inflicted stab wounds. No motive disclosed. Just another terrible story of violence in America.
That is tonight`s "Top of the Block."
There are more twists tonight in the alleged beating of pop star Rihanna by her boyfriend, Chris Brown. Brown has been charged with two felonies, assault and making criminal threats. The day after he appeared in court late last week, Oprah Winfrey made a heart-felt plea to Rihanna.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OPRAH, HOST, "THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW": Love doesn`t hurt. I say -- I have been saying this to women to years. Love doesn`t hurt. And if a man hits you once, he will hit you again.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Right on, Oprah. Oprah isn`t the only one trying to reach out to the pop princess. Rihanna`s dad, Ronald Fenty, has been trying to contact his daughter without success since the attack. Is Rihanna hiding something from her dad? We`ll try to get to the bottom of that.
Plus, conflicting stories leave us all wondering if Rihanna will testify against Brown. Could he strike a plea deal? Or as the "Chicago Sun News" reported, has the couple struck a mutual deal that would pay Rihanna up to $10 million if she`s abused again?
Can`t make that stuff up. So many issues.
We`re going to be taking your calls.
But first, my expert panel: psychiatrist, Dr. Gail Saltz; Sharon Liko, a criminal defense attorney; and Ashley Banfield, anchor for the legal network "In Session."
Ashleigh, is Rihanna making a huge career and personal mistake by reportedly staying with Chris Brown?
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, ANCHOR, "IN SESSION": Well, if you believe the American Bar Association, they did a study Jane that shows 41 percent of batterers re-offend within 30 months. That`s pretty serious on the physical front.
And on the professional front, she`s getting so much flack from not only her fans but the media for considering reuniting with him, it could be career suicide. But quite frankly, I think her career plays second fiddle to her safety.
Oprah announced that she would dedicate an entire show this week to domestic violence. Let`s listen to what advice she had to give Rihanna and Chris Brown on her show Friday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OPRAH: The truth is, guys, both Chris Brown and Rihanna, if I were your friend, I would call you up and I would say give it some time, get yourself some counseling, take care of yourself, heal yourself first.
And also love doesn`t hurt. I say -- I have been saying this to women for years. Love doesn`t hurt. And if a man hits you once, he will hit you again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right.
Dr. Gail Saltz, there are reports out of the "Chicago Sun Times" which Chris Brown`s people are denying, that they`ve come up with some kind of a mea culpa tour where Rihanna and Chris Brown are going to go on to all the talk shows talking about their issues and their anger and how he has changed and how she is going to work through that with him. And that on top of that, they`re going to co-author a book together about all of this. And on top of that, Chris Brown will pay Rihanna $10 million if he touches her the wrong way again.
Do you think first of all, again, it`s being denied, but do you think any of that is a good idea?
SALTZ: I think that each of them potentially being a spokesperson for the ubiquity and danger of domestic violence is a great idea. Doing it together makes absolutely no sense to me. Because the fact is that in this short duration, nobody has changed.
You know, a few anger management classes do not cure you of the urge to be violent with your partner. That each of them needs, as Oprah said, really intensive treatment that`s going to take a long period of time. It`s a very high-risk situation. The likelihood is he will hit her again.
And so going around together sends the wrong message because the message to young girls should be that if your partner is violent with you, leave. You need to leave. And then you need to get into treatment and figure out why you were drawn in, in the first place. And that man needs to get into treatment and try to deal with his anger and his aggression and whatever past history has propelled him toward this so that he could one day be with someone again and hopefully not be violent.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And I`m so torn because I certainly do not want, in any way, shape or form, want to justify his behavior. It`s horrific, if -- what -- the accusations are correct. And he seems to be apologizing, so something happened there and we saw the photo of Rihanna. But by the same token, I hate to see us not learn as a society from what they`ve been through.
And kids do listen to them.
So it`s sort of difficult to find out where do you draw the line between being too lenient and on the other hand not learning anything from it. If we just throw them in jail, which we do to everybody, we`ve got domestic violence across this country; it`s not solving the problem.
SALTZ: Well, it`s really very simple. I mean, they really could go out and talk about this, but there should be a punishment. I mean the legal system has to go after him because most women will go back and will decide not to testify.
BANFIELD: And nobody should be paying their way out of re-offending. I mean please. Is this justice by money? If you have $10 million to spend you can beat your girlfriend up a second time. I mean, it`s ridiculous.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, that`s ridiculous.
I think if he wants to give away money, give $10 million right now to a battered women`s shelter. Don`t say, "I will give if." That`s what I`d say.
We`re going to -- we have so many phone calls lining up and we`re going to get to more issues here -- a very complex story. Hang on, more on the Rihanna beating scandal when we return in just moments.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re talking Rihanna and Chris Brown and we`re taking your calls. Candy, Illinois. Question or thought, ma`am.
CANDY FROM ILLINOIS: Yes, I have a comment. I understand that Chris`s career has already taken a downslide. I can`t emphasize enough if his career continues to go down, he is going to take it out on her; he`ll blame it on her. She is in extreme danger and she needs to stay away from him.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I agree with you.
This is totally premature. And I don`t really understand, Dr. Saltz, why she felt the need to forgive him reportedly and reconcile with him so quickly. Where`s the fire? What`s the rush?
SALTZ: Well, if she`s following the typical pattern for women, then basically what`s happened afterwards is he felt incredibly guilty. He expressed all his terrible remorse. He in some way insinuated that she kind of brought it on herself and then he had already perhaps had been in a situation where there had been an emotional tie such that her self-esteem or the idea of being without him wasn`t so hot.
He then idealized her, told her she was fantastic. He couldn`t live without her and so she went back. That`s the typical pattern of abuse.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Janet, Canada. Your question or thought?
JANET, CANADA: Hi, Jane.
JANET: My understanding is that domestic violence usually escalates over time. The violence here is so extreme, I can`t possibly believe this is the first time he`s done this to her. We`re speaking about what happens next time, what about what happened last time?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, actually, there was a pattern reportedly, wasn`t there?
BANFIELD: There is but I haven`t seen any record of it; they`re certainly not going to talk about that. But Janet from Canada, very good observation because the U.S. Department of Justice has a statistic that says 50 percent of all men who are in state prisons in the U.S. for spousal abuse are there because they`ve killed their spouse, not just because they beat them up. Fifty percent actually killed their spouse.
So there is a propensity for escalation here.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Don`t you think, come on guys, we have to try to understand why a young 19-year-old man who is this successful is that angry? Why he uses violence as a solution?
Sharon, can`t we try to learn something from this as a society. I understand, punishment, but punishment can`t be the only thing.
SHARON LIKO, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And punishment is not a deterrent to this. This is a cycle of violence. This is a classic case of a guy who`s got a void to fill and she`s trying to fill it. The more she gives, the more he takes. And it will never be satisfied.
This needs to be treated. And both of them need to be in treatment.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I agree with you 100 percent; treatment for all.
Thanks for joining us. I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell and you`re watching "ISSUES" on HLN.