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ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL

New Evidence Released in Casey Anthony Case; Psychiatrist Weighs in on Octomom; Haleigh -- Images of Abuse?; Rihanna Sex Tape?

Aired March 20, 2009 - 19:00:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, incredible new evidence in the case against Casey Anthony. Cops believe shocking text messages sent by Casey soon after Caylee`s disappearance were designed to cover up suspicious events.

Plus, testimony of a friend who smoked pot with Casey paints a staggering picture of a family plagued by infidelity and dysfunction.

Then, as the search for Haleigh Cummings drags on, shocking new photos of Haleigh with a black eye and bruises raise disturbing questions. Was it a playground fall or evidence of abuse, as mom Crystal claims? And where are the cops in all of this? Dad, Ron, is enraged and fights the abuse claims with a new lawyer. How will these troubling developments affect the investigation?

And an outrageous development in another abuse scandal. The longer Rihanna keeps quiet, the more vicious rumors swirl around. Now "Star" magazine makes the outrageous claim there is a Rihanna sex tape with Brown. Some even wonder if it could be leaked if she testifies against him.

Meantime, Brown`s attorney reportedly set to complain he`s been treated so harshly there`s no way he can get a fair trial.

Then, Octomom, Nadya Suleman, finally gets a dose of reality. She admits that she`s been in total denial and lying to herself about the circus her life has become. I`ll show you her shocking tell-all interview.

ISSUES starts now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, breaking news in the Caylee Anthony murder case. Hundreds of pages of documents released just hours ago. Take a look at the stack. We`ve been going through it all. A lot of stuff in here.

Contained in it, stunning revelations about Casey`s family and those who once upon a time were her friends. It appears some of this new evidence could be very damaging to the mom accused of murder. Documents show that one-time boyfriend Anthony Lazarro allowed cops to monitor his cell phone during their investigation into Casey.

Plus, shocking text messages that Casey sent allegedly to cover up the reason her car smelled like a dead body. Will Casey`s defense sink under the weight of a mountain of evidence now public for all to see, including prospective jurors? Let`s face it: there`s so much to talk about.

Let`s go straight to my expert panel: Joe Navarro, former FBI agent and profiler; Dr. Dale Archer, clinical psychiatrist; and criminal defense attorneys Bradford Cohen and Darren Kavinoky.

Darren, I`ll start with you. What struck me is that cops report that in the entire month after little Caylee disappeared, Casey never made a single call to any Zenaida Gonzalez on her cell phone. Isn`t that one single fact damning to her claims that Zanny the nanny took the baby and that Casey was just trying to get her back on her own?

DARREN KAVINOKY, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, obviously that fact, if it`s true, certainly takes the wind out of those sails.

But my big problem with all of this, Jane, is as you eluded to, we are absolutely poisoning the jury pool. Where`s a gag order in all of this? All of these mountains of discovery are being leaked or -- or released to the press here.

But let`s remember that there`s a big difference between the investigation work that law enforcement does and what is determined to be competent, admissible evidence in a court of law. And there`s just no monitoring of that. And that`s something that really causes me grave, grave concern.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Bradford Cohen, you`re a criminal defense attorney. What are the rules? Take, again, a look at this. I mean, this is just -- we`ve gotten hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of pages. This is just one day`s worth. Where does it end?

Everything that the detectives get they turn to prosecutors. Then prosecutors give it to the defense. And then because of the liberal sunshine laws in Florida, we get it all. Or do they at some point say, we`re not going to use this. Let`s not pass it along?

BRADFORD COHEN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: The prosecution is definitely not going to say that. Their attempt here is really to start trying it in the press. And that`s what they`re going for.

These statements, a lot of these statements, aren`t even going to come in. A lot of these things that are prior bad acts, that she took money from her grandma, none of that is going to be relevant in a trial. So what they`re doing is they really are poisoning the pool.

So what you want to do is you try, as a defense attorney, to limit it somehow, to say, "Hey, let`s put a gag order on this stuff." Because like your other attorney just mentioned, a lot of this stuff is not going to be allowed in as evidence in a trial against her. A lot of it`s going to be hearsay, and a lot of it`s going to be prior bad acts that are just not going to be allowed in.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, this might be allowed in. A series of text messages were extracted by the Orange County Sheriff`s Department to the phone of Amy Huizenga, one of Casey`s friends. These were from Casey about ten days after little Caylee disappeared, well before Cindy reported her missing.

In one of them, Casey says, "I need a freaking vacation." And then there`s this. "There was definitely part of a dead animal plastered to the frame of my car."

Now, let me take this to Joe Navarro. One of the experienced investigators said that message was suspicious, because it was a possible, quote, "preemptive explanation to the foul smell of decomposing tissue." What do you make of it?

JOE NAVARRO, FORMER FBI AGENT AND PROFILER: Sure. I mean, it sounds like alibi creation. Look, what we see here is an individual who`s conniving, who can think things through, who plans, who is already thinking about what future events may -- may bring her way.

And you know what? Florida has this rule that this information is available to the public. And the public, whether they see it on the media or they go out and get it on their own, they have a right to see it.

We`ve got to remember, you know, when our country was created, most towns -- everybody knew what was going on. So this -- this phenomenon that the jury pool is being poisoned, I kind of question that because, you know, we`ve always had the ability for everybody in town to...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Attorneys, defend yourselves. Darren?

KAVINOKY: Well, yes. Wait a second here. This is a -- a case that has invited so much attention and so much national and international scrutiny that Casey Anthony has long since been convicted in the court of public opinion.

And the idea that she would be texting this bit about running into a dead animal as a preemptive alibi, that may be one possible way to spin the evidence. The other is maybe she hit a dead animal, and that`s just factually accurate.

But when you`re dealing -- when you`re dealing with multiple inferences, remember the law generally is that we adopt the -- the inference that points to innocence rather than the one that points to guilt.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And I want to bring Dr. Dale Archer in on this. Because here`s a perfect example. Casey Anthony says that I need a freaking vacation. Well, you know what? Everybody -- everybody says that almost every day in some way, shape, or form. That`s no slam dunk.

DR. DALE ARCHER, CLINICAL PSYCHIATRIST: I can`t speak for the legal standpoint here, but certainly, from a psychological standpoint, I mean, all of this just paints a picture of someone who -- it seems like she doesn`t even know what the truth is anymore.

I mean, there have been so much that she said that has contradicted things. And that, you know, the possibility of this being preemptive, I agree with Joe on that one. Absolutely. It just -- it makes you wonder psychologically what is going on inside of her head. And it`s not good.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Charles Crittenden, a co-worker of Cindy Anthony`s, told investigators about what Cindy said after she found Casey`s car but before Casey admitted, just a little while after that, that Casey was, in fact, missing.

Quote, "She made the statement about the smell in the car. She said it smelled like a dead body and we told her" -- meaning the people at work -- "you`ve got to call the police. The detective asked, did she see anything in the car that maybe alarmed you guys? Answer, no, she didn`t. She just said it smelled like a dead body."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jane, Jane, what kind of animal do you hit that generates that kind of smell? Most of us have hit all sorts of things and they fall off the car. They don`t just loiter there.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I have to say I`ve never hit an animal and I hope I never do.

COHEN: Yes, I don`t necessarily agree with that. I mean, the thing is this. It`s not the statements taken in themselves that`s the smoking gun. Obviously not. But when you start compiling these things, that`s when the defense starts to run into problems.

Obviously, there`s a bunch of different ways to look at these statements in themselves, that she hit an animal or that that`s what the smell was from and there`s inferences you can make either way. The issue becomes -- is then when you start piling things on top of each other, that`s when you start running into trouble as the defense.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Casey now might consider her one-time boyfriend, Anthony Lazarro, to be a turncoat. Here`s the evidence, a record of his agreement to let cops monitor his cell phone. This could turn out to be very destructive to Casey because cell phone tower pings put Casey at locations that refute what she says about her whereabouts on the day that Caylee was murdered.

Now, let`s go to Joe Navarro on this one. Her dad. Last time little Caylee is seen is June 16, the morning of June 16.

NAVARRO: Right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The dad, George, says that Casey and little Caylee go off to work because Casey has got a job at Universal Studios, which she didn`t have. That was a total fiction. But the pings, apparently, show her remaining around the parents` home until 4 p.m.

NAVARRO: Well, you know, definitely. They`re going to look at her phone forensically, and they`re going to say, what evidence is there? Who has she called? When did she call them? How frequently did she call them? She says she`s -- you know, that she was heavily involved -- if you remember, she was heavily involved in pursuing her own daughter`s disappearance. Where are those calls? Who did she call and so forth?

And then if they`re able to track somehow -- and I`m not sure which service she has -- where was at, where she traveled to, what location she went to. This may begin to paint a whole different story. And, of course, that`s part of what hopefully will be either in the record or will -- or they`ll try to keep out of the record in court.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Darren Kavinoky, later that day -- this is the last time that little Caylee was ever seen that morning. Casey goes to Tony Lazarro, the boyfriend`s, house. They go to Blockbuster. She stays at his apartment overnight, no Caylee.

The next day, according to the pings, she goes to remote areas near the airport and another remote area. Then about three days after little Caylee`s disappearance, Casey drives around Blanchard Park. It`s -- if you look at this, you could paint a picture of -- if she allegedly disposed of the child -- killed the child, then she`s driving around looking for a place to dispose of it.

KAVINOKY: Well, maybe, or there may be other innocent explanations about why she`s visiting these remote areas. The idea that she`s lied to her parents about the -- the status of her employment certainly doesn`t reflect well on her credibility. But there may be other issues going on there that would lead to that kind of interfamily dishonesty, and that doesn`t necessarily make her a murder.

(CROSSTALK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, everybody stay right there. We`re going to have more of this unbelievable evidence. We`re poring through it all.

And down the road in Satsuma, Florida, the Cummings child abuse scandal takes a dramatic turn. Some believe photos of little Haleigh with a bruised face prove that she was beaten. Others say no. I`ll have an update.

But first, suspicious text messages from Casey Anthony released. Cops think the texts were meant to cover up the smell of decomposition from her car. Here`s her mother`s intense 911 call about that smell.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CINDY ANTHONY, CASEY ANTHONY`S MOTHER: The babysitter took her a month ago, that my daughter`s been looking for her. There`s something wrong. I found my daughter`s car today, and it smells like there`s been a dead body in the damn car.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE ANTHONY, CASEY ANTHONY`S FATHER: I got within three feet of my daughter`s car. And the worst odor that you could possibly smell in this world, and I`ve smelled that odor before. It smelled like a decomposed body. I`m being very straight with you guys.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The odor of the decomposing body said to be unmistakable, even if you`ve never smelled it before. How tragic for Caylee`s grandparents. But you know that George used to be a cop, so he knows what he`s talking about.

Dr. Dale Archer, what I think some people are very confused about is that you hear both Cindy and George talk about the smell of a dead body in a car. Seems like something that is undisputable. I mean, you smell it, and you know the significance of it.

And yet they seem to go into deep denial about everything after that. How is that possible?

ARCHER: You know, I think that the whole thing that bothers me here is that when you`re doing a psychiatric evaluation on somebody, you want everything to fit. You want there to be a consistency. You want the story to make sense. And what we have here is it doesn`t make sense. I mean, there`s inconsistencies throughout, which, of course, leads you to believe that, hey, this is not accurate. This is not true. So that`s...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What are you talking -- I don`t know what you`re talking about. To me it`s very consistent. This girl is a pathological liar. She says she`s going to work. There is no job. She says that she`s looking for her child, but she`s out partying during that time. What`s so inconsistent?

ARCHER: Well...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: There seems to be consistently inappropriate behavior.

ARCHER: OK. Well, OK, you`ve made my point, right? There`s consistent pathological lying going on. Because what that means is obviously you can`t paint a picture of what you have here, other than to say you have a body of lies.

So you can`t take anything from what`s being said, any of the evidence that I`ve seen, and be able to come up and say, OK, this is what we have. Because you don`t know what`s true and what`s not. And you have to assume that everything is a lie. And when you have an individual like that as a doctor, you basically -- you can`t make a diagnosis, you can`t do treatment, you can`t do anything with them.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So you`re saying her pathological lying could actually make the case more complicated for the prosecution?

ARCHER: I think it would, yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you know, it kind of reminds me, Darren Kavinoky, of when Natalee Holloway went missing and Joran Van Der Sloot was such a pathological consistent liar that -- that it almost helped him because he lied all the time even when he didn`t have to, so it kind of confused the entire case.

KAVINOKY: Well, and that`s an excellent point, Jane. And to the doctor`s point, we`re not talking about making any kind of a medical or a psychiatric diagnosis here. We`re talking about what`s going to be competent, legal evidence in a court of law.

And so here, we just -- we`ve got this mountain of circumstantial evidence. And if we were trying to convict her of conduct unbecoming to a mother, then, yes, we could probably and very effectively make that case.

But the problem that the prosecution has is the lack of direct evidence to tie her to this crime. And this Casey Anthony herself has said in the past, if she wanted to be rid of her daughter, there were very loving grandparents who would have taken that daughter from her. We don`t have any sense of a motive here. We don`t have that direct evidence. And that`s the problem that the prosecution may ultimately have in this case.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I don`t know. I think there may very well be a motive. Let`s get to Casey`s grandfather, Shirley Plesea. She`s been subpoenaed by the prosecution to testify. She told cops Casey stole money from her: "I had a copy of the canceled check. And (the police officer) ran it, and she says, `Do you know anybody in Orlando?` And I said, `Yea.` She says, `Do you know a Casey Anthony?` And I said, `My God, that`s my granddaughter.` That`s the first thing I know, the first chance I know that she stole."

OK. So we have her stealing. And then we also have, Bradford, a comment by the same grandmother -- this is Casey`s own grandmother -- saying, "I just wondered if Casey hated her mom more than she loved Caylee."

COHEN: That -- that last statement might be something that, you know, may come into play. The whole stealing of the money, I don`t think that`s going to come into play whatsoever.

I don`t think anyone doubts that she lies. She lies about a lot of things. But there`s a lot of confusion going on with this case, people saying that she took a shovel, she took gas cans. I mean, all of these things, they really don`t add up for the prosecution as well. There`s a lot of things in this case that can hurt the prosecution. She borrowed a shovel...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Like what?

COHEN: Excuse me?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Like what?

COHEN: Like borrowing a shovel, getting gas cans. The body wasn`t burned. She has -- she`s this conniving, thinking through. She`s setting up alibis, but she sets the body a block away from her house?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But there was. Well, in fact, one of her friends says that`s precisely where they buried their pets. And they wrapped them in the same way. To me...

COHEN: Yes, but it wasn`t buried. It wasn`t buried. It`s a block away from the house. And if she`s so conniving and so thinking and she`s setting up alibis, why would she do that? I mean, these are things that may help the defense and hurt the prosecution.

I`m not saying that it`s the greatest case in the world for the defense, by no means. There are a lot of things that are going to hurt them. But this evidence about the stealing of the $54, that`s just ridiculous. I don`t think that`s going to come into a trial.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I will say that the bad behavior, the most important bad behavior is that her daughter went missing, and she didn`t tell anybody until she was confronted with a smelly car by her mother.

I want to thank my fantastic panel for their great insight. Please, all of you, come back soon.

Other bizarre developments tonight: rumors of a Rihanna/Chris Brown sex tape swirling around? I will investigate these claims.

And after the paparazzi storm outside her house, Octomom finally, finally admits her life has gotten out of hand. I will show you the tell-all interview.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Stunning new admissions from Octomom, Nadya Suleman, put her in the center of the spotlight tonight as outrage grows over the media swarm outside her La Habra home Tuesday. Octomom admitted to RadarOnline.com that she was in denial about all the attention.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NADYA SULEMAN, MOTHER OF OCTUPLETS: I was in denial. I`m denying it. And I keep telling -- I keep telling my head and rationalizing over and over, next week it`s going to die down. Next week after that it`s going to die down. It`s going to go away. It`s eventually going to be to the point where we can leave and have privacy and no one will follow us. And I was joking. I was kidding myself, lying to myself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Is Octomom finally starting to make some sense, or is this another play?

Plus, Suleman reveals how she really feels about octo-granny`s less-than-enthusiastic greeting of her little babies. Suleman needs all the help she can get. Will his drive her much-need mom further away?

Boy, do we need a shrink on this. Luckily, I am joined by Dr. Dale Archer, clinical psychiatrist.

Suleman admits, Doctor, that she was in denial about media circus. But to use a psychological term, is she the queen of dissembling? Is she lying again? Feigning shock over the media presence at her home, especially since she`s reportedly selling aspects of her story?

ARCHER: You know, I mean, I think it`s be careful what you wish for and the law of unintended consequences. So, obviously, I don`t think any of us could have predicted that this would reach the frenzy that it did. I mean, it seems like we`re watching the Discovery Channel and a shark feeding frenzy going on here. I mean, it`s just beyond comprehension.

So I think I will give her that point that, no, she did not think it was going to reach the level it did, having a neighbor taking pictures. But the bottom line is it`s all about the money.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, it is. And about the relationship between mother and daughter. Another startling revelation, Octomom talks about her own mother to RadarOnline.com. Got to listen to this one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SULEMAN: She dismisses, disrespects everything I ever say, everything I ever did for years and years and years. And she -- she says she -- she is -- she says she does -- I do believe she cares about her grandchildren, but she doesn`t -- she`s not very attached to -- she doesn`t want anything to do with the babies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dr. Archer, I think a lot of this is an acting out of a psychodrama between Octomom and Octograndma that`s been going on for years.

ARCHER: I totally agree with that. And you know, you have to realize that Grandma was taking care of Mom and the kids before this whole frenzy started. So I think that she probably has a little bit of bitterness on her side, the fact that, you know, her daughter is getting all the spotlight, all the money, all the attention, and she`s being shoved to the background. So I think that you`re absolutely correct.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And let`s talk about octo-hatred. It`s so strong that there happens to be an Ohio organization that helps senior citizens called Angels in Waiting. They`ve been getting threatening, hateful phone calls and e-mails, because they haven`t had the same name as Angels in Waiting, the group that is planning on helping Nadya Suleman take care of her octuplets.

ARCHER: Well, I think that the problem here is that obviously there are kids all over America that need help. And there are parents that need help, and there are single moms that need help. And so basically, if you can turn it into a circus like this, where you can get all the help you can possibly want or need. I think it leaves others wanting and needing.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And also, Doctor, the fact that we`re in an economic crisis, and they feel like this woman is getting away with a lot. Thank you so much.

The abuse scandal in the Haleigh Cummings case intensifies. Shocking, and I mean shocking, photos of Haleigh coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HLN ANCHOR: As the search for Haleigh Cummings drags on, shocking new photos of Haleigh with a black eye and bruises raise disturbing questions. Was it a playground fall or evidence of abuse as mom, Crystal, claims. And where are the cops in all of this?

Then, outrageous developments in another abuse scandal: the longer Rihanna keeps quiet, the more vicious rumors swirl around. Now "Star" magazine makes the outrageous claim there`s a Rihanna sex tape with Brown. Some then wonder if it could be leaked if she testifies against him.

Truly shocking new developments in the case of missing Florida girl Haleigh Cummings, developments you have to see to believe. Disturbing new photos released of an injured Haleigh and Ron Jr. Mom, Crystal Sheffield says the images prove that father Ron Cummings abused his children.

Sheffield released six photos to investigative reporter Art Harris, including this one of little Haleigh with bruises and scratches covering her face. Sheffield alleges that Ron has hit Haleigh and Ron Jr. with sticks and belts, even causing them to bleed. Ron, newly armed with lawyers, calls the allegations complete garbage and a cheap shot.

So who is telling the truth in this bitter war of words? The photos show a little girl clearly injured, but a note from a school nurse refers to a playground fall just days before this photo was reportedly taken. Does that call the entire allegation into question? We will try to get to the bottom of this.

I`m joined once again by my expert panel: Bradford Cohen, criminal defense attorney; and Dr. Dale Archer, clinical psychiatrist; as well as Darren Kavinoky, criminal defense attorney; and Joe Navarro, a former FBI investigator.

Joe, given all of these terrible accusations in the fierce denials by dad Ron, do you think anyone has sat down and talked to little Ron Jr., who is now 4 years old, about whether he`s ever been hit with a belt, with sticks, or to the point where he`s bled? Can a child give you accurate information about something like that?

JOE NAVARRO, FMR. FBI INVESTIGATOR: Well, I hope that -- that he has. And I`m sure that somebody has approached him. Now, you know, we have to be careful with children because children present a special problem as far as being interviewed and so forth.

But some of the things the investigators are going to be looking at is, as you look at each of those photographs -- and I`ve seen them -- one of the things investigators are going to do, they`re going to draw a line right down the middle and they`re going to say, where are the injuries? Do most of them fall on the left side? Do most of them fall on the right side?

Indicating that, you know, maybe it wasn`t just a fall, that maybe they`re coming from a right-handed person or a left-handed person. And we literally just count how many of those injuries fall on either to the left or the right side of the body. Because when you`re playing on a playground, it`s just you fall and it`s straight down and so forth.

The other thing they`re going to be look at is the...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, yeah. The hands, what the biological mother`s family said is that if she`d fallen, there would have been more scratch marks on her hand...

NAVARRO: Sure.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ...as if she`s falling like this and she would have cuts and bruises perhaps on her knees.

NAVARRO: Exactly. If you`re falling and going to have injuries to your hands; if you have defense wounds, you`re going to be doing this and that.

But here`s another thing and it`s a behavioral thing. Is how did these children -- the neighbors, people who knew them, how did they behave around their caregivers? Did they behave in such a way that if we now know how children who are abused behave around abusers, they tend to have restricted arm movement, they tend to avoid eye contact.

We don`t see synchrony in crying. When one is crying, usually babies or young children will also cry. There`s all sorts of behavior.

So the police have their work cut off for them. And we shouldn`t dismiss the fact that it`s a youngster that`s providing that information because we`ve had many cases where youngsters have been able to give us if the questioning is proper really terrific forensic information.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you know, Crystal says that this really upsetting photo shows injuries were caused by Ron abusing his child. But if you look at the school note posted on artharris.com, it says Haleigh fell on the playground and cut her nose.

Now, Darren Kavinoky, doesn`t that significantly weaken Haleigh`s mother`s argument?

DARREN KAVINOKY, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Oh, I would think so. There is documentation that she fell and cut her nose. The picture reveals a cut to the nose. If anything there maybe a failure to properly document the extent of the injuries but it looks to be consistent between the two.

And of course, one of the other challenge is that mom`s going to have in using these photos, is that none of them are date or time stamped.

And so putting them in some kind of chronology may be difficult. But this one, from my perspective, seems to vindicate dad.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, here is something else that`s absolutely fascinating before you weigh in. One other document released to artharris.com was Haleigh`s absentee record. I think this is far more significant, this shows that Haleigh missed about two dozen days of school this year before she was reported missing at the beginning of February.

In other words, this semester, starting in 2008, September through February when she disappeared. Now, aside from the abuse allegations, should we be concerned about a parent whose kid misses about two dozen days of school? But I have to add another caveat. And we`ll take this to Bradford Cohen.

BRADFORD COHEN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: She had Turner Syndrome.

COHEN: Right. And that`s really the thing. Is that they`re saying there was an excuse for these missed days. Taken in itself, exactly, 30 days missed school, injuries to a child, that raises questions.

But then when you start applying what the real facts are behind this in that she has Turner Syndrome. The father said that she was sick on those days, that she couldn`t go to school on those days.

And the thing that worries me the most, is these pictures, this evidence was turned over to, you know, some guy on the Internet as opposed to being turned over to the police. If she felt there was something there, she felt that there was an issue there, she could have turned it over to the police a lot earlier than now.

In addition too, there was a custody battle, obviously. Did she raises this at the custody battle? There`s are a lot of things you`ve got to look at in terms of how this all developed that all of a sudden now that she`s missing, these things are starting coming to light.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me say first of all, I know Art Harris and he`s not just some guy on the Internet. He`s a very, very good investigative reporter.

COHEN: He is, but he`s not the police.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, he`s broken a lot of stories but I do make your -- I do agree with your point he`s not the police.

Dr. Dale Archer, here is what puzzles me about all of this.

An army of law enforcement has been on this case since the moment little Haleigh disappeared well over five weeks ago. You would think that all of this would have come out within the first couple of days. In other words, they would go find her school records, they would talk to neighbors, they would see these photos.

And I don`t understand why this is coming out now. Do you think the cops might actually have this information and are just sitting on it?

DR. DALE ARCHER, CLINICAL PSYCHIATRIST: You know, I can`t speak to that. But what I -- I do think is key to the entire investigation would be -- I would agree with Joe that you`ve got to go to the sibling and you have to evaluate him.

And Child Protective Services are active in every single state, every county, every city in the country and they`re experts at being able to do these evaluations. And I think that if any abuse was going on, he would absolutely be the one where you could sort this out very, very quickly. And I would have to think that he has definitely been evaluated...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Dr. Archer, Florida`s Department of Children and Families has announced it is investigating these claims. The Sheriff`s Department has announced it is also investigating these claims.

So what -- what do social workers do when they sit down and interview a 4-year-old to determine whether he`s just picking up what the adults say or whether there`s real abuse?

ARCHER: Well, you know, I mean, obviously the younger the child, the more difficult it is to get an accurate story and an accurate assessment. So at 4, it`s not easy.

But what you do is you basically look at his behavior. And an abused child is going to exhibit shrinking behavior and reclusive behavior, pulling-back behavior. And any type of authority figure you can see that it`s going to frighten them.

And so by looking at that, you`re looking at non-verbal cues in order to do your assessment because verbally it`s very hard.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But that`s all very subjective, though.

ARCHER: Well, it`s --

NAVARRO: I`m -- I`m sorry. This is something that really presents some challenges and I just like to invite everybody`s attention to the McMartin Preschool/Raymond Buckey case of several years ago, where there were hundreds of these purported victims that came forward and it turned out that all of it was mistaken.

All of these children were mistaken. And children are very susceptible to other kinds of cues or information. It`s a very, very difficult area.

And in a sense, what we`re talking about is like reading tea leaves where we`re trying to read into these children`s reactions.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Exactly.

ARCHER: Well, wait a minute. Wait a minute.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me say this.

ARCHER: It`s more scientific than that. Come on. We`ve gone way beyond that now. We now -- most states have experts that can sit, open -- ask very open questions to children and elicit and invents information without tainting them.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, I have to jump in here. Because I`ve got to tell Ron`s side of the story and of course, we have an open invitation to him or his attorney. Family members come on and tell your side. He`s been insistent about his privacy. He`s been insistent that all of it is garbage. And he`s never done any of these things of which his ex has accused him.

Listen to what he said on the "Today Show."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RON CUMMINGS, HALEIGH CUMMINGS FATHER: I don`t understand why it`s any of anybody else`s business to be honest with you. It`s nobody`s business what I do in my personal life. I go to work, and I support my family.

I don`t know what my personal life has to do with national TV. And my daughter is missing. And that`s why it has do with national TV.

We need to get my daughter`s face back on TV and get her found.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Darren Kavinoky, he has said that he has not hit his children at all, but he`s also like, stop looking at me. Does he not understand why this is relevant to the case?

KAVINOKY: Well, I think he`s got an excellent point. Much of this is really collateral to the issue of where is this missing girl.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Not if it`s true. I have no -- you know, he`s denied it and I`m not saying it is. I have no knowledge. But if it`s true, obviously it`s relevant.

KAVINOKY: Well, maybe. I mean, don`t forget, Jane, there`s already been the initial child custody determination where mom was found to be an unfit parent. This issue of whether or not he was abusive, it speaks to the issue of who is a better parent.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right.

KAVINOKY: It doesn`t necessarily mean that he has anything to do with that missing girl.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. We`ve got to leave it there. I don`t know if she was an unfit parent it was just that she didn`t get custody. But thank you to my excellent panel. Great. And please come back soon.

Awful news and I mean awful out of Florida. NFL star Donte Stallworth fatally struck a pedestrian with his Bentley Saturday. New reports claim he was driving drunk.

Shocking details and the rumor mill churning away in the Rihanna/Chris Brown saga. Did they make a sex tape? Next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Outrageous rumors about Rihanna and Chris Brown are gathering steam. Is there a sex tape of the two? I`ll have an update.

First, "Top of the Block" tonight.

Another NFL star in the headlines for the wrong reasons, Cleveland Browns receiver, Donte Stallworth was driving and reportedly fatally struck a pedestrian in Miami on Saturday. Now Miami news outlets are reporting the 28-year-old was driving drunk.

According to the reports, his blood alcohol level was 0.14, which is way above the 0.08 legal limit. Cops have not confirmed the blood test results. No charges have been filed. Stallworth released a statement Wednesday saying he was quote, "grief-stricken" over the tragic accident.

That`s tonight`s "Top of the Block."

Tonight, another insane twist in the ongoing saga of battered pop star Rihanna and her alleged abuser, Chris Brown. Rumors swirl that the couple is taking a much-needed break from each other. "Star" magazine dropping a bombshell; the magazine claims that a Chris Brown-Rihanna sex tape exists. We have reached out to both Brown and Rihanna`s representatives for reaction. They are not commenting yet.

With Brown`s attorneys due back in court next week, if such a tape really existed, could it affect Rihanna`s decision about whether or not to testify? Plus, the outrage over the vicious attack that left Rihanna badly beaten has led to a new anti-violence PSA; the PSA for a not for profit youth organization do something reenacts the horrific events described with graphic detail the police affidavit from the night of the alleged beating. Take a look and listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He began applying pressure to her arteries and she began to lose consciousness. She attempted to gouge his eyes but he bit her fingers and released her. She brought her knees to her chest and placed her feet against his body pushing him away. He continued to punch her legs and feet. She began screaming for help. He exited the vehicle and walked away.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So very disturbing to see those horrifying words played out before us. But perhaps it`s healthy.

So much to talk about tonight. First, to my expert panel: back with me, Dr. Dale Archer, clinical psychiatrist and also joining us, Ashleigh Banfield, anchor for the legal network "In Session;" and Kate Major, senior reporter for "Star" Magazine.

Kate, let`s get right to it. What claims are you reporting about this alleged sex tape?

KATE MAJOR, SENIOR REPORTER, "STAR" MAGAZINE: Hi, Jane. Thank you for having me.

"Star" has learned exclusively that people close to Rihanna have told the magazine that there is indeed sex tapes that do exist that happened while Rihanna and Chris were dating. They`re very intimate tapes. And, you know, obviously after everything that Rihanna has gone through that we`re worried -- she is worried that somehow they could get out to the public and be leaked.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me say this, first of all. We have certainly no idea whether there`s any sex tape out there. And I want to stress that there`s been a lot of false rumors about Rihanna and Chris Brown in the wake of this horrific situation.

We heard they recorded a love duet together; turns out that`s not true. They had done it before the beating. We`ve heard reports that were getting married. That`s certainly not true.

How do you know that -- have you seen this tape? What evidence do you have that this tape exists?

MAJOR: It`s people that are close to Rihanna that have talked to "Star" exclusively and have told us that this information does exist. We -- you know, we stand by our story. And right now, after everything that Rihanna has been through, this is the last thing that she would need.

And as other celebrities have -- such as Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, they`ve had sex tapes leaked, which have hurt their career and they`ve come back to it. This is the last thing that Rihanna would need right now.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Ashleigh Banfield, anchor of "In Session," again, we have no idea if this is true, but hypothetically if there was such a tape, could it impact her decision as to whether or not to testify against Chris Brown?

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, ANCHOR, "IN SESSION": Huge hypothetical. So I want to really couch this tape thing...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Me too.

BANFIELD: ...if there is any pressure, sure. I mean, nobody wants that kind of thing to get out necessarily. She`s got a great career and she doesn`t need a tape like that.

I can`t say the same for Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian. They may have had different kinds of motives for -- for the -- you know, for their actions after sex tape videos were leaked.

But here`s the deal. If something like that does exist, she does have recourse. You can certainly go after an injunction to try to stop the release of that kind of thing. The problem is if it gets out, toothpaste is out of the tube, things get a whole lot more difficult after that.

You can try for a criminal prosecution like Pam Anderson did. She said it was stolen. They went after people who stole it from her bedroom.

But again, once the toothpaste is out of the tube, it`s a different motivation after that. Maybe just try to claim royalties because you`re never going to stop it from being seen. But maybe you can stop someone from profiting as much as they would otherwise if they didn`t get involved.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, next Monday, Mark Garagos, the attorney for Chris Brown, is going to meet reportedly in chambers with the judge and say, "hey, you know what, given all this publicity, what we`re talking about now, there is no way Chris Brown can get a fair trial."

Dr. Dale Archer, it seems that both here are suffering. They`re seeing their reputations literally torn to bits as this story unfolds.

ARCHER: But I think Rihanna has the perfect point now to be able to say, I don`t care about the tape. This is more important than the tape. This is absolutely crucial that I tell the world that this is what happens, that abuse is never acceptable. And I`m willing to allow this tape to go out if it means that I can tell my side of the story and there can be justice here. This is perfect for her.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I think it`s a very nice thought because it`s not you on a hypothetical tape.

Ashleigh, ten seconds.

ARCHER: Yes, it`s not me on the tape but it doesn`t matter. You know at the end of the day, some issues are...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What I`m saying is it`s easy to say, hard to actually follow through.

ARCHER: But it`s bigger than.

BANFIELD: Jane, I hope she has a good lawyer.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Hang on, we have more Rihanna story. It doesn`t end here.

We`ll be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rihanna? Where is Chris, Rihanna?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUDITH SHEINDLIN, FORMER FAMILY COURT JUDGE: First of all, this is not domestic violence.

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Not domestic. What is it?

SHEINDLIN: No, it`s violence. It`s assault. These people don`t live together. They`re not married. They don`t have a child in common. They`re not related by blood. They live independently.

And what it is, if anything, is an assault. Now there are defenses to assault. Self-defense is a defense to assault. But you cannot come back and create more damage than it would take just to extricate yourself from the situation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Judge Judy making some interesting points on "LARRY KING LIVE" as we talk about the Rihanna/Chris Brown saga.

Let`s go to something that I`ve always found fascinating. It is called the power and control wheel. I think we have one to put up. Yes.

This is a description, Dr. Archer, of how domestic violence can be perpetuated, presumably, by a man over a woman and you see all sorts of different techniques: intimidation, emotional abuse, isolation, minimizing, denying, using children, economic abuse, male privilege, coercion and threats. Certainly economic abuse, not an issue here, because they were both -- they are both independently wealthy but a lot of other ones could apply.

ARCHER: Absolutely. And the key is control, control, control. And the abuser wants total control over the abusee. And they do that by isolating them from family and friends who would be able to give them good advice and maybe try to get them out of there. He controls who they can see, what they can do, every aspect of their life. That`s stage one.

And then the physical violence comes down the road. So that is a key warning sign. And that definitely applies in this case.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ashleigh, what do you think is going to on Monday, when Mark Garagos goes into court with that in-chambers` meeting with the judge, saying, "Hey, he can`t get a fair trial?"

BANFIELD: Well, look, O.J. Simpson got a fair trial and if O.J. Simpson can get a fair trial, anybody can. It`s not about people who hear about the incident, that`s not -- in voir dire, that`s not what we ask about. We ask if people can be fair, not if they know about something.

And a lot of jurors on juries know about the crime that they`re actually involved with adjudicating but able to set it aside and say they can be fair. That`s what`s crucial, not whether they know something about it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, I think that this case is fascinating because I think it`s opened a Pandora`s Box for the nation. Undoubtedly.

At this moment, as we speak, there is violence, domestic violence, whatever kind of violence you want to call it going on across this country. And the positive out of all of this is that we`re actually looking at it.

I want to thank my fantastic panel. Please come back soon.

I am Jane Velez-Mitchell, and you are watching ISSUES on HLN.

END

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