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Accused Stalker of Tyra Banks to Appear in Court; Factory Farms to Blame for Swine Flu?

Aired April 29, 2009 - 19:00:00   ET



JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, superstar Tyra Banks faces off with her suspected stalker in court. Grady Green, accused of following her all across the country, was arrested outside the Tyra Banks Studios. He reportedly claimed to be good friends with Tyra, and when that didn`t fly, allegedly threatened to kill one of the show`s employees. Is his court appearance part of a sick plan to meet Tyra face to face? I`ll examine the recent rash of celebrity stalking scares.

Then, yet another batch of bizarre developments in the Haleigh Cummings disappearance. Bounty hunter Cobra reclaims center stage, following claims that Misty was fighting with one of Ron`s former flames. Also, investigative journalist Art Harris says a lead investigator thinks Haleigh could still be alive.

And the Casey Anthony case inspires last night`s scandalous episode of "Law & Order: SVU." So, was the prime-time adaptation accurate, and how did it compare to other notorious crimes that made the jump to the small screen?

Then, swine flu strikes. A child in Texas becomes the first U.S. death at the hands of the virus. So how can we stop this outbreak? We can start by making different shopping choices. It`s the story you need to hear that you won`t get anywhere else.

Plus, a malnourished model. An Australian Miss Universe contestant struts her skinny stuff down the runway, unleashing a firestorm in the body image battle. I`ll analyze the psychology of super-skinny celebs.

ISSUES starts now.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, Tyra Banks comes face to face with her worst nightmare. The superstar courageously strutted into court and took the stand today, confronting her alleged sicko stalker. Tyra`s testimony was chilling. Quote, "I fear for my safety. I feel extremely vulnerable. I fear the safety of my staff, my family."

Cops say Grady Green was a fan so obsessed with the supermodel turned TV star, he allegedly threatened to kill a staffer who refused to give him the star`s address. He was quoted as saying, "You`re bleeping lying. I`m going to find you and slit your throat," end quote.

As for Green`s side of the story, his lawyer says he`s just an overzealous fan. But here is the very sick twist. Did this defendant turn down more than one no-jail-time plea deal just so he could actually see Tyra in person, albeit in court? It wouldn`t be the first time in a stalking case.

Straight out to my fantastic expert panel: Rhonda Saunders, Los Angeles prosecutor, expert on stalking and author of "Whisper of Fear"; Dr. Dale Archer, clinical psychiatrist; Dawn Yanek, editor at large for "Life & Style" weekly; Drew Findling, Atlanta criminal defense attorney; and Lisa Bloom, anchor at the legal network In Session.

Lisa, I`m sure you have also -- have uncovered several of these cases, where a celebrity is forced to come face to face with their alleged stalker in court. Bottom line here: what is the incentive for Tyra`s alleged tormenter to make a deal when the max -- the max -- he can get is only 90 days behind bars? Is that not totally ludicrous?

LISA BLOOM, ANCHOR, IN SESSION: It is. And there should be much longer sentences for stalkers, especially one like this one, who`s threatening to kill her producer, who obviously is a very sick and twisted guy who will stop at nothing to be in the same room with Tyra.

I`d like to see some arrangement where, when she comes into court, he`s not there, or vice versa, so he doesn`t get his ultimate life`s wish, which is to be present in a room with Tyra, even if it`s a courtroom.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Rhonda Saunders, I don`t understand this. If he threatened, then why is he charged with the namby-pamby harassment stalking charges? Why isn`t he facing something more serious? You heard the quote there that he`s alleged to have said, "I will cut your throat," end quote.

RHONDA SAUNDERS, LOS ANGELES PROSECUTOR: I totally agree with you. I mean, six months, or 90 days is not enough for this stalker. Because he`ll get good time, work time, he`ll be out and then he`ll be right back on her doorstep.

I don`t understand why New York has such weak laws, that they allow these stalkers to just basically get a tap on the wrist. He should have been charged with threatening her producer. Here in California, that would have been a separate felony charge.

And it`s similar to Madonna`s case, where her stalker threatened her assistant with slicing her throat, Madonna`s throat. I got ten years in state prison for her stalker.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Listen, Dawn Yanek, you`ve covered so many of these cases. What happens, these people don`t lose an obsession in three months. If you`re sitting in the slammer for three months, it`s just three months to really obsess about the person so that when you get out, you`re even more obsessed than you were before you got in.

Something else has to be added to the equation. Either we`ve got to get counseling for these people. Something`s got to change. Because the system as it`s operating now is not working.

DAWN YANEK, EDITOR AT LARGE, "LIFE & STYLE" WEEKLY: Right. That`s a very, very good point. And we should mention that stalking is nothing new. But the entire landscape of the celebrity world is very different now. We have the Internet; we have reality shows; we have Twitter accounts. So you can get somebody who is very disturbed and thinks that they have a relationship with a celebrity and they`ve taken it to a completely different level now.

What is going to be the case for this person when he is in jail if he does get convicted? What happens then? Like you said, is he cut off from everything or does he get more and more obsessed? Hopefully there will be some sort of counseling involved in his sentence, as well.

SAUNDERS: You know, counseling does no good, though, with these stalkers, because they don`t think they`re doing anything wrong. And in order for them to be helped by counseling, they have to recognize that they have a problem. But to them, it`s not their problem, it`s everyone else`s problem.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dr. Dale Archer, I haven`t talked to this guy, thank God, but I`ve heard reports and read reports that he thinks that somebody`s communicating to him via some satellite. That`s always a bad sign.

DR. DALE ARCHER, CLINICAL PSYCHIATRIST: Yes. Exactly right. This is psychotic behavior. So this guy has a chemical imbalance of the brain. He thinks there`s a satellite watching him. He thinks his conversations are being recorded. He threatened to kill somebody just because he couldn`t get an address. This guy is sick.

So what we would hope is that he gets on medication. So now that he`s in the criminal justice system, we don`t want him to turn into a John Hinckley who attempts to kill the president, or a Margaret Ray, who stalked David Letterman and ends up killing himself. This guy is sick. He needs to be treated.

So yes, he is definitely competent to stand trial, most likely. But we would hope he would get an evaluation and treatment while he`s in jail.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Drew, do you want to make a point?

FINDLING: Well, what a lot of states do, and we do in the state of Georgia, is we have what`s called, and this takes place throughout the country, temporary protective orders.

And what will happen is if there`s a pattern of stalking, you get a protective order. If the person violates the order, it is an automatic five-year penalty. And it is a strict liability sentence. Other attorneys will tell you there`s really no defense to it. It`s a piece of paper. If you don`t listen to it, if you send a text message, you get five years in jail.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Well, some celebrity victims really get a double whammy here. If the obsessed fan won`t take a plea deal, as has happened here, the celebrity has to show up in court, which sucks them into the world of the stalker.

Anna Nicole Smith had a stalker who went so far as to tattoo himself with her likeness and beat up one of her neighbors. Mark Hatten was convicted and sent to prison. But not before Anna Nicole was thrust into the spotlight of the paparazzi cameras and subjected to seeing him in court. I was there that day. And what a melee at the Van Nuys court in California.

Mel Gibson had to show up for the trial of a fan who became obsessed with him after the movie "The Passion of the Christ." Gibson`s stalker sent him 12 letters and boldly approached him in his church. You know, Mel has his own church, in case you don`t know. He even turned up at Mel`s Malibu mansion. This man was convicted and sentenced to prison.

Now, Lisa Bloom, in these cases these two people did hard time. So obviously, they got something more than a misdemeanor stalking. So where do you get the gradations of stalking where you get somebody in jail for a significant period of time?

BLOOM: Well, it`s a great question, Jane. And often, it varies from state to state. California does take stalking seriously, thank goodness. Other states not as much.

It also depends on the discretion of the prosecutor, who usually has a range of charges to work with. And they may decide to go on the low range -- end of the range, go on the misdemeanor end of the range.

But once you`re threatening someone`s life, once you`re engaged in a continual pattern that`s more than one e-mail or one text. This is absolutely serious behavior that often does end in violence. It should be taken very seriously. And I think they should be locked up for a long time. As far as the chemical imbalance, who cares? We need to get these guys off the street. Then we`ll eventually treat them.

ARCHER: No, no, I totally agree that they need to be punished. I`m not saying that. But they need to be treated, as well. So yes -- but he`s responsible for what he did. He has to be punished for that. The life of the term is to be determined. But he needs to get treatment, as well. That`s all I`m saying.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But I don`t think the law enforcement community takes stalking seriously enough. I mean, I`ve actually experienced it myself. And it`s a very, very frightening thing, to be on the receiving end of it. And I`ve got to tell you that just sticking somebody away for three months behind bars is not going to change their mentality.

And I come back to that again, Dr. Dale Archer.

ARCHER: Right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s not going to -- it`s only going to encourage them. Because they`re going to have three months to sit there, and they`re going to concoct some kind of crazy story in their head that, "Oh, well, she wanted this, because this is part of our plan to reunite. And this is a test of my love." You know, they create -- don`t they create crazy story lines in their head?

ARCHER: Absolutely. Because they`re psychotic. And so they`re living in a fantasy world. And that`s the whole point.

SAUNDERS: I hate to say, he`s a very good dresser.

ARCHER: Most of these people -- yes, he is a good dresser. Most of these people, they -- he needs to be treated probably for life. Because typically they`re schizophrenic, and they need long-term treatment. So three months will do nothing. Even treatment for three months will do nothing. He needs long-term psychiatric treatment. And his jail time, I mean, he needs to serve whatever they sentence him for, but that`s going to be a small part of what`s going to eventually...


VELEZ-MITCHELL: How do you -- how do you explain that he looks so good? He`s well dressed. He`s well groomed. He`s a dapper...

ARCHER: Because the...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dapper demented.

ARCHER: The stereotype of the mentally ill is that they`re homeless and they`re on the street. And that`s just not the case. You can have all different -- along the spectrum of mental illness. So he is on the milder side of that. But still, it doesn`t change the fact that he has psychotic thinking.


SAUNDERS: And anybody can be a stalking victim. And what he`s suffering from is something called erotomania.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. We`ll get to that. We`ll get to erotomania in a second. Sit tight, fabulous panel. More on Tyra`s alleged stalker in just a minute.

Then, a super skinny contestant in Australia`s Miss Universe pageant sparks a battle over body image. Are bony beauties setting a bad example?

But first, Tyra is not the only star to have a recent stalking scare. Last night, a man was charged with stalking gold medalist Shawn Johnson. Here`s what he told cops on the way to see her on the set of "Dancing with the Stars."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m meeting her there. I`ve been communicating with her. And basically, I`m going to try to get her to marry me.




MIRANDA TOZIER-ROBBINS, CHARGED WITH TRESPASSING: There`s no obsession with Britney. There`s no, like -- somebody else can go ahead and claim the title of Britney stalker, because I sure as heck don`t want it, you know.

As I got, you know, to the side of the house, I`m walking through or whatnot, she had -- she was at her back gate. And I was trying to look through the back gate. The gate kind of pushed open, and I just walked in.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Just kind of pushed open. Miranda Tozier-Robbins expressing a rather matter-of-fact attitude to E! online after her arrest last week for allegedly trespassing on the property of Britney Spears. Cops say she was toting a backpack full of video equipment. She says she was a paparazzi in training.

But it`s worth noting this young woman sang a Britney Spears song at two tryouts for "American Idol" in 2004 and `05. She didn`t make the cut.

Paparazzi or stalkerazzi? Is the new technology also having an impact?

You know, Dawn Yanek, you`ve covered this stuff, in "Life & Style." Anybody with a cell phone or a mini DV-cam these days can call themselves a paparazzi, a documentary film producer or whatever, and it`s an excuse to track stars.

YANEK: Right. It does seem like a pretty thin excuse to use, in particular. "Oh, I just happened to be there. The gate just swung open and there I went."

But I mean, I think what they`re doing is creating a circus around this, between the trials, between the media coverage, between all of these events. And they`re putting themselves into their own delusional fantasies.

But you`re right. You know, there is so much of an excuse for it, you know, that we have in this media. And it`s becoming a very frightening thing.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, a lot of reality competition and TV talk shows, as you mentioned, invite viewers to participate with calls and text messages and online voting.

YANEK: And Twitter accounts, for that matter.


YANEK: That makes people feel so much closer to these celebrities. And that`s wonderful for ratings on one hand, because you want to feel relatable. Like one of their friends. But on the other hand, they want to keep a distance. And you have to have boundaries.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely. A lot of people feel this creates a very false sense of intimacy with the judges and the participants.

For example, Olympic gymnast champ Shawn Johnson. There she is. What a dancer. She was allegedly stalked by an obsessed fan. Cops say Robert O`Ryan was skulking around the studios of "Dancing with the Stars" during her taping.

She is safe from him for now. Robert O`Ryan`s in jail on $20,000 bail. There he is. Plus, according to TMZ, her family got a three-year restraining order.

And then there`s "American Idol" judge Paula Abdul. Her fan, a one- time "Idol" wannabe, was apparently so obsessed and distraught, she committed suicide by O.D.-ing on prescription pills right in front of Paula`s house.

Rhonda Saunders, you`re the stalking experts. Do these reality shows, and these contestant shows and these talk shows create this false sense of intimacy that can be misinterpreted by a cuckoo bird?

SAUNDERS: Absolutely. Because it does convey an intimacy, a relationship. People are watching these shows. They believe that the person who`s on the screen is actually sending messages to them, talking to them. They`re able to pick up a phone and cast a vote. So they begin to think that there is some type of a connection.

We used to have it with just regular television shows or films, where people would go see the celebrity and then begin to think, "Oh, well, they`re really talking to me. They`re talking about me." But now with these reality shows, it comes -- it becomes even a closer type of an intimacy. And there`s no boundaries any more.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dr. Dale Archer, what -- what is it with people who are delusional, always somehow relating to the television, or the Internet? I mean, what did crazy people do before TV?

ARCHER: Well, the bottom line is that, now with TV and the Internet, they`ve got something to focus their internal reality on. Whereas before, they may be out just walking the streets talking to themselves. Now they can sit down in their own homes and watch TV. And their delusions start to take on the role of finding someone they target. And they say, "This person really likes me. They`re talking directly to me. They know me. I should be with them."

And the next thing you know their delusion is centered around a star instead of just themselves. So in the old days, yes, they would be bums on the streets. Now they`re...

YANEK: Remember with these actors and these reality stars, a measure of their success is to be relatable, to put down all of their guards and to really relate to these people. And I think that`s where these lines get very, very blurry. Their success is great, but it doesn`t help them in this stalking capacity.

ARCHER: Not only that, it`s the more attention they show, even if it`s through a Twitter message, then the more you`re going to see the delusion of the individual.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And Lisa Bloom, the thing with these people that`s so scary, and again, you know, we don`t want to convict this guy. Who knows? We have to see the trial unfold. His lawyer says he`s just an overzealous fan.

But with actual stalkers, nothing will stop them. The more you try to stop them, the more you interact with them to say, "Leave me alone," the more obsessed they get. The only thing that seems to work is a complete and total withdrawal, which is hard when somebody`s coming after you.

BLOOM: Yes. And as a resident of New York City, by the way, I can confirm that plenty of people are still walking the streets mumbling to themselves.

I think, by the way, the celebrity industrial complex that many of us are a part of here on this panel does create this false sense of intimacy, where people feel they really do know those of us who are on television and in magazines. And all it takes is someone who`s a little bit off to misinterpret and misunderstand. I think it is a very scary thing.

And look, let`s be honest: celebrities profit enormously from the creation of this intimacy with their fans. They get very, very wealthy. And unfortunately, this is a byproduct of it. Not justifying it or excusing it.


FINDLING: Jane -- Jane...

SAUNDERS: They`re putting their lives or their family`s lives in danger from these stalkers.

FINDLING: Jane, I want to comment. Jane...

SAUNDERS: There`s a line drawn.

FINDLING: Jane, I want to comment, before we start bashing stalking statutes, 99 percent of them involve neighbors in disputes, people getting through a divorce, and 99.9 percent work out well. We`re talking about a few celebrity cases.

YANEK: The viewers are not in this position. These are a few people doing this.


ARCHER: And it`s very different when you don`t know the person you`re stalking. Totally different phenomenon.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to thank my fantastic and enthusiastic panel.

Meantime, the U.S. confirms its first swine flu death. I will tell you how we, the consumer, can take action. It`s the solution you will not hear anywhere else.

Plus, more bizarre details emerge in the Haleigh Cummings disappearance. How a reported feud between Ron`s wife, Misty, and an ex- girlfriend could relate to the case. I`ll have an update.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: In the spotlight tonight, a Mexican child in Texas becomes the first U.S. swine flu fatality. People feel helpless, with at least 91 cases confirmed across ten states. But there is something we consumers can do. Tell the pig farming industry we want a change.

And here`s why. Health officials now believe patient zero is a 5- year-old boy in La Gloria, Mexico. Huge hog farms surround that village. The farm`s owners said there`s no reason to believe the virus is connected to its operations. And though testing at the facilities has been negative, townspeople reportedly suspect their water and their air have been contaminated by hog waste.

The pig industry insists hog farms are safe. But groups such as the Humane Society of the United States, Farm Sanctuary and the Pew Commission -- the prestigious Pew Commission -- have been warning for years that they feel factory farms pose risks to public health.

Joining me, Jane Garrison, animal welfare expert. Jane coordinated Prop 2 in Los Angeles. That got passed. That ballot initiative, which was successful, means pig gestation crates are going to be banned in California.

Jane, what can consumers do to make a difference in the middle of this swine flu panic?

JANE GARRISON, ANIMAL WELFARE EXPERT: Well, what consumers don`t know is that swine flu is a respiratory disease in pigs. And pig farmers try to keep it hidden that 99.9 percent of pigs raised for food are crammed by the thousands into sheds with poor ventilation, where each individual animal is kept in a crate that is so small, they can barely stand up, turn around, lie down and extend their limbs.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And let`s look at that. Let`s take a look at that. We`ve got -- there`s the video. Now, what`s really fascinating is that most Americans have no idea, no idea at all that this is how pigs are kept. Why not?

GARRISON: And what they don`t realize is that living in those stressful conditions breaks down their immune system and makes them more susceptible for disease.

Jane, it would be like if you had to live your entire life in the seat of a crowded airplane, unable to get up, unable to stretch your legs. If one person on that plane got a cold, the next thing you know, the entire plane would be sick. These factory farms are breeding ground for disease, and they must be stopped.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And of course, the industry says that`s not true. And that`s the debate. That`s what we`re talking about. We`re trying to get both sides of the issue here.

The bigger issue is the debate over factory farming. It goes way beyond pigs. Last year, we had the largest beef recall in U.S. history. The recall sparked an undercover investigation by the Humane Society of the United States. Hidden cameras showed workers kicking sick cows who were too sick to stand up on their own, using blatant cruelty to force them to walk, raising questions about meat safety, which led to the recall. Downed cows that cannot walk are more susceptible to disease. That is according to the U.S. Department of agriculture.

"Jane, you cannot get swine flu from a BLT." At least that`s what the government is saying over and over again today. But in your opinion, is there a nexus between the treatment of animals on farms and human health?

GARRISON: Absolutely. You cannot deny the reason that these factory farms want to keep hidden the way these animals are crammed into cages, can`t even move, can`t even stand up.

And as consumers, we are not helpless. We can use our voices. We can use our pocket books. We can send a clear message that animals should not be kept where they can`t even stand up, turn around, lie down or extend their limbs. All animals deserve to be treated humanely.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I agree. Than you.

GARRISON: Thank you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: See you soon.

The smash TV show "Law & Order" brings the Casey Anthony case to the small screen. You won`t believe what it did.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: The Casey Anthony case inspires last night`s the scandalous episode of "Law & Order: SVU." So was the prime time adaptation accurate and how did it compare to other notorious crimes that made the jump to the small screen?

Plus, an Australian pageant contestant struts her skinny stuff down the runway, unleashing a firestorm in the body image battle. I`ll analyze the psychology of super-skinny celebs.

Breaking news from Satsuma, Florida tonight, could little Haleigh Cummings be alive? And under the care of the person or persons who abducted her? A dramatic twist tonight as cops tell, they are not giving up on finding little Haleigh alive.

She has been missing for almost 80 days. As that hopeful thought grows, the big question still looms, who took the precious 5-year-old child?

Meantime, other players in this bizarre case continue on a downward spiral. Haleigh`s step-mom, Misty Croslin`s party pal Kristina "Nene" Prevatt is reportedly on suicide watch back in jail after bounty hunter `Cobra` claims she`d be safer there. Her bail revoked after a drug related arrest.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But I`m getting reports that you tried to kill yourself.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: What was all that about? She`s not a suspect in any of this.

Meanwhile, details emerge about a past altercation between Misty and husband Ronald Cummings` ex.

Amber Brooks` mother, Lisa Brooks -- oh my gosh, you need a scorecard, people -- Lisa Brooks allegedly battered Misty over hostile comments made at Amber`s expense or made at her by Amber. We`ll figure it out. We`re going to get to the experts in a second. This is too crazy.

How does all this relate -- this is the big question -- to little Haleigh`s abduction? We`re going to tell you in moments. So much to cover tonight.

First to my expert panel: Drew Findling, Atlanta based criminal defense attorney; and joining the conversation, Paul Callan, criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor; and by phone -- and boy, T.J. Hart, I`m glad you`re with us tonight -- T.J. Hart, program and news director for WSKY 97.3 FM.

T.J., I can`t figure it out. It`s so complicated this cast of characters and they`re intermingling that I get confused. So sort it out for us. What`s the very latest?

T.J. HART, WSKY FM (via telephone): Well, you`re in pretty good camp, because a lot of us are in the same way. But we do have our flow charts out and hopefully I`ll have that on my site here pretty soon. What we have here is Kristina Rene "Nene" Prevatt, a party pal of Misty Cummings.

Now, as she mentioned in the setup, she provided an arrangement to meet with Greg Page, a local man for a weekend of sex and drugs and all of that. And then, about a day later that`s when Haleigh Cummings vanished from her home. Also...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, let me make sure I`m correct. "Nene" was with not just Greg, but with Misty. That`s the key player there.

HART: Yes, yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Is Misty is the one who was supposedly watching little Haleigh when she disappeared. And she allegedly was partying with "Nene" and Greg on the weekend before and allegedly doing drugs that we`ve been trying to get her side of the story, but we can`t get her. But we`d like her side of the story.

HART: That`s absolutely correct. And that`s what the -- still, senior officers and Putnam County sheriff`s officers are still frustrated at the inconsistencies of the time line. And this is where the previous associations -- were trying to put some thins together.

Also, Amber Brooks is involved, as an associate of "Nene" Prevatt. There`s bad blood between Amber Brooks and Misty Cummings.

Now, right now we`re trying to follow a lot of leads in this association. And it`s a pretty tense relationship between these. They`ve got a lot of raw nerves as well.

Now, what happened yesterday was "Nene" was taken back into the jail. She was not arrested. We have to make that very clear. Her bond was revoked.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s "Nene" we`re looking at right there. "Nene."

HART: Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok, go ahead. Continue.

HART: Ok. Now, she was out on a cocaine charge. Now William Stoubs, the `Cobra` fellow, had bonded her out, hopefully to get some goodwill and perhaps she could provide some information after he had won her confidence to a degree.

She started messing up, started taking again.


HART: Apparently was involved in a situation where she is trying to take her child from the child`s guardian. That`s what the baby -- "I didn`t take no baby comment" came from.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok, guess what...

HART: She`s deemed a danger to herself and she`s back in jail.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s hard to keep up, Paul Callan.

HARLAN: Yes, it is.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But the good news is that law enforcement is saying that they think that little Haleigh could be alive. And they don`t believe, according to published reports, that it`s a stranger abduction.

And we`re not accusing anybody you`ve seen here of being any part of Haleigh`s abduction. We`re not doing that. But what seems to be happening is that there`s a small circle of people who have a lot of very complicated relationships and romances and former romances. And there`s jealousy. There`s a lot of stuff going on here, Paul.

PAUL CALLAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, there is and you know the case gets stranger and stranger by the day because of all of the strange friends, and the involvement with drugs. And you know, there`s such a wide array of people who could be involved in this abduction, that I can see how the police are having a horrible time.

And I think it`s great news to hear somebody saying she might still be alive. And this wouldn`t be the first time that a child was abducted, and turned up sometimes years later, being alive. So I think we can all have that hope that maybe she is alive.

DREW FINDLING, ATLANTA CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Jane, it is amazing that weeks and now months are going by, and I go to what you and I talked about, the first week that this happened.

This really is going to come, let`s hope, alive, whatever it`s going to come down to the dysfunction of Ron Cummings having a relationship in a single-wide trailer with a 17-year-old girl who should be worrying about her 11th grade prom, and bequeathing upon her the responsibility of taking his children.

And adding and exclamation to the mark -- mark to that the bizarre, and I emphasize the bizarre marriage just weeks later. That`s what this case is about. Let`s hope it`s going to lead to her alive.


FINDLING: So when all is said done, that`s what this case is about.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`ve got to go.

But I do hope and pray the most important thing that Haleigh, the police are saying she could be alive. Let`s pray, let`s hope that we find her and bring her home alive. What a celebration that would be.

Thank you, Drew, and T.J. Hart. Paul, stay with us.

Turning now to Casey Anthony, sitting just 70 miles away from where the search for little Haleigh continues in a jail cell accused of killing her own daughter, Caylee.

Casey Anthony`s story, a young single mother who loved to party and failed to call cops when her daughter went missing, is taking on a life of its own. Last night`s NBC`s "Law & Order: SVU" featured a similar case.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I haven`t seen my granddaughter in four days. She`s only 11 months old.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does she live with you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My daughter went to Atlantic City with some girlfriends for the weekend.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She`s been home for over a day, and I haven`t seen my grandbaby since.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you think your daughter had something to do with her disappearance?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She used my car when she was away. Now Sierra is gone and the car smells like a dead body.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow, eerily echoing the frantic 911 call made by Caylee`s grandmother, Cindy Anthony, back in July. Just what are the ramifications of this ripped from the headlines story?

Plus, could there be an explanation for Casey`s alleged partying during the month her little girl was lost?

First, my expert panel, back with me: Paul Callan, criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor; and Dr. Gail Saltz, psychiatrist.

Doctor, what kind of effect can this ripped from the headlines story on television have on a potential jury?

DR. GAIL SALTZ, PSYCHIATRIST: Well, actually I think quite big. Unfortunately people get a lot of their information about health, about mental health, and about goings on in life from television.

So it would be great if it were really accurate. But we have no idea what`s really going on. And people do listen to these television shows and either consciously or unconsciously gets into their mind and percolates around and it can certainly affect the way they would see an outcome.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Last night`s "Law & Order: SVU" featured striking resemblances to the Casey Anthony case. The young woman played by Hillary Duff by the way, claimed her daughter was kidnapped by the nanny. Listen to this.


HILLARY DUFF, ACTRESS: You are a liar. You lied. Ok, this is the address that Maria gave me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actually, she`s not here.

DUFF: Yes, this is a setup. Somebody stole my baby. She stole my baby. She could be anywhere.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow. She blames Maria, the nanny. Sounds a lot like Zanny the nanny.

Paul, networks do have to change the facts, the names, the locations enough so they aren`t sued. This episode obviously based on the Casey Anthony case. But they changed the names. They changed the location. How does that protect them?

CALLAN: Well, "Law & Order" does this all the time. They tend to snatch a lot of their story lines from real cases. And the law basically is that if you can identify the person that the story is about, if they don`t change the details sufficiently, that it`s clear they`re talking about in this case Casey Anthony, there can be a defamation suit that can result.

So I would have to see this particular episode to see how many changes occurred. Obviously there`s the Atlantic City thing. It`s taking place in a different city. So I think "Law & Order" will have a legitimate defense to a defamation claim here. And they`re adept at this, Jane, because they do it all the time.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, let`s talk about another big issue that`s come up in the Casey Anthony case. We are hearing reports, Dr. Saltz, that the defense is going to use this whole notion of ugly coping as a defense and an explanation for Casey Anthony`s partying, and not calling cops in the month after little Caylee disappeared.

And they`re taking a page from another case apparently where a military wife went and had breast implants and partied and reportedly had sex with other people and was accused. But ultimately she was freed after spending a couple of years in jail. Do you think it`s going to fly with this case?

SALTZ: Ugly coping, Jane, is a made-up term. It is not a DSM diagnosis. There is a DSM diagnosis of complicated grief or bereavement. And so people can have unusual reactions to grief, it`s true.

Usually we`re talking about some sort of psychotic denial that it`s happened. Or, you know, odd mood changes that don`t really fit the typical pattern of grief. But the idea that one goes out partying as an abnormal reaction...


SALTZ: ...that`s a pretty far stretch, I have to say.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I don`t know, I`m not going to be able to use ugly coping, it`s an excuse when I don`t want to do something, or I do something wrong. Thank you fantastic panel for your insights.

Stunning pictures of Mel Gibson on the Red Carpet holding hands with his new love interest. Well, it looks like his messy divorce battle just got a tad messier.

And how skinny is too skinny or super slim? Australian beauty pageant contestant sparks a global debate.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: A beauty pageant in Australia sparks a global debate on body image. I will have the details.

But first, "Top of the Block" tonight.

Director, actor and billion-dollar man, Mel Gibson goes public with his new love interest. Radar Online, that video of Mel holding hands with the Russian singer and model Oksana at the Red Carpet premiere of the latest "X-Men" movie.

Gibson, a devout Catholic, currently tangled in a mega bucks divorce suit and this daring display is sure to make it even more interesting. The 53-year-old mega star was married to wife Robyn for 30 years. And they have seven children together.

Gibson stands to lose half of his estimated $1 billion, with a B, $1 billion purse. But he doesn`t seem to care with his new gal pal by his side.

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

Beauty queens causing quite the stir lately; this time it`s a Miss Australia contestant sparking controversy. Not for what came out of her mouth, but for what apparently didn`t go into it, you might say.

Pageant contestant Stephanie Naumoska shocked the world when she appeared on stage in Australia`s Miss Universe Pageant at a striking 5`11", weighing just 108 pounds.

The images quickly went viral, leading some dieticians to call her skin and bones and completely malnourished. Others were furious for the pageant itself for allowing a seemingly emaciated woman to compete. The pageant queen fought back against her detractors on ABC`s "Good Morning America."


STEPHANIE NAUMOSKA, MISS AUSTRALIA CONTESTANT: The reason I`m doing this interview now is because I want to defend all the skinny girls out there, all the skinny men, all the celebrities, all the people out there who get criticized by their appearance.

I don`t think that it`s fair. Because, you know, there are people out there who are naturally skinny and naturally slim, like myself. And I don`t think it`s fair that I was judged by the whole entire world based on a photo, and on my appearance.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s her side of the story. But some wonder could she unintentionally be fostering anorexia, a very real disease? Some stars like Lindsay Lohan have gotten so thin and their parents fear they could be a bad influence on their kids. We`re going to show you a picture of Lohan in just a moment.

Let me ask my expert panel what they think: Dr. Dale Saltz, associate professor of psychiatry at New York Presbyterian; and April Woodard, a former pageant contestant and senior correspondent at "Inside Edition;" and we`re back with Lisa Bloom, an anchor at the Legal Network "In Session."

Lisa, you are a parent. Does the super-slim model bother you? Do you think she`s just naturally thin as she claims? Or could she have an eating disorder and be in denial?

LISA BLOOM, ANCHOR, "IN SESSION": Jane, my answer might surprised you, it`s interesting you mention my kids. My children are both very thin as well. And I`ve taken them to the doctor concerned about it, because I`m a Jewish mother. And here`s what I`ve been told.

If they have healthy skin and they have healthy hair, they`re not lethargic and all of the blood tests turn out normal, don`t worry about it. And in fact, there`s a lot more diseases associated with being overweight than with being underweight.

So I`m not going to judge her. She certainly looks very, very thin. And it is alarming just to look at her. But I don`t know her, she may be naturally thin just like my kids.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I think Dr. Gail Saltz that the proof is in the pudding, it`s a bad pun. But I`m a recovering alcoholic with 14 years of sobriety. I know one drink is never enough. With behavioral addictions, it`s never enough.

In other words, you never get thin enough. So would a test be whether she`s always maintained this weight as an adult or whether she keeps getting thinner and thinner?

SALTZ: Yes. I`m much more concerned about Lindsay Lohan who looks one way and then before our eyes in front of the camera becomes very, very thin. Because it`s the change in body weight, it`s the loss of a significant percentage of body weight that`s more of a hallmark of an eating disorder than somebody who is, and it does happen to be, naturally very thin.

And it`s a really a fair point. Because there are some women out there who are really, really skinny, who are not necessarily happy about it. They`re not happy with their bodies either. And it`s not really fair to them to be, you know, very awfully negative.

At the same token, we don`t want to encourage girls that it`s great to be fantastically thin, because that`s the kind of message that can spark eating disorders.

So the truth lies in whether this woman has always been very, very thin, or whether she`s lost a significant amount of weight, whether she`s lost her menstruation, whether there are other changes, and psychologically what`s going on for her.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, this contestant was asked some very tough questions by Diane Sawyer. On ABC`s "Good Morning America" let`s listen.


DIANE SAWYER, "GOOD MORNING AMERICA" ANCHOR: You said 5`11", 117 pounds. Have you ever had an eating issue? Because a lot of people, again, are looking at it and saying, that doesn`t look like 117 pounds. And you can`t get that way if you are not drastically not eating.

NAUMOSKA: I`ve never been anorexic, never been bulimic. I don`t have any kind of eating disorder, I`m not malnourished, underfed.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, April Woodard, you were Miss National Black USA in 1989. Congratulations on that.

APRIL WOODARD, "INSIDE EDITION": That was awhile ago.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, well, you still look fabulous, darling. What is it about the modeling and the contestant world that encourages this? I mean, is anorexia and its sister bulimia rampant in modeling and the contestant world.

WOODARD: Definitely on modeling -- let me focus on the pageantry. No, it is not. In fact, I question Australia for putting this woman as the winner and showing her as the best of the best. I`m surprised that this is as good as it gets, a woman who is obviously very, very thin.

But no, in fact in the pageants that I competed in and I judge, you are encouraged to be healthy. And as a person who was never considered skinny, a person who was always very muscular because I was a dancer, I was so happy to hear that they wanted someone healthy and someone that was in shape. Not skinny girls.

So I`m really surprised to see that this is raising its ugly head again.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, we`ll have more of the skinny in just a second. We`ll be right back.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Beauty queen, Stephanie Naumoska caused quite a controversy this week during Australia`s Miss Universe contest. She appeared onstage stunningly thin at 5`11", and weighing just 108 pounds. Naumoska, seemingly emaciated body, criticized by many, but she said, "Hey, I`m just naturally thin. This is me."

We`re back discussing the latest.

Dr. Saltz, this is a serious issue in the sense that when you`re dealing with real anorexia, and we`re going to show you a case in just a moment, it can be fatal. And up to ten million females and one million males in the United States are battling anorexia as we speak.

SALTZ: Correct, it is a deadly disease and it has a lot of potential medical consequences, even if it doesn`t kill you. And there are many girls popping up all the time and increasingly boys were popping up with anorexia. So it is something to be concerned about.

But it is not necessarily always about trying to be thin. There are many psychological issues that are going on. There`s often a genetic predisposition to anorexia. So it`s not just as simple as I saw a beauty pageant queen and now I have anorexia.


SALTZ: So I think it`s unfair to apply that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s a control issue.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And from what I see...

SALTZ: Correct.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s say a young girl is mad at her parents; the one thing she can control is how much she eats...

SALTZ: Absolutely.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ...and she refuses to eat and that`s her way of exerting control over the situation.

SALTZ: Absolutely, it`s about control, it`s about perfectionism, it`s about anxiety, and getting a hold of that anxiety. You`re absolutely right. So those issues play a big role. Not just looking at bodies.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok, but this -- yes -- but let me just jump here because I want to show the Brazilian model Ana Carolina Reston died from anorexia in 2006. It shocked the world. She was 5`8" and weighed just 88 pounds.

BLOOM: Jane, Jane?


BLOOM: But here`s my problem. Why do we even have beauty pageants anymore?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh thank you for saying that.

BLOOM: Aren`t they demeaning for women? Don`t they just cry out for us to evaluate women, by their body? She`s too thin, she`s too fat, she smiles too big, her hair, I mean, this is 2009 for God`s sake. Why do we still have these, Jane?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, April let me let you answer that.

WOODARD: Well, I`m not running for any contests now. But I think they have them because women are looking for ways to get scholarships. The ones that I competed in had scholarships so that you could pay for your education.

BLOOM: Well, why we don`t give them scholarships based on their brains. I mean, is that such a radical idea?

WOODARD: Yes, but if you can`t get one that way, there are other routes to get scholarship and you need as many as possible. If all the scholarships are taken, then you can use this as a platform to get a scholarship into college and go to medical schools.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh goody, we`ve got a debate for another day. Please come back and let`s debate beauty pageants.

I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell; you are watching ISSUES.