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Chris Brown Pleads Guilty, Gets Deal; Search for Tracy Ocasio Suspended

Aired June 22, 2009 - 19:00:00   ET



JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Jaw-dropping news. Once again, celebrity justice is justice denied. Superstar Chris Brown saunters through a massive media swarm and into a Los Angeles courtroom, where he gets a cushy plea deal. No jail time.

His ex-girlfriend, and alleged victim, Rihanna, never had to take the stand. A win-win for the stars. But was it a lose-lose for justice?

Then, outrage boiling over in a sick case of justice denied. David Earls rapes a 4-year-old and gets one year behind bars. His daughter courageously speaks out against the ruling, saying Earls raped her when she was just 8. I`ll speak to this incredibly brave woman about her personal nightmare.

And heartbreaking news in the search for beautiful Tracy Ocasio. EquuSearch suspended their 2,000-acre drag net over the weekend. A tragic Father`s Day for her parents. They`ll join me to discuss how they`re coping with that agonizing news.

Plus, is this the end of "Jon & Kate Plus Eight"? The reality couple will make their huge announcement tonight. Is the marriage over? And if so, what does it mean for the show and Jon and Kate`s stardom? We`ll debate it.

ISSUES starts now.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, outrageous breaking news in the Chris Brown- Rihanna assault case. Chris Brown will not spend one single day behind bars for the brutal beating he delivered to Rihanna back in February.

Take a look at it. A massive media swarm surrounded the disgraced R&B singer as he strutted into court and then copped a plea.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your attorney has advised the court that you wish to enter a plea of guilty to that charge. Is that correct?



VELEZ-MITCHELL: His punishment? A hundred and eighty days of what`s being called community labor in his home state of Virginia and five years probation for the felony assault. What? Huh? Is this yet another case of celebrity justice?

Rihanna, the victim, who told cops originally she was punched repeatedly and choked and bitten by Brown, thinks it was fair, according to her attorney.


DONALD ETRA, RIHANNA`S ATTORNEY: The subject of the sentence, namely 180 days of community labor and five years of probation, this was an agreement worked out by the district attorney`s office and defense counsel. Rihanna was advised of the agreement and had no objection to it.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thanks to the plea deal, Rihanna did not have to take the stand, did not have to describe in agonizing detail what Brown did to her that fateful night. Of course, the picture tells the story.

Again, in the police report cops say Rihanna told them Brown punched her in the face repeatedly, slammed her head into the car window, bit her ear and fingers, and threatened to kill her.

Meantime, Rihanna was in court and ready on standby to testify but never crossed paths with her attacker. Instead, she appeared before the judge, who explained the stay-away order to her. Chris Brown must stay 50 yards away from her, unless they`re at the same Hollywood-style event, in which case it`s only ten yards. Whatever.

Chris Brown gets a gift, probation and six months of community labor for beating Rihanna to a pulp. As a bonus, he is ordered to undergo domestic violence counseling. I think that`s a very good thing. How is that going to work?

Well, here is what I think of all this.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: What do you think of it? Do you think this plea deal is a joke? Give me a shout out.

Now, straight to my expert panel: Mike Eiglarsh, criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor; David Schwartz, criminal defense attorney and former New York prosecutor; Judy Kuriansky, Dr. Judy, clinical psychologist; A.J. Hammer host of the fantastic "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" seen every night here on HLN; and Mike Walters, assignment manager of TMZ.

Mike, what a wild day. Some are calling this the biggest media swarm since the O.J. Simpson trial. TMZ is all over it. What is the very latest?

MIKE WALTERS, ASSIGNMENT MANAGER, TMZ: Like you said it, Jane, Rihanna and Chris, they were both in court. And Chris Brown is not going to jail.

Now, shockingly enough, you know, what`s interesting here, and Donald Etra, you guys just heard him say it, you know, you have to have a willing victim to go forward and be able to go ahead in court and talk about what happened, go through the motions, which is a horrible thing to have to relive. And the people that I talked to, apparently this plea is pretty standard if you don`t have -- and I think up until this morning, they didn`t have a victim who was willing. I mean, she did show up...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wait a second. Mike Walters -- and let me bring in Mike Eiglarsh. We had a statement to cops. We had blood on the Lamborghini. We had him texting an assistant of Rihanna`s, essentially apologizing. We had him issuing a public statement, essentially apologizing. Why do we need to have her saying it? We have the photographs.

MIKE EIGLARSH, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I agree with you, Jane. It`s a strong case for the prosecution that it was a brutal beating. However, I disagree with you. Pulling out the "joke" card on this one? Let me explain something to you, my friend with three names. First of all...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You`re the one who gave me the idea about the card. You came up with the card a long time ago.

EIGLARSH: Let me explain to you something on this one. He shouldn`t be treated any more harshly than anybody else. And if you`re comparing this case to other similar cases, you have to compare, not just domestic violence cases, but ones where you have victims who are OK with lenient plea bargains, who don`t want to have to testify, and his sentence is equal to anyone under similar circumstances.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So who is in prison? We have more people in prison in this country than any other country in the entire world. We have people there for nonviolent drug offenses, but beating somebody to a pulp, that doesn`t put you in prison even for a day? I don`t get it.

EIGLARSH: He probably should go to jail. That`s not the issue.




VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`ll bring it up again. (HOLDS UP "JOKE" SIGN)


EIGLARSH: Let me explain something to you. No. If we gave everybody jail, the system would shut down. As a prosecutor, priorities -- you have to pick certain cases to go to trial on.

KURIANSKY: This is where the law is totally opposite from psychology and from common sense. The point is the guy gets community service. We have to sweep the ground. Is that any way that he`s going to be rehabilitated? Absolutely not. This guy has a long history of abuse. This is not going to help him or the community.

So the law -- jails may be filled, but this guy needs to have stronger sentence and show the community that we will not put up with men...


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Not one day. Not one day in jail.

SCHWARTZ: Does anyone realize that he pled guilty to a felony? He is going to have a felony conviction on his record for the rest of his life. A hundred and eighty days is a lot of community service.

KURIANSKY: Community service doing what? Doing silly stuff.

SCHWARTZ: This is a normal plea deal.


SCHWARTZ: Thousands of defendants across the country take this plea every single year. What you`re asking for is for Chris Brown to be treated more harshly than other -- other...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m not even saying that he should have had a long jail term. I say at least one day, symbolic.

EIGLARSH: Then Jane -- Jane...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And let`s make the community service about something that`s a solution for America. Let`s have him, after he does his domestic counseling, go into therapy and, when he finally comes to terms with why he`s so angry, talk to kids about what this did to his life. I think this impacted his life very much.

EIGLARSH: Jane, if you take that approach -- if you take that approach and you make every plea perfect, what you`re doing is you`re not extending plea bargains. You`re conveying declarations of war, ultimatums. And then these cases will go to trial. The system will shut down. You don`t realize. You don`t realize what would happen.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... very well.

KURIANSKY: The legal system is not helping the community, and it is not helping the millions of women who are being abused constantly by these kinds of batters.

EIGLARSH: He admitted his guilt.

KURIANSKY: Who cares about the system? It needs to change in order to stop this...


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`ve got to move on a little bit. Because I know A.J. Hammer has been very, very patient while we slug it out here. A.J., I want to get your reaction to Chris Brown`s attorney, Mark Geragos, reacting to today`s plea deal. Listen to this.


MARK GERAGOS, ATTORNEY FOR CHRIS BROWN: He entered a plea today of guilty. He did not enter a no contest plea. He`s -- as long as I`ve known him in connection with this case, he`s wanted to take responsibility.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. You know, A.J., you`re looking at this from a showbiz perspective, a perspective of what it`s going to do to either of their careers. Some say, hey, it`s premature to even talk about this. But let`s talk about the impact on his career and Rihanna`s career.

A.J. HAMMER, HOST, "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT": Well, yes, let`s talk about the fact that a lot of people, Jane, are really, really disgusted with what has happened. So I think there`s definitely going to be some fallout as far as that`s concerned.

You and I spoke last week. We said, "You know what? There probably s going to be some kind of plea. But what if he doesn`t do any jail time? People will be outraged."

Right before I came on your show, I went on the "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" Facebook page. Our wall is filling up with our fans writing. They`re disgusted by the judicial system. They don`t get it.

It may very well be consistent with similar sentences for first-time offenses in these type of cases, celebrity, no celebrity. That`s a whole different point. Nonetheless, based on that picture, based on the account of the beating, people are disgusted by this.

SCHWARTZ: But A.J. ...


SCHWARTZ: Let me answer Jane`s question here. Answering Jane`s question as far as his career, I think there are going to be a lot of people who are going to give Rihanna a pass. There are a lot of people who are saying, you know what? Maybe Rihanna should be held accountable for not speaking up.

You know what? You can`t put that on Rihanna. That is not her responsibility. If she chooses -- chooses to do so, let her do it in her own time.

As far as Chris Brown, you want to punish the guy, you punish him in his bank account. You don`t let your kids buy his albums, see his concerts. You don`t pay this guy any mind, give him any support until he shows that he is rehabilitated, until he shows that he is willing to do something because of what he did, not just do something that a judge...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mike Walters, weren`t the young girls screaming, "Chris, I love you," on the way in and out of court?

WALTERS: Every time he goes to court that happens. And remember, you know, it`s funny. You say, A.J., with red carpets and showbiz, you know, these now have to stay ten yards apart on a red carpet. They`re still going to do the Grammys. Most cases like this, your attacker can`t go within a hundred yards of you, and the judge made a special thing for them because they`re celebrities.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And that might even get watered down come August. Everybody more debate on this stunning Chris Brown news. In a moment, do you think he got off easy? 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297. Let me know.

Then, a nationwide search heats up. Little Haylee Donathan on the run with her mom and her mom`s sex-offender boyfriend. I`ll tell you why cops may now issue an Amber Alert.

But first, the Chris Brown court date had the media in a frenzy. More than 50 media outlets asked to attend the hearing. Hundreds more paparazzi outside. Here`s the scene before Brown walked out with a cushy plea deal.






UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your attorney has advised the court that you wish to enter a plea. Is that correct?

BROWN: Yes, ma`am.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Today, the first day of the rest of Chris Brown`s life, pleading guilty to beating up his girlfriend and getting zero time behind bars. What about Rihanna? How is her reputation affected by all this? What do you at home think?

Phone lines lighting up. I`ve already weighed in. I want to hear what you think at home.

Nicole, Arizona.

CALLER: My concern is that the average woman that doesn`t have the luxury of bodyguards, how is she to feel reassured that, you know, if she ever is battered that, you know, she can press charges and this person can be held accountable.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Judy, Kuriansky, what is the impact on women? I think the reason why this is such a hot button is that at one point when Rihanna appeared to be reconciling with Chris Brown and not wanting to cooperate, even though she did show up today, willing to testify if she had to, there were those who said she`d become the poster child for battered women syndrome.

KURIANSKY: Exactly. And this is what the difficult is for battered women, especially when, like Rihanna, they have a history of this in their life, where they`re very conflicted about the batterer. They forgive him often. They get manipulated. So Rihanna, she needs to have a lot of counseling, too.

And I must say that his counseling for rehabilitation is not going to be enough to have him learn how to be nice and how to control his emotions. These men are very manipulative. They`ll end up telling the counselor, "Yes, I agree. Yes, I`m kind. Yes, I love women. Yes, I`m never going to hit them again." They need stronger approach than just that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So what would you -- in a nutshell, what would you have said the sentence should be, Dr. Judy?

KURIANSKY: I would have said he needs some jail time, because that`s what would make him understand a little bit more.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. David Schwartz, what would you say? How much jail time.


SCHWARTZ: Excuse me. Wait. He`s a first arrest. He`s a 20-year-old man. He didn`t use a gun. He didn`t use a dangerous instrument.

KURIANSKY: He used a gun.

SCHWARTZ: No, let me tell you the reality.

KURIANSKY: The gun is his mouth and his words and those ugly words that he used. That`s what he used.

SCHWARTZ: OK, Judy, you had your chance. Relax.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, all right.

SCHWARTZ: All right. The bottom line is...

EIGLARSH: Judy wants him castrated.

SCHWARTZ: He is being held accountable. He`s got a felony, probation. That`s a lot for a 20-year-old guy.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK, but I want to get back to who is actually in the prisons. Again, I`m going to say it one more time. We have more people in prison in this country than any country in the entire world. Who`s in prison?

EIGLARSH: Jane, you want -- I`ll tell you who.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: If you`re not in prison for beating somebody to a pulp, repeatedly punching them in the face, biting them in the ears, smashing their head, choking them to the point where they`re losing consciousness.

EIGLARSH: Jane, what guides the prosecutors primarily is what the victim wants. First and foremost, we saw that in the Donte Stallworth plea. What the victims wanted fueled what the prosecutors did. So first and foremost, those who have victims on their side don`t necessarily get punished the worst.

Second of all, in a case like this, there`s no indication that he got any less of a sentence than anyone else for this. Now, that doesn`t make it right. And I`m not a poster child for supporting what Chris Brown did. He probably deserves jail time. What I`m telling you is what he got was not a joke of a sentence. It was consistent with what first-time offenders get when victims are on board.

KURIANSKY: And that`s why

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Chris Brown gets probation for a brutal assault on Rihanna. Take a look at what the police report said about the attack. He, quote, "punched her in the eye, bit her on the ear, placed her in a headlock and applied pressure to her carotid arteries, causing her to be unable to breathe." There`s also the disturbing photo of the beautiful pop star horrifically bloodied and bruised, posted by TMZ.

Mike Walters, TMZ is reporting that there are more photos that are even more graphic as the bruises swelled up in the days following the attack.

WALTERS: Yes. We`re told that`s one of the main reasons Rihanna didn`t want this to go forward, is because those coming out would have been really damaging. And to have to look at that again and replay it -- now and another thing I`ve got to say is Rihanna was advised of his plea. They just said as a criminal defense attorney, look, she was told and she had to, you know, talk with them and agree with it. So she did know that he wasn`t getting jail time today, this morning when she went to court.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Didn`t she also argue and say, "I don`t want a stay- away order. I`d rather have just a protective order"?

WALTERS: Right. She said she didn`t even care, that this was a little much. The stay-away means he cannot contact her at all. She was more like, you know, I just need protection, but necessarily stay away at all wasn`t the issue, and she didn`t need it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: A.J. Hammer, what`s the story with them? They were on, they were off. Right after the attack, a couple of weeks later they were seen jet ski in skiing together. And now she supposedly has new romantic interests. What`s the story there?

HAMMER: Yes, I hope they`re not together, for his sake anyway right now. I mean, maybe that would be the best thing for anybody who`s disgruntled by what came down today. Because if they were together, and they`d be together, and he`d get hauled off. You know, can you imagine the scene at a red carpet event where they get, you know, just a yard too close and the police suddenly swarm? There you have it.

But the reports are that no, they`re not together. They have not been romantically involved for some time. And really she needs to stay away from him professionally and personally as possible.

All right. Sharon from California, your question or thought. Hey, Sharon, are you...?

CALLER: Yes. I have an 8-year-old, and I have a 9-year-old. And they love Chris Brown and Rihanna. How do I explain to them on this verdict? How do I explain to them that this is not right?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Mark -- Mark, let`s let -- Mark wanted to say something. Can you answer that question, Mark?

EIGLARSH: I can answer the question. Probably the psychologist can. I`ll sit down with my kids and say what he did was absolutely wrong. Don`t you ever lay a finger on a woman and there are severe penalties.

I did want to say, though, as it relates to Rihanna. Everyone is saying she showed up to testify. Listen, she was subpoenaed. She`s just a witness in this case. And if she didn`t appear, she would have been hauled into jail.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: She had to testify.

All right. I want to thank my fantastic panel for a very fiery, engaging debate.

Be sure to catch A.J. Hammer on "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" at 11 p.m. Eastern, the only entertainment news show to have the very latest breaking developments on today`s shocking outcomes in the Rihanna-Chris Brown face- off. I will be joining him for continuing coverage.

And on ISSUES, a 2,000-acre search for Tracy Ocasio was suspended over the weekend. I`ll speak to her anguished parents next. And the outrage over a one-year sentence for a child rapist is boiling over.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: In the "Spotlight" tonight, the search by Texas EquuSearch for missing Florida woman Tracy Ocasio has been suspended. Five hundred volunteers combed more than 2,500 acres over the last eight days, frantically searching for that beautiful young woman. But the search was halted because of extreme conditions and intense heat.

The really beautiful 27-year-old woman disappeared after leaving a local bar with person of interest James Hataway. Hataway maintains he had nothing to do with Tracy`s disappearance. He is being held behind bars on an unrelated drug charge, as well as an assault charge against another Florida woman.

And new accusations, including a bizarre interest in the, quote, "dark arts" continue to surface. But will any of this lead to closure for Tracy Ocasio`s devastated family? I am very proud to say that Tracy Ocasio`s parents, Joe and Elizabeth Ocasio, join me now.

Thank you for coming back on our broadcast. I know this has got to be just an unending nightmare for you.

Joe, yesterday was Father`s Day. I can`t even begin to imagine what it was like for you. But if you could describe to describe your emotions and your thoughts as you endured Father`s Day, yesterday, without your precious daughter.

JOE OCASIO, FATHER OF TRACY: It -- it was no -- it was no Father`s Day for me yesterday. I mean, our daughter was not with us. So I could not envision to even think about Father`s Day at that point. All my thoughts are trying to locate our daughter, at this point, good or bad. And that`s where our energy has been here for literally the last 30 days.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Liz, what is your reaction to the suspension of the search for your daughter by Texas EquuSearch?

ELIZABETH OCASIO, MOTHER OF TRACY: I know that they had to suspend the search, and I accept that. I wish that they didn`t have to, but until we get more information from the police, we just have to keep -- keep on hoping that they can find more places for us to look. You know, places which hopefully, something will pan out. The police have not given up.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: They haven`t. Well, that`s -- that`s very good news, and I`m glad to hear that.

Tim Miller, the head of EquuSearch said this about Hataway`s knowledge of the area and interest in the dark arts.


TIM MILLER, DIRECTOR AND FOUNDER, TEXAS EQUUSEARCH: ... place is his comfort zone. He knows this area. He knows the (UNINTELLIGIBLE). It`s frightening. I mean, just things we know, frightening things that we don`t know.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, EquuSearch was also looking for another individual, a man, Chris George, that man, a friend of Hataway`s who`s been missing since last February. Plus there may be a Hataway link to another missing Florida woman, Jennifer Kesse. Kesse`s parents believe there could be a connection between these two cases. And Hataway`s been charged with attacking another Florida woman.

Joe, what are authorities telling you about this cretin?

J. OCASIO: Well, right now there`s a lot of coincidences. There`s a lot of things surrounding this man that seem to tie him to all these cases. But there`s no real evidence at this point. And that`s the frustrating part. Everybody seems to think that he`s involved. Everything comes full circle to this man Hataway, but yet, nothing sticks at this point.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And that is why he is not a suspect. He is simply a person of interest. That`s got to drive you crazy, Liz. That`s five seconds.

E. OCASIO: Yes. We just -- we want to come up with some kind of evidence to tie him in. Unfortunately, that hasn`t happened, and we`re not going to stop until we find that evidence.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Joe and Elizabeth, thank you so much. We are praying and hoping for your daughter being found safe and sound.

David Earls, a man getting a slap on the wrist for raping a 4-year- old.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Outrage boiling over as David Earls rapes a 4-year- old and gets one year behind bars. His daughter courageously speaking out saying Earls raped her when she was eight. I`ll speak to this incredibly brave woman about her personal nightmare.

Plus, is this the end of "Jon & Kate plus 8?" The reality couple will make their big announcement tonight. Is the marriage over? And if so, who is to blame?

A crucial twist tonight in the nationwide hunt for that adorable 4- year-old Ohio girl, Haylee Donathan: the precious child taken by her mother and her mother`s Tier-3 sex offender boyfriend Robbi Potter.

Tonight, we learned little Haylee Donathan`s grandmother has just been granted emergency custody of that child. That means the authorities can now issue an Amber Alert. But they still haven`t done it yet. Isn`t that something that should have happened a lot sooner given that they`re on the run?

Haylee`s grandmother publicly pleaded and begged her daughter to turn herself in on "NANCY GRACE."


MARY WATSON, GRANDMOTHER OF MISSING 4-YR-OLD: Haylee, if you can hear me and see me, have somebody call me and let me know you`re at least all right. And Candace, please don`t be doing this. And turn yourself in so you guys are both safe. We`ll get help or whatever we need to do. Just please, we need you to call in so you`re safe.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Look at that beautiful child and that desperate grandmother hoping her adorable granddaughter is still safe as shocking new information has emerged that Potter has at least once shared a bed with little Haylee.

Remember, he is a convicted sex offender whose crime reportedly involved young girls.

And U.S. marshals released a photo of the lightning bolts that are likely on the back of the Chevy truck this trio is said to be in. Take a look at it. That`s what we`re looking for.

Plus, new details revealed on how sex offender Robbi Potter is able to escape from a halfway house and flee with little Haylee and her mom, Candace.

Straight out to my expert panel: Mark Eiglarsh, a former prosecutor and criminal defense attorney; Pat Brown, a criminal profiler and CEO of the Pat Brown Criminal Profiling Agency.

But first by phone, Pete Elliot, a U.S. marshal on this case. Marshal, thank you for joining us, I know you are very busy working around the clock. What is the very latest?

PETE ELLIOT, U.S. MARSHAL (via telephone): Well, thanks for having me on and thanks for continuing to get the word out for us.


ELLIOT: About hundreds and hundreds of leads. We still are -- we`re focusing on a few areas. But we still don`t have that one lead that we need. We continue to ask for the public`s assistance. Any information out there, call our hotline on 1-866-4-wanted.

We also would like to announce we started a confidential tip line, a text message. And you can text 84741, a key word "Potter"...


ELLIOT: Dial 847411, and the key word "Potter;" P-o-t-t-e-r.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow that`s high tech stuff that you`re doing to try to find this trio. I understand that you`re also putting up billboards. Tell us about that.

ELLIOT: This young girl -- this young girl back safely.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, what about the billboards?

ELLIOT: Got them up. We partnered with Clear Channel today this morning in about seven different states including Florida, New Mexico, California and a number of different states. Clear Channel put up digital billboards for us so their faces and that vehicle they are up on that billboard now.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right and I hear you have a message to deliver to anybody who might be harboring this guy and the mom and daughter.

ELLIOT: Yes. The bottom line is we think there are people out there that know where they are.


ELLIOT: And we just want to send a clear message. That if anything, anything happens to that little girl or any other child because somebody didn`t come forward and turn these individuals in, you`re going to have to not only live with yourselves for the rest of your lives in prison, you`re going to have to live with us and law enforcement.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Marshall, I thank you so much for your time. I know you want to get back to work to try to find this child and her mom. And let`s pray that the child is found safe and sound. Thank you, sir, for all your hard work.

I want to go to Pat Brown, criminal profiler. As the days turn into weeks and we still haven`t found this mother and child with this man who was convicted of sex offense with young children. The fact that we`re hearing now that a friend of Candace`s spotted them all together in bed just scares the wits out of me.

PAT BROWN, CRIMINAL PROFILER: It`s a little bit creepy, isn`t it, Jane? But I`ll tell you what scares me even more is that the possibility that Potter somewhere along the way will decide that these two are actually a liability to him. That he doesn`t want to be seen as a threesome, that they`re difficult to take care of, even if maybe the little girl is fun.

So he might want to eliminate them and just go off on his own. But that is really scary to me. And I`m worried that maybe that is why we haven`t heard from Candace.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, Mark Eiglarsh, the grandmother now has official custody. Why don`t they immediately issue an Amber Alert? The reason they couldn`t do it initially is that the mother left voluntarily with the child. Well, now the grandmother who has custody is saying, you come back home. So mom isn`t coming back home. So that means, in my opinion, you could argue it`s an abduction and they should issue Amber Alerts.

MARK EIGLARSH, FORMER PROSECUTOR: I`d make that same argument. There`s somebody who knows why they`re not doing it. But from what I`ve heard, they`re doing everything that`s comparable to an Amber Alert. They`re actually putting it up on billboards; they`re going around and letting everybody know.

And one thing I wanted to add is that if anyone is out there helping these people, they could also face criminal charges for aiding and abetting what we now know is someone who clearly escaped from custody. He was supposed to be in a halfway house. So that`s something to consider.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Pat Brown, if this mother and child are somehow out there with this man and what would you advise them? Let`s say they`re sitting in some motel and they are watching TV and they`re watching us right now. What would you say to her about how to deal with this situation? Because at this point, even though she left voluntarily on a camping trip, she might be being held against her will.

BROWN: And that is a real possibility, Jane. We look at the possibility in the very beginning that she thought this guy really wasn`t that high level sex offender. But maybe she bought the story.

That even her brother said that this guy, oh, it`s just statutory rape and so she said sure. After all -- she hangs around with these kinds of criminal. So she might have bought that. But then when she got on the road with this guy, she might have found out later, it was a lot worse and now she`s trapped.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, boy, well, it`s an ugly situation. We`re going to stay on top of this story.

Thank you, fantastic panel.

Outrage, coast to coast tonight, after Oklahoma rapist David Earls sentenced to just one year for raping and sodomizing a 4-year-old girl. The judge and district attorney`s office hunkering down after getting dozens of threats including a very dangerous bomb threat.

The courthouse had to be evacuated after a caller claimed an explosive was on the premises. Local politicians are beyond livid on behalf of their constituents. And they hope to throw the judge who ok`d the plea deal off the bench.


MIKE RITZE, OKLAHOMA STATE HOUSE: Our constituents were telling us, we were deluged with hundreds of e-mails, phone calls and regular mail. We also have contacted the Supreme Court of Oklahoma, the attorney general, the governor, none of them talked to us as of yet. Now that the media is exposing this locally and nationally, they`re starting to talk.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Perhaps the person most entitled to be outraged is David Earl`s own daughter, Denise. She calls her father a monster. She says he raped her as a young girl. And he deserves to spend the rest of his life rotting in prison so he never hurts another child again.

I am joined once more by Judy Kuriansky, clinical psychologist and by phone -- I am very privilege to have with us tonight -- Denise Earls, the courageous daughter of convicted child-rapist David Earls. Denise thank you for joining us again.

DENISE EARLS, DAVID EARLS` DAUGHTER (on the phone): Thank you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You have been very brave by being so honest and open about what you endured at the hands of your father.

Tell us again how old you were and what precisely he did to you?

EARLS: Well, I was eight years old the first time that this happened. I lived in a small town in Blackwell, Oklahoma. And like I said, I hadn`t seen him in many years. He came by to visit me and just, to put in a nutshell, my father raped me at eight years old. And that was one of the first times.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And it happened how many times?

EARLS: It happened a total of three times in my life.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And what were the ages?

EARLS: The first time was eight. The second time I was around nine to 10 and the last time I was 14 years old.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And how has it impacted your life in terms of growing up as a woman who wants to have a normal personal life?

EARLS: Well, it impacted me in many several ways as far as just my self-confidence, as far as trusting people, trusting men in general, just my confidence, just always wondering, looking around and it just puts that insecurities in yourself and it just makes you start doubting yourself.

And it makes you just not believe people and makes you just where you just don`t trust even your family members.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Dr. Judy Kuriansky, a clinical psychologist and very noted expert in the field is joining us tonight. And I have to say, Denise, Judy and I were talking over the weekend and she was expressing admiration for your honesty and wanted to take part in this conversation.

Dr. Judy, what do you want to ask Denise? And how do you want to weigh in on this horror story and the courage of Denise?

DR. JUDY KURIANSKY, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, you`ve used the perfect word there. Really, Jane, courage and that`s tremendous.

Our hearts go out to you, Denise, really for being so honest now and being able to speak your truth, tell your story and to help so many women who are afraid to be open.

And so I think what`s important is the conflict that women have because daddy showed love for them or attention sometimes. It`s so difficult to come forth and say this was horrible. He is a "monster." What is it now that is helping you to really be open about this and to heal, to be strong at what we call the broken places?

EARLS: Well, I mean what`s important to me now in my life is to be a voice. If I just by myself coming out and can tell someone my story, if I can help one person, then that means the world to me. If I can get these kind of crimes and this kind of stories, that it just breaks your heart, if we can get this to stop, if we can protect our children, with myself being a mother and a grandmother, I mean, I just want to be a voice.

I am not afraid to go and talk to anyone, to be on television because, you know, these types of crimes need to be stopped.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes and Denise, I just want to tell you, we want to have you back again and again because your courage...


VELEZ-MITCHELL: ...and your honesty is absolutely admirable. We thank you for sharing your story.

KURIANSKY: It`s beautiful.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, it`s beautiful that you have the strength to be that honest.

KURIANSKY: Absolutely.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dr. Judy, thank you also for your insights.

Accused Craigslist killer Philip Markoff back in court today; you will not believe what plea he entered.

Plus, Jon and Kate Gosselin issue their hyped-up announcement tonight, is it Splitsville for the reality couple. Give me a holler on their situation 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297. Sound-off on that drama.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jon and Kate Gosselin issue their huge announcement tonight. Find out what it means for their hit show.

But first, "Top of the Block" tonight.

Accused Craigslist killer Philip Markoff dragged into court today where prosecutors unleashed an avalanche of grisly new evidence against the former med student Markoff, charged with murdering beautiful Julissa Brisman in April.

Cops say the two met on Craigslist`s erotic services section and had a rendezvous in a Boston hotel room. Brisman, later found dead shot three times at close range. Markoff also accused of robbing a woman four days earlier at a nearby hotel; again, the meeting arranged through Craigslist.

In a stunning twist, prosecutors say Markoff bought disposable pre- paid cell phones and used somebody else`s I.D. to buy a gun before going on his crime spree. So what does the clean-cut kid have to say about all that?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The jurors for Commonwealth of Massachusetts present that Phillip Markoff on April 14th, 2009 did assault and beat one Julissa Brisman with intent to murder her. Such assault and beatings did kill and murder Julissa Brisman. How do you plead to this indictment sir?



VELEZ-MITCHELL: Sounds very self-assured. That`s right, the creep accused of targeting women and keeping their panties as a sick memento pleaded not guilty. You saw it right there, he is currently being held without bail.

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

Turning now to breaking news in the on-going saga of Jon and Kate Gosselin after days of speculation regarding life-changing announcement expected. Tonight, we learned the reality show couple filed for divorce today. Just minutes from now, Jon and Kate will announce a big decision on a special episode of "Jon & Kate plus 8." "People" magazine reporting that announcement is divorce.

Jon and Kate ending speculation by filing official papers just a couple hours ago. What`s in store for viewers tonight?


KATE GOSSELIN, "JON & KATE PLUS 8": I know that we`ll all come out of this on the other side hopefully stronger, better, wiser.

JON GOSSELIN, "JON & KATE PLUS 8": People think I`ve changed. And I have changed. But I`m now the person I know I am.

K. GOSSELIN: And we`ve been dealing a long time with this.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: As their spectacular ratings take a little dip, is TLC cashing in on the couple`s relationship wreckage.

Meantime, it`s become quite clear that the ones happy couple may have been done with each other a long time ago. Jon Gosselin demonstrated that when he spoke to RadarOnline earlier today.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When is Kate coming home?

J. GOSSELIN: I have no idea.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you happy she`s gone?

J. GOSSELIN: No, I`m not such a [INAUDIBLE] person.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you don`t know if it`s tomorrow or next week, she`s coming home. Do you know where she`s at?



VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. Wow. He does not know where Kate is or when she`s coming back.

Straight out to my expert panel: Flora Colao, a social worker and therapist; and Dawn Yanek, editor at large for "Life & Style Weekly."

Dawn, we are hearing they have actually filed the divorce papers. What do you know?

DAWN YANEK, EDITOR AT LARGE, "LIFE & STYLE WEEKLY": Well, it`s really interesting. We have confirmed at "Life & Style Weekly" after talking to a friend of Jon`s that Jon is indeed moving to New York City. He`s going to be living and working there during the week. Coming home, Friday, Saturday and Sunday to spend time with the kids while Kate is away.

I`m actually really surprised that they jumped right into the divorce here -- from a purely cynical media perspective -- instead of going on into marriage counseling or trial separation simply for the fact that we`re just a few episodes into this season.

But of course, this is going to be a huge shakeup for the family and big, big ratings for TLC tonight.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dawn, you raise an interesting issue. The first thing I thought of when I heard about the divorce papers is like wait a second, these shows are taped weeks, sometimes months in the advance. So they knew that there was a problem that long ago, and yet they continued taping.

In other words, what`s real? What`s fake? When did this marriage actually hit the skids? These tapings are done weeks and weeks ago.

YANEK: Absolutely. From what we`ve been hearing, this has been going on for quite some time. The two of them, Jon and Kate, have been living separate lives for a while now. They`ve been dealing with this at home away from the cameras.

The big question is how are they going to deal with this with the children in front of the cameras on television? How is it going to play out, just down the road.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Flora Colao, you`re the social worker and the therapist -- and boy, these kids, my heart goes out to them. Not only do they have to live in this freaky freakazoid fake world, where there`s cameras following them everywhere.

Now their mom and dad are getting divorced and everybody is talking about it. Even though they`re young, they`ve got to be able to pick up on the weirdness. It`s got to affect them psychologically and emotionally.

FLORA COLAO, SOCIAL WORKER, THERAPIST: Absolutely. These kids probably already know there`s a lot of difficulty. They might already have anxiety symptoms. They might be having nightmares or separation anxiety. And now with it being blasted all over the media, it`s only going to increase their anxiety and upset.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`ve got to say that this divorce battle raises some very interesting questions. Dawn Yanek, what kind of alimony battle do you think we could have here?

I thought about it and I said Wait a second. Kate gets the kids, right, and she`s the main part of the show if the show continues. And he becomes a cameo. So he`s not going to make as much money. He could actually sue her for alimony.

YANEK: It could get really, really messy down the line. And especially, we`ve seen the two of them interacting and it`s not pretty right now. Going through a messy divorce battle is only going to make things worse.

That said, they`ve been making a reported up to $75,000 per episode to date. So what will happen with him down the line? What will happen with her? Will there be some sort of a joint reality show; will they have separate reality shows? The sky is the limit at this point.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We know that he has been shopping for living arrangements in New York City at some very fancy places; one of the Trump buildings.

YANEK: Yes, exactly. He was spotted looking for an apartment at Trump`s place on the upper West Side. These apartments go for over $3,000 a month in rent or around $600,000 to buy an apartment there.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. We have more Jon & Kate dramarama.



K. GOSSELIN: We are living our lives like a normal family. Cameras come in and film us, and that to the world, to the public makes us celebrities. I do not like that word. I am not a celebrity. I`m a mom and a wife.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: You may not like that word, but you are a celebrity my dear. "Jon & Kate plus 8" May 25th premier reached a record $9.8 million viewers. Of course, you`re a celebrity.

The show has seen a sharp decline in ratings since then with only a measly 2.9 million people tuning in last week. When asked about the big announcement, this is what Jon told


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s the big announcement tomorrow?

J. GOSSELIN: Well, you`ll have to watch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to announce a separation or divorce?

J. GOSSELIN: You`ll have to watch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you still going to be living at the house tomorrow?

J. GOSSELIN: You`ll have to watch.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Fascinating. He`s using the implosion of his marriage as a tease for a TV show. Now we find out they have in fact filed for divorce.

Pam in Indiana, your question or thoughts, ma`m.

PAM, INDIANA (via telephone): Hi, Jane. I want to say congratulations on doing a fabulous job. I watch your show every evening.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you. I`m so glad you tune in.

PAM: My question and concern is for the children. As everyone knows, Kate has been out promoting her book and has been traveling a lot and Jon has been at home.

In the promos for tonight`s show, it states where Jon is out looking for an apartment. If he, in fact, has been the one at home giving care to the children, what effect and why should he be the one to have to leave the home?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Interesting. Flora, what do you think? Maybe we should switch it out. We`re all expecting Kate to remain with the kids and he`ll do cameos. Maybe the opposite could happen?

COLAO: What`s most important for the children`s point of view is consistent parenting. If John was the consistent part, then they need more time with him. If Kate was the consistent parent, they need it with her. If it was both of them, then it`s really incumbent upon them to work out an arrangement where they both can be with these children.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dawn Yanek, does the show have a future or is it kind of jump the shark because it`s not an adult show really, but it`s not a show you can watch with your kids anymore?

YANEK: That`s a very good question. Kate has said this is her livelihood. This is what she`s doing. She has the TV shows, She also has this various book deals. She`s been writing a cookbook, I believe.

Jon has said that`s not the case. It was benefiting to him. It`s opened up lots of opportunities. But this is not the end-all, be-all. I think it`s all going to depend on the ratings tonight and in subsequent weeks.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You said it. We`re going to have to watch tonight.

And you are watching ISSUES on HLN. Thank you.