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Drunk-Driving Mom Kills One in Accident

Aired October 12, 2009 - 19:00:00   ET



JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, it`s happened again. Blood-boiling details in yet another alleged drunk-driving horror involving children. A mom accused of boozing it up, cramming seven little girls in her car, then smashing her car into a tree. Now one little girl is dead. A surviving passenger claims just minutes before the wreck, the mom jokingly asked, "Who thinks we`re going to get into an accident?"

Tonight`s big issue: what the heck is going on with these drunk- driving moms?

And where is Kristi Cornwell? She was abducted while walking on a country road near her parents` home in Georgia. Now two months have passed, and there`s still no sign of her. It`s an unending nightmare for her family, and ISSUES has vowed to stay on top of this case. We`re not letting this get treated like business as usual. Tonight, we`re going to talk to her family and go inside their desperate search.

Also, seismic developments in the search for little Haleigh Cummings. The world appears to be crumbling around Haleigh`s stepmom, Misty. First she was kicked to the curb by her husband, Ron. Now she`s getting the boot from her lawyer. The last person to see Haleigh alive now has zero legal representation. Are the walls closing in on this chain-smoking teenager?

Plus, Jon Gosselin turns the tables on his wife, claiming he`s not the only one sticking his hands in the family cookie jar. Kate accused Jon of stealing massive amounts of money from the family bank account. Now he`s accusing her of much the same thing. As these two sling mud over money, the kids are reportedly confused, distraught and acting out. How ugly can this get?

ISSUES starts now.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Indescribable outrage. After another mom piles a bunch of kids into her car and allegedly drives drunk, a little girl is dead tonight after cops say 31-year-old mom Carmen Huertas got loaded on booze, and then loaded seven kids, including her own daughter, into her four-door sedan in the wee hours of Sunday morning. Police say the hammered driver slammed into a guardrail and flipped off the highway.

Adorable, precious 11-year-old Leandra Rosado and two other girls were violently thrown from the car. Little Leandra died less than an hour later. The other kids, some of whom have broken bones, will ultimately be OK.

Sources say -- "The New York Post" -- that the alleged liquored-up mom was driving 68 miles an hour in a 50-mile-per-hour zone. Her blood alcohol level, allegedly one and a half times the legal limit.

The "Post" also spoke to a young passenger who recounted a chilling question asked by the mom just moments before the deadly crash. You won`t believe this. This is insane. Quote, "Who thinks something`s going to happen? Raise your hand. Who thinks we`re going to get into an accident?" All the kids reportedly raised their hands.

News flash, lady. If you`re cracking jokes about getting into an accident, you are probably aware that you are impaired. Why are you behind the wheel?

The grief-stricken dad had this to say.


LENNY ROSADO, FATHER OF LEANDRA: What was the thinking of this woman, who`s a mother and you`re intoxicated?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: As for the allegedly boozed-up mom, she faces drunk driving and vehicular manslaughter charges, but should those charges and the corresponding punishment be more severe because she was carting kids around? I say yes. Kids don`t have the power to say, "No, I won`t take that ride, lady." That`s tonight`s big issue. And I want to know what you think, so give me a call.

Straight out to my fabulous expert panel: Mark Eiglarsh, criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor; Robin Bond, former prosecutor; Dr. Reef Karim, psychiatrist, addiction specialist and director of the Control Center in Beverly Hills, as well as assistant clinical professor at UCLA; Tom Ruskin, former NYPD detective, investigator and president of CMP Protective and Investigative Group; Judge Karen Mills Francis, host of "The Judge Karen Show" and former Miami-Dade County court judge. What a panel.

We start with Sarah Armagon, reporter with "The New York Daily News."

Sarah, what is the very latest on this hideous alleged drunk-driving mother case?

SARAH ARMAGON, REPORTER, "NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": The latest tonight is we`re still waiting for the arraignment of the driver, Carmen Huertas. She`s still in the hospital right now. She has been charged with DWI and vehicular manslaughter. Her daughter`s also still in the hospital.

And I spoke to Lenny last night, the father of the daughter that was killed. He told me that he would be at the funeral home today, making arrangements to bury his daughter.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to get right to tonight`s big issue. And I want my panel to weigh in on this. Should drivers who are drunk behind the wheel with kids in the car face more severe charges and a harsher penalty?

Of course, this isn`t the first story of its kind that we`ve covered. Tragically, over the summer, cops say this grisly, mangled wreckage was caused by a drunk-driving mom. We all remember Diane Schuler killed herself and seven other people, including four children. The medical examiner said she had a blood alcohol level of 0.19, undigested vodka in her stomach, and they say she had been smoking pot, too.

Judge Karen, if you were given the discretion as a judge to hand down a more severe sentence because kids are victims, would you?

JUDGE KAREN MILLS-FRANCIS, HOST, "THE JUDGE KAREN SHOW": Well, most state statutes provide for stiffer penalties in DUI cases where there was a child inside the car. So this lady, she`s going to be facing a lot stiffer sentence because of the fact that she had all these children in the car.

But I can`t imagine what it must have been like for all of these children to be in the car, racing down the highway in New York City, and this drunk mom says, "How many of you think that I`m going to have an accident?" And according -- according to the reports, every one of these kids raised their hands. They must have been terrified about what was going to happen here.

Yes, if I were the judge in the case, she`d be -- I`d throw the book at her.


MARK EIGLARSH, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Jane, regardless -- regardless of whether those statutes exist in certain states, to elevate the penalty because there`s a child involved, prosecutors consider all the facts every time they dole out a sentence.

In this case, the most vulnerable in our community were harmed. For sure, she`s going to get it, whether they have it on books or not.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And the thing that strikes me, Robin Bond, is that kids don`t have the power to say no. They were part of this organized group headed to a slumber party. In the last case, they were being taken back from a camping trip. They can`t, like adults can, say, "You know what? I think you`re loaded. I`m not going to get in a car with you."

They are trapped in these situations, and the fact that, in both cases, the kids were aware that the driver, a female, a mom, was out of control, only increases the horror, because they kind of sensed that this was going to happen.

ROBIN BOND, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Right. And this is called reckless indifference to human life, and this is -- you call it in New York, the statute calls it depraved indifference to human life. And you`re acting so recklessly that it is likely that injury to life, including death, will happen.

And that is precisely why, in these situations, instead of charging a DUI or involuntary manslaughter, you can elevate this charge and charge it as murder, because it is depraved or reckless indifference to human life.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: In this most recent accident, the victim`s dad spoke out after his daughter was killed. Listen.


ROSADO: Everyone needs to be held accountable for letting their children or any other family members get in the car with somebody who is under the influence of alcohol.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: His anger, his rage, understandable, obviously -- he just lost a precious daughter -- directed at the alleged drunk-driving mom, who`s hospitalized right now but also at others who were around her when she was supposedly boozed up. Quote, "I was like, `You got to be kidding me. Nobody saw that this woman was intoxicated? Nobody saw that she was drinking?`"

So my question...

MILLS-FRANCIS: "The New York Post" -- I`m sorry.


MILLS-FRANCIS: "The New York Post" reported that she was the only one drinking at the party.


MILLS-FRANCIS: So there had to have been a lot of adults around, saying, "Gosh, we`re all drinking soda and juice, and look at her put down the vodka."

EIGLARSH: But in her defense, let me just say this, or the defense of others at the party. She was at an alleged 0.13. That doesn`t mean she was 0.13 at the time that she left the party.

And many times, people are functioning. They`re walking. They`re talking. They`re not falling down. And so in defense of those who might have seen her leave, they might not have seen those significant signs that would have l them to say, "Wait, stop. Don`t leave."

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me just say this. Seven young girls in a car when there`s not enough seat belts for all of them. Right there, that`s a huge problem, even if no alcohol was involved.

But let`s go to Dr. Reef Karim, the addiction specialist. This is what perplexes me. In the case of the other wrong-way driver, drunk- driving mom who killed eight, in this case, as well, these moms do not have a history of alcoholism. So this behavior is supposedly, according to people who know them, out of character. How do you explain this wildly irresponsible behavior?

DR. REEF KARIM, ADDICTION SPECIALIST: Yes. Another guest mentioned reckless indifference. This is driving under the influence, and the influence means my frontal lobe, the frontal lobe of the person that`s been drinking, is altered where the neurons are not connecting to make sense to problem solve, to control impulses, any of that. All of that is altered.

So here`s what`s really scary about this case. This woman, according to reports, was only, at a minimum, a social drinker. She was not reported to be an alcoholic. So like lots and lots of other people that go to parties, that hang out, that have a drink or two, and then get in the car, this is what can happen.

So we`re not talking about a hard-core alcoholic, according to history. We`re talking about the fact that the chemical of alcohol can impact basic reasoning, like getting in the car with seven girls and asking a crazy question, and then drinking after you know what the potential answer could be.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I am so perplexed by her allegedly asking, "Who thinks we`re going to have an accident?" and all seven kids raising their hand.

To try to analyze that, well, think of the analysis. We`re going to come back in a moment. More on this tragic assault on children in just a bit.

We`re also taking your calls on this issue: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586- 7297. Tell me what you think.

Coming up, it`s been two months since Kristi Cornwell went missing. Her brother tells us why and how he is taking matters into his own hands. Extraordinary efforts to find his abducted sister. We`ll talk to him.

But first, a mourning father barely able to keep it together after a senseless DWI crash robs him of his precious daughter.


ROSADO: I gave her money, and she hugged me and she said, "Love you, Daddy."



ARTHUR AIDALA, ANDREW KELLY`S ATTORNEY: Andrew is devastated by the accident that occurred, the tragedy that occurred. He`s done all he could. At the scene, he did everything he could to save her life. And it`s something -- a burden that he`ll have to suffer and live with for the rest of his life.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And that is the attorney for a cop accused of driving drunk and hitting a woman and knocking her into the air and killing her, and it took like -- something like seven hours and 20 minutes to test this cop`s blood alcohol level. By the time they tested it, he had zero. He came back zero. That`s a huge controversy that is making headlines in New York City right now.

But what about the victim? What about their families? We`re back talking about this horror of alcohol abuse, especially when it`s consumed by people who get behind the wheel, especially when they then pile kids into the car, which has happened now in two cases With deadly results.

Judy, Florida, your question or thought, ma`am?

CALLER: Yes, Jane, why would the parents of these girls allow their children to get into the car with her in the first place when they knew that she was drinking at the party?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Sarah Armagon, you`re "The New York Daily News" reporter. We know that the father of the girl who was killed is outraged, because he had gone to great lengths to make sure that everything was just done right to the letter when it concerned his daughter going to this sleepover. Tell us about that.

ARMAGON: He related to me that he wasn`t really happy about his daughter going to sleep over at this woman`s house he didn`t know previously. So he actually met Carmen at the party where all the children were at before they headed back onto the Henry Hudson Parkway. And he said that was around 8 p.m. And he said that she had no signs of drinking. She didn`t look intoxicated, so he felt like it was OK for her to go and spend the night. But he had no idea that this was going to be the result of that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. I mean, there`s no way to protect your children from everything. And I don`t think, Dr. Reef Karim, that we should be blaming the children`s parents, who were not there at the time that this woman took the kids in the car when she was drunk, because these parents are in agony right now. This dad just lost a child. He`s angry. He`s not to blame. He`s the victim here.

KARIM: Yes. He`s absolutely the victim. All parents -- I mean, this is such a tragedy. We can`t -- we can`t blame them. You`re not going to know. You can`t be a fortune teller in regards to this.

What this case does bring up, though, is that this was social drinking. Listen, just a couple of drinks can change your brain enough whereby you cannot drink. There`s a reason we have a legal limit. That legal limit has to do with are you -- do you have the capacity, do you have the brain power at that moment in time, when you`re under the influence, to actually get behind the wheel of a car?

And you know, you asked a really great question, which is, if there are kids involved in the car, should there be a harsher penalty? I agree with that. Because you`re taking on the responsibility of not only your own kid, but other kids, as well. And there should be no drinking when you`re doing that. And that`s the bottom line.


MILLS-FRANCIS: The problem with the DUI laws is that the DUI laws require us to basically be self-regulating. I mean, you know, bars have parking lots so people can drive up to a bar. There`s not a breathalyzer exam at the door when you go out. So you`re supposed to stop as an individual and say, "You know what? I wonder if I`ve had too much to drink. I wonder what my blood alcohol level is."

EIGLARSH: And then the irony of that...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But Mark Eiglarsh, how about this? How about if you`ve got a kid in the car, you can`t have any alcohol on you? You can`t have a drop. That, to me, is a law that makes sense, Mark Eiglarsh.

EIGLARSH: Yes, I`m with you. I`m with you as far as if we look at this. But then the father, let`s say, who has a beer at dinner with his family, cannot legally do that. I don`t think that that`s going to pass. I think that that obviously is a problem.

But I do want to go back to one other point made. What`s ironic is that the people making the decision as to whether they`re OK to drive has had several drinks in their system. As we`ve learned, their frontal lobes are now grossly affected. They`re in no position to make that call as to whether they should drive home.

So the answer is, if you`re drinking, just don`t get behind the wheel. I don`t need any more defense business. I just don`t.

KARIM: And Jane?


KARIM: Jane, there`s basic research out there that has looked at people getting breathalyzer tests when they leave a bar and seeing what they`re -- what they`re predicting their blood level will be for alcohol, versus what it actually is. And their subjective thoughts about how much they drank or what their blood level would be was significantly different than what it actually was.


KARIM: So people just have no clue. And I -- I love the idea of having breathalyzers at the bar, and you have to breathalyze on your way out. I think that would be amazing if we could ever do that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. We`re going to have to leave it right there. Thank you to my fantastic panel.

You know, if you identify at all with the issue of alcohol addiction or any addiction, for that matter, you`re not alone. Last night, here in New York City, I was interviewed by Ashleigh Banfield about my new book "iWant," which outlines my struggle to get sober, which I did 14 1/2 years ago. We spoke to a packed house.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I think what`s really a problem in this country is that so many people aren`t self-aware. They`re -- they`re flying blind, as I was before I went into therapy. If you don`t have the 12 steps, and you don`t have a program of therapy, you`re not going to really know why you`re doing anything, much less why you`re doing something addictively.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Take the first step in becoming self-aware. Order my book online at It`s also out in bookstores.

Coming up, more trouble for missing Haleigh Cummings` stepmom Misty. Her lawyer has drop-kicked her as a client. We will tell you why.

Then a missing Georgia woman`s family takes matters into their own hands. We`ll talk with Kristi Cornwell`s brother about his desperate, heroic efforts. He is doing everything he can to find his abducted sister.

There she is. Why is he taking to the skies?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, ISSUES keeps the spotlight on the war on women. In the case of Kristi Cornwell, this mother was walking by herself in rural Georgia, getting some exercise, minding her own business, when she was snatched, abducted off the road. That was two months ago. She hasn`t been spotted since.

Her family totally desperate, totally helpless. But they decided not to leave it to law enforcement to find Kristi. They have taken the incredible step of conducting their own investigation.

Her brother, Richard, has spent more than 20 hours searching for Kristi in his own plane. Now, he sent us this video that was shot over the weekend. Kristi`s family has combed through woods and ditches. They`ve organized private searches on horseback. The family even sent postcards to every single address in Union County, Georgia, where their precious Kristi disappeared. That`s 8,000 addresses.

I am honored to have Kristi`s brother, Richard Cornwell, back with me today.

Richard, you are so strong on the surface, but I know that you are in agony. I know this is a torture for you. Tell us more about why your family has taken this task upon yourselves instead of just leaving it to the cops.

RICHARD CORNWELL, BROTHER OF KRISTI: Well, as law enforcement scaled down their physical searches, we felt that it was important to continue those. That`s when we ramped up our own -- our own efforts with aerial searches in addition to ground searches.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So you`re a pilot. You actually got into a plane and flew around, literally looking for your sister from the sky.

CORNWELL: That`s correct. We`ve been flying over Union County and the tri-state area, looking for the vehicles of interest that have been identified by investigators, and we`re looking for those vehicles that might have been abandoned or otherwise disposed of in junkyards, or burned or otherwise disposed of.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Kristi`s family also looking for primitive campsites, like the one set up by this hideous murder, Gary Hilton. Gary Hilton is serving life in prison for killing Meredith Emerson last year. That`s the wrong videotape, obviously.

Meredith was hiking with her dog near Hilton`s campsite when he abducted her. And I think we do have a map of the area to show you. Kristi and Meredith were both kidnapped in Union County, Georgia, but suffice it to say, very close together. Just miles apart.

This is my illustration of the war on women. This is just a rural area in Georgia, and two women abducted just miles apart from each other in a very short period of time.

Richard, what about your search for primitive campsites?

CORNWELL: Well, we continue to fly over these remote areas of the tri-state area, and we monitor those campsites and -- and try to determine whether these -- these campsites are staying in one place a little longer than normal.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: How are you coping with this? When I read and heard about this story of your precious sister simply going out for a walk to get exercise near her parents` home, on the phone with her boyfriend, who`s all the way in Atlanta, and he hears her getting abducted, and then nothing. A cell phone found three and a half miles away, and that`s it. How are you coping with not knowing?

CORNWELL: Well, my therapy is to stay busy, and as long as I`m accomplishing something every day, I can -- I can sleep at night. And that`s my therapy, is to stay busy and keep the adrenaline pumping.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Richard, we`ve got to leave it there. Come back soon.

CORNWELL: Thank you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ron Cummings, now Misty`s lawyer wants out. What`s going on with Misty? We`ll get to the bottom of it.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Seismic developments in the search for little Haleigh Cummings. The world appears to be crumbling around Haleigh`s stepmom, Misty. First she was kicked to the curb by her husband, Ron. Now she`s getting the boot from her lawyer. Why?

Plus, Jon Gosselin turns the tables on his wife, claiming he`s not the only one sticking his hands in the family cookie jar. As these two sling mud over money, I`ve got to ask, what about the kids?

Are the walls finally closing in on Misty Cummings? She`s about to lose her husband and her lawyer. Ron Cummings says he wants to divorce his teenage bride. She, of course, was babysitting little Haleigh the very night that Haleigh vanished eight months ago.

Now Misty`s lawyer says he`s also had enough, bye-bye. Lawyer Robert Fields told Misty not to do an interview on national television last week. She went ahead anyway and during that interview, made this out of the blue accusation on the CBS "Early Show."


MISTY CROSLIN CUMMINGS, HALEIGH CUMMINGS` STEPMOTHER: Someone came in and got her, obviously. I feel like it`s on the other side of the family that has her. That`s just how I feel.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, really? Any proof? Or was that just something she thought of off the top of her head? Is she talking about Haleigh Cummings` mom, Crystal Sheffield, or somebody from Ron Cummings` side of the family?

We don`t know. Misty didn`t name anyone. She didn`t get specific. It just sounds to me like this girl is desperate to put anybody else on the hot seat any way she can.

Her changing story has certainly made her the focus of the investigation all along, so here`s a question tonight. Can Equusearch help ferret out the truth? Word is one of their female volunteers has gone undercover, cozying up to Misty. Will she finally be able to get the real story from this girl?

Now back to my expert panel and investigative reporter Art Harris of the He`s been on top of this story from the very start.

Art, what can you tell us about Equusearch trying to get Misty to open up and talk?

ART HARRIS, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Jane, it`s fascinating. As you know, Equusearch set up the lie detector test that she failed, quote, "miserably" so Tim Miller found a volunteer who befriended Misty. Her name is Donna Brock (ph). And I`m calling her the undercover mama Misty never had.

She went on the road with Misty. Took her to Orlando, Cocoa Beach -- it was funded by Equusearch and Tim Miller; took her to get her nails done, her hair done. These were tastes of the outside world Misty had literally never experienced. And she grew very close to Donna.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: She had never had her nails done before?

HARRIS: Not like this. This is Satsuma. This is swampland. So here you are out there, you know, she`s going on the road with this woman, wonderful woman who has taken her under her wing.

She`s going to church. She`s talking to Ronald on the phone and he`s hanging up on her telling her not to come back.

As you know, we have reported her ups and downs that week, two weeks ago.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Did this woman get anything out of Misty?

HARRIS: Well, you know, she has been regularly talking to police. I understand she spoke with them today for two hours but it`s unclear what she has told them. I`m told, though, Jane, that there is some interesting information that could help.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. Well, we will have to wait and find out what that interesting information is, I guess.

Equusearch volunteer Donna Brock was with Misty, as you just heard, during -- this is totally crazy -- a bizarre road rage incident that occurred on their road show last week. Brock was driving with Misty in the passenger seat when another driver on the road got frightened and called 911. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They were hanging out of the window flipping me off, you know, telling me they`re going to kill me, motioning as if they had a weapon in the car. You know, it turns out they didn`t have one but they definitely wanted me to think they did.



CUMMINGS: The lady is crazy and I don`t know where she`s coming up I said I was going to kill her. Nothing happened like that.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. So did cops handcuff and search Misty and this newfound friend? Police apparently -- go ahead.

HARRIS: Jane, this was -- there were some rumors that somebody flashed a gun but sheriff deputies pulled them over, checked them, there was no gun found. They were allowed to leave. No arrests made.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I got to go to Tom Ruskin. You`re a former New York City detective, you`re an investigator. How come cops can`t get the truth out of this young lady, apparently? And do you think this scheme to have a woman befriend her and try to get her to open up is effective?

TOM RUSKIN, FORMER NEW YORK CITY DETECTIVE: Yes. The latter is definitely yes. You have nothing to lose by putting someone close to her and maybe she will confess. The more cops can talk to her, the more her story`s going to change and the more they`re going to be able to twist what she`s saying against previous stories and maybe make her confess.

Insofar as what they found out in the past, remember, she had a lawyer for awhile. Now she doesn`t have a lawyer. At the point where she lawyers up in the legal term of things, they can`t question her anymore.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Misty`s attorney dropped her hours after her appearance on a national TV show. He told Misty, "Do not do the interview, don`t go on TV." She didn`t listen to him. Why was he so opposed to it? What was the danger? Why don`t lawyers like their clients to talk, Mark Eiglarsh, especially on the presumption they`ve got nothing to hide?

MARK EIGLARSH, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Because the fish that kept its mouth shut never got caught. I don`t know if she`s guilty or not but I tell my clients number one, you`re going to follow what I`m going to tell you, ok, and they say yes. And I say number two, we will keep our mouths shut because in this country, the government, the state, they bear the burden of proof.

You don`t have to prove to society whether you`re guilty or not. They`re always going to believe you`re guilty so just keep your mouth shut. And you know what, I would have dropped her faster than she pulls out cigarettes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me just say this, Robin Bond. There was a client of an attorney, Robert Blake, the famous actor from "Baretta" who was urged not to do a TV interview. He ended up being acquitted and the first thing he said was thank you to the interviewer. He said you got me off because you gave me the vehicle that enabled me to what I consider put on a dramatic tour de force performance tearing up and talking about his daughter and he credit it with getting him acquitted.


JUDGE KAREN MILLS-FRANCIS, HOST, THE JUDGE KAREN SHOW: She didn`t have an opportunity to speak to Misty. I can`t believe she was on the CBS morning show and got to make a statement like I believe somebody else in the family did it. In fact, I know it. And nobody came back with a follow-up question.

If she had been in front of you, you would have asked more questions. What did we get out of the interview except another innuendo?

HARRIS: There is no evidence, no evidence that anyone on either side of the family had anything to do with this.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Of course not.

HARRIS: Police have ruled out anybody on Crystal`s side and anybody else.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dr. Reef Karim, I want to talk about the addiction aspect of this. There have been widespread reports that Misty was out partying and allegedly doing drugs. We have invited her on the show many a time. She hasn`t disputed that.

What role does addiction play in this child`s disappearance?

DR. REEF KARIM, ADDICTION SPECIALIST: Well, it`s not shocking that there are all these inconsistencies in regards to just her overall thought process if there is addiction involved. And also, there`s a psychological relationship that a person has with their attorney. And not jiving or not responding to the attorney`s advice, that`s a big deal in regards to this case, especially when you`re partially under suspicion.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dr. Reef, I will jump in here. Because you know, I`m a recovering alcoholic. I talk about it all the time. I have talked to many recovering addicts.

And I`m not calling her an addict. I`m not doing that. But hypothetically speaking, addicts lie. They lie big. And they are grandiose in their lies, we know that. When you consider some of the lies that drug addicts tell, it`s absolutely astounding.

They actually -- and again, I`m not accusing her of being a drug addict. I have no idea. All we know is it`s been reported that she was off with her friends doing drugs in the few days leading up to Haleigh`s disappearance. But I`m talking about drug addicts in general, hypothetically speaking, they lie.

RUSKIN: Jane, I`ll tell you one thing further. In all the hundreds of arrests that I`ve made in my career with the New York city police department, and in crimes that I actually witnessed people doing, not one person ever came into the precinct and said you`re right, you got me, I`m giving myself up. Never did it happen.

EIGLARSH: The thing is...


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hold on. Dr. Reef, for one second; talk about the addict`s capacity to lie.

KARIM: Well, when you`re an addict, you`re doing things against societal norms. In order for any of us to just lead a day-to-day existence and be cheating and stealing and scoring and using and withdrawing, it`s not normal. It`s not normal for an every day person so you`ve got to lie, you`ve got to cheat, you`ve got to manipulate, you`ve got to steal sometimes, you`ve got to let people down, you`ve got to live with the guilt and the shame. Deny it to yourself; deny all of the things that you`re doing to yourself and to society.

What happens is that continues to almost hardwire in your brain. So that a treatment requires you not only to get off the drugs, that`s the easy part in some cases. The harder part is to change all of those behaviors that were just hardwired into your system.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me jump in here because again, I invite Misty on at any time or Ron, for that matter, to tell their side of the story or their attorneys if Misty gets another one. Art Harris, you are the one who has really delved into this case. What have we heard about her alleged drug use leading up to this?

HARRIS: I can tell you three days before I spoke to three people who were with her, Jane, and it was a cornucopia of party drugs from roxies (ph), I didn`t even know what roxies were, to cocaine, to pot, alcohol. And this was a bouillabaisse of people reaching out to whatever was available from White Boy Greg and her friend Nene for that.

But afterwards, I spoke to the investigators who had to interview her and other people around her, and they told me that drugs were an issue because nobody could remember anything.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. That`s where we got to leave it.

EIGLARSH: That`s why she failed the polygraph, maybe. Because she was impaired and she thinks she was responsible to some extent.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Up next, is missing California woman Mitrice Richardson suffering from mental illness? Her dad weighs in.

Then the war of words between Jon and Kate Gosselin, you will not believe how ugly it has gotten. Those poor eight kids stuck in the middle of this real sewer. It`s enough to make you scream. Are you as outraged as I am? Give me a call about Jon & Kate: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, Error! Not a valid filename.1-877-586-7297.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Today`s winner: Ronnie F. from buffalo, New York. What a story.

Ronnie`s mom died when she was just 12. That`s when her truck driver papa started giving her energy pills so she could go to school all day and work all night.

By the time she was 18, Ronnie says she was a full-blown meth addict taking 40 pills a day just to function. She quit cold turkey when she found out she was pregnant at the age of 20. She has been clean for almost 40 years -- 40 years.

Ronnie, for sharing your courageous story, you are going to be getting an autographed copy of my new book "I Want" plus a chance to win a trip to New York and visit me on the set of ISSUES. I promise you, girl, we`re going to show you a good time here on the set of ISSUES.

As things get uglier between Jon and Kate Gosselin their kids start acting out. I`m going to be taking your calls on that, but first, "Top of the Block" tonight.

An update on missing California woman Mitrice Richardson: Family and friends gathered Saturday in Malibu outside the sheriff`s office where Mitrice was last seen. It`s been nearly a month since her arrest and mysterious disappearance later that night.

Her dad who organized the rally says his daughter may be suffering from mental illness.


MICHAEL RICHARDSON, MISSING WOMAN`S FATHER: What I think happened to her is she just had a meltdown. I think she just set a bar so high that was intangible for her at this time. I just think she personally had a meltdown but I want her to know that I don`t care. I want you home.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: A desperate plea from a loving and caring dad. But is it enough to bring that woman, Mitrice, home? What if she`s hiding, living in fear of being rejected because of a battle with drug addiction, perhaps? They found pot in her car.

And what about the mere fact that cops just let her walk out of jail in the middle of the night with nobody to pick her up? If she was a celebrity in Malibu, Mitrice Richardson would probably not be missing right now. Whatever. Whatever the case may be, let`s hope she`s safe and returns home soon and that is tonight`s "Top of the Block."

Just when you thought this messy public divorce couldn`t get any dirtier, Jon Gosselin spouting explosive new accusations. He is firing back against Kate`s claim that he took their joint checking account to the cleaners. Kate tearfully accused Jon of leaving her broke on NBC`s "Today Show."


KATE GOSSELIN, REALITY TV STAR: I was afraid. He was literally buying erratic purchases, randomly purchasing things, and -- I`m sorry. The last thing I wanted was to do this show and end up not being able to pay my bills. He took $230,000 of the $231,000 that we have liquid and I have a stack of bills in my purse I can`t drop in the mail.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: But the "Insider" reports that new court papers filed by Jon say, "You lie." That`s right. Jon claims Kate is full of it. That she secretly stashed a million bucks, a million bucks, and Jon alleges Kate took more than $100,000 out of their joint checking account.

You need a score card to keep track of all this nonsense. He wants it put back or he wants her held in contempt of court. Now, Kate`s not taking that lying down. Here we go, in between media appearances, she has filed for spousal support and child support. What? Isn`t she the one with the job? Now that they`re calling it "Kate plus 8" and booting Jon? The two will hammer it out in court tomorrow.

And how are Jon and Kate`s plus eights coping? New reports from US magazine claim the Gosselin kids are distraught, confused and acting out. Can you really blame them? Come on. I`m distraught, confused and acting out just listening to all this rigmarole.

Straight out to my expert panel: we are so delighted to have with us as well Mike Walters, assignment manager at TMZ. Mike, right off the bat, I am wondering, why is Kate filing for spousal support from Jon? Isn`t he the one who`s out of a job?

MIKE WALTERS, ASSIGNMENT MANAGER, TMZ: Yes. Legal positioning. This is unbelievable. Not only does she have several books and making a lot of money, and we don`t know if she`s stashed money or not but she did make a lot of money.

The other thing is after listening to the clip, I know I`ve read the documents; they both put $7,500 into an account together to pay for the bills. $15,000 a month is plenty to pay `your bills. So you`re not left in the cold with your children so to speak, which is BS.

But here`s the thing. The reality is both of them, it`s he said/she said. I think the reason Jon Gosselin`s getting the bad end of it on this one is because he has bad advice from bad people. Kate`s got TLC, huge pit bull lawyers. Jon, not so much.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jon`s got a lot of girlfriends. He`s taking advice from his girlfriend. Who`s the daughter of his ex- -- soon to be ex-wife`s tummy tuck surgeon. Oh, my god. Seriously.

WALTERS: They`re going to go to court tomorrow. What it`s going to come down to is each of them are going to bring the documents, the bank statements, who took what is black and white with banks. You know that. I know that. We`ll see who took what and they`ll decide and they`ll put the money back in the account. The judge will be very easy and they`ll go put it back in, whoever took it, Kate or Jon.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, TLC recently announced they`re dropping Jon and renaming the show "Kate plus 8." But Jon said, "No way." He posted this TLC keep out sign and halted production. Jon says he doesn`t want his kids being filmed. Listen to this.


JON GOSSELIN, "JON & KATE PLUS 8": And I`m asking not to be on the show and I`m asking my children not to be on the show. I mean, I don`t want them to film anymore. I don`t think it`s healthy for them. And the reason I don`t think it`s healthy for them is that we`re going through a divorce right now. And I don`t think it should be televised and I think my kids should be taken off the show.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Sorry, we don`t buy it...

EIGLARSH: Oh come on, oh come on Jane...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ...because he had them on for five seasons, right?

KARIM: It was never healthy to start with.

EIGLARSH: Jane, when I say hypo, you say crite. Come on now, I mean, just when the money runs out, all of a sudden he gets a conscience.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, hang in we`ll be right back. We`ll be right back. We`ve got so much more on this nuttiness.



J. GOSSELIN: I would love to be mom and dad. We`re not going to be husband and wife...

NANCY GRACE, HLN HOST, "NANCY GRACE SHOW": Hey, you talk the talk but you don`t walk the walk.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s right...

GRACE: But you keep going out with one 22-year-old after the next while she`s home with the children and say you want to work it out. That`s not working it out, Jon Gosselin.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Way to go, Nancy, giving it to Jon on "The Insider." And here is my big issue tonight. Does reality TV attract characters whose personalities are a toxic combination of narcissism and grandiosity?

Jon and Kate, are they the perfect example? This divorce is getting uglier and uglier. Even before the big break-up, they were screaming at each other on their TLC reality show. Listen to this.


K. GOSSELIN, "JON & KATE PLUS 8": White sandals.

J. GOSSELIN: No. I`m saying flip-flops. Just let them wear what they want to wear so I don`t have to hear it all day.

K. GOSSELIN: What, so we lose their shoes and then they have nothing to wear?

J. GOSSELIN: We lose their shoes.

K. GOSSELIN: I have enough to keep track of. This is what I`m saying. Stand with me or stand against me on this.

J. GOSSELIN: I`ll talk in here.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Then you had Ryan Jenkins. He starred on the VH1 reality show that you`re looking at here, "Megan Wants a Millionaire." They pulled the show from the air after he allegedly brutally murdered and mutilated his model wife and then killed himself.

Even accused crooked politician Rod Blagojevich is now trying his hand at a reality TV show. New reports say he`s going to be appearing on "The Apprentice."

Dr. Reef, is there a certain type of toxic person that is attracted to appearing on reality TV?

DR. REEF KARIM, PSYCHIATRIST: Yes, you know, I`ve looked at the research on this, because I`ve written a couple of articles on it...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: There`s research on this?

KARIM: Yes, there is research on this. There`s research on television exposure to different personality types. And in looking at it - - there`s some people that it`s called attachment theory. Whereby you don`t get what you need from your parents as your primary caregivers growing up, so developmentally you look for it later on in relationships.

It`s like if you have a chaotic childhood, you feel more comfortable with chaos in your adult life. So there are...

MILLS-FRANCIS: Jane, I don`t think that`s what`s going on. But that was...


KARIM: But hold on.


KARIM: Hold on, there is a subgroup of people whereby they get attracted to it. However, there is also...


KARIM: ...the reality show exposure that changes people...


KARIM: ...that gives people some type of subtype that they normally wouldn`t have had except the exposure to the TV.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s like an addiction, it`s progressive, it gets progressively worse.

Let me go to the phone lines. Kristen in Ohio, your question or thoughts.

KRISTEN, OHIO (via telephone): Hi, Jane. My mom and I just love you so much.


KRISTEN: I just wanted to ask, why hasn`t the court ordered a guardian ad Litem or guardian ad Litems for these kids? And why hasn`t there been some kind of mediation for them?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mark Eiglarsh?


EIGLARSH: Jane, you picked me and I couldn`t hear the caller.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok, it`s why do we not have a guardian ad Litem, in other words...

EIGLARSH: Excellent.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ...if somebody appointed by the court to watch out for the interests of these children?

EIGLARSH: Excellent question. We should. And at a minimum someone should consider an intervention.

These kids are being abused. They`re not getting what they need from their parents. They`re seeing them fight. They don`t have a secure place to call home because it`s in turmoil. Someone should get involved. Great question.


KARIM: I agree.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Judge Karen, ten seconds. Final word, are these people just -- are they mean or are they nuts?

MILLS-FRANCIS: You know what? This started off -- this started off as the all-American family. I mean, this was like a great show. A lot of people didn`t know who "Jon & Kate plus 8" was until this...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Until they got a TV show. Yes.

KAREN: No, when the divorce started is when it got nasty. I`ve met a lot of people who said I`ve never even watched that show.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, I`ve got to leave it right there. Thank you, fantastic panel for joining me.

And remember, click on and preorder your copy of my new book "I Want."

You`re watching ISSUES on HLN.