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ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL

Balloon Boy Stunt Ruled a Hoax; Octomom`s Doctor Kicked out of Medical Organization

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

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, blood-boiling developments in the balloon boy saga. Cops now say this entire thing was a publicity stunt, planned by his parents. This hoax sent helicopters racing to the rescue, and people were potentially risking their lives in a frantic bid to save this young boy. All because dad was allegedly angling for a reality TV show. So did these parents force their own kids to lie to police just for fame and fortune, and could they now lose their children?

And 20 men convicted of rape and murder walking free this month in North Carolina. Nothing is being done to stop it. These men were sentenced to life behind bars, but now they`re free to roam the streets. Statistics say there`s a high likelihood they`ll strike again. That means there`s women out there who could be raped and murdered because of this horrific decision. The biggest insult: some of these men committed dozens of illegal infractions behind bars, and now, they`re being released for good behavior?

Plus, seismic new details in the ongoing Octomom drama. The doctor who implanted Nadya Suleman with six embryos has been told to take a hike. He`s been booted from a professional organization for repeatedly violating the group`s standards. So was this all because of Nadya, or has he been reckless with other patients in the past? But get this: he can still practice medicine. What?

ISSUES starts now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, outrage across America over what could be the biggest hoax of this century so far. People who literally prayed for a little boy to survive a terrifying ride in a runaway flying saucer now feel angry and betrayed as cops tell the nation, "You have been had by a family of publicity-mad scammers."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHERIFF JIM ALDERDEN, LARIMER COUNTY, COLORADO: As I said, this is -- it has been determined that this is a hoax.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s right. That announcement yesterday completely different, however, from what cops told us on Friday. More on that major flip flop coming right up.

This weekend, after conducting polygraphs on Richard and Mayumi Heene and searching their home, the Larimer County, Colorado, sheriff said it was all a big publicity stunt. Now balloon boy`s parents could face serious criminal charges, including conspiracy, lying to cops, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and attempting to influence a public servant. Like this, for example?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is this Richard?

RICHARD HEENE, FATHER: Yes, it is.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, how long has the 6-year-old been missing?

R. HEENE: Just a few minutes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was the flying saucer in the backyard?

R. HEENE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, so it obviously has electronics which he can know how to work, and he gets it up off the air, off the ground?

R. HEENE: No, he doesn`t know how they operate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He does not know how to operate, so and that`s gone through too, right? And you`re sure that he`s in that?

R. HEENE: Yes, we looked everywhere and then my son just said -- he`s terrified -- he said, "Yes, he went inside just before it went off." Because we have it tethered; it wasn`t supposed to take off.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That supposedly frantic call to 911, it was reportedly placed after Richard Heene called a local TV station. Now, that says a lot.

The alleged publicity stunt threatened to cause chaos in the skies over Colorado. Denver International Airport had to divert flights. And even the National Guard got involved, dispatching two helicopters in an attempt to rescue 6-year-old Falcon. Then Falcon suddenly appeared in his parents` home, and his mom declared it a miracle. Oh, really?

And then little Falcon appeared to slip up, revealing inconsistencies in his story during his family`s media tour. Cops said, "Ah-ha." Now the family has lawyered up. A high-profile criminal defense attorney now represents Falcon`s parents.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID LANE, HEENE PARENTS` ATTORNEY: His state of mind is what you would expect someone`s state of mind to be after law enforcement has searched your house, seized your property, held a press conference announcing you`re about to be charged with felony criminal charges. Your state of mind would be rather upset and you would feel somewhat under siege, which is exactly how the family feels at this point.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Meantime, the cover of "The New York Daily News" is screaming "Bad Dad" and asking the question, should these three boys be removed from their allegedly publicity-mad parents` home? Is that going too far?

Tonight`s big issue: are those three young boys in harm`s way? What do you think at home? Give me a call right now.

First straight out to my fantastic expert panel: Bradford Cohen, criminal defense attorney and spokesman for the Web site DirtyGavel.com. Hey, I got a clean gavel right here. Lou Palombo, director of the Elite Intelligence and Protection Agency and former law enforcement officer; Robi Ludwig, noted psychotherapist; and Russell Wetanson, entertainment reporter, legal analyst and founder of PopSquire.com.

But we begin with the one and only Judge Karen Mills-Francis, host of "The Judge Karen Show" and former Miami-Dade County court judge.

Judge Karen, if you were the judge in this case, what would you think is appropriate to see this mom and pop charged with? And should mom be treated as harshly as dad, who was the alleged mastermind?

JUDGE KAREN MILLS-FRANCIS, HOST, "THE JUDGE KAREN SHOW": You know, Jane, how you doing? I was in New York at LaGuardia Airport Thursday. American Airlines was making an announcement that the Denver Airport was closed. Every TV in LaGuardia Airport was surrounded by people riveted about this story.

And to find out that this whole thing was done for celebrity and done for money? They want attention, I think they deserve detention.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I like that one. All right. You know, this is -- it`s funny in a way. I mean, you could -- you could make jokes about it, like, for example, Richard Heene thinks the world`s going to end in 2012, so maybe he doesn`t care if he`s in prison because it`s all going to be over in his mind by 2012.

But it`s not funny. Because there were people who put their lives at risk to try to rescue what they thought was a little boy trapped in that contraption.

The Web site Gawker.com paid for and posted a very shocking story from a guy who says he was collaborating with Richard Heene, the dad. As recently as this past winter, they were working on -- what else -- a reality show pitch. Robert Thomas says Heene had an idea about getting publicity. Quote, "Richard said, `How much do you want to bet we could facilitate some sort of a media stunt that would be equally profound as Roswell, and we could do so with nothing more than a weather balloon and some controversy?`"

Now, I`ve got to ask Russell Wetanson, entertainment reporter, is this, in a way, what reality TV has brought America to? This garbage that has sucked all of us in?

RUSSELL WETANSON, ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER/LEGAL ANALYST: It`s definitely sucked us all in, Jane. And in some ways, the answer to that is yes. You know, we`ve seen a lot of people get on reality TV shows for being all kinds of jerks, frankly. We have Michael Vick. We had Rod Blagojevich. We have lots of people who had opportunities in reality TV.

But until today or this weekend, we thought the best way for a family to get on TV would be to have too many kids. So they`re just taking it to a whole new level here. I mean, the thought of launching a spaceship or some sort of flying saucer into the skies, a way to get on reality TV, this is something we have not seen.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I would agree. And let`s hope we never see it again. You know, I have to say, what really upset me when I really kind of got angry was when I saw that little boy throw up on air.

Six-year-old balloon boy Falcon got sick, as we all know, vomited on national TV twice on Friday, live on NBC`s "Today" at 7:08 Eastern and again on ABC`s "Good Morning America." Take a look for yourself and analyze it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FALCON HEENE, BALLOON BOY: Mom...

R. HEENE: One of the guys told me it was for some TV show, so that`s what he was referring to.

Should we take you to the bathroom or something?

F. HEENE: Yes.

R. HEENE: OK.

MAYUMI HEENE, MOTHER: OK.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is he OK? Is somebody going to go with him? Do you want to run with him? That`s OK. We`ll understand. Sure.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Robi Ludwig, at first, of course, our reaction was why didn`t the parents do more? Their child`s getting sick. But to me, the key thing is that he got sick every time he was essentially, allegedly asked to lie. Why did you say you did it? For a show.

What are these kids going through, Robi, psychologically, being torn between loyalty to the parents and telling the truth?

ROBI LUDWIG, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: You know, I`m sure they feel like they`re not being recognized. Their rights are not being recognized. Because their parents are not considering them, are not considering what it would be like for them to tell a lie on national television. This is not coming from their heads. This is the parents telling their kids to lie on behalf of some goal: what, to be on a TV show? It`s very, very sad. And I think it says a lot about this child that it literally made him sick to his stomach to tell a lie.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to ask our investigator on the panel about Richard Heene`s personality. OK, the guy who sold his story to Gawker says essentially he was very hyperactive, driven by ego and fame, all about controversy, would do whatever it took, extremely paranoid, filled with conspiracy theories. One of them is that the world`s going to end in 2012.

And then we just found out from TMZ that in 1997, he was charged in L.A. With misdemeanor vandalism, vehicle tampering and disturbing the peace and was pleaded -- he pleaded no contest and spent four days in jail.

What is going on with this guy? Is he chock full of nuts? OK. I`m asking that to Lou Palumbo.

LOU PALUMBO, FORMER LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: No problem, Jane. I apologize.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Go for it, Lou.

PALUMBO: I think, obviously, this gentleman needs some court-ordered psychiatric evaluation and some extensive counseling, and probably the mom as, well. Obviously, these children are in a somewhat unsettled environment. And I think Child Protective Services at some point needs to take a very good inspection of what the living conditions are.

MILLS-FRANCIS: Why is it that everybody has a psychological issue? Any time somebody does a bad thing, they must have some psychiatric problem.

These people were just greedy. They wanted to be on a reality show. They`ve been on a reality show in the past. They see what`s going on with "Jon and Eight plus Kate [SIC]" and Octomom has a show. And they see it as a way to make money. I don`t think he needs any psychological counseling.

COHEN: No, but the dysfunction sets in when you start to use your children as the impetus to fulfill whatever your aspirations are. I think that`s the indicator. There`s no question greed is a common denominator in America. But the problem here is we`re starting to exploit children.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: People do things for many reasons. They do it for greed. They do it because they`re mentally ill. It`s multi-determined, as the shrinks would say. Nobody does anything for just one reason.

Bradford Cohen, should the mom face the same charges as the father? She obviously seems under his spell and, to a certain degree, under his control.

COHEN: Sure. It`s interesting. You know, we need to see what role she actually played in the whole hoax.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: She called 911. She told them that her son was in a flying saucer, that she was terrified.

COHEN: ... have knowledge. Absolutely, but where did her knowledge come from is really what we`re looking at. Did she actually believe it, or did she actually -- or was she in on the hoax? Who knows?

I don`t know if he had enough control over her to say, "Hey, listen, this is what we`re going to do and go along with it." Or did he actually say to the wife, as well, the kid is actually in this box, which is unbelievable, because when I saw it on TV, it doesn`t even look like that box was made out of cardboard.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I think they should each have a different lawyer. That`s my opinion.

COHEN: Oh, 100 percent. Not even a question in my mind.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We are taking your calls: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586- 7297. What do you think about this? Let me know.

Coming up, North Carolina`s most dangerous criminals being set free. I am talking rapists and murderers, people. Back on the streets. We`ll tell you what the excuse is this time.

But first, are the Heenes getting a fair public trial? Do you think they deserve one?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LANE: These folks are presumed innocent, and they are willing to turn themselves in. There is no reason for handcuffs to be slapped on them in a public way, for public consumption.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALDERDEN: We now know that his educational level is only high school. He`s not what you would think, the nutty professor. He may be nutty, but he`s not a professor.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ha, ha, ha. Except it`s not really funny, people.

Richard Heene is an amateur scientist and professional tile layer. That`s right. That`s what he does for a living. Over the weekend, our loveable Einstein wannabe pulled yet another stunt. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

R. HEENE: I got people e-mailing me, calling me. They`ve got a lot of questions. And I don`t know how to, quite frankly, answer any of them other than I`ve got a box. And so later on tonight, 7:30, I want to meet you guys again. I can look these questions over, and then I can answer them, OK? So I`m going to place the box up front. Please write your questions down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Want to guess what happened next? He took the questions, never returned. Apparently, somebody told him, "Keep your mouth shut."

And notice that the hair is suddenly slicked back. It`s a new look for, maybe, I don`t know, phase two of his publicity campaign.

Patti, Wyoming, your question or thought, ma`am?

CALLER: Yes, I was just wondering, Jane. You`re a sweetheart, but this man was saying the other day that his kids are allowed to swear in the house. So what kind of abuse you think they`re getting, the mother and the kids, from him as he goes through these little tantrums and swearing? These children are not being raised right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I think you raise a wonderful, wonderful question, and it brings us to tonight`s big issue. Are these three boys in harm`s way? Should the Heene children be taken away from their eccentric parents and possibly accused parents, or is that way too drastic? Here`s what the sheriff had to say about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALDERDEN: I think it would be appropriate to involve the child protection to at least see what the family situation is and whether the children are in a safe condition. I think we just have to do that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. Critics say, "Hey, it`s not safe to schlep your kids into a hurricane," which as you can see from this video, is exactly what this family did. Before the alleged balloon boy stunt, the Heene family sought fame and danger chasing deadly storms with young boys.

Now, there`s also questions tonight about possible domestic violence against Mayumi, the wife, in February. Police responded to a 911 hang up. The deputy heard a man yelling. He noticed the wife, when he got there, with a mark on her cheek and broken blood vessels in her eye. She blamed contact lenses. Cops say they did not have probable cause to make an arrest.

Robi Ludwig, this is painting a portrait. What`s the portrait?

LUDWIG: Yes. Well, you know what? That was my first thought, too, is this husband abusing his wife so that she really is powerless and has no say over -- or at least feels that way, has no say over what goes on with her children or in the household.

Listen, you had this very narcissistic guy who`s good-looking, who obviously needs attention, and he feels like he`s not getting his due. The problem is his judgment is really, truly impaired.

Now, should these kids be removed? Listen, we need more information. We don`t know if these kids are actually being abused or neglected. We know there`s poor judgment. So certainly, this needs to be figured out by professionals.

But they certainly need parenting classes. That`s for darned sure. Because these kids are being put at risk just in terms of moral judgment.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Parenting classes? I think that ship has sailed.

LUDWIG: In addition to a lot of other things.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Bradford Cohen, my question is, there`s a whole bunch of charges. One of the charges could land six years in jail. Should the mom face the same charges as the father? Obviously, she`s being taken along for the ride, so to speak.

COHEN: I don`t know about that. I`d like to see what she actually knew, what her knowledge was, before we say that.

But you know the thing that also sticks me, is this sheriff coming out and saying that, oh, you know, "I was playing a hoax on everybody else. I didn`t really believe them from the get-go." I don`t believe him as much as I didn`t believe the story.

I think he believed them from the get-go. I think that`s going to be trouble for him. I think it`s going to be trouble for the prosecution, because they came out and they said, "I believe him 100 percent. I really looked in his eyes, and I trusted him."

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And you know what? We`re going to get to that in a little bit, because we`re coming back with more on balloon boy in just a moment. So hang in there, fantastic panel. We`re going to talk about this family`s apparent addiction to publicity in a little bit.

You know, in my book "iWant" I talk about my addiction to many things, including alcohol, how I struggled to overcome that. I also faced an addiction to sugar. Maybe you`re battling some kind of addiction or know somebody who is. If so, read my book. It will help with any addiction. You can order it online at CNN.com/Jane. Also, in bookstores.

Up next, Octomom`s doctor given the boot from a prestigious Beverly Hills fertility group. We`ll tell you why.

Then uproar over balloon boy. Was it a hoax? Did they really think they could pull this off? Are they delusional?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: A new bombshell. The Beverly Hills doctor who created the Octomom monster has been tossed out of his fertility group. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine told Dr. Michael Kamrava, "Get out. Don`t let the door hit you in the you-know-what. You broke the rules by implanting too many embryos into Nadya Suleman." A woman Nadya`s age should have one, maybe two embryos implanted. This guy popped in six, and then two of them split, and the rest is history.

Nadya gave birth to eight babies. Now has a total of 14 kids. Yikes. And it`s reportedly not the first time this doctor has done this. Records show the doc transferred an average of four embryos to patients under 35.

My issue is why is this doctor still allowed to practice at all? Shouldn`t they yank his medical license?

Plus, a really horrifying confession from Octomom herself. Could she become a mother of 22? Listen to what she told RadarOnline.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NADYA SULEMAN, MOTHER OF OCTUPLETS: Jon Gosselin, I think he`s hot.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. That was hard to understand but I think she said that she found Jon of "Jon & Kate" cute, which really scares me.

Jim Moret, attorney and chief correspondent for "Inside Edition," God help us if those two get together, right?

JIM MORET, ATTORNEY/CHIEF CORRESPONDENT, "INSIDE EDITION": Well, she said, actually, that he`s hot and she has a crush on him, which is even worse than being cute. I mean, yes, I can`t even imagine the reality show: 22 kids and Jon running around, chasing them to change them.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But he kind of needs a job right now, because they kicked him off "Jon and Kate Plus 8," so he can jump over to the octo household and start a reality show with her.

MORET: Sure. Call it "Crazy Eights" or something like that. I don`t know what you`d call it.

The -- the -- I wanted to get back to the doctor who treated Nadya Suleman.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes.

MORET: The group that he was expelled from is not the medical board that can actually take your license away. It is the reproductive, the main reproductive group that sets guidelines for these doctors.

And the only thing that can actually hurt this doctor is the fact that insurance plans generally will not pay if you`re not a member of this group. So it will hit him in his wallet.

But the bigger issue that you brought up a couple seconds ago, is there has to be a case brought before the medical board and a decision by the medical board. So this doctor, Jane, is still allowed and licensed to practice medicine and can continue doing what he`s been doing, and that`s really the troubling issue.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Some people feel that`s an outrage, and I sort of agree. Octomom says the same doctor helped her have all 14 kids, so Dr. Kamrava`s allegedly the man responsible behind this.

Check out this clip from RadarOnline.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(CRYING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jim, what`s the latest on these kids? We haven`t heard from them in awhile.

MORET: Well, I mean, and that`s good. I suppose that`s good, because we haven`t been getting -- we haven`t been hearing from Child Protective Services. Perhaps they`re leading a -- I don`t want to say normal life because I`d imagine...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Don`t say it. It`s not possible.

MORET: But you know what? When you look at that clip, you realize how irresponsible it is to implant so many embryos. How can one person take care of 14 people all alone, no job? It`s just horrible.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Great to see you, Jim, as always.

And speaking of outrage, we`re back with balloon boy next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Seismic new details in the ongoing octo-mom drama. The doctor who implanted Nadya Suleman with six embryos has been told to take a hike. He`s been booted from a professional organization for repeatedly violating the group`s standards. So was this all because of Nadya or has he been reckless with other patients in the past? But get this. He can still practice medicine. What?

But first, a furious public and a family in jeopardy tonight as the alleged balloon boy hoax completely unravels.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHERIFF JIM ALDERDEN, LARIMER COUNTY, COLORADO: Between the husband and wife, you`ve probably seen some of the e-mails and some of the things on the Internet suggesting that there may be other conspirators. We`re certainly examining that possibility, including the possibility that even some of the media outlets may have had some knowledge about this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The Heene parents facing possible serious charges. Investigators say they could be ready to announce whether to file charges as soon as next week. Meantime, the public and the media have totally lost patience with Richard Heene.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could you just say once and for all, was this some sort of publicity stunt? Was this a hoax and will you talk to the police today?

RICHARD HEENE, FATHER OF "BALLOON BOY": Absolutely no hoax. I want your questions in the box. I`ll get right back to you, ok?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But he didn`t get right back to them and notice his hair is different. It`s slicked back today. I don`t know what that means.

Back with my fantastic panel: Bradford Cohen, you`re the spokesman for the Web site, dirtygavel.com -- here`s my gavel. You guys had an exclusive report about Richard Heene`s profile in a site called realitywanted.com -- can`t keep up with all these sites.

Quote, "Mr. Heene did not set his profile to private. In fact, any competent police department could have found this site and the profile prior to today because it was completely public." What`s the significance of what you`re saying there?

BRADFORD COHEN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, what happened was about two weeks before any of this occurred, this site, realitywanted.com, where people would post their profiles, where other producers and people that would look to make a reality show would go on and look at the individuals` profiles. His profile was created two weeks before this occurred, completely public.

The police officers in that area, the sheriff could have just done a search on his name and found this profile. On Sunday it was set to private. Prior to it being set to private, the dirtygavel.com was able to do a screen grab of his profile and put it up on their site.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What was the headline on there? What was it that was so -- what`s the revelation on that site? What`s so big about it?

COHEN: Well, what`s so interesting is that he was pitching a show two weeks prior to this occurring. It was so close in time that -- and then allegedly someone switches the profile to private when it hits the fan.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me translate for you, then. I think what you`re trying to say is that if the cops had done very quick Internet work. They could have Googled his name...

COHEN: Easily.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ...gotten on there, seen that this is a guy who`s a publicity seeker, maybe we can`t send out the helicopters because there`s nobody in there, but you could never know that for sure.

That`s why this story is so aggravating. You could never operate on the assumption that that little boy wasn`t in there because what if you were wrong. That`s the problem.

COHEN: You`re absolutely right. But even after if occurred...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Pamela, North Carolina, your question or thought.

PAMELA, NORTH CAROLINA (via telephone): Jane, you rock.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you.

PAMELA: You absolutely rock.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you.

PAMELA: I want to say first of all, why in heaven`s name those two little boys that said that they saw their brother in a so-called box below that balloon, which there wasn`t one, why in heaven`s name when the police were called and got there, did they not search the attic? When you`re looking for a wanted criminal, you don`t leave any stone uncovered inside of a house.

And another thing I wanted to mention is this -- I don`t want to say what I think about this so-called father.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok, go ahead.

PAMELA: But his wife seems like she is being subservient and being controlled by him.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Totally, man, I agree with you Pamela. You have made some excellent points.

Robi Ludwig, again, this woman, theoretically, because she made the 911 call, could go away for years and years and years. What happens to the kids if they`re both convicted and sent away to the slammer?

ROBI LUDWIG, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: Well, I imagine they would look into finding a family, perhaps family members that could take care of these boys. Although I find it very unlikely that these two people will be put in jail. There`s overcrowding in prisons and I just don`t see it happening in this case.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I disagree with you, Robi. Listen, I think there`s a lot of -- we put more people in prison than any other country in the world. There`s a lot of stupid convictions.

There is some woman right now who cut in a line at Wal-Mart and she could be going to jail for 15 years because she got angry because she was accused of cutting a line at Wal-Mart.

JUDGE KAREN MILLS-FRANCIS, HOST, JUDGE KAREN SHOW: Jane, remember, the runaway bride?

(CROSS TALK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. Judge Karen Mills, this one, I don`t put in that category.

MILLS-FRANCIS: Yes, but remember the case of the runaway bride? The FBI and all those other organizations were involved? In the end she got two years of probation. She pled guilty to making a false statement to the police.

I think what I`m incensed about with this case is the amount of emergency personnel that were diverted to this emergency, fire rescue, emergency medical technicians, the police, the National Guard...

COHEN: The FAA diverted planes.

(CROSS TALK)

MILLS-FRANIS: ... those planes. What if there had been a real emergency? Maybe a fire, where there were children inside a home and these people had played out this hoax?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Russell Wetanson. Ok.

RUSSELL WETANSON, POP CULTURE EXPERT: Here`s the other thing, Jane. Even if we think that -- even if you put aside and take them at face value, they`re saying they were trying to put together a Roswell-like event. Even doing that was irresponsible in a post-9/11 world. You`re just going to launch something up into the sky and not tell people what it is? That would...

(CROSS TALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The question is, is that punishable...

LUDWIG: We need to make an example of this family.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok, wait a second. One at a time.

COHEN: The question is, can they put them in prison for that?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: My last question to Russell Wetanson, this guy paves tile. He can`t pay any of these fines back if he`s fined half a million dollars or whatever. He lays tile for a living. Is he going to get a reality show after all this is done? Yes or no, Russell?

WETANSON: My answer is no because once you involve these kids and you`re accused of contributing to the delinquency of minors, that`s where viewers, production companies and even networks I think will draw the line in the sand.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Have you watched these reality shows lately? These reality shows all seem to be contributing to the delinquency of minors -- all of them.

WETANSON: This is a little different. This is a little different because this is played out in the public before it was a show. Just like Nadya Suleman didn`t get a show on American TV. I think we can analogize this to that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You just answered the question. He`s going to have a show but it`s going to be in Saudi Arabia or something.

Thank you, fantastic panel. We`ve got to leave it right there.

People want to talk about this story. I mean, it`s all anybody`s talking about.

But up next, wow, this is a star football player stabbed to death after a game; his killer on the loose. The latest developments on a horrific tragedy.

And Philip Garrido could never have kidnapped Jaycee Dugard had he been forced to serve out his sentence. Instead he was let out decades early for the rape of Katie Hall.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATIE HALL, PHILLIP GARRIDO`S VICTIM: Phillip went out to answer the door and he came back in and he said it`s the heat. Am I going to have to tie you up or are you going to be good? I said no, "I`ve been good, don`t tie me up." So he went back out and I sat there for a minute and thought if there`s a policeman out there, I have to try.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, dozens of dangerous criminals are being set free and those are not them. Is this the American way, letting rapists and murders walk free because of some technical loophole? We`ll analyze next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s meet today`s winner; Cindy G. from Grand Prairie, Texas. Cindy is a recovering gambling addict from horse racing to casinos to online gaming, even bookies. She says her addiction has crippled her financially. She lost $2,000 in one night online. Ouch. That hurts. Through counseling and even falling off the wagon a few times, she says she`s finally learned how to battle the urge and has not placed a bet in six months.

Well, Cindy, for sharing your fantastic story, you`ll be getting an autographed copy of my new book "I Want" plus a chance to win a trip to New York city and visit me on the set of ISSUES. I promise you one thing, we won`t go gambling afterwards.

Thank you so much. It`s great to hear those stories of recovery.

Moving on to an uproar in North Carolina; dozens of convicted felons being released from jail. We`re going to tell you why but first, "Top of the Block" tonight.

Breaking developments: an arrest has been made in Jasper Howard`s homicide case. He`s the University of Connecticut football star who was stabbed to death at a student-sponsored event late Saturday night.

Cops picked up 21-year-old Johnny Hood in connection with Jasper`s death. He has been charged with interfering with police and breach of peace but no murder charges. That`s interesting. Meanwhile, Jasper`s college campus in a complete state of shock -- get this -- Jasper had just finished playing the game of his life. He was out celebrating and that`s when a fight broke out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOANGELA HOWARD, JASPER`S MOTHER: He was a great kid. I never had no problems with him. All I wanted him to do was go to school and get an education. And he was doing what I asked him to do. I never had no problems out of him, none.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Cops say Jasper, who was about to become a father, was stabbed in the stomach. He died on his way to the hospital.

This is such -- another preventable tragedy. We have seen all of this before. There is a violence crisis happening across the United States of America. Jasper isn`t the only victim and unfortunately, he won`t be the last. Not unless we all get involved and get together and put an end to this madness.

Let`s do it for Jasper and all the other Jaspers out there. Let`s stop the violence.

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

Turning now to a horrifying example of what we on ISSUES call the "War on Women": North Carolina is about to free dozens of murderers and rapists originally sentenced to life in prison. State courts ruled they could be freed under a 35-year-old law that defined a life sentence as just 80 years. When you combine that with reduced sentences for quote -- quote, unquote, "good behavior," some of these sickos will serve just a fraction of their sentences.

One of them is Steve Wilson. He raped a 9-year-old girl in the late `70s; 9-year-old girl. He`s had 18 violations in prison, including an assault on an inmate with sexual intent. Wilson`s victim is now in her 40s, obviously disgusted that her rapist is days away from freedom.

Listen to her.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As I reflect back and had to really learn more of the story about what happened to me, and how it destroyed my family, my mother, my uncles, how it changed my childhood, how it basically destroyed my family, what would I say to him? It`s not what would I say to him. It`s what would I do to him because I feel like he shouldn`t be living on this earth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me welcome back my fantastic panel: also joining me, Thomas Bennett, executive director of the North Carolina Victim Assistance Network.

Thomas, what was your reaction when you first heard about this insane ruling?

THOMAS BENNETT, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NORTH CAROLINA VICTIM ASSISTANCE NETWORK: This is an outrageous situation. It`s a terrible miscarriage of justice and I have talked with several of these victims of this particular cohort of convicts. They are angry, they are frightened and they have every right to feel that way. This is a terrible miscarriage of justice.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Judge Karen Mills Francis, here`s what I don`t understand. Ok, they`re saying a life sentence means 80 years. Well, some of these crimes were committed in the late `70s so that`s still just 30 years. Do you mean to tell me they can chop off decades and decades with so-called good behavior that really isn`t, and doing a few jobs and getting a few merit points?

MILLS-FRANCIS: Between 1974 and 1978 in North Carolina, the law was that a life sentence was 80 years, but that for every day a prisoner did not commit an infraction, he could get a day off of his sentence. Subsequent to that, though, life means life in North Carolina, but only for first degree murder. So North Carolina doesn`t recognize a life sentence for sexual battery. That`s the unfortunate thing.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s where the "war on women" comes into play; the minimizing of these sexually violent crimes. I have to say I want to pull my hair out in tufts sometimes.

Bradford Cohen, there was an article on the front page of "USA Today" that said rapes are at a 20-year low in America. You know what that means? 89,000 reported rapes in 2008. That`s something to celebrate? 89,000 reported rapes? That doesn`t include the unreported rapes. This is an epidemic of violence against women.

When are we going to get real about it and realize that these people are likely to strike again, because it`s an urge, it`s an addiction? They`re not looking for money.

COHEN: Listen, I know you always say the "war on women" but this is, really, if you look at society as a whole, the problem is the law is the law.

This is what the law was in the 1970s in that area. There is nothing to do about it. It`s very clear. It didn`t say 80 years minimum. It didn`t say a minimum mandatory. It said 80 years. At that time, that is what was implemented.

Now if you look at it now, of course, now it seems outrageous that they`re going to let all these individuals who are murderers and rapists out now, but in the `70s, that`s what the law was and it is a good ruling in terms of following the law.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, look...

MILLS-FRANCIS: Jane, Florida has done something about it. Rapists have the highest recidivism rate among all offenders. Florida has the Jimmy Ryce Act, which calls for an involuntary commitment for somebody who served his time for forcible sexual battery. Basically the state can keep that defendant in jail if they can prove that he is still violent and he hasn`t been rehabilitated.

COHEN: Correct.

(CROSS TALK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Here`s the problem. When violent criminals get out early, the chances are, as you just heard from Judge Karen, they will strike again.

MILLS-FRANCIS: Exactly. Long before he abducted Jaycee Dugard, Phillip Garrido was sentenced to life for kidnap and rape. He got out 50 years early to the horror of his rape victim.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Have you lived in fear ever since?

HALL: Yes.

KING: How many years ago was that did he get out?

HALL: He got out in `88.

KING: So you have been living in fear now 21 years?

HALL: Especially the first five years, I just -- I just knew he was hunting me. I just knew he was.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And he was.

Thomas Bennett, what do you say to victims like Katie Hall who know that their attacker will be out on the streets?

BENNETT: We certainly urge them to be alert, to be aware of their surroundings, and what`s going on. I have urged the victims I have talked with to contact their local law enforcement and let them know about their concerns.

But the sad truth is, there`s not a great deal that can be done for these victims. They are in a terrible situation. And as the victim you`ve already spoken about said, these folks are going to be looking over their shoulders for the rest of their lives.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely.

BENNETT: I spoke to one...

(CROSS TALK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hold on one second.

Listen, Lou Palumbo, you`re a former police officer. When people say there is no "war on women", I say imagine for one week if we turned the tables and when we turned on the local news we saw men, instead of men we saw women being arrested and perp walked over and over again for rapes and murders.

I mean, come on. Let`s be real. We`ve got a problem with male violence in this society and the equation of masculinity with violence. This is a serious cultural problem.

LOU PALUMBO, FORMER POLICE OFFICER: Jane, I -- but Jane, I think the thing you have to focus on is the fact that once again the system is failing us miserably. They need to legislate different sentencing guidelines so mistakes like this don`t occur again.

MITCHELL: You know what? We`ve been talking about sentencing guidelines since there was television and nothing is getting better. We need a cultural shift away from violence. Everybody, stay right where you are. We`re going to dive deep in...

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What would I say to him? It`s not what would I say to him, it`s what would I do to him because I feel like he shouldn`t be living on this earth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was a rape victim rightfully outraged that her attacker will be allowed to walk from prison next week. He is one of dozens of violent offenders who will be freed early. And that is because the North Carolina Supreme Court is allowing a 1974 sentencing law to trump justice and safety.

And I dare say if those judges had been raped, somehow they might figure out a way to keep this from happening. This is all part of the minimization of crimes against women. And it`s just another variation on what`s happened since the dawn of time, the subjugation of women. And we as a gender need to get together and say enough, enough.

Regina, Tennessee, your question or thought, ma`am.

REGINA, TENNESSEE (via telephone): Yes, ma`am. It`s deplorable that these people are being let out of prison early, especially the ones that have been violent still in prison. If we truly wanted truth in sentencing, we would add time on for bad behavior, not take it off for good behavior. Maybe then people wouldn`t want to commit crimes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Bravo, Regina. Well said.

COHEN: Jane that is a great point. That`s what I was trying to bring up. They committed crimes while they were in jail. Why is no one asking the state attorney why they didn`t prosecute and why they didn`t prosecute is probably because they were figuring oh, you know what, they`re in a life sentence anyways, who cares about that they committed a new assault or a new battery while they were in jail? Why don`t we look at that for a minute? She has an excellent point.

MILLS-FRANCIS: Well, the reality is there are thousands of inmates released from prison every day, something like 300,000 a year. This has just become a story because it`s something that happened 30, 40 years ago. But rapists and murderers are being released from jail every day.

But Jane, I think you`re right about this whole violence thing. When we think about stalkers, when we think about serial killers, when we think about child abductors, they`re always violent men.

Instead of the war on drugs, there needs to be a war on violence. And I think it`s time that women say it`s enough.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I agree with you 100 percent. That is our big issue.

Tonight a new poll by "Time" magazine found that for the first time in history women make up half the U.S. workforce. We`ve made so many huge strides.

But women are still living with a psychological burqa because we are living in fear. As I mentioned, 89,000 rapes reported last year; that is 89,000 too many rapes. And my big issue is we need a new wave of feminism that targets violence against women. Women -- this is not anti-male -- this is women and the men who love their daughters and wives and want them to be safe getting together and say one rape is too many in this country, much less 89,000.

That`s what I`m talking about, Bradford Cohen.

BRADFORD COHEN: Listen, I understand where you`re coming from. But you know, if we look at it as society as a whole, I know you love to say war on women. Let`s not forget...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Look at the crime. Do you see women committing -- come on. Look at the stats. Go to the FBI`s page and look at the stats.

COHEN: Well, let`s look at this also. Men are less likely to come forward. Let`s look at that also. Men are less likely to come forward and not only that, men and if you look at the actual definition.

MILLS-FRANCIS: Come forward with what?

COHEN: Ok, come forward with a crime that has been committed on them by a woman.

MILLS-FRANCIS: They get being raped by...

PALUMBO: Jane...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`ve got to leave it right there. Thank you, fabulous panel.

PALUMBO: Jane...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re going to continue this debate here on ISSUES.

You`re watching HLN.

END

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