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ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL
New Info Released on Fatal Drunk-Driving Accident; Teens Arrested in Hollywood Burglary Spree
Aired October 26, 2009 - 19:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, stomach-churning new details in the New York drunk-driving wreck that killed eight people. Cops say Diane Schuler was boozed up and high on pot when she drove the wrong way on a busy interstate. We now know just moments before the wreck, a child inside the minivan was frantically calling for help, but the cell phone was taken away. So could this have been prevented? We`ll have all the horrific details from inside the minivan. Tonight on ISSUES, we`ll play the tapes.
And a group of teenage bandits terrorizing celebrities in the Hollywood Hills? Five teens arrested for allegedly breaking into homes, stealing art, jewelry and millions of dollars in cash. Cops say this group knocked off Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Orlando Bloom, just to name a few. So, how did they do it, and how were they finally caught? We`ll tell you why these are no ordinary suspects.
Six college students say they were not allowed into a Chicago nightclub because they`re black. Meanwhile, 200 non-black students they were with were allowed in, no questions asked. The club claims it`s all about dress code, but the students say it was all about the color of their skin, and they say they have proof. We`ll take a look.
Steve Phillips gets the boot. The stormy sportscaster was canned from ESPN after he was caught in a steamy sex affair with a 22-year-old co- worker. His mistress-turned-jolted-lover allegedly wrote a graphic letter to his wife and veered her car into his house. Now Phillips has lost his job, and he`s headed to rehab. We`ll have the latest on this drama-filled soap opera and ask the question: is he a sex addict?
ISSUES starts now.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, gut-wrenching new details of how terrified children pleaded for help just before they were killed in a drunk-driving crash. Diane Schuler behind the wheel with five young kids on board. Two were her own children. Three were her nieces. Only one of them, her young son, survived.
Police say she was drunk and stoned on pot when she crashed into another car last July while driving the wrong way down a freeway. Now we learn that in the minutes leading up to that horror, at least one of the kids had made frantic cell phone calls in a hopeless effort to save their own lives. A family friend relayed that message to police.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The girls just called in distress. They said that the aunt is driving very erratically: "We think she`s sick." And we`re trying to locate the kids. And the best they could come up with was that they were on -- they were at the Tarrytown Rec Center.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Sources told the "New York Post" the child who was trying to get the help had the cell phone taken away. Now, why would Diane Schuler take the cell phone away from the child who was trying to help? Was she trying, perhaps, to hide her intoxication?
If you`re sick, presumably you still have the good sense to pull over. But drunks often keep driving. In Diane Schuler`s case, she drove nearly two miles in the wrong direction on a highway.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAJ. WILLIAM CAREY, NEW YORK STATE POLICE: Diane Schuler had a blood alcohol content of 0.19 percent. Diane Schuler had approximately six grams of alcohol in her stomach. Diane Schuler had a high level of THC, tetra hydro -- tetra hydro cannabibol, in her blood. THC is the active ingredient contained in marijuana.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Schuler, her daughter and three nieces died when their minivan slammed into an SUV. The crash also killed three men in that other SUV.
In just a moment, you`re going to hear more of the caller`s helpless attempts to save the victims just before this horrific crash.
And I want to hear from you about America`s drunk-driving crisis. What is your solution at home?
First, straight out to my fantastic expert panel: Tonya Acker, attorney and blogger for the Huffington Post; Dr. Reef Kareem, psychiatrist and addiction specialist; Terry Liles, psychologist and crisis expert; Tom Ruskin, spokesman for the Schuler family and former New York City police detective investigator. And joining me on the phone, Michael Amon, reporter for "Newsday."
Michael, you`ve heard the tapes. What are the most significant new comments that are coming out of these newly-released calls?
MICHAEL AMON, REPORTER, "NEWSDAY": Well, I think that the most significant new thing that we heard today was the attempts by the New York state police to track Diane Schuler`s cell phone. There was some attempt made to contact Verizon, which is Diane Schuler`s cell phone carrier, to ping the cell phone and get some kind of location so they could send out patrol cars and find that minivan full of children.
But it`s not clear to me if they were -- if all of these efforts were happening too late. She did crash at 1:35 p.m., and I`m not sure exactly when these calls took place.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So, the horror of all this is that they knew there was a problem, and they were trying to connect the cell phone in which these children were calling, asking for help, with a vehicle and a location of that vehicle. And they sensed they were in a race against time, and boy, were they right.
Police, again, in this race against time, needed details about the Schulers` cell phone to help locate Diane`s vehicle. Warren Hance, Diane Schuler`s brother and father of three of the victims, tried to get the potentially life-saving information from his brother-in-law. Hance is heard saying, quote, "Danny, does the cell phone bill come in the name of Hance or Schuler?" There was apparently a pause, a significant pause, and then Hance said, quote, "Danny? Are you with me?"
Tom Ruskin, you represent Danny. Why did your client hesitate to answer that crucial question?
TOM RUSKIN, FORMER NYPD DETECTIVE INVESTIGATOR: OK, first, just for clarification, I`m running the investigation. I am not the spokesperson for the Hances -- for the Hances or the Schulers.
But to answer your question, the reason there was a delay is Danny was en route up to Tarrytown, the last place that he had heard that Diane was in contact with her family, and he dropped the cell phone. He was so nervous at the idea that his wife was missing or injured or possibly in some kind of medical emergency. His brother was driving, and he dropped the phone to the floor for a couple of seconds.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Diane Schuler called her family, as well, before the crash, and she was reportedly incoherent. Her family blames her condition in the crash on a medical condition, not alcohol. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The family here that thinks that they might have a medical emergency of their sister that was traveling from Monticello down to Long Island. The sister called. She can`t talk anymore. There`s three kids in the car. They`re trying to -- five. They`re trying to locate her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Schuler`s family still insists she had a medical emergency, Dr. Reef Kareem, addiction specialist, despite the alcohol in her stomach and the marijuana signs in her blood. What`s your take on this emphasis on medical condition?
DR. REEF KAREEM, PSYCHIATRIST/ADDICTION SPECIALIST: Yes, obviously, there`s one of three things or a multiple cocktail, so to speak, of three things here. The most likely is it`s substance-induced.
I mean, alcohol is such a bad drug for your brain when you`re driving, specifically because of the frontal lobe right here. It changes perception, alterations in your judgment, risk-taking problems, slowed reaction time when you`re tracking things. It just across the board is bad for you.
Add marijuana to the mix, where you could actually get paranoid, in addition to having those same effects of judgment and perception and reaction time, you`ve got a recipe for disaster if somebody`s driving, especially with the amount that she had on board.
Now, the two other factors playing into this are, who knows? Maybe she had a mental health condition, and that was impaired by the drugs that were on board, plus what she originally has from a mental health perspective. And then the third is that maybe there was something medical on board: epilepsy, head -- any kind of history of head trauma, brain tumors, aneurism...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: No, no, here`s what I don`t get. And Doctor, I was buying your argument up to that moment, but Terry Liles, psychologist, if you`re physically ill, you can have the good sense to pull over, slow down, pull over even on the side of the road.
She drove almost two miles going the wrong direction on a freeway before slamming head-on into another SUV, killing eight people, including herself, and there is testimony, or there`s evidence in these newly- released tapes, that the kids who were trying to call for help, somebody grabbed the phone out of their hands, and she`s the only adult in the car.
Now, I know, being a recovering alcoholic, there`s something called a blackout. You -- and often the worst car accidents are done by people in a blackout. They`re driving, but they don`t even know that they`re driving. That`s how out of it they are.
TERRY LILES, PSYCHOLOGIST: Yes. Well, I think you said, two key...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jane, Jane, that`s true, Jane.
LILES: Wait a minute...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me finish with Terry...
LILES: Yes, please.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... then whoever else is up there. Yes.
LILES: Let me just say -- you said two key things. One is she obviously didn`t have the right kind of judgment as she was driving, because driving two miles down the wrong side of the road -- if you are having a medical condition, like you said, most people would have, I would think, enough rational to at least try to pull over and say, "Hey, I`m either sick," or "I need help," or "call for help" or ask the kids to do that.
Instead, it`s almost like you said: she blacked out. And then to take the phone away from some of the children who was trying to get help also shows an irrational response to what was going on.
So, I think you`ve two things that the doctor mentioned earlier. You`ve got a lot of perception problems. You`ve got some reality problems that could be enhanced by these conditions that she put on herself -- alcohol and marijuana -- and you`ve got a cry for help that`s been taken away. So, we`ve got a big issue around what she had in her body, not what could have been happening that we didn`t know about.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Tonya -- OK.
RUSKIN: Jane, for the purpose of clarification, there is no evidence that we have come up with or the state police have come up with which shows that she ever grabbed the phone from the child. Quite to the contrary. It was her 9-year-old niece...
LILES: Well, even if she didn`t.
RUSKIN: ... Emma...
LILES: Even if she didn`t, the children were trying to call somebody.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We know. The children...
RUSKIN: The children -- the children, the 9-year-old did call at 12:58 and again at 1:01, and they explained that their Aunt Diane is suffering from something where she can`t speak, she can`t talk, and she`s having trouble -- and she`s lost...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Right. It`s called alcohol and pot, Tonya Acker.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonya Acker. Let -- let Tonya speak. Hold on.
TONYA ACKER, ATTORNEY/BLOGGER: We actually don`t even need to sit here and come up with possible explanations of what may have been going on or what the medical condition, the hypothetical medical condition may have been or who took the phone from the kids. We know she was drunk. We know she was stoned.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
ACKER: We know that she was so out of her mind, frankly, that she wasn`t responding to what must have been the plea of the very frantic pleas kids. So I think, knowing what we know, we already know what went down there, and we know that it`s disturbing.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, everyone, more head-spinning details in this drunk-driving case. We`re also taking your calls on this and the whole problem of drunk driving in America: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297.
Also, Joe Jackson, some harsh words from him about the new Michael Jackson movie that`s coming out this week, claiming the producers used body doubles of M.J. Is there any truth to this claim? We`re going to take a look at it.
But first, inside a family`s desperate race against time. What happened in those final minutes before Diane Schuler smashed into another SUV going the wrong way on a New York interstate? Why does her family still insist, despite all the tests, that she wasn`t drunk?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Danny doesn`t want the other families to think that a drunk driver killed their families. That`s why we are out to prove that she -- try to prove that she wasn`t drunk.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOMINIC BARBARA, SCHULER FAMILY ATTORNEY: No one saw her that morning with alcohol, drunk, acting strange...
DANNY SCHULER, WIDOWER: The opposite.
BARBARA: The opposite. She was happy, talking to people, gave a kiss good-bye to the owner of the camp, and that person smelled her breath. There was definitely no alcohol when she left that campsite.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And that was the attorney for Diane Schuler`s family, claiming none of the evidence in the fatal DUI crash is valid. Police say the New York mom was drunk and stoned. There was a vodka bottle in the car.
Her kids and nieces in the car were old enough to know they were in danger, and one of the kids desperately tried to get help, but it was just too late.
Back to my fantastic panel. And the phone lines lighting up on this one. Ron in New Mexico, your question or thought?
CALLER: My question is, do you believe she may have been self- medicating herself?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Dr. Reef Kareem, when you drink and you use, in anything beyond a very limited social setting of drinking, you`re self- medicating.
KAREEM: Yes. Most -- most people that drink to excess the way that she does, outside of binge drinking, are self medicating. The self- medicating basically means there`s some underlying emotion, there`s some underlying problem that`s there. And you`re drinking to escape, to numb, because you`re bored, because you want to get out of the situation you`re in. You don`t want to think about it for a while. That`s essentially self-medicating.
You know, I think it`s really important to note here that the most likely candidate is alcohol combined with marijuana. Also, if she did have a medical condition, the -- that would mean that her brain is more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol and marijuana.
So, either way, the alcohol and marijuana were a significant, huge factor in contributing to the problem.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tom Ruskin.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: The family says they`re out to prove she wasn`t drunk. What have you done to prove that, second autopsy? What have you done to try to prove that?
RUSKIN: We are in the process of getting the specimens that were taken during the first autopsy from the Westchester medical examiner`s office transferred to a new lab to retest them to make sure that the first test was done appropriately and we come back with the same findings.
What we did find out is the Westchester medical examiner`s lab never tested it for DNA. So, there`s -- there`s still that chance that it may not be Diane Schuler`s, not that I`m, you know, saying that, but we`re going to make sure. We have Diane`s toothbrush. We`ve done the DNA, just to guarantee...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I hear somebody guffawing back there. Tonya?
ACKER: I`m sorry. I`m sorry, Jane, that`s me. I`m sorry. No disrespect to you, sir, and as a lawyer, I can completely appreciate dotting the "I`s" and crossing the "T`s", but this notion that -- you know, I heard the family`s statement before that when she left, she was very happy and in a good mood.
Maybe somebody on your panel can correct me, but as far as I know, the body does not spontaneously produce alcohol or THC. That doesn`t just come from nowhere. So, I think that where she was before or how happy she may have been earlier in the day is completely beside the point.
To the extent that there`s some evidence, this is the first time I`m hearing that maybe it wasn`t her. I completely appreciate your going down that road, but I`m just hoping that this is not a wild goose chase that`s meant to simply distract and delay from an ultimate resolution.
RUSKIN: Except -- except relative to that, at 11 o`clock, we know she entered a convenience store up in Liberty where she attempted to buy over- the-counter pain medicine, Tylenol Advil gel caps. Someone who`s not suffering some kind of medical type of condition is not going to try and buy over-the-counter pain medicine before a long trip home.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Unless you`re an addict who is trying to -- unless you`re an addict, and speaking as an addict in recovery -- I have to go back to Dr. Reef on this -- when you`re an addict and you want vodka and you want pot and then it`s not quite enough, you`re going to go for that other medication you could get over the counter that`s very similar to getting you high, but it`s just called whatever, P.M., something P.M.
KAREEM: Well, yes. I mean, you know, any over-the-counter drug is not going to generally get you high. And no over-the-counter drug is indicative of having a medical problem outside of maybe a little arthritic pain.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: No, no, no.
KAREEM: It doesn`t mean you have a history of some traumatic neurologic injury based on that.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know what? They take it. They take it. Up the ante. I know that you`ll take anything. You`ll drink shoe polish if it`s got alcohol in it.
LILES: Yes, Jane, exactly right.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Very quickly, Karen in New York, what are your thoughts, ma`am? We only have a couple seconds.
CALLER: Yes, hi, Jane. First of all, I want to commend you on your 14 years of sobriety. I also as well, am I the fellowship. I have a little over two years clean.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Good for you.
CALLER: Thank you so much. My drug of choice was different than this woman, but I just want to say that my drug of choice, I used for 16 years successfully, and I have two teenagers. And no one knew that I was using. So...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know what? You know what? It makes -- I`m very proud of you for having the courage to come out and say that, because that`s the bottom line here, is that addiction can be kept secret.
Thank you, fantastic panel.
You know, addiction, obviously, is a potentially deadly disease for the addict and for those around the user. In my new book "iWant," I explain how, after decades of struggle, I got sober 14 years ago. You just heard the lady call in.
I`m sharing my experience to help others who are grappling with an addiction to alcohol, drugs, sugar, food, money, sex. You can order "iWant" online at CNN.com/Jane if you are grappling with an addiction.
Again, thank you, fantastic panel.
Six college students say they were denied entry into a nightclub because they`re black. They say they have the pictures to prove it.
Plus, cops say a group of teens in Hollywood robbing from the rich and famous. You won`t believe who they allegedly stole from and how much they got away with. And you will not believe the background of these teenagers. It`s amazing.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: In "The Spotlight" tonight, an unlikely bunch of alleged burglars have been arrested in connection with a year-long crime spree targeting high-profile celebrities. And we mean high.
Six people, including five rich reform school teenagers, allegedly stole millions in cash, jewelry, art and clothing from Hollywood stars. Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Audrina Patridge and Orlando Bloom are among the celebrity victims.
One of the alleged burglars is the sister of a "Playboy" model! You cannot make this stuff up.
The pair had been working on a reality show together, and they went as far as rolling the cameras while picking up the troubled teen from jail. Ha, ha, ha, ha! Well, you know what? If they think this is funny, they may stop laughing when they are brought to justice. These are serious, serious charges.
Joining me now, the fantastic Mike Walters, assignment manager at TMZ.
Mike, tell me about these teenage suspects and why there`s such shock in Hollywood over their backgrounds.
MIKE WALTERS, ASSIGNMENT MANAGER, TMZ: Well, first of all, their age. I mean, how this gang of -- we call them the burglar bunch -- how they could come up with the idea to go out and burglarize all these celebrities in town and get away with it. And remember, they actually pulled a lot of these off, allegedly, according to, you know, they`re being held on the arrest.
But it`s interesting that these people are kind of well-to-do kids. They all have criminal backgrounds. Now, a bunch of them are like 18, 19 years old. Two of the girls that were arrested have done it before, actually been convicted. They were charged with burglary. They went together and stole stuff from a store.
This other kid, Nick Prugo -- you know, here`s how brainiac the kids are -- they actually allegedly took a computer from a house and then used the computer in a bedroom, and all of them are in front of it talking about, you know, the stuff they did, showing some of the jewelry off from some of the celebrity homes. They actually went on and searched like "Lindsay Lohan Rolex" and then showed the Rolex in a photo. I mean, the audacity of these kids.
And then, you know, to get it taken away and have LAPD figure out most of this stuff and arrest six people in connection, I couldn`t believe that -- the kids` age and who they were and exactly how they pulled this off.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, it`s so fascinating to me that two of the targeted stars have had legal troubles of their own, putting it mildly. Paris Hilton, of course, arrested and jailed for a parole violation in a reckless driving case. Who could forget the image of her strutting her stuff when she came out of jail? There she is. She thought it was a fashion show. Not! Oh, look at that smirk. Ugh.
And Lindsay Lohan, of course, to say that she struggled with sobriety, that`s an understatement. In 2007, look at that mug shot, she was arrested for alleged driving under the influence. She lost control of her Mercedes.
And she`s even more infamous, as you know, Mike, for that alleged high-speed chase down Pacific Coast Highway. And a lot of people thought she got off really easy on that one.
You know, a lot of other kids, let`s say a poor minority kid without a high-priced lawyer, could end up in jail for a whole bunch of things for a long time. Do you think these kids are going to get off because they`re rich?
WALTERS: Well, let me tell you something, we didn`t even post this on the site, but I can tell you: most of them -- I think five out of six -- are on probation already. So, No. 1, no, they`re not going to get off, because if they`re charged and convicted of any crime, but on probation, so they`re probably going to do some sort of jail time.
But you are right about the celebrities. I mean, these celebrities get stuff taken out of their house, like you just said, Paris, Lindsay, they have backgrounds. They`ve gotten out of a lot of it. I don`t think that these kids will be so lucky. Plus, they`re celebrities, so they want to make a statement against them and, you know, put them behind bars.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`ve got to leave it right there. We`ll stay on top of this one. Mike, thanks so much.
"Next, I can prove racism." That`s what a group of college students said. They were upset they were not let into a nightclub. We`ll cover it.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Steve Phillips gets the boot. The stormy sportscaster was canned from ESPN after he was caught in a steamy sex affair with a 22-year-old co-worker. His mistress turned jilted lover allegedly wrote a graphic letter to his wife and veered her car into his house. Now Phillips has lost his job and is headed to rehab. We`ll have the latest on this drama-filled soap opera and ask the question, is he a sex addict?
Shocking allegations of blatant racism: six African-American college students were refused entry into a Chicago bar. Was it because of their clothing or the color of their skin? That`s what we`re asking tonight.
Students from Washington University in St. Louis planned a senior trip to Chicago. They decided to hit the town heading to Mother`s Nightclub. That`s when they say the night took a really awful turn. The club reportedly let in close to 200 non-black students, no problem; but the 6 black students with the group were told, "You cannot come in." The bar says the students were violating the dress code.
Regis Murayi (ph) was told his jeans were simply too baggy. So, this is what he did, he traded pants with his white friend. Listen to what happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s actually wearing my pants. He actually -- later on, he went back to the hotel, we did a switch of pants and he put my pants on.
Keep in mind, this guy`s about three inches shorter than me and probably close to 40 or 50 pounds lighter than me. But he went back to the bar later on that evening with the same manager, same bouncer at the door and was able to just walk in, while actually making jokes with the bouncer about not paying for the people behind him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, here is the photo, once again, of the switcheroo. You be the judge. Regis on the left, his pal Jordan Roberts is on the right. They`re wearing the same pair of jeans. Regis was denied entry and Jordan was let right in.
What do you think? Is the proof in the pants? Did this bouncer have a problem with the clothes or with the person wearing them?
The state of Illinois and the federal government both launched investigations into this incident. The students filed complaints with the Chicago Commission on Human Rights, the Illinois attorney general`s office and the U.S. Department of Justice. Regis says the group may also file a lawsuit against the bar.
Why are we still dealing with all this in the 21st century when we have an African-American president? We reached out to this bar, but we have not yet received a statement. They did let in other African-Americans that night; that`s according to the bar. But the question is why were these six young African-American men kept out?
Straight out to my expert panel: also joining us, Steve Rogers, detective lieutenant with the Nutley New Jersey Police Department; a media consultant and visiting journalism professor at northwestern university, Bryan Monroe.
But we begin with Tanya Acker, attorney and blogger for "The Huffington Post." Tanya, what is your take on this?
TANYA ACKER, ATTORNEY & BLOGGER, HUFFINGTON POST: It was not the pants. I mean, it`s so funny. I wish Jane -- I`m laughing only because this story is so darkly familiar. You know, we all have the anecdotal stories about, you know, the black kid and the baggy pants who`s a gang banger and then the white kid in the same pants who`s people think is sort of a cute Eminem wanna be.
Unfortunately, this stuff still happens. And while I don`t think -- you know, you made a good point about how far we`ve come. And certainly we have an African-American president. We have not rooted out all the bad apples. We will not.
This is something we just have to sort of deal with and try to get people the right remedies, try get them justice when and where we are.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. The manager of the bar is insisting he was just trying to enforce the dress code. He says there is a lot of gang violence in the area and the gang members often wear backwards hats and baggy pants. He claims that some of the kids that he didn`t let in were wearing these backward pants.
Now, here`s the thing -- look at these young men. These young men don`t look or sound like gang bangers. They are actually stars at their university. Let`s list a couple of their achievements.
One is senior class treasurer and on the varsity track. One student is pre-law. Another is a basketball star. One works as an intern in the community service office. So, for this club owner to discriminate against them and then use the excuse of suggesting that they appear to be gang bangers really doesn`t pass the smell test, and I`ll throw that one to Steve Rogers.
STEVE ROGERS, DETECTIVE, NUTLEY NEW JERSEY POLICE DEPARTMENT: Well, my answer to that, Jane, is simple -- white people are in gangs. So, this is laughable. This is racism at its core.
Apparently, this guy has a problem with African-Americans. And I`ll tell you, when the Chicago police get through with this, you might have many, many more victims come forward and say, "You know what, I was discriminated against also."
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m sure. Bryan Monroe, professor, Northwestern`s Medill School of Journalism. I think I might have pronounced that the wrong way.
BRYAN MONROE, PROFESSOR, NORTHWESTERN MEDILL SCHOOL OF JOURNALISM: Medill.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But in any case Bryan -- Medill -- here`s my take on all this of the I think it`s time to turn the tables on racism and take a psychological approach now that we`re in the 21st century.
And instead of getting angry, realize, first of all, these kids did all the right moves. They`re filing with everybody. They may file a lawsuit. They`re taking it to a local state and federal level.
But also from a psychological perspective, realize that the person exhibiting the racism is the person with the problem. The person exhibiting the racism is the person who has low self-esteem because otherwise, there would be no reason for them to try to elevate themselves in this manner over someone else. And that essentially, in my humble opinion, racism is a form of mental illness, and we have got to start really treating it as a sickness.
MONROE: Well, you know, I`d agree. I think these kids in this situation did all the right things. They tried entering the right way. They even tried to reason with the manager, and the manager just wouldn`t let them in. And then changing jeans and showing that, hey, even the white kid got in, that was just beyond wrong.
And the one good thing is they availed themselves of the process. And hopefully, in this case, the process will work; filing through the commission, through the federal agencies. They sent a letter to Mayor Daley. And here, they`ve got us talking about this.
So, hopefully enough scrutiny and enough of a spotlight can be shone on this bar owner. I would agree with the earlier panelist, I bet this was not the first time it happened there at Mother`s.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, no. Well, the manager of the bar says this was just about the dress code. He says they let other African-Americans in that very night.
We here on ISSUES did some digging, however, and a review of that bar posted a year ago says essentially a very similar thing, a woman writes, "the worst experience of my life. Bouncers are ignorant and biased against people of color. They denied my husband access due to his wardrobe. They allowed a white man to enter even though he had on gym shoes like my husband did. After my husband changed, they still didn`t let him enter because of baggy jeans. They clearly have a problem with race."
By the way, I invite anybody who`s a representative of this restaurant to come on any night her on ISSUES and we will debate it if you think you have an argument.
But I`m going to get to Terry Lyles, psychologist. Back to my point - - is it time to refocus the debate over racism from a psychological perspective and say in the 21st century, people are behaving like this, they have a problem that they need to look at. That this is a sign of their low self-esteem that they need -- they feel the need to exhibit this kind of racism?
TERRY LYLES, PSYCHOLOGIST: Yes, this becomes a power control kind, you know, of exertion of who they are and who they`re not. And I think one way to remedy this is the old-fashioned way. You`ve just got to educate people. Bar owners and restaurant owners, I mean, they need to be very, very clear that...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`ve got to disagree with you. I don`t think education has...
LYLES: A dress code that`s nothing to do...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... has anything to do with this, Tanya Acker. I don`t think you can educate a bouncer...
LYLES: Then you need to fire them.
ACKER: In 2009, if you`re telling me that this bouncer doesn`t get that it`s not ok to discriminate against black people, I don`t know what more we can do in terms of his education.
LYLES: That`s not what I said. That`s not what I said.
ACKER: No, no, no, I`m not going to dispute your point. But what I will say is that I think what we really need to be doing is commending the response of these young kids.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, absolutely.
ACKER: Because I`ve got to tell you, that is a humiliating, demeaning, demoralizing thing to have happen to you, and rather than responding angrily, rather than responding in a way where, for instance, their response might have gotten more attention than the bad reaction that triggered it, I think that these young men did exactly right thing. And I think that they really are a model for how to invoke process in a way that hopefully will bring them justice.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I agree. They took all the right steps. They did all the right moves.
LYLES: I`ll say this Jane. I`ll say this -- if they get rid of this bouncer, which they should, I bet they hire other people that are sensitive to this and they will train them better to say, "listen, you`d better be very careful not to mix up clothes with color."
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s posted on a review on the Internet. I think maybe you`re a little naive about the -- go ahead.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hold on.
MONROE: Bouncers make this call ...
MONROE: Bouncers make this call every night at clubs all across the country and usually get it pretty right.
MONROE: But you know, there are places and there are occasions where, you know, they don`t look past the students and only see the color of their skin or what they`re wearing.
MONROE: And make judgments. And that`s wrong.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to get to my big issue tonight. Are we going in reverse? I am so appalled that this kind of blatant racism, as these kids allege, could possibly occur in this day in age. And we just heard that horrific story about a Louisiana judge denying an interracial marriage last week.
Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BETH MCKAY, DENIED MARRIAGE LICENSE BY JUSTICE OF THE PEACE: At the end of the conversation, she said, "You know, I have a question to ask you. Is this an interracial marriage?" And I was shocked. And I said, "Excuse me?" And she said, "Is this an interracial marriage?" And I said, "Yes, ma`am."
And she said, "What`s the deal, is he black or are you black?" So I answered her question and she just said, "Well, we don`t do interracial marriages."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tanya Acker, put this in perspective. I mean, we just elected an African-American president. You`d think we were in a post- racial world, but apparently not.
ACKER: Can you hear me?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Go ahead. Yes, I can hear you.
ACKER: I don`t think we`re going backward. What I think you`re seeing happen is that these sorts of incidents are getting more attention because people realize that this stuff is just not ok. It`s not American, it`s not human, it`s not dignified, it`s not right. And I think that now people are just reacting to it more, so we`re seeing it get more attention.
But I actually think we`re on the upswing. I think we`re moving in the right direction, notwithstanding these holdouts that we keep hearing about from time to time.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. I want to thank our fantastic panel for a very fascinating discussion. We`re going to stay on top of that story.
Steve Phillips gets canned by ESPN. The sportscaster was caught having a sexual affair with a co-worker. He had it all, so why do these men continue to risk everything for sex? We`re taking your calls on that one; 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297.
Meantime Joe Jackson has some harsh words for the new Michael Jackson movie, claiming it`s not even Michael on screen? They used a body double? Is there any truth to this at all? We`re going to examine.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And let`s meet today`s winner. Yes, there are two of them; in fact, they are a couple. Look at that beautiful couple. This is Lauren (ph) and Derek (ph) in 2006 deep into their heroin addiction. I don`t think that`s them there. I think it was before. You know, they hit rock bottom. They were kicked out of their house and they had to move into a cheap hotel.
She and Derek decided to get clean and they have stayed sober for almost two years now. Way to go. Lauren gives credit to the stray dog you are looking at. They rescued that dog. They named her Bailey. And now that pooch is a touchstone for their sobriety. Animals do help you get and stay sober.
Lauren and Derek, for sharing your wonderful, heart-warming story, you`re going to get an autographed copy of my new book "I Want," plus a chance a trip to New York city and visit me on the set of ISSUES, and you can bring bailey, just as long as you don`t bring any Bailey`s Irish Cream with you. Way to go. Congrats.
All right, ESPN analyst Steve Phillips gets kicked to the curb. First, he was caught having an affair. Now he`s out of a job and headed for rehab. We`ll have all the latest details, but first, "Top of the Block" tonight.
The new Michael Jackson movie comes out tomorrow night. Don`t expect Joe Jackson to be waiting in line for tickets. MJ`s dad is ripping this movie. You know Joe.
He claims the producers used body doubles to impersonate the king of pop. The studio calls these claims pure garbage and they guarantee that every single tiny frame is "unquestionably Michael." "This Is It" focuses on the final rehearsals as Michael prepped for his London concert tours.
While it very well may be Michael Jackson in the entire movie, we do have to remember it`s only been four months since his tragic death, and I personally think this movie could be too much for some members of his family, even Joe.
That is tonight`s "Top of the Block."
Shocking, new developments in the scandal that has shaken ESPN: the network tells baseball commentator Steve Phillips, you are out.
The married broadcaster has been booted from his TV gig after being caught in a scandalous love triangle with this 22-year-old production assistant -- looks about 13 there. Here she is in a TMZ photo.
Now Steve is headed -- want to take a guess where he`s headed? To rehab, to quote, "address his personal issues."
My question tonight -- this isn`t the first time he has strayed. Is he just a plain old cheater, you know, the old-fashioned kind, or is he a sex addict?
This just in: the "New York post" reports he`s checked in to be treated for sexual addiction. I guess I answered my own question there.
The steamy affair with co-worker Brooke Hundley allegedly went from puppy love to fatal attraction fast. A nasty breakup led Brooke to reportedly harass Steve`s family. His wife Marni has now asked him for a divorce.
She`s the one who made this terrified 911 call when she found her husband`s mistress in her driveway.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MARNI PHILLIPS, STEVE PHILLIPS` WIFE: I have a crazy woman who is involved with my husband and she has come to my house to harm me and my children.
911 OPERATOR: Ok, ma`am, is she outside?
PHILLIPS: Yes. She is pulling down my hill right now. She is in a blue Prius. She just pulled past me.
911 OPERATOR: Ok, I`m sending officers right now. What`s your name ma`am?
PHILLIPS: Please hurry.
911 OPERATOR: They`re coming. They`re on their way.
PHILLIPS: Please hurry and catch her. She`s crazy.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Cops say Brooke also went after Phillips` 16-year-old son, sending him messages him on Facebook, posing as a fellow student, cyber-stalking him for information, allegedly, on his parents` relationship.
Now her ex-lover`s been canned, but Brooke`s MySpace page says she is hopeful that status could change soon. ESPN says Brooke is also "out of here."
Straight out to my fabulous expert panel: Terry Lyles, psychologist, what was this guy thinking? Do you think that he`s just, for lack of a better word -- I don`t know if I can say this on TV -- a horn dog, or is he a sex addict?
LYLES: Well, who knows getting into his mind and his motives, but I think we`ve got three issues. We`ve got the issue that now he`s going to this rehab to try to work on this now that his marriage is gone and, frankly, he messed with the wrong girl and she came after him.
You`ve got the affair issue; you also have the workplace issue that`s boundary-less. And then you have this stalking effect from this girl.
Whatever his causation was, he`s in pretty big trouble with his wife, now with the girl. His whole family was put in danger. I hope they can help him there, but sex is usually driven by something deeper than just sex itself.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me give you some evidence. Dr. Reef Karim, you`re the addiction specialist. You tell me, is he a sex addict?
Let`s take look at Steve Phillips` cheat sheet. 1998, manager of the New York Mets, he admits to having sex with a Mets employee. She sues him for sexual harassment. That case is settled out of court. He admits he cheated on his wife with other women, too.
2003, the Mets fire Steve not because of the harassment suit but certainly it doesn`t help.
Fast forward to today, rumors fly that Steve is a womanizer who seduces others, other females, possibly allegedly reportedly others at ESPN. He is fired from ESPN after admitting to this tumultuous affair with this ESPN production assistant.
Ok, Dr. Reef. Sex addict?
REEF KARIM, ADDICTION SPECIALIST: Well, that was a great build-up for me, Jane. Thanks.
So the million-dollar question, when does a womanizer become a sex addict? So let`s talk about sex addiction. It`s also called compulsive sexual behavior or hyper-sexuality. Essentially, it affects three percent to six percent, research studies show, of our country.
There`s definitely more in men than there is women. It`s based on having, as your other guest said, unresolved problems, either from childhood, trauma history, obsessional thinking, fantasies, impulsivity, or and you`re going to like this, co-morbid substance use or co-morbid mental health issues.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, we`re going -- hold on right there. We`re going to be back with more analysis of Steve Phillips` love triangle.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
911 OPERATOR: Did she confront you? Did she threaten you or anything?
MARNI PHILLIPS: She has been threatening me the entire (INAUDIBLE) and phone call.
911 OPERATOR: Ok, did anything happen when she showed up?
PHILLIPS: I was out, and when I pulled in my driveway she was on the side of my driveway.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was Marni Phillips, the scorned soon-to-be ex- wife of sports commentator -- actually ex-sports commentator -- Steve Phillips. He was given the boot today by ESPN for his scandalous affair with a 22-year-old staffer. He`s 46, she`s 22, so yes, half his age. He is heading straight to rehab to address personal issues.
Now, Tanya Acker, as an attorney could this also be a little bit of strategery (ph) as they say because if you`re an addict or an alcoholic and you tell your boss I`m an alcoholic and you go get help and you go to rehab, when you come back a lot of times you can get your job back.
TANYA ACKER, ATTORNEY: You can in some cases. But I think when you`re talking about a public figure and a public personality ESPN would be well within its rights to say, you know, addiction or no addiction or just being a horn dog or whoever, whatever you are, you simply you`re not the image, you`re not the public face that we can put out representing our network.
I think when you`re talking about media outlets and when you`re certainly talking about an outlet like ESPN, which is really -- that`s a family channel. People turn on and watch sports and they want their representatives, they want the people representing the network to represent those values. I don`t think there`s anything wrong with that.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, let`s talk about ESPN`s corporate culture, Terry Lyles, because Brooke Hundley got a restraining order, or tried to get one and in it, this is a court document, she claims she told a supervisor about Phillips` advances and was told to quote, "get used to it" end quote.
Now, if that`s true, do we also need to focus a little bit on the corporate culture? Because we know every corporation has its own culture.
LYLES: I agree. I mean, if that really took place, that`s an internal problem because that`s something you just don`t get used to. We`ve talked about this on other programs about other situations. And you know, sexual harassment and follow-through is not just about sex. It`s usually about power and control.
So there is a corporate issue that needs to be addressed. Again, it needs to go back to people need to understand this kind of behavior is not ok in the workplace.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And it may have a little something to do with the subject matter that they cover, which is sports, which is generally high testosterone.
LYLES: Yes, yes.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So there`s that issue, too. I mean, let`s point out the obvious, people. Right, Terry?
LYLES: It is.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Come on.
LYLES: It is, no, totally it is. I mean, there`s a lot of sport there. And you can say it`s a lot of testosterone-driven and it`s probably a lot of men and women that watch it.
But I think you`ve also got to look at it and say listen, this is an ongoing problem in corporate America today and it`s alarming to me -- I know it is to you -- that this kind of thing takes place.
First of all, Steve should have known better. You don`t work and play at the same place.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But let me jump in Terry, Dr. Reef Karim, addicts don`t know better. They can`t really be blamed for their behavior in the sense that they`re not in control of their behavior.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: How do you treat sex addiction, Dr. Reef?
KARIM: Jane, the big difference between a womanizer, meaning some guy in this case who has a problem with intimacy and problem with commitment, is completely different than a sex addict, somebody suffering from sex addiction.
Sex addiction involves problems with the same thing we talked about with alcohol, judgment, overall problem solving. There is impairment in somebody`s executive functioning; their ability to actually think through things; to reason things; to not act on impulse.
So sometimes it`s treated with medications. The majority of the time it`s treated therapeutically for somebody to understand how do you hit the pause button. How do you actually stop from engaging on your impulses and actually why are you engaging on impulses?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Got to leave it right there. If you`ve got an addiction, get help. You`re watching ISSUES.