CNN CNN


 

Return to Transcripts main page

ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL

Girl Gang-Raped Outside School Dance; Michael Jackson Doc Emerges Amid Controversy

Aired October 27, 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)

VINNIE POLITAN, SUBSTITUTE HOST (voice-over): Tonight, a young woman brutally gang-raped after a high school dance. Cops say this poor girl was waiting for her dad to come pick her up when she was assaulted, raped and brutalized for 2 1/2 hours. Cops say as many as 15 people stood around and watched as this young woman was nearly raped to death. This is beyond horrific. How can something like this happen on school property?

And coping with tragedy. La Toya Jackson now says Michael Jackson`s three children are in therapy as they struggle with their father`s death. Meanwhile, Michael`s movie debuts today, but is it too soon for his heartbroken family?

Also, disturbing insight into the David Letterman sexual affair. A former female staffer pulls back the curtain on "The Late Show" atmosphere, calling the office a hostile work environment that is demeaning to women, and that`s just the beginning. Rumors of sex, promotions and secret affairs. We`ll have all of the sexual details.

Plus, chilling, new development in the Somer Thompson murder. Could this be the work of a serial child killer? The 7-year-old was kidnapped and murdered while walking home from school. The killer, still on the loose. Now, cops believe the person responsible may have attacked before. We`ll take a look.

ISSUES starts now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

POLITAN: Good evening. I`m Vinnie Politan in for Jane Velez- Mitchell.

Tonight a hideous crime, just steps away from a crowded high-school dance. A 15-year-old girl was gang raped for 2 1/2 hours. She had just left a homecoming dance Saturday night when she was lured into a dark courtyard and attacked.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SGT. BISA FRENCH, RICHMOND, CALIFORNIA, POLICE DEPARTMENT: We discovered a 15-year-old juvenile who had been brutally assaulted, and we discovered her just outside of Richmond High School.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

POLITAN: Now the victim is expected to recover from her physical injuries, but there`s no telling what the psychological toll will be. Police say as the girl was being brutally raped and beaten, more than ten kids watched and did absolutely nothing to stop it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LT. MARK GAGAN, RICHMOND POLICE DEPARTMENT: Their behavior was either not (UNINTELLIGIBLE), not get involved, and not tell us. Just sit there and observe it or, in some cases, to get involved and to commit crimes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

POLITAN: Police have arrested two people they think were involved in the attack. A 15-year-old classmate of the victim`s and a 19-year-old former student, Manuel Ortega.

Police say when they got to the scene Ortega took off running. Now police say the victim drank alcohol before this attack and may have been drugged. Investigators think some of the witnesses took pictures of the rape and possibly cell phone video. Hopefully, some of that evidence will lead to more arrests. This whole thing is truly horrific.

Now out to my guests tonight: criminal defense attorney Bradford Cohen; psychotherapist Robi Ludwig; criminal defense attorney Jayne Weintraub; Don Clark, former FBI special agent in charge; and Henry Lee, reporter for "The San Francisco Chronicle."

Henry, let me start with you. What is the latest in this unbelievable investigation and story?

HENRY LEE, REPORTER, "THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE": A horrific incident indeed. Police tell me today more arrests are possible. Right now we have a 15-year-old boy in custody, as well as a 19-year-old man, a former student at Richmond High School. They expect to have many more arrests in this case. Very terrible case indeed.

POLITAN: Now, are investigators saying that people are talking? Because this is a whole crowd of kids that are supposed to be at this gang rape, some of them watching, some of them taking part. Are people talking?

LEE: What`s interesting is they are telling me that people are talking, but the key suspects that they have in custody are showing absolutely no remorse. Keep in mind that the police are telling us that these -- these assailants were taking photos of the victim, laughing, almost not caring about the sheer horror that this girl must have been experiencing at the time and now.

POLITAN: Yes. Well, it`s hard to understand how no one helped this girl. I`m not just talking about the kids who gathered around and watched the attack.

Here`s a Google street view now of the high school, where hundreds of students attended a homecoming dance. They were also teachers, chaperones and four police officers there that night. This whole school is surrounded by homes. There`s some small businesses there. And this attack, don`t forget, it went on for over two hours.

Robi Ludwig, are you shocked that no one called police until later that night? Or is this the kind of thing where people, "You know what? I don`t want to get involved?"

ROBI LUDWIG, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: You know, I am shocked. And the only thing that I could say is that perhaps people were so in shock that they were somehow in denial.

Sometimes when you watch a group engaging in an activity, somehow the brain can say, "Oh, well, maybe this makes sense." But this is very disturbing. And I wonder if somehow these kids growing up in -- having access to the Internet and perhaps porn sites, somehow desensitized them to when they see violence going on and that they don`t realize, hey, this is something serious that is harming somebody, and therefore don`t take the necessary steps.

POLITAN: Yes, this is so troubling. Don Clark, I want to bring you in on the investigation here. Police are obviously -- there`s tons of witnesses here.

DON CLARK, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: Yes.

POLITAN: Tons of witnesses. Is that key to this case, or is the key going to be in finding those photographs that may have been taken? Because fortunately, kids who commit crimes these days are stupid. They record this stuff on their phones. They post this stuff on the Internet. Where do you think the real breaks are going to come here?

CLARK: Well, I think the real breaks are going to come from right at that scene. You`re going to have forensic evidence that you`re going to develop from the people that`s been arrested so far, as well as this young lady and what she`s gone through. So that`s going to be the immediacy.

But then this is priority is, Vinnie, is to really identify the people who were actively involved in this. Now, it`s bad enough the people watching, but the people who were actively involved in this, they`ve got enough people around there. And no matter whether those two or three that they`ve got arrested are not talking right now, trust me, the law enforcement community has to get out there and identify all the rest of those people, and somebody will eventually talk.

POLITAN: All right, now police say some kids who watched the attack laughed about it, took pictures with their cell phones. Now their behavior, clearly reprehensible, but is it criminal? Check out this clip from CNN NEWSROOM.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL CALLAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: This is something that absolutely shocks people, that you can have bystanders witnessing a crime. They have no legal obligation to call the police. They cannot be prosecuted.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

POLITAN: All right, Jayne, do you agree, if these kids were cheering, egging on the attacker, saying, "Go, go, go," could they be prosecuted for that?

JAYNE WEINTRAUB, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, you know there is a close line of what is an aider or abetter. Certainly, you know, mere presence and just watching somebody does not make you an aider and abetter.

If you`re enticing, encouraging, goading on, causing in some way, doing something overtly to cause the act to continue, perhaps you could be looked at as an aider or abetter.

But there`s no doubt, Vinnie, that morally culpable, 100 percent. Legally culpable probably not at all. Only for the participants.

POLITAN: Bradford Cohen, I want to throw this at you. We don`t know if any pictures exist of this, but what if this 15-year-old girl is now videotaped, being raped? That sounds like a crime to me if you`re videotaping this stuff.

BRADFORD COHEN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: If they disseminate that - - that videotape in any way, if they post it in any way, if they keep it on their phone and they show other kids or show other people, now you`re getting into an area where definitely it would be a felony offense. And I would imagine that the police would absolutely prosecute these kids that would disseminate that or have that on their phone or at least consider it.

Because the -- when you look at the morality where no one reported it, these cops are going to look to see what they can file on these kids. And Jayne`s absolutely right, but if they were egging them on, if they were saying -- cheering them on, I think the police are going to look to prosecute these individuals. Because morally, if you get this in front of a jury, they`re going to feel that a jury would convict in terms of someone egging someone on, saying, "Go, go, go" or do whatever they are doing. It`s really a disgusting thing that happened.

POLITAN: Henry Lee from "The San Francisco Chronicle." How about this area, this high school? What`s the reaction been there locally? I mean, people have to be outraged. But these are the children of the high school who are taking part and cheering on this whole thing.

LEE: That`s right and, keep in mind, as any high school you can imagine in America, Vinnie, you`ve got cliques of students who are -- you`ve got the people who really don`t do well to the people who excel, who take A.P. classes. You`ve got the band. You`ve got people in different walks of life that they are all sharing the horror, Vinnie, that this has happened at Richmond High School.

It is a working-class neighborhood and some hardscrabble areas in the city. It has seen its share of crime. But this has even shocked the conscience of many veteran police officers, students, alumni, and certainly administrators and staff.

POLITAN: All right, Don Clark, how do you get these kids to talk, you know? Because kids, they don`t want to be the one who`s ratting out their friends. They don`t want to be the one of the group of ten or 15 who actually turn state`s evidence and is the one who spills the bean on the whole -- whole crew.

How do you deal with, you know, whether it`s a 15- or 16-year-old boy, and you`re interrogating him, trying to get him to tell the truth? How do you get through them? How do you crack him?

CLARK: Well, first of all, you`re going to have to try to identify those who may likely have some of the information and get all of them there, but then you know what, Vinnie? You`re going to have to go to the parents of some of these 14-, 15-year-olds.

And I don`t know what kind of neighborhood it is, the economic level, because there are good people in any one of them. And fine now, because I`m going to bet that many of those parents would not really support their kids being around this type of thing and, certainly, if they can cooperate -- and I`ve experienced it, Vinnie, on my own. I`ve taken kids to parents, and parents have said to these kids in this particular lingo, "Boy you sit down and talk to that man." And I think you`ll have...

WEINTRAUB: Here`s what they`re looking at it, Don. You know, if a 15-year-old is looking to be prosecuted as an adult, you know, I don`t know if the parents are going to be so willing to tell the kid, you know, "spill the beans" without a deal.

I think the answer is it`s a squeeze play. You squeeze the juvenile to testify against the adults. That`s what police normally do.

POLITAN: Well, Bradford, how about -- Bradford, how about if it is someone who is just an onlooker? And you don`t have to give them a deal, do you, because you can`t prosecute them for anything?

COHEN: Well...

WEINTRAUB: Someone who`s just an onlooker, not somebody committing a crime.

COHEN: And who knows what they did in terms if they were active participants, if they were egging people on. Again, I do find that quite - - it happens in quite a few cases, where the parents do say, "Tell this man the truth." And you`re thinking...

POLITAN: That`s what we need. We need some honesty here. Somebody in Richmond, please.

COHEN: That`s what happens.

POLITAN: More on this horrific gang rape. In just a minute, much more on this. We`re also taking your calls: 1-877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 1-877- 586-7297.

Plus, Michael Jackson`s new movie hits theaters today, but is it too soon for his family? We`ll take a look at it as his children try to cope with Michael`s death.

But first, a teenaged girl viciously gang-raped outside a high school dance. The attack lasted 2 1/2 hours. How could anyone do this?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GAGAN: I remember thinking that it`s something out of a Hollywood movie. It`s so extremely vicious and absolutely unnecessary.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRENCH: Officers then discovered a 15-year-old female lying beneath one of the benches. We found her lying there. And she was unconscious.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

POLITAN: I`m Vinnie Politan in for Jane Velez-Mitchell. That was an investigator in Richmond, California, a community shocked by a horrific school crime.

Police say a 15-year-old girl was gang raped and beaten outside a school dance, while classmates watched. Police have made two arrests and expect to make several more.

Now back to my expert panel.

Henry Lee, can you describe where the dance was taking place versus where the attack took place? How would you describe the lay of the land there? And did the school have security cameras in place?

LEE: That`s right. The gym was the location of this homecoming dance, which went from 7 until 11 p.m. Saturday. This attack occurred over several hours in a -- in a separate part of campus in a secluded part of the campus. There were four police officers and several school site supervisors, but the district sups, district officials tell me they did send two of the supervisors home because the cops said they can handle it.

Now clearly, the dance was a safe one, but beyond that, clearly, it was anything but safe.

POLITAN: And all of this was taking place outside of the dance, but it did take place on school grounds. So the question here is, is the school liable? A spokesman for the school district says once a student leaves a school function, they are not responsible for the student`s safety.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARIN TRUJILLO, WEST CONTRA COSTA UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT SPOKESMAN: Our assumption is that when parents bring their kids to school -- to the dance that they also arrange for a safe ride back. If kids wish to leave in the middle of the dance, we assume that they have a safe ride back. There`s -- there is a limit to what we can do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

POLITAN: All right, Bradford Cohen, does the victim`s family have a case against the school? No school cameras, no security cameras being used that night. What do you think?

COHEN: Listen, anybody can sue anyone. It`s a decision whether or not they can actually succeed in that lawsuit. In this case I think there were statements made that there was poor lighting in that area, that they knew that it was a troubled area over there.

I mean, I think that the statements are really going to come back to haunt them. There`s no security cameras around. They figure the kid has a safe ride just because they leave the dance early. I think it`s definitely riding on the edge. I would imagine they`re probably going to file a lawsuit against the school, as well.

POLITAN: All right, Jayne Weintraub, they file a lawsuit, will they be successful? Should the school be legally responsible here? She left the dance, was waiting for her dad and then got lured into another part, but still on school grounds.

WEINTRAUB: Absolutely, Vinnie. I mean, let`s remember: this is a school event. And not even just talking in terms of a lawsuit, but let`s talk as parents and as reasonable people. This spokesperson just said that he assumed that they have a ride? Well, I assume when I send my kid to school they`re going to be safe on school property.

Where was the supervision? I mean, I know at our high school in our area the kids can`t leave before 11 p.m., and they have to have a signed contract of where and who is taking them and transporting them.

We have to be vigilant together. Parents and the school.

But as far as a lawsuit, I think it`s a no-brainer, unfortunately, because the bigger issue is, as a community, why is everybody just passing the buck?

POLITAN: Let`s find out what the folks at home think. Sharon in Virginia is on the line. Good evening, Sharon.

CALLER: Hi, how are you?

POLITAN: Good, Sharon.

CALLER: Yes. I was gang raped at gun point at age 16 by seven boys and men. And I think this is outrageous. The main thing what kills me is that there were four police officers there. Two of them should have been outside where they were needed. And this child, I mean, I have emotional scars. She`s going to have them.

And Robin[SIC] Ludwig, the onlookers were so deep and shocked that their brain said it was OK? Honey, we don`t need your opinion, OK, because you haven`t been there. But dear God, you know.

LUDWIG: Now I`m not saying -- I`m not saying that that`s OK.

CALLER: I don`t think the school should be charged, that they need to be in on trying to get these students...

POLITAN: Absolutely, Sharon. Sharon, thanks so much for sharing your story with us.

Robi Ludwig, we have to let you respond to that so you can clarify.

LUDWIG: Yes. Listen, I was not saying it`s OK to be an onlooker and doing nothing. When somebody asks me for a psychological explanation, it is my role to explain all the various possibilities. That is not saying that what these kids did were right in any way, shape or form.

And I do think the school should be responsible. This was a school function. So nothing about this was right.

And I think that we should be concerned just in general that we are seeing more violence amongst younger and younger students and population. There -- that`s a serious problem we need to address even as a culture.

POLITAN: Yes and Robi, big difference between -- between explaining the conduct and excusing the conduct, and make that clear.

LUDWIG: Absolutely.

POLITAN: To everybody.

LUDWIG: Absolutely, thank you.

POLITAN: Let`s go to Don Clark. I want to go to Don Clark. Don, because the security is an issue here. Let`s say, you know, you`ve got a school dance, 400 kids inside. Where do you put the security personnel? Do you put them all inside? Should there be people patrolling outside? Remember, this alleged attack went over the course of two hours.

CLARK: Yes, yes, of course, now you can`t -- you can`t put them all in any one place because you`ve got kids there. They`ve got to come and they do go, whether they go in or out or not or they go to meet their families to be picked up or whatever, you cannot allow -- the school cannot allow them to be unsupervised at any point that they`re on that grounds, unless of course, they come on that grounds and not knowing that this was a function.

So I think the school should have had much better security there. Particularly, somebody should have been watching if a young girl leaves the door and walks out in what may be dim light or no light whatsoever, somebody should had been there to say, "No, kid, you`re going to wait until your parents get here."

POLITAN: Absolutely.

COHEN: Vinnie, this wasn`t a secret. I mean, there was ten to 15 kids cheering or yelling it on and no one noticed?

POLITAN: That`s the troubling thing. Because all these kids are involved. You know these kids are talking to each other, and no one`s got their hand on the pulse of what`s going on.

Thanks so much to my fantastic panel.

Coming up, one former Letterman employee is speaking out about her experience working with that famous host.

And after the break, the Jackson family`s agony. How are the kids coping, and would the King of Pop even want "This is It" released?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

POLITAN: Now to a look at Michael Jackson, the father and performer, like you`ve never seen him. Trust me.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL JACKSON, SINGER: I love you. I really do.

You`re family. Just know that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

POLITAN: "This is It" hitting theaters as we speak. For devoted fans, a hugely anticipated event, but for Jackson`s immediate family, maybe not so much.

First, controversy over whether Michael would have even wanted this rehearsal footage to be seen by the public. Sister La Toya has said no.

CNN`s John Roberts asked director Kenny Ortega about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KENNY ORTEGA, DIRECTOR: I don`t agree with it, but at the same time I respect, you know, La Toya`s concerns. Michael was a perfectionist. What this is, is a great celebration. I mean, master of his craft. And it is a privileged peek at, you know, at the creative process of a genius.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

POLITAN: As for La Toya, best known to ISSUES viewers for this clip from TMZ.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: La Toya, do you still believe in a conspiracy?

LA TOYA JACKSON, MICHAEL JACKSON`S SISTER: Murder, I think that someone did it, it`s murder. That`s my opinion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

POLITAN: La Toya`s still mixing it up in the media. She`s now telling the U.K. "Mirror" that Michael`s devastated children are in therapy. The saddest of the kids, little Blanket, who reportedly cries nonstop. Listen, can you really blame him?

Joining me now with more behind-the-scenes scoop about Paris, Prince and Blanket and, of course, the movie, Ken Baker, executive news editor of "E!"

Welcome, Ken.

First of all, according to a late-breaking report, Michael`s kids plan to watch this film about their dad at their own private screening? Do you think that movie screening is going to make matters better or worse for these three kids?

KEN BAKER, EXECUTIVE NEWS EDITOR, "E!": Well, you know, it`s hard to say. Myself I`m going to be seeing the movie in a few hours. Downtown L.A. there are screenings happening all night, and I`ll be able to give you more information on that.

But from what I know about this, it is a very emotional time for the kids right now. Their father is plastered everywhere around Los Angeles. They live right down the street from this studio I`m in right now, and you can`t go anywhere in L.A. without seeing a bus or a billboard or something with Michael Jackson on it. They are fully aware of this. They want to see it.

And you know, particularly the older children, I mean, you know, you`re talking 12, 11 years old, they want to see something, you know, that`s of their father. I think it would be hard to say, no.

At the same time, though, La Toya Jackson did give an interview to "The Mirror" in the U.K., and it really was very touching, I have to tell you. I mean, she said that Paris does cry all the time, that the children are very sad. They miss their dad. They talk about him all the time. And I think it`s going to be a really, really difficult time for them.

I mean, look, it`s -- the grieving process is hard enough. They`re doing it in the glare of the media. There`s paparazzi staked outside of their house every day, and I think it`s really hard. They`ve been put back into a little bit of a shell. They`re being homeschooled now. Their caretaker`s a 79-year-old grandmother who needs a lot of help from aunts and uncles.

And I think, like right now the movie`s coming out, it`s a night of celebration for Michael Jackson, and hopefully, the kids maybe will get uplifted at least somewhat in a very difficult time.

POLITAN: Why is it that we always hear about La Toya? She`s the one that`s always making the headlines when it comes to Michael. What was their relationship at the end?

BAKER: Well, you know La Toya actually was very close to Michael. She was close to the kids. She would visit the home a lot when he was living in L.A. the last year or so.

But the thing is that, you know, I can`t prove this to you, but the rumor`s always been that La Toya does get paid for a lot of interviews. Perhaps she was paid for this interview at the London "Mirror" newspaper. Whatever the...

POLITAN: Wait a minute. Are you saying a member of the Jackson family is trying to profit from all of this? Breaking news, grab the headlines.

BAKER: I know. Hard to believe.

POLITAN: We appreciate your time.

All right, coming up, a former female Letterman writer spills the inside secrets on what it was like working for Letterman.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

POLITAN: Disturbing insight into the David Letterman sexual affair: a former female staffer pulls back the curtain on the late show atmosphere calling the office a hostile work environment that is demeaning to women and that`s just the beginning.

Plus, chilling new developments in the Somer Thompson murder: could this be the work of a serial child killer? The 7-year-old was kidnapped and murdered while walking home from school and the killer is still on the loose. Now cops believe the person responsible may have attacked before.

In the spotlight tonight: shocking and scandalous new accusations from inside the David Letterman camp. What`s it like to be a female comedy writer in the late night man`s world? Apparently not so great. Here`s a story that you will only see on ISSUES.

Nell Scovell was one the few women ever hired to write jokes for Dave`s show. Now she`s spilling all Letterman`s secrets in the new issue of "Vanity Fair." Nell writes behind the scenes of the late-show was a hostile sexually-charged male-dominant environment, inter-office affairs and preferential treatment of certain women, eventually led Nell to quit.

Last month Letterman was caught up in a $2 million blackmail plot. The scandal forced Dave to sexed up female staffers.

Here he is on CBS` "The Late Show".

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID LETTERMAN, CBS HOST, "THE DAVE LETTERMAN SHOW": I have had sex with women who work on this show. And -- and would it be embarrassing if it were made public? Perhaps it would. Perhaps it would, especially for the women.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

POLITAN: Nell says Dave never hit on her, but did give her some extra attention, enough for people to start talking a little bit about her. She knew Dave had sex with staffers and says those women did get more opportunities just like alleged hook-ups Stephanie Birkitt -- there she is in a photo from the news Web site (INAUDIBLE).

Now the sexual tension made Nell feel demeaned. She writes, "Sexual politics did play a major part. I walked away from my dream job."

So is this business as usual in the late night comedy culture? It sounds like a little bit of sexism to me.

Right now, out to my expert panel: also joining us now, Amy Palmer from "In Touch Weekly". First off though Jayne Weintraub, the women involved aren`t complaining because you know what, they`re the ones getting the perks but how about the women who aren`t sleeping with Dave? Do they have some sort of case here?

JAYNE WEINTRAUB, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, it depends on what the complaint is. I mean, are they complaining...

POLITAN: The complaint is, "I work in a place and everybody that sleeps with Dave they get to do little bits. They get to go to the Olympics. They get all the prime positions. And you know what I`m not sleeping with him and I`m not getting them."

WEINTRAUB: And you know Vinnie, it`s not just restricted to the "Dave Letterman Show". This is an old-age problem that women face and the only way it will change, frankly, is when the men step up to the plate in the workplace and say, "Hey, cut it out."

Or, don`t advance somebody because of it. That`s when it`s going to change. It`s cultural. And it`s not a matter of whether or not somebody is harmed watching it.

(CROSS TALK)

POLITAN: Robi Ludwig, we talk about these sexually charged environment and atmosphere; it`s a bunch of guys working, it`s like a locker room. How does a woman cope with that? And why do guys do that?

ROBI LUDWIG, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: You know, I think guys sometimes think that they`re joking and being funny. In some cases it`s because they devalue women.

It`s a way to feel powerful but in some cases it is innocent. Certain women are able to find a way to joke it off. In other cases it`s not so innocent.

POLITAN: All right how about this though, Dr. Robi? Those are the comments and maybe the jokes that are made amongst writers but how about when the guys up on top are sleeping with the women who work there? That`s not so innocent.

LUDWIG: Right, no. And you either can say something. But the bottom line is there does have to be a greater, kind of restructuring. If people at the top are doing it and ok`ing it then I guess that`s when the law comes in to try to say, "Hey, this not right."

But certainly what you could do if you`re a woman in that situation, you could say, "I`m uncomfortable." Do your job as it`s supposed to be done and try to find an environment that is better suited for you.

But I agree with Jayne. This is kind of a culturally-entrenched issue that needs to be addressed sometimes legally.

POLITAN: All right. Amy Palmer, what sort of repercussions are we going to have here for "The Late Show" and for the career of David Letterman now that we`re starting to hear more and more? And if there`s ever a criminal trial for the man alleged of extorting David Letterman we`re going to hear a lot more detail.

AMY PALMER, IN TOUCH WEEKLY: Yes, absolutely but the thing is this, I don`t think Dave`s audience is going to stray from him. I think they`re pretty loyal.

What I do think is that this is going to be David Letterman`s legacy. Yes, he is one of the late night legends, as we would say it, but what he is doing is he`s actually opened a dialogue for people in this country to talk about power in the workplace and that`s what`s happening. That`s what we`re talking about.

So while as we know him as I great comedian we`re talking about this issue which I think is a great step.

POLITAN: Yes but trust me, if Dave had his choice we wouldn`t be talking about this right now.

PALMER: But we are. We are and I think that that`s a step forward. And listen, this has been happening forever, you`re right. But now we`re talking about it. And maybe the writer who wrote this in "Vanity Fair," if this happened now she would feel a little more brave when she went into Letterman`s office when he asked her, why you are leaving?

She says in the article, "I had to lie and say I missed L.A." She didn`t say because it`s a hostile working environment and I`m uncomfortable. Maybe now a young woman will see this and say, "I`m going to speak up."

(CROSS TALK)

WEINTRAUB: Exactly.

POLITAN: Let me give some legal advice though to that woman. Rather than going to Dave`s office, stop off at HR before you go there and talk to human resources and file some report and then go see Dave afterwards.

LUDWIG: And what would have happened if he was popular back in the day, maybe nothing. And that`s a big risk for people to take. You know, I`m stating something and nothing`s happening. How important am I or not important?

POLITAN: Yes.

WEINTRAUB: And Dave kept asking. And maybe, maybe if she had told Dave Letterman and Dave Letterman says, "Gee, I didn`t even realize that," maybe it would have sensitized him or brought his awareness up and maybe she would still be working there.

POLITAN: Jayne, am I sensing a little bit of sympathy for Dave Letterman? Are you a fan?

WEINTRAUB: I am a fan. But sympathy, no.

POLITAN: Yes, ok, good.

(CROSS TALK)

POLITAN: Because that`s not the Jayne I know.

LUDWIG: I do have a question, though, if Dave was asking on a regular basis like why you are leaving, why you are leaving? I wonder why on some level he sensed that maybe something was off and he really was curious. Because sometimes when you are engaged in a behavior you`re not always aware of how it`s impacting others.

WEINTRAUB: That`s a possibility too.

POLITAN: All right now Nell says the happiest, the absolute happiest day of her life was here first day working on "The Late Show with Dave Letterman" but sexual innuendoes quickly pushed things downhill. Quote, "On my last day at "Late Night", Dave summoned me to his office and pressed me on why I was quitting the show. I considered telling him the truth but with Dave`s rumored mistress within ear shot I balked."

Jayne, this woman says she`s not looking for a lawsuit she just wants to tell her story.

WEINTRAUB: Now 20 years later and why?

POLITAN: But what if other female employees start to come forward with similar stories? Could that mean David Letterman and his world wide pants are going to get sued?

WEINTRAUB: It would -- no. First of all she`s not going to sue him and second of all, the statute of limitations is run.

But most important issue as Amy was saying before is, Dave obviously asked about it and it concerned him. He didn`t want her to leave and he wanted to know why she was leaving. And if he were confronted and was given the opportunity to deal with it then we might not be sitting here today.

But maybe because women are harder on other women and it`s...

(CROSS TALK)

POLITAN: Oh they absolutely are. Robi Ludwig -- let`s talk about that -- are women harder on other women and are we kind of soft for a guy that makes us laugh?

LUDWIG: I think that women are harder on other women and I think for some reason we`re willing to give Dave, I don`t know, we`re willing to look at him in a different kind of way and I`m not exactly sure why that is. I guess because he admitted he was wrong. He brought awareness. And one know could kind of see...

POLITAN: He made a joke about it too, sort of.

LUDWIG: Yes he made a joke about it. He`s not proud of himself. He`s aware he did something wrong. And I think a lot of people don`t know how to handle power especially when they`re successful men. We see this all the time. This is not a new story at all.

POLITAN: And Amy Palmer...

WEINTRAUB: Vinnie, can I just say one thing?

POLITAN: Of course, Jayne.

WEINTRAUB: Let`s not forget here, Dave Letterman was the victim and let`s make no mistake about this; this was an extortion.

POLITAN: Wait a minute, Jayne. What happened to the presumption of innocence?

WEINTRAUB: Dave Letterman...

(CROSS TALK)

POLITAN: For David?

WEINTRAUB: Dave Letterman had the right and the courage to say, "I may be a celebrity, I may be this, but you know what I`m a person and I have got a son and I have a wife and I will not let you do this to me."

POLITAN: True, true.

WEINTRAUB: He went to the authorities and you have to give him credit.

POLITAN: Absolutely. He could have tried to buy the guy off and everything else. He did do the right thing by going to the authorities.

Amy Palmer, do you think that the rest of the entertainment world and the talk shows have been giving David a break because everybody wants Dave to be their friend and wants to be invited on the show and wants to kind of laugh this whole thing off?

PALMER: Sure, if you think about it, I think about two weeks ago, Jimmy Kimmel came out and said I`m dating one of my writers. I also think that what he`s done is he`s shown other people in television you can get into a lot of trouble for this. So I think that late night crew are kind of they`re banding together and saying, "I`m sleeping with my writer too. Let me just come right out and say this."

And like I said it`s starting a dialogue that`s needed and why not have this trickle down into corporate America, where trust me, this is happening all over the place.

POLITAN: All right, thank you, ladies. I hope I didn`t sexually charge the environment during that segment.

Now, if you follow Jane on Facebook you know that she sent a big shout-out to all of you who helped her catapult her book "I Want" onto the "New York Times" best-seller list. Please keep that momentum going by ordering a copy for yourself and anyone that you care about, go to cnn.com/Jane or your local bookstore.

Now we`ve got new drama in the Steve Phillips sexual soap opera. Just one day after being released from ESPN, Brooke Hundley is firing back and you won`t believe these accusations.

Plus, who killed Somer Thompson? The murderer is still on the loose but could this cute little girl be the latest victim of a serial killer? We`re taking your calls: 1-877-JVM-SAYS; that`s 1-877-586-7297.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

POLITAN: Somer Thompson was kidnapped and murdered on her way home from school. The killer is still on the loose but could this be the work of a serial child killer? That`s coming up.

But first "Top of the Block" tonight: the plot thickens in the Steve Phillips` sexual affair turned fatal attraction. The former sports analyst checked into a sexual rehab center but in the meantime his family is still suffering from his mistakes.

According to Phillips` agent the kids are a mess and they were extremely scared by Brooke Hundley`s actions. You really have to feel sorry for the family here. They had nothing to do with the affair but now while dad`s off in rehab, they`re smack-dab in the spotlight.

Meanwhile, ESPN is now being thrown into the mix. According to the "New York Post" Brooke Hundley filed a restraining order against Phillips two months ago claiming Phillips pressured her for sex. But when she brought this up to her superiors over at ESPN she was told, quote, "Get used to it."

I don`t think we`ve heard the last of this story and that`s tonight`s "Top of the Block".

Tonight, hundreds gather around a tiny coffin strewn with purple flowers to mourn the death of 7-year-old Somer Thompson. Meanwhile, the little girl`s killer is still on the loose. And police fear he could be a serial child predator.

"America`s Most Wanted`s" John Walsh warned, he thinks this murderer can`t and won`t stop. Here he is on ABC`s "Good Morning, America".

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ADAM WALSH, HOST, "AMERICA`S MOST WANTED": The sheriff and I both feel that it was a predator who`s probably done it before. I don`t know if it`s the same guy. But 20 years ago there were four kidnappings in the Jacksonville area of small children under the same circumstances after school or on their way to the buses that were never solved.

So I would hate to think that this is a serial child killer who has raised his ugly head. I`ve seen this happen before. Rapists and child killers come out of retirement because they can`t stop.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

POLITAN: Four other unsolved cases in the area, is there some sort of a connection? Plus, more mind-boggling new clues: new reports out that police records show just hours before Somer was found dead, cops arrested four men for robbery at her home. We`re trying to confirm this with police right now.

And cops are still scouring this creepy abandoned house. It`s the last place Somer was seen alive. Brand-new reports a registered sex offender was working on that site. He`s allegedly been interrogated for hours by cops.

So many questions tonight.

Back out to my expert panel; also joining us tonight, special guest, Samuel Thompson, little Somer`s father.

Samuel, thank you so much for taking some time and speaking with us. First of all, how are you doing tonight? How are you coping with all of this?

SAMUEL THOMPSON, SOMER THOMPSON`S FATHER: All I can say is I`m -- I`m handling it just as any father would whose daughter has been taken from him. It`s been really hard. But all the love and support that everybody throughout the country -- and it fills your heart with love. It helps you go on minute by minute.

POLITAN: And how about Somer`s twin brother, how`s he doing?

THOMPSON: Ah, Somer`s twin brother, he`s -- he`s taking it real hard. At the church today I asked him how he was doing, and you know he just gave me a thumbs down.

And you know that was his best friend. That was his twin sister. And it`s going to be a long healing process for him.

POLITAN: That`s got to break your heart to understand -- let`s get to the investigation now. What are detectives telling you now -- because we`re hearing lots of reports? I got to think and I`ve got to believe and I`ve got to hope and pray that they are making a lot of progress here.

What are your thoughts, your feelings from your discussions with detectives? What are they saying to you?

THOMPSON: Well from the discussions that I`ve had with the detectives -- first I want to tell you that I`ve asked the Lord to lead them and guide them to the man who did this. But when I look at these detectives I see fire in their eyes. They`re mad. They`re upset. And they`re warriors for crime and they`re going to find this guy and I almost get the impression that they know who did it.

But you know there`s not a lot that they can tell me or tell anyone right now. They`re keeping a lid on everything. But let me tell you what, the crew they`ve got working on this, I would be -- I would not want to be the person that they were hunting down because these are some serious guys.

POLITAN: Yes. How about your plans now -- because you`re not from the area, you live in another state -- how long are you going to stay in town? And how much interaction are you going to have with your 7-year-old son?

THOMPSON: Well, I plan to stay -- I plan to stay here for a few days. We`re working on the interaction with the children. There`s some issues between the mother and I.

POLITAN: Sure.

THOMPSON: But God bless her and I just pray and ask God to give her peace. And to help her with her healing, you know?

POLITAN: Do you have a message for the man responsible for this?

THOMPSON: Oh, yes. First off, I want to tell you that the Bible tells me that I have to forgive you. And I forgive you for what you`ve done.

But I`m going to tell you right now, we`re going to hunt you down. You can`t run. You can`t hide. There`s not a rock you can get behind. We`re going to hunt you down, and you`re going to pay. You`re going to pay for what you did to my daughter. And God`s got a special place for you too in hell.

And I just thank everybody who`s on this case.

POLITAN: Yes. I mean, at this -- at this point, though, you are feeling some confidence that police have the fire in their eyes, that they are getting closer to make some sort of breakthrough here?

THOMPSON: Yes, sir. I have every bit of confidence in the detectives in this town. They`re a sharp crew and I wouldn`t be surprised if they have him tomorrow.

POLITAN: All right.

Everyone, stay right where you are. What we`re going to do is move on; poor little Somer Thompson and the hunt for her killer. We`re taking your calls.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DIENA THOMPSON, MOTHER OF SOMER THOMPSON: I did her hair for her in the morning; put it up in a ponytail. I can`t even remember if I told her I loved her. I went to work and told them to have a good day. She wasn`t feeling well and I told her just try to go to school, if you need me call me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

POLITAN: That was the mother of 7-year-old Somer Thompson, brutally murdered by a monster who dumped her body in a pile of trash. Her murderer is on the loose and cops believe her killer may have attacked before.

I want to bring back in our expert panel. Of course, thank Samuel Thompson, Somer`s dad, who joined us previously.

You know, a construction worker reportedly renovated the abandoned house where Somer was last seen, is a registered sex offender. The house has been vacant for months and is being fixed up by a local construction company.

The owner`s brother, George Vinson, was working on the house. Here`s his photo from the Florida sex offender registry. Vinson is listed as committing lewd and lascivious acts against a child. That usually means he either fondled or assaulted a child or committed sexual acts on a child or in front of one.

Vinson`s sister spoke to local affiliates and said George was interrogated by police for hours. We still don`t know if they`re considering him a suspect.

Don Clark, what do you make of this development in the case?

DON CLARK, FORMER FBI AGENT: Well, I think it`s a good lead for the police, Vinnie. And they`ve got to take these leads. I mean, that lead is right there. But I`m sure they`re not just solely focusing on that.

You know, I have to give this police department -- and I agree with the father -- a real good applause on what they have done. They`ve been innovative in their investigation. They`ve joined with the evidence response team, with the FBI and some of the other law enforcement.

So I think they`re really going down the right path. And the leads come out. And these cases are difficult. And I think the public know by now is that it`s not "CSI" where it`s finished in 60 minutes. They`re very, very difficult. I think they`ve got to develop the evidence.

But they`ve got to follow leads just like the one like that you just mentioned about the guy who`s a registered sex offender. You can`t just brush that off.

POLITAN: No, you can`t. Shocking new reports, records from the Clay County sheriff`s office reportedly show four men were arrested for armed robbery at Somer`s home just hours before the cops found the little girl`s body.

Now, we don`t know if this reported robbery has any relation to the kidnapping and murder; police being very tight-lipped about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHERIFF RICK BESELER, CLAY COUNTY, FLORIDA: You know, we have a suspect out there somewhere who`s watching this broadcast right now. And I don`t want to tell that suspect what we`re doing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I understand.

BESELER: But I will tell him this. We`re coming to get him. And we`re going to find who did this and we`re going to bring that person to justice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

POLITAN: Now, the men are reportedly being held without bond in the Clay County jail. We tried to confirm these details with the sheriff`s office, not heard back from them yet.

Bradford Cohen, is this some sort of a connection, do you think it`s possible?

BRADFORD COHEN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Sure. Anything`s possible. I think what the police are doing which is the most important is that they`re keeping tight-lipped about this. This is how an investigation should be done. You don`t pick one person and say this is our number one suspect because that`s when the defense attorney comes in and says from day one you went after my guy...

POLITAN: Defense attorney like you.

(CROSS TALK)

POLITAN: Robi Ludwig, I want to get back to what happened today. I want to get back to what happened today at the ceremony and the memorial for the young girl. How did the family deal with it? And we`re a little short on time here, Robi.

LUDWIG: Listen, the family is in shock and I`m sure the pain will only get more intense as time goes on because this is the time when the family gets a lot of support. So they`re not alone. And the grieving can be more intense a year, two years down the road, when everybody fades away and you`re still living with that loss.

POLITAN: Thanks to my fabulous panel for joining me tonight.

Remember to click on CNN.com/Jane and please order your copy of her new book "I Want."

You`re watching ISSUES on HLN.

END