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ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL

Preteen, Boyfriend Plot to Kill Mom

Aired December 30, 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)

JIM MORET, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, a preteen murder plot. Cops say an 11-year-old girl and her teenaged boyfriend tried to kill her mother. They`re accused of pouring gasoline on this woman`s bed and lighting her on fire. Now Mom`s in the hospital, and the kids are in jail.

And the secret past of a reality TV star. Mary Murphy says she suffered through years of abuse at the hands of her husband. Tonight, she opens up to ISSUES about her toxic marriage. How did she break away and become a strong, successful woman?

Plus, the Tiger Woods sex scandal has cost him millions of dollars, and it could cost him his marriage. But what does Tiger and all these alleged mistresses have to do with the David Letterman sexual extortion trial?

ISSUES starts right now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m Jim Moret from "Inside Edition," sitting in tonight for Jane Velez-Mitchell. Tonight a crime that will leave you shocked, not just by the brutality but the ages of the suspects. Police say an 11-year-old girl and her 15-year-old boyfriend plotted to kill the girl`s mom. They`re accused of torching the woman`s bedroom yesterday while she was asleep in her bed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BETH WATTS, CLEARWATER POLICE SPOKESWOMAN: The 11-year-old girl and her 15-year-old boyfriend plotted to basically set the mom on fire and to leave her there to die. After they got some gasoline and they doused her bed and her bedroom floor, they ignited it, and they left the house.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORET: Police say the night before the fire the mom confronted her daughter about stealing her cigarettes. The victim, Nancy Broadhead, turns 48 today. She escaped the fire after a smoke alarm woke her up. Police found her in the front yard, suffering from severe burns and smoke inhalation. She is expected to survive.

Meanwhile, the girl and her boyfriend are both charged with attempted murder and arson. The boy is also accused with grand theft auto. Police say after setting the fire the couple took off in Broadhead`s car. The kids may have also stolen her credit cards, which were found in the car.

Police have been to the Broadhead home seven other times in the past year. The victim herself has an extensive rap sheet. More on that part of the story in a moment.

But first, I want to welcome my guests: Michelle Borba, educational psychologist and author of "The Big Book of Parenting" -- I`m sorry, "Big Book of Parenting Solutions" -- excuse me; Jayne Weintraub, criminal defense attorney; Steve Kardian, former criminal investigator; Stacey Honowitz, supervisor of the sex crimes unit in the Florida prosecutor`s office. She is also author of the book, "My Privates are Private." And joining me on the phone, Ray Reyes, reporter from the "Tampa Tribune."

Ray, what is the very latest on the story?

RAY REYES, REPORTER, "TAMPA TRIBUNE" (via phone): The very latest we`ve got is that the 15-year-old boyfriend, Jack Ault, has been ordered by a judge this morning at his first appearance hearing to stay in the custody of juvenile offender officials.

We have the -- we have the 11-year-old girl. She is undergoing psychiatric assessment. And the mother, Nancy Broadhead, her condition has been upgraded to fair today at Tampa General Hospital.

MORET: Is the victim, is Nancy Broadhead, talking to authorities at this point? Is she able to?

REYES: As for whether or not she`s talking to authorities, that we don`t know. We have been trying to reach her, to go through a hospital spokeswoman to try to get -- try to get a word in with Nancy. But she has declined to speak with reporters. The spokeswoman at Clearwater police is not releasing any new information at this time.

MORET: Ray, what`s the mood like in the neighborhood? Have you talked to anybody in that area? This is just a shocking crime, and the idea that an 11-year-old girl would try to do this to her own mom is just unthinkable.

REYES: It is. We`ve had reporters out in the street for two days, and -- and most of them, it`s shock, disbelief. I mean, first of all, you will say arson in a neighborhood, and, you know, people are still shocked. People are -- you know, fear for their safety. But then you say the names and -- we say the ages of the children, and -- and the shock is just -- sets in just a little bit more.

MORET: Stacey Honowitz, Florida prosecutor`s office, what is your take on this horrific crime?

STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR`S OFFICE: Well, Jim, I know that everybody`s shocked and everybody can`t believe the ages of these kids. And maybe it`s because I work in the system every day, but we are seeing more and more young children involved in very heinous, horrible, sophisticated crimes.

And so while it is horrible what happened to that mother, I`m not surprised, and I wouldn`t be surprised if the prosecutor`s office decided to direct file on them as an adult, based on the horrific nature of the crime itself. So it`s not surprising to me. We are really starting to really see a lot of it.

MORET: Really? You think even the 11-year-old girl could be charged as an adult in this case?

HONOWITZ: There`s absolutely no reason why, just because of her age, we would -- they might hold her back. I mean, the fact that this was a serious plot to murder her mother. The sophistication of getting the gasoline, pouring it in the mother`s bedroom, waiting for the mother to die certainly borderlines on having her charged as an adult, and they will seriously consider it.

MORET: Michelle Borba, you hear Stacey say that you`re seeing these cases with younger and younger perpetrators. Why?

MICHELLE BORBA, EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGIST: I think one of the big things we`re already seeing in this particular situation is the best incubator for violence is the home. When a child doesn`t have that No. 1 thing called good parental supervision, that is the first step. But it`s an accumulation of things.

Second of all, you don`t have that thing called a moral compass that`s evolving. It`s certainly something that a mother should be building with this child.

And third, you`re looking at a steady build-up where it`s never a one- time moment, where a child overnight becomes a homicidal maniac. But a build-up, a build-up where the child begins to recognize that, "Hey, violence is acceptable. I`m getting away with it" until it`s -- finally, the plot thickens, and the one moment on this one was because she stole her mother`s cigarettes and the mother got angry at her. There went the tipping point.

MORET: It sounds like they needed your book, "The Big Book of Parenting Solutions," in this house. No joke.

BORBA: Well, No. 1 is we got to realize that this stuff starts early. And aggression becomes entrenched. By age 8, it`s very tough to turn this thing around, but it is doable. We are waiting too late to begin to turn it around.

This parent already had a huge stack of complaints with the Department of Child and Family Services, meaning there was already confrontation totally going on of a breakdown between a mother and a daughter already. It`s a sad, sad...

MORET: And that leads us into...

HONOWITZ: The victim, too.

MORET: That leads us to this other point. Because at just 15 years old, the boy in this case already has a long criminal history. In just the past year he`s been arrested at least five times. Seven times since 2003. He was accused of battery at the age of 8. This past fall he was arrested, twice in one week. The charges were domestic battery and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

How is the juvenile system supposed to handle troubled kids like this? Let`s go to Steve Kardian, former criminal investigator.

STEVE KARDIAN, FORMER CRIMINAL INVESTIGATOR: Jim, you know, in my 30 years in law enforcement -- I worked just north of New York City in Westchester County. And I had a lot of dealings with troubled youth from New York City. And I`ve investigated rapes against 8-year-old girls. I was even the supervisor in charge of the youngest child ever charged as an adult with murder.

And we see these horrendous crimes, and I interview them after the fact. And they commit these horrendous crimes. They turn around, have a bowl of cereal, watch cartoons like it never happened. The lack of empathy, the lack of remorse is concerning. As a father, as a law enforcement officer, as a martial artist that teachers troubled kids, I wonder, can they ever be rehabilitated?

MORET: Jayne Weintraub, criminal defense attorney, let`s say you represent one of these two kids. What do you do?

KARDIAN: Well, the first thing is, obviously, the 11-year-old, especially, needs a complete, thorough mental evaluation which she`s undergoing right now in the system. You know, this 11-year-old, although it`s being reported it`s over a pack of cigarettes. First of all, it`s ridiculously young, and second of all, she`s the victim, too, I`m sure. She`s the victim in the house, and I`m sure there are horrors to speak of abuse.

I represented, you know, an 11-year-old boy, Alex King, who was convicted and sentenced to life as an adult in prison in Florida five years ago. And I am happy to tell you after five years he is now in college and doing great.

So can these kids be rehabilitated? Yes. Is there a reason? We have to get to the reason. There are red flags that have been missed. Like Michelle was saying, where are the notes in the backpack? Where is the supervision? Is there a mom at home? Is she being neglected? Are there any trusted adults in this girl`s life? Where does she go to turn?

You don`t just go to kill your mom over being yelled at. That doesn`t happen.

MORET: Police say that they`ve been called to the Broadhead home seven other times in the last year. The victim, Nancy Broadhead, herself has been arrested nine times. She was convicted of child neglect, DUI, indecent exposure, resisting arrest. In 2008 she was arrested for child abuse and battery. Those charges were dropped.

Michelle Borba, as a psychologist, when you look at a home like this, is it a surprise that the daughter would potentially turn to a life of crime?

BORBA: No, it`s not a surprise at all. If somebody doesn`t give this child a need, plus -- what Steve would say, there`s really what is called a moral core that would stop violent behavior patterns.

No. 1 is empathy, on how that child is treated at a very early age. If not treated well, that begins to shut down, which is what you`re seeing.

No. 2 is conscience. That child had no remorse is what Steve was saying as a result. But it`s also a build-up of a child on how you`re being treated right from wrong.

But the third thing is a brakes system that helps that kid stop and think before you act. We already know that at age 11, that still isn`t formed. It`s not formed until, we now know, about the age of 20. But even so, there`s no skills that are being taught to that child.

WEINTRAUB: Jim, the bigger issue is this child has no nurturing.

MORET: Hold your thought. We have to take a break. Everyone stay right where you are. We`ll have more on this horrifying preteen murder plot coming up.

Plus, a reality star exposes her troubled past. "So You Think You Can Dance?" judge Mary Murphy talks to ISSUES about overcoming an abusive marriage. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was on the side of the house, and I could feel the heat inside my house, too. My heart was beating real hard because I -- that`s not. That`s not right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORET: Neighbors of 48-year-old Nancy Broadhead are stunned by what happened at her Florida home yesterday. Police say her 11-year-old daughter and the girl`s 15-year-old boyfriend tried to kill her. They allegedly set Broadhead`s bed on fire and then fled in her car. Broadhead survived. The juveniles are charged with attempted murder.

Now back to my panel. First to Ray Reyes, reporter with "The Tampa Tribune," joining us by phone.

Ray, we`ve been talking about the child`s troubled past. Do you have any information on that?

REYES: Yes, we do. We`ve got a hold of court records today. And it said that Nancy Broadhead has also been accused of abusing and neglecting her daughter. Most recently, she was charged in July 2005, driving under the influence of alcohol with her daughter in the car. Also, child abuse complaints filed in court accused her of getting drunk and hitting the daughter. So...

MORET: Ray -- no, no, I appreciate that. Ray Reyes, reporter from "The Tampa Tribune." Appreciate your input today and joining us by phone.

Stacey Honowitz with the Florida prosecutor`s office, when you hear about alleged abuse in the home and you`ve got an 11-year-old suspect, you talked about trying her as an adult. How much do these other situations come in to mitigate what you go after this girl with?

HONOWITZ: Well, I think that`s a great question, and I agree with all the other panelists talking about a home life. I know that Jayne represented one of the King boys, and I know that it`s very important to have security and nurturing at home and not being abused.

But there`s plenty of cases, Jim, that you see, children coming out of horrible homes, abusive homes, alcoholic parents, that don`t take it upon themselves to try to kill the person. So it might be a mitigator; it`s not a justifier.

But certainly, before a decision is made as to whether or not to direct fire on this child as an adult, all of those factors will be taken into consideration. So the fact that she is the child of an abusive mother, the fact that things were not good at home, the fact that there were neglect charges against the mother, all those things a prosecutor does take into consideration before making the determinations as to whether or not to direct file.

WEINTRAUB: And she`ll have to be removed from the home.

MORET: Jayne Weintraub, as a -- Jayne, as a criminal defense attorney, would you want these two to be tried separately? Because it seems, just looking at this, that there may be a romantic component, that maybe the 15-year-old had some influence over the 11-year-old.

You know, I have two daughters, and when you`re 11, 12, there`s so many questions you have. Who knows what you could come up with? How do you proceed in this case, and would you want them tried separately?

WEINTRAUB: With caution, you proceed. And I can tell you, from my experience, I agree with Stacey. I think the 15-year-old will be direct filed. And I think the 11-year-old will go through a hearing. It`s called a waiver hearing in Florida, where the judge will determine, based on specific facts that are part of the crime and elements of the crime. The judge will determine whether or not to waive the 11-year-old over to adult court or keep the 11-year-old in juvenile court.

So I think by virtual of the procedures that are in place in Florida by itself, I think they will be separated.

But the next question is where is this girl going to go? She has no more home to go to. The Department of Children and Family Services have already failed in this case again. And where -- where do these kids go? Where`s the community? Where are the teachers, where are the neighbors? This is not an isolated instance. It`s what I said at the beginning without even having heard from...

HONOWITZ: Jayne -- Jayne, you talk about -- but Jayne, you -- you`re on all -- you`re on, and we`re always talking about where are the neighbors, where are the parents, where are the teachers? This is a situation that`s over and over again that we are always on TV talking about. Evidently, the community just doesn`t come together; people don`t care.

WEINTRAUB: You need to get...

MORET: There`s a lot -- frankly, there`s a lot that goes on behind closed doors that we just don`t know about.

Let me add another layer here. The 15-year-old suspect updated his MySpace page around 2 a.m. Monday. That`s about 24 hours before the fire. He posted that he and the 11-year-old girl had, quote, "gotten back together." He listed his mood as, quote, "in love."

Police tracked him down at a friend`s after the fire. Michelle, do you get the impression these kids took time to plot this attack? Were they acting on impulse?

BORBA: Yes.

MORET: Can you tell -- you do believe that?

BORBA: Yes. Well, because you`re posting it on MySpace. I would venture to say if you`re figuring out where the car keys are to get away with Mom`s car and steal the car.

Second of all, to be able to methodically put gasoline all over Mom`s bed and all over the floor, that takes a little bit of thought process along the way.

Eleven-year-olds, unfortunately, that is probably the most vulnerable stage in a child`s life, particularly a girl. We all know that one. So it`s like, if you`re vulnerable, you`ve got a weak identity. You don`t have much going on for you in terms of supervision. It`s just one step putting you over the top of a 15-year-old boy as your -- the boyfriend involved. It`s just one more step up...

WEINTRAUB: And where are his parents? What`s a 15-year-old boy doing with an 11-year-old child?

BORBA: Exactly.

WEINTRAUB: I mean, they`re both children. But I have an 11-year-old. I can`t imagine -- the difference between 11 and 15 is huge at this age.

HONOWITZ: And you`re not driving drunk with a kid in the car either, Jayne.

(CROSSTALK)

MORET: Steve -- Steve -- hold on. Steve wants to chime in -- Steve.

KARDIAN: It hasn`t been mentioned, but I suspect that we`re going to find out, in all likelihood, that there was some sort of disapproval rating by the mother with the 15-year-old girl -- I`m sorry, the 11-year-old girl dating the 15-year-old.

MORET: That was my -- that was my instinct, as well. I mean, I suspect -- I think Steve`s right. I think perhaps that the mom said, "I don`t want you seeing this boy. He`s too old for you." I don`t think it was really over a pack of cigarettes that this argument occurred.

HONOWITZ: Jim, can I ask a question?

MORET: Sure...

KARDIAN: I think it may -- it could have very well prompted, or at least exaggerated, this behavior and caused him to act out, or suggested to the 11-year-old girl that they do that, based upon him or her being chastised for stealing cigarettes that morning.

HONOWITZ: Jim...

MORET: Stacey, you wanted to ask something?

HONOWITZ: Yes. Realistically speaking, do you think if it`s at all true about this mother, that she drove drunk in the car with the child, that she neglected the child, that she abused the child, do you really think she took the time to tell this child, "I don`t want you seeing a 15- year-old boy," honestly?

MORET: I don`t know. I don`t know.

HONOWITZ: It really -- it just -- it just doesn`t make sense...

WEINTRAUB: No. Because the little girl is being abused.

HONOWITZ: ... to take an interest in this person`s life. I mean...

MORET: But at least -- at least I can wrap my head around that, whereas I can`t over a pack of cigarettes. You see?

HONOWITZ: Right. I understand that.

MORET: This is so removed from my reality. And I have a 12-year-old son. I just can`t -- I can`t understand this. And you have experience in this.

WEINTRAUB: Jim, you know what the message is? The message is to teach the children early. Even in school. They need to learn the words "trusted adult." They need to have a trusted adult in their lives.

And teachers should spread the word of that in their discussions with the kids. They need to know: go to a particular teacher if they`re having a problem, who can deal with it. Or a relative other than the mom or dad. The kids need to have a place to go.

MORET: But it seems like the failures -- the failures here went beyond the home, as you said, beyond the school. Family Services wasn`t able to intervene in time.

Steve Kardian, from an investigator`s standpoint, is this a very difficult case to investigate, given the age of the perpetrators?

KARDIAN: Well, it`s not -- based upon the information and the evidence that they`ve obtained in this case, it`s not a hard case to investigate. It`s a hard case to look at and see where the failures came.

It begins in the home. We need a secondary system in the school system with psychologists to have these kids have a place to go to. But it`s not a hard case to investigate, if you will.

MORET: OK, everyone. Stay right more. We`ll have more on this horrific story coming up. What`s next for these kids?

Plus, could the Tiger Woods sex scandal have an impact on the David Letterman sexual extortion case? Stay with us. Lots more to talk about here on ISSUES. I`m Jim Moret, filling in for Jane. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAURICE CHEATHAM, NANCY BROADHEAD`S NEIGHBOR: They over here all the time. It`s like they might as well get a job because they live there constantly. And he`s been arrested quite a few times, too.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORET: The fire broke out yesterday at a Florida home that police have been to many times before. They say a couple of young people, ages 11 and 15, tried to kill the girl`s mom by torching her bedroom. Both the victim and the 15-year-old suspect have extensive criminal histories. How will this bizarre case play out?

We`ve been talking with our panel about where are the boy`s parents, where`s the boy`s mom? The boy`s mom, we`re just getting word in, has spoken to "The St. Petersburg Times." She says her son didn`t do it. He lies a lot. She catches him in lies. She knows when he`s lying.

She is also complaining about how the police treated the boy, because he was apparently in handcuffs at 2 in the morning, in shorts, chattering in the cold. She doesn`t like the way he`s been treated. She thinks they jumped to conclusions because they found him at a friend`s house where he told his mom would be.

Michelle Borba, psychologist, we`ve been talking about the family and how that impacts the child`s development. This is a 15-year-old who -- this isn`t his first brush with the law. He`s been arrested time and time again for some very serious offenses, including assault and battery. So what`s your take on the mom`s comments?

BORBA: Well, I think that the child has been leading Mom astray for quite a while. We probably have a little either -- I want to inject here either a little sociopath, a chronic disorder that`s going on. But the lying is a very interesting trend here.

Also, be really aware here, when you said that -- that you were so shocked on the cigarette stealing, how could that possibly have caused a fire. The fascinating thing is when I`ve studied school shooters, we`ve realized that violence is a slow, slow build-up. It`s not one incidence. It`s a slow, slow process until finally there`s one little trigger or incident that throws the whole thing over the top, and there we get the violence.

MORET: The police say the 11-year-old girl is -- yes, I`m sorry, go on. Is that Stacey?

WEINTRAUB: What I was going to say is, you say where does the case go from here? Well, the first question is going to be, is this mother, Nancy Broadbent [SIC], is she really going to want to prosecute her daughter and this boy? And I submit that she`s not going to.

MORET: I don`t even think she has a choice, does she?

HONOWITZ: She doesn`t.

MORET: The police arrested her. Does she have a choice?

HONOWITZ: No.

WEINTRAUB: Well, yes. I think that the ultimate decision of whether or not can the state attorney`s office -- Stacey will tell you, of course, they can force her to testify. But do you...

MORET: But what if the mom -- wait, wait. What if the mom -- if the mom had died? What would have happened then? I mean, I think if the police have what they believe is evidence that these two kids committed arson or attempted murder, I don`t know that the mom has much to say about it.

WEINTRAUB: I do. I think that as the victim of the crime, that she`s going to have a great deal of input into whether or not she goes forward and wants to testify against her 11-year-old child in a courtroom.

But the bigger issue will be, after that comes out the cross- examination is, you know, how she`s abused the child, how she`s drunk, how she, you know, had a blood alcohol level that exceeded the normal limit. All of these things will come out in a trial. So what jury, if it`s a jury, or a judge in a juvenile court, what finder of fact will find the children really guilty? I don`t think...

HONOWITZ: A lot of juries.

WEINTRAUB: I don`t think that will happen. And I`ll you something. Where do these kids go? Where does the 11-year-old go?

MORET: I`ve got to leave it at that, because we`re out of time. I`m sorry. We`re out of time on this segment. Thank you so much to our guests. A lot to talk about here, clearly.

Mary Murphy pulls back the curtain on her toxic marriage. The star of "So You Think You Can Dance?" talks to ISSUES about her battle with domestic violence. This is an interview she did with Jane. You are not going to want to miss it. Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORET: The secret past of a reality TV star. Mary Murphy says she suffered through years of abuse at the hands of her husband. Tonight, she opens up to ISSUES about her toxic marriage. How did she break away and become a strong, successful woman?

Plus, the Tiger Woods sex scandal has cost him millions of dollars, and it could cost him his marriage. But what law does Tiger and all these alleged mistresses have to do with the David Letterman extortion trial?

Welcome back to ISSUES, I`m Jim Moret from "Inside Edition" filling in tonight for Jane.

TV and Broadway star Mary Murphy always has a smile on her face these days. And why not? She stars as a judge on the Fox hit "So You Think You Can Dance" and she`s taken Broadway by storm joining the cast of "Burn the Floor".

But things have not always been so sweet with for. She recently sat down with Jane to talk about her marriage -- one she says included years of sexual abuse.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HLN HOST: Shocking claims of emotional and physical and sexual abuse tonight as a superstar of stage and screen reveals her dark past. We know and love Mary Murphy as vivacious and emotional judge on Fox`s high-octane dancing competition show, "So You Think You Can Dance". And here`s why she calls herself the "Queen of Scream".

MARY MURPHY, FOX JUDGE, "SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE": It was fantastic tonight.

Ashley (ph) your passion throughout this entire dance was just so right on. Russell, you are just special. It`s incredible to sit and watch you dance like that tonight.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mary`s life today bears no resemblance to her terrifying past.

In a recent cover story in "Us Weekly", she made explosive allegations about abuse at the hands of her ex-husband. Mary`s story is harrowing. She says she was trapped in an abusive marriage, repeatedly raped and beaten, for nine years.

Through it all, she says she did not call cops or go to the hospital to treat her injuries. Her ex-husband is denying the claims.

But Mary survived and triumphed. In fact, in addition to her stint as a judge on "So You Think You Can Dance", she`s also starring in the sizzling new dance show on Broadway called "Burn the Floor" -- dying to see that. So how did she do it?

Tonight`s big issue -- taking back the power. We`re going to find out how this fabulously energetic and positive woman turned her life around. Maybe we can help some women out there.

Mary Murphy, welcome. First of all, congratulations.

MURPHY: Thank you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Very courageous for you to reveal all of this.

What was it like opening up and showing your dark past to the world? Was it scary, or was it perhaps a relief?

MURPHY: It was a little bit of both. You know, to be honest with you, it was really tough. And that was probably the toughest week of my life just talking about it again.

But there is something inside of me that I`ve said is slightly selfish. I want to get this chapter over with. Yes, I have conquered and I have went on, but there`s still that safety place or some places you stick that, some place deep in your brain, and it`s still there until something you see happens to somebody else. And then it like brings it back up to the front.

Like with Rihanna. When that happened to Rihanna that just like fired me right up again. And I felt that I was in a position that I started telling more and more people, and they said, you`ve got to tell it, and I agreed.

I said I know I can help a lot of people by just saying you can get away from this and it doesn`t have to define your life. And you can go on, like I have done. And I just wanted people to know that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What was it about Rihanna, though, that inspired you to tell your story? In other words, you looked at her battered face and said at that moment, "Whoa, I can relate to this, I identify with the situation, and I want to use this as a teachable moment?"

MURPHY: Yes. We were basically the same age. And when I saw her face -- and my face, I will be honest, it never looked quite like that. But I did have bruises on my face.

But her face, it just tore me up inside. I just couldn`t believe it. It was happening to such a young, beautiful, strong, world talent that this was happening to. Because there are so many people who don`t even have the means that she has. It happens to -- it can happen to anybody, and that is really the key.

You know, sometimes you just need that little word of encouragement. You don`t know, the person sitting next to you might need that little word of encouragement to go and to talk and to get yourself out of this situation.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mary, of course, it`s our obligation as journalists to reach out and try to get both sides of the story. Now your ex-husband strongly denies your allegations. He said, quote, "It`s just unfortunate she is not being truthful. And if I were a monster, why would she marry me again?"

"Us Weekly" says you were manipulated into getting married the first time in the late `70s. Then there`s a photograph of you renewing your vows in 1985, in a rather lavish wedding. What`s your response to all that?

MURPHY: Well, first of all, the first time he did manipulate me into the whole marriage thing. But later on, years later, he had never told his family, by the way, that we were even married. This was a thing for his family. And he had said to them that we had actually been divorced. We were never divorced. He was actually engaged to another woman while we were still married and so that was that big, grand gesture that we had in - - I don`t want to say what country.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tell me about this. Tell me about the pattern. You say that you and your husband fought and that then once he started fighting with you he suddenly wanted to have sex?

MURPHY: Absolutely. And for -- for any woman out there, once you have been belittled and thrown about and knocked down or hit, that`s the last thing that is on your mind is sex. That is the furthest thing from your mind.

To sit there and have to go through it, continue the fighting because I did fight a lot. I didn`t just lay there. I will say after a while it got to the point that I just -- let me just get this over with. It was so horrible.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You were repeatedly raped, you say, by your husband?

MURPHY: Repeatedly for many years. It was just the pattern. Then he would say, "I`m sorry, I`m sorry, I`m sorry." It would usually involve a gift but unfortunately the gift-giving season or any gift to me doesn`t mean the same thing to me anymore because it was like a reward system of bad treatment.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, on ISSUES, we cover far too many stories about women being victimized at the hands of men. I call it the "War on Women". Every story is different but they all have a couple of things in common.

Take a look at the power and control wheel. This is a pie chart used by anti-domestic violence groups that shows all the various methods by which an abusive man can physically, emotionally, psychologically, and, yes, sexually batter a woman. We`re talking coercion, we`re talking threats, we`re talking intimidation, we`re talking minimizing the abuse, using economic control, isolation, and male privilege.

A lot of people are wondering, Mary, why you stayed with him for nine years, why after that first rape you didn`t just pick up and walk out. How do you explain it to them?

MURPHY: Sure. I was beaten down so much emotionally and financially, he had economic control completely over me. And so when he left the country, I was left with very little money. I wasn`t allowed to work. I was scared to death. We`d fight over my security for the future.

But he`d -- oh, never mind, never mind. Muslim law -- you will always -- if we ever got divorced you will get one quarter of the estate. And that is the law.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me ask you this. When the cops showed up and they would say, "Would you like to press charges?" Apparently this happened more than once and you had bruises and you said no, why?

MURPHY: In those days -- now today if a woman calls or if they show up at your doorstep, that man is taken away. In those days they will ask. Of course, looking at him with the fear of God in those eyes that he was giving me, I said -- of course, what am I going to say? Where am I going to go? Didn`t have any money. I was scared to death. My own parents were saying, go back to the marriage. Go back to the marriage. You have to make it work.

I had no support system whatsoever. We didn`t have the shelters that you have today. Nobody even talked about it back then.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All very good points. And that brings me to tonight`s big issue -- taking back the power. How did this woman, Mary Murphy, go from this terrible abuse victim to this? Take a look.

MURPHY: It was fantastic tonight.

Eleanor, you little Spanish vixen, you. And you, Russell, you were on fire tonight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. That was great.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was a clip from the hit show on Fox, "So You Think You Can Dance". Mary, your high energy, you`re confident, you`re dominant. How did you get there having been an abused spouse?

MURPHY: Well, I hate to give him any power, but the fact that he told me so many -- I would say it seemed like close to a million times that I would be homeless, where do you think you`re going to go, you`re going to be out on the streets in no time. And did I leave several times, and I did go back several times because I was so scared.

But each time I went away, I gained a little bit more power. And I started working, and I felt like I never needed to be under a man`s control financially, in any shape, way, or form again in my life. And charted a course...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m going to jump in. I want to get to there fantastic development. You`re not just a judge on this dance competition show. Are you also starring on Broadway in New York City -- here in the Big Apple -- in a fabulous show called "Burn the Floor".

As we watch this incredible video of the show which looks astounding, tell me about your miscarriage in 1982 that happened four months into your pregnancy. You say your husband accused you of murdering your baby because you`ve done some light dancing?

MURPHY: Yes. When he would leave the country, I would go into a dance studio and I kept training. I had a dream of being a dancer. I never dreamed possible that I would end up here someday on Broadway. But I kept thinking about that, and I went into a dance studio the night before I had a miscarriage.

I did some basic social dancing. He was out of the country. I had actually had an enormous cyst inside of me that had -- the walls had collapsed and I had tremendous cramps and was rushed to the hospital. And when he came back, instead of getting any kind of support whatsoever, I was just -- because he was the only son and the child was very important, especially if it was a boy. And I was treated as if I had murdered that child because I went to dancing.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mary, we are going to have to leave it right there. Fascinating story -- congrats. We want you to come back and talk on our panel about the "War on Women". Will you do it?

MURPHY: I will because there is a war on women in this country.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Exactly, we`ll have you back real soon. Fabulous, fabulous, thank you.

MURPHY: Thank you so much, Jane.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORET: Welcome back, I`m Jim Moret from "Inside Edition" filling in for Jane.

Now to a collision of two pop culture sex scandals: A war of words erupts between high-powered lawyers over their two famous clients. And it all boils down to what`s being called "The Tiger Defense".

TMZ reports the attorney for the man charged with an attempted sex extortion plot against David Letterman is asking a judge to toss out the charges. Gerald Shargel says the case against CBS producer Joe Halderman is no different from the explosive Tiger Woods sex scandal.

In court documents, Shargel argues that when reports about Tiger`s dalliance with Rachel Uchitel surfaced she allegedly got millions in hush money with the help of her lawyer, Gloria Allred. Shargel claims that the ladies were being quote, "capitalist and not criminal" and that Joe Halderman was looking to sell his story to David Letterman.

Meanwhile, that isn`t sitting well with Gloria Allred. In no time she snapped back telling TMZ Mr. Shargel has, quote, "no basis for his remarks."

So two questions -- is that a legitimate argument and is this novel (ph) strategy even consistent with what he`s saying right from the start?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GERALD SHARGEL, ATTORNEY FOR ACCUSED EXTORTIONIST: Here`s a guy that -- that received a check by all accounts in the amount of $2 million. And the history of extortions, I don`t think there`s ever been a case where someone was paid by check.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORET: Ok. Let`s break this down with my panel. Still here: Jayne Weintraub, a powerful defense attorney; Randy Kessler, celebrity divorce attorney; joining the panel, Russell Wetanson, entertainment reporter and legal analyst and founder of the Web site PopSquire.com.

Jayne Weintraub, is this a case of creative lawyering or is it just plain crazy to you?

JAYNE WEINTRAUB, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, Gerald Shargel is an excellent lawyer, but I`m surprised at the motion. I don`t think a finder of facts the judge is going to dismiss the charges based on his allegations. And of course not, you know civil cases are made up at the core of damages.

And in the case with Gloria Allred obviously she was going to alleged there were damages in a relationship between the young lady and Tiger Woods. Maybe he made promises to her. We don`t know because it wasn`t public.

So we can`t really compare what happened in the case with David Letterman and Joe Halderman. What we do know is that there are wiretaps. We do know that there was no relationship between Joe and Dave at the time like there was with Tiger.

Dave and Joe didn`t have a damage in between them. What they had was a wiretap where the man was saying if you don`t give me $2 million, I`m going to publish this book which will ruin your life.

MORET: Randy Kessler is a divorce attorney. Do you agree with that? I mean, is this case different from -- from the Tiger Woods case? Because I know a lot of people on the street are saying, well gee, if Rachel Uchitel got money, what`s the difference with this guy with David Letterman? Why isn`t it the same thing?

RANDY KESSLER, CELEBRITY DIVORCE ATTORNEY: Well, it`s completely different. Number one, there`s no precedence. You can`t tell a judge in New York look what some people out in Los Angeles did. That won`t carry any water.

But number two, the woman in California had a legitimate reason to go public. This was not only an event important to Tiger Woods; this was the event in Rachel Uchitel`s life. And she had a chance and an opportunity to explain it in her own words instead of letting the press report on it in their words.

She gave up that right and they reached some sort of deal. And we do that all the time with our celebrity divorce clients. We call it confidentiality orders.

Both sides seem to have something to lose. In the Halderman case, the only one who had anything to lose is David Letterman and that`s why it`s extortion. When Halderman said, listen, it doesn`t matter to me whether it comes out or not, but I`m going to get some money or it`s going to come out. That is what made it into extortion.

MORET: That`s a good point. Because I think a lot of people frankly have been confused on this point. Russell Wetanson, entertainment reporter, legal analyst, founder of the web site PopSquire.com. Are you surprised by this new strategy?

RUSSELL WETANSON, FOUNDER, POPSQUIRE.COM: Well, you have to give a lawyer an A for effort for being creative. But I`m not sure how he`s saying this with a straight face.

Now he wants to use the Uchitel-Tiger Woods so-called defense and precedent but the one he really should be thinking about and the one that I`m thinking about is the John Travolta extortion case. Because the facts here seem to be much more similar to that case where the Torino Lightbourne, the paramedic, said he had an important document and then allegedly asked for a lot of money, something about $25 million. That case proceeded to trial and ended in a mistrial.

So that case seems to be more like this one than the Rachel Uchitel and Halderman`s lawyer clearly isn`t going to analogize to that case.

MORET: And Russell you`re talking about getting an A for effort. High profile lawyers who represent high profile defendants need to be shrewd PR people. We`ve seen that before.

Often they`ll attempt to turn the alleged victim into a culprit, for example, this from NBC.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHARGEL: It`s not only the motive, intent and conduct of Joe Halderman; it`s the motive, intention and conduct of David Letterman as well as I`ve said. I look forward to cross-examining David Letterman.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORET: In early October, Mr. Shargel told the "The New York Times" that he`d present evidence in court that Letterman sexually harassed his female employees. So why then is he grasping at this Tiger defense angle?

Jayne, first to you, why? Does this signal to you a desperation attempt?

WEINTRAUB: Well, what he`s trying to do is get Dave Letterman to say he doesn`t want to go forward with it or to induce a plea bargain, I think. And that the state or the government would then go forward with the plea bargain and end the case. Because these cases all end by a settle or they get thrashed out in trial.

David Letterman doesn`t want to go to trial, but when he made that phone call and he agreed to wear a wire, he -- I give kudos to David Letterman as a celebrity for not being held up.

So the answer to your question is, yes. I think that and I don`t know that any judge will even admit any of that irrelevant evidence on whether or not he did sexually harassed employees.

That`s not the issue in this case. The issue in this case is whether or not Joe Halderman committed extortion on David Letterman.

MORET: Randy Kessler, we have about 30 seconds, what do you think about putting the victim on trial here, in this case it would be David Letterman?

KESSLER: I think it`s a miscalculation of his legal strategy. What he should have said is extortion is intended to cause embarrassment and a loss of job, loss of career, loss of reputation to the victim. In this case, his reputation is still intact, he`s still got his job, he`s still making millions.

Before he was saying we were trying to sell a script. Now he`s changing his attitude saying we`re trying to sell a story. They don`t jibe. They`re different strategies and now everyone knows he`s grasping at straws.

MORET: Everyone stay right where you are. We have a lot more to talk about with the Tiger Woods and David Letterman intersection right after the break.

Don`t go away. You`re watching ISSUES.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Meantime, the lawyer for Letterman`s accused extortionist tells the "New York times" he has proof that Letterman sexually harassed employees. Really? Well, while we certainly don`t condone the actions that put Letterman and his staff into such a moral quandary, you have to wonder, where are all these women who say they`ve been victimized? Nobody has come forward.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORET: That`s Jane Velez-Mitchell all over the Letterman sex extortion allegation scandal. Is Joe Halderman`s alleged blackmail plot parallel to the Tiger Woods sex scandal?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: If you canceled the news conference and if TMZ is right that there was a conversation going on between Tiger and Rachel, what happened?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, here`s what it`s about. My guess is it`s about $100,000 or so. Money changed hands, I would suppose. One unforeseen circumstance could have happened that he begged her not to go on the air, that she got religion, that she made a trip to Lloyd`s (ph). I don`t know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORET: Jayne Weintraub, defense attorney, is it fair to say hypothetically speaking that this deal in the Tiger Woods case is a form of legal extortion or is that really mischaracterizing it?

WEINTRAUB: Well, I think that`s what Jerry Shargel wants everybody to think and I think it`s very creative and I think that`s the core of the argument that he`ll make to the jury.

But to a judge, legally, no because the elements of the extortion, depending on what`s on the wiretap. This case will be centered on the wiretap. The defense will be centered on the wiretap. Is he desperate? Is he ranting? Is he yelling? Is he calm? What was going on?

He was having a nervous breakdown, I`m sure. I mean, the guy just found out that his live-in partner was betraying him with David Letterman. So if it were reversed, wouldn`t we be saying hell has no fury like a woman scorned?

Well, in this case it was a man. And he took on this escapade of going to David Letterman. But it all depends on the words of the tape and the way and the manner in which he was speaking them.

MORET: The media was of course totally disappointed earlier this month when Gloria Allred pulled the plug on the last minute on a scheduled news conference.

Everyone thought Rachel Uchitel, seen along with Gloria Allred on video from TMZ, was going to drop a bombshell. Instead, we were left to speculate. Did Gloria get Rachel a fat seven-figure deal?

Randy Kessler, as a divorce attorney, you would obviously suspect the answer is yes.

KESSLER: Well, I don`t know that she got money for it. But there`s something that she wanted or somehow they came together. The point is, these two people had a relationship, obviously a physical relationship but also some other sort of relationship that Halderman and Letterman didn`t have.

So they have the right to enter into a contract on how to govern their affairs, how to explain their affairs publicly or privately and they reached some sort of arrangement, whether it was money or there was something else, whether it was going to help her in the future. Maybe he had something negative about her. Who knows? But they had a relationship that they resolved themselves. Halderman had no relationship with David Letterman. It was purely for the money.

MORET: Does it sit badly with you then to even compare these two cases -- Letterman and Tiger Woods?

KESSLER: I think it does. I think that there are times when people that have relationships, whether they`re married, whether they`re in a sexual relationship or other sort of relationship, they should be allowed to resolve their cases privately and if they do so privately, good for them.

They both had something to lose. The both had things that they didn`t want talked about and they didn`t get talked about at that time.

Halderman had nothing to lose. That`s why it`s extortion. The actor in an extortion case usually has nothing to lose. The only thing he has is to gain the property he was seeking and that was $2 million.

MORET: Randy Kessler, Jayne Weintraub. Thank you both; great panelists tonight.

WEINTRAUB: Thank you.

MORET: Thanks for joining us.

I`m Jim Moret from "Inside Edition". Please check out my new inspirational book. It`s called "The Last Day of My Life". It`s available now online at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com and at bookstores everywhere.

You`re watching ISSUES on HLN. I`m Jim Moret filling in for Jane. Have a great night.

END