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Girl Pleads for Help Against Abuser on Facebook; Are Drugs Key to Finding Missing Girl?

Aired October 20, 2010 - 19:00:00   ET



JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, gut-wrenching sexual abuse exposed on Facebook. A young girl pleads for help on her mom`s Facebook wall, claiming this man sexually assaulted her multiple times. Tonight, this mother finally confronts her daughter`s alleged child molester. What happens next will blow your mind.

And a toxic new twist in the desperate search for little Zahra Baker. Tonight, did drugs stop Zahra`s relatives from reporting this horrifying child abuse to police? One family member now claims she actually saw Zahra being brutally beaten, but she was ignored because of her drug addiction.

Also, fighting back. A young son brutally beaten and repeatedly abused by his own father. Tonight this young boy is now a gifted actor and a retired football player. I`ll talk one on one with Victor Rivers as he exposes his 15 years of vicious abuse.

Plus, a steamy sex scandal rips through the NFL. Football legend Brett Favre accused of sending sext messages, and naked pictures to a TV sports reporter. Now this woman has hired an attorney. Was Brett Favre caught with his pants down?

ISSUES starts now.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, a Texas teenager screams for help against a sexual assault, going on Facebook to beg for rescue after she says her own mother refused to believe that she was sexually assaulted.

In front of the whole world, the 16-year-old girl -- what a brave girl -- points the finger at her own step-dad, charging he sexually assaulted her over and over again.

And it worked. Tonight the step-dad is behind bars.

This desperate teenage girl took a terrifying risk to go on Facebook and plead for help. Imagine the guts it took for her to speak out with her alleged enemy, living under the very same roof. Tonight, step-dad is stewing in a jail cell.

This 16-year-old is a hero. Police say her disturbing message to her mother on Facebook helped them catch this suspected child molester just before he was about to flee to California.

The affidavit says about two months ago she was watching TV, as he began rubbing her leg, and put his hand in the "pee hole" of her boxer shorts. In a second attempt, he penetrated her vagina with his finger.

And in another encounter, he began rubbing her stomach while she slept and then pulled on her bra and began sucking her breast. This is from the affidavit.

How brave of her to have the courage to tell what was really going on behind closed doors.

Call me. I want to hear what you have to say about all of this: 1- 877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 1-877-586-7297.

Joining me now, Michael Board, reporter with WOAI news radio in San Antonio. Michael, tell us how this guy who we are not identifying was finally busted.

MICHAEL BOARD, WOAI REPORTER: Yes, Jane. It really is a single mother`s nightmare. You meet a new guy. You invite him into your life. And then you find out that he, while he loves you, behind your back, has been assaulting your own daughter. It`s really, you know, unbelievable to even find out that the mother found over this -- found this out over Facebook.

What we now know in this case is that this isn`t the first time that this scum bag has done this. We now know that another teenage girl has come out, and she now claims that he not only assaulted that -- this woman`s daughter, but he assaulted her, as well. This guy has a trail of victims. He really is the type of pervert that deserves to be behind bars.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wait, did you say he has a trail of victims? Tell me about that.

BOARD: There -- there is another victim who -- since this case has come out, there`s another victim who has now come forward. And now she claims that, in addition to this girl, that this man, Kenneth Hicks, 45 -- a 45-year-old guy doing this to a girl under the age of 17. She now claims that she was assaulted by this man, as well.

We don`t know many of the details about this. But, you know, this is all being lumped into the investigation here in San Antonio.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And in the affidavit, it says the police were called to the scene to investigate a family disturbance, when the children admitted to being sexually assaulted by the suspected person. It doesn`t say the child. It says the children.

You know, this reminds me of another story we covered. Robert Nixon Jr. said it was an engagement, but cops called it statutory rape. This 27- year-old allegedly proposed to his girlfriend, and she said yes. The only problem was, she was 14.

Cops were tipped off by a child welfare agency after Nixon posted photos of himself and the girl online, not to mention, by the couple`s own declaration on Facebook, they were in love and engaged.

I`ve got to go to Stacey Honowitz. This is -- this current case is much worse, because this is not statutory rape. This girl did not want these advances. She ran into the bathroom crying, Stacey.

STACEY HONOWITZ, SEX CRIME PROSECUTOR: You know, Jane, I wish I could jump up and down and tell you how shocked I am. But this is the stuff that I deal with every single day. I see four or five cases just like this every week, where a lot of times it`s -- sometimes it`s a natural father.

The bottom line is, you know, she cried out for help. It`s unfortunate it took her to have to go on Facebook and that`s why it`s so important for anyone who`s being sexually abused not to be afraid to tell.

Now, the unfortunate circumstance in this case is something that I`ve seen many times, and that is a mother who originally didn`t believe what she had to say. And that`s why it`s such an important message to people. That if your children are telling you that something`s going on, that they`re being molested, you need to take it seriously.


HONOWITZ: And not be afraid to go to somebody and plead for help.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This girl`s a hero. The affidavit says this girl tried to tell her mother about the abuse in the past, but her mom didn`t believe her. OK? Chose to believe the man in her life.

And that brings me to my big issue: a mother`s denial. This is causing so much outrage. Here`s what one of our viewers said on Facebook, quote, "Too many men and women thinking with their sexual organs instead of their brains. This woman needs to be charged, as well. I can`t stand people that don`t listen to their kids or take a man or woman`s word over their own child."

Michelle Goland, psychologist...


VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... why would a mother believe the man in her life over her own child?

GOLAND: Well, what we`re dealing with here is a situation where this woman is probably feeling like she`s going to benefit from keeping this man around. That happens often, where they don`t want to lose the potential suitor, or their husband. Because they -- they feel like they need them. And so it`s easier for them to stay in denial than to face the harsh reality of what is going on to their daughters.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Now, there is constant fear, obviously, that pedophiles are lurking online. But we have to ask the question, does Facebook in some cases save lives?

Facebook and other networks have altered the landscape. Abusers usually isolate and control their victims, keep them away from other people. But now help is a click away. And this case illustrates that.

These creeps are now easier to find. Because guess what? John Lucich, criminal investigator, there are no more secrets in this day and age. If you are doing something that`s criminal and violating somebody sexually, as this is alleged, it`s going to get out there. Thanks to Facebook.

JOHN LUCICH, CRIMINAL INVESTIGATOR: Absolutely. But it`s a shame it took that. You have a mother who entered a new relationship, was in denial about something, wouldn`t listen to her daughter, and then forced the daughter -- you know, the reporter said before this is a single mom`s worst nightmare. This is a child`s worst nightmare. Her mom not believing her to the point where she`s got to post this on Facebook.

I believe that there should be some type of punishment. According to Wikipedia, 60 percent of all abusers are either neighbors or friends of the family, and 30 percent are relatives. That`s 90 percent of the people who abuse people, who abuse teens are in their lives. This is a growing problem that`s got to be addressed by law enforcement.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Richard, Texas, your question or thought, sir?

CALLER: You know -- hi, out there. I`m sorry about that. How are you doing? Sorry about that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: How are you doing? I`m doing great tonight.

CALLER: I`m doing great. You know, I`m a single parent. I think that this mother is aware, this mother knew what was going on, trying to keep her boyfriend. And it`s a darn shame. You know, I hear this every day on your show, how kids are getting molested, raped and killed. You know, I think it`s time to up the stakes. You know, start giving these people the death penalty. It`s getting too outrageous these days.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, cops say this man actually sent a text just before he was about to flee to California, saying -- are you sitting down? -- that he was in love with his 16-year-old stepdaughter.

CALLER: Oh, my God.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This isn`t love. This is exploitation. In his sick mind, he might try to justify his behavior as love. But this is sexual assault if the allegations are true.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... what do you make of this declaration of love?

GOLAND: Well, I mean, this is an individual who is a sexual predator. And if what is reported earlier, the fact that, you know, this is -- this is a man who preys on, probably, single women with teenage -- teenage daughters that he can prey upon.

And that`s what they do. They manipulate, they lie, and they use and they abuse. That`s what these men do.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`ve got to -- I`ve got to go back to Michael Board, reporter. What do you know about what was going on in the house and how the police were finally called? Apparently, when the mom sees this on Facebook, then she has an epiphany?

BOARD: When she -- when she sees it on Facebook, she confronts her new man in her life and says, you know, "What the heck is going on. Is my daughter right? Is this true? You know, did you really assault my daughter?"

That started a fight. The fight was between this new man, the mom, and her daughter. So all three of them are fighting together. That`s what called the cops out there.

When the cops got out there, it`s a domestic violence call. They tried to figure out what`s going on. And in that investigation, they hear about these sexual assault allegations. That started the investigation. Thank God the police got called out to this...


BOARD: ... started the investigation, got the warrant, and now this man`s behind bars.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, this is a story of heroism. Again, imagine a 16-year-old girl, going on Facebook to ask the world for help.

Thank you, fantastic panel.

Coming up, a relative claims she saw Zahra Baker being abused. Tonight we`re going to focus on the drug angle. Did drugs keep her from telling authorities about the abuse?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Elisa Baker admitted to writing the ransom note left on the vehicle at the fire scene, at Zahra`s home on Saturday morning. After admitting to writing the note, Elisa Baker requested an attorney.




CHIEF TOM ADKINS, HICKORY, NORTH CAROLINA, POLICE DEPARTMENT: We just interviewed several people in this investigation. And that -- from those interviews, it`s led us to this piece of evidence that we believe is in the landfall.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight a new search for missing 10-year-old Zahra Baker. And stunning new attacks against her stepmother in court.

Plus, what we`re going to focus on tonight, did a drug addiction keep Zahra`s aunt from reporting alleged abuse against this missing girl, who`s now presumed dead? Are drugs at the very heart of this twisted tale? The last public sighting of Zahra Baker was September 25, at a North Carolina furniture store, with her stepmother.

Step-mom Elisa Baker is now jailed for obstruction of justice. Yes, that woman, stewing in jail tonight. She admitted writing a fake ransom note on the very day that Zahra was reported missing.

Today, the judge raised Elisa Baker`s bail after Baker`s biological daughter, her own daughter, went to court and testified that she believes her mother is a flight risk.

Family members told the "Early Show" Elisa Baker abused, physically abused little Zahra.


BRITTANY BENTLEY, ZAHRA BAKER`S RELATIVE: Allowed out five minutes out of the day to eat. That was it. She was beat almost every time I was over there, for just -- just the smallest things. As soon as she got mad, she would take it out on Zahra.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Is it just me, or are drugs often involved in these missing child cases. Are we talking about a nation so addicted to drugs, that people ignore physical abuse against a child, just because they`re interested in getting their next fix?

Call me: 1-877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 1-877-586-7297.

Straight out to my fantastic expert panel. We begin with Tara Servatius, host of "The Tara Servatius Show" on WBT radio.

Tara, I want to talk about Zahra`s aunt, Brittany Bentley. Now, she apparently confessed to you that the shocking reason why she was afraid to blow the whistle on the step-mom, Elisa Baker, was drugs? Tell us everything you know.

TARA SERVATIUS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, here`s the thing. She didn`t go that far. But she said that Elisa Baker was her drug dealer. She was the only person who didn`t call the authorities in that family that was that close to be able to see Zahra every day.

And when I said, "Did you not call the authorities because she was your drug dealer?" she didn`t have an answer for me. She really didn`t.

You know what`s remarkable here, too, Jane? Everybody in this family is so afraid of Elisa Baker. She seems to have gone after people who owed her drug money with a posse and a gun. Her own daughter today said, "I`m afraid of her. Don`t let her out. I`ll have to leave the state." All of this seems to be connected to the drug violence.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me read what I have on some wire copy. Brittany Bentley -- OK, that`s who we`re talking about -- she`s married to the nephew of Elisa Baker. Said on Wednesday that she was a drug addict and that she was very sorry for not contacting the North Carolina Department of Social Services after allegedly observing the abuse.

And so she said that she told her own mother about the abuse and told her own mother to call DDS, or DSF, but the mother also says she never called. Why? According to this, she didn`t call, because she didn`t believe her daughter about the abuse, because the adult daughter is a drug addict. And a lot of times people don`t believe druggies.

Stacey Honowitz, this child fell through the cracks because of drugs.

HONOWITZ: Yes. I mean, you know, you always talk about, you`ve always brought up family secrets. There`s always tragedy, because there`s family secrets. And in this case certainly you have that.

You know, it`s interesting, because that last comment that the mother didn`t believe her because you can`t believe drug addicts...


HONOWITZ: ... that`s an breasting point and has some validity do it. Drug-induced, -addicted people have a tendency to lie. But when you`re dealing with a child, when you`re dealing with abuses, and you know something, you have a duty and an obligation.

And I think it`s so interesting that they have no problem going on national television...


HONOWITZ: ... talking to the wire services, but they couldn`t go to the authorities. It just makes no sense. And you`re right: this child fell through the cracks because of these family horrible secrets.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So I`m trying to connect the dots here. We have a woman who is now supposedly three months in recovery. And I applaud her for that. This is the Brittany Bentley version. And now that she`s sober, she`s saying, "Wow, I should have reported this. But I didn`t. And because I`m a drug addict."

Now, she`s saying that this woman, the person of interest in this little girl`s disappearance, the stepmother that you`re looking at right there on your screen, was her drug dealer.

So why isn`t this woman charged with drug dealing tonight? All right. We`re going to stay on top of this.

Coming up, an amazing story of survival. We`re going to talk one on one to an activist about the horrifying abuse he suffered as a child. And more new developments in the disappearance of Zahra Baker here next.

Plus, Nancy Grace has a team of people on the ground in Hickory, North Carolina. Nancy is on the scene, and she will have the very latest on Zahra Baker. You must watch, coming up at 8.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Catawba County 911.

ADAM BAKER, FATHER OF ZAHRA: Hey, how are you doing?


BAKER: I need police. We had all that drama last night and me and my wife went back to bed. And my daughter`s coming into puberty. So she`s in that brooding stage. So we only see her when she comes -- when she wants something.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Puberty has nothing to do with it. But do drugs have a lot to do with the disappearance of 10-year-old Zahra Baker? It`s my big issue tonight. Big drug excuse?

Brittany Bentley, who`s married to Elisa Baker`s nephew -- that`s her step-mom -- went on national TV to talk about little Zahra. She even said that somebody told authorities that Elisa was abusing Zahra. Here she is on "The Early Show."


BENTLEY: That`s the crazy thing. I never saw Adam spank her, punish her or anything. But he would sit there and watch Elisa do it to his child. He would just sit there and not say anything.

Yes, her daughter actually reported it to DSA. And they came. I don`t know how much was done. But yes, it was reported.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And now reports that Brittany has said she was a drug addict, and that`s why she was afraid to report it, because she was getting her drugs from the step-mom, who`s now the person of interest in the disappearance of this little child.

Michelle Goland, psychologist, what the heck`s going on here?

GOLAND: You know, what I hear is so much denial. And even now, Jane, excuses on the part of these -- these women who were in the position to report, who were in the position to step in. You know, I have to say what really needs to be happening is that our country, and our society needs to wake up and actually go to bat for our children. And that is what these women did not do.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, but we first have to -- we have to analyze why. And we have to look at the fact that addiction could be very well at the heart of this entire story.

When it comes to missing kids, for example, there always seems to be a drug angle. Take the tragic case of 5-year-old Haleigh Cummings, who`s now presumed dead.

GOLAND: Right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Haleigh`s dad, one-time stepmother, they`re all in the slammer...


VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... making a prescription drug deal. Go ahead, Michelle.

GOLAND: I mean, I appreciate the fact, and we know if someone is using drugs or drinking, you know, they`re -- they`re impaired. And they`re not going to be -- they`re going to be having poor judgment and all of those things.

And obviously, they were more concerned about protecting themselves rather than this child. But we need to be the voice of reason.

And the mother who is saying that she didn`t believe her daughter because she was a drug addict was not a drug addict. She was a woman who had children, who could have investigated, who could have asked Zahra, who could have reported to other authorities herself.


M.J., Indiana, your question or thought?

Hey, M.J.?

CALLER: Hey, Jane.


CALLER: You know, I think Zahra`s father reported one of his cars missing. And I think if they find the car, they will find Zahra. And look in the nearest river.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Stacey Honowitz, ten seconds, why isn`t this woman facing drug charges of some sort, the step-mom?

HONOWITZ: Because no one`s coming forward right now. There`s really not evidence. You can`t prosecute just on the word she was my dealer. You don`t have enough...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Got to leave it right there. "Nancy Grace" has so much more on this case. They are on the ground. You`ve got to watch Nancy, top of the hour. Do not miss it.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Fighting back, a young son brutally beaten and repeatedly abused by his own father. Tonight, this young boy is now a gifted actor and a retired football player. I`ll talk one on one with Victor Rivas as he exposes his 15 years of vicious abuse.

Plus, a steamy sex scandal rips through the NFL. Football legend Brett Favre, accused of sending sext messages and naked pictures to a TV sports reporter. Now this woman has hired an attorney. Was Brett Favre caught with his pants down?

In tonight`s domestic abuse spotlight, an unforgettable story of survival and redemption from a man that you know because he`s been in a lot of movies. You will recognize him. He`s a fantastic character actor. My very special guest Victor Rivas, actor, former NFL player, and most important, abuse survivor.

Victor endured years of horrific beatings as a child at the hands of his dad. He witnessed his father also beating his mom and his siblings. But as a young man, Victor finally managed to stand up to his dad and get out of this nightmarish home life and he rose from the ashes to become a successful student, NFL player, and again a well-known actor.

Here is Victor and Antonio Banderas in the "Mask of Zorro". Victor has detailed his abuse in the extraordinary memoir "A Private Family Matter".

Victor, it`s an honor to have you on ISSUES.

VICTOR RIVAS, ACTOR, ABUSED BY FATHER: Thanks for having me, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: How old were you when the abuse began and what was the abuse like? I read about welts and burn marks and cuts. What the hell was he doing to you?

RIVAS: Well, the abuse started as early as I can remember. I actually had an experience that came back to me in a dream that I confronted my mom with when I was an adult where I was falling back in a high chair. And that happened in Cuba when I was 18 months old, where he backhanded me out of a high chair onto a coffee table.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What about the burn marks?

RIVAS: The burns came from sometimes, you know, from a knife. He would heat it up at the gas stove, and there was one time when I was about 7, he was a smoker and I thought it would look cool, so I tried it when I was 7 and he caught me outside, and he said, you want to smoke, let`s smoke. He proceeded to light cigarettes and burn them on my lips.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Burn them on your lips?

RIVAS: Yes. Yes. And then to add insult to injury, he was the one who came to give me first aid after it was all done.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s so sick, it turns my stomach. I`m so sorry you went through that. Victor, you were 12 years old when you were so desperate, you decided to go to a local police station for help. You told them that your dad was beating you and cutting you and burning you. You showed them the bruises, the scars, the burns. And yet they didn`t help you. Why on earth not?

RIVAS: Well, you know, this was at a time when there were no hotlines, there were no shelters for my mom to turn to. And we had had the police at our house many times. That`s why I finally resorted to go in there myself. Everything was under my clothing so, you know, our face wasn`t damaged in most cases. So this was a way for me to show them what was going on.

They were horrified at what they saw. But they said I could sign a formal complaint. And they would go and talk to my father. And then ultimately they said there was nothing more they could do, that it was a private family matter and that`s the title of my memoir by the same name.

That was the day that I came home and I sat my mom and my older brother down and I said, if I get a gun and I shoot him, will you back me up. They didn`t say yes, but their eyes said yes. I thank God that he had a better plan for me and my family.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Finally when you were 15, you confronted him. Tell us about that.

RIVAS: Well, at 15, my dad had kidnapped us from Los Angeles, California, to Miami, Florida. We were -- my mom was no longer in the house, so things went from worse to horrendous. That eventually led to the first and only physical confrontation with my father that I started. And I exposed him for the coward that he was. He didn`t fight back. But after the beating, he left the house right after and I figured he was going out to get a gun. And that`s the night I ran away from home.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Here`s my big issue. This is not just a women`s issue. If there`s any abuse inside the home, everybody is victimized.

Now, check out this poster of Victor, and it says, "I am not a woman." Now, I can tell, Victor, you`re not a woman. But I understand you`re doing this to shed light on how everybody is victimized in the home. Frankly, even the family pets are victimized. They find this time and time again.

A man who beats his wife is going to beat the kids is going to beat the family pet.

RIVAS: Right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Richelle Carey, this is part of the misconception that it`s just about women. That`s important. But it`s more than that.

RICHELLE CAREY, BOARD MEMBER, MEN STOPPING VIOLENCE: Oh, it`s so much more than that. One thing I was really struck by, Jane, about what Victor was saying is one of the reasons his father did it is because he could because there were no consequences. He specifically said there were no consequences.

The group that I work with, Men Stopping Violence, we teach a class in Dekalb County with 45 men, every couple of weeks, and our trainers always ask the men, why do you do this? Did you feel like there would be any consequences?

Victor and Jane, out of a class of 45 men, one man raised his hand to say, I felt like there would be consequences by my actions. All the rest of them knew they would be able to get away with this behavior.

So I hear exactly what Victor is saying about why his father kept doing this. He knew he would get away with it. It takes men like Victor to do what Victor is doing, for men to know it has to stop. You will eventually not be able to get away with it if men like Victor keep speaking up.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. He is a hero. I`m so sorry, Victor, that you went through what you did. I am just so impressed that you`ve come out the other side to an incredibly successful career as an actor, and that you seem like a person who`s filled with love and hope and not this bitterness. And that is a huge accomplishment.

Victor and Richelle, thank you so much. You are, Victor, my hero.

Coming up, Brett Favre wrangles himself a sexual harassment scandal; the NFL investigating his alleged raunchy sext to female co-workers. We`re taking your calls on this, 1-877-JVM-SAYS. You won`t believe the latest developments.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just, you know, I have your number or he was going to give you my number. And your text was sweet and I --



VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hey, did you wear purple today? I did. It`s a symbolic gesture. Millions of people around the country wore purple today to show their support for lesbian and gay students all across the country. We are in a fight against bullying that can turn deadly. Spirit Day was put together to honor recent suicide deaths of gay and lesbian students all around the country.

Celebrities, TV hosts, students, all of them putting on purple today; Facebook and Twitter also joined the fight. And you better believe I`ve got my purple on. We`ve got to stop this bullying, this killing of kids.

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

Switching gears: tonight`s stunning allegations escalate in the Brett Favre sexting scandal. The former New York Jets sideline reporter who allegedly got photos of Brett Favre`s penis on her cell phone has now hired an attorney and says she`s thinking about meeting with the NFL.

So what does Brett Favre have to say about all this?


BRETT FAVRE, PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL PLAYER: That`s a league issue. And I`ll say it again and my focus is solely on Green Bay. And, you know, that`s where it`s going to stay.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you at least answer why you haven`t denied this story?

FAVRE: You know what, I mean, the one thing I`m going to say is, is that`s something that`s within the league. And I just have to leave it at that.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And that is all he would say. He seemed very subdued there. And Favre kept dodging the reporters` questions. It`s no wonder. He`s been married for 14 years to the same woman, his wife, Deanna. This famous football quarterback is accused of putting a camera down his pants and taking photos of his penis.

You know, that`s what allegedly -- allegedly -- allegedly happened. And he allegedly e-mailed them to a very attractive female sideline reporter by the name of Jenn Sterger. Now, he may be in more hot water than we know.

I want to hear what you have to say about this. Is it anybody`s business? Or should he be called on the carpet by the NFL? 1-877-JVM- SAYS.

Straight out to my fantastic expert panel: we begin with Radar Online senior executive editor, Dylan Howard. Dylan, what are the latest twists and turns in this one?

DYLAN HOWARD, SENIOR EXECUTIVE EDITOR, RADARONLINE: Well, Jane, it was an awkward press conference today. Brett Favre almost resembling a Tiger Woods press conference, if you like. He dodged those questions. Interestingly enough, he hasn`t denied the original report suggesting that he made those lewd text messages to Jenn Sterger.

Now, Favre was interviewed by the NFL`s security officers yesterday. He wouldn`t comment, nor would the NFL comment about the status of that investigation. But we`ve also learned today that the NFL has sought out the editor to to ask him about how they obtained the particular information that was published some two weeks ago.

And further to that, Jenn Sterger has not denied that she won`t also speak to the NFL. She`s saying that she reserves her right in that, but still very much that is an option, which is interesting given that the original information which was published supposedly did not come from Sterger directly herself.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So maybe she showed these alleged texts and photographs to a friend, and the friend then decided, hey, I could make some money on it? Is that a possibility anyway?

HOWARD: Look, that`s a possibility. Anything`s a possibility in this. It remains to be seen how that information actually came out. But interestingly enough also, Sterger has today denied that this is an apparent shakedown of Brett Favre. Although she has engaged a law firm, she says she`s not interested in Favre`s money.

But she is considering, as I say, whether to cooperate with league investigators --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, well, why does she need an attorney?


HOWARD: -- who seem hell-bent on getting to the bottom of this.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is not a criminal matter. I`m wondering why she thinks she needs an attorney. So we`re going to get to that. broke this story on this penis photos that Brett Favre allegedly sent to Jenn Sterger -- there she is. DeadSpin admits paying as you just heard, a third party, not her, a third party for the information.

Here is a voice message purportedly left by Brett Favre. However, HLN has not confirmed that it is his voice. You listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So send me a text because I`ll be in the building, well, for about a couple of hours. Love to have you come over tonight. But, I know, I think (EXPLETIVE DELETED) came up and asked you --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Steve Santagati, Has Brett done something wrong? Should he be in the kind of spotlight he is in right now?

STEVE SANTAGATI, BADBOYSFINISHFIRST.COM: You know, if he was any other guy, he didn`t -- he definitely didn`t do anything wrong. We all do it. I just sent you a text, Jane. But he -- he --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I hope it doesn`t have a photograph attached to it. That`s all I can say.

SANTAGATI: It does. I had to send it twice. I had to send it twice to get it all in.

Listen, in all seriousness, he -- he made a mistake because he`s a public figure. He`s a celebrity. He also has a contract with the NFL that I`m sure has a -- has a disclaimer in there that says you have to act appropriately, if you will.

But we all do -- we`re all human beings. Whether you`re a celebrity, rich, famous, it doesn`t matter, we all think about sex, we all want to do it. He probably should have just sent her a picture of some cash, he would have gotten further.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh well, you know what, that might be unfair to her. She`s not the one who broke this story. So I think that kind of says something good about her.

But Jenny Page, you`re a criminal defense attorney. This isn`t a criminal matter. The NFL is investigating this. Why do you think she needs an attorney?

JENNY PAGE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You know, I don`t know if she`s planning on some kind of civil action. It doesn`t appear to be a criminal situation now although --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me give you a hint. Her lawyer said they`re going to pursue any potential remedies that may exist.

PAGE: You know, it occurs to me, if he`d walked up to her in a rain coat and flashed her, he would have been subject to possible indecent exposure charges. So it doesn`t appear there are going to be harassment charges, or indecent exposure, or misuse of the Internet criminally.

But just because being -- it`s not a crime to be stupid, doesn`t mean that he hasn`t been convicted in the court of public opinion.


PAGE: This is -- this is a man who has spent 20 years, not just being a good athlete, but preening his role like Cal Ripken into being this squeaky-clean guy who`s just the face of football, and never misses a game. And I think in today`s days with the tragic stories of the sexting and the bullying, it`s hard enough for us to teach our 11 and 12-year-olds they shouldn`t be sending pictures of their private parts to other people and what could happen.

We shouldn`t have to be sending that message to a 41-year-old man.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You are right.

Katherine, Missouri, your question or thought?

KATHERINE, MISSOURI: My thought is that it`s just ridiculous. Someone of his talent and experience, he`s not an 18-year-old child. He should know better.

To send actual pictures of his private parts and when I have a teenage grandson who looks up to all these people, it`s -- it`s embarrassing to me that people would stoop so low. He has plenty of money. I`m sure he could have about any woman he probably wanted. He just did something in very poor taste.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Steve Santagati, who is a self-proclaimed bad boy is shaking his head and wants to disagree with you, I think, ma`am -- Steve.

SANTAGATI: Well, Jane, Jane, you know, I tell everybody, we`re politicians, we`re football players, we`re plumbers, we`re lawyers and we`re doctors, but we`re men first. And this is how men think and act. He might and again, like -- like the lawyer said, there`s no law against acting stupid necessarily.

But we`re men. Men think like this. We are sexual beings. And we do stupid things because our GPS, Global Penis System, drives us in the wrong direction sometimes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, let`s talk about --

HOWARD: It doesn`t make it right --

SANTAGATI: That`s how it is.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Go ahead, Dylan. What?

HOWARD: Oh I was going to say, it doesn`t make it right. And here we have a future hall of famer, an absolute icon of the game, and someone who must uphold the values of being a role model to young men. And whether or not he`s a human being --

SANTAGATI: He`s -- he`s still a guy.

HOWARD: He`s got to behave a certain way.



PAGE: And that`s the situation, Jane.


PAGE: This man has held himself up as a role model. And, you know, I think it`s funny, we think when somebody has excellence in something like athletics or singing, it means they have excellence in character as well. And there`s just no correlation. Just because someone is a good athlete doesn`t mean they have good character.

But like your show yesterday showed no means no, when this woman did not respond to these e-mails, when she did not respond to these voicemails and overtures, at some point it becomes harassment.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let`s talk about Jenn Sterger. I mean, who is she? We know she worked with Favre when he played with the Jets in 2008. And what I heard is she`s a sideline -- she was a sideline personality. Now, I understand there are sideline female reporters who work for like ESPN.

But what does a sideline female personality and a host do for a football team? What the heck is that, Dylan?

HOWARD: Well, she worked for the Jets. That`s what makes this the interest for the NFL, because she actually worked for the team. So on this particular instance, the NFL has -- is duty bound and has a right to make sure that employees of an organization under its umbrella are not harassed is this vain.

Plus, she`s ticked on; she`s got her own television show and she`s a model and she`s going to do very well out of this. This is certainly going to catapult her into many more households than she ever would have thought of.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Why does she need a lawyer? What are your thoughts? Give me a holler on the other side.



BRETT FAVRE, PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL PLAYER: That`s a league issue that I just have to leave it at that. Once again, you know, I refer that to them.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Football great, Brett Favre in the spotlight after he allegedly texted photos of his penis to a sideline reporter for the New York Jets a couple of years ago. Favre has neither confirmed nor denied the existence of these photos; he keeps saying it`s a league issue.

Becky, Virginia, your question or thought.

BECKY, VIRGINIA (via telephone): My question is why did it take two years for this to come out except after she`s appeared in a magazine and the fact she has got a lawyer means she`s probably afraid that he recorded her end of the conversation and maybe she sent him photos also.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, very, very interesting point. Dylan Howard.

HOWARD: Yes indeed. New York is a one party consent state, for example. On the other hand, California is a two-party consent state. She perhaps has some questions to answer about where she was at the time and whether she recorded this conversation surreptitiously. It`s a very valid point the caller raises.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, my big issue tonight -- trail of the text.


PAGE: Jane, I would like to make a point.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Go ahead.

PAGE: I would like to make a point about Jenn Sterger too. I find it very interesting that a month ago, before any of this came to light with her own harassment, she was asked to be quoted about that other woman, the Latino woman who worked for Azteca and had been harassed within the Jets. And her position and quote was that the woman got everything she deserved and all that she had asked for.

So, it`s sad to me that there`s not support of other women among women.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, well, now she knows what it`s like to be at the center of this kind of scandal.

PAGE: She sure does.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Again, I`m going to talk about my big issue. And that`s trail of the text. If Favre did this, and that`s an if, he`s one in a long and growing line of professional athletes who have left a trail of evidence, text messages, voice mails. Remember this one?


TIGER WOODS, PROFESSIONAL GOLFER: Hey, it`s tiger. I need you to do me a huge favor. Can you please take your name off your phone? My wife went through my phone and may be calling you.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Steve Santagati, when are these guys going to learn there are no secrets in this world of texting?

SANTAGATI: Jane, do you know how it works though? It goes back and forth. Like I don`t just send a picture of myself; a girl says something to me, I say something to her. It goes back and forth. It increases as you need it to increase.

And quite frankly, to go back a little bit, I think Brett Favre is a great role model for guys because he`s teaching them, A, don`t be stupid if your famous and successful and B, don`t get caught. So there you go. He`s doing a good job.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Are you saying what he did was ok because she -- that sounds like the old she asked for it excuse.

SANTAGATI: No, no, no. No, it`s not that she asked for it, Jane. I`m not that guy. It`s very specific. I`m sure they had some sort of dialogue. Women dress a certain way to get attention from men. And when they do and especially this provocative going back and forth with a famous athlete, I`m sure there was some sort of dialogue that got him.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, then why doesn`t he produce that to say hey, it`s not my fault? So either way, I understand that his wife -- Brett`s wife may be making some TV appearances tomorrow so we`re going to stay on top of this story.

Thank you, panel.

Again, Nancy Grace, the very latest on the disappearance of Zahra Baker. They have people on the ground in North Carolina. You`ve got to watch.