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ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL

Fatal Day Care Mistake: Girl Left to Die in Van; Elizabeth Smart Testifies against Kidnapper

Aired November 9, 2010 - 19:00:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, unimaginable grief and rage. New evidence surfaces in the case of a day-care worker who cops say forgot a defenseless toddler, leaving her inside a sweltering van for seven long hours to die an agonizing death. It`s a story that makes you want to scream.

And tethered to trees and forced to participate in revolting sex acts daily, Elizabeth Smart courageously faces her abductor and rapist in court. The now-23-year-old describes in vivid detail her nine months of captivity and repeated rapes. How did she survive her horrific ordeal?

Then, rescued from hell. A massive child prostitute crackdown takes pimps by surprise across the country. Dozens of children sold into sexual slavery, ripped from their captors` grasp. Nearly 900 people arrested. I`ll give you the latest on this astounding strike against child predators.

Plus, a Texas teen kicked off the cheerleading squad for refusing to cheer to root for the man she says raped her. The high school sports star who pleaded guilty to assaulting her ended up back on the team. So why was the victim kicked off her squad? I`ll talk to her live tonight.

ISSUES starts now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMANDA INMAN, DAY CARE DRIVER: I wouldn`t say I was rushing. You know, it was an accident. An honest mistake.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, shocking new evidence in the horrific case of a day-care worker who cops say left a 2-year-old girl to die a slow death from heat stroke in the back of a day-care van.

Police say the 27-pound toddler was strapped helplessly into a car seat for several hours alone. Then, the driver actually gets back in the van and drives it to a friend`s house with the little girl still in the back, either dying or already dead.

And tonight we have new information that the owners of this day care have allegedly been cited before for forgetting a child in a day-care van.

Thirty-one-year-old Amanda Inman charged with aggravated manslaughter for the death of little Haile Brockington. In a gut-wrenching twist -- look at that beautiful little child who didn`t have to die -- it was another child who found this toddler`s lifeless body strapped into the car seat in the back of the day caravan.

Now watch as police interrogate this driver, Amanda Inman, right after this beautiful child was found dead.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

INMAN: If I would be knowing that that baby was on that bus, I would never left that baby on the bus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know that.

INMAN: And I feel so bad, for her mom. I know her mom probably doesn`t want to talk to me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. No, no.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Cops believe little Haile was trapped in the van for seven hours. Seven hours. And nobody notices. I don`t get that. Nobody said, "Hey, gee, where`s Haile?" How can nobody notice a little girl not - - or missing for seven hours?

Let`s remember: Amanda Inman was not the only adult working at this day care.

Parents bring kids to day cares, because they have to go to work. They do not expect to get a call that their child has died of heat stroke, because somebody forgot about them in a small van.

Talk about children in peril. This case makes me want to scream and pull my hair out.

Call me: 1-877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 1-877-596-7297.

And by the way, I am holding the devastated parents` lawsuit in my hands. They are alleging deadly incompetence. Straight out to HLN law enforcement analyst Mike Brooks.

Mike, the new evidence that we`re getting in tonight is just mind- boggling. Tell us about it.

MIKE BROOKS, HLN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: It`s unbelievable. This little girl, seven hours in a van. Jane, we`re talking a van. We`re not talking, you know, a big bus like movie stars travel around in or country singers. We`re talking a van.

And to me this is laziness, because she said that she did -- she checked off the list, but she also said that she wasn`t trained properly.

But the thing is, this isn`t the first time, apparently, this day care has screwed up. But the last time, Jane, no child was killed. And they have three day-care centers still operating in southern Florida. So, you know, how many other times is this going to happen? It`s lucky there`s only one little girl. I mean, this girl did not have to die.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That is absolutely...

BROOKS: Turn around and look behind you, lady. You know, this is laziness.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. It`s unbelievable. Like you say, take a look at the van. We`re not talking about a moving van with a lot of stuff in it.

BROOKS: Right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You`re talking about a small little van with a few seats. And this little girl is a toddler who`s strapped into a car seat, so there`s no way she could have walked off by herself.

BROOKS: Now, or crawled underneath the seat. She was strapped in her car seat. It`s disgusting.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Little Haile was one of five children. Two of her siblings were actually inside the van the day she died. But this poor quiet, shy little girl was sitting in the back seat.

Listen to this driver, Amanda Inman, tell cops about what happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

INMAN: Well, I thought everybody got off the van. But evidently, the little baby was left on the van.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: During the day, they don`t have a checklist there to see, to make a head count, to make sure the kids are there?

INMAN: Inside the school? They should. They have to sign in a book. They have a little sign in sheet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know, it`s so hot in south Florida in August. Cops reconstructed the crime scene and placed thermometers inside a van, and they determined that the temperature inside the van was 135 degrees. Seven hours.

Stacy Kaiser, psychotherapist, a little child found this girl. I can`t even imagine that child`s nightmarish visions. This girl was burning to the touch.

This driver calls it an honest mistake. I don`t buy it. What would Freud say? How do you forget a child?

STACY KAISER, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: You know, I don`t buy it either. What I`m hearing is a lot of rationalizing, a lot of finger pointing the other direction, a lot of excuses. And what I think that this person is literally doing is she doesn`t even want to admit it to herself. It is so repulsive what happened that she doesn`t even want to own up for her own sake.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know, a lot went wrong the day this child died. A completely unnecessary death at her day care. The driver was cited for not doing a proper inspection.

Now, little Haile was signed into the day care as being inside, i.e., off the bus, when clearly she was not. But yet another person was supposed to do a sweep of the van. Apparently, that wasn`t done either.

And get this: we spoke to the attorney representing Haile`s parents, and he claims, as you heard from Mike Brooks, this has happened before. He says the owners of Katie`s Kids Learning Center were cited two years ago when an 8-year-old girl fell asleep inside a van and was left there. Now, she thankfully survived.

We have reached out to the day-care center owner`s attorney. We have not heard back. They are invited on any time. Debra Opri, they have three other day cares in the south Florida. They`re now being sued. I have a lawsuit right here by this distraught family. But the only person criminally charged is this driver. Your thoughts?

DEBRA OPRI, FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY: I read the wrongful death case, and there is more than just the driver. You have a driver`s law. You have a failure to do background checks. This has happened before. You have failure on the most basic levels underlying severe, extreme negligence and child endangerment by this driver and the kiddy school for failure to have their checks and balances in place.

So, yes, all -- the entire school should be sued. It should be shut down immediately, because other children are in danger. And if you look at the prior incidents where children have been left on the bus, it is a clear and convincing case that there is severe child endangerment, negligence and wrongful death.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And again, if this day-care center wants to come on and tell us why that`s not true and give their side, you come on. You can come on tomorrow.

But Robin Bond, you`re a former prosecutor. This little girl was left in the van at approximately 9:15 in the morning. Nobody notices. At 2 in the afternoon, the driver gets back into the van and drives it to visit an ex-co-worker. All the while the child remains in the back seat unnoticed, either dying or already dead.

ROBIN BOND, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Well, it`s a total disregard for the lack of life. And I think that is why the aggravated manslaughter charges have been placed against the person.

You know, you don`t need a checklist to know that you have to check the van when you`re talking about a 2 1/2-year-old helpless infant strapped into a car seat. That child cannot get out or save herself. It is absolutely that caretaker`s duty under the law and under, you know, the laws of the universe to take care of the helpless child entrusted to her care.

BROOKS: Jane, does she not even look into her mirrors when she`s driving? You can look in your rear-view mirror and probably see all the kids in the back.

And the other thing that really, really ticks me off is her kind of, you know, matter-of-fact attitude with law enforcement.

OPRI: She`s in denial.

BROOKS: In denial.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: She`s in denial, but there are no words.

BROOKS: No.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jennifer, Michigan, your question or thought, ma`am.

CALLER: Yes. Good evening, Jane. I just want to tell you I love everything you do. And thank you for everything that you do for everybody out there.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you.

CALLER: My son years ago went through nothing near this but went through a tragic situation with his day care. It was a professional day care; paid a lot of good money to send him there. And his femur was broken in half. And he had to learn -- he was 3 1/2 at the time. He had to be rehabilitated to walk again. And you know, it was very, very tragic, not only for my son but for the -- you know, myself and the entire family.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Did you sue? Did you get anything? Did you...

CALLER: Yes. We -- you know, it was a whole hassle. I got nothing but false allegations from the day care, you know. They went from saying he fell off a chair to she dropped him. It was just such a cover-up.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So let me say this. This is why I think that there needs to be video cameras in all day cares at all times that the parents...

OPRI: And in the vans.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... can log onto the Internet and see what`s going on. And yes, in the van, as well. And there are parents who have filed this lawsuit, want alarms as a matter of law to be placed in every van in every day-care center in this country so that, if a child is left there, an alarm would go off. I think it`s a great idea.

BROOKS: You can put -- you can put cameras in taxicabs; you can put cameras in day care vans.

OPRI: Thank you, Mike. Great point. Let`s do it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`ve got to do this. Stay right where you are. We are taking your calls on this: 1-877-JVM-SAYS.

Plus, Elizabeth Smart comes face-to-face with the man who abducted and raped her for nine long months. This vivid testimony, the strongest evidence against her captor. But could this nutball, sicko still walk free?

And more on this hideous, tragic, unnecessary toddler death in a moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But nobody saw the baby get out, right?

INMAN: I really don`t even remember. Like I say I thought she got off with everybody else.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: During the day, they don`t have a checklist there to see, to make a head count, to make sure the kids are there?

INMAN: Inside the school? They should. They have to sign in a book. They have a little sign in sheet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So there she is, the driver trying to put the blame on the day-care center itself, and we`re asking, does she have a point, even though obviously what she did, there are no words?

Breaking news tonight as we`re learning more about what happened the day 2-year-old Haile Brockington died of heat stroke in a sweltering day- care van. This beautiful little girl, 27 pounds, healthy when she got on that van and then ended up several hours later dead. Dead. In 135-degree temperatures, because everybody forgot about her.

Jermaine, Illinois, your question or thought, ma`am.

CALLER: Hi, Jane. I love your show.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you.

CALLER: I love children. And I don`t like the part that these out here collecting these child-care checks and not making sure. Not only the bus drivers, anybody that was in that school should have made sure that baby was off that bus.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you`re absolutely right. I mean, this brings me to my big issue: deadly incompetence. This woman had only worked at this day care for two or three weeks when little Haile died. Listen to her explanation of the process.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you do that, though? If they`re supposed to get off the bus and you check them off, the baby never got off the bus.

INMAN: No, you know what they do? They just check them. That`s how I was taught.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So, Robin Bond, what I hear is zero integrity. It`s like, oh, you`re supposed to check them off, but instead of really doing it, just check them off. You know?

BOND: I hear...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Go ahead. Go ahead.

BOND: Well, I was just saying, I hear under the law you call it gross negligence. When you commit a mistake, the defense counsel says, "Oh, my client committed a mistake."

But the mistake is so shocking to the conscience that it`s something that no reasonable person would do, it rises to the level of gross negligence, which is fault and for cause, and it`s actionable under any law.

BROOKS: And, Jane, apparently one of these...

OPRI: Reasonable care standard. That bus driver, I don`t know where her brain was at, but a reasonable care standard is you turn around and see who`s in that bus.

BROOKS: Absolutely.

OPRI: She`s driving children. Reasonable care standard has failed.

BROOKS: And Jane, apparently...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mike, what about the checks? What about the checks? It`s 9:15 when this child is left there, and then seven hours later, wouldn`t the day-care center have activities for this child during the seven hours?

BROOKS: Well, you would...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Isn`t that what parents pay for?

BROOKS: You would think so.

BOND: Jane, that`s why they`ll call it corporate negligence. Because they`ll say none of the checks and balances worked. It`s a corporate negligence.

BROOKS: Right.

BOND: But the more important thing is the criminal charges here because this woman is criminally negligent.

BROOKS: Well, the other thing, Jane, one of these facilities apparently closed down last month on southwest 10th Avenue in Del Ray because they lost government funding.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Duh.

BROOKS: So if that one center is receiving government funding, so are all the others. Shut them all down until an investigation is finished.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I mean, Debra Opri, do you have -- do you have the legal right to shut them down?

OPRI: You do. You do. Because if corporate headquarters are running four or five different Katie`s Kids units, everything to be shut down until they can go through the checks and balances review of what these people are doing with the children.

BROOKS: Exactly.

OPRI: If they had started with place one, a child is on the bus, is the child now off the bus, is the child now in the school? Where is the child? This is reasonable care standard. The woman doesn`t have to have higher than an 81 I.Q. to basically turn around say, is the child off the bus?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And Stacy Kaiser, psychotherapist, this happens, tragically, all the time outside of the context of day care. Just the day we were reporting on the guy who got drunk at a wedding and took his kid and left -- forgot where the car was, and the kid was in the car, Stacy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God.

KAISER: Yes, I do hear about this all the time in different capacities. And what I think is important to say is we`re talking about really important things about system changes and school changes and monitoring day cares.

But parents at home really need to do spot-checks of your day cares, and you check their track records, you need to check in on them periodically, make surprise visits or get an aunt or uncle so you can protect your own child.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s terrifying. Thank you, fantastic panel.

Kids rescued from hell after a child prostitute crackdown sweeps the whole country. Hundreds arrested. Seventy children pulled from prostitution.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, sick new revelations in the Elizabeth Smart case as the victim herself courageously takes the stand and recounts her nine-month nightmare. The now 23-year-old testifying this week in the trial of her accused kidnapper/rapist Brian David Mitchell.

Elizabeth says he raped her at least once a day and forced her to take drugs and alcohol. Elizabeth described the night in 2003 when she woke up in her bedroom. Something cold was against her neck. Quote, "I remember him saying, `I have a knife to your neck. Don`t make a sound. Get out of bed and go with me, or I will kill you and your family`."

Elizabeth was just 14. She told about the very first time Mitchell allegedly raped her. Quote, "I tried to fight him off me, but I`m a 14- year-old girl against a grown man. Doesn`t even out so much."

Heartbreaking. And what a brave young woman.

Straight out to "In Session" correspondent Jean Casarez.

Jean, you`ve been in the courtroom for Elizabeth`s graphic testimony. Paint a picture of the emotions inside that courtroom as she spoke.

JEAN CASAREZ, CORRESPONDENT, TRUTV`S "IN SESSION": You know, Jane, I think everybody in that courtroom is sitting there saying, "Wait a minute. This is it. We are watching Elizabeth Smart testify, saying things we`ve never heard about."

She is so eloquent. She is so classy up there. And she is talking to the jury just like she is telling them this story. The questions by the federal prosecutor are very, very detailed and pointed, going step by step by step because, remember, they have to prove the elements of their case, kidnapping and transporting a minor across state lines for sexual purposes. And so they are going very diligently about that to show the premeditation and the planning and that David -- Brian David Mitchell knew what he was doing.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, he tries to pretend that he`s insane by singing in the courtroom. Have you heard any of the singing? And what happens then?

CASAREZ: Every day I`ve heard the singing. Every day. The jury has heard the singing, because the jury is brought in. He`s still there, and he`s singing.

And but you know what? The singing might go toward a mental illness. But remember, insanity is at the time he committed the crime, did he know right from wrong? Could he appreciate the criminality of his conduct?

So at this point, everybody is pretty much ignoring him. But I saw Elizabeth today as he was walked out, because he wouldn`t stop singing, and she just had a look in her eyes of disgust at this person.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Did she cry at all on the stand?

CASAREZ: No, she didn`t. You know what I feel, Jane? I feel like she is describing this 14-year-old girl of what happened to her, and that was her, but she`s separated herself from that person. I think to go on in life and to survive herself.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, she talked about how she was also rescued several months into her kidnapping. A cop approached. Tell us about that.

CASAREZ: Unbelievable. They had -- they lived in a lower camp and a higher camp in the hills right here in Salt Lake City. And they would come down to Salt Lake City. So they came once to the library, because Mitchell said, "I need seven wives in seven cities. God has told me I must have plural wives. We`re going to get a map at the library to see where we go next."

Once they were at the library, a homicide detective approached the three of them, looked at Elizabeth and said, "You look very familiar to me. I think you could be Elizabeth Smart."

Mitchell stepped in, refused to allow that homicide detective to either lift the veil off of Elizabeth`s face or to have Elizabeth do it, and in the name of religion he prohibited it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Whoa.

CASAREZ: The homicide detective left.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Got to leave it there. Great work, Jean.

A child prostitution crackdown.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN MORTON, DIRECTOR OF I.C.E.: Not adult women in control of their lives but girls who were moved about and used for sex so others could profit.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HLN HOST: Tonight almost 70 innocent children rescued from hell on earth. They have been snatched off the street and peddled as sex slaves right here in America. Forced to work dark street corners that surprisingly could be just steps away from where you live.

But tonight, cheers erupt over a massive FBI bust that rescued more than 60 teenage sex slaves. These kids were found at highway truck stops and seedy motels, back alleys, sleazy casinos. You know the areas. You know the places.

The FBI arrested a head-spinning 884 pimps in a stunning sweep from one end of the country to the other. This top-secret mission targeted major teenage prostitution rings in more than 30 states.

So, yes, America, it`s happening all over our country -- kids, American kids, used as slaves. In Tennessee alone the feds nabbed 29 gang members, pimps who went by nicknames like Cash Money and Hollywood. Their specialty: trafficking naive and troubled young immigrants as well as African-American teenage girls forcing them into a hellish life of sex, money and drugs except they usually didn`t end up with the money. The pimps did.

All of these girls found were under 17, the youngest just 12 years old. Tonight I`m going to talk to two women who were trafficked for sex as children and lived this nightmarish life.

Call me 1-877-JVM-SAYS.

But first straight out to Kevin Perkins, assistant director of the FBI criminal investigative division, Kevin congratulations on an amazing operation. This had to take a lot of coordination across the country. Tell us what you discovered while hunting for child sex slaves here in the United States.

KEVIN PERKINS, ASST. DIR., FBI CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIVE DIV.: Well, thank you very much. And thank you for having us on tonight. The partnership between law enforcement across the country was unmatched in this takedown. We found young adults, young children victims from ages 12 to 17; 70 of them across the country.

Our focus was to get these kids off the street, pull them out of this type of lifestyle, and try to bring them back and regain their lives.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, the FBI mission saved kids that are being sexually exploited all across the United States. We`re talking Seattle, Washington; that was the city in fact where the most children were recovered. Agents found 16 kids in the Seattle area being forced into prostitution. In fact, it might even be more than that. The numbers keep mounting.

In Sacramento, California, seven child prostitutes were rescued by authorities. Nashville, Tennessee -- gangs moved young girls from Minneapolis, which has a large Somali immigrant community, to Nashville, Tennessee for prostitution. Detroit, Michigan -- the city where cops busted the largest number of pimps.

So this is happening across the country, Kevin. A lot of people think of sex trafficking as something that happens overseas in some exotic Asian country, but it is happening in America. Correct?

PERKINS: That`s correct. As long as there`s one underage child out there being exploited by these individuals we`re going to seek their prosecution and we`re going to try to rescue these children. It`s very, very important that we get these kids off the street.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`ve got to talk about the customers, too, because they`re the silent co-conspirators in all of this. The customers unlike the pimps have a tendency to be just the guy down the block, who may have a job and may family of their own. But you were not able at this juncture to go after the Johns, right?

PERKINS: There were over 100 Johns arrested in this actual operation --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, good.

PERKINS: -- most of whom will be prosecuted on state and local charges. We`re looking at federal charges on a number of the ringleaders of these things. Some of the charges could carry as much as -- the statute actually carries a life sentence for certain very egregious portions of the crime.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I`m very, very pleased to hear that you rounded up some of the Johns as well because usually they get to go on their merry way. Sometimes even the girls are arrested for prostitution when they get to a certain age. So I think that`s fantastic.

Got to tell you I think, Kevin Perkins, you and the FBI and all local law enforcement, who cooperated with you, did an excellent job. My hat is off to you. I hope you keep doing this and rounding up more of these sickos. Thank you, sir.

PERKINS: Thank you very much.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, 20 years ago a woman by the name of Jeri Williams was a victim of human trafficking. Now, Jeri, we`re so happy to have you with us tonight. You were brave enough to escape your pimp and the dangerous life of prostitution after you were stabbed and left for dead by a John.

And now you`ve devoted your life to working to help other girls who are trapped in prostitution. So please, Jeri, tell us in essence what the worst moment was like for you as a child trapped in sexual slavery.

JERI WILLIAMS, HUMAN TRAFFICKING SURVIVOR: Well, Jane, I was actually a young adult. So I didn`t fit into the child category, but the issue was that a slave is a slave no matter what the age. I -- my worst moment, of course, was being beat and being forced out onto the street every day.

But the worst moment was being picked up by a John who took me out of the area, the track, and fought me basically. He wanted to rob me. He was probably a drug addict. Stabbed me several times in my arm and my neck and fought with me. And my issue was I had to fight with him because I wasn`t going to let him rob me so I would then go home and get beat up by my pimp as well.

That luckily was the last day I was out as well because after that I left my pimp and got away. So I lived for three months walking 82nd avenue in Portland, Oregon. And my pimp basically had a houseful of gang members in my house 24/7 for that amount of time where it wasn`t just about being raped regularly by the pimp but also the gang members and then also with the Johns.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Now --

WILLIAMS: It was a pretty sick situation.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to applaud you for having the courage to speak honestly about what you went through. I know it takes a lot of courage. But they say you`re only as sick (ph) as your secret. So I think it`s wonderful that you`re talking about your ordeal.

My big issue tonight, is this just the tip of the iceberg. I mean this mission rescued about 70 teenage prostitutes some as young as 12. But there are more than 300,000 children being sexually exploited in the United States of America and that is according to the My Life My Choice project.

These pimps, they prey on troubled teens, teens who are hooked on drugs, teens who have run away and often end up without a place to stay, without food, without money and they`re vulnerable.

Nola Brantley, you are an advocate for teenage girls. You were forced into the sex industry. You were one of these girls that`s been rescued except it was years ago.

What forces kids into the vulnerable situation where they end up being pounced on by these pimps? Nola?

NOLA BRANTLEY, FORMER VICTIM OF SEX TRAFFICKING: I think the number one risk factor for children being sexually exploited is them being sexually abused during earlier childhood. About 95 percent of the kids that I`ve seen over the years and about 70 percent to 90 percent nationally have experienced earlier childhood sexual abuse.

Many of them have already been removed from their family homes and put into the foster care system because of either sexual abuse or other forms of abuse and neglect and many of those same children are then re-victimized through sexual abuse within the foster care system to group homes and foster care homes.

I think that --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So what I`m hearing is -- yes, what I`m hearing from you is often they come from troubled households and maybe they`re trying to get out of those households where they may have alcoholism or drug addiction in the family. They may be sexually targeted by a member of the family. They run away and then they find out, well, the person who`s there at the bus depot or the train station who promises to help them is just another exploiter who`s going to victimize them again. Is that basically a fair picture, Nola?

BRANTLEY: That`s absolutely right. And I think the added danger here is now not only are kids who end up running away from troubled homes and end up at bus terminals in danger. Because of the Internet and the chat rooms and the social networking sites, all children are in danger because there are children from more affluent communities and from more stable families that are in their bedroom for hours at night when their parents are sleeping chatting with perpetrators.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, my God.

Michelle, California, your question or thought, ma`am.

MICHELLE, CALIFORNIA (via telephone): Hi, Jane. Number one, thank you for covering this topic; it really brings something home to me as a friend of mine when she was young was also kidnapped in a prostitution ring. My question is there`s over 800 busted in this nationwide sting. What happened to the handful of children that -- they only recovered a handful of children -- my question is, where are the rest of these children?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Mike Brooks, my understanding is that they`re working with the Center for Missing and Exploited Children to try to match them up with missing kids. Tell us about it.

MIKE BROOKS, HLN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: They are. And you know this is the initiative that`s gone on since about 2003, Jane. And since then they`ve recovered over 1,250 kids. They`ve had 438 indictments, 655 convictions.

And you talk about these pimps and these gangs. These are criminal enterprises. They have broken apart over 150 of these criminal enterprises through this initiative. But what they`re trying to do is they`re trying to go back, find these pimps, find out who -- what girls, children were under their supervision or under their guise, if you will, and then go back to the cities. Like from Nashville, back-track back to Minneapolis and find the root of what these organizations are doing.

(CROSSTALK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, we know there some happy reunions between some of these girls and their families tonight. We just don`t know how many.

The other side of the story of course is the customer, what I call the co-conspirator who makes this business tick. And they are not the stereo typical predator. This could be the guy down the block your neighbor, a husband, a father.

How about a major sports star? Remember football hall of famer Lawrence Taylor, LT, allegedly vetted a 16-year-old runaway who would become a prostitute -- forced into prostitution, and he was charged with statutory rape.

Nola Brantley, what about the consumers? Ten seconds.

NOLA BRANTLEY: The consumers represent every face of society. And unfortunately we`ve put the focus more on the victims than we do on those who are victimizing them. And so I think that we need to more aggressively go after the consumers. There is no supply without demand.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely. Thank you fantastic panel and we`re not going to let that go.

Meantime, the jury in the gruesome Petit home invasion trial has endured horrific testimony. Now they`re talking about their ordeal.

Plus I`m going to talk to the cheerleader who took a stand against the man she claims raped her and was thrown off the squad.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Coming up, a cheerleader punished for not rooting for the man that she says raped her. She joins me next with her dad.

But first "Top of the Block" tonight.

Yesterday a jury condemned Steven Hayes to death for his role in the deadly Petit home invasion trial. Today those same jurors are giving us an inside look saying at the end of this trial the judge actually granted their request to meet with the sole surviving victim Dr. William Petit.

And these people were filled with emotion and -- and they thanked Dr. Petit for being the man that he is to stand up and endure this horrific reliving of his worst nightmare. And he thanked them in turn because I think they both served the justice system well.

Jennifer Petit`s grieving father said it best, "Some people just do not deserve to live."

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TARA FIELDS, FAMILY THERAPIST: If we ever wonder why professional adult athletes get away with what they do with no --no remorse, no second thoughts, this is where it begins.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, an outrageous story of injustice that defies explanation. My guest tonight: a courageous teenage girl who was punished, for refusing to cheer for her attacker.

Hillarie was a teenager -- I think she was about 17 -- when she says she was raped by two teenage boys at a party in Texas. Rakheem Bolton and Christian Roundtree were arrested but then they were allowed to return to school after a grand jury initially decided not to indict them.

About three months after the attack, Hillarie was cheerleading at a high school basketball game when Rakheem Bolton stepped up to take free throws, Hillarie stopped cheering and sat down and crossed her arms. And for that, she was kicked off the cheerleading squad. That makes no sense to me.

Both boys were eventually indicted on sexual assault charges by another grand jury. Bolton pleaded guilty to simple assault and got what some people would call a slap on the wrist. Roundtree`s case is still pending.

Meantime, Hillarie continues to be wronged. Her family`s lawsuit against school was tossed out by not one but two courts. They were even ordered to pay the school`s legal fees. What does this young victim have to do to get justice?

I am so thrilled to welcome Hillarie and her dad Craig.

Hillarie, you didn`t run away from this. You ended up graduating from that high school, and I applaud you for sticking it through.

Take us back to this crucial day where you`re a cheer leader and the man that you say attacked you is playing on -- playing foot -- actually it`s basketball. Take us to that very moment and describe what happened.

HILLARIE, SEXUALLY ASSAULTED BY FELLOW CLASSMATE: Well, the first time that I didn`t cheer for him, it was our last home game. And when he got up to the free throw line it felt wrong to cheer for him because he had done wrong to me.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And so what did you do?

HILLARIE: So I stood there and I crossed my arms and I didn`t cheer for him.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So why is that such a big deal?

Then Craig, what did they do to her, what did they do to your daughter for -- for basically I think expressing her First Amendment rights to decline to cheer for somebody that she says attacked her?

CRAIG, DAUGHTER ASSAULTED BY CLASSMATES: Well, that night they didn`t really do anything. It was the week later at the playoff game in Huntsville is when -- that they really reprimanded her for that. After two other occasions where he approached the free throw line and she chose not to cheer, at that point they basically corralled her in the foyer, the other concession stand, and pretty much gave her an ultimatum to either cheer and cheer his name or not cheer at all.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I -- I just find that so outrageous.

Now, here`s my big issue. Is this a case of blaming the victim? An extreme case; the attack was horrible enough. Then the first grand jury decided not to indict these young men. Next came the humiliation of being kicked off the cheerleading squad over Hillarie`s silent and, I say, justifiable protest.

I just don`t understand how two courts could agree with this school`s decision. Debra Opri, weigh in here. What the heck are these judges thinking?

DEBRA OPRI, FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY: Yes. This is a fine line because you`re dealing with First Amendment rights and then you`re dealing with a sexual assault and the care and custody of a child in a school environment. The first and primary thought that the superintendent and the schools should be looking for is the health, safety, welfare of this student.

And if it was a position where she was absolutely enraged or upset or emotionally distraught to be in his environment, why wasn`t he suspended, why wasn`t she released from doing whatever she was doing, but not required to leave the cheerleading squad.

So the fine line is what comes first, Jane? Does it come with the rights of the health, safety and welfare of a child student, or the First Amendment rights of this school in saying you have to cheer because those are the rules.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Right.

OPRI: I am very distressed because they were forced to choose.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hillarie, how did you feel when you were reprimanded for not cheering for the young man that you say attacked you?

HILLARIE: I felt very upset, because cheerleading -- cheerleading was my high school career. That`s what -- I did that my entire high school career and when they told me that I couldn`t -- that I had to choose between cheering for him or not cheering at all, to me, it was worth giving up cheerleading to not cheer for him.

(CROSSTALK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, on the other side of the break, we are going to get deep into this. It`s outrageous.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FIELDS: I can`t applaud this young girl and her parents strongly enough for saying so much has been taken away from you, but the one thing you have control over is your voice and your action, and her action to say at least I will not applaud him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And we applaud her, too. My guest tonight was viciously attacked she says at a high school party in 2008. She was kicked off the cheerleading squad for refusing to cheer for the boy who attacked her.

He ultimately pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault. He was sentenced to one year in jail, but then the judge suspends the sentence, he gets two years probation. Two years probation and I think -- what -- 150 hours of community service.

Dad -- Craig, why have you decided to make this a personal fight of yours on behalf of your daughter? Why?

CRAIG: Well, mainly because we feel like that she was not treated fairly from the beginning; the standards between how those guys were treated and how they were allowed back in without any punishment or repercussions of what their actions were. And when Hillarie decided to take her stand, which we were very proud of and unknowing to us, either, that when she did it, we learned it the same time the rest of the world learned it that she was taking this stand.

And when the repercussions of that which now we know she got kicked off, hardly seemed equal justice. So -- and -- go ahead.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We reached out to your former cheerleading coach, the school superintendent, the athletic director. We did not hear back. The local district attorney told us no comment.

Rakheem Bolton`s attorney did say this, though, quote, "Hillarie does have a right to put on a silent protest but she can`t do it with the uniform of the school. She could have the sat in the stands in her regular clothes and protested in silence," end quote. Hillarie, what is your reaction to that?

HILLARIE: Well, I guess my reaction to that is I guess I kind of did take my silent stand in my uniform. It came back and I guess bit me in the butt a little, but I got put back on the squad and I kept going and I finished out my high school career in cheerleading.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Has this made you a stronger person?

HILLARIE: Yes, ma`am, very.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: In what way?

HILLARIE: Well, I know what to stand up for and I know now what`s wrong and right. And I`ve learned a lot of lessons, and I think I`ve had to mature a lot more than I probably should have, but it has made me very strong.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And are you going to perhaps go into the legal profession now, or has this inspired your career choices in any way?

HILLARIE: In a way. I`m going to do forensic science.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, very good. Well, you must be very proud of your daughter, Craig. Ten seconds. Tell me how you feel about your daughter for doing this and standing up.

CRAIG: I could probably do that in about three seconds. She`s my hero. She has given me strength as well as her mother and I think she`s given the world strength. We have learned a lot about the crime of sexual assault and not only the fight for her, but we hope that this inspires young women --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Got to leave it right there, sir.

END