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Cops Believe They Have Found Zahra; Child Rapist Gets No-Jail Promise; Sex Slave Victim Rescued

Aired November 12, 2010 - 19:00:00   ET



JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST: Tonight, blood-boiling outrage erupts. A judge says a man who sexually assaulted three teens could walk free. Even more shocking, the sicko worked as a juvenile counselor, and his victims were the very girls he was supposed to be trying to help. Furious protesters now lashing out at the judge. You won`t believe the court`s explanation.

And the secret life of a teen sex slave revealed. A massive crackdown rescues dozens of children from their pimps. Now a gut-wrenching look at a 14-year-old girl who was held captive and forced to sell her body for sex.

Then, inside the twisted mind of a convicted rapist and murderer. The man who violated and killed Amber Dubois and Chelsea King warns if he were ever set free, he`d kill again. I`ll talk to Amber`s outraged mother and grandmother about this chilling TV interview.

Plus, a tenacious tug-of-war over tigers. From Louisiana to Thailand, critics up in arms about tigers they claim are languishing in cages, deprived of freedom to live in a natural habitat. Tonight can you decide for yourself.

ISSUES starts now.



EMILY DIETRICH, ZAHRA BAKER`S MOM: "Zahra, I`m so sorry that your stepmother -- so sorry that your stepmother hit you whenever she made you walk up that hill. You know I wish I could be friends with you. But you remember they told me you`re probably in heaven with the angels and God. Surely God is taking great care of you. I am 10 years old, too."


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, breaking news in the Zahra Baker case. A short time ago police in Hickory, North Carolina, made the announcement we have all been dreading.


CHIEF TOM ADKINS, HICKORY POLICE: We have recovered enough physical evidence to believe we have found Zahra. Please understand that I cannot get into many specifics about the investigation, but the DNA evidence from the bone found on Christy Road matched a sample, a DNA sample, from the house on 21st Avenue Northwest. The sample from the home was taken from personal items believed to be Zahra`s.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: The chief would not confirm that the remains are definitely Zahra`s, because they still need to do DNA testing. He said they`d be taking cheek swabs from both biological parents. Both of them. So now the timing of Zahra`s biological mother`s trip to the United States makes sense. You heard from her just moments ago.

Straight out to Jean Casarez, correspondent for "In Session" on TruTV.

Jean, what is the very latest?

JEAN CASAREZ, CORRESPONDENT, TRUTV`S "IN SESSION": Well, the very latest is that we knew this was a homicide case for several weeks now, and they`ve been building their case. And now they`ve got the physical evidence. It appears as though that the remains of Zahra Baker have been found. Of course, they would not conclusively confirm that until DNA testing is done.

But while this happens, the biological father, Adam Baker, remains free on bond, and ironically, her biological mother is in Hickory, North Carolina.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So I`m wondering if the biological mother, along with providing the DNA with the cheek swab, will also give back story about her relationship with the father and the father`s treatment of the daughter and her battle to see her daughter. And could that impact a criminal investigation?

CASAREZ: Well, I think they definitely will want to interview her. I think they will sit her down, because there`s a possibility that prior bad acts could come into any case. At this point, no one has been charged in any murder, but it is obvious that Zahra Baker was murdered. She`s dead.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What about the father, Adam Baker? He has been released on bail. He`s out there somewhere. I know cops questioned him yesterday, but you`ve got to wonder if they`ve got their eye on him, given that this is a pretty monumental development.

CASAREZ: They have to be, right? Right, Jane? They have to be. You know, he was charged with check charges, overdrawn funds, forged checks, also criminal threats. His bail was low. It was $7,000. Got out on 700, most likely. And that`s because family members came in from Australia and paid his bail. So he is free at this moment.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jean Casarez, thank you so very much.

Stay right here with HLN. Nancy Grace has a producer on the ground in North Carolina. She will bring you the very latest developments in the Zahra Baker case coming right up at the top of the hour.

Tonight, unadulterated outrage in New York after a serial rapist gets a plea deal that could keep him out of jail. That`s right. No jail time, zero, zip.

This rapist -- we can call him that, because he pleaded guilty -- was a juvenile counselor with the Manhattan family court. He preyed on the very girls he was supposed to help. Girls in his custody. Here`s a photo of 47-year-old Tony Simmons from WCBS. He has pleaded guilty to raping a 15-year-old girl and sexually assaulting two other teens. And the judge reportedly plans to give him probation? When formal sentencing occurs on Monday. That`s right, I said probation. That means he can walk right out of court a free man.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... is a real crime! Simmons should do real time! Rape is a real crime! Simmons should do real time! Rape is a real crime! Simmons should do real time!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... is a real crime! Simmons should do real time! Rape is a real crime! Simmons should do real time! Rape is a real crime! Simmons should do real time!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... is a real crime! Simmons should do real time! Rape is a real crime! Simmons should do real time! Rape is a real crime! Simmons should do real time!


VELEZ-MITCHELL: More than 100 women took to the streets blasting Judge Cassandra Mullen -- that`s right, a female judge -- for reportedly agreeing to this no jail sentence. We tried to talk to Her Honor, but she told ISSUES no comment.

Does this judge really want to let a child rapist off with no jail time? Really? You really want to do that, Judge?

Simmons would assault these girls right before they walked in the courtroom. Prosecutors said he raped a girl inside the courthouse in the basement moments before leading her into court in the very same building. These girls had to sit there in court with him, afraid to say anything.

This sentence flat-out sends a message that our society does not take crimes against women seriously. It is a war on women.

We begin with the executive director of NOW, the National Organization of Women, in New York City, Sonia Ossorio.

Sonia, this guy is going to be sentenced on Monday. Tell us why you are so upset that you led that large group of women into the streets.

SONIA OSSORIO, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NOW NEW YORK CITY: Well, you said it, Jane. This case shows that rape just isn`t taken seriously enough in our society.

This is such an outrageous case. You`re talking about a guard who`s got three girls in his custody. He`s set to walk into criminal court, admit to his crimes, and walk back out. Just in time for lunch.

I mean, Tony Simmons is not going to do a day in jail, and Judge Cassandra Mullen thinks that probation is OK? You know, she did not even question this wholesale plea deal that took place. It is an outrage.

And, you know, it`s the 11th hour, but this doesn`t have to happen. The reason -- this in a review period. This can still be rectified. I think the D.A. should go into the courtroom on Monday and say, "Look, we didn`t -- our A.D.A. came in here. We didn`t know that he was doing to do this. We mishandled this case. And we`re telling you that if you vacate this plea deal, we will take this to trial, and we will let the jurors of New York decide Tony Simmons` fate."

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I think that`s a great idea.

OSSORIO: ... responsibility.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jeff Brown, criminal defense attorney, I hear you`ve been shaking your head.

JEFF BROWN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes. I couldn`t disagree with you more. I mean, you`re not understanding the criminal justice system. There`s no way this judge, especially a woman judge, wants to put this guy for ten years probation. The problem is that the prosecutor doesn`t have a good case. They`ve made a deal here, and they`re afraid they`re going to lose this case if they take it to trial.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Nonsense! Nonsense!

BROWN: They`re trying to salvage -- she had a filing a false police report. This girl has probably very little credibility.


BROWN: You don`t think the prosecutor wants to put this guy away?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me tell you something. Here`s what`s so twisted about the case. The girl Simmons raped, OK, when she was, what, 15 years old, got more prison time for falsifying a police report than he might for raping her. Now, we`re calling this girl Ashley. She came forth and spoke...

BROWN: They can`t prove the case.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: She spoke because she was so outraged. Let`s listen to her.

BROWN: They can`t prove this, though.


ASHLEY, RAPE VICTIM: There`s no way you could have any kind of feeling towards a situation like that. Like, OK, I just been raped, and I`m going to go sit in a courtroom and be sentenced.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. Now we have to mention HLN`s policy is not to show the face of a rape survivor. But in this case, Ashley wanted to talk on camera.

Now, the day Simmons raped her, Ashley got a one-year sentence. What was her crime? That she initially told police she didn`t know who had jumped her and hurt her on the way to school. So wait a second. That`s worse than rape?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: What`s wrong with our criminal justice system?

BROWN: Nothing.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The person who needs to be in prison are the violent predators like this guy, who was raping children inside the courthouse. And those are the very people we let walk, even as we lock up kids for minor offenses like falsifying a police report. This is outrageous.

I want Dr. Judy Kuriansky to weigh in, clinical psychologist -- Dr. Judy.

DR. JUDY KURIANSKY, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, I`m mad at another entity here besides the criminal justice system, and that is the city. Listen to the qualifications for being a juvenile counselor.

I have a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. working with years for kids and know that it is very difficult to work with juveniles offenders. You have to be really qualified to be a juvenile counselor.

According to the city, as this man was, that all you have to have is a bachelor`s degree and two years of experience working with 10- to 16-year- olds or a high-school degree and four years experience.

You have to be far more experienced than that, because perpetrators also purposefully put themselves in the place where they can commit their crime.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. On the other side, we`ll talk about the district attorney.

All right. This is outrageous.

Coming up also, a mother breaks her 14-year-old runaway out of prostitution. You will not believe how she discovered her precious child.

And outrage in New York. A rapist who used to be a juvenile counselor might walk free this coming Monday because of an outrageous plea deal.


ASHLEY: I was outraged and I was afraid. I was afraid for myself and any other young woman that is coming up in this world today. What are we showing them?




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Give women hope! Rape is not a joke! Give women hope! Rape is not a joke! Give women hope! Rape is not a joke!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Give women hope! Rape is not a joke! Give women hope! Rape is not a joke! Give women hope! Rape is not a joke!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Give women hope! Rape is not a joke! Give women hope! Rape is not a joke! Give women hope! Rape is not a joke!


VELEZ-MITCHELL: A former juvenile counselor could walk free Monday, even after he pleaded guilty to raping one girl and sexually assaulting two others. A judge expected to sentence him to probation. That means he can walk right out of jail. Outrageous.


ASHLEY: I would rather that this -- that the case had been lost and that the case had been found he was not guilty, with them pushing to make sure that he served time, and then it may not have worked, than to give this man just a slap on the wrist and send him home.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: My big issue tonight, passing the buck. The judge has reportedly explained that the plea deal was, quote, "an offer from the D.A., not the court" and that the D.A. let the case stagnate for five years.

But the D.A. says the plea deal he recommended did involve jail time. Still, WPIX reports that the D.A. signed off on the plea deal.

And by the way, Manhattan`s district attorney is Cyrus Vance Jr., the son of the former United States secretary of state, Cyrus Vance. So I`m wondering, Sonia Ossorio, director of NOW New York City, could elitism play a role on some level here?

OSSORIO: Well, you know, one of the things is you see it in -- the public would be shocked to know that rape cases are dismissed all the time, not indicted, pled down, not to the degree that this one has been, but it happens every day. And you know what happens? Society...

BROWN: So do murder cases.

OSSORIO: The criminal justice system, they want to see the perfect victim. And you know, a girl who is in trouble with the juvenile justice system, a 13-year-old girl, you know, trafficked in the sex trade, the drunk college student, isn`t a sympathetic enough victim. And that`s what happens. And the fact of the matter is, in this case there are three -- there are three victims.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Well, I have to say this. Simmons` rape victim Ashley admits she didn`t say anything about the rape for three years, because she didn`t think anybody would believe her.

Then two other girls came forward. Those girls described their ordeals as being assaulted one minute and then led into court the next.

Now, here`s a photo of this creep, Simmons, from WCBS. Ashley says that she got into the elevator with Simmons. She was handcuffed and then, instead of pressing the up button to the courtroom, he pressed the down button to the basement. He raped her while she was handcuffed. Then he took her up in the elevator to court and put his finger to his mouth saying, "Shh, don`t tell anyone."

A 15-year-old came forward to say Simmons had sodomized her behind a locker in the girl`s holding area, which happens to be stocked with condoms and cookies. I don`t know. I mean, my head is exploding with these details.

Jeff Brown, why do you think they can`t make a case with three girls?

BROWN: Well, because they can`t always bring all the facts into -- into one courtroom on one trial. Sometimes you can. But the law usually prevents that. You don`t want to convict somebody because they may have committed crimes in other cases.

So the D.A. is looking at this case, but I can guarantee you no D.A. - - and I was a prosecutor. We would love to try cases. We wanted to put people away. There`s no way this D.A. said, "I`m going to give away the farm and get all this bad press today." It just doesn`t happen. There`s a problem in this case. They know about it and they`re afraid that they won`t be able to convict this guy. That`s the only reason they`re doing this.


KURIANSKY: This is where the law fails justice to the victims, because of all these shenanigans that you`re talking about. When, in fact, as you said, Jane, the girls are frightened to come forward.

BROWN: The law...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hold on, hold on. One at a time!

KURIANSKY: They are ashamed and they are fearful of not being heard and believed. That`s exactly the problem.


BROWN: The law...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dr. Judy, start from the top. I missed it, because everybody`s talking over each other. What are you saying, Dr. Judy?

KURIANSKY: I`m saying this is where the law fails justice and fails women because, as Jane, as you said, the girls are frightened to come forward. The National Organization for Women knows this. We`ve been fighting for years for women get over the fear, the shame, the embarrassment and the sense that they will not be believed if they say their story. So this is why this case is so...

BROWN: That`s not the law`s problem. That`s people`s problem.

KURIANSKY: The girls need to be believed.

BROWN: That`s people`s problem. That`s not the law`s problem.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Please, please, seriously. Sonia Ossorio, you plan to go and protest on Monday. What would you like the court system, the district attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr., and this judge to do?

OSSORIO: It`s the 11th hour, but this is not a done deal. He has not been officially sentenced. There`s a couple of things can happen. The judge is receiving a probation report. It`s going to have new information there. All she has to do is find new information.

She can look to the fact that the victims have been traumatized and say, "I cannot give this plea deal any longer." She can offer him a new deal. She can give it back to the D.A.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Thank you, fantastic panel.

Up next, confessions of a serial killer. A man serving two life sentences for murders says if it wasn`t for him being in prison, he`d kill again.



AMBER LYON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What was your first reaction when you went on the Internet and went onto and saw the ads with your daughter?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was heartbroken. I was scared. They showed her face. It was in a hotel room. And she had on lingerie and a wig. She was in very sexual positions.

LYON: How old was your daughter?



VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, on the heels of a massive bust that nabbed more than 800 people trafficking young girls as sex slaves, one incredibly brave 14-year-old victim tells her story.

This young girl who we`re not naming ran away after a fight with her parents. Her mom tells CNN`s Amber Lyon that soon after her daughter was approached by a woman at a fast-food restaurant who offered her a place to stay. The girl had no idea the person offering her help would get her hooked on hard drugs and become her pimp.

After nine hellish months, the girl`s mother happened to spot her daughter`s photo in an ad for sex. Police tracked down this girl and saved her life.

CNN`s Amber Lyon got this big exclusive, and she joins this now.

Great to have you. Amber, you spoke with this young girl. What happened during her nine months of hell?

LYON: Well, Jane, like you said, it was hell. This girl was pretty much forced to spend the entire nine months in a hotel room in one of those nasty, smelly, run-down hotels off the side of the highway. And she`d pretty much lay around there all day, waiting for men who responded to her sex ad on to show up and molest her and have sex with her.

In addition to that, her mother says she believes she was physically abused. When the girl got home after she was rescued, she was wearing a wig. The mother put her in the bath and said, you know, "Come on, honey. Take off that wig."

And she says, "Mom, I don`t want to." Finally, she eventually took it off and, unfortunately, Jane, the majority of her hair was burnt off. She had burn marks on her scalp. And the mother also says she had what appeared to be a healed stab wound on her leg, as well, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, my God. Well, Amber, I applaud you. You courageously tracked down the woman who pimped out this innocent 14-year- old. I`m sure you were scared. I mean, these people are dangerous. You actually went up to the house and knocked at the door.

The woman who did this to the girl, allegedly, actually faces the same punishment -- this is outrageous. We`ve been talking about this here on ISSUES -- she`s getting the -- she could get the same punishment as somebody would get having a joint of marijuana and taking it across state lines. That`s outrageous. Tell us about that.

LYON: That`s right. We`re talking about human versus drugs. And same punishment here. So this is the deal, Jane. Eventually -- at first the trafficker faced three charges, two which involved a minor. So that meant she would have spent ten years to life in jail, in the slammer.

But the prosecution in this case -- we spoke with the U.S. attorney -- he says that they didn`t feel the 14-year-old victim was stable enough to testify against the trafficker. That happens in a lot of these cases as you know, Jane, with victims.

So they said better than nothing, they allowed the trafficker to plea out to a lesser charge, which involved five years or less in prison.

And we spoke with the attorney. I was really hard on him. I said, "How the hell in the U.S. can you traffic a 14-year-old girl, sell her as a sex slave and face the same punishment as if you were to sell a joint of marijuana?"

And he said that five years is better than nothing. And that`s what they thought they would have gotten had they gone to trial sans victim.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Unbelievable. Are you detecting a theme here, people at home? Are you detecting a theme? The diminishment of women and crimes against them not being taken seriously by our criminal justice system? We have to change it.

Amber Lyon, fantastic work. Congratulations.

LYON: Thanks for having me on, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Up next, a serial killer`s stunning confessions. You won`t believe it.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Inside the twisted mind of a convicted rapist and murderer. The man who violated and killed Amber Dubois and Chelsea King warns if he were ever set free, he`d kill again. I`ll talk to Amber`s outraged mother and grandmother about this chilling TV interview.

Plus, a tenacious tug-of-war over tigers: from Louisiana to Thailand, critics up in arms tigers they claim are languishing in cages deprived of freedom to live in a natural habitat. Tonight you can decide for yourself.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You will burn in hell for the actions you have committed. Just hope that day is agonizingly long way away and you have to suffer as much as we with all have.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, a devastated family fights back after horrifying confessions from their daughter`s rapist and murderer. John Gardner is serving two life sentences for raping and murdering 14-year-old Amber Dubois and 17-year-old Chelsea King. He told CBS that if he were ever freed -- this guy right there, you can see the rage in his eyes -- he told CBS there`s no doubt he would kill again.


JOHN GARDNER, SERVING TWO LIFE SENTENCES FOR MURDER: I`m the most dangerous type of sexual predator. I never want to be let out. I will kill. I am the type that needs to be locked up forever.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is an ISSUES call to action. Right there, confessed rapist and child killer John Gardner is telling us, our society, exactly why sexual predators have to be locked up for life.

Amber and Chelsea might still be here had Gardner`s first conviction not been completely bungled. Years earlier this sicko spent just five years in prison for a vicious sexual assault on a 13-year-old girl despite shrinks warning, hey, this guy is going to attack again. John Gardner was still put out on the streets and attack again he did. Free to hunt down Amber, Chelsea, and another female jogger who just managed to get away.

It is time to shake up our criminal justice system and make sure the other John Gardners of the world are not roaming free to terrorize us and abduct and murder our children.

I am honored to welcome Amber Dubois`s mom, Carrie McGonigle, as well as Amber`s grandmother, Sheila Welch. You are my heroes. You have turned this unimaginable horror in your personal lives into action and you`re trying to do what you can to prevent anybody else from going through what precious Amber went through.

Carrie, your reaction to Gardner`s jaw-dropping jailhouse interview.

CARRIE MCGONIGLE, MOTHER OF AMBER DUBOIS: I was disgusted. I was disgusted that he was given a platform to talk. I mean, he should have never been given any time on the air to say what he had to say. It was very hurtful to me, to my family, to the Kings, to everyone. It shouldn`t have happened.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Sheila, you`re Amber`s grandmother. Do you want to weigh in?

SHEILA WELCH, AMBER DUBOIS` GRANDMOTHER: Yes, I do. You know, this was supposed to be a program last week that was going to honor the girls and their life. And I feel like that we as a family got our backs stabbed because of what happened. It was so bad my own father had to turn off the show. He couldn`t stand the pain of watching it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I want to focus tonight on not any TV program but on how we can turn what happened to Amber into a force for good. And I can only hope that perhaps by listening to this sicko it will be a wake-up call to America -- and I`m just hoping for the positive -- that we cannot let these people out because this guy was let out. He could have been behind bars. And if he had been, Amber would be alive today. So would Chelsea.

Gardner gave some very chilling details about the day in February of 2009 when he spotted and abducted 14-year-old Amber. Let`s listen to this segment from "48 Hours".


GARDNER: I pulled up next to her with the windows down in the car. I had the knife out and visible and told her that I also had a gun and to get in the car or it was going to be a lot worse.

She actually looked at me in kind of shock and disbelief and asked me if I was kidding. And I raised my voice and yelled, "No, get the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) in the car."


VELEZ-MITCHELL: So now that I`m listening to this, Carrie, I know what you`re saying in terms of the horror of having to listen to these details. But you also went in and confronted him face-to-face and did sit down and talk to him face-to-face, did you not?

MCGONIGLE: I did. I did.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What was that like?

MCGONIGLE: And I knew that -- well, I knew the details when it aired.

I don`t know. I mean, to have me tell -- to have me tell people Amber`s story is one thing, but to hear him tell what he did to my daughter to millions of viewers is just -- it disgusted me.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What are you trying to do to make sure that your precious daughter Amber did not die in vain? What are you trying to do to change our criminal justice system? Because here`s my big issue; I believe that we suffer from reactive justice. I feel that quite often while police do what they can, they don`t always jump into action until after a murder has occurred.

Tell us about the situation with your daughter when she went missing; my understanding is, Carrie, initially they said she could have been a runaway, even though you begged and pleaded with them and said, hey, this is not the kind of girl to be a runaway. She`s a goody two shoes. She would never run away, correct?

MCGONIGLE: Correct. It took about three weeks before they actually set up the search center. The sheriff set up -- came in and set up a center and started to go door to door. It was after Klaas Kids and Laurie (INAUDIBLE) and we were about to go door to door that they came in.

It`s too late after that, you know? Three weeks -- is 90 percent of them are -- 99 percent are already dead. They really didn`t -- I don`t feel they jumped into action fast enough. So I`m trying to move that process along a lot quicker.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jeff Brown, I believe that this is a problem with our criminal justice system. I mean, there is mistake after mistake after mistake in this case.

First of all, they let him go after he viciously attacks this 13-year- old girl after only five years. Then he repeatedly violates parole and they decide not to put him back in jail. And then my understanding is they take his GPS device off and he`s free to roam.

He wasn`t even registered -- he wasn`t living at the place he was registered to be living. So people in that area didn`t even know he was living there. And then, after a girl is attacked jogging, they don`t put up signs in the park so not only has he murdered Amber Dubois, but he goes on to kill Chelsea King because she went jogging in a park and she didn`t know that this guy had attacked a girl there because nobody said anything.

JEFF BROWN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes. I mean, Jane, we don`t have crystal balls. Neither does law enforcement. If you really want more law enforcement officers out there to do their job, start asking for more federal and state funding.

But, you know, they have to react to these cases. You can`t predict who is going to murder somebody and who`s not. And you can`t sit back and take cases like this and shout those facts out there without knowing all the details. Because a lot of times --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I know the details. And let me tell you something, Carrie McGonigle knows the details. This guy should have been behind bars.

BROWN: But Jane, they can`t just put somebody behind bars if they don`t have the evidence or they don`t have the proof.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, no. I read -- excuse me. Sheila Welch, you -- I read the sentencing report of John Gardner when he attacked that 13-year- old girl.

MCGONIGLE: I did, too.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Back in 2000, it`s detailed how he fondled her breasts, how he ripped her clothes off, how she ran out of the house holding her pants up. Why on earth did this guy get five years, Sheila?

WELCH: Well, I can`t tell you why he only got five years, but I can tell you for sure that he should have been put back in for violation of his parole. And that`s the part that hurts the most.

MCGONIGLE: Absolutely.

WELCH: Because it was violated over and over and over again. Nobody cared. Nobody checked. Nobody read the reports. And it let him free to murder two wonderful, wonderful children.

BROWN: -- to say that nobody cares. It`s extremely rare in the criminal justice system to find that nobody cares. Judges care, prosecutors care; they do try to do the right thing.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m going to give Carrie the last word here.

WELCH: I wasn`t talking about judges and prosecutors. I was talking about the people in charge of monitoring parolees.


BROWN: Yes, but if it gets violated, he goes back in front of a judge with a prosecutor.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And they chose -- excuse me.

WELCH: But he didn`t go back.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: They chose not to put him back in prison despite repeated parole violations because they said --


MCGONIGLE: They didn`t monitor him.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- there`s no room and it would overwhelm the system. Yet locking more people in this country --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- than any other country in the world. We`re locking up people for non-violent drug offenses.

BROWN: That`s true.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The predators are the ones who need to be behind bars.

WELCH: They can`t be rehabilitated.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s leave the non-violent drug offenders out of it.

Thank you so much, ladies. And I applaud your crusade. And my heart goes out to you.

MCGONIGLE: Thank you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Coming up next, are beautiful, majestic tigers being exploited? We`re going to examine a tug-of-war over tigers. We`re going to get both sides of this story. We`re going to go dig deep because these animals can`t speak for themselves.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The sizes of these tigers, just peering out of the cage at me. I suppose they`ve got nothing, and I am their enrichment right now. Their behavior is just so sad.

How can they do this? This is a tiger farm.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was always only going to be one way to consume what tigers were there and in what condition they were in that was in the back of this place. I am frightened here.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, battles over big cats are erupting around the world. Experts say the world`s tiger population has plummeted 95 percent in the last century. It`s believed, as we speak, there`s just over 3,000 tigers left on our planet. That`s why every single tiger counts.

Tonight, two furious tug-of-wars over tigers, one at a tourist attraction in Thailand, the other at a truck stop in Louisiana. Tony the Tiger, seen here in this YouTube video, lives at the tiger truck stop in Grosse Tete, Louisiana. He has lived there his entire life reportedly and is now approximately a decade old.

Now, critics charge that this tiger is being exploited to bring in business to the truck stop. The tiger`s owner furiously disputes that and insists that the animal is healthy and gets one-on-one attention. So you can decide for yourself.

We`re going to talk to both sides tonight. Straight out to Carol Baskin, CEO and founder of Big-Cat Rescue. Carol, why does Tony the Tiger`s situation at this truck stop upset you to the point where you`ve decided to do something about it?

CAROL BASKIN, CEO, FOUNDER OF BIG-CAT RESCUE: Well, it doesn`t just anger me. It`s the main reason people call us about tiger abuse in the United States, comes back to this truck stop. And it`s because he`s being kept in a tiny steel and concrete cell right next to the gas pumps at a truck stop that`s open 24 hours a day seven days a week. He can never escape the -- the sound of these diesel engines and the fumes from the gas pumps and from the cars and the vehicles coming through there.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, we reached out to the owner for his response about Tony the Tiger, who you`re going to see in the photo from Michael Sandlin the owner said, quote, "Every American should have the right to own an animal of their choice as long as they`re able to maintain a proper habitat for the animal. His habitat is very adequate and compares in size to habitats in zoos across the country".

And then he asks, "Do you really think that Louisiana officials would issue permits if in fact the animal is in danger." Well, we have Michael Sandlin on the phone.

Personally, I don`t think the fact that the permit has been issued has anything to do with it because what she`s talking about is the emotional state of this animal as opposed to simply whether it has food and shelter. Michael, what are you saying in defense of keeping this animal in this enclosure?

MICHAEL SANDLIN, TONY THE TIGER`S OWNER (via telephone): Well, first of all, you know, Tony is a beautiful, healthy, young 10 -- 10-year-old male tiger. I`ve had Tony since he was a cub. And no one knows better on -- on how to take care of Tony than I do.

And basically, you know, Tony is not isolated. He has one-on-one attention, and customers come in and visit him all day long.

So, you know, the tiger is not isolated, and as far as his habitat, it`s a 3,200-square-foot habitat with a grassy area. It has air conditioning, a shelter where he can have privacy and a pool for swimming. And you know, Tony is just being very well taken care of. All of the government agencies come in. Actually, weekly and do an inspection. And everything is --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me ask you this question. What about the charges that you`re making a buck off this tiger by promoting your truck stop -- is this your truck stop? It`s -- it`s called the Tiger Truck Stop. And people are saying you`re basically luring in customers using a tiger exhibit and therefore using this animal in order to make money. What`s your response to that?

SANDLIN: Well, I mean, this is a business. It is a truck stop. And you know, unlike Carol Baskin and Big-Cat Rescue, who`s heading this -- this whole charade of lies and half-truths against me in order to take the tiger away from me --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me -- let me -- I just want to say this.

SANDLIN: I -- I don`t -- I don`t --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I -- I was a little concerned about your statement which I read where you accuse the people who are a critic -- critics of how Tony the Tiger is being kept of being domestic terrorists. Now, I have a problem with that because I think that insults the people who died on 9/11 who were killed by real terrorist. I want to bring in Jane Garrison for a second, an animal welfare expert.

What do you make of people who respond to criticisms of the condition of an animal by saying those people are domestic terrorists?

JANE GARRISON, ANIMAL WELFARE EXPERT: Oh, it`s the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard, Jane. He`s saying that people are terrorists, yet he is an animal abuser. He`s the first thing that he said was that customers come to the truck stop. So you can see that the only thing that`s important to him is actually using this tiger to draw people to his business.

That tiger in that video is exhibiting what`s called stereotypic behavior. That tiger is pacing back and forth. And when a caged animal does that, it`s a sign that the animal is frustrated, they are bored.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. I want to give Michael an opportunity to respond to that. Michael?

SANDLIN: Well, that`s all a lie. The only reason the tiger is pacing back and forth is because these people, these animal rights activists, have come to the truck stop and thrown objects into the cage and --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know what --

GARRISON: That is not true. That is not true.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Carol Baskin, what`s your response to that? The response that you`ve thrown rocks at the tiger.

BASKIN: People who love animals do not throw rocks at them. He is crafty and he`s (INAUDIBLE). He has a sign that says --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. More after the break. After the break, we have some more.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- has been a breeding machine for 10 years straight. (INAUDIBLE) As I look in through the bars, she`s got two day old cubs.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Turning now to a totally different tiger tug-of-war on the other side of the world in Thailand. A heartbreaking sight; a mama tiger and her baby tiger cubs held captive behind bars for the purposes of entertaining tourists, hundreds of them.

How can we be part of the solution? By not being part of the problem; it`s all about consumer demand.

Jane Garrison, you have been studying this tiger temple. What have you learned?

GARRISON: Oh, Jane, this is horrible. In western Thailand, Tiger Temple is run by Buddhist monks. What happens is people go to this facility to get their pictures taken with the tigers. What they see are about ten tigers in this canyon that are clearly drugged and people are getting their pictures taken with them, but what they don`t see is what`s happening behind the scenes.

Behind the scenes, there`s almost 100 tigers kept in tiny barren cages with not adequate food, no veterinary care, and what happens from there is that these tigers are part of this illegal trade in tiger parts. So it is a horrific scene for these tigers.

And what tourists don`t realize is that when they go there for their five minutes of so-called entertainment, they`re actually supporting a lifetime of torture for these tigers.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Numerous animal protection groups around the world have expressed alarm over the treatment of the tigers at the Tiger Temple in Thailand. Check this out.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just can`t help but notice how quiet they are; virtually like they`re posing. You know, tigers are quiet in the heat but this was very odd. He just laid his head in the water bowl.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Take a look at that. Take a look at that. Did you just see that? The tiger`s head was in the water bowl like this. That`s not how tigers are normally.

Let`s see it one more time. Look at that. Tigers normally don`t just sit around like that and let people pet them while they`re -- look at this tiger. Ok.

People are saying, critics are saying these tigers appear to be drugged and out of it. They are charging the temple with abuse claiming that they may even be involved in illegal tiger trade. The Thailand Department of National Parks told ISSUES they carried out a thorough investigation and found no evidence of involvement in illicit trade or maltreatment against tigers.

Jane Garrison, obviously they didn`t see the tiger who could barely lift his head out of the water bowl.

GARRISON: Exactly. And did they look at the cages that these tigers are kept in 24 hours a day? Only ten tigers are taken to the canyon and then also, a report that was done by an animal protection group shows that 75 tigers have disappeared from that facility, and they keep renaming the tigers the same name.

See for Life, which is an organization that`s been following it, they`re encouraging people to write to the government of Thailand and tell them to do something about this, to close this facility, to send these tigers to a better place, to a sanctuary. It would take people five minutes to write a letter to the government of Thailand and to help these tigers and to pass the word to never, ever go to Tiger Temple in Thailand.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ultimately, our call to action, these are all consumer issues. You, the consumer, need to decide how you want to spend your money when it comes to animals because they cannot speak for themselves.

Thank you, fabulous panel, for joining me tonight.

Nancy Grace up next. She has a producer on the ground in North Carolina. She`s going to bring you the very latest breaking developments in the Zahra Baker case.

You are watching ISSUES on HLN.