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ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL

Deadly Blowtorch Attack Kills Couple; Group of Rapists Targets Disabled Women; Greeting Card Controversy; Hacking Hubby

Aired January 7, 2011 - 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, a horrific attack kills a newly-engaged couple on a New Year`s family vacation. Cops say the couple`s uncle invited the family to dinner and then allegedly blow-torched more than a dozen relatives. Now the groom and the bride-to-be are dead. What was this alleged madman thinking?

Then, a stomach-churning case, one of the most disgusting we`ve ever covered here on ISSUES. Police search for a gang of men they say sexually assaulted ten severely-disabled women. These sickos even recorded hours of videotape of these ghastly rapes. Now we`re hunting down these creeps before they can victimize another defenseless woman.

Plus, an uproar over greeting cards that critics call sick, twisted and sexist. One depicts violent images of a sexual assault victim. The online marketer says it doesn`t take responsibility for items sold on its site. But in this grotesque case, should they have just said, "No thanks"?

And it`s a common story. A spouse suspects their partner is cheating. So they snoop around. But this time, a husband is charged with hacking his estranged wife`s e-mail. Now he`s facing five years in prison. Is this a serious case of invasion of privacy or a serious waste of our justice system`s time and money?

ISSUES starts now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE DONAHUE, VICTIM`S MOTHER: They are very much in love. Their last words before they were intubated were for each other. She loves him. And he loves her. And the last six months have been the happiest time of her life, and the most important thing is love.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, a fiery New Year`s Day massacre. A newly- engaged young couple brutally murdered. Twenty-five-year-old Kathryn Donahue, a nurse from Seattle, has died tonight after being attacked by a blowtorch, lit on fire while she and her fiance were on vacation in Puerto Rico.

Kathryn was meeting her brand-new fiance`s family for the very first time. But the family gathering quickly turned into a deadly nightmare.

Everyone was having dinner when Kathryn`s fiance`s crazed uncle burst into the room and allegedly doused the entire family, 14 people, with kerosene and then lit them on fire.

Police say this man right here, Justino Sanchez Diaz, planned the family party purposely to lure everyone into the home he shared with his mother, and then he attacked, using a giant 20-pound propane gas tank and a homemade blowtorch, namely, a flaming towel tied to a stick.

Witnesses say the family members ran screaming from the home, bald, nearly naked with their hair and clothes singed to a crisp. They were screaming, "He`s crazy; he`s crazy." But tonight five people are now dead. Several others remain in critical condition. Diaz in custody, charged with murder.

What led to this senseless, vicious, violent attack?

Straight out CNN`s senior Latin American affairs editor, Rafael Romo.

Rafael, what is the very latest?

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR: Jane, this is an incredibly sad story. They were having dinner, this family and Kate, who`s 25 year old -- 25 years old, and Jesus, her fiance, who`s only 28, for the first time there with the family.

All of a sudden, Justino Sanchez, who`s 45 years old, comes in and splashes everybody with gasoline. And he has a blowtorch. And all of a sudden the place where they were becomes an inferno, becomes hell. Everybody burning.

There were a total of 13 people in the house. Eight in total were burned. Five have died so far. And Jane, listen to this. Among the fatal victims is Josefina Diaz, aged 86. She is the mother of Justino. Also...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So the suspect`s mother. He killed his own mother.

ROMO: Not only his mother but also two nephews, including Jesus Sanchez, and a niece who was 18 years old.

And also, Jane, we understand that the following day his father suffered a heart attack. He recovered, came back from the hospital, only to learn that his wife, the suspect`s mother, had died.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Police in Puerto Rico say Justino Sanchez Diaz has had run-ins with his family in the past. About five years ago, he set fire to a henhouse in the backyard of his brother`s home.

Now since this New Year`s Day attack, Sanchez-Diaz has refused to eat or to speak, won`t talk to cops about what his motive was to lure his entire family to his home, along with this young woman from Seattle, and set them on fire.

Relationship expert Cooper Lawrence, what I see here is a possible pyromaniac and, obviously, a severely demented man who seems to have a huge grudge against his own relatives. Your thoughts on possible motive?

COOPER LAWRENCE, PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, that`s the usual thinking, that he obviously has something, some kind of psychosis. What we find with these family annihilators is that there really wasn`t any mental illness leading up to it that could really be pinpointed or predictable of this kind of fire.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: He set a henhouse on fire.

LAWRENCE: That`s -- OK, so he`s got -- he`s got a problem with pyromania.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes.

LAWRENCE: But that doesn`t say that he`s about to kill the family. The family -- let me explain to you. The family annihilators do it for two reasons. They either do it for altruism or for revenge. This sounds like revenge.

And what happens is they see the family unit as one victim. It`s almost like killing one person when you kill the whole family, to these people. That`s what the revenge people feel.

The altruism ones are usually the ones that, for a financial reason, they feel like they`ve let their family down, and they`re responsible financially.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But Mike Brooks, what shocks...

(CROSSTALK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It shocks me that he was able to create such carnage with common household items: a propane tank. We all have profane tanks when we have cookouts using grills. And then a towel and a stick!

MIKE BROOKS, HLN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: And when he came into the room, Jane, everybody was probably just frozen, not believing what they were seeing. And that`s why -- why he was able to overtake so many people in a short amount of time.

You know, and one of the things also you see sometimes in -- in psychopaths like this, you see maybe a history of fire-setting and also animal abuse. You know, Jane, we see that quite a bit...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely.

BROOKS: ... in some of the people we see all the time who are involved in homicides.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, he set a henhouse on fire.

BROOKS: There you go.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: He set a fire -- fire to a house with a lot of animals inside. And that is a foreshadowing...

BROOKS: It is.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... of things to come. Absolutely right.

Kate was treated in Puerto Rico and was in severe critical condition. Doctors say she had burns over 80 percent of her body, which is not conducive to life, as doctors put it. She was moved yesterday by air ambulance to a hospital in Miami, but she was too badly burned to survive. She died just hours ago.

Denise Whitaker, you`re a reporter with KOMO in Seattle. Kate Donahue, a very popular, well-loved nurse. What can you tell us about her and the reaction of her co-workers, friends and family?

DENISE WHITAKER, REPORTER, KOMO: Her co-workers were totally stunned. And I think they were stunned, too, because of what all you`ve been talking about here, the fact that the suspect supposedly soaked the walls ahead of time in the house with gasoline.

Everyone at first -- and the word here when it first came in here, kind of trickled in. At first friends and co-workers thought they were in a car accident. Then they heard there was a house fire. Then they heard that it was actually a family member who did this. So totally stunned.

And the other thing that I think stunned people here was the outpouring of support. Of course, her co-workers and her pals in Seattle were happy to do all they could, but then people started coming in from around the world saying, "I can donate skin. I`ll be happy to give her some skin to try to help heal the burns." So certainly, a lot of love outpouring for her.

You know, we talked with one of her friends, who they met back when they were in Girl Scouts. She`s working as a waitress right now here in the Seattle area. She`s donating all of her tips from last night and today.

The bar where the couple originally got engaged, Jesus and Kate, back in November, they`re holding a major fund-raiser next Thursday night to try to help cover some of the expenses with the family they`re going to have to go through right now.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, Glen Venezio is a friend of mine who lives in Puerto Rico and joins me by phone.

Glen, this is a huge story on the island. What`s the reaction of those who live there to this horrific tragedy?

GLEN VENEZIO, PUERTO RICO RESIDENT (via phone): Hi, Jane.

As you can imagine, you know, the island is in shock over this. As you know, being a Puerto Rican person, of Puerto Rican heritage, you know, this culture is extremely family-oriented. So, you know, for someone to do this kind of horrific act to their own family, you know, has sent ripples of shock through the people of Puerto Rico.

There were almost 100 people outside of the medical center here, which is called Central Medical, where they were being treated, praying for the family. You know, this is a very religious culture, a very tight-knit culture. Family is everything here. And for this to happen during the holiday time, on New Year`s Day, you know, everything here shuts down for the holidays for over three weeks. So it`s a double, triple whammy here.

You know, my heart goes out to the families of Jesus and Kate. It`s a horrific thing. As for the motive...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You`re right. You`re right. Well, OK, quickly, motive? Ideas?

VENEZIO: Well, obviously there`s no idea yet, which your other panelist there was saying about revenge. You know, could be, but you know, time will tell. I would believe the man obviously is mentally ill, but you know we...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. You`re not a doctor, but yes. Thank you, Glen. And you`re right. Just yesterday we were celebrating Three Kings Day, which is the Spanish holiday with the Magi come with gifts. So this is actually right now a huge holiday in Puerto Rico.

My big issue tonight: sick family dynamic. It`s such a tragedy when one troubled family member can ruin the lives of so many relatives and so many other people who are connected to the family. And this family may have wanted the best for him.

We`ve seen so many of these stories about family violence. Just the other day we covered this story, a man who allegedly raped his own wife and then allegedly murdered his own mother.

Cooper Lawrence, you hear that this guy set the henhouse on fire five years ago. You wonder, why wasn`t he put in jail? Why didn`t they cut him off? Why was he living in his mother`s home? But can we be that black and white about it?

LAWRENCE: We can`t, because it`s not necessarily predictive behavior. Just because you`re a pyromaniac or you kill animals, you don`t necessarily generalize that he`s about to go kill his whole family.

However, the family did recognize there was something wrong with him, and they didn`t do anything about it. Parents tend to look at their children and say, "He`s going through a hard time. He`ll grow out of it." They don`t want to believe that they could have given birth to somebody that is...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Stacey Honowitz, prosecutor, this guy isn`t talking, so that`s going to make the prosecution even tougher.

STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR: Yes, absolutely it`s going to make the prosecution tougher. But I mean, the bottom line to all this is I agree with Cooper.

I mean, in a case like this, when he had a history, he had something five years ago, you do start to wonder what happened? What was the sentence? And did anybody take any kind of initiative to get him help? Because he might have gone through the court system. He might have pled to a simple charge and didn`t get any kind of therapy or help afterwards because people didn`t think it was that big of a deal. Because we`ll handle it within the family. That`s generally what happens in -- in a lot of these cases.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Watch the warning signs. Watch the warning signs. Just because it`s a family member, you can`t go into denial.

Thank you so much, expert panel.

A suspicious husband charged with hacking into his estranged wife`s e- mail. He believed she was having an affair. Should our justice system be involved, or are they wasting our taxpayer dollars by interfering in this marriage battle?

Plus, a revolting series of rapes against at least ten severely- disabled women has cops scrambling to find the group of suspects, at least eight men. I`m going to tell you about the latest fast-breaking developments next. You won`t believe it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This case is off the charts. This case with so many victims, helpless victims, and then multiple suspects just taking advantage of these people that are laying in a bed, you know, unable to move, unable to cry for help.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SERGEANT DAN SCOTT, LOS ANGELES COUNTY SHERIFF`S DEPARTMENT: These victims are severely disabled. Many of them appear to be unable to move, and most of them are wearing diapers. So it`s a residential-type care facility where they`re being cared for and treated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It doesn`t get much sicker than this. Tonight, horrific jaw-dropping details about a group of men brutally raping -- are you sitting down? -- severely developmentally disabled women.

These women are wearing diapers. Some are in wheelchairs. Some are even comatose. They have no way of saying no or yes or anything at all. These men are taking turns raping them, and they are taking videos and pictures of these disgusting sex acts. This is just too depraved for words. Who are these monsters?

L.A. cops say they`ve identified one of them. This is breaking news. A 41-year-old man who was already in prison. But who are the rest of these sickos? Look at these faces. Call the cops right away if you think you recognize any of them.

Cops believe the women were assaulted in some sort of residential care facility. Look closely. This still shot taken from the demented video shows one of the suspects in a wheelchair. Suspects in a wheelchair. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCOTT: One of the suspects is definitely a patient or a care facility resident. Thank you. Because that person was wheeled into the room and was wearing a diaper before the sexual assault occurred.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Terrified families now calling L.A. cops, worried their loved ones might have been victimized. But cops don`t know where these sick assaults occurred, so the most frightening question tonight: could these brutal attacks still be happening?

I`ve got to tell you, people at home, this is one of the most disgusting examples of the war on women that I have ever covered here on ISSUES, and that is saying a lot.

Straight out to CNN`s Casey Wian, who is all over this story and reporting from the L.A. County Sheriff`s Department.

Casey, this story is just so sick and depraved it`s hard to even repeat. You have breaking news about the identity of one of these rape suspects. What is the very latest?

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The latest is, Jane, that one of these men is, as you reported, in prison in Tehachapi, California. He was convicted a couple of years ago of sexual assault, of fiduciary crimes and of neglect in a case with the residential care facility.

Now, there was no videotape involved in that case. It was a case that was investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department. When the sheriff`s department went public with this story late yesterday, the LAPD contacted them and said, "Hey, I think we recognize one of the -- one of your suspects." And it turns out to be this -- this one man who has already been convicted of similar crimes.

Now, sheriff`s investigators say that these 100 hours of videotaped images that were delivered to them anonymously on 13 DVDs are among the most repulsive things they`ve ever seen in their careers, and these are guys who investigate sex crimes against children for a living. It`s really hard to describe how depraved these men were, according to these investigators.

They say they`re a lot closer to solving the case, because they know the identity of not just the one man who is in prison but also another suspect, who was not charged previously, because there was a lack of evidence. Well, now they`ve got 100 hours of videotape, so they have plenty of evidence. And they believe they`re going to be able to find the rest of these suspects and, very importantly, the victims.

Because as you can imagine, many family members have been contacting law enforcement, wondering if their loved ones in a residential-care facility somewhere in Southern California may have been victimized by these horrific crimes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And just so I understand, we`re talking about the same person. We just got word that there`s a 41-year-old Bert Hicks who has been arrested. Is this the individual who is currently incarcerated, who is doing time for a sexual assault involving another residential-care facility?

WIAN: Right. It`s one and the same. We don`t know if it`s another residential-care facility or the care facility that was on -- one of the care facilities on this videotape. The LAPD and the sheriff`s department are still trying to piece that together.

But let me tell you another piece of bizarre information that investigators just told me not long ago. And that is this guy apparently took one of the women on the videotape, severely disabled women, to Las Vegas, married her...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What?

WIAN: ... brought her back to the residential-care facility in Southern California...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Whoa!

WIAN: ... where she was repeatedly sexually assaulted by several men. Unbelievable.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. Mike Brooks, I`ve got to ask you, what on earth? What the heck is going on at this Dante`s "Inferno" madhouse called a residential-care facility when somebody could take a severely developmentally disabled woman to Las Vegas, marry her, bring her back and then present her to be sexually assaulted -- where are the administrators?

BROOKS: That`s a great question, Jane. And as you said, I was a cop for a long time. I have never, ever heard anything like this that is so depraved. This is incredible to me.

But I`ll tell you what: the question is, how long has this been going on, Jane? Because if this guy has been in jail, like Casey says, you know, this could have been going on for years. Over 100 hours.

So I think L.A. Sheriff`s and LAPD now, though, probably have a pretty good idea of probably who this guy`s associates are.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. We`re just getting started. We`ve got so much more information on this. Stay right there.

Callous cards also causing an outrage. You will not believe what some of these cards say. And it`s just sick and twisted. "Congratulations, you`ve got breast cancer!" We`re going to talk about this. It`s gross.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DETECTIVE RON ANDERSON, LOS ANGELES COUNTY SHERIFF`S DEPARTMENT: I was floored. I`ve seen a lot of terrible, terrible imagery in my current assignment that involve children and all kinds of other, you know, hideous things. But this was amongst the most heinous that I`ve ever seen. Poor, defenseless people who can`t cry out for help or fend off an attacker. And what I saw were just these poor people lying there being victimized the most terrible way I`ve ever seen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: At least eight, possibly ten men, who turned some unidentified residential-care facility into a rape camp, repeatedly raping severely developmentally disabled women. Now, one of the suspects is a man confined to a wheelchair. Check this out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCOTT: One of the suspects is definitely a patient or a care facility resident -- thank you -- because that person was wheeled into the room and was wearing a diaper before the sexual assault occurred.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Stacey Honowitz, this guy wheels himself into the room, takes off his diaper, takes off the diaper of one of these developmentally-disabled women, rapes her and then gets back in his wheelchair and wheels away? Honestly, I`m at a loss for words here, Stacey.

HONOWITZ: Well, I wish I was at a loss for words, but unfortunately, I do see these type of cases in the kind of work that I do.

I mean, the bottom line is, Jane, these are defenseless people that will never be able to come to court and say, "This is what happened to me."

But the real issue in this case is, if they were able to get away with it, what was going on there with the administrators? These men knew they could get away with it. Who was around to watch? There`d be great civil lawsuits in these case, because these women, these people were not being protected in the facility that they were at.

So this does go on. I know it`s horrific. I know it`s hard to digest, to think about. But realistically, this stuff does go on all of the time.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s sick. And Mike Brooks, now that they`ve got this one guy, a 41-year-old Bert Hicks, who`s already behind bars, can they squeeze him to get the name of this facility, as well as the names of the other suspects?

BROOKS: As long as he doesn`t lawyer up, but he has an arrest record, so on each arrest record you have a place for friends and associates. And they probably have a pretty good idea, because they now know at least one of the places where he worked, and there are over 100 hours. Now how -- how much of him is in this 100 hours along with some of his friends and possibly associates?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Casey Wian, how did cops get a hold of these DVDs?

WIAN: It`s a bizarre story that matches the rest of this bizarre case. They were sent to Los Angeles County Sheriff`s headquarters here by the mail by an anonymous tipster who said he was hired to scrub the hard drive of a PC that someone else bought from -- now, this is a quote from his letter -- a crackhead in Inglewood for $20.

Now, this guy who was scrubbing the hard drive was so disturbed by these images he came across that he copied them and sent them anonymously to the sheriff`s department. The sheriff`s department investigators are very anxious to talk to this person, because they believe he may be able to provide more clues as to who these men are committing these horrific acts, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, we`re going to stay on top of this story. And I`ve got to believe that they`re going to find out by next week what facility this is. And get ready: all hell is going to break loose when people find out who`s on that tape, those developmentally disabled women. More next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL: An uproar over greeting cards that critics call sick, twisted and sexist. One depicts violent images of a sexual assault victim. The online marketer says it doesn`t take responsibility for items sold on its site. But in this grotesque case, should they have just said, "No thanks"?

And it`s a common story: a spouse suspects their partner is cheating so they snoop around. But this time a husband`s been charge with hacking his estranged wife`s e-mail. Now he`s facing five years in prison. Is this a serious case of invasion of privacy or a serious waste of our justice system`s time and money?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIZ SECCURO, RAPE SURVIVOR: I was given a drink that was apparently spiked with something, and you`ll see on the cover of the book that`s what the drink is, and I was actually gang-raped, although we did not know that at the time.

I recall one of the rapes and I woke up, tossed on a sofa, in a sheet, naked, covered in blood.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, rape victims like Liz Seccuro and many other women across America are outraged over hideous greeting cards that make light of sexual assault and demean women in other ways.

"Congratulations, you got bad touched," says one card with a drawing that shows a woman who appears to be the victim of sexual assault. She`s curled up on the floor of a shower.

And how about this one of a mammogram technician telling his patient or her patient, "Congratulations, you`ve got breast cancer"?

This is just so wrong on so many levels in my opinion. The maker of this product, which calls itself You Stupid Bitch -- that`s the name of the company, doesn`t stop there. AIDS patients get the twisted treatment, too. Quote, "Congratulations, you`ve got AIDS."

There seems to be something to offend everyone here. Who would you possibly send these cards to besides somebody you despise? And if you buy these cards are you just as morally bankrupt as the person who created them?

ISSUES reached out to the online marketer called etsy.com (ph). We did not hear back by deadline and the cards` maker, You Stupid B, says quote, "These cards are not for anyone and are on the humorous side of offensive and are to be taken tongue-in-cheek." Oh, really?

Straight out to my very special guest Liz Seccuro, the author of "Crash into Me", an incredible book. Liz was gang-raped in college and she is my hero for having the courage to speak out consistently on this issue. Liz, what`s your reaction to these cards?

SECCURO: Well, you know what? I mean, clearly You Stupid -- I`m going to say B, -- I don`t know if I`m allowed to say it -- is the seller.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Go ahead, say it.

SECCURO: Yes. Etsy is an online marketplace selling handmade and vintage things where struggling artists sell their wares. And actually there`s a banner behind me that I -- I spent thousands on SC each year.

I can`t believe -- and clearly that iconic image of a woman sitting on the floor of a shower upset -- I did it after my rape. I know they show it in movies and people think it`s just make-believe. It`s absolutely true.

There is a thing -- you can go to the shop and report the item and give a reason why. And the fact that Etsy is hiding behind some stupid -- and it`s not stupid, this First Amendment all of that -- that`s just so wrong. There are cards in there that poke fun at disabled children, that poke fun at illnesses, and poke fun at sexual assault victims.

You know, I like a good joke just as much as the next guy, but clearly -- I don`t know who`s buying these things. That shop should be taken down. The fact somebody would use their artistic talent for such evil is mind-boggling to me.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, yes. Believe it or not, we just got a response from YouStupidBitch.com. Here is a quote. "My response would be these are not for everyone. In some situations these can be positive and fun for the giver and the receiver. Take for instance the breast cancer card. I have had several people give these to people with breast cancer and on the inside they wrote, `And you beat it. We`re with you all the way, you beat it.` And similar positive statements."

Guess what, YouStupidBitch.com. I have had -- I experienced breast cancer, ok? Luckily I`m fine. It`s been more than five years. I`m ok.

But if somebody sent me a card like this, I would never speak to that person again. I wouldn`t be, oh, isn`t that funny? I mean I would be severely offended by this. It`s sick.

I want to bring in another very, very special guest, Carrie Baker is a sociologist and lawyer and she is the winner of a distinguished journalism award named after yours truly given out by the Soroptimist International organization which is an amazing women`s group that exists all over the world for business women. Any woman really and I urge you all to join it, all you women out there. Soroptimist -- check it out.

Carrie Baker won for her gripping and insightful article in Ms Magazine entitled "Jailing Girls for Men`s Crimes". First of all Carrie, congratulations for your win.

CARRIE BAKER, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF SOCIOLOGY: Thank you very much.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You`re an advocate for women and girls. What`s your reaction to these cards?

BAKER: Well, I think it`s like the pedophile book that was on Amazon a while back. We need to speak out about this, and demand that these Web sites remove these kinds of items.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We do. I mean it`s ultimately a consumer issue. Consumers have a lot more power than we give ourselves credit for. The card maker also manages to offend the parents of kids who have Down syndrome. Get this one, quote, "Congratulations your kid has Down syndrome" and, quote, "People with Down syndrome are awesome but their parents are a-holes."

Thoughts, Stacey Honowitz, prosecutor?

STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR: I mean look, Jane, what do you say? You`re not going to hear anybody say "this a good thing". It`s disgusting, disturbing. The bad part about it is we`re giving it some press so they`re getting publicity. That`s one thing.

The other hand is, we need to talk about -- we demand that these things not be sold. And your other guest is right. We talked about the pedophile book last week or a couple of weeks ago. Why is that guy getting press? Why did that Web site let him even put the book on there? It`s the same situation here.

The person that buys the card is just as sick as the person that manufactured the card because who is going to send a card like that to anybody, quite frankly?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I disagree with you respectfully. I think that we need to take a look at the mentality that is out there, and that mentality is that it`s cool to be mean and cold and politically incorrect.

You remember the sick chant that was yelled out by Yale fraternity pledges, Yale, mind you, roaming their college campus last fall. Check this out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No means yes. Yes means anal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No means yes. Yes means anal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No means yes. Yes means anal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Louder.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I mean, for the record, the fraternity later apologize saying the chants were, quote, "inappropriate, disrespectful and very hurtful to others" -- duh. You should have known that before you went out chanting that in the middle of the night in front of a women`s dorm.

But what does this humor say about our culture? I think it questions the maturity level of our culture.

BAKER: Rape jokes are very common in a rape culture where one in six women are sexually assaulted and only one in 16 rapists ever spend a day in jail. So I think this is really part of a broader cultural issue where we tolerate sexual assault against women.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It totally is.

HONOWITZ: Yes. We`re tolerating -- and the unfortunate thing is, by allowing these cards to be out there -- and I see rape victims every single day, that`s what I do. By allowing those cards to be out there we just feed into it. That`s the unfortunate thing.

I mean, you do have to band together. You do have to try to say get rid of it. But then there is that First Amendment right. That`s what they are going to stand behind because it is part of the Constitution.

So it`s a double-edged sword. It`s disgusting. It`s despicable. No one, not even -- anybody who hasn`t been a rape victim should be disgusted by all of this. Or anybody that`s been offended by these cards. But unfortunately other than protesting like we are on the air, there`s not much we can do.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We cannot buy them.

HONOWITZ: And not buy them of course.

BAKER: But think about Craigslist was selling young girls on their Web site and people protested and they took down those adult services section of their Web site. I do think that protests can make a difference. And I think we can refuse to spend money on these Web sites when they do this.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to get into the terms of use.

(CROSSTALK)

SECCURO: I`m sorry. I think every single viewer needs to log on to etsy.com and send a note saying, I think that the shop called You Stupid Bitch needs to closed down. I`m hugely offended for whatever reason. And if you look at the shop, you can look at all they have sold in the past and everything they have for sale now. I think if enough people do that, they`re going to be forced -- they don`t want to lose all of their -- I mean Etsy is a huge marketplace, huge.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The terms of use at Etsy.com Web site say, quote, "Etsy has no control over the quality, safety, and morality of the items listed." But if you scroll down on that same page, it says that the content shall not be defamatory or obscene.

In other words, they do have control over what they decide to sell or the morality of the time because they have the power to say, "no thank you". I get into this argument all the time when it comes to fur. You know, you call these department stores, "I`m not going to shop at your store because you sell fur." We want to give everybody a choice. We want consumers to have a choice.

Well, are you giving them a choice of child porn? No. So there are moral decisions that stores can make about what they want to sell. It`s a moral choice.

And Stacey, the consumers have a lot more power, don`t they, than they realize?

HONOWITZ: Yes, they absolutely do. I think your other panelist is right. Protest does make a difference. I mean, nobody wanted to go on to that Web site where the pedophile was selling his guide. So eventually it was taken down. Protest does make a difference.

The only thing I`m saying is, you know, morally and legally, there is a difference. Morally, it should never be there or they should never sell it. And obscenity means it lacks any kind of artistic talent or interest. In this case I think that you have a lack of artistic interest.

And so the bottom line is, I think you`re right. I`m mad that they`re getting publicity, but I do think in one sense if you do protest and if you do speak your mind, something can be accomplished.

(CROSS TALK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: If you don`t like it Etsy.com, let them know. You want to take them down.

Thank you, fantastic panel.

A husband charged with hacking into his estranged wife`s e-mail account. Now he`s facing five years in prison for invasion of privacy. Should our justice system stay out of this messy marriage and divorce battle?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I find it so hard to believe that our legislature would enact a law and say, you know what? If husbands and wives are reading each other e-mail, that`s a priority for us. I mean, we`ve got to stop that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEON WALKER, CHARGED WITH HACKING: What don`t you share in a marriage? You know, she asked me to read her e-mails before. She gave me the password before. She didn`t hide it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, is snooping through your spouse`s e-mail worthy of prison time? A man who admits reading his estranged wife`s e- mail faces a felony charge and could serve up to five years in prison. His attorney joins me tonight.

Leon Walker says he did log on to his wife`s account. He was trying to find out, he says, if she was having an affair with her second husband, a man he claims she left because he allegedly beat her.

Now, try to follow me because this gets very messy. Leon allegedly turned over these incriminating e-mails to Clara`s first husband, the first husband allegedly tried to use the e-mails against Clara during a custody dispute over their son.

Clara then filed a complaint with cops about Leon accessing her e- mails and they arrested him. How did he get into her account in the first place, you ask? Well, he happens to be an IT guy, but he claims he didn`t need any slick hacking skills to gain access. He says his wife had given him the password and even kept a list of passwords in a notebook next to the computer.

Now, Clara told a very different story to ABC. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLARA WALKER, SAY EX-HUSBAND HACKED HER E-MAILS: After we were married he insisted that we kind -- you know, have any conversations through e-mails. There was not a notebook.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How did he get in?

C. WALKER: He guessed at it. He guessed at my password.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What level of privacy can you expect from a spouse? And if your privacy is violated, what`s a just punishment? Straight out to Leon Walker`s attorney, Leon Weiss; now, Mr. Weiss, you apparently think this felony charge is really bogus. Why?

LEON WEISS, LEON WALKER`S ATTORNEY (via telephone): Well, first of all, good evening. I like the show quite a bit.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you.

WEISS: You know, this particular prosecutor I`ve known for 27 years. He was a very good judge at the district, circuit and later appellate levels. He`s been a prosecutor for a couple of years. And I don`t know how this warrant got written. This has never, ever in the history of this state, this anti-hacking statute, which has a maximum five years in prison, has never been used in a situation where a husband snooped and looked at a wife`s e-mail or vice versa.

It`s a statute designed as you well know for serious hacking into government computers, bank computers, credit card company computers.

So when this charge was brought, I don`t know what prosecutor signed the warrant, but we were all shocked. And -- and the charge simply does not lie. My client did not hack into this laptop, which he had purchased by the way before the marriage, and she was using it. He used it as well. Most of the software on it was his.

And when she originally had her Gmail account set up, he set it up for her because he is a computer guy. And she did give him the password; it`s a very simple password.

And she said a lot of things that are factually incorrect. We have the copies of the pages of her address book where all of these passwords are. So that`s really not the issue, even if he snuck and got his password in some sneaky way he still did not --

(CROSS TALK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let -- let me say this, Mr. Weiss.

WEISS: -- violate the statute.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We talked to the attorney for the wife, ok and he said you should know that Leon, who is your client, filed a motion in his divorce case that attaches the unedited e-mails he got from Clara`s e-mail account. That was outrageous.

(CROSS TALK)

WEISS: Yes and that was found --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The e-mails are graphic and highly personal but largely irrelevant to the child custody case.

So essentially what he seems to be saying is that the e-mails that your client got he used in court to try to beat her on a custody case involving their daughter.

WEILL: Well no, that`s not true because -- I mean, it was true that the e-mails were eventually shown to a judge. But under our child protective laws -- by the way, there was no allegation by my client that the second husband with whom she`s now admitted she was having an affair while she was married to my client, there`s no allegation by my client that he beat her.

It was her own allegation. We have a copy of the police report and her e-mails also verify that she was beaten by this man and that the first husband --

(CROSS TALK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: No, allegedly. Allegedly.

WEISS: The first husband`s son was in the presence of those beatings and my client felt that he had to protect his little girl. He didn`t want the little girl going back over that fellow`s house when this guy had a track record like he had.

I mean this --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right.

WEISS: -- this woman came to my client and complained of the beatings when she married my client. And said I`m glad I`m with a man who doesn`t abuse me.

(CROSS TALK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, hold on -- hold on one second. I`ve got to bring out the old gavel here, I just want to say that anybody involved in this case whatsoever is invited to come on ISSUES and tell their side of the story.

WEISS: Of course.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We want to be fair here. We don`t want to impugn anybody. I do not know this other husband. And we don`t even have his identity so we can`t even reach out to him. So these are your allegations --

(CROSS TALK)

WEISS: And I wouldn`t say his name but I`m just saying what -- what she complained of to the police --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me -- let me just go on to another issue sir. Clara`s attorney declined to come on ISSUES but he provided us with some e- mails that Leon sent to Clara he says. Clara`s attorney claims these e- mails proved Leon knew the marriage was over long before he went snooping for proof of infidelity.

One of the e-mails says, quote, "I feel you have every right to declare our partnership over. I feel that if you are unable to find happiness with me, you have every right to do what you feel is necessary to get you to where you want to be."

So I`ve got to ask Vikki Ziegler, family law attorney, if they were already estranged, even if they were living in this -- under the same roof, does that change the issue of whether he had the right to go in there?

VIKKI ZIEGLER, FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY: It really doesn`t, Jane. And this is something that happens all the time in divorce cases. We have e- mails that miraculously appear. Was the evidence illegally obtained or not?

And the question really becomes did Mr. Walker have authorization, did he know her password or not. That`s really going to be the difference between him getting criminally charged and actually getting convicted of this ridiculous fraudulent computer statute that he actually has been charged with.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, but Mark Eiglarsh, come on, five years behind bars he could potentially get?

MARK EIGLARSH, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: That`s right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: There are rapists running around, we spent all our show talking about these horrific rapists. Why isn`t the government going after them?

EIGLARSH: That`s right. And you know what, congratulations to the people of Detroit. Apparently homicides, rapes, robberies, not the number one issue there. Apparently husbands who hack into their wives` computers is what we are going to devote precious judicial and prosecutorial resources to go after.

WEISS: Let me just --

(CROSSTALK)

EIGLARSH: I am not saying -- I`m not saying, let me say this. I`m not saying that he didn`t possibly do wrong.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Finish, Mark.

EIGLARSH: I`m not saying that he didn`t possibly do wrong. I`m simply saying that there`s prosecutorial discretion. They don`t have to go after him using a statute that wasn`t designed for this.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Where are the U.S. government`s priorities? But then again there`s privacy issues. More just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

L. WALKER: Do I think it`s wrong? I mean it`s a burning house. Do you kick the door open or do you let it burn? I feel the actions being taken against me are wrong on so many levels.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That man could go to prison for five years if he`s convicted. He admits yes, "I did read e-mails of my wife" and they have been in a messy divorce battle.

Here`s my big issue. It`s like "War of the Roses". These two were like enemies under one roof. Even though the relationship appeared over they were still living together and raising their daughter. Imagine the tension. It made for a nasty living situation.

Listen to what the wife Clara had to say on "Nightline".

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

C. WALKER: He just really needs to let his anger go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you do know that you`re going to testify against him with the goal of putting him in jail, perhaps. So that`s a lot to ask.

C. WALKER: It is. But what does he expect me to do? I mean, he violated my privacy. I was violated. So what about me?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. We`re here with the attorney for the husband. Were these two still living under the same roof before they -- did they finalize their divorce?

WEISS: It`s final now but when this happened, it was not. They were still married. But as far as that goes, they could have been getting along famously and this prosecutor still says, because I gave the example to the government`s computer so-called expert at a preliminary exam, of a happily married couple, myself and my wife, that if I read her e-mail or AOL account without authorization and saw a video of our 5-year-old daughter, Natalia, and sent it to my brothers in L.A., that I was guilty of the five- year felony. That was under oath by their expert.

(CROSSTALK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. I just wonder -- oh, I got you. I got you. I just have to wonder why on earth, Vikki Ziegler, do people who are getting divorced live under the same roof. But I understand it`s because the person who leaves then loses the advantage in a custody battle, right?

ZIEGLER: Yes. Absolutely. And you know what, in bad economic times, sometimes people can`t move out so it does become a problem. I think people that are getting divorced need to understand what the boundaries are and you need to understand there are rules. People cannot break into e- mails.

That`s not to say in this case, we don`t know exactly if Mr. Walker did break into her password or he knew it already. That really becomes the question. When you ask about invasion of privacy, do you have an expectation of privacy if that laptop was the husband`s? That`s another question if the case goes to trial.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But Cooper Lawrence, let`s take a look at something where there could have been a life and death matter. Is there any situation where you are legally and morally justified to hack or go into your significant other`s computer? What if you thought that they were trying to kill someone?

COOPER LAWRENCE, SYNDICATED RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, that`s a very different situation.

ZIEGLER: There`s always circumstances --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Cooper.

LAWRENCE: That`s a very different situation. If you think someone is going to kill somebody, then you would think, as a psychologist, if someone would go to a psychologist and say I`m going to kill somebody, they have to -- they have confidentiality laws. On the other hand, if someone is going to be in jeopardy, you do have to step in. So in that situation, absolutely.

The only thing this person is guilty of that I can see is poor communication and they have major trust issues. But the fact that her alleged privacy is more important than her daughter and the daughter`s father potentially going to jail, I mean think about your child. Do you want your child`s father in prison? Is that how you want to start your kid`s life? That should override all of this.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: How does love turn to hate? That`s what I would like to know. These people had a child together. Now look at them. It is absolutely astounding and wow. That`s all I can say.

I hope it works out and I hope nobody has to go to prison.

Thank you. You`re watching ISSUES.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

END