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Adoptive Dad Arrested for Child Abuse; Arrests Made in Pregnant Beating Murder

Aired February 17, 2011 - 19:00:00   ET



JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST: Tonight, bombshells in the case of a 10- year-old boy found covered in acid in a truck with his twin sister dead in a bag next to him. Now, their adopted dad is trying to avoid court by hurting himself behind bars. Tonight, the twin`s biological aunt and uncle are outraged, because they were denied the chance to raise these kids. Why? I`ll talk to their attorneys.

Plus, an ex-boyfriend and his brother charged in the brutal beating death of a pregnant woman outside a courthouse. Now, as cops round up the suspects, the victim`s heartbroken grandmother joins me to discuss the case on ISSUES tonight.

Then, we`ll dive deep into the twisted psyche of a Tampa mom accused of executing her two teenage kids because they were mouthing off. We`ll talk live to a neighbor who says she saw alarming red flags long before the trigger was pulled.

And parents are beyond furious after a disgusting YouTube video shows their kids in a sexually explicit music video. Cops say a 21-year-old man went to a first-grade class, shot footage of the kids, and then manipulated it into a crude, lewd video. Should this guy be charged with making child porn? We`ll take your calls.

ISSUES starts now.



MARK RIORDAN, DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS, DCF SF REGION: Knowing when that child was deceased and when our investigators first came in contact with the family is uncertain. So, I mean, obviously, we need to continue the investigation with law enforcement to be able to respond to that accurately.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, yes, yes, whatever.

Tonight, breaking news. New sick and twisted revelations in the now massive Florida child abuse investigation that all started with an acid- soaked pickup truck on the side of the road. Inside, a father and son dripping in acid. And in the back of the truck, the 10-year-old boy`s dead twin sister, stuffed into a plastic bag.

Jailers tried to bring this father, 53-year-old George Barahona, into court today to bring child abuse charges, but he refused. Cops say he threw himself up against the wall in his jail cell, banging his head, purposefully injuring himself. More pathetic behavior on the part of this man.

So the hearing went on without, him and now he`s being held on $1 million bail for aggravated child abuse. More charges expected.

That pickup truck incident blew this case wide open. Social workers now allege George and his wife, Carmen Barahona, kept their 10-year-old adopted twins tied up with duct tape and untied them only so they could eat. The girl was allegedly forced to live in the bathtub.

There`s the mom, covering -- the adoptive mom, covering her face with a piece of paper. Hmm.

It would appear Florida social workers had several opportunities to remove the kids from the home. So why didn`t they?


RIORDAN: Obviously, we were in contact with the family. The investigators have been in contact with the family, but to know everything that`s going on in that family requires some time.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I don`t buy it! These kids are out of time. One of the twins is dead. The other is in the hospital, fighting for his life with acid burns. Two other kids, these poor little babies being put into a car after this horror unfolded, well, they`re back in foster care.

The time to fix this situation was long before the Barahonas were allowed to adopt any of these children. Are you as outraged as I am? Call me: 1-877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 1-877-586-7297.

Straight out to our John Zarrella, who`s live in Miami. John, what is the very latest?

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jane, the very latest, of course, is that as far as the little boy is concerned, the 10-year-old, he`s still in critical condition, but authorities tell us he`s making progress. They`ll continue to update every day with an update. He`s in and out of consciousness. But when he is awake, he`s alert and talking with the nurses.

The medical examiner in West Palm Beach, Palm Beach County, has determined the cause of death of the little girl, but the information is not yet being released while investigators go over that information, and -- as it helps them in order to build their case -- Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: A quick question. Why hasn`t Carmen Barahona been charged, as well, John?

ZARRELLA: You know, that`s a real good question. And we have talked with the state`s attorney`s office here. They`re saying police are now involved in investigating.

And remember, police were never even called into this investigation from the 10th through the 14th. All that time when things were going on with the family and Florida Department of Children and Family Services, trying to find the kids. The police weren`t even called in up until after the fact.

So -- but she is being investigated, and the Florida Department of Children and Family Services woman who is in charge in Dade County said today during a press conference that she felt it would only be a matter of time before Carmen was charged with something.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Well, here`s the timeline. Social workers heard a week ago today complaints that these twins were being tied up, locked up, and untied only to eat in the Barahona household. So why didn`t social workers act immediately?

OK. Let`s look at this timeline. A week ago today, February 10, the complaint call comes into the child abuse hotline. The next day, an investigator reportedly goes to the kids` school, finds out they`ve been withdrawn, and they`re being home-schooled. That night the investigator speaks to the mom at the house but never sees the twins.

Then last Saturday, February 12, an investigator reportedly tries to call the father on his cell phone. OK. Then we go to Sunday, February 13. A different investigator reportedly comes to the home and once again never sees the twins.

Then, this past Monday, February 14, George Barahona`s acid-soaked truck is found next to the West Palm Beach Freeway. Four days! Four days gone by with nobody from Florida`s Department of Children and Families eyeballing the twins, even though these horrific complaints have come in on Thursday.

Now, one of the twins is dead. The other is hospitalized in critical condition with acid burns. OK?

These twins had a chance to live with their own flesh and blood relatives years ago. Their biological aunt and uncle tried to get custody before the Barahonas adopted them.

But joining me now is attorney Steven Brossbard, who represented the biological aunt and uncle in that custody case.

Let me ask you, Steve, first of all, your reaction to this entire horrific chain of events?

STEVEN BROSSBARD, ATTORNEY: It`s clearly a devastating situation, and it`s one of outrage. You know, how could something like this happen?

We had relatives in the state of Texas who were fit, willing. There had been a positive home study. They came to Miami for court hearings. They wanted involvement. There were numerous other family members in the state of Texas and these children could have been raised with family and not had this occur.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Here`s the thing that gets me. OK. First these Barahonas are able to be foster parents for these kids. And you know, sometimes people become foster parents for the moula. They get a little bit of a check. OK?

Then they get to adopt these kids, even though their flesh and blood relatives, the people you represented, the aunt and uncle, desperately want to. But, oh, no, the social workers say they`ve bonded with the Barahonas.

But now they`ve seen that this boy, when they found him, has a bunch of old injuries. OK. I`ve got them listed somewhere. Fractured clavicle, scarring to the buttocks, fractured arm. These are old injuries. I wonder if they did a physical investigation of these kids to find those old injuries?

BROSSBARD: It`s unknown as to when they did any examination, but clearly, even back in 2008, there was some indications, concerns from teachers as to the children, as to hygiene issues, as to possible hoarding of food. These are telltale signs. This doesn`t just happen.

And we`re advised that there was a call to the abuse hotline in June of 2010. And the fact that these children were being home-schooled and removed from public school took away the eyes to really see what was going on.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to go to Howard Talenfeld, a child advocate out of Miami. Red flags. What were the red flags that the -- the obvious red flags that the Department of Children and Families missed?

HOWARD TALENFELD, CHILD ADVOCATE: Calls to the hotline regarding the alleged neglect of a child, because they`re going to school dirty, because she was bruised before the adoption, because of hunger signs, are all cries for help. They`re cries for help to our child protection system that require investigators to go out, to meet with, to visit, to eyeball the children and complete investigations.

Before the adoption, concerns existed so significant that the guardian ad litem tried to remove the children from the home. And yet, when you have blood relatives available who wanted these children, that went so far as hiring a lawyer to have these children, there`s a preference in Florida law that children be placed with relatives. And they ignored this, because the kids had been there for a number of years, like four years.

Now, the concern is, why were these kids there for four years? Why didn`t the department move any faster? Why weren`t the red flags and the cries for help to the hotline investigated before the adoption? These are significant issues and red flags that the department needs to look out. And persons from the outside, independent advocates, need to look at this issue and find out why this happened, why this tragedy occurred.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, I`ll tell you why. Because bureaucracies get bloated, they get complacent, and they get lazy. And they end up doing the investigation after the fact.

OK, now they`re pulling out all the stops. Now they want to know what happened. This is reactive behavior. What we need is prevention, OK?

Everybody, hang tight.

Now, tomorrow night here on ISSUES, I`m going to be talking with "Dancing with the Stars" sensation Cheryl Burke about her shocking sexual abuse as a child, and later how she suffered domestic abuse from two different boyfriends. How did she go from victim to star to courageous survivor? That`s tomorrow night here on ISSUES.

And we are taking your calls on this story, this outrage of twins, one dead, one fighting for his life at the hands, allegedly, of their adoptive parents. Are the parents, the adoptive parents, responsible for what happened to these kids? 1-877-JVM-SAYS.

Were the red flags waving before a Tampa mom allegedly executed her two teenage kids because they were mouthing off? That`s what one of her neighbors is saying. I`m going to talk to that neighbor live tonight about the family secrets in this case.

We`ve got so much more on all these horrific tragedies, especially the one involving these twins. So sad.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We work hard to do a good investigation and to put together what we thought was a decent adoption.




THOMAS BUTLER, FOUND HAZMAT TRUCK: He was soaked. You know, his shirt was soaked. His hair was like -- it looked greasy to me, the way it was. You know, I guess the stuff was poured over him. You know, there`s no way that that stuff just splashed on him and he was -- you know, that stuff was poured on him.

It was like an uncontrollable shiver. You know, his arms were like this the whole time, and he was just shaking and shaking and shaking and really couldn`t speak. When he did say something, he said it very low.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Brand-new sound just in to ISSUES. That man, who was the first on the scene, describing the horror that he encountered when he went up to that pickup truck, overcome by fumes, and finds this man in the truck, this 53-year-old George Barahona, and with him, this 10-year-old boy who is covered in acid.

It would later be determined that this toxic spill, almost, that requires hazmat teams to show up, well, at the center of it is a dead 10- year-old girl who`s stuffed in a plastic bag, and she is the twin sister of the little boy who is practically passed out in the cab of that truck. A little boy who is now fighting for his life in the hospital, as his adoptive father sits behind bars, accused of abuse at this point, but with more charges expected.

And it all brings me to my big issue tonight. Child services screw- up?

OK. It was last Thursday that the agency was called and said, "Hey, we think that these kids are being tied up and kept in the bathroom and only untied to eat. Last Thursday, OK? Did they find those twins? Did child services eyeball those twins? No. Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, no eyeball. Monday, that truck is found by the side of the road. The little girl is dead in a bag, and her twin brother, 10 years old, fighting for his life, had to be airlifted to a burn unit.

All right. Darren Kavinoky, this is a horror story when you consider that flesh-and-blood relatives had tried to adopt these kids, and they were rejected by our system because these kids had "bonded" with these people, these monsters who are now implicated, allegedly, in this horror.

DARREN KAVINOKY, ATTORNEY: Yes, absolutely tragic, especially in light of the comments that were made in the last block, that there were flesh-and-blood relatives who were interested in, ready, willing, and able to care-take these children. Truly awful.

And I think when we strip away the layers of this case and, in 20/20 hindsight, what we`re going to find is that the cause in all of this was the bureaucracy that you referenced, people that were in that system that are overworked, that are underpaid, human error, human incompetence, human laziness. These will be the factors that ultimately allowed this series of events to play out.

And -- and ultimately, the real tragedy are -- is the hurdles that are in place that keep cities and bureaucracies from being sued to the extent that they should.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Tawny, Indiana, your question or thought, ma`am?

CALLER: Hi, Jane. It`s so wonderful to talk to you.

As an adoptive mom of 14, I -- I listen to you talk about the system and how broken and how -- how devastating this is that`s happening to our children.

But you have to look at the overall picture here. We`re looking at a system that is so broken. We`re looking at a system, social workers. We even have all of our advocates that are so overworked, how can we protect our children?

I have called. Thank God, I am the voice for my children. I shudder to think what would have happened to my 14 children, had I not been there. I`m a loud advocate.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, God bless you for taking care of these kids that are born into a world that doesn`t seem to want them or need them and sometimes can`t even feed them. God bless you! And I hope that other good-hearted people reach out though these adoptive kids who need foster parents. They need big brothers and sisters. They need people to adopt them. There are so many unwanted children in this world, in the United States, and around the world. There`s something like 145 million orphans around the world.

Howard Talenfeld, what I hate is we don`t have enough money to have enough social workers, but boy, we`re going to pull out all the stops now, now that the kids are -- one of them is dead. Now -- now money is no object, Howard.

TALENFELD: Well, I`m not sure that`s the case. Because the reality is, there was a cry for help to an individual investigator who had three hours to get out there on the spot. And then the weekend came, and I don`t hear that people were breaking down doors looking for these children the way they needed to be.

This is very concerning when the law says that you need to see that potential victim within 24 hours, three hours immediately. And then the efforts did not continue. You talk about money and bureaucracy, right now the governor`s looking to cut the bureaucracy and cut the budget in this agency...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s what I`m saying. You and I are agreeing. What I`m saying is when it`s too late, that`s when they throw the money at the situation, not when the tragedy has yet to strike.

Thank you, panel. All right. A Tampa mom...



JAWANNA WILLIAMS, MOTHER OF TOVOYIA OWENS: It just gives me just a little sense of -- a little sense of peace, because I still have my 3-year- old granddaughter, her daughter, Azaya (ph), the questions where her mom is, you know, and I`m just glad that a little piece of peace has been made today.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: So sad. Today, Philadelphia cops make two arrests in the shocking, brutal murder of a woman who was four months pregnant. That`s right. The suspects are two brothers who allegedly beat up a pregnant woman. I can`t say it enough times. Four months pregnant women.

Cops say Walter Williams, who was also the victim`s ex-boyfriend, and his brother, Robert Canada, attacked 21-year-old Tovoyia Owens outside traffic court about a week ago. Look at this beautiful girl. Here`s a picture of Tovoyia from the NBC Philadelphia Web site. And again, she was four months pregnant, and this young woman also had a 3-year-old daughter. This is a new low in the war on women.

Straight out to Barbara Morris, Tovoyia`s grandmother, who obviously is completely devastated by this. Thank you so much for joining us, and I am so sorry for your loss. Our hearts go out to you.

The victim, your granddaughter, left behind a precious 3-year-old. What have you told that little girl, and how is this child faring without her mom?

BARBARA MORRIS, GRANDMOTHER: Well, I haven`t spoken to my granddaughter -- great-granddaughter directly, but my daughter, which is my -- her grandmother, has talked to her, and she misses her mother because they were very, very, very close. And she knows something`s going on, and she knows she`s not going to see her mother again.

But she`s OK, because she has family that is supporting her, that`s keeping her busy. And like my daughter said, she asks about her mother, but she talks to her, so she understands.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, that is so heartbreaking. That little face, to think that that little girl is just asking for her mommy over and over again and, boy, that`s a tough thing to handle.

This attack on your granddaughter, a pregnant woman, four months pregnant, happened in broad daylight outside a courthouse, and yet she was beaten to death, allegedly by two grown men. And the reports are that nobody really intervened or raced to get help. Listen to this.


LATRICE COOPER, EYEWITNESS: People was just like, shocked. And it was like -- it happened so fast, like you couldn`t really do nothing about it. It just came out of nowhere.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was kind of screaming for help, "Stop, please stop, help me," and it seemed like no one was trying to help.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Barbara, do you buy that explanation? I mean, really, how hard is it to call 911? Dial 911?

MORRIS: That`s what I was going to say. Because I think it`s untrue, because of the fact that it went up on Facebook -- on Facebook happening, one of her best girlfriend was calling to find out whether it was true. So I don`t believe the tales that people were saying that it happened so fast and that, you know, they didn`t have nothing to do. The same time it took to put it up on Facebook, they could have went inside or called 911.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You mean they took the time to post this on Facebook, but not help out your precious relative?

MORRIS: Yes, ma`am. Her girlfriend in college was so upset when she heard about it -- she seen it on Facebook -- that she called her mother to find out whether anything had happened, and that`s how she found out about it, up on Facebook.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Barbara, thank you so much. Again, our hearts go out to you.

Tonight, help Nancy Grace find America`s missing. They`re searching for 50 people in 50 days. And up next...


VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`ll dive deep into the twisted psyche of a Tampa mom accused of executing her two teenage kids because they were "mouthing off". We`ll talk live to a neighbor who says she saw alarming red flags long before the trigger was pulled.

And parents are beyond furious after a disgusting YouTube video shows their kids in a sexually explicit music video. Cops say a 21-year-old man went to a first grade class, shot footage of the kids, and then manipulated it into a crude, lewd video. Should this guy be charged with making child porn? We`ll take your calls.


JUDGE WALTER HEINRICH, HILLSBORO COUNTY, FLORIDA: -- the case against you at this point, Miss, you are obviously going to be held in jail without bond.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, addict nation out of control: alarming new details in a mother`s descent into madness. How could a seemingly normal suburban soccer mom allegedly execute her own two teenage children, shooting them in the head?

Tonight on ISSUES, I`m joined by a psychologist who lives next door and is counseling the victim`s friends.

Fifty-year-old Julie Schenecker pleaded not guilty yesterday to murdering her 16-year-old daughter and her 13-year-old son. Police say Julie -- right there, shaking -- admitted to carefully plotting and carrying out what she called a massacre, shooting each child at close range in the head. She told cops the kids were mouthy and talked back. They`re teenagers. Clearly, there`s a whole lot more to this story.

Police found a slew of prescription pills in the home. Now, when she crashed her car last fall, officers said Julie appeared intoxicated, slurry. And just weeks before the shooting, Julie`s husband and kids, we`re now learning, reportedly went to a support group for families of addicts.

Now, a woman told "Nightline" that Julie`s husband showed little emotion.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As he was speaking, he didn`t cry, he didn`t sound depressed. He just sounded like he was there to tell a story.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And what was that story?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That his wife had a drug and alcohol problem and that they were there to talk about it and cope with it.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Did this mother`s apparent addiction lead her to slaughter her own two children?

Straight out to Tsila Kirsch, clinical psychologist and Julie`s neighbor; first of all, thank you so much for joining us, Tsila. I know this has to be very, very difficult for you.

Just a month before the murder, the 16-year-old female victim, Calyx, told school counselors her mom was abusive. Tell us what you know about that.

DR. TSILA KIRSCH, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST AND NEIGHBOR: Well, let me just start by saying that I did not know Julie personally. I did not know the kids either. My daughter did know the boy and my neighbors know the kids and some of them knew Julie. Apparently Calyx, the daughter, did go to the school psychologist or counselor rather, and confided with her that the mother slapped her. Children services were involved, but the case was closed.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, "People" magazine is reporting red flags. And you, apparently, have also gotten information about these red flags. Tell us what some of the red flags were, in your opinion.

KIRSCH: Well, talking to people in the community and people who carpooled with them, you know, naturally, there were some kind of feelings of guilt. Did we miss something here?

And some of the things that were discussed were the fact that Julie did not like to do the morning carpool and always preferred the afternoon. The kids pretty much took care of themselves in the morning. And then again, none of those things alone will be a problem. You know, some people are morning people, some people are night people.

However, put together along with the fact that Calyx did report that the mother slapped her, along with the fact that the carpool people felt that Calyx, in the morning, was a bit, you know, very reserved, quiet, and a little bit intense -- tense, rather. Someone from the -- someone professional might look at that and say, is this an indication of hyper- vigilant behavior, of someone going through some kind of abuse?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me give a little context to our viewers here. This accused murderess mom, Julie, crashed her car last fall and she was cited at that time with careless driving. Now, the traffic report says she showed signs of drug impairment. She had dilated pupils that didn`t react to light, she had mush mouth speech.

And on top of that, Howard Samuels, addiction expert, and founder and CEO of the Hills Treatment Center, "People" magazine is reporting that drugs were found in the home, including a sleep aid, a stimulant, and two deferent kinds of antidepressants. And now you hear that people are saying that her family was going to a support group, complaining, or needing help for the fact that she was allegedly, according to these reports, addicted to drugs and alcohol.

HOWARD SAMUELS, FOUNDER AND CEO, HILLS TREATMENT CENTER: Yes. You know, Jane, you know, this is a tragic example of so many warning signs were there, and the husband and the doctors who were treating her did absolutely nothing. They thought by giving her a slew of prescription medications would solve this issue.

And what is so tragic is that I really believe that this could have been prevented if people are more educated as to the signs of addiction and alcoholism because, obviously, this woman was extremely emotionally unstable to begin, and that`s why she probably turned to drugs and then she turned to this insane violence. I mean, it is so tragic.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. The "Nightline" sound bite says that this person who was supposedly at this support group meeting says that the father of the dead kids was complaining that his wife had a drug and alcohol problem. So you combine drugs, antidepressants, stimulants and sleep aids with alcohol, no wonder she didn`t want to get up in the morning.


SAMUELS: And that`s why --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s a clear sign -- you don`t want to get up in the morning when you`re hung over from drugs and alcohol.

SAMUELS: And then what is the husband doing here to try to get his wife help? I mean, there should have been an intervention --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, listen. Hold on. Hold on a second. I`ve got to say this. As a recovering alcoholic myself, and knowing -- unfortunately being a de facto expert, you can`t really blame somebody, because nobody can help an addict or an alcoholic but themselves. We all know people who have relatives, wives, husbands, sisters, brothers who try to help their addict relative. And he also worked overseas in the military. So he wasn`t there all the time.

Steve Summers, this is shocking stuff coming out, and you`ve been on top of this story from the beginning with News Talk 820. What do you know?

STEVE SUMMERS, NEWSTALK 820,WWBA TAMPA (via telephone): Well, Jane, you know, we`re going down this path of talking about drugs and combinations of drugs. Obviously, you know, you`d have to be a pharmacologist, obviously, we have an addiction counselor here who can talk about specific drugs, combinations of those drugs with alcohol and what the psychological impact might be on someone. But let`s remember, not all addicts kill people, not all addicts fly off the handle and go into a rage and plot and plan the massacre of their children. You have to look at the evidence that we`ve seen so far.

And Julie Schenecker wrote two notes. She wrote one before the kills of Calyx and Beau, and in that note, before the killings, the thing that sticks with me is how she lamented, almost in an angry way, how Florida`s three-day waiting period to get a gun was keeping her from doing what she wanted to do, and that was carry out the executions of these kids.

So is it drugs that led her to this, or is there an anger issue and something, another line, another --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, as the shrinks might say, it could be multi- determined, but I have found covering these stories -- these horrific stories for more decades than I care to admit, that people are capable of doing things when they`re high on drugs and alcohol that they would never have the nerve or even the thought to do if they were sober.

Now, police say this suspect, this mother confessed. Weeks later, she`s in court pleading not guilty. So the question is, will Julie`s attorneys push for an insanity defense, or will her alleged premeditation make an insanity defense impossible. Let`s listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There`s definitely an indication that she planned this, put a lot of forethought into it. She at one point was planning, as she called it, the massacre for the Saturday before, but then discovered that it would take three days with a waiting period in the state of Florida in order to buy a gun. So then she had to delay what she referred to as the massacre.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Last words, Stacey Honowitz?

STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR: Yes, well, you`re both -- you`re right on both points. The bottom line is she will probably plead insanity. The other issue is, it`s a very, very, very tough hurdle to get over. Because of all this evidence showing the premeditation, the deliberation, the fact that she planned this out, so that insanity hurdle is going to be really tough.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you so much, fantastic panel.

Outrage after a disgusting YouTube clip shows first graders in a sexually explicit music video. Was it all a stupid prank? Were the kids - - what was their involvement? We`ll tell you, next.

Give me a call, 1-877-JVM-SAYS.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He humiliated my child. He`s humiliating all the parents that are involved in it, and something definitely needs to be done.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: America is becoming an addict nation. We`re brainwashed into buying more stuff we don`t need while we drown in debt. Do you really want to live this way? If the answer is no, you`ll want to read "Addict Nation".

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So many stories here on ISSUES boil down to addiction. My new book, "Addict Nation" available online now. Check out "Addict Nation" at Read it and find out who might be manipulating you into dangerous self-destructive behavior.



EVAN EMORY, ARRESTED FOR LEWD YOUTUBE VIDEO: I didn`t want to hurt anybody. That`s the main thing. I didn`t intend on hurting anybody. More than anything, I just wanted to make everyone laugh.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: What a goofball. Tonight, child abuse or a prank gone way too far? A young Michigan musician, you just heard from him, thrown behind bars all because of a dirty joke.

Now, take a look. Evan Emory performed an innocent children`s song he wrote for a group of first graders at a local elementary school. Then he went home and edited together this version, making it look like he had performed a sexually explicit song for the kids.

Well, parents were understandably furious. But Evan says it was all in jest. He was just going for a few YouTube laughs. Well, nobody is laughing now because Evan was arrested and he is charged with manufacturing child sexually abusive material, which carries a possible 20-year sentence.

Now, I totally understand why parents are upset over this. This is wildly inappropriate. It`s stupid, it`s juvenile, but this is also what`s wrong with our society. I mean, this guy appears to have been making a stupid joke. It doesn`t appear that he was actually intending to sexually abuse a child in real life.

We are now throwing behind bars at the same time real, violent, dangerous sex predators are roaming the streets on parole on probation because there`s no room for them in the jails.

We`re going to talk to a parent whose 6-year-old daughter was in that video in a moment.

First to Vinnie Politan, host of HLN`s "PRIME NEWS"; Vinnie, come on, do you think this guy should really be facing 20 years? He did something very stupid, but is this what we`re going to spend our tax dollars on?

VINNIE POLITAN, HLN HOST, "PRIME NEWS": I was a prosecutor before I was doing what I`m doing now, and obviously, I think everyone looks at this case and says, no, this isn`t a case where someone goes 20 years behind bars. The scary thing here is, though, you have to look at the age of the victims here. Ok.

You`re talking about six and seven-year-olds. He wanted to post this thing up on YouTube. Do these kids end up seeing themselves up there? They weren`t subjected to the explicit lyrics when he shot that part of the video. But he demonstrates a real lack of common sense and he may have violated a law in Michigan.

I think it`s a borderline case when it comes to violating the criminal law there. But at the end of the day, Jane, this guy did something terribly wrong, defrauded the school, ethically it`s wrong, 20 years? No, not 20 years.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Well, here`s Chuck Willick, we`re very delighted to have him. He says he`s the father of a 6-year-old girl who was in the video. Chuck, again, I think this is absolutely the stupidest thing that I`ve ever heard of. Do you think he should go to jail for 20 years? What are your thoughts on all this?

CHARLES WILLICK, FATHER OF CHILD IN VIDEO (via telephone): Well, yes, I mean, obviously the penalty there, you know, 15 to 20 is just a maximum number to which this type of charge is punishable by. I mean, I know he`s not likely to serve that kind of time.

The big thing here is the guy actually has the mind-set now to produce a sexually vulgar video that includes kids, what`s next? I mean, that`s the big thing here. Something`s got to be done. More than just a slap on the wrist. Maybe some jail time. I don`t know, maybe putting him on the sex offender list is enough -- I don`t know. It`s not for me to decide.

But I know you can pee in public and get put on a sex offender list for something as silly as that too, you know. So there`s definitely, you know -- something`s got to be done.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Were you totally shocked when you -- how did you find out about this?

WILLICK: The school informed me. I received a phone call from my daughter`s teacher the next morning after he found out.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And what was your initial reaction?

WILLICK: Well, like, you know, you can describe a parent`s feelings and outrage in a lot of different ways. For me, you know, it`s fairly simple. I was angered by it. It`s upsetting, and you know, and in a way, it kind of saddens me. It saddens me to think that a once pillar of our community would attempt and do a stunt like this for, you know, for what he thought was some personal gain.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Here`s my big issue tonight. And it boils down to the same thing over and over again: junk justice. You know, we have to use our resources, our tax dollars towards keeping real violent predators off the streets.

Stacey Honowitz, for example, you remember that Deana Thompson, this mother who has become our hero, her beautiful daughter, Summer, was murdered walking home from school, 8-year-old girl, by a guy who had a whole bunch of horrific child porn on his computer. His roommates were so scared that they actually took the computer to police and said, check this out, this guy is a sicko, do something, and they never really did anything this time. He killed, allegedly, this girl before they finished analyzing the computer -- your thoughts.

HONOWITZ: Listen, Jane, there`s certain things that I agree with. He`s not going to do 20 years on this charge. The father`s right. It`s a maximum of what it could be, but we`ve always talked about on this show, the one thing we`ve always said was, there were red flags. Even in the last case we talked about, there were red flags.

The mind-set of this person to be able to make that kind of tape and put those kids in there, that could be a red --





JANET JACKSON, SINGER: I can`t. Not yet. This isn`t -- I can`t say that just yet. But some day I know I will be able to. And it wasn`t healthy not to. A year had passed and I still hadn`t -- just to hear -- just to hear his voice. And a day doesn`t go by where I don`t think about him. Not one single day.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, Janet Jackson tells all for the very first time since her brother, Michael`s, death. Janet opening up about her demons; the superstar sat down with HLN`s Richelle Carey for an intense one-on-one interview.

There were tons of shockers. One of them? Janet revealed a life-long battle with body image and detailed her desperate attempts to get thin. Listen to this.


JACKEN: You know when you take a laxative, obviously, you need to use the restroom, but it depletes you of everything else. There comes an hour where you should be taking another laxative or else the water that you drink, whatever, it comes right back on. Sure enough, I literally started busting out of my pants. My pants started ripping because the water was coming back on. And they were starting to rip. No lie.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Janet`s brand-new memoir and advice book is called "True You". I am delighted to have Richelle Carey joining me right now; Richelle, great job. You talked with Janet one-on-one and this full interview airs this Sunday at 7:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. Eastern right here on HLN. I`m going to be sitting in front of the TV watching that.

Richelle, Janet spilled all of her secrets to you. Tell us about it.

RICHELLE CAREY, HLN ANCHOR: Did you see my mouth drop when she was talking about the laxatives? I couldn`t believe that she actually told me that. I was like, does she realize what she`s saying. But she said the things that she said, Jane, because she felt like people could relate to them.

She actually kind of pulled back when you call it an advice book because she doesn`t want to feel like she`s telling people what to do. She just feels like that the things that she`s been through are actually more relatable than people realize even though she`s rich and famous.

A lot of the things that she`s been through are things that women can relate to, whether it`s body image, whether it`s the tough time she had with her father, whether it`s losing someone. She`s a lot more regular than people realize, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, yes. And a beautiful, beautiful girl; I mean when I was covering the Jacksons, I saw her walking in and out, and she is stunning.

CAREY: She is.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Janet, despite that, talks about her constant struggle with body image. Listen to this.


JACKSON: I didn`t see myself that way. I didn`t find myself attractive. I would always, and I put this in the book, I always wore clothes to make myself look smaller, to make my butt look smaller. If it made it look bigger or its size, I would say, I can`t wear this. I don`t like this.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, once again, you can see the full interview Janet Jackson, the HLN interview this Sunday at 7:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. Eastern, only on HLN.

And again, so gorgeous; I saw her again going into court. But also on the video, she`s stunning. How can she suffer from this?

CAREY: Let me tell you why. We talked about the videos. Janet said there was actually a time that someone told her, to her face, you don`t look like you do in your movies and your videos. Can you imagine someone thinking to have the nerve to say that to you? We`ve seen her in person. We know that`s not true. We know she is just as gorgeous in person.

But people say things like that to you, and it starts to chip away at how you feel about yourself. She`s much more confident now, but she hasn`t always been as confident as she is now. It was a process, Jane. It was a process.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I am watching this Sunday. Fantastic work, Richelle.

CAREY: Thank you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: She is a fascinating character.

CAREY: She is.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Janet Jackson.

Stay right there.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Listen to this shocker from the Paul Finebaum (ph) radio show.


HARVEY UPDIKE JR., POISONED OAK TREES AT AUBURN UNIVERSITY: The weekend after the Iron Bowl, I went to Auburn, Alabama 30 miles away and I poisoned the two (INAUDIBLE) trees. They`re not dead yet, but they definitely will die.

PAUL FINEBAUM, RADIO HOST: Is that against the law to poison a tree?

UPDIKE: Do you think I care?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: You sicko. A radio caller admits he poisoned 130- year-old oak trees at Auburn University. Now cops have arrested Harvey Updike Jr. for this unthinkable act driven by team rivalry. The 62-year- old allegedly used toxic herbicide on the trees near where Auburn students celebrate big wins.

The historic oak trees are probably going to die because of a rivalry. It`s a premeditated obscenity. If convicted he faces 10 years in prison. Not enough. These trees were more than a century old.

Tomorrow on ISSUES, a hero gets arrested saving trees. You`ll hear from him live.

Nancy Grace starts.