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Did Negligence Lead to Daycare Fire?; Accused Child Abusers May Have Fled

Aired February 25, 2011 - 19:00:00   ET



JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, a horrific nightmare, three toddlers killed in a daycare fire, others fighting for their lives in the hospital, all of the children younger than 3. Now investigators are frantically trying to uncover the cause of this carnage. We`re asking, is this a case of negligence?

Then, more twists and turns in a sickening child-abuse investigation. Cops say three adopted children were tortured, beaten and burned in unimaginable bays by their adoptive parents. How can this couple be sauntering around free? And will these monsters ever get any time behind bars?

Plus breaking news: the suits finally crack down on Charlie Sheen. Is "Two and a Half Men" over? The troubled bad boy bad-mouthing execs, called into another radio show to unleash his fury and spewing hatred in a wacky letter calling the show`s creator a contaminated little maggot. Is Charlie`s sense of entitlement reaching dangerous new levels? We`ll talk to recovering addict and star McKenzie Phillips.

ISSUES starts now.



CINDY POURSARTIP, NEIGHBOR: Unbelievable nightmare. I can`t believe that you would drop them off in the morning and expect that you`re going to pick them up, and you don`t see them again.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, horrifying stories emerging from that daycare fire in Houston. Three babies dead, four more fighting for their lives. Imagine being a parent getting that phone call after dropping off your child at a daycare.

The biggest question of all tonight: was this daycare provider taking care of too many babies? Witnesses described utter chaos at this house. Smoke pouring out, two babies lying on the ground in the back yard. Firefighters frantically searching for the other babies inside with heat sensors and then running through the streets, bringing the injured children to ambulances.

And here is the daycare operator in the red hat before she was taken to the hospital. Her name is 22-year-old Jessica Tata. She reportedly told cops the fire started in the kitchen while she was in the bathroom. She`s the only one there. Why is she in the bathroom with something going on in the kitchen?

Neighbors say she was screaming outside the house about saving the trapped babies before she collapsed.


RICK FLANAGAN, HOUSTON FIRE DEPARTMENT: You can understand someone that would be in charge of a facility like this and understanding the impact, they may be quite distraught, so we want to make sure that she`s under the best of care. We`re going to take her to an area hospital.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: If this daycare is found to be in violation, could the 22-year-old daycare operator in the red hat you just saw be held responsible for the deaths.

And another thing: one 22-year-old woman taking care of seven children under the age of 3? Does that make sense to you? It doesn`t to me.

Straight out to Joe Gomez, reporter for KTRH News Radio.

Joe, this is so awful, I honestly cannot imagine being the parent of one of these precious babies. What is the very latest?

JOE GOMEZ, REPORTER, KTRH NEWS RADIO: Jane, it is a nightmare. Investigators have returned back to the fire scene and are trying to piece together exactly what happened.

Right now we have eyewitness accounts that have the owner of this facility in the bathroom at the time that the kitchen caught fire. She then left the bathroom, grabbed two little babies in her arms, ran out of the home, tried to go back in for a third child, but the smoke was simply too much for her. It pushed her back, and she passed out.

As we speak, four children are in area hospitals fighting for their lives. Three babies have been killed by this horrible blaze, all between the ages of 18 years old...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Eighteen months old.

GOMEZ: Eighteen months old and 3 years old.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Was she cooking something on the stove?

GOMEZ: We don`t know at this point what exactly was going on in the kitchen.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Kitchens don`t just spontaneously combust. Was she - - why -- why did -- Mike Brooks, you`ve got seven kids, OK, and she`s got something going on in the kitchen. It doesn`t spontaneously combust. And then she goes to the bathroom.

Well, first of all, she`s the only one there. Why the heck is she the only one there, when obviously, human beings have to go to the bathroom occasionally? What -- who takes care of the kids when she`s in the bathroom?

MIKE BROOKS, HLN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: That`s a great question, Jane. But the other question you asked, you know, what caused this? They`re not saying right now what the cause or what the origin, where it began. She was saying the kitchen. They`re not -- investigators are not giving any information as of yet.

But I can tell you, Jane, almost 30 years in the fire service, I was a fire volunteer chief out in Fairfax County, Virginia, for a long time. And I can tell you, I`ve been in a lot of fires, and if there was no sign -- if there was any sign of smoke or fire before she went in that bathroom, why did she go in that bathroom? How long was she in that bathroom?

Her story isn`t adding up to me. And then she comes out, and there`s still people -- babies trapped inside that house? They had to use thermal imaging devices to look through the smoke, because when firefighters first arrived, Jane, they were met with heavy fire, heavy heat and thick smoke, thus having to use the thermal imagers to locate the babies through that thick smoke.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: She doesn`t look that sick. She doesn`t look that sick to me.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: So she miraculously gets out, but all seven babies are injured.

Here`s my big issue tonight: too many kids. Exactly how many children were in the daycare? We know that three are dead. Three children dead. Four are in the hospital. That`s seven last time I checked. But the daycare provider, this 22-year-old Jessica Tata, apparently thought she had two more kids yesterday, because she sometimes has nine. Well, thank God those two didn`t show up.

So it sounds like she was in clear violation of the rules, which in Texas says that six children under the age of 3 per adult. No more than six children under the age of 3 per adult. OK?

And before this daycare even opened, it was cited for not having a fire extinguisher or carbon monoxide detector, which was corrected.

Now, I`ve got to go to Stacey Honowitz. You`re a Florida prosecutor. Could this woman be facing criminal charges? And if so, what criminal charges? How long, if convicted, could she go to jail for?

STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR: Look, after a thorough, thorough investigation, the first thing they`re going to do is they`re going to cite her in violation of just the regular statute of owning a daycare center and not having the right facilities and having too many children. So that will be the first thing.

If they can stretch this investigation, if they can find some sort of negligence on, you know, her responsibility, then certainly she could be charged with negligent manslaughter. I mean, there has to be a thorough investigation. In Florida -- in Florida, she`s looking at something like 15 years. Because you have to remember, if they can figure out, if they can investigate and find out that it was her responsibility and that she was negligent in her actions, she didn`t use the proper care, she didn`t use the reasonable care that a person would use in trying to get these kids out.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But she`s already got too many kids.

HONOWITZ: Well, that`s the first violation. That`s the very first thing she will be cited with. It`s kind of a -- that`s like a crappy charge.


HONOWITZ: I hate to say, but it`s nothing.


HONOWITZ: It`s being cited for having a daycare that`s not responsible.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mark Eiglarsh, criminal defense attorney.

MARK EIGLARSH, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I agree with Stacey, except we part company on the criminal side. She should be cited for obviously not doing the right thing in terms of having enough staff, but in Texas, their statute under manslaughter is different than ours. Here in Florida, it`s mere negligence. There, it`s recklessness, which is a much higher standard.

That means she would have had to have done an act that was a willful and wanton disregard of human life or property. And having too many kids to supervise is negligent but not necessarily reckless under the law.


EIGLARSH: So she may avoid criminal prosecution.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Parents in the neighborhood obviously having a very hard time coming to terms with the horror that they witnessed.


JENNIFER WILLIAMS, NEIGHBOR: It`s disgusting. Because I`m a mom so I`m -- and I see the moms. She was in tears and it`s very shocking; it`s very upsetting.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. We`re joined now by Dr. Lisa Thebner on the phone, a pediatrician. OK, four children injured. Two of them are very critical, and they`re in a burn unit. What are those children likely going to experience if, God willing, they do survive -- Lisa?

All right. Well, Lisa has a little baby in the background she`s tending to, so it`s very possible that she had to take care of her child, which is what we should do when something like this happens.

Joe Gomez, I want to go back to you. Tell us about the condition of the children, where they`ve been taken?

GOMEZ: Well, right now, these -- these -- four of the children have been taken to area hospitals. Two right now are in critical condition, suffering burns to about a third of their body. Well, right now, doctors say if a child has about -- burns over 90 percent of their body, they have a 50 -- a 50 percent chance of surviving, presuming they have minimal smoke inhalation in their lungs. These children only have about a third damage in terms of, you know, burns to their body.

So right now, there are two fighting for their lives in critical condition. Two others are -- are rated in about good condition right now. That`s the status on the kids.

But needless to say, these poor parents. I mean, the parents sitting at home and watching this inferno on TV, could you -- I can`t even imagine what`s going through their heads. This is an absolute tragedy, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, my God. They had to contact these parents on the phone and say, "There was a fire at the daycare center where your precious child is. Something`s happened and your child is dead." Can you imagine? Can you imagine?



HONOWITZ: Jane, the worst thing is the regulation. So many people do set up daycares, and they`re not regulated.


HONOWITZ: The licensing isn`t processed.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: On the other side, we`re going to get to that. We`re just getting started here.

All right. Everybody, hang tight.

Also yesterday we told you about an inconceivable child abuse case. Cops say three children tortured to the extreme by their adopted parents, kept in cages, beaten, burned. So what is happening to these parents? Can you believe they were let out on bail?

And much more on this devastating daycare fire that killed three toddlers and injured four mothers.


POURSARTIP: Unbelievable nightmare. I can`t believe that you would drop them off in the morning and expect that you`re going to pick them up, and you don`t see them again.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have no words. All I do -- could do is just hold her in my arms and tell her how much I love her. And she has an 8- year-old little boy also. Today they`re going to have to tell the little boy that he doesn`t have a sister anymore. I don`t know how you do that.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: It doesn`t get much more gut-wrenching than this. Three babies killed in a fire at their in-home daycare, four more babies in the hospital tonight, parents completely devastated and in shock. They took their babies to daycare in the morning. They will never see them again. Can you imagine that?

On the phone now, Dr. Lisa Hebner, pediatrician. Doctor, thanks for joining us. Two of these children are in critical but stable condition at a burn center. What are they looking at, if, God willing, they survive in terms of recovery?

DR. LISA HEBNER, PEDIATRICIAN (via phone): The first thing that you have to make sure you maintain with a burn injury is that their airway is maintained so that there -- if there`s any swelling from burning, then you have to keep that open with an intubation.

You also have to make sure that you are keeping their oxygen levels up. Carbon monoxide when inhaled will impeded the body`s ability to oxygenate, most important to the brain. And that could result in brain injury.

Keeping them in good pain control. Then they start with the wound care, and that requires getting the areas clean. And when needed they`re going to be doing some skin grafts likely and, of course, antibiotics to prevent infection.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And then the skin grafting?

HEBNER: Skin grafting is done depending on the -- how bad the wound is. So there`s different levels and degrees of burn. The first degree is just like a sun burn. Second-degree is a little bit further than that. And third-degree burn is all layers of the skin. If -- with a third and fourth-degree, that if it goes to the muscle, you`re going to be getting some skin grafts.

If it`s a small enough area, you can even use your own skin from another part of the body and that would be used as a skin graft. If it`s a larger area, sometimes they`ll have to use either cadavers for skin grafts, either synthetic grafts or even pig skins as grafts.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I would say this. This is a horror for these children that are surviving in critical condition at a burn unit.

Neighbors ran to the house and tried to help. But they simply couldn`t get in the house because there was so much smoke. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I came to the side of the house in the backyard, and I smashed one of the windows open. And I could see a kid, you know, having his hands out. I tried to grab him, but smoke got into my face and my mouth, and I couldn`t breathe or see anything. And so I had to pull back.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: So Mike Brooks, HLN law-enforcement analyst. Witnesses say there weren`t a lot of -- there wasn`t a lot of fire, just a lot of smoke. What would that indicate?

BROOKS: You know, and looking inside, it`s really hard to say, because you`ve got to look at the burn pattern and the depthness of char and wood inside the house to try to determine how much fire you really had.

But rugs, petroleum products, that can make very thick, dark, black smoke. You know, from furniture. You know, could it have been some discarded smoking material? Could it have been maybe one of the children playing with matches? These are all possibilities, but right now fire investigators are not saying what the cause is.

So we`re going to have to weigh what they say and then, Jane, also the autopsies from the three little babies, and that will make -- that will determine exactly what happened inside that house.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It just breaks my heart seeing that little shoe and those little toys.

Tonight I have a call to action. OK? We need more frequent and surprise -- surprise -- inspections of these in-home daycares. They don`t have to be inspected but once every two years, unless somebody calls in and reports a violation. So how are people going to know if there`s something wrong if nobody is there inspecting it? I believe, Mark Eiglarsh, they should be inspected every six months?

EIGLARSH: Well, it doesn`t sound like a bad idea. Who can argue with that, except the cost? And most cities are bankrupt, so you`ve got to...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Do you know how much it`s going to cost to prosecute this woman? It`s going to cost millions of dollars. The forensics, collecting all the evidence, not to mention that priceless children have lost their lives and families have been devastated.

EIGLARSH: Jane, I`m with you. I didn`t disagree with you. I`m just saying, be prepared to pay for inspectors to go to each one of the daycares, and if you`re prepared to pay for it, then great idea. No problem.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`d be happy to pay for it. We have to get beyond our reactive justice system where money is no object now. Every single person inspecting that crime scene is being paid. And they`re probably getting paid overtime.

I mean, seriously, Stacey Honowitz, we can`t, every time there`s a preventative measure that could prevent a tragedy, we can`t say, "Well, we`ve got a budget problem." Where`s the -- every single person in this video with the exception of the woman in the hat, who`s being investigated now, is being paid.

HONOWITZ: I mean, you`re 100 percent right, and every time there`s an issue like this and we go on the show and we talk about that -- there`s always a call to action after there`s been a tragedy. In these cases, you do find that there are so many violations of so many daycares that are going to, unfortunately -- you know, a lot of times these people aren`t prosecuted.

The other issue is I think parents need to be very cognizant. I`m not blaming anything on parents. They should know rules before they put their kid in a daycare. They should know how many children are allowed to be there, how many adults have to be there, so that they know they`re not...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Where do you find that information? Where do you find that information? That`s not readily available.

HONOWITZ: Local statutes. There are local licensing statutes. You know that if you`re putting your kid in a daycare, it has to be licensed. You go to the licensure board.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Come on. You call any -- have you ever called a government agency, local or federal or state? Nobody answers. You just get a phone that rings forever.

HONOWITZ: All I`m saying is you purposely don`t want to put your child in harm`s way. You know that. And so all I`m saying is when you see tragedies like this, I think it`s a call even...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: These are working families who are leaving their kids -- they`re leaving their kids at daycare because they`ve got to go to work. Joe Gomez, you were shaking your head. What are your -- what`s your thought?

GOMEZ: Well, Jane, you know, I mean, the Child Protective Services Agency here in Texas actually is considering, you know, revamping their regulations for, you know, tending to, you know, home/daycare centers like this one.

I mean, there`s over 2,500 centers like this in Texas, 2,500. Sadly, sometimes it just takes a treasure like this to wake people up. Though it`s terrible that three little babies had to lose their lives, Jane, for this -- for somebody to finally realize it`s time to do something about it.

BROOKS: Jane, and I also...

HONOWITZ: Twenty five hundred...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hold on. Mike Brooks, ten seconds, last word.

BROOKS: Jane, I`m calling for anyone who has in-home baby daycare. They must have a house that has a fire sprinkler system.


BROOKS: A fire sprinkler system. That would have probably saved these babies` lives.

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

UP next, Charlie Sheen won`t quit. The troubled actor`s new rant in an open letter totally degrades and attacks his suits at his network. Well, guess what? They fired back, and you won`t believe what they`ve done to him now.



I found him back here in the box. There was a box behind the dumpster here. I actually cried because it`s so sad.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, shocking new information that the adoptive parents who are out on bail for absolutely shocking child abuse crimes may have skipped town. I`m so outraged.

John and Sonja Kluth were released yesterday on just $9,000 bail each. Court documents say they kept their three children, ages 15, 11 and 9, in cages inside the storm cellar, fed them dog and cat food, hit them with belt buckles and brooms, scalded them with hot kitchen utensils. The horrific list just goes on and on and on.

Straight out to criminal defense attorney Mark Eiglarsh. This couple is out on $9,000 bail each? How can that even be possible, considering what they`re accused of doing to these defenseless children? And now we`re hearing stories that they may have skipped town.

EIGLARSH: It`s outrageous and a miscarriage of justice. Apparently, the standard bond for each one of the counts that they`re charged with is $1,500, so that combined with six counts she`s charged with equals $9,000. What prosecutors can and should do and I implore them to do is file an emergency motion in front of the judge to increase the bond. Each count that they`re facing carries with it a potential life sentence. They have every reason to flee the jurisdiction.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, even the sheriff who arrested John and Sonja Kluth says he cannot understand why their bail was set so low. Apparently, the judge said he didn`t consider them a flight risk. But guess what? The sheriff says he`s now noticing changes at the house. Check this out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The truck`s gone and so is a lot of the personal property.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: So property is being removed from the house. The sheriff says they won`t know if they fled town until their next court appearance, which is on March 7? What? That makes no sense to me.

EIGLARSH: Yes. If you`re asking me, again, I don`t think you wait that long. Any time there`s changes in circumstances, prosecutors should and, in my experience, have filed emergency motions. Furniture gone, U- Haul, those types of things indicate a risk of flight if not already evidence of flight. So get in front of a judge on an emergency basis to increase the bond or to get them in front of the court.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What about, A, following them? This is an ongoing criminal investigation. What about following them when they leave the courthouse? What about pulling them in and interrogating them for hours on end, separating them and asking each one questions about what happened in the house to hopefully find inconsistencies in their story?

I mean, we don`t have to be detectives. All you have to do is watch an episode of "CSI" to know that something here is not right.

EIGLARSH: Well, when you watch episodes of "CSI" and you`re smart, you know that`s not how it always is in real life. My guess is -- again, I don`t know if they had Barney Fife or a sharp guy there who tried to speak with them. And again, all they have to do is say "We want our attorney," and then by law, that`s it, goodbye, into jail. Or they posted the standard bond. They`re out. They plan to get away, and now it looks like they`re gone. That`s what appears to have happened.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is such a bungled case. Their biological son complained about them and tried to stop them from being able to adopt these kids in the first place, and he was ignored.

And honestly, I think there should be lawsuits against all the agencies that were involved in this fiasco that allowed these two wackadoodles, these sickos, these vicious, sadistic people to adopt these kids.

Thank you for joining me, Mark.

Charlie Sheen next.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Breaking news: the suits finally crack down on Charlie Sheen. Is "Two-and-a-Half Men" over? The troubled bad boy bad mouthing execs calling in to another radio show to unleash his fury and spewing hatred in a wacky calling the show`s creator a contaminated little maggot. Is Charlie`s entitlement reaching dangerous new levels? We`ll talk to recovering addict and star Mackenzie Phillips.


CHARLIE SHEEN, ACTOR: They bring up these turds, these little homunculus losers. There`s no reason to bring them back into the fold because I have real fame; they have nothing, they have zero.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight the set of "Two-and-a-Half Men" goes dark. The CBS suits announce they are halting, stopping, all production on the sitcom for the rest of the season following a wild radio rant by -- who else -- Charlie Sheen.

Sheen let loose during a radio interview and fired off a series of text to "Good Morning, America" viciously attacking "Two-and-a-Half men" creator Chuck Lorre. Sheen made anti-Semitic comments about Lorre and calls him a clown and a worm.

Listen to this from "The Alex Jones Show".


SHEEN: I am so tired of pretending like my life isn`t perfect and (EXPLETIVE DELETED) just winning every second and I`m not perfect and (EXPLETIVE DELETED)and just delivering the goods at every freaking turn because look what I`m dealing with, man.

I`m dealing with fools and trolls. I`m dealing with soft targets. It`s just -- it`s just strafing runs in my underwear before my first cup of coffee because I don`t have time for these clowns. I don`t have time for their judgment and their stupidity. And you know, they let (INAUDIBLE) in front of their little children and just look at their loser lives and they`re helping get the same.

ALEX JONES, RADIO HOST: I can`t process it.

Sheen: Well, no and you never will. Stop trying. Just sit back and enjoy the show.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: You might have a lot of time on your hands now, Charlie Sheen. Sheen adds, "Forget you. I own you. And I`ll go make movies with superstars." Oh, really? Good luck with that Charlie.

He also claims he has a $5 million an episode HBO special in the work called "Sheen`s Corner" but guess what; we called HBO and they tell us, no truth to that.

Straight out to Dylan Howard, senior executive editor for; Dylan what is the very latest. This is big breaking news.

DYLAN HOWARD, SENIOR EXECUTIVE EDITOR, RADARONLINE: It is indeed, Jane. And good evening to you. I spoke to Charlie Sheen personally a couple of hours ago. He remains in the Bahamas.

He described to me the decision to suspend production on Two-and-a- Half men as both sad and crazy. Here you have an individual who has clearly set himself on a collision course with the show`s creator, Chuck Lorre.

Now in its statement, CBS said it was Sheen`s conduct and condition that forced them to make this step. Now, Sheen in a new interview that`s set to be broadcast on Friday said that it is a material breach of his contract that this show has been stalled. So whilst he is indignant there, the question now remains will there indeed be a season nine of this top rating and billion-dollar making program? I think the answer you`ll find there will be no.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. It could be -- it could be the end. It could be the end game for Charlie and "Two and a Half Men". Zero and a Half Men is what we`re calling the show now. It`s not going to be produced anymore.

I guess there`s four episodes; that means at least, at the very minimum, that will not be produced. That`s how many were left for this season. Is that a yes or no?

HOWARD: Yes, it is, indeed. That`s the catch.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And then the big question is will it come back next season and your prediction is no. I agree with you.

Now Charlie also slams Alcoholics Anonymous, calling it a bootleg cult.

Listen to this one. This gem from "The Alex Jones Show".


SHEEN: This bootleg cult, you know, arrogantly referred to as Alcoholic Anonymous, Alex, supports a 5 percent success rate. My success rate is 100 percent. Do the math.

Another one of those stupid models, Alex, is don`t be special, be one of us. News flash, I am special. And I will never be one of you. I have a disease, (EXPLETIVE DELETED), I cured it with my brain, with my mind. I`m cured, I`m done.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is wild. He says he cured himself in a nanosecond with his brain?

Addiction specialist Howard Samuels, a few days ago Charlie Sheen claimed to be being clean but now we hear that the CBS suits are citing his quote, unquote, condition. I think it`s a fair question to ask, does he sound sober to you or does he sound like he`s hopped up on something?

HOWARD SAMUELS, ADDICTION SPECIALIST: Jane, let`s be very clear, Charlie Sheen is a hardcore drug addict and he`s an abuser of women. This is not somebody who`s in recovery and this is not somebody who actually talks like there`s any recovery in him.

He is angry, he is resentful. Those are all characteristics of alcoholism and drug addiction and on top of it the entitlement and the arrogance is out of control, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, yes, "I am special". You know, they call that in the program "terminally unique" because sometimes it can result in the termination of your job, to wit, no more "Two-and-a-Half Men" for this season and sometimes tragically it can result in the termination of your life.

I still hope, even though he is a complete cad and a bleep, you know, that I can`t even say, I don`t want to see him die. And that`s why we`re still hoping that he will somehow hit bottom and get help. But this is -- maybe this is what will do it, maybe money is the one thing that will cause him to get help.

And I want to go to Sharon Waxman, founder and editor-in-chief of You cover the business side. Does this mean that he`s not going to get his infamous almost $2 million an episode salary for the rest of the season. Do we know how his contract is set up? Will he still be paid?

SHARON WAXMAN, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THERAP.COM: Well, I heard your producer say that he -- that Charlie`s claiming that they`re in breach of contract. But our sources at Warner Brothers and CBS are telling us that there`s no way that he`s going to get paid out the rest of his contract.

And that makes sense. I mean from their point of view, his behavior has put 300 people out of work. I can`t imagine what his co-stars are thinking about him right now because they had very good jobs at the top of the food chain in the television world for years now. And their fate has hinged on his win basically.

There`s no doubt that they will claim cause; that he`s in breach of his contract, which is not merely -- there`s lots of fine print and it`s not only about him showing up to work or not showing up to work. And they --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me ask you this question. Is he still on TV? In reruns?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Is he completely of the air? Or is he still on --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- either CBS or on at reruns in some kind of syndication format.

WAXMAN: He`s on television now on CBS in reruns. He has been. We don`t know what they`re going to do next week. Maybe they`ll change their minds but really, what`s in that slot and doing not badly are reruns of "Two-and-a-Half Men". So --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow. That`s interesting. So in a way, he`s still going to get obviously some money from that. He doesn`t get the same amount of money he gets from shooting a new episode, but he`s still getting some kind of paycheck from CBS. Yes or no, Sharon.

WAXMAN: Yes, but -- yes, of course, he`ll still get royalties, but that`s very different from this very big paycheck that he gets from shooting new episodes. It`s a big financial hit.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. Well, that`s good, because that might be the one thing that gets to him. Now, Charlie made fun of "Two-and-a-Half Men" creator, Chuck Lorre`s name, saying he was really Chaim Levine. Listen to this from "The Alex Jones Show".


SHEEN: Check it Alex, I embarrassed him in front of his children and the world by healing at a pace that his unevolved mind cannot process. Ok, last I checked, Chaim, I have spent, I think, close to the last decade I don`t know effortlessly and magically converting your tin cans into pure gold. And the gratitude I get from this charlatan chose not to do his job which is to write.

Clearly someone who believes he`s above the law. Well, you`ve been warned, dude, bring it.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s the anti-Semitic comment people were referring. Sheen calls Chuck "Chaim" which is the Hebrew translation of Lorre`s birth name, "Charles".

Dylan Howard, I think he`s crossed a line here and he is entering almost what I would call Mel Gibson territory.

HOWARD: Well, I mean, the rants were the catalyst for CBS and Warner Bros. to make this decision. Privately though, many people around Charlie Sheen were questioning had he fallen off the wagon after that month of in- home rehab.

Now, we confronted Sheen with that allegation yesterday. Irrespective of the comments that he made, which is yes, you`re right, were incredibly disrespectful especially to someone who is his boss. That said, we confronted Sheen with those allegations, has he fallen off the wagon. And he`s agreed Jane, to undergo a drug test.

He wants to prove and clear his name by submitting to a urine and blood test on Monday here in Los Angeles. And he says that will prove that he`s clean and that that judgment call by CBS and Warner Bros. is indeed wrong.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, wow. Ok, well, guess what?

WAXMAN: But they`re not going to --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I would just love -- just for curiosity, we`re going to follow up on that with our viewers and -- but I agree with Howard Samuels 100 percent, this is a guy in the addict mind, deep in his disease, deep in his disease. And unfortunately he`s taking a lot of people down with him.

We are talking Charlie Sheen and addiction.

And we have a program reminder for you. Dr. Drew Pinsky`s "NIGHTLY SHOW" debuts April 4th right here on HLN. You don`t want to miss it.

Now, we have got so much more on Charlie Sheen`s rants. Actress and author, Mackenzie Phillips, who battled addiction herself famously, will join me next to talk about the Sheen saga. You do not want to miss what Mackenzie Phillips has to say about this guy.



TOM SIZEMORE, ACTOR: In six hours, you can undo 17 years of hard work and what people will remember is the six hours where you were in (EXPLETIVE DELETED).



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 want to read "Addict Nation".


VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s not just Charlie Sheen, addiction is everywhere. My new book, "Addict Nation" is available right now at If you are grappling with an addiction or know somebody who is, you can find out exactly what to do about it. Check out or Read it and get liberated.


DR. DREW PINSKY, HLN HOST, "DR. DREW`S NIGHTLY SHOW": Here he`s had these horrific consequences: social, financial, interpersonal, medical; and yet he thinks he`s on the right path, he can handle this. I wish it were true, God bless him if he can. Many have tried, came before and tried.

And I can tell you as a physician, this is going to come to a very, very unhappy ending.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight Charlie Sheen (INAUDIBLE) takes to the air waves to trash "Two-and-a-Half Men" creator Chuck Lorre. Charlie also says he is cured. He claims he is ready to go back to work but guess what; CBS suits have just pulled the plug on "Two-and-a-Half Men" for the rest of the season and it very well may be done for good.

We are talking to someone who has been through this hell and this denial as well, working on the sitcom "One Day at a Time" at the very same time as she was battling an extreme addiction.

We are very delighted and honored to have Mackenzie Phillips joining us tonight right here on ISSUES. And Mackenzie says she is frightened for Charlie. Now Mackenzie recently revealed an incestuous relationship with her father, music legend John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas and talked about how that contributed to her drug use.

Listen to this from "The Oprah Winfrey Show".


MACKENZIE PHILLIPS, ACTRESS: I woke up that night from a blackout to find myself having sex with my own farther. I don`t remember how it started or thankfully how it ended. Was it the first time? Had this happened before? I didn`t know and I still don`t.

All I can say is that it was the first time I was aware of it. For a moment, I was in my body, in that horrible truth and then I slid back into a blackout.

Your father is supposed to protect you. Your father is supposed to protect you. Not (EXPLETIVE DELETED) you.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Powerful stuff. Mackenzie got herself clean with the help of HLN`s own Dr. Drew on VH-1`s "Celebrity Rehab" and her book "High on Arrival" is now out in paperback with a brand new chapter detailing her family`s reaction to her tell all and the allegations of incest.

Mackenzie, thank you again for joining us.

You went through something similar to what Charlie`s going through, being a star on television at the time that you were grappling with your disease. Hearing Charlie in obvious denial about his problems, why do you say that that frightens you?

PHILLIPS: Well, I mean obviously it`s very frightening and I remember back in the `80s and late `70s when I was having problems on "One Day at a Time". They would just say, go, we`re going to give you three weeks off and we want you to go and get well. So, you know, I`ve said this before, I would go and I`d get my hair done and my teeth cleaned and I would come back and I`d go, hey I`m ready and they would go hey, you`re ready. You know, so there was no real sense like there is now where you don`t fire someone or just tell them to go get well. You help implement recovery in their lives.

And I said last night on JOY BEHARS SHOW, Charlie Sheen has too much power. Well, guess what, this morning they took that power away. They took that power away.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. I`m thinking the only thing that`s really going to get to him is the money. The money is what is enabling him to stay in denial. The money is what is creating the false universe that allows him to completely defy reality. Anybody else, Mackenzie, would be out of a job.


PHILLIPS: He`s got so much money. You know, I mean, he doesn`t care, four episodes of "Two-and-a-Half Men", yes, to us it`s manna from heaven. But to Charlie, it`s a drop in a gigantic bucket.

And I want to say, he may be clean right now, I doubt it. But if he is speaking this way, then he is revealing some deep emotional and mental issues which are very frightening and that could be what his network is saying when they used the word "his condition", they could be referring to his emotional and mental condition because he sounds bat poop to me right now, like something`s really -- some switch has been flipped where something is deeply, deeply wrong.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: He is very vicious. Let`s listen to one more thing he had to say. He says everything in his life is perfect and fantastic.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: This from "The Alex Jones Show".


SHEEN: I am so tired of pretending like my life isn`t perfect and (EXPLETIVE DELETED) just winning every second and I`m not perfect and (EXPLETIVE DELETED) and just delivering the goods at every freaking turn because look what I`m dealing with, man. I`m dealing with fools and trolls, you know. I`m dealing with soft targets and it`s just, you know, it`s just strafing runs in my underwear before my first cup of coffee because I don`t have time for these clowns.

I don`t have time for their judgment and their stupidity. You know, they lay down with their ugly wives in front of their ugly children just look at their loser and then helping me get the same.

JONES: I can`t process it.

SHEEN: Well, no. And you never will. Stop trying. Just sit back and enjoy the show.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: On the other side of the break, we`re going to get Mackenzie`s reaction to that rant. And that is just mean, nasty stuff. The arrogance. But he`s not slurring his words. It`s so confusing.

More in a second.



PINSKY: Eventually the house of cards does collapse and he will need some other kind of genuine care for his addiction. And right now he`s rejecting that. But people eventually aren`t within their rights to reject psychiatric care when they become dangerous, and that`s where he`s headed now.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight Charlie Sheen`s radio rant. The actor verbally and viciously attacking "Two-and-a-Half Men" creator, Chuck Lorre and says, "I own you." Is this guy in deep denial?

We`re back with Mackenzie Phillips, obviously, a very well known actress. And she`s also in recovery and she`s also author of "High on Arrival" which is now in paperback.

Mackenzie, you just heard that rant. Your reaction to the fact that he`s so clearly in denial, but he`s not slurring his words the way, let`s say, a drunk would.

PHILLIPS: No, but he`s so angry. And I don`t know if he`s ever heard the phrase you get more flies with honey? But this is certainly not the way for him to effect a change in his life, to be lashing out like this. Like I said before, it shows some huge arrogance, huge entitlement, deep denial and some mental issues, in my humble opinion. I`m only experientially an expert, not a real one.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mackenzie, what do you think is going to happen to Charlie? I mean, put your crystal ball up.

PHILLIPS: That`s up to -- I think what`s going to happen to Charlie at this point is entirely up to Charlie. If he wants to be contrite and say, look, I don`t know what I was thinking. And really get some real help, which I don`t think is going to happen. He`s going to be too manic or crazed at this point to actually come back down to earth.

Like Drew said, I mean Drew is my rock star. I love him so. Like Dr. Drew said, this is likely to end very badly, whether it be a finite badness or him just falling apart even more publicly kind of badness. It`s not going to end well.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: He really goes through money at breakneck speed. I don`t know how many millions and millions of dollars he`s accumulated but now he`s not getting more in or as much in and with the porn stars and all the other lifestyles, I got to tell you, he can run through this money. And that`s I think the only thing that`s going to get to him --

PHILLIPS: We don`t know how he`s invested it. We don`t know what kind of investment income he has. You also have to remember that even though she said it`s not that significant, syndication money for a show, especially a show like "Two-and-a-Half Men", it can be very significant even for someone like Charlie Sheen.


Now, Mackenzie, you revealed all of your painful secrets very publicly and very courageously. But you made it clear you were the only daughter your dad abused.

Here you are on "The Oprah Winfrey Show".


PHILLIPS: I know for a fact that I`m the only daughter that this happened to. And I don`t know why he chose me to visit his demons upon. I don`t know that. I wish that he were here still alive.

OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: Would you have told the story if he were alive?

PHILLIPS: That I don`t know about. Probably.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: How has your family reacted, Mackenzie?

PHILLIPS: Well, I have to say that it`s fascinating because I haven`t watched that interview since it came out. And to see clips from it, to see how incredibly damaged I felt at that time and so, so exposed, and I`ve really been able to come so far in the last year and a half. I`m so -- I`m kind of -- I cringed when I saw that you were showing parts of that interview but now I`m grateful because I can actually see how much better I`ve gotten since I was able to put my cards on the table and say, this is what happened to me.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We are so proud of you.

PHILLIPS: Thank you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hang in there. I`m going to give you a minute to send Charlie Sheen a message in just a moment.

Stay right there. Ok.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mackenzie, you`ve got a minute to talk to Charlie Sheen. Talk to him.

PHILLIPS: Charlie, Charlie, I don`t know if you`re listening. I don`t even know at this point if you could even hear what I`m trying to say.

But God, I don`t even know what to say to you. I`ve been there and I know you think you`re above everybody else and better than everybody else. And truly, man, that`s not the case. You`re just another one of us. And I really hope you can see the forest for the trees and come back down to earth.

There are people out here who love you and will support you as long as you stop calling people maggots and worms and thinking you`re better than everybody else.

I really hope that you come back to Los Angeles and sit down with someone like Dr. Drew and get some real help. We love you. We want you to be well. And we wish you would stop being such a (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, you know what; you counted it down perfectly. And I think you put it perfectly.

Mackenzie Phillips, you got to come back real soon. We love you.

Nancy Grace is up next.

PHILLIPS: Thank you.