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ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL
Victims Blamed for Crash
Aired July 26, 2011 - 19:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, mind-blowing twists in a wrong-way driver crash that killed eight, including four kids. Cops say the mom behind the wheel had an alcohol level equal to ten drinks. Now that dead driver`s husband is suing a relative who lost three daughters in the crash. That as HBO releases a controversial movie about it all. In an ISSUES exclusive, I`ll talk to a devastated relative of the victims in the other car.
And is there an outrageous bidding war over Casey Anthony`s first big interview? Ditto for Mom and Dad? You won`t believe the astronomical sums allegedly on the table.
Also in an ISSUES exclusive, I`ll talk to the lawyer for a man arrested right outside Casey court. You won`t believe what`s happened to him.
Plus, forced to marry a man she hated?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you ever been touched like that before by any man or boy?
ELISSA WALL, VICTIM OF SEXUAL ABUSE: No, I had not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How did you feel about that?
WALL: Terrified and horrified.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: As juror selection starts for infamous polygamist leader Warren Jeffs, accused of sexually assaulting kids, I`ll talk with a woman who has horror stories. And I`m taking your calls.
ISSUES starts now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANIEL SCHULER, HUSBAND OF WRONG-WAY DRIVER: I go to bed every night knowing my heart is clear.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you put five children in a car when you`re a mother and you`re drunk? How do you do that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The nightmare began Sunday when 36-year-old Diane Schuler of West Babylon, with five kids in her minivan, mistakenly turned onto the Taconic Parkway`s exit ramp instead of the entrance.
SCHULER: She is not an alcoholic and my heart is rested every night when I go to bed. Something medical happened to her.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thirty minutes before the crash, Diane called her brother to say she was disoriented and having trouble seeing.
DOMINIC A. BARBARA, FORMER FAMILY ATTORNEY: She was diabetic. It might or might not have been an embolism. She had an abscess which was more than seven weeks old. She did not go to doctors.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s hard for me to believe that the family did not know that this woman had an alcohol problem or a drug problem.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think anyone that knows contributed to this and should be brought to justice.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, a woman who cops say was drunk and stoned killed seven people plus herself in one of the worst car accidents in history. But now her husband is blaming the father of three young girls killed in that same crash. Why is he compounding their heartache?
Good evening, everybody. I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell, coming to you live from New York City.
It was two years ago yesterday that Diane Schuler caused the worst wreck New York has seen in more than 75 years. The details, horrific and baffling. Schuler, a mom of two, drove her minivan the wrong way on the Taconic State Parkway, going way over the speed limit, weaving in and out of oncoming traffic for nearly two miles. Local cops had never seen anything like it. Check it out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe six cellular 911 phone calls that were received reporting her driving the wrong way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It ended in horrific tragedy. Schuler collided head- first with an SUV. Eight people killed: herself, her young daughter, three young nieces, three men in the other car. For years, the dead driver`s husband, Daniel Schuler, has defended her anyway.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULER: Listen to this. I go to bed every night knowing my heart is clear. She did not drink. She`s not an alcoholic. Listen to all that. She is not an alcoholic, and my heart is rested every night when I go to bed. Something medically had to happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, but that`s not what the toxicology report said.
Here`s what we know about Diane Schuler. She drove 1.7 miles in the wrong direction, driving at 85 miles an hour, and she was intoxicated. She had a blood alcohol level of 0.19. That`s double the legal limit, equal to having ten drinks. The victims in the other car, 39-year-old Guy Bastardi, his dad, 81-year-old Michael, and their friend, 74-year-old Dan Longo.
Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Daniel Schuler continues to insist his wife was innocent, and now he has just filed two lawsuits claiming it was other people`s fault. The most outrageous: he is suing his brother-in-law, the man whose own three daughters died in the fiery crash. Schuler says since his brother-in-law owned the car his wife was driving, he is vicariously liable. The height of audacity, to sue the man whose daughters were killed by your own wife?
I`d like to introduce my very special guest tonight, Jeanne Bastardi, who is joining me on the phone. Jeanne lost two relatives in this horrific crash. She has now written a book on it, called "The Taconic Tragedy: A Son`s Search for the Truth."
Jeanne, thank you so much for being with us tonight. What is your reaction to these lawsuits brought by Daniel Schuler?
JEANNE BASTARDI, LOST TWO RELATIVES IN CRASH (via phone): I really wasn`t surprised at all. We anticipated actually a few more than we`ve heard, but I think since today is the deadline, there may be more in the works.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I don`t get it. First of all, why compound the grief of somebody who has already lost three children -- three children -- in this crash, and then you sue them?
This is Daniel Schuler. This is the guy who is suing his former brother-in-law. Do you have any explanation? You`ve written a book on this.
J. BASTARDI: Well, absolutely, to Daniel Schuler, it`s for the money. I think that was pretty clear in the photos he released of his wife in the HBO documentary last night. If anything, that shows absolutely no love for that woman. It was horrific.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You mention an HBO film. Yes, it`s a series that began last night. I`m going to show you a clip right now. This is how controversial it is, that HBO is doing a series on this one car crash. Check it out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nine-one-one.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, I`m on the Taconic Expressway. A car is going like 30 miles an hour the wrong direction.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There`s an accident, Route 117.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are there any injuries?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, there`s a whole bunch of kids.
SCHULER: I know my wife. What they`re saying is not true. Why would she be doing this?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I said to Diane, "Have a safe trip home."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did she stop for Advil? Something was bothering for.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you just come forward and say, "I`m sorry. She made a mistake," you can accept that. What are you trying to cover up?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. I want to show you a Google map of the intersection from, really, where it happened, and introduce you to Lauren Dean-Mooney. Lauren Dean-Mooney, former president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Your husband was killed by a drunk driver. That`s just an indication of the area where this horror occurred.
Another lawsuit that he has filed is against the state of New York, claiming the highway was poorly designed and there weren`t enough signs, even though there was a sign that said "Do not enter." I mean, this is mind-boggling to me.
This woman had in her body the equivalent of ten drinks, according to the authorities, and marijuana, traces of marijuana. And yet he is suing the state of New York for poorly designing a highway? And he is suing the father of -- who lost three daughters in this crash?
LAUREN DEAN-MOONEY, FORMER PRESIDENT, MADD: It -- it`s just unbelievable. You know, for them to think that they can put this blame on someone else is -- it hurts. It hurts those families who are with involved. And it`s like if the man who killed my husband, who also was a wrong-way driver said, well -- his family sues because he didn`t get a deer. He was on the way home from a deer hunting trip. Big deal!
He was entering the highway the wrong way, traveling at a high rate of speed, just like Diane Schuler was. But the thing is, they were both drunk. There`s no one else to blame except the person, the driver themselves.
And it is painful to think that Mr. Schuler would try to put the blame on a relative, a family member who`s grieving the loss. That`s one thing, Jane, people need to understand. You don`t get over a sudden loss like this. You get through it, but grief takes many, many years to process.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you can never, never process grief when you`ve lost three children. That`s not possible.
He has issued, through his attorneys and various others, a litany of excuses. Check this out, which is from a news conference, I believe, that was not long after the tragedy itself. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARBARA: A, she was diabetic. B, she had a bump on her leg, which was traveling towards her brain that might or might not have been an embolism. She did not go to doctors. And she had an abscess, which was more than seven weeks old.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Robin Sax, former prosecutor, a bottle of vodka was found at the crash scene. And you heard that litany of excuses. And now the shocking news that a lawsuit has been filed against the man who lost three daughters in the crash, claiming he is, quote unquote, "vicariously liable" because he owned the vehicle she was driving. Is there such a thing as vicarious liability?
ROBIN SAX, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Well, there is vicarious liability under the law, where someone can sue the owner of a building or the owner of a car for an accident. But that -- just because that is available to a lawyer or to a potential plaintiff doesn`t mean that`s the right tool to use.
This is a case where it seems we`ve got an angry man who`s distraught, who wants to find blame and won`t accept that the blame and the evidence lies with his ex-wife -- or with his wife.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s denial. It`s denial.
Laura Dean-Mooney, you`re the former president of MADD. I`m a recovering alcoholic. I know what denial is. I also know there are closet, secret drinkers who keep their disease from even their lovers and their spouses. Could that be what`s going on here?
DEAN-MOONEY: Well, it sure could. I`m not a therapist or a person that deals in expertise with recovery, but, obviously, he is in denial. He does not want to admit that his wife was, as he called her, I believe, an alcoholic.
She may not have been an alcoholic. We don`t know. But she had a drinking problem, and she was drunk. According to the confirmed toxicology reports of that particular evening, she was drunk.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So when we come back, we`re going to talk to Jeanne Bastardi about her book, "The Taconic Tragedy," because she claims she`s gotten some startling new information, a back story about this crash. We`re going to hear from her in a moment again.
Taking your calls: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297.
Coming up, is there a bidding war over Casey Anthony and her parents? Their big interview? We`re going to get it from TMZ.
But first, shocking twists in the wrong-way driver case. Why are relatives of the dead children being sued?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think anyone that knows contributed to this and should be brought to justice in one way or another.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL BASTARDI, RELATIVE OF CRASH VICTIMS: We feel it`s the absolute right thing to do. You know? We feel it`s the road to justice. It`s something we have to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: One of the relatives of one of the victims in the oncoming car. Three men in that oncoming car were killed. And a quote from the gentleman you heard about their lawsuit, "We feel it`s the absolute right thing to do. We feel it`s the road to justice. Just something that we have to do."
Again, I`m on with Jeanne Bastardi, she is -- well, she lost her father-in-law and her brother-in-law in this horrific crash. The worst New York state has seen in 75 years. Eight dead, including the driver.
And you wrote this book, "The Taconic Tragedy: A Son`s Search for the Truth." What did you find out about Diane Schuler, the driver, Jeanne?
J. BASTARDI: Well, first of all, I have to say up front, we actually don`t agree with most of what`s been said. We don`t believe Daniel Schuler is in denial.
You have to understand, of the year and a half it took to write this, an entire year was just research. My husband did have two of his own investigators.
The day the toxicology report was released, both Daniel Schuler and Warren Hance both hired criminal attorneys and stopped speaking to the police, did not cooperate in the investigation.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me say one thing, first of all, before you get any further. We have reached out repeatedly to Daniel Schuler`s attorney. We did not hear back. Anybody involved in this tragic case is free to come on at any time and tell their side of the story. We want to be absolutely fair.
Why don`t you think that he, Daniel, is in denial? The man who is suing now, Jeanne?
J. BASTARDI: As soon as he chose Dominic Barbara, which by the way, he`s now disbarred. So you`re not going to find him.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But let`s get to this man, Daniel Schuler. Daniel Schuler.
J. BASTARDI: You`re getting cut off bad here. Why do I think he`s in denial [SIC]? I think he was well aware that his wife was drunk -- was drunk. I think she did drink.
Witnesses -- Thomas Ruskin has came up with a lot of them in the documentary, having even known her in ten years. In his initial statement to the police, he said, "She does smoke pot. We were drinking that night. She had a couple of daiquiris, but we didn`t drink the next night."
There is, after speaking to four different medical examiners, not one of them believes anybody could have drank that amount of alcohol and have traveled that far if they weren`t a very seasoned drinker.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me ask you this. Because according to published reports that I`ve read, she leaves this upstate New York campground about 9:30 in the morning, stops at McDonald`s. Then there`s surveillance video of her going into a gas station, and she apparently looks sober and in control at that point.
And then, it`s later, around 11:37, that one of the children calls her dad and says they`re running late. Then just before 1 p.m., there`s a panicked call from one of the kids.
It would seem that this is a trip that`s supposed to take about an hour and 45 minutes that ultimately took, reportedly, something like four hours. So is it possible that she pulled off at the side of the road and just drank, since there was a bottle of vodka in the vehicle at the time of the crash?
J. BASTARDI: No, you`ve actually missed a lot of the timeline, as well.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, correct me, please. I mean, get to your point.
J. BASTARDI: First of all, the Sunoco video is -- there`s 90 seconds of gaps. We did not think that she looked fine. She pulled out on two wheels. She pulled up for gas. We were told she pumped gas. That`s never shown in the video. She wandered around the store. She did not make even eye contact with the clerk. Got back in the car and pulled away.
By 11:37, two witnesses have signed depositions that they saw her pulled over and vomiting on the side of the road.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, my God.
J. BASTARDI: There was five phone calls that connected with the Hance family. There were many misdialed numbers and some that were connected but were not answered.
What the police had told us initially, the misdialed numbers, you could -- they theorized that that might have been the children, because they would be dialing.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Remember, let`s just tell our viewers. Five kids, I believe, in this vehicle, this minivan. Can you imagine their terror? Can you imagine the terror of these kids, who are helpless with this drunk, stoned person at the wheel, driving the wrong way down the freeway for 1.7 miles?
My heart goes out to you, Jeanne. My heart goes out to everyone.
J. BASTARDI: I`m hearing the next set...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. We`re going to put your mike down, because there`s a little back feed there.
I just have to say, as a recovering alcoholic myself, this kind of thing is -- it just illustrated the horror of addiction, the horror of abuse of any kind of substance.
People do go into blackouts. I know. I have experienced blackouts. That means you don`t know what`s happening, and sometimes you don`t even remember afterwards. All right? Something to think about.
More on the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you put five children in a car when you`re a mother and you`re drunk? How do you do that? It`s incomprehensible. I can`t even -- we have children. I would never, ever do something like that. It just -- it`s just crazy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Rage and grief over this case.
Two years ago, Diane Schuler drove the wrong way on the freeway for almost two miles. She crashed into another car, head-on. Eight dead, four of them children. Now her husband is suing the man who lost three children.
With me tonight, Tom Ruskin, who with at one time was investigating the case for the Schuler family. In other words, the family of the man whose wife was behind the wheel. You double-checked the tox tests and told Daniel, "Hey, these are not a mistake. They`re right." Tell us about that.
TOM RUSKIN, FORMER INVESTIGATOR FOR SCHULER FAMILY: We took the samples. We had the samples shipped from Westchester County directly to an independent lab.
We first did DNA on the toothbrush that belonged to Diane and got the DNA and tested those against the samples. It was her samples.
We then had the lab retest them. And within a scientific certainty, they turned out exactly the same as Westchester County Medical Center.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So in other words, she was drunk and she was stoned?
RUSKIN: At the time of the accident, correct. Correct.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Why is this man incapable of accepting that about his wife?
RUSKIN: He just says that he knows his wife over 13 years, married to her for 9, and it`s impossible. He never saw her drunk; he never saw her high. This is Danny`s words. This isn`t mine. This is his belief, and he is steadfast on his denial.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, he also lost a child, so our hearts go out to him in that sense. And maybe that broke him in some way, and his son is very, very, very badly -- was very badly injured and had to go to rehab. There`s no winners in this case.
I believe we have Katie from California on the phone -- Katie?
CALLER: Hi, Jane, how are you?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Good. Question?
CALLER: I have a brother that was killed by a drunk driver. He was just back from Vietnam. And the man was on the wrong side of the freeway at midnight, going 120 miles an hour with his headlights off, and hit my brother head-on. I don`t understand why this Mr. Schuler feels that he needs to sue his family. I can`t understand.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I don`t either. And I know denial is an enormously powerful thing. It`s like people who are alcoholics, who are in denial about the fact that they have a problem. And that happens all the time.
And I want to just ask Tom about that. I mean, you spent time with this guy. Do you think that his heart is in the right place? Or could there be some kind of financial motive there?
RUSKIN: Well, I can`t say the reason why he`s suing. I wasn`t involved in the decision. I wasn`t brought into it. And we`re no longer conducting the investigation, unless something would really rise to where we would need to come back into the case.
But the bottom line here is, I have no idea what his motive is now. It surprised and shocked me when I learned about these lawsuits.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I mean, my gosh.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s bad enough the way it is without compounding the horror, by suing somebody who has lost three kids!
Thank you, Tom. Good seeing you. All right.
RUSKIN: Thanks. You too, Jane.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: A bidding war over Casey?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CASEY ANTHONY, ACQUITTED FOR MURDER OF DAUGHTER: I know we`re going to see Caylee. I know she`s coming home. I can feel it.
Hi. I`m good.
Laughter is one of those things that can get you out of whatever you`re feeling even when you`re at your lowest point.
I can still feel her -- in my gut, I know she`s still ok. I can feel it, mom.
I love you too. And we`re coming home. And we`re all going to be back there, we`re all going to be home together.
I`ve been here a month today. Do you understand how I feel? All I want is my kid back, to be back with my family. With keeping me here, you`re not helping me help myself.
You know what`s funny? I`m going to say this and you`re going to laugh and I think it`s hilarious.
Can someone let me -- come on?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, will she or won`t she break her silence? The bidding war over Casey`s first post-verdict interview has allegedly reached wild new heights. We`ve also just learned on October 25th the judge will release the names of Casey jurors who have yet to come forward.
Now TMZ is claiming tonight the asking price for Casey`s coveted first appearance is now up to $1.5 million; so far, apparently, no takers. TMZ says attorney, Jose Baez has been holed up in a swanky New York hotel allegedly taking bids from the big three, ABC, NBC, and CBS.
Now, ABC has told once it`s not true, that they`re not involved in any bidding war. We also reached out to NBC and CBS, we have not heard back.
And what about offers for George and Cindy on tape or live. Reports are that a bid of $250,000 was scoffed at. Meantime, a free Casey laying low.
Yet another trial watcher has gotten tossed in the slammer, meantime. Mark Schmidter, you`re seeing him here, busted handing out trial-related flyers in front of Casey court outside of the so-called free speech zones. His attorney joins me in an exclusive interview tonight.
Here`s footage of me outside the courthouse running across the massive complex. Yes, there I am, running, running, running. It`s huge. It`s a huge place. Look at it. You could play football there.
The designated protest area was tiny, tiny, tiny. What happened to our first amendment rights? Judge Perry gave the Schmidter fellow 151 days and a $500 fine. And Casey is a free woman. Hmm. Something seems funny about all that. I think this guy got a raw deal.
What`s your take? Give me a holler, 1-877-JVM-SAYS.
Straight out to my dear friend, TMZ, executive producer, founder, and chief guy, Harvey Levin. Harvey, what is the latest on this Casey Anthony bidding war?
HARVEY LEVIN, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, TMZ: Well, it`s so interesting, Jane. So we have reported today that a syndicated talk show offered Casey Anthony`s parents $250,000 and it was summarily rejected. The bids have gone way higher than that, for the parents, Jane, for the parents. On the Casey Anthony front, we are told, as you just said, that the bidding exceed $1.5 million.
Now, let me tell you what I know and what I`m not sure of. I know that the big three networks were all negotiating this, as of last Thursday night, and they were doing it at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, very close to where you`re broadcasting, where CNN is. And that Jose Baez actually met with Mark Geragos in the hotel bar and talked about -- got pointers from him on how to negotiate the deal.
I was told big bucks were involved. Now we`re told it`s more than $1.5 million. What I`m not sure of is, I think this deal might be closed, Jane. And the reason I say it is because if you notice today, ABC didn`t say they weren`t involved in the negotiation. They said they will no longer pay for video and photos connected with an interview. That is hugely significant, Jane. Because what they`re saying, essentially, is they`re going to stop the deception that all the networks have been using for years, which is to say publicly, we don`t pay for interviews. But then what they do is, they`ll say to Casey Anthony, we`ll give you $1 million for your high school photo.
And it`s all a game. And everybody knows what they`re doing, but they`re able to say, we`re not doing it. ABC finally realized what a sham it is. So as of today, they issued a statement. They will no longer do it. That, to me, signals that ABC has probably lost the Casey Anthony deal. I was told all along NBC was the front-runner and I wouldn`t be surprised if that`s closed now.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. A couple of things. I just want to tell you, an ABC publicist called us and said, not true, no bidding war, ABC not involved in any way. So, I`m just getting that out there.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And NBC and CBS, they can come on and tell their side of the story any time. And Jose Baez can as well. You know, Jose, if you`re watching, you`re always invited on our show. We reached out to you to get your response tonight, have not heard back. But I know you did tell our Jean Casarez, quote, "I don`t know. She`s her own person. If she wants to give an interview in the future, she will. Right now she just wants to start to rebuild her life. There are no plans for an interview at this point. The circus is over."
So Harvey, he seems to be saying that he is not involved in any kind of bidding war and that he doesn`t want the circus to go on. What do you make of that?
LEVIN: You should probably try and get Mark Geragos on your show.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Well, let`s -- hey, bookers, start making those calls. And Jose, you know my cell. You can call me right now if you want to. I try to get in touch with you all the time. He must be mad at me. Ok.
Well, what is the significance of this? I mean really, there is this controversy over paying and so either she does it for free -- either she doesn`t do it at all and there`s no truth to it, or she does it for free, or she gets paid. So, do you think the days of paying for these interviews are over or is this just being kept under wraps by somebody?
LEVIN: Well, look, I mean, we called it out last Friday when we published this story. And as far as I`m concerned, I will be -- you know, I`m going to be completely transparent on this thing, we pay for videos and photos. Don`t get me wrong, I`m not saying that`s wrong, we do it all the time.
But our feeling is that when you pay for -- everybody pays for videos and photos. If there`s a fire in the middle of the night and there`s a stringer, you guys, everybody buys videos and photos. But the difference between that and paying for an interview is that when you interview somebody, Jane, and you offer them huge sums of money, there`s pressure on them to deliver, and they may be tweaking the facts or making things up, even, to make it worth the while of the network that`s paying the money.
That`s why it`s so dangerous to pay for an interview. So the networks know this. But what they have all done --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Especially with a pathological liar.
LEVIN: Right, right. I mean you know, if indeed she is. But Jane I have to tell you something. When you talk to the --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: She is. Even they admitted in the trial that she lies constantly. She lied about Zanny, she lied about having a job, she lied about this, that and the other -- the defense admitted that.
LEVIN: I agree with you. And I mean she is a liar. And, you know, let me ask you something, Jane, because it`s interesting. When you guys called the network, did they say, we haven`t bid for an interview, or we haven`t been involved in buying pictures or video? How specific were they?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I have this response from my booking department. "ABC publicist just called me, not true, no bidding war, ABC not involved in any way." And then, of course, that goes along with the big story that ABC will no longer pay licensing fees for interviews, ending its controversial practice of allegedly paying subjects for so-called licensing fees. In other words, they pay for photos and videos in exchange for exclusive interviews.
"Daily Beast" was reporting that ABC News president, Ben Sherwood, made the call to stop paying these fees. Because whenever ABC landed a high-level booking, questions were raised about whether money had changed hands. And so they said they`ve come under fire and they`re just not going to do it anymore.
LEVIN: Well, that`s the point, Jane. It`s not that people thought -- it`s that they`re saying, we will no longer do it. They`re acknowledging - - this is the first time they`re acknowledging it that they used to -- that they did, up until now, you`d pay for photos and videos in connection with an interview. So they`re acknowledging they played the game.
It`s interesting, isn`t it, that it`s coming out days after all of these stories about the Mandarin Oriental and ABC and NBC and CBS. Again, we have not put Mark Geragos on TMZ, because that`s not what we do, but I would think, you know, that`s somebody I would certainly go to.
And I don`t know what he`d say to you, but I would certainly try, because I just know from the people we had out there, I know that he was at that hotel talking to Jose Baez about this.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, if it wasn`t Jose Baez. Ok, he`s talking to Jose Baez but for all we know, he could be talking about something totally unrelated.
LEVIN: But I`ve got to stop you. I am telling you that I know what they were talking about.
LEVIN: And they were talking -- because I`m just telling you that they were talking about how to negotiate this deal.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Well, again, Jose, you`re invited on any time.
By the way, just as we say good-bye to you, Harvey, it`s always great to see you, we have to show you this pre-owned latex Casey mask that is now going up on eBay and it`s now hit $660. So if you want this mask for next Halloween, you`re going to have to pay at least $660. The price keeps going up ever couple of minutes.
I want to go to Adam Sudbury, the attorney for Mark Schmidter. This is a guy who`s handing out leaflets outside Casey court and now he`s been hit with, what, how many days in jail, 151 days in jail?
ADM SUDBURY, ATTORNEY FOR MARK SCHMIDTER: 151 days in jail, that`s right.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is wild. I was out there outside court. Whatever happened to freedom of speech? I mean he was just handing out leaflets, right? Now and the judge has held him in some kind of contempt of court and says you`re in indirect criminal contempt and you`re going to go to jail for a hundred -- is that fair?
SUDBURY: Absolutely not fair. It`s a violation of his First Amendment right to freedom of speech. My client is a member of what`s called the Fully Informed Juror Association. He`s been -- he`s got a project where he hands out leaflets, giving information about jury service.
Judge Perry passed a couple of administrative orders in the context of the Casey Anthony case that touched on my client`s activities and as a violation of those orders, he was found in contempt --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Is he really going to jail? You`re obviously going to appeal?
SUDBURY: He`s in jail right now. I just got done seeing him. He was sentenced today, 151 days.
VELEZ-MITCHELL:L Unbelievable. I just don`t think it`s fair, sir, and I`m going to say that. I was out there. The areas for the protesters are about this big. And we should be able to stand out there and protest. Thank you so much.
We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would like to announce the arrest of FBI top ten most wanted fugitives, Warren Steve Jeffs.
Jeffs was wanted for the alleged sexual assault of a minor in 2002.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The state revealed as many as 11 underage girls were pregnant or married. Police found these records locked in a safe during the raid on that compound.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have 52 young women from the ages of 17 to 6 months of age that we have taken from the compound.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have there been any children in here at all since the raid?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is another bedroom. Several older girls live in this bedroom, and they have taken them as well. I`ve been trying ever since they took them away to get in there, and they won`t let me in.
ELISSA WALL, VICTIM: When I was young, my mother taught me that evil flourishes when good men do nothing. This has not been easy for us. The easy thing would have been to do nothing. But I have followed my heart and I have spoken the truth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That woman, Elissa Wall, looked evil right in the eye when polygamist leader Warren Jeffs allegedly forced her to marry and have sex with a man that she despised, hated, her own 19-year-old cousin.
Tonight, Elissa Wall joins us live here on ISSUES to talk about the hell she endured due to Warren Jeffs and how she fought back. You`re our hero. We`re going to get to you in a second Elissa.
Plus new heart-wrenching allegations of child abuse; a woman who fled the polygamous lifestyle says FLDS babies are being tortured, waterboarded, waterboarded for crying. Check this out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURIE ALLEN, ESCAPED POLYGAMOUS SECT: From the time you`re a baby, you are stripped of all your emotions. I mean, when you`re an infant and you cry, you`re waterboarded, or the hand is cupped over the mouth and nose, so the baby can`t breathe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Cult leader Warren Jeffs is on trial right now as we speak for sexually assaulting allegedly two of his child brides, ages 12 and 14. When will it stop?
I`ve got to begin with Laurie Allen. She escaped from a polygamous sect. You produced the polygamist cult documentary, "Banking on Heaven", and you have made some shocking allegations recently about waterboarding of infants inside the FLDS compounds, lifestyle. Tell us what you know. What exactly are you alleging?
ALLEN: Well, this is what people tell me, that I`ve talked to and interviewed from inside the cult, is that they water board babies. Flora Jessop talks about it. I`ve had several people out there talk about it.
In my family, what they did, Jane, was they would cup the hand over the baby`s mouth and cut off the breath, from the nose and the mouth. They do this every time the baby cries. They do it for the first three, four, five months after it`s born and eventually the baby stops crying.
This is what they do to strip you of your emotions. They -- and this is how they get these women to live, like zombies, the way they have them now. By those kinds of psychological tactics, from the time they`re born.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Obviously, there was an international uproar when waterboarding was used against terrorists in the United States. You`re saying the same kind of thing is done to these babies?
ALLEN: Yes, I am. I mean, this is what they`re telling me. I was not raised in the FLDS, but I made the documentary film about the FLDS and I interviewed a lot of people in the FLDS. And I know a lot of people in that town. Some of them are my relatives.
So it seems to be a fairly common practice there. And I know in my family, they didn`t put their heads under water, but they did stop their -- cut off their breath with the hand. I saw that my whole life growing up as a child. It was just as common as getting up and having breakfast in the morning.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: How is it that these mothers, who obviously love their children, allow this to go on?
ALLEN: Well, it was done to them. You know, this is a generational problem. This has been going on for eight or nine generations now, and it`s just systemic. I mean, they do it all the time. And this is how they strip you of your emotions, so that when you`re 12, 14, you`ll marry the 50-year-old man, or if you`re in one bedroom and your husband is in another bedroom having sex with another woman, you can hear it. Everybody knows what`s going on, but this is how you shut down your emotions.
They train you from the time you`re a small child. Elaine Jeffs, Warren Jeffs` sister, talks about that in my film, how they strip you of your emotions, so that you can cope in this lifestyle.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Elissa Wall, you testified against Warren Jeffs, you`re the author of an amazing book "Stolen Innocence", and you`re one of my heroes. Have you ever heard about anything like this, waterboarding, or anything similar in nature?
WALL: For me -- you have to understand, everybody`s experience within the FLDS is different. And I have heard of it, I never witnessed it myself and it didn`t happen in my family. But there are just lots of tactics that are used, that are similar to this that are used to strip emotion, but more than anything, to cause an extreme obedience. Not just willingly, let`s follow what we`re told to do, but an extreme level to where you will go to any level for obedience.
And it starts young. It does start young.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. On the other side, we`re going to talk more with Elissa Wall, one of my heroes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIE E. JESSOP, FORMER JEFFS FOLLOWER: And he said he`s a very wicked man and he confessed to doing some very terrible things including molesting his daughter and sister and others. And I think his own words describe himself more than I would care to characterize it.
WARREN JEFFS, POLYGAMIST CULT LEADER: The woman, if she`s not careful, will be overbearing and always ask permission for what she wants. And, ladies, build up your husband by being submissive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. That is the voice of Warren Jeffs telling women "build up your husband by being submissive".
Elissa Wall, you testified against Warren Jeffs in a previous trial. He is now on trial again, accused of sexual assault of two of his child brides. What did he force you to do in terms of marriage to a man that you despised?
WALL: Warren Jeffs forced me at age 14 to marry my 19-year-old cousin and -- which was in our society, marriage has children. So to have children, you have to have sex. So ultimately he forced me to marry and have sex with my 19-year-old cousin, and forced me to stay in a relationship that was extremely abusive for many years.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Did you feel as if you were raped?
WALL: Yes, I do. Yes, I do.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: What was it like when you were -- this is a photograph, I believe, of you and the man you say was your cousin that you were forced and clearly it doesn`t seem like you`re participating willingly.
What happened when that first -- that first night occurred when the wedding night happened and you were confronted with -- did you even know the facts of life?
WALL: I did not, no. The realities of the relationship between a husband and a wife weren`t completely unknown to me. And when the marriage was occurring, it was very hard for me because there was this war going on.
I was a product of my environment. I was a submissive, young woman who had grown up in a secluded community that was an extreme religion. And those influences were at war because I knew that this marriage was wrong. And I could not move forward with it but I was in conflict because my religion and my leader, which was Warren at the time, was pushing me into it, but I didn`t want to be into it.
And so when it came to the night of the wedding, it was just -- I was so afraid. I was terrified. And honestly, by the time that any sexual intercourse did happen, I had already -- a part of me had already died. I had already -- I had already felt betrayed and I had already been forced and almost broken like you would break a horse.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I understand that he`s reached a plea deal and got 30 days?
WALL: Yes, my 19-year-old cousin, yes, he did. That was the ultimate outcome of his plea bargain.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I understand that you saw something -- explain this to me because it was bizarre, where your female relatives were transferred from one man to another man? Tell us about that.
WALL: That is a practice that has happened within the FLDS community since Warren and even previously his father came into control. There came about a practice of what they would call reassigning women. Because of the community and because the men are so strictly guarded as far as their behavior and how they -- how they keep loyal to the community and its leaders, at any point in time those men could lose their women. If they have any disfavor whatsoever as far as Warren is concerned, they`re instantly -- their women are taken away and given to other men as wives.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We have to leave it there. But I would love to have you come back. You are my hero for standing up, your courage is so admirable. Come back soon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I heard a snort behind me and then when I turned around there was a pig right behind me. So it was a little bit of a surprise.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is a smart pig.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And here is proof pigs are smart. A North Carolina house caught on fire Sunday in the wee hours of the morning. Nobody was home, except for Jimmy Dean. That`s his name. The feisty little pot belly pig broke out of the house and managed to escape. The family says that this very smart pig is trained to open doors and open the refrigerator.
Firefighters say little Jimmy Dean stayed out of the way while they battled the flames before they managed to safely get him back into a pen in the backyard. I am thrilled to report that Jimmy Dean has now been reunited with his family.
So score one for the pigs.
I`ve spent time at sanctuaries with pigs. And they`re very smart. They are very sentient. And believe it or not, they`re very clean when they`re given the opportunity.
"NANCY GRACE" is up next.