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Gary Giordano Took Out $1.5 Million Insurance Policy On Missing Robyn Gardner; Discussion About Reality Star Russell Armstrong Suicide; A Mother on Trial For Punishing Her Child; Woman Arrested For Child Neglect
Aired August 19, 2011 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LISA BLOOM, HOST, DR. DREW: Breaking news, the shocking new twist in the search for missing American beauty, Robyn Gardner, who vanished in Aruba. Good evening, I`m Lisa Bloom sitting in for Dr. Drew tonight. We`ve got the latest on a reality star`s suicide and later, the trial of the hot sauce mom.
But first, the case of the missing American tourist, Robyn Gardner, who vanished in Aruba just two weeks ago. Watch this.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Giordano`s digi-cam in fact did reveal incriminating evidence. Explicit photos of Gardner.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They don`t know exactly where the photographs were taken but they do believe that you can see Gary Giordano at least in some way in those photographs.
NANCY GRACE, HOST, NANCY GRACE: Here`s a big hint to the Aruba police, the hotel room. Meanwhile, travel insurance policies taken out for Giordano and Gardner before their trip were for $1.5 million each.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Giordano is talking. He`s answering new questions. He could be facing murder charges at any time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLOOM: The main suspect in the case, Gary Giordano, took out a travel insurance policy on Robyn Gardner. He`s being held in Aruba. My question, why was he the beneficiary and why did he try to cash in on it so quickly?
Joining me via phone, Christina Jones, Robyn`s good friend and roommate. Also here, former prosecutor and criminal defense attorney, my friend Mark Eiglarsh in Miami and in Aruba, CNN correspondent Martin Savage.
Martin, let me begin with you. We`re hearing that Gary Giordano is talking to authorities. What`s he saying?
MARTIN SAVAGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, basically, Lisa, as you may have known over the past couple of days, authorities had said that he was not cooperating and he wasn`t talking. Now they say he is talking sort of and what they mean by that is that he`s picking and choosing the answers or the questions that he wishes to answer. Primarily, if it`s a new question, something they haven`t asked him before, he gives a response. If it`s something they`ve asked previously, he says I`ve already covered that and authorities believe that is a tactic on his part to defeat what is one of their common tactics to ask a person to repeat their story over and over over several days and they look to see if it varies in any way, shape, or form.
So, I also asked, you know, what is his attitude during these interrogations? They used one word to describe him. They said belligerent. Lisa?
BLOOM: Very interesting. Now, you and I both remember from the very sad Natalee Holloway case that Aruban law is very different from American law. I call it the catch and release program. You hold people for a period of time, even if you don`t necessarily have sufficient evidence to charge them. They can ask questions without an attorney present. How long do they expect to hold him?
SAVAGE: Well, as you know, recently they were granted a 16-day extension. Somewhat unusual because they usual go in 8-day increments in the beginning stages so he`s got at least about two more weeks but after that he goes before another judge and, as would also know, every time he goes before that judge the level of proof that the prosecutor has to have or concern goes that much higher and a lot of people are concerned that unless they get more than just this insurance policy he could walk free in a matter of two weeks.
BLOOM: OK, so, Martin, let`s focus on those travel insurance policies. We know that Giordano took out those policies for himself and Robyn Gardner before their trip for $1.5 million each. The Aruban prosecutor has not said who the beneficiary was but, listen to this from NBC`s Today Show:
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are now in a position to say that, indeed, the insurance was for $1.5 million dollars, which is quite a large amount so it is still one topic we will be pursuing further in the investigation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLOOM: OK, Martin, what more can you tell me about this travel insurance policy. Is it like when most of us go online shopping for travel and there`s that option to click on $14 and you get travel insurance. Is that the kind of thing we`re talking about?
SAVAGE: No, this is something more sophisticated. You can get travel insurance which basically will back up on if you have to get out of that trip for some medical emergency. You can get insurance if you`re injured and you want to be flown back to the United States but, no, this was death or dismemberment. You know, in other words, that if you were to suffer some very bad accident or you were to die then there would be a beneficiary. Someone would be paid. In the case of Robyn and in the case of Gary, both of them had a policy of $1.5 million.
Authorities will say that Gary Giordano`s policy, the benefactor was his mother. They will not say who the benefactor would have been for Robyn Gardner but, with all the questioning to Gary Giordano, you have to speculate that even money would say he probably was listed as the benefactor. We had conversations with American Express. They say that Robyn Gardner would have specifically had to sign a document saying she named him as the benefactor, whether Robyn knew she was signing such a document we don`t k now.
BLOOM: All right, Mark Eiglarsh, let`s bat this around a little bit because I`m used to husbands and wives buying life insurance policies on each other but these two were unmarried, potentially not even having a relationship. Why on earth would they have life insurance policies.
MARK EIGLARSH, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I am -- I`m at a loss to find any other reason other than the motive for him to do something to her and that`s from a criminal defense attorney`s mouth. I -- I can`t come up with any other reason. Usually, when my wife and I go on a vacation, we expect to come back. We don`t necessarily think that one of us might go so let`s get an insurance policy.
BLOOM: Geez, I thought you were going to say, Mark, with all of your sophisticated criminal defense attorney training, I thought you were going to say, well, he bought a policy, it was really travel insurance, it included a little bit of life insurance, but you`re not even going there. You`re saying you think this is suspicious.
EIGLARSH: Yes. Well, there`s one primary reason why I`m not going there. That`s because I haven`t been retained to defend him. I`m using simply Mark Eiglarsh talking about what I see and that coupled with calm waters, snorkeling, and an alleged taking her away it just doesn`t make sense.
BLOOM: Yes, and it looks very suspicious because he tries to cash in that policy very, very quickly.
BLOOM: We now know from the transcripts that questions from the Aruban authorities were about Giordano`s finances. The very same thing we`re honing in on now. Nancy Grace producer, Rupa Mikkilineni was outside Gary`s home in Maryland and she described his palatial digs. Very strange. Watch this.
RUPA MIKKILINENI, PRODUCER, NANCY GRACE: If you pan over here a little bit over here you can take a look at the house and you see that it`s about 6000 square feet, fits on 3-1/2 acres of land, and Gary Giordano bought the place about 5-6 years ago, 2005, for about $1.2 million.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLOOM: All right, Mark Eiglarsh, I`ve got more questions than we have answers to right now. I want to know how this guy is supporting himself. Does he have this nice lifestyle that`s based on some income or some assets or is this all a house of cards and he needed the money? I mean, money could be the motive here, right?
EIGLARSH: Huge. Follow the trail. I want to know, is he liquid or does he owe a lot of folks money and if he`s got all the cash and he`s -- and he`s rolling in and the bank accounts are deep then there goes your motive.
BLOOM: Yes. Christina Jones, you have known Robyn for four years. You have been her roommate. This must be such an extraordinarily difficult time for you. I so appreciate your being here and giving her a voice. Aruban police found photos of Robyn naked in Gary`s camera and, in fact, these photos are being described as "beyond pornographic." So, what I want to know is, is this the kind of thing Robyn was into as far as you know?
CHRISTINA JONES, FRIEND OF ROBYN GARDNER: As far as I know, you know, she wasn`t into that. I -- you know, only, like, only Gary and Robyn know but she never shared anything like that and it seems to feel off to me but you`re learning that women have been drugged by him, he`s roofied girls, so, who`s to say that she wasn`t high or on some, you know, pills and alcohol when those photos were taken. Like, we don`t know.
BLOOM: Yes, we don`t have any confirmation of that at this point but I understand your concerns as her friend and as her roommate. You`re still living in the apartment that you have shared with her. What`s that like for you, walking by her room many times a day?
JONES: Well, her room is right by the bathroom so, obviously, I go in there a lot and, you know, I think every day is just more and more surreal. I just want her to come home and it`s just a constant reminder that she`s not here and that there`s just so many unanswered questions, you know.
BLOOM: Yes. Christina, we -- we`re so sorry. We hope and pray that everything turns out all right in this story. That does happen and we certainly hope that does happen here. Up next, did a reality TV star take his life because of pressure from the show or was he driven to suicide by his own demons? And later, a baby in the bed of a pickup truck. What on earth was this woman thinking?
VIENNA GIRARDI, ACTRESS, THE BACHELOR: I had no idea what I was getting, you know, myself into and when they send you that 25-page contract you look at that thing and you`re like, yay, this is going to be so much fun, (INAUDIBLE).
DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST: But -- but -- but in there is the consent. You`ve got to understand, there`s a lot of consent and language.
GIRARDI: It tells you they can humiliate you, they can manipulate, they can create a completely new character of you, they can do anything they want to. But, you`re so naive that -- that I remember going back and looking at the contract finally after the show was over and being filmed and going, they can do whatever they want to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLOOM: Twenty-five pages, I`ve seen 100-page reality show contracts.
Welcome back. I`m Lisa Bloom sitting in for Dr. Drew tonight.
The question, can a reality show push someone over the edge? Vienna Girardi thinks so. She was vilified by the public and the press after her appearance on The Bachelor. Remember that? Well, tonight, loved ones of Russell Armstrong are blaming "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" for his suicide while others are alleging it was Russell`s own demons that drove him to the edge.
Here to share insight into the tragedy is Ronald Richards. He was Russell Armstrong`s friend and attorney. Megan Hauserman starred in a VH1 reality dating series until it was pulled from the airwaves when one of Megan`s suitors on the show became a suspect in a murder case and then committed suicide. Dylan Howard is the Senior Executive Director of Radar Online.
And Dylan, let me start with you. What`s the latest news on Russell`s suicide.
DYLAN HOWARD, SENIOR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, RADAR ONLINE: Well, Bravo, the big question has been whether or not the season will continue with its premier on September 5th. Bravo has indicated today that they are withholding a decision on that but have indicated that they are going to re-edit the show, re-edit the show to eliminate in some capacity Russell Armstrong from the series but their statement today stopped short of announcing exactly what they are going to do. Will they continue to have him as part of the early episodes of the series or, indeed, will they eliminate him all together?
What we do know is that a key story line as part of the plot for season two is Taylor Armstrong and Russell`s marital problems including scenes filmed with a marriage counselor. It seems somewhat morbid if that`s going to continue in light of the recent developments.
BLOOM: Well, it -- it`s no secret that I have some fairly negative views of reality shows. I think they`re about 0 percent reality and 100 percent show and I think that the producers push and push and push the people on the shows to look a certain way, to look angrier, madder, crazier. On this show, what are we hearing from the family. Does the family feel that the show pushed him into this?
HOWARD: They do, most certainly, his mother believes that Russell -- Russell`s finances were pushed to the absolute limit in order to, if you like, keep his marriage alive with Taylor Armstrong. In fact, we saw in season one that their marital issues were a key plot line for the series and it makes, certainly, a plausible argument to suggest that if it wasn`t for this kind of drama that, perhaps, Taylor and Russell wouldn`t feature so prominently as part of the show.
Now, whether or not that led to his decision to take his own life, I don`t think anyone can really answer that question but, certainly, there are suspicions and -- and his family, his grieving family, have indicated that they do believe that. In fact, they are suggesting that they might look at legal action.
Now, as a lawyer, I`m sure they`re probably going to find that very difficult, Lisa, given that I`m sure as part of a reality show contract there would have been some form of indemnification.
BLOOM: Well, let me tell you what they`re up against because I`ve represented at least five people on reality shows and they`re up against a huge mountain of a contract. A contract that says that they can be defamed -- I don`t know this particular contract, I want to be clear about that, but in general, this is what reality contracts say, they can be defamed, they can be humiliated, they can be lied about. Now, that has not been tested in court. I wouldn`t mind being the lawyer one day to test that in court because I think that`s wrong and I think we`re experimenting with human subjects.
HOWARD: (INAUDIBLE) time.
BLOOM: .when we take real people and we push them and we push them and we distort their lives. I`m not saying that`s what happened here. I don`t know what happened here but I think it does happen on reality shows.
HOWARD: At the same time, the flip side argument to that is that these people sign up to that by virtue of appearing before these cameras they give up that -- that right if you like. At the same time, I`m interested, though, I`ve seen Bravo contracts before, there are indemnifications which means that any legal challenge from his grieving family may not be successful.
BLOOM: Well, Radar Online reports that Russell Armstrong had a history of domestic violence so let`s add that to the mix. In 1997, his ex-wife Barbara made these allegations in court documents, "Russell threw me to the ground and slapped me across the face. The police were called to Russell`s and my residence during our marriage because Russell hit me, blackened my eyes, kicked me in the back, threw crystal drinking glasses at me and spit on me."
Now, Ron, were you aware of the prior domestic violence allegations against your client?
RONALD RICHARDS, ATTORNEY: Yes I was, at any time or after he died I was aware both times but allegations in a divorce filing are really not the same type of allegations as a police report or, you know, of convictions.
BLOOM: Well, that`s true and I agree with that and in a divorce a lot of things are said. I don`t know if this is true. I don`t know if it`s not true and now he`s deceased, he`s not here to defend himself and I want to be fair to him, I want to be fair to everyone. Tell us about him because you knew him up until just a couple of days before he died. What kind of a guy was he?
RICHARDS: He was a very soft-spoken guy. You could see from all the clips that you guys show in that promo, he`s a very soft-spoken man and I will tell you there was never a documented incident of domestic abuse by Taylor during the entire time of the marriage. There was never a police report, there was never a court filing under oath even. There was one People Magazine article where just the word abuse was loosely referenced.
RICHARDS: .but, Russell was a very compassionate guy that was very sensitive about what people thought about him and to beat up his wife and have a press conference of his wife black and blue, I really think would have given him a heart attack.
BLOOM: So let me -- let me ask you this. You and I are both lawyers, right, let`s take our lawyer hat off for a minute because we really get to know our clients sometimes, right? Sometimes they open up to us or we just see them over a course of time and we get to know them. Did you ever have any sense that he was suicidal?
RICHARDS: I never had a sense that he was suicidal. I had a sense that the reality show world was going to drive him to lose his marriage or drive him nuts because he could not internalize people making comments about him all the time but that is usually helped by changing the situation for him or getting him some counseling but never did he say it was going to cause him to take his own life. He would joke, " I want to move to a different country," or "maybe I should ship myself out to Florida," stuff like that but never.
BLOOM: Suicide, you know, I`ve experienced suicide in my family. It is a horrendous thing and it is very complicated and I don`t like to blame people for somebody`s suicide. On the other hand, I do like to look at root causes of things and Megan, this story must hit close to home for you. Tell us what happened to you.
MEGAN HAUSERMAN, ACTRESS: Well, I was a star in a reality show and one of the contestants, after filming the show, very close after filming the show, just started feeling a lot of the pressures from being on the show and then eventually wound up committing suicide as well.
BLOOM: So maybe a lot of people look at somebody like you or reality shows, you`re a beautiful young woman, a lot of people are dying to get on reality shows and they say, what are the pressures exactly? It looks so glamorous to people from the outside.
HAUSERMAN: Well, I mean, there`s a lot of benefits, there`s a lot of opportunities that can come from it but, at the same time, you have to be aware of all the negative parts of it and a lot of that is people just tearing you apart and writing negative things about you online and the newspapers, whether they`re true or not everybody just believes them and you just have to be ready for that type of criticize and.
BLOOM: Yes, it can be so damaging (INAUDIBLE) and I know that is -- that is painful.
HAUSERMAN: .you know, scrutiny, and you just .
BLOOM: I`ve got to cut you off because we`ve got to get into this break but, next, will Russell Armstrong`s suicide have an impact on the Housewives` franchise and could it have an impact on reality TV as a whole? We`ll tackle those questions when we come back.
BLOOM: It`s the death that`s shaken the reality TV world, the suicide of Russell Armstrong. He starred on "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" with his estranged wife Taylor.
And I`m back with Dylan Howard who is the Senior Executive Director of Radar Online, Megan Hauserman starred in a reality TV series that was rocked by murder and suicide, and Ronald Richards was Russell Armstrong`s friend and attorney.
Ronald, what do you think should happen to The Housewives` franchise. Should Russell`s suicide force Bravo to re-examine the way that they cast the show?
RICHARDS: Yes, I think they should re-examine, maybe giving some of these perspective actors or non-scripted actors a budget, some money to use, maybe discuss with them about their finances so they don`t have these poor average Americans that are lured to television simply spend all their money to keep their character alive and make it to season two.
BLOOM: Because what you and I know, that most people don`t know is, people make very, very little on reality shows. They make a very small amount of money and a lot of times they have to pay a lot of money out of their own pocket and then if they`re defamed or humiliated they can`t sue. Bravo`s President told Variety magazine, "Contrary to what is being reported, we have not made a decision to change our original premier date but we are in the process of re-editing the show." And that`s what jumped out at me, that word re-editing -- re-editing. So, Ron, what`s your hope with re-editing? Do you think that Russell should be completely cut out of the show.
RICHARDS: I absolutely do. I mean, it would be very macabre to hear about him in his therapy sessions with Taylor and those poor three kids the next 20 years they`re going to see their dad trying to fix a marriage that we all know is non-existent. They should just edit him out completely.
BLOOM: Yes, I think that would be the appropriate thing, even though they`re probably not required to do that by any contract, I think that would be the right thing to do Bravo. Now, Megan, do you think that VH1 made the right decision in pulling your show, Megan Wants a Millionaire, from the air?
HAUSERMAN: No, I don`t think so. I think that they should have re- edited it as well. You know, a lot of people put a lot of time and put their whole lives into working on these shows, hundreds of people and I think to be sensitive to the victim`s families that they should re-edit it and remove those characters but, for everybody else, I think that it should air.
BLOOM: All right, so, Dylan, you`re very familiar with this world of reality TV. Do you think this is going to change things, for example, maybe some more significant psychological testing of people before and during these shows?
HOWARD: The harsh reality is no, there have been more than 14 deaths associated with reality television since this genre of television really exploded. So.
BLOOM: Do you think that`s because of reality shows or do you think that`s because they choose people who are unstable to begin with?
HOWARD: . both -- both, I have seen .
BLOOM: And then they push them -- they push them.
HOWARD: . I have seen documentation associated with casting of these shows. The more drama associated with a character, the more likely they`re going to be on the show and the more likely they`re going to stay on the show. But, some shows it might -- it ought to be noted, like "The Bachelor," are very cognizant of these psychological issues. In fact, they speak to people before, after, during and give them the debrief, the counseling that`s required to deal with this. Now, I don`t know whether Bravo did. I`ve heard Ronald say in the past that they didn`t but one thing`s for certain, this should shake up the way we do things.
BLOOM: I agree with you.
HOWARD: But, I don`t know whether it will.
BLOOM: I agree with you. My take is this should be a wakeup call. You cannot play with people`s lives. You cannot film them month after month, ask them to change who they are, tell them what to say, affect their reputations. It`s just not right. Well, ahead on Dr. Drew, see it and believe it. Who would put a baby in a stroller in the back of a pickup truck. Take a look at that. And, the hot sauce mom trial. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why did you lie to me?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Punishing the punisher. She gave her son hot sauce. Prosecutors gave her an indictment. Tough love or taking it too far?
And later, from painful punishments to negligent nannies, what was this woman thinking when she put an infant in the back of a pickup truck?
(END VIDEO CLIP
BLOOM: Welcome back. I`m Lisa Bloom sitting in for Doctor Drew tonight.
It started with this. A mom wanted on the Doctor Phil show. A video she thought would end with her as a guest turned into a court trial and a world of trouble for the Alaska mom. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JESSICA BEAGLEY, ALASKA: Open.
BLOOM: These shocking images exposed by Doctor Phil were recorded with the knowledge and permission of the defendant Jessica Beagley. The encage mother is on trial from misdemeanor child abuse.
BEAGLEY: Are lies supposed to come out of your mouth?
UNIDENTIFIED BOY: No.
BLOOM: Beagley made the tape so she could get on Doctor Phil as an example of an angry mom. She was charged after the world show what she did. Forcing her 7-year-old adopted son to eat hot sauce and endure a cold shower. She said she punished him for misbehaving and lying about it.
BEAGLEY: Do you lie to me?
BLOOM: Prosecutors say Beagley went too far.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLOOM: That`s hard for me to watch.
Well, here`s what we are on trial, jurors have seen the tape that was played on the Doctor Phil`s show and heard from the boy`s teacher about his behavior in school. So did mom go too far? Should she be on trial? And who`s to say how you punish your kids?
Here to help us answer those questions are Julia O`Malley, columnist of Anchorage Daily News, Criminal defense Attorney Mark Eiglarsh, and Lisa Boesky, a clinical psychologist.
First watch this clip from the hot sauce mom`s lawyer on ABC`s ("Good Morning America") then we`ll talk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM INGALDSON, BEAGLEY`S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Nothing that Jessica has done is criminal. If you give your child food that is - that has hot sauce on it, maybe they eat Mexican food. Does that mean its child abuse?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLOOM: Really? Really? All right. Lisa Boesky, how do you compare eating spicy food presumably of your own accord at a Mexican restaurant to having your mom punish you by pouring hot sauce down your throat?
LISA BOESKY, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: You can`t compare the two at all. The kind of punishment she`s doing, what we call that, that`s got dominance in it, it got humiliation. She`s putting fear in there. A cold shower if you run out of heat is different than what`s happening here.
And I can tell you, she doesn`t appear to be one of those malicious cruel mom that we`ve seen recently that put their kids in trunks and locked them in cages and really torturing their kids.
But it seems she`s this overwhelmed stressed out parent who`s uneducated on what works. It is very ineffective and really is chipping away the relationship. And the research shows this type of punishment will impact her kid psychologically, intellectually, and socially. Research shows it and it`s going to be a bad situation.
BLOOM: Well, I`ll tell you something Lisa. I mean, I`m not a psychologist as you are, but I am a mom of two kids who are young adults now. They turned out really well. I raised them mostly as a single mom and I would never, never have physically punished them, humiliated them, even made them physically uncomfortable.
I mean, what you do is you give very clear rules to your kids and spell out the consequences and if the violate those consequences. That doesn`t involve pain and humiliation. Isn`t that the bottom line?
BOESKY: Lisa, I have to say. You know parenting is very dynamic and you know I know it because I`m a mom as well. Kids are different. Some are more difficult than others. And moms are different. Some moms have better coping skills, more educated in what`s effective and what`s not. And So, I think the key thing here is if this woman is prosecuted. I`m a little afraid it`s going to stop the millions of mothers across the country that is stressed out from coming and getting help.
BLOOM: Let me pause you on that point because I think that`s an important point. That just because she did something wrong, in my parenting book very, very wrong, does not necessary mean we make the leap to throwing her in prison.
We have more people in American prison than Chinese have in their prisons and they have four times the population that we have I mean. We have to stop incarcerating everyone for this behavior on things we don`t like I mean. I say, let`s give her some parenting classes. Let`s impose her non - (inaudible)
BLOOM: Teach her something else. Well, the hot sauce victim`s first grade teacher testified in court in this trial. So, let`s look at the interesting exchange between the defense attorney and the teacher.
The defense attorney said quote, "was he is troublemaker?" The witness, the teacher said "no, not for me. He fell very much in the range of behavior for a first grader." Apparently the only thing this kid did was wiggle in his seat. This is a 7-year-old boy. Who doesn`t wiggle at that age?
Julia, what are you hearing in court about the child?
JULIA O`MALLEY, COLUMNIST, ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS (via telephone): Wiggling in the seat and then he apparently there was a substitute for part of the day and he threw some pencils while the substitute was there. And then later was caught sword fighting with pencils. So, but even all that said the teachers didn`t feel his behavior was particularly out of the spectrum of behavior for the boys in their class.
But what my league went to the hearing today and the defense presented some witnesses including a neuropsychologist and a therapist who introduced the idea that the boy had reactive attachment disorder and also PTSD from something that occurred in Russia. It`s unclear what that was. But they were asked, apparently, whether what happened with Jessica Beagley contributed to the PTSD and both said no.
BLOOM: Well, It certainly doesn`t help. Mark Eiglarsh, let`s go to you because I know you have children, adorable children I mean. So, there is sword fighting with the pencils. Again, I don`t know what kid doesn`t do that. He`s wiggling in his seat. I was a wiggler when I was a kid. I still can`t sit still for long. I mean, how can anyone justify this behavior, this punishment for the kid`s so-called crime?
EIGLARSH: I don`t know if anyone is. If fact that if we had the chance to interview her without the threat of prison hanging over her head, she would say I`m the first one to say didn`t know how to deal with him effectively which is why I went to Doctor Phil. The issue now is should she go to jail? Should she be found criminally responsible?
I know many people are yelling yes, yes, yes. But we go to the statute which I did in Alaska. It`s very clear that it can result in any type of mental anguish on a child could result in a criminal prosecution for child abuse. But very specifically, there must be some type of substantial and observable impairments to the child`s function. And that why you got to have all these doctors saying, look, she did what she did, and it was probably not the strongest choice. But now the kid is functioning and it seems to be OK. And now, might not out in prosecution.
BLOOM: He is now. But, Mark, child abuse can have long-term consequences.
EIGLARSH: Absolutely. Listen, I`m not justifying this behavior.
BLOOM: Mom put hot sauce in my mouth and threw me in a cold shower, and I guarantee you he`s not going to remember what he did that caused it. He`s just going to remember that from his childhood, I mean. -
EIGLARSH: It`s not the strongest choice. I don`t do that to my children. I`m not advocating. We`re talking about whether she has reasonable doubt. And whether she faces more time than Casey Anthony would for what she allegedly did to her child. That`s the irony.
BLOOM: Right. Right. You know what? And you know what the problem I think we have in this country are we get angry over things. I don`t like what this mom did, but the solution is not to incarcerate everyone, folks. We can`t afford to do that anymore.
Well, here`s another clip of the footage that aired on Doctor Phil. Ask yourself. Is this verbal abuse as well as a threat of physical abuse? Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEAGLEY: Why did you lie to me?
UNIDENTIFIED BOY: I did not want to get in trouble.
BEAGLEY: You didn`t want to get in trouble? Does it work to lie to me? What happens when you lie to me?
UNIDENTIFIED BOY: I get hot sauce.
BEAGLEY: You get hot sauce. What else happens when you lie?
UNIDENTIFIED BOY: I get a shower.
BEAGLEY: Do you get in more trouble for lying to me?
UNIDENTIFIED BOY: Yes.
BEAGLEY: Why did you pull a blue card?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLOOM: And remember this is all being done in front of a camera. As another one of her kids is videoing it. So, Lisa Boesky, you`re a psychologist and a mom. Is there anything wrong with what we saw?
BOESKY: Oh my God, everything is wrong with what we saw. I mean, if you think about it, even juvenile delinquents at boot camps, when they are treated like this again with humiliation, harsh punishment, verbal abuse, that juvenile delinquent get worse.
But jails and prisons to hold them accountable and also given support and encouragement and teach them skills of what to do not just of what not to do actually have much better outcomes.
I think the problem is if parents often times don`t ask the question why. Why is my child lying to me? Is it maybe because she not approachable? He can`t tell her the truth? Why is my kid misbehaving in class? Why is my kid doing this? Because the reality is a lot of parents don`t know what to do.
And I think we as a society rather than incarcerate these women need to reach out and help them. And get them the help they need. There are parenting resources out there, there are books out there, there are free classes in every county for parenting and effective discipline. We need to help these moms, not lock them up.
BLOOM: Well, hear here. And we as parents, so this is always my strategy of my kids, we have to give the kids the tools they need. We have to help them learn not to fidget. Help them alternatives to throwing pencils and getting into fights. What`s the problem not to give them the punishments? Give them alternatives. Give them strategies that they can use that they can use to have better behavior.
When we come back, is the Doctor Phil show at all responsible for what happened here? I`m Lisa bloom sitting in for Doctor Drew. Please stay with us
BLOOM: I`m Lisa Bloom sitting in for Doctor. Drew. Jessica Beagley put hot sauce on her son`s tongue and forced to take an AC cold shower in Alaska. Do you think that`s child abuse? And should she be thrown in jail for her actions?
We continue our discussion with are Julia O`Malley, columnist of Anchorage Daily News, Criminal defense Attorney Mark Eiglarsh, and Lisa Boesky, a clinical psychologist.
Here`s hot sauce mom again punishing her child on the "Doctor Phil" show. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEAGLEY: When he first lies we put soap in his mouth. It had no effect. So we went to hot sauce. We`ve been having a lot of problems. It`ll stay in the bathroom so it`s handy when we need it.
What is the consequence for pulling a card?
UNIDENTIFIED BOY: Cold shower.
BEAGLEY: Get undressed right now. Why are you getting a cold shower?
UNIDENTIFIED BOY: (CRYING)
BEAGLEY: You pulled three cards today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLOOM: I really have a hard time watching that and hearing that little boy screaming. He`s an adopted little boy from Russia. He had a rough past before he came to this country, in my view that means we treat him better, not worst. We don`t escalate the punishment. We try to find better ways to treat him with dignity.
Julia, you`ve been in the courtroom up there in Alaska. Is this the way the community is accepting of punishment of kids up there?
O`MALLEY: Well, certainly not. I think it`s controversial up here. At the same time, you know the opposite services investigated, they left him in the home. She is charged with the least serious child abuse but the most least serious form, it`s a misdemeanor.
BLOOM: Does she have any prior criminal history?
O`MALLEY: So, you know, it`s hard to know all of the things that went on both in the investigation and with OCS. But it`s clear that you know when this was investigated, people look in to it and did not treat it as you know many of the serious things that they see routinely.
BLOOM: Well, I can tell you from reading the blogs and reading a lot of stuff online about this that there are many parents out there who don`t see anything wrong with what she did. I`m not one of them. But there is a pretty strong opinion out there about that. Let`s look at the legal charges. What hot sauce mom is up against?
She`s charged with one misdemeanor count of child abuse as you say. She has pleaded not guilty. She faces up to one year incarceration and $10,000 fine. That`s typical for a misdemeanor.
So, Mark Eiglarsh, if she`s found guilty, do you think she`s going to spend time in jail at all?
EIGLARSH: No, I don`t. If there`s any reasonableness in this judge`s head. I mean obviously, should she have been prosecuted is up for debate. And if she is, I don`t think there`s any doubt that the penalty should not include stripping her of her liberty. It should include counseling, learning how to deal with this child. Because if not, she better keep that bail bondsman on speed dial you know at a minimum. This kid is going to have serious problems.
BLOOM: And she has five other children.
BLOOM: And you a lot of people think it`s just prison or nothing. But I can tell you, I`ve been a foster mom. I had a beautiful 11-year-old boy last year with me for about six months. And I learned a lot about the system. And one thing I learned was parenting classes that my boy`s mother was required to take. Will they can really make a difference?
They`re no joke. I mean they`re required to go three times a week. They are required to get alcohol and drug treatment if that`s appropriate. Not the issue here but there`s a lot that people can learn. And I think that`s far more helpful than incarceration Mark, especially when there are other kids in this family that need their mom.
EIGLARSH: I agree. And the fact that they came in child protective services and did not find that the kid needed to called out of the home, left him in there shows that hopefully she`s learning. I hope the "Doctor Phil" folks helped her get the assistance that she reached out for. And you know while this criminal prosecution persists, I scratch my head. I understand why this was problematic, but to put the threat of jail over her head is I don`t know a little excessive in my opinion.
BLOOM: Very well. Well, maybe it`s teaching her a lesson.
Lisa Boesky, let me go to you. Let`s talk about something constructive. What parents can do when they`re at their wits end? Because frankly, what mom hasn`t become angry or frustrated, I know I did when my kids misbehave. One of the things I did was made them write letters of apology. Which frankly, my kids hated.
If this would have been my little boy, he would have come home, he would have written a letter of apology to his teacher to my specification. And they have to learn all about apologizing. You acknowledge what you did wrong. You say that you`re sorry. You promise you`re never going to do it again. It has to be spelled right. The grammar has to be good. You might have to write it over three or four times. And after my kids did a few of those, boy their behavior really improved. Do you like that idea? And do you have any other suggestions for frustrated parents out there?
BOESKY: I would say the reason that worked so well is because you probably had a good relationship with your kids already with warmth and attachment so that in kind of discipline you did or something like that worked really well. I think one of the things parents can take away from this is we need to start earlier. It`s not about responding to the bad behavior, it`s trying to prevent that bad behavior in the first place.
These kids aren`t bad seeds. So, one of the things - there`s a researcher named John Gotman. There`s a lot of research now about emotionally intelligent children. People can go out. There are lots of books out there that talk about specific skills of what to do so your kids don`t act out in the first place. And a lot of it is based on the relationship they had with their parents.
What breaks my heart about these videos that we`re seeing is I know it`s just chipping away at the relationship between the mother and the son day after day as this occurs. So I would encourage parents to go out there, look - you can Google parenting classes, take a class. Like you said they`re very effective. There are lots of books out there if you don`t have the time. And look at John Gotman`s research. It can be as very possible, it`s easy to do and prevent the problems from starting in the first place.
BLOOM: And here`s the other big parenting tip from me which worked great for my kids. In the morning, before school if they have a lot of energy and they`re wigglers, take them to the playground early. Get them to run around for a half hour, up and down the slide around the swing and the sand box. Get them the energy out so they can sit still in school because sitting still in school is hard for a lot of kids. Especially 7- year-olds.
Mark, quick question to you, the "Doctor Phil" show took heat for this. I don`t see that here? This is something to mom did in our home in Alaska. Do you see it?
EIGLARSH: I don`t see any liability on their part whatsoever. What she did, she did it to herself. And hopefully she`s getting counseling hopefully with the Phil staff assistance.
BLOOM: Right. I mean this isn`t really a one off thing. This is isn`t like a reality show we were talking about in the previous block where they`re encouraged to change their behavior. This is a woman with a camera in her own home and submitted the tape.
EIGLARSH: Different if they`re saying more Tabasco and yell louder. But obviously, that`s what happens.
BLOOM: I hope that little boy is OK.
Up next, careless childcare. You think you`ve got babysitter horror stories? Wait until you hear what this negligent nanny did.
BLOOM: Baby on board. A phrase that seemed to plaster on every family wagon during the 1980s. That`s baby on board, not floor board. And certainly not the bed of a pickup truck. But a truck bed is exactly where a Daytona Beach babysitter put an 8-month-old child. Motorists saw the reckless driver and called 911.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
911 OPERATOR: What`s your emergency?
911 CALLER: There`s a truck going down Mason Avenue heading East with a baby stroller in the back of the truck with a baby in it.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BLOOM: Are you kidding me? Drivers were worried. Passerbys were worried. Police were worried. Apparently the only one not worried was the babysitter. Twenty three-year-old Keyona Davis. Cops arrested her for child neglect and a judge later released her and ordered that she stay away from the bow, you think?
Listening to Davis, she doesn`t seem to understand that what she did was wrong. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEYONA DAVIS, CHARGED WITH CHILD NEGLECT: It`s not my child. I was watching a friend`s child for while she`s at work. Well, I got my first child when I was fifteen. It`s not like they give you a handbook or anything or how what`s neglect and what`s not neglect.
(END VIDEO CLIP?
BLOOM: Really? No instruction manual? Don`t some things go without saying? Well, maybe not. As a parent, I know you have to really train some people about childcare and not assume that they know. But still clinical psychologist Lisa Boesky, you`re still with us. What was she thinking?
BOESKY: Well, she wasn`t thinking. And I have to say, this might not be a very popular opinion, but I actually think it`s the parent`s responsibility. If you`re going to let someone drive your baby in a car, you have to make sure number one, they are going in a safe driver and number two, that they have a baby car seat. It`s illegal and it`s unsafe.
I mean, I - you`re a working mom, I`m a working mom. I`ve had my share of babysitters and I know there`s a wide range of competence and common sense among those sitters. And I may be known as a control freak, but I`m very specific with my sitters. I want you to do this and I don`t want you to do that. It`s our child. You know this woman obviously didn`t have any common sense. I don`t think she was malicious, but the parent needs to make sure the person needs to know what they`re doing.
BLOOM: Well, look, that`s good advice. When I had a babysitter which was rare because I`m a control freak too when it comes to my kids. But I would say here`s the car seat. Here`s how you strap it into the car. Here`s how you strap the baby into the car seat. Because actually, it`s a little bit complicated if you`re not used to it. And then I have them run through it to make sure they understand. But still a baby in a stroller in the back of the pickup truck I mean? Is there anyone out there who doesn`t realize that`s just flat out dangerous?
BOESKY: But keep in mind, it wasn`t, I meant it wasn`t like they were playing a game like watching the stroller bang in the back of the pickup truck. She said she was holding on to it. And I think this is very familiar in the cases of moms who run a quick errand, leave the kid in the car with the car running. Because it`s harder to get the kid in. And if she didn`t have a car seat and they`re in the pickup truck, at least she thought the baby is strapped in. The problem is if they`re in a crash or they slam on the brakes, a baby could have died.
BLOOM: Yes. Lisa, here`s - I know. Psychologists are so compassionate and understanding. That`s why I love your field and why I might not be good at it myself.
You know we received a lot of feedback on this story. A lot of different point of view. Let`s get to them.
On Facebook, Trish writes, what in the living hell was she thinking? Perhaps not thinking at all.
Cathy twitted, it seems like every other day someone wacko is doing something scary stupid.
Alicia writes, what was the big deal? She was with him. He was in the stroller. They were going slowly and carefully.
BLOOM: Really? Really? What was the big deal?
OK. Well, there are people out there who have that opinion. Thank goodness the child is OK. That`s the main thing.
Thank you so much for watching DR. DREW. Thank you for entrusting me with your show on this Friday. Dr. Drew back Monday. Have a great weekend everyone.