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Abuse & Sex Allegations in Missing Mom Case; 9/11 Coloring Book: Education Tool for Kids?; Teacher Still Teaching After Anti-Gay Comments
Aired August 26, 2011 - 21:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRIS JACOBS, HOST: Tonight, new developments as police search the home of Josh Powell. He`s the husband of missing Utah mother Susan Powell. This is another case of a mother gone missing. Where has she been since December of 2009?
Good evening and thank you for joining me. I`m Chris Jacobs from "Entertainment Tonight," sitting in for Dr. Drew.
Coming up later on the show, a controversial 9/11 coloring book for kids. Coloring history and tragedy, is it educational or is it offensive?
And a teacher in Florida is suspended over an inflammatory post on Facebook.
First up tonight, investigators and forensic specialists have searched the home of Steve Powell. He is Josh`s father. Josh lives there with his father outside of Seattle, Washington. Both Josh and his dad Steve were detained while investigators executed a search warrant on the premises.
And just last week, law enforcement searched for clues in Susan`s disappearance near abandoned mineshafts in Nevada.
A lot to this story. And it seems to get a little more complicated every day.
Get this -- now Susan Powell`s father-in-law, Steve, claims he had sexual interactions with the missing mother of two. And as if things could not get even more bizarre, the families are now battling over the release of Susan`s personal diaries.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have some startling new developments in the Susan Powell case.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just a few moments ago, about 20 detectives began searching the home.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now Josh really is our only person of interest.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Powell says he last saw his wife before he went on a camping trip with his boys in a blizzard in the middle of the night.
JOSH POWELL, SUSAN POWELL`S HUSBAND: We`ve gone out and done things like that before.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s really taking a twisted turn here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Susan`s father-in-law, he alleged --
STEVE POWELL, SUSAN POWELL`S FATHER-IN-LAW: Susan was very, very sexual with me. She was very flirtatious.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Susan did not like my dad. She was uncomfortable being around him.
CHUCK COX, SUSAN POWELL`S FATHER: This is a clear attack upon my daughter.
JACOBS: And right now let`s welcome my guests tonight so we can make some sense of this case.
Joining us from outside Seattle, Washington, are Susan`s parents, Chuck and Judy Cox, and a friend who was with Susan Powell the night she disappeared. JoVonna Owings is here from outside Salt Lake City. And also joining us via phone from Salt Lake City is Jennifer Graves. She is Steve`s estranged daughter and Josh`s sister.
So, Chuck and Judy, I`d like to start with you, please. Give me your reaction to the recent development in the story regarding the search of Steve Powell`s Seattle-area home.
C. COX: Well, we were relieved that the police did the search. It needed to be done.
Obviously, Steve and Josh Powell said these journals were important evidence that they should have. And their other evidence that the police had must have led them to their residence. And it shows us that the police are doing their job.
JACOBS: Chuck, I know that this is probably a painful time for you, because every time there`s a development in the story, it probably brings back that original pain of Susan going missing. How are you guys coping with this latest development?
C. COX: Basically day by day. It seems like something more bizarre comes out each day in an attack against my daughter.
But we still miss her. We still -- we want to know where our daughter is. Our original goal is the same, to get her picture out and have the help of the people in the United States, the world. Wherever she may be, we want to find our daughter.
JACOBS: Judy, let me direct this question to you. How would you describe Susan and Josh`s marriage? Were they a happy couple?
JUDY COX, SUSAN POWELL`S MOTHER: Well, it appeared that way in the very beginning, but I don`t think it lasted very long. I was with them from time to time when we did visits and got to see how they would talk or argue, and he was very much into name-calling. He never seemed to show affection, like kissing her on the cheek or holding her hand or anything like that. So I felt it was very strange for a married couple to act that way.
JACOBS: And I understand that the two of them had financial problems as well. There are reports of debt, bankruptcies. Did that put a potential strain on their marriage?
J. COX: We believe that was -- originally, that`s what we thought was the main problem -- one of the main problems. Susan was the only one who was able to hold down a job. And we figured that was probably part of the issue, a big part of it.
JACOBS: Chuck, Steve Powell, Josh`s father, has made some very strong allegations that he and your daughter had some sort of sexual relationship. This must absolutely floor you, to find this out, that he`s saying this. Steve`s own daughter has flat-out called Steve a liar.
Take a look at what Steve recently told ABC`s "Good Morning America."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
S. POWELL: Susan was very sexual with me. She was very flirtatious. We interacted in a lot of sexual ways because Susan enjoys doing that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think a part of you started falling in love with Susan?
S. POWELL: That`s pretty likely, yes. I mean, yes, I would say so. And there`s no question in my mind that the feelings were mutual.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JACOBS: Chuck and Judy, you have to be very disturbed by this interview that Steve gave to ABC. What are your reactions when you hear this? And do you believe that Steve Powell had something to do with Susan`s disappearance?
C. COX: I think his telling words is in his mind there was -- that is he thinks Susan liked him. Nothing could be further from the truth. As she explained to us, they actually moved to Utah to get away from Steve. And I think it`s disturbing that his mind is that way.
Does he have anything to do with her disappearance? I don`t know. I haven`t pointed the finger at Steve or Josh. I let the police do the police work. But it is very disturbing.
JACOBS: Chuck, do you think that perhaps Steve saying that he had sexual - - not relations, but sexual interactions with Susan, do you think that`s in an effort to possibly bolster Josh`s alibi about how Susan abandoned the family, perhaps running off with another man?
C. COX: Yes. Well, it`s clearly meant to try to and assassinate my daughter`s character, and it`s an attack on her. And Josh really has no alibi.
This claim that evidently Steve and Josh came up with that she ran off with somebody has been investigated and discounted by the police. She didn`t take off with the Steven Corture (ph), and she did not leave with anybody. The police have said that, and I`m very relieved to hear them say that, that they have investigated it and there`s no truth to that whatsoever.
So the only two people in the world that I`ve heard that have anything negative to say about my daughter is Steven Powell, who comes up with this attack, and Josh Powell, the person of interest.
JACOBS: All right. Let`s bring in JoVonna Owings right now. She is a friend of Susan Powell`s. In fact, was with Susan the night that she went missing.
Josh Powell says that he took his two sons -- at the time, age 2 and 4 -- to Utah`s West Desert, leaving the house around midnight in the middle of the night in December. Temperatures were between 10 and 25 degrees. And he claims he has no clue what happened to Susan.
Take a look at Josh on CBS`s "Early Show."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think about how bad it looks that you left the house at midnight with the two boys?
J. POWELL: We`ve gone out and done things like that before. Sometimes we go out looking for rocks. We just were playing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One report said it was a blizzard. Nobody goes camping in a blizzard.
J. POWELL: Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JACOBS: Josh didn`t seem to have a straight answer for that question, JoVonna. And what was your reaction when you heard that Josh took the kids camping in a blizzard in the middle of the night? Did you give that any credence at all?
JOVONNA OWINGS, FRIEND OF SUSAN POWELL: I really couldn`t believe it, because as I said, I`d been over there earlier that day. And I knew that he knew it was Sunday. And I also knew that both of them had to go to work on Monday morning.
So I couldn`t understand why in the world he would go out in the middle of the night when he had to go to work the next morning. It made no sense to me at all.
JACOBS: JoVonna, how would you characterize the relationship between Josh and Susan? Was it a harmonious marriage? Was he controlling? Were there problems in the marriage?
Did she share with you any of those personal thoughts?
OWINGS: She shared a lot with our -- with the ladies group that we were in. And, yes, there were problems. But it sounded like they were getting counseling and that they were working on those problems. And what I saw that day looked as if things were kind of going pretty good.
You know, he was being very nice to her. He was making a meal. He served us both and cleaned up afterwards. Those are things that a kind partner does.
JACOBS: JoVonna, you were one of the last people to see Susan. And you saw her the night that she purportedly vanished.
Did you see Josh that night? And if you did, was he exhibiting any strange behavior?
OWINGS: You know, it`s really hard to tell. I hadn`t really known Josh for maybe a couple of weeks, and his behavior was always a little off.
So I couldn`t tell what strange was. He just made the meal, served it, cleaned up afterwards. And then Susan went to lay down. And after he had finished the cleanup, he proceeded to get the boys ready to go out and go sledded. And when he had done that, then I left and he left, and that was the last time I was out the house when he was there.
JACOBS: Wow. Well, obviously there is more to this story than meets the eye.
And coming up next, we`re going to have more on missing mom Susan Powell. Someone knows what happened to her. So who is it?
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
J. POWELL: We just miss her and we want her back. And I love her and my boys love her.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How are they doing?
J. POWELL: They`re doing OK.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have any idea what happened to her?
J. POWELL: No.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I cannot stress this highly enough. If you are in the projected path of this hurricane, you have to take precautions now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JACOBS: Certainly thinking about all of my friends on the East Coast as Hurricane Irene is expected to be an absolute monster storm. Get this -- projections have it slamming into major metropolitan areas including New York. And in the U.S., tens of millions are bracing for the storm.
Stay tuned, of course, to HLN for all the latest weather news.
I am Chris Jacobs, sitting in for my friend Dr. Drew.
And we are continuing now our discussion about the disappearance of Susan Powell.
Still with us are Susan`s parents, Chuck and Judy Cox. They are in Seattle. We also have Susan`s friend, Jennifer Graves. She is also the sister of Josh Powell. She`s on the phone joining us from Salt Lake City.
And also with us is former prosecutor and my fellow attorney Mark Eiglarsh. See, I`m afraid of him, I think.
Mark, investigators searched the home of Steve Powell, and they took away five computers, boxes of other evidence. What does this mean for the investigation? Are they closing in?
MARK EIGLARSH, ATTORNEY: Well, that`s what they`re saying. Listen, when they leave there with nothing in their hands, anyone who wants justice is a little concerned.
The fact that they took things out and, more specifically, they seemed to have indicated that they were looking for specific items. That, to me, suggests that those items that they took out of there could serve as a centerpiece potentially of the prosecution`s case down the road.
JACOBS: Mark, why are the police being so tight-lipped about the status of their investigation and this evidence that they were looking for at Steve Powell`s home?
EIGLARSH: Because they`re doing the right thing. Listen, I want to know everything.
We`ve become accustomed to a play-by-play, but we`re not entitled. And those things do compromise investigations.
I`m glad they`re keeping it tight-lipped. Let them tell the family if they want, keep them on the inside. But the rest of us, no. It absolutely can affect adversely their investigation, and ultimately the criminal prosecution of whoever is ultimately arrested.
JACOBS: And also, Mark, it may be in an effort to not allow the Powells to concoct some sort of counterstory to whatever evidence they may find there.
Jennifer Graves, I want to bring you in on this. There is a major split between your families, between the Cox family and the Powell family.
Let`s take a listen to your father fighting with Susan`s father Chuck about the release of Susan`s diary entries. Take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
C. COX: If you want to accuse my daughter of being promiscuous and everything else --
S. POWELL: Susan had a very troubled childhood. She was suicidal. She told Josh, and it`s in her journals.
C. COX: No, no, no, no.
S. POWELL: She told Josh.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JACOBS: It seems to be in such bad taste to be talking about this woman`s personal diaries.
Jennifer, let me ask you this -- do you think Susan`s diaries should be released? Can it help the authorities find her?
JENNIFER GRAVES, ESTRANGED SISTER OF JOSH POWELL: Should they be released to the public?
GRAVES: No. I don`t think so. I think if they have them in their hands, which I believe that they do now, the police -- that`s where they belong.
JACOBS: Jennifer, unfortunately you are estranged from your father and your brother. I know there`s contention between you.
Characterize if you will Josh and Susan`s marriage. Is Josh capable of these horrific acts that people are thinking that he may have done?
GRAVES: You know, before this all happened, I wouldn`t have said so, but things change. And he`s acted awfully strangely since, so maybe.
And Chuck, let me ask you the same question. I mean, God forbid that Susan is, in fact, dead, and that Josh is responsible for her death. Is it in his character to seemingly pull off a perfect crime? There`s very little evidence of foul play if it`s true that he committed a heinous act here. Is it in his character to do so?
C. COX: I thought he was different, but I didn`t think he was a problem. I thought Susan was perfectly capable of interacting with him, and I was not worried about that. The more I hear about things, the more concerned I become. But I want the police to do the police work.
JACOBS: And Chuck, you`ve also said that you`ve never pointed the finger at Josh or his father Steve. However, Josh has said that you`re the root cause and have painted him unfairly.
Take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
J. POWELL: There are a lot of people who have done a lot of attacks against our family and my sons, led by Chuck Cox. I`m sorry to see what he chooses to do to try to bring it into my neighborhood repeatedly. Chuck Cox has used my sons as nothing in pawns in the media to elicit hatred of our family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JACOBS: It seems to me that Josh is working pretty hard there to elicit some sympathy from anyone who will give it to him. And Josh or anyone from the Powell family is more than welcome to come on this show and share their side of the story. We want them on here to give their version of the facts.
Chuck, does Josh have a point that you`re blaming him unfairly for the disappearance of your daughter?
C. COX: Well, I never blamed him. I`ve never asked anyone to do anything to him or his family.
JACOBS: All right.
Well, while we digest that, we will be right back.
And coming up next, a controversial coloring book that may reach outside the lines.
And later, you`ve got to see this, a teacher`s Facebook post that you`ve got to see to believe.
Stay with us.
JACOBS: You want controversy? You came to the right place.
There is a new coloring book on the market, and it doesn`t feature cute animals or cartoon characters. Listen to this.
It is showing the twin towers burning and Navy SEALs shooting Osama bin Laden. What the heck is going on here? Is it too much?
Well, Wayne Bell doesn`t think so. His company just published "We Shall Never Forget 9/11: The Kids` Book of Freedom," and it`s for ages 7 and up. Now, Bell says this coloring book tells the stories of the facts surrounding 9/11 and then it doesn`t shy away from the truth.
Wayne Bell is here with us tonight. He is the publisher of Really Big Coloring Books, and he also authored "The Kids` Book of Freedom."
And would you please explain why you felt compelled to publish a coloring book about the 9/11 tragedy?
WAYNE BELL, PUBLISHER, REALLY BIG COLORING BOOKS, INC.: Hi, Chris. Thank you very much for having me.
What compelled us to publish this book is basically our readership. Our company publishes coloring books on just about every slice of America that you can possibly think of. And on one of our Web pages, coloringbook.com, we have a lot of people that go to the search engine there and they type in things they`re searching for, be it a zoo book, an ABC book, or a presidential Barack Obama coloring book. People search what they`re looking for.
And over the years we have followed people. And at certain events, people, they type in "9/11." They type in "We shall never forget." They type things into our search engines.
And so, when we watch that and follow it throughout the country, it kind of gives us an idea of what we think will sell to the country. And so we came out with the "We Shall Never Forget" coloring book, not taking a position left or right. We`re not taking any position at all in this book.
We`re simply trying to tell the facts as they lay. And it basically covers the 10-year history of the war on terror, beginning with the 9/11 attack on the twin towers, ending with Osama bin Laden being shot in his home in Pakistan. And so there`s also another part of the book --
JACOBS: Yes, but Wayne, I have to tell you -- Wayne, I take a little bit of umbrage with the subject matter of the coloring book.
JACOBS: Isn`t coloring time for kids supposed to be a happy time? Why such a controversial issue as the 9/11 tragedy?
BELL: Well, you know what? I`ll answer your question for you. I`ll answer that question.
I can tell you right now that the coloring book is rated PG, which means parental guidance. I mean, the coloring book is designed basically for children of the coloring age, which can be anywhere from 2 to 10 or 12 years old.
And what this book does is it`s designed as a tool based on parents. I mean, based on people that we talked to, it`s designed as a tool to help teach children what 9/11 is about.
I know that children have watched for years the graphic images on TV. Sometimes kids, according to parents, they think that those things are going on right now.
I know that the coloring book is not that graphic. There`s no, like, really nasty or really bad pictures in the book. But it is very factual, and it doesn`t shy away from the truth.
And we asked people what they wanted in the book prior to printing of the book, and they told us. And people love this book around the country. I mean, people are buying it probably in all the 50 states.
JACOBS: Well, Wayne, this is certainly bringing up a lot of controversy because of the subject matter. I know it`s not extremely graphic, but it does show images of Osama bin Laden being shot, and also the towers on fire. So people might have a problem with that.
BELL: No, it shows an image of him -- I understand that. I do.
JACOBS: We`re going to give you a chance to defend yourself, too, Wayne. And we`ll be joined by a representative of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
That`s coming up next, so please stay with us. He`s called this coloring book disgusting.
And later, we also talk about a teacher`s inappropriate, homophobic Facebook posts. See what got an entire community in an uproar.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS JACOBS, HOST (voice-over): Bright colors for a dark day. A 9/11 coloring book has some folks turning red say it gives kids a jaded picture of the true events of 9/11, but the author says critics can claim until their blue in the face. Our kids, his book, and your views coming up.
And later, writing on the wall get students suspended from school, but what if the wall is on Facebook and the student is a teacher? The last group you`d expect to is defending his gay-marriage post based on the music on Facebook.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JACOBS (on-camera): Well, as our nation approaches the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy, some are calling into question the appropriateness of a new coloring book about the attacks and about the war on terror. We Shall Never Forget 9/11 "The Kids Book of Freedom" is published this month and has already sold out on Amazon.com. Wow.
The book is factual on its portrayal of the event surroundings 9/11 pointing out that the attacks were masterminded by radical Muslims extremists, but some Muslim organizations are upset by this saying it portrays all Muslims as radicals. Is this exploitive or is it educational?
Well, back with us to talk about this is Wayne Bell, the author of "The Kids Book of Freedom." Wayne, thanks a lot for sticking around. And on the phone, we have Maureen Santora. Her son was the youngest firefighter to die in the World Trade Center tragedy. And, Michigan`s executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations, Dawud Walid, joins us.
Dawud, you called this coloring book disgusting. Why is that?
DAWUD WALID, EXEC. DIR., CAIR MICHIGAN: Well, we do advocate for responsible education for young people in terms of the national tragedy of 9/11. However, the problem that we have is in regards to the caricatures in this book and not just Osama Bin Laden but other caricatures of Muslims in this book as well as the language. Every single time that Muslim and Islam is used, it`s used in conjunction with radical, extremist, and terrorist, and given the fact that this is a very emotional and sensitive topic and that there were Muslims who were victims in 9/11 also.
And there were Muslims who were victims -- I mean, also, who were first responders. We think it would have been more responsible if the language would not have been as such that every time Muslim was used as radical, extremist, and terrorist. And that, all of these caricatures can paint into the mind of a young person that, perhaps, all Muslims may be somewhat responsible for 9/11 or that Muslims, themselves, might be an enemy within the United States of America.
JACOBS: So, Dawud, your contention with the coloring book is that it doesn`t make a clear enough distinction between Muslim radicals and Muslims, in general. Wayne, how do you respond to what Dawud is saying here?
WAYNE BELL, PUBLISHER, REALLY BIG COLORING BOOKS, INC.: Chris, what we`re saying in the book is very simple. We`re talking about the events in the 12-hour period on 9/11 in this book. We don`t say anything about the Muslim faith. We don`t say anything about Muslim people. We`re talking about the 19 hijackers that came over here and murdered thousands of people. I don`t know Mr. Walid. I`m sure he`s a lovely gentleman, but I also know that he released a video last night.
He held this book up on 9/11 and called these icons disgusting. He calls the book disgusting. I can understand his point. I would be disgusted, too, but he should call the people in the book, the 19 terrorists, Osama Bin Laden, he should call him disgusting. This is history. It`s absolutely factual. That`s what this book is about. And then, it talks about the freedoms in America.
This book is not portraying any group of people. This group is not portraying Muslims in a negative light at all. That is incorrect. This book is about 19 terrorist hijackers that came over here under the leadership of a devil worshipper, Osama Bin Laden, who come over here and murdered our people. That`s what this book is about. And for someone --
BELL: And call this disgusting is terrible. I think --
JACOBS: Hang on a second. Let`s let Dawud get in here. Dawud, what`s your reaction --
JACOBS: Excuse me, guys. Excuse me for one second, Dawud. Isn`t it important for children to be educated about the facts of 9/11? Wayne is simply saying this is a coloring book about the facts, not painting all Muslims as responsible.
BELL: We don`t even mention the Muslim faith or the Muslim people at all. We don`t even mention --
JACOBS: Dawud, what`s your reaction to that?
WALID: Muslim and Islam is mentioned in the text all throughout that book. For anyone who looked at the book --
BELL: When it comes to the hijackers --
WALID: No, no. Hold on. I showed you respect.
JACOBS: Now, Wayne, let Dawud respond.
WALID: Hold on. I showed you your respect. I showed you your respect. Now, show me mine.
BELL: When you disrespect the first cover of this book --
JACOBS: Wayne, hang on a second. Let Dawud make his point, please.
WALID: Every single time Islam and Muslim is mentioned in that book for the most part, radical, extremist, and terrorist is used in conjunction along with other pictures. Now, he has a picture of victims who are grieving, roll the next page of -- with the portrayed terrorists and one with a cross in her neck. Now, as a minority, he may not be able to understand since he`s not a minority in regards to the affect that this can have as far as portraying -- yes, it does.
WALID: If we look at coloring books in the past, if we look at coloring books in the past that portrayed minorities such as coloring books going back to Japanese-Americans and even Dr. Seuss, we can see times in which minority --
BELL: This has nothing to do --
WALID: No, no, no, no, no, no.
JACOBS: Hang on, guys. Hang on. Hang on one second. Let`s try to stay on topic here. Dawud, if you could put those papers down, we`re not talking about the portrayal of minorities in coloring books. We`re talking about this book, in particular. And right now, I want to talk about the human element of this, and we`re going to bring in Maureen Santora whose son was the youngest firefighter who gave his life on 9/11.
Maureen, when you see a book like this, do you feel that it helps people remember what happened or is it inflammatory? Do we have Maureen on the phone? I guess, we might have lost her. Well, guys, I don`t want to make this a contentious situation between you guys. I don`t want to turn this into a battle between -- excuse me? Wayne, go ahead.
BELL: This is not a battle. Chris, I want to show you something that I haven`t showed anyone outside our company. Prior to making this book, our company wrote a letter to Care International Headquarters in Washington, D.C. and to the Reverend Lewis Ferapan (ph) in Chicago at the nation of Islam. We ask for people`s support in this book.
We ask for people to participate of the Islamic and the Muslim faith to participate. Our message is in a letter. And it says, this is our request with peace, understanding, and faith that someday, we will all respect each other and have mutual respect for all face and all religions. And one person at a time can change the world. Just as terror activity begins with one man, one person so shall -- it can end with one man, one person. We ask for all the --
JACOBS: Well, you know, I mean, Wayne, obviously, you`ve touched on a very hot button issue here. There is no right or wrong to this situation. You feel strongly. Dawud feels very strongly. And unfortunately, to tell you this, Wayne, we had a lot of controversy here at the show as would you buy this book for your child.
We even put up a poll question on our website tonight asking would you buy your child a 9/11 coloring book? And unfortunately, for you, Wayne, 16 percent of you said yes, meaning, an overwhelming 84 percent of you said no. Now, considering the fact that it`s sold out on Amazon, are you surprised by those results, Wayne?
BELL: No, Chris, because ABC did a poll across America. It`s right here. I printed it off at three o`clock where 67 percent of the respondents beginning in Detroit Michigan, 60 -- it`s on ABCWXYZ right now -- 62, 67 percent of the respondents loved this book. And this --
JACOBS: Wayne, obviously, those are conflicting polls. We can only - -
JACOBS: Excuse me, one second, guys. Excuse me. We can`t keep talking over each other. I want to bring back in Maureen Santora. We have her back on the line. Maureen, thank you so much for joining us. Your son gave his life on 9/11 as a firefighter in New York, and when you see a coloring book like this, does it help people remember or is it inflammatory in your opinion?
MAUREEN SANTORA, FIREFIGHTER SON DIED ON 9/11: Well, what I object to is the age for this coloring book. If you are a high school senior or a junior or a college student and you read this coloring book, you have enough background information in your history of growing up not to be horrified or scared. If this book is for elementary or middle school students, there is very inflammatory language in this coloring book and very graphic details.
And, I believe as an educator of over 27 years, that this is not a book for young children. This is not a book that children who have not done a lot of reading about 9/11 should be considering even purchasing. Their parents should not allow them to buy this book.
JACOBS: But, Maureen, you did say it is important to educate children on the topic of 9/11. At what age do you think that kids should start learning about the facts of 9/11?
SANTORA: Well, I was an educator for a long time, and I wrote three children`s books, specifically for elementary school children. Picture books are describing the event in a way that`s not horrifying. I`ve had good reviews from a lot of educators regarding this book, because children need to know what hatred did to all of us. Children need to know that their parents going to work are going to be safe, and they`re going to be coming home.
They need to know those things. And after 9/11, there were many, many school children who were very afraid that their parents were not going to come back. So, we need to ensure children. We need to let them know that hatred is a terrible thing. We need to tell children that they will be loved regardless of whether or not they`re perfect. But we do not need to tell them in graphic detail about the events of September 11th until they are able to absorb those graphic details.
JACOBS: well, Maureen Santora, I want to thank you very much for your unique insight on this topic, and I want to thank all of my guests, Wayne and Dawud. And I`m Chris Jacobs from `Entertainment Tonight." I`m sitting in for Dr. Drew.
And coming up next, the idea of same-sex marriage makes a Florida teacher, quote, "want to throw up." He shares the controversial comment on Facebook. Did the school board have the right to suspend him? We`ll hear from that teacher when we come back on DR. DREW.
JACOBS: I`m Chris Jacobs from "Entertainment Tonight" sitting in for my friend, Dr. Drew. And now on to our next story. While millions of gay Americans and their supporters celebrate the recent passage of gay marriage legislation in New York State, a Florida high school teacher opposed to same-sex marriage, took to his Facebook page to vent his frustration.
He posted this controversial message, quote, "I`m watching the news eating dinner when the story about New York okaying same-sex unions came out and I almost threw up." The teacher, Jerry Buell, is joining me with his attorney, Henry Mihet. Gentlemen, welcome. And also back is Mark Eiglarsh, a criminal defense attorney. Mr. Beule, you were suspended by the school. Are you returning to the classroom next week?
JERRY BUELL, MOUNT DORA FL HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER: Yes. I`ve been in the classroom. I started yesterday. Thursday was my first day. Today was my second day with my kids.
JACOBS: And how have the reactions from the students been with this recent news about you being suspended for what you said on your Facebook page?
BUELL: Reaction from the students was great. We had a great day yesterday. And, today was the day when I was able to get right into the teaching and get into things. And, we had an awesome day in the classroom. You could ask any of the 70 that were there.
JACOBS: And, your attorney, Henry Mihet, is sitting there with you. Let me ask you this. The school now believes that your client may have violated the separation between church and state. Any truth to that?
HENRY MIHET, JERRY BUELL`S ATTORNEY: No, not at all. The important thing is that Mr. Buell has been completely exonerated as to any wrongdoing with respect to the Facebook post.
JACOBS: Mr. Buell, are any of your students friends with you on Facebook?
BUELL: I got to think a minute. Of the students that I have now? I don`t know any of them. This is the first time that I`ve had them, so --
JACOBS: You don`t know, but any current students at your high school in Florida, are any of them your friends on Facebook?
BUELL: I think so, yes.
JACOBS: So, they would have been able to read these messages that you have posted on your Facebook page?
BUELL: Possibly, if they were on at the time.
JACOBS: OK. I just want to make that point. We`re going to come back to that in a second. I want to bring in Mark Eiglarsh. Mark, do you feel that Mr. Buell`s writings violated the separation of church and state?
MARK EIGLARSH, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Let me make this clear. I want to commend Mr. Buell. If his goal was to teach his students hatred, judgment, intolerance and fear, then maybe they should reconsider him for teacher of the year again.
JACOBS: And isn`t that really the issue, Mark, there? It`s not only one`s personal views on religion, but really, the tolerance aspect of it. I understand clearly in the First Amendment allows Mr. Buell to express his opinions on this, but the First Amendment also requires the public school students never be given the impression that their school officially sanctions religion in general or prefers a specific faith in particular. Don`t you think that there`s an aspect to that, Mark?
EIGLARSH: Without question. And what we`re leaving out here is that it wasn`t just a Facebook posting, and by the way, I would defend him. I`d defend him pro-Bono to spew his hatred on his Facebook page if that`s all that he did. He does have that First Amendment right the same way I do to say my disdain for his actions here publicly.
But, he didn`t just restrict it to Facebook. What he also did was he posted in his syllabus and on the school webpage some other things about God and Jesus which clearly violated the church and state separation portion of the constitution. And so, there is where I think he stepped over the line.
JACOBS: Mr. Buell, how do you respond to that? Aren`t you really blurring the line between church and state?
BUELL: I have to apologize. I did not hear anything that the gentleman said.
JACOBS: Oh, I`m sorry. Just to recap from Mark, he pointed out that not only did you mention these inflammatory remarks on your Facebook page, that also, on the school`s website and in the syllabus for your class, you mentioned Jesus Christ and God in both those spots. Isn`t that really blurring the line between church and state?
BUELL: I don`t see how. I`m not sure where that`s coming from. Again, I didn`t get to hear what he said. So --
JACOBS: Well, you did put in our syllabus -- go ahead, Mark.
EIGLARSH: I`ll tell you this. What I was doing with a loving heart was judging you and your actions. And I thought they were grossly inappropriate in that what you`re doing is you`re sending a message to high school students gay and straight a climate of intolerance and hatred and anger and fear, something that children aren`t born with. They learn, and they learn from people like yourself who they admire. Don`t you think you`re teaching that lesson to the students?
MIHET: The only tolerance and hatred, Mark, appears to come from your own heart against Mr. Buell`s point of view. He was expressing his opinion --
EIGLARSH: Why don`t you let him answer? Counselor, counselor, no, no, no.
MIHET: He was expressing his opinion on a topic of public importance.
EIGLARSH: Let him answer.
JACOBS: Jerry, do you have a direct response to what Mark is asking?
MIHET: The direct response is that the only intolerance here is coming from Mark and others like him --
JACOBS: With all respect, Mr. Mihet, do you feel that your client can answer the question?
MIHET: He can answer the question and I can answer the question, because I need to protect him from --
EIGLARSH: We don`t want to hear it from you. With all due respect, counselor -- counselor, with all due respect, your client is exercising his First Amendment right and that`s cool. Let him speak.
MIHET: My job is to protect him --
JACOBS: Jerry, do you have a thought?
MIHET: My job is --
JACOBS: Again, Henry, with all due respect, I understand you`re representing your client but we really would like to hear from Mr. Buell on this topic. Mr. Buell, do you have a response to Mark`s question.
BUELL: I got this. Yesterday, when my kids came in for the first time, for my three classes, I explained to them that I challenge them to find another place in the school where they will be more protected, where they will be more respected, and where they will be more loved. And then, I proceed through the rest of the introduction time to explain how I do that. And I inform them --
JACOBS: Well, you know, Jerry, I want to say that`s very, very gracious of you, and I think that you`re being very kind to your students, but you didn`t answer the question. And I also want to say the controversy will continue when we come back.
JACOBS: And we are back with Jerry Buell, the Florida teacher whose anti-gay posts on his private Facebook page have fueled a national debate. Mr. Buell posted that he wanted to, quote, "throw up" after learning New York State had passed same-sex marriage. And that`s not all, he also let this comment on his personal Facebook page.
It reads in part, "Don`t insult a man and woman`s marriage by throwing it in the same cesspool as same-sex whatever. God will not be mocked. When did this sin become acceptable?" Now, Mr. Buell, would you make these comments in front of your social studies class?
BUELL: This was made on a Facebook page on my own time. No, sir, would not. No, sir, I would not.
JACOBS: I understand that, but would you ever say this in class?
BUELL: No, sir, I would not.
JACOBS: OK. You have stated earlier that your friends, Facebook friends, with some of your students, doesn`t that make your Facebook page an extension of your classroom?
BUELL: What happened to the First Amendment on my own time?
JACOBS: Sure. The First Amendment also requires there`d be separation between church and state.
MIHET: Mr. Buell also goes to church with some of his students. He goes to the supermarket with some of his students. Are we going to say now that anytime there is a student --
JACOBS: Does he make those statements about -- does he make those same homophobic slurs to his students while he`s going to the supermarket with them?
MIHET: They were not homophobic slurs, with all due your respect, sir. They were statement critical of same-sex marriage. A sentiment shared by a large majority of other Floridians --
JACOBS: Obviously, that`s your interpretation, sir. And Mark, I want to bring in you in here. Would you allow your kids to attend Mr. Buell`s classes?
EIGLARSH: Absolutely not. And let me just say this. It doesn`t matter if my kids are gay or straight, what he`s spewing is intolerance and hatred and anger. And we`re wondering why there are numbers of teen suicides? They don`t feel love. They have a leader, a teacher, who`s spewing this stuff. Kids are reading it on Facebook. And he`s either being intellectually dishonest.
No, I think he`s just being intellectually dishonest when he says that students don`t necessarily know about what he`s posting on Facebook or he doesn`t care. And you know what, I have concerns about that.
JACOBS: And not to mention the student might read this and feel pressured in Mr. Buell`s classroom not to be his true self because he`s got that authority over him. And, Mr. Mihet, let me ask you this. How far are you willing to take this fight if Mr. Buell is suspended again?
MIHET: Mr. Buell will not be suspended. He has been exonerated of any wrongdoing. The school board understands that they cannot purport to dictate what teachers do on their own time.
EIGLARSH: Let`s define exonerate. Hold on one second. Let`s define -- you`ve used that twice, and now I`ve got to define exonerate. Exonerate just means that they found that private Facebook posting does not violate the constitution, and for that, I agree. But he hasn`t been exonerated in the court of public opinion in that he continues to spew his hatred which the students read about, and it creates a climate of anger and fear and judgment. All the things that --
MIHET: The only hatred being spewed here comes out of your own mouth, Mark, with all due respect.
EIGLARSH: No, my friend. It`s all love, my friend. I`m just highlighting the defects of character in your client that he should take a closer look at. Nobody is --
MIHET: Tolerance on this play. Tolerance in action, Mark. Thank you.
JACOBS: It`s certainly, certainly very typical of a couple of smart attorneys to take comforts with each other. Guys, I want to thank you for coming on. Mr. Buell and Mr. Mihet, your attorney there, and of course, Mike Eiglarsh, how can I -- the extend of my thanks knows no bound, sir. My fellow attorney, thank you for joining us.
And Dr. Drew, thank you for letting me sit in for you tonight. I hope I did you proud. Thanks for watching.