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Classroom Killing of Gay Teen Results in Mistrial; Revealing Too Much on Twitter?; Former Miss USA`s Life Back On Track
Aired September 7, 2011 - 19:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST: Here we go. A classroom killing of a gay teen splits a jury in two. The teacher who witnessed the scene is here with us, speaking publicly for the first time about what she saw.
Plus, revealing too much on Twitter. It got a model some attention from a stalker. And it should be a warning to each of us.
And beauty queen Tara Conner talks about her bad addiction. Let`s go figure this out.
First tonight, the bombshells keep coming from Aruba. There are new revealing images released by the prosecutor in the case of missing American Robyn Gardner. Watch this, and then we`ll talk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Breaking news from Aruba, where Gary Giordano has been ordered to stay locked up. A panel of judges shoot down his appeal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They just simply said, due to the serious nature of the investigation, that it was warranted that detaining Gary Giordano another 60 days as had been ruled.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His traveling companion, Robyn Gardner, went missing on August 2nd.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He remains, again, the only suspect in the disappearance.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Investigators questioned Giordano about Gardner for the eighth time yesterday. He says that he and Robyn Gardner were snorkeling when she disappeared last month.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He will remain behind bars for the full 60 days.
PINSKY: CNN`s Martin Savidge has been on top of this story from the beginning. Marty, what`s going on now?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The appeal by Gary Giordano asking that his 60-day extension of his detention here on the island of Aruba has been turned down by three judges that heard the case today. His attorneys had argued that, look, there is no proof, they said, that Gary Giordano was involved in any crime, or that this was anything other than what he said it was, an accident while snorkeling, that Robyn Gardner disappeared.
The prosecution, though, said that this is a very serious investigation, and that it`s an ongoing investigation, and we don`t know what happened to Robyn Gardner. And as a result, until more answers are received, they essentially said Gary Giordano cannot be allowed to leave the island while the investigation continues.
In the meantime, I spoke to his attorney. That`s Michael Lopez. After he came out, it was clear, he said his client was very disappointed by the ruling. The fact that he`ll have to stay. And then I started asking him about whether he believes the story that Gary Giordano has told the authorities. Here`s what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: Gary Giordano --
MICHAEL LOPEZ, ATTORNEY: Are you asking me?
LOPEZ: Of course. If he`s innocent? Yes.
SAVIDGE: There`s no question?
LOPEZ: Not in my mind.
SAVIDGE: The insurance money is not suspicious?
SAVIDGE: How do you explain that?
LOPEZ: I don`t know. I don`t know at the time.
SAVIDGE: I also asked Michael Lopez if he felt whether the case of Natalee Holloway -- and remember that was the girl that disappeared on Aruba six years ago. That has never been resolved. And there was a lot of criticism of Aruban authorities that they mishandled that case. So I basically put it to Michael Lopez whether he thought his client was being treated unfairly, given harsher treatment as a way for the Aruban authorities to prove to Americans that they are tough on crime or tough on perceived cases when it comes to missing Americans. He said most definitely. He felt that his client was suffering as a result, and his client`s rights were being violated. Dr. Drew?
PINSKY: Thank you, Martin Savidge in Aruba.
And now on to our other big story tonight. I`m talking to a teacher who witnessed the unthinkable, the shooting death of a student in her classroom. The victim was 15 years old, openly gay; the gunman a 14-year- old classmate. Teacher Dawn Boldrin has never publicly shared her horrific eyewitness account of what unfolded in her classroom that day, or the devastating impact that it had on her life until now.
Tonight, she is telling us all, including her take on the recent manslaughter trial that ended in a hung jury. This is for her former student and alleged killer, Brandon McInerney. Watch this and then we`ll talk.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The shooting death of 15-year-old openly gay eighth grade student. Unbelievable.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Brandon, who turned 14 just weeks before the shooting, tried as an adult, charged with first degree murder and a hate crime.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a perfect storm of a defendant who was abused as a child. Access to guns. Homophobia.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A California jury says it`s deadlocked, unable to reach a verdict in the shooting death of a gay teenager, so the judge has declared a mistrial.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The jury was split seven for voluntary manslaughter, and five for murder.
PINSKY: February 12, 2008, 14-year-old Brandon McInerney fires two bullets into the head of classmate Lawrence King. Listen to the 911 call that followed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m an the office right now. There were shots fired in a classroom.
911 DISPATCHER: OK, do you know who the person with the gun is?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who`s the victim? Is there a victim? I`m on the phone with dispatch. Larry?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Teacher Dawn Boldrin was overseeing that computer lab where the shooting unfolded. She is with me now.
Dawn, it has been three years since that day. And I -- I can just imagine the struggle you must have to go through. It must haunt you on a daily basis. I`m sorry. I had a feeling this would be kind of emotional hearing all of that.
DAWN BOLDRIN, TEACHER: It is. It is a daily thing. And it is something that you live with every day. And it -- I have done a lot of counseling. And in that counseling, the one thing the counselor just kept reinforcing and does keep reinforcing is that you don`t live the same life after that moment. And it`s taken a long time, a lot of work, at this point to get where I am now.
PINSKY: It`s like a post-traumatic stress disorder.
BOLDRIN: Very much it is.
PINSKY: I would imagine it affected everyone in that classroom.
PINSKY: Every child.
BOLDRIN: I can`t even imagine what those children -- I know people tend to have this idea that oh, they`re kids, they`ll get over it.
PINSKY: Oh, no.
BOLDRIN: And I have been I think compounding on me is the stress I`ve had over worrying over those kids, because they weren`t treated right.
PINSKY: Do you have contact with any of them?
PINSKY: Are they doing OK?
BOLDRIN: They are struggling. They are struggling. A lot of them ignore it, but they struggle daily.
PINSKY: Have you been able to go back to teaching?
BOLDRIN: No, I have not.
PINSKY: Is that ever a possibility?
BOLDRIN: I don`t even know. I`ve tried. I tried to give it a thought. And nobody would give me the option to even work through it. I don`t know how to actually explain that. But -- just the way I left it was too difficult.
PINSKY: Take me back to that day. As -- without harming yourself or anybody else, please take us through what happened that day.
BOLDRIN: It`s a normal day. We all got into the classroom. We had been working on a paper. A World War II essay, for about two and a half, three weeks. And it was -- this was the last day it was due, and I was having them type it. So I had to provide in essence the time for the computer in the computer lab, which we had been going back and forth to the computer lab.
PINSKY: And Larry was in your class.
BOLDRIN: Larry is in my class.
PINSKY: Where is the other kid?
BOLDRIN: And Brandon is in my class too. They actually sat almost in the same row, but Brandon was behind him, and Larry was up in the front.
PINSKY: And he just gets up and does this thing?
BOLDRIN: Well, that was -- I`m talking about my regular class. We had already walked -- after -- when the shooting happened, we were in the computer lab. And the computer lab is set up just much like a computer lab. Brandon was sitting up towards the door on his own because I didn`t allow him to work on the computer that day. He didn`t bring his report, so he couldn`t work on the computer. Larry was literally sitting in front of him, working on his computer.
PINSKY: Did he pull this weapon out of a bag or something?
BOLDRIN: I didn`t even see him pull the gun.
PINSKY: You just heard it?
BOLDRIN: I was on the other side of the classroom working with another student. And I think out of the side I might have seen an action. But I definitely heard the shot, and smelled -- you could smell it. It was just like fireworks.
PINSKY: And what did you do?
BOLDRIN: Then I turned around and yelled at Brandon, and I asked him what the hell he was doing, because I thought he had exploded the computer. And I yelled at Brandon, because he was standing. All the other kids were sitting.
PINSKY: When did you first see Larry?
BOLDRIN: I never saw Larry. I never --
PINSKY: You saw the gun?
BOLDRIN: I don`t even know if I saw the gun. I can`t actually go through all -- so much happened, I still don`t even know all that could have happened or --
PINSKY: Did you just clear the classroom at that point?
PINSKY: So that was your next move?
BOLDRIN: It was after I realized and he fired the second shot, and I had yelled at him, he just walked out of the actual classroom. He dropped the gun. That`s what they say. The gun was just laying there. And I grabbed those kids, and we ran out of the -- into another hallway.
PINSKY: OK. Well, reports say Lawrence King had been wearing women`s jewelry and makeup in the seventh grade, and bullying had intensified, as I understand. And the school couldn`t stop him from expressing his sexual identity because there are laws that prevent gender discrimination.
Just weeks before his shooting death, an eighth grade assistant principal sent a memo to every teacher and it said the following. "We have a student on campus who has chosen to express his sexuality " -- and I want to stop there and say his sexual identity is really more accurate -- "by wearing makeup, and it is his right to do so. Some kids are finding it amusing. Others are bothered by it. As long as it does not cause classroom disruptions, he is within his rights."
I understand, Dawn, you actually gave him some clothing.
BOLDRIN: Yes. On -- when I had found out, because -- see, it`s just more complicated now. I gave Larry a dress, one of my older daughter`s homecoming dress. And when I gave it to him, I gave it to him in private on the Friday prior to the shooting. Because a lot of people seemed to be under the misunderstanding that Larry was running around in this dress. It was not dress code, and Larry did adhere to the dress code.
PINSKY: What kind of kid was Larry?
BOLDRIN: Larry was a good kid. He was very sweet, very kind, very respectful to me. I am sure he was just like every other kid, and he pushed limits and boundaries. But he most definitely didn`t push them in my classroom.
PINSKY: Well, up next, a jury fails to reach a decision in this shooting death of the 15-year-old student, Lawrence King. Was his death the result of premeditated murder? I`m going to have more with the teacher who witnessed this shooting when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They just mocked him. And every time he came around, they ran, and just -- painful things. They said painful things about him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: In February 2008, 14-year-old Brandon McInerney shot and killed 15-year-old classmate Lawrence King as horrified students looked on. Three years later, here we are, and a mistrial has been declared as a Southern California jury failed to agree upon whether Brandon is guilty of murder or involuntary manslaughter. Brandon`s defense team had this to say after the judge announced the mistrial. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are quite confident that none of the jurors believe that this was a hate crime.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is rehabilitable. And it`s our opinion that he should have been charged as a juvenile, and we`re going to be pushing for that, you know, forever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Dawn Boldrin is the teacher that witnessed the fatal events. On the phone is Mark Eiglarsh. He is a criminal defense attorney. Mark, thank you for stepping in for this.
Here is my question, Mark. This seems pretty straightforward to me. A kid brings a gun in, shoots another student. Why is there so much complexity around this case and why couldn`t a jury reach a decision?
MARK EIGLARSH, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Same thing we are asking regarding Casey Anthony. Seemed cut and dry to many of us.
The problem is that jurors are not robots. They are human beings. And even though they are instructed by the judge to only consider what are the facts and how that applies to the law and make an intelligent, reasonable decision, they consider a myriad of factors. Some that they are allowed to consider and others that they are not allowed to consider.
PINSKY: Is this the fact that this was a juvenile, he was tried as an adult, right, in this case?
PINSKY: So that was a big part of this.
EIGLARSH: Without question.
PINSKY: And also it seems like they were unclear whether it was premeditated or not. But the fact that one kid kills another kid, we can`t arrive at something? You know, we can`t say something about that?
EIGLARSH: No. Here is the problem. You throw in the defense -- the defense threw in really everything. His upbringing in an abusive home. That he was blaming school officials for not doing more. His -- you know, that his extreme emotional state made him unaware of his actions. To you and I, in an intellectual world, we might say that`s not relevant. He brought a gun. It`s clear cut. But jurors are emotional beings. They consider everything, and I think that they didn`t want to go all the way with first degree.
PINSKY: All right, Mark, thank you for that explanation. And I`m here with the teacher, Dawn Boldrin. And Dawn, here is the deal. No one is a bigger advocate for victims rights than me. And if someone has been sexually or physically abused in childhood, I am all about them getting treatment and getting better. But once they cross the line, they must take the consequences for their actions. I have horrible feelings about this case. You knew both students. Please talk me out of those feelings if it`s appropriate.
BOLDRIN: I -- actually, I agree. Brandon -- and I believe Brandon even agrees with it. He needs to pay the consequences. They have never said he doesn`t deserve some sort of sentence.
The problem is exactly like your caller said. He`s an adolescent. He is not -- he still isn`t even an adult. He is only 17. And when this happened, he was 14. Literally, this happened two weeks before he turned 14.
PINSKY: Well, tell us about the kid. Talk me down from this. He had a horrible home environment, I understand. Allegedly. I don`t know. I don`t know anything about it, what was real. But that`s what we keep hearing.
BOLDRIN: And what I`ve heard is what everybody else has heard as well from court. When I met Brandon, I had met him two weeks prior to the shooting myself. He had just come into my classroom. I got him some gate (ph), or honors. And what it was is he was not performing well in gate and honors, and they put him in my class.
PINSKY: But you said in the last segment when you heard something went off and you smelled it, you assumed Brandon had exploded a computer.
BOLDRIN: I did.
PINSKY: He must have been a kid acting out in your classroom already in two weeks.
BOLDRIN: No. He hadn`t been acting out. What he did is when he came in, he was -- well, he was acting out.
PINSKY: OK. Was he violent?
BOLDRIN: No. By no means. He was what I would call passive aggressive.
PINSKY: Was he -- did he express hateful language or opinions or anything?
BOLDRIN: No, no.
PINSKY: OK. Experts say that the prosecutors face obstacles in trying Brandon. His name is Brandon McInerney, as an adult. He is now 17, 14 at the time of the shooting. A district attorney overseeing the case had this to say about the retrial, the possibility of a retrial. He says, "We will consider the fact that this was a very significantly split jury." I`m not sure I know what that means. Maybe strong feelings on both sides.
"We will consider everything. There are obviously very strong reactions on both sides." No kidding. "And we will consider all of those and how we proceed."
An October 5th court hearing has been set to discuss a retrial.
Dawn, if you could sort of be the jury, what would you wish to be the outcome? And if that makes you feel uncomfortable, please, you don`t have to answer that. But I think if you could paint the scenario for me, what would that look like?
BOLDRIN: I don`t understand nor pretend to understand how to equate some sort of sentence for what Brandon did. I wrestle. He took a life. I wrestle with that every day.
PINSKY: He took your career. He took the young lives of how many kids were in that classroom?
BOLDRIN: I think there were about 20 or so.
PINSKY: 20 kids whose lives will never be the same. And people are not -- I hope they are factoring that in too. This is a massive event. And by the way, I think we should try the parents too. I have some issues with that as well. But forgive me if -- I don`t know anything about these people. You never know.
But -- so paint it again. We have less than a minute to go. You tell me, how would you like it to play out?
BOLDRIN: He is a child. I need people to see that he is a child. He did this as a child. And when the jury made that decision, they weren`t his peers. He is being tried with a jury of his peers, and I`m sorry--
BOLDRIN: -- they`re adults. And they don`t remember what it`s like to be 14. If so, they would have 14-year-olds sitting in that box.
PINSKY: In an ideal world, should it be a group of child psychologists? Who should be passing judgment on the behavior of this child? It certainly shouldn`t be other adolescents with difficult family lives.
BOLDRIN: It`s hard, because I don`t like to make excuses either.
PINSKY: Yes, it is so hard. This is such a hard case. I understand. And every time you want retribution, there`s another victim, you know.
PINSKY: And let`s remember for everybody at home, this started out with possibly as we are hearing in court, victimization at home.
BOLDRIN: Oh, yes. I believe so.
PINSKY: So the victims become the victimizers. Remember that. Thank you so much for joining us. I really do appreciate it, Dawn.
BOLDRIN: Thank you.
PINSKY: Next, do you tweet your every move, telling strangers or maybe even stalkers where you are? We have got a model`s cautionary tale, coming up.
And later, the ugly side of a beauty queen`s life, addiction. Former Miss USA Tara Conner is here. Plus, Donald Trump will weigh in. Stay with us.
PINSKY: Claudia Jordan went from celebrity to victim. The former "Deal or no Deal" model and "Celebrity Apprentice" contestant was hunted down by a stranger. She told police, quote, "I`m scared for my life."
Claudia says the man sent her terrifying letters, left threatening voicemails, and would even show up outside of events she was hosting, all because she revealed her whereabouts on Twitter. We`ll be talking to Claudia about her ordeal in just a bit. But first let`s get to some of your questions. We got Mary on Facebook who writes, "is it ever a good idea to try to reason with a stalker?"
You know, I hate to use always a never in a response to everything, because she is asking is it ever a good idea. But fundamentally, it`s important to understand that stalkers are not in a rational place. It`s a disorder. And their thinking is part of the problem. And you`re not going to reason your way out of that mindset when they are in such a disordered place. It`s almost like trying to take a paranoid person and reason them out of their paranoia. No. There`s a brain mechanism, emotional mechanism, that`s triggering this, and it`s not a reasoning place.
Let`s go to the phones now. I`ve got Diana in California. Diana, go ahead.
CALLER: Hi, Dr. Drew. I just want to make a quick comment on why I think people would want to stalk one another. I believe that people generally want to be loved and connect to others. It`s kind of hard to believe on our earth that we inhabit, so many people, yet so many people really truly make human connections with one another. I think it`s human nature to want to. So many are reaching out, and yet we rarely connect with one another. And I think that`s how some of these problems manifest.
PINSKY: Yes. I wish it were just that simple, as sort of let`s call it loneliness. It`s something a bit more complicated than that. And that is, you know, there`s different kinds of stalking too. There`s psychotic stalking, where people actually -- I had my own, I`ll talk about it in an upcoming segment -- I actually had a psychotic stalker coming after me who was in a disturbed state and threatened my family. That is not somebody you can come around or be around. That is not really about wanting love. That is a paranoid psychotic state. Sometimes it`s caused by medication. Sometimes by schizophrenia. Sometimes by drug abuse.
But the person, the typical -- more typical kind of stalking behavior is someone believes they have some sort of special connection with somebody. When you think about love addiction, it`s a sort of a way of constructing an understanding of how people get obsessed with one another. They believe that that person is someone special, that they understand in a special way, and they have a special connection with them.
It`s a fantasy. And they attach themselves to that fantasy, and they can`t get themselves out of it. And in its most severe state, it leads to stalking behaviors.
Finally, Andrea writes, "I`ve had a stalker I believe was driven by obsession. What could cause someone to want to be so attached to me? He`s only known me for two months."
This is that phenomenon I`m talking about. Either it is the psychotic stalking phenomenon, which is something that is very, very dangerous and really should get restraining orders and contact your local authorities. Or it is that sort of love addiction phenomenon. If this is a young person I`m talking to here on that last post, sometimes these things rapidly develop. Sometimes they kind of drive their car by your house and they can be sort of a normalish adolescent preoccupation that some people go through and get out of. It depends how severe it gets, but it can get dangerous. Take it seriously.
Now, when is the last time you posted pictures of your family or your home on your Facebook page? When is the last time that you tweeted your location? When you do, you could be putting yourself at risk. Next, we`ll talk with a celebrity who was threatened and harassed all because of a few what seemed to her to be harmless tweets.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (voice-over): Claudia Jordan, terrified after saying no deal to a stalker`s extortion. How did he find her? A little birdie told him. How unwise updates and perilous posts put you in danger.
And later, former Miss USA, Tara Conner, always beautiful on the outside, seldom at peace inside. Her story of losing it all and getting back more than she could have imagined.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (on-camera): In today`s world, we are completely interconnected. At any moment, we can instantly reach out to anyone on our computers and phones. It`s just -- I sound like father time sitting here talking about this. It`s wild, I`ll tell you. And with Facebook and Twitter, we can tell people what we are doing and whom we are with. It`s become a great way for some celebrities to reach out to their fans and interact, but it`s also been a great way for fanatics to stalk celebrities.
Claudia Jordan, former "Deal or No Deal" model and contestant on NBC`s "Celebrity Rehab" -- excuse me, "Celebrity Apprentice." Wow!
PINSKY: Was cyber talked to a man who took it to the next level. At their first meeting, he seemed innocent enough, but then, their meetings became hostile. And it was easy for him to find her because she was innocently tweeting where she was. Joining me now is Claudia Jordan and Rhonda Saunders. She is an LA prosecutor who has helped enact California`s anti-stalking laws. Claudia, how did you first meet this guy? I`m assuming it`s a guy.
CLAUDIA JORDAN, MODEL, SAYS SHE WAS STALKED: It`s a guy.
PINSKY: It`s a guy. Yes.
JORDAN: And I was at an event that I was hosting. It was just, you know, a party in Hollywood, and this man approached me. He had a suit on, he`s clean cut. He told me that we had a mutual friend in the business that I know and respected. And, he said that, you know, he worked with this guy. He`s a family member, and --
PINSKY: Did you think he was stalking at that point? Or did he become a stalker because of the contact with you? Because, guys, sometimes, that`s how it works. They feel a special connection.
JORDAN: I felt a little bit like he may have been a little weird. I was a little apprehensive to give him my number, but I did anyway, and I definitely regret it, because a lot of my friends say, you`re too nice to people and they think that, you know, they have this connection with you.
JORDAN: So, within a week, he started showing up to other events that I was attending, but never inside, just the parking garage, the alley.
PINSKY: Oh, scary, right?
PINSKY: And he became threatening, right?
JORDAN: Yes, but that was recently.
PINSKY: I actually have a voicemail that this man left of some of his threatening -- let`s listen to it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come talk to me on a real level. You are so suspicious. You call the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) police. $25,000 from other girls. Give me $25,000 and I`ll leave you the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) alone. You`re playing with the wrong (EXPLETIVE DELETED) man.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: I mean, wow!
JORDAN: Yes, stalking, and now, he is trying to extort me for money to leave him alone. And it`s like, one day, I love you, then I hate you. Then, I mean, every name in the book he`s called me, but then, he also says, you know, he`s a descendant of King Tut and I`m Cleopatra, and we`re destined to be. Then he said, the aroma of my blood draws him to me. How could he can`t help it?
PINSKY: Rhonda, I see you shuttering over there. It`s pretty scary stuff.
RHONDA SAUNDERS, LA PROSECUTOR, AUTHOR: It`s very scary stuff, and it`s so typical of someone who`s separating from what we call erotomania. And the problem with the people, the stalkers, who are erotomanic, they focus on the celebrity, and the celebrities are so easy to find nowadays with Twitter and with YouTube. And they believe that there is a connection. That it`s ordained somewhere that they`d be together. That they have this relationship.
PINSKY: And to have to have some contact first for it really to flare, right? Is that typically how it works?
SAUNDERS: Not necessarily, because --
PINSKY: Is Twitter enough of a connection these days? Is that enough to cause it a flare --
SAUNDERS: Maybe nowadays.
SAUNDERS: But think back to Rebecca Schaeffer and Robert Bardo. And Rebecca Schaeffer was the young actress who was on "My Sister Sam" back in the late 1980s, and Robert Bardo fixated on her. She was on TV. He saw her every week and believed that there was this connection. And he came to California specifically to kill her, to save her, as he said to his sister.
PINSKY: Rhonda, you told me something off air, because I was describing the stalker that came after me, and he actually starting threatening online my children, and it`s when my wife stepped in. She had a detective next to him, and she called him into her office and said, read this. She goes, no, look. I`m not afraid to die. You need to do something about this guy or I`m going to.
And God bless you, Susan, that`s what really sprung them into action. They were very good. They took it very, very seriously. It is something that doesn`t just happen to celebrities, though, is it?
SAUNDERS: No. I think 3.4 million people a year are stalked in the United States. That came out of the Department of Justice. The majority of those people who are being stalked are everyday people, domestic violence victims on campus, in the workplace. But, when a celebrity is stalked, that`s what makes the media. So, that`s why it appears that stalkers only focus on celebrities, but everybody has to take it seriously.
PINSKY: Well, as you say, it`s not just celebrities. And anyone who has access to social media and posts their activities can become a victim. Here are some statistics to prove it. According to the justice department, one out of every 12 women has been stalked at some time in their lives. That`s amazing. I`m going to call my daughter right after the show.
Tens of hundreds -- is that right? Tens of hundreds of thousands have been cyber stalked in the past year alone. Wow! That`s quite a number. Now, Rhonda, you said it`s not just celebrity. Are there anything else that sort of typifies that relationship that ends up in stalking?
SAUNDERS: Well, with erotomania when it involves celebrities, the people who are most in danger, as you mentioned, can be children, a spouse, somebody close to the celebrity.
PINSKY: That they need to get out of the way to get to the celebrity.
SAUNDERS: Exactly. It`s an obstacle that needs to be removed.
PINSKY: Claudia, did you ever have any of that? Was he threatening anybody around you to get at you?
JORDAN: Well, he followed some of my other friends on Twitter as well. And he showed up to a friend of mine when he was going to get his haircut and made him take a picture of him and he said, send this to Claudia. I love her, and she doesn`t understand. I really want to be with her. And, you know, that`s scary, because I would feel awful if something happened to one of my friends that are just, you know, just guilty of being my friend.
PINSKY: Imagine if you have children. I mean, the thought of this is huge.
JORDAN: It`s very scary, because, every day, there`s like a mean message, a threatening message, and it`s like -- it`s very sad. I spent all morning today crying, you know what I mean? And I had nightmares about it, about being killed.
PINSKY: Has he been prosecuted?
JORDAN: No. He just got arrested. Like, he`s in jail right now, and he, you know, he goes to court tomorrow.
PINSKY: The law takes it rather seriously, though, don`t they?
SAUNDERS: Absolutely, because we`ve seen that stalking can lead to rape. It can lead to murder. We`ve seen it over and over again. So, we have to take it seriously, but, we need more information. We need more training out there, because you were fortunate to get to someone who understood what stalking is. I get calls all the time from people who are being stalked. The police are not taking it seriously. Prosecutors are not taking it seriously. They just don`t understand the law.
PINSKY: It seems like in Los Angeles, we take it a little more seriously, because it does happen here a lot, and it happens in a high profile way. No one wants to look bad, you know, in the legal system.
JORDAN: I was lucky enough that he was stupid enough to leave so much evidence. I have like nine messages on my voicemail. My voicemail is full right now. And, probably about 60 text messages in the past two weeks.
JORDAN: And he`s showed up at events, and my friends --
PINSKY: Do you understand how serious this is? I get a sense that you -- I get a little sense that you don`t understand how close you cut to the bone here.
JORDAN: No, no. I`ve already cried all morning.
JORDAN: I`ve had chills. I have a butcher knife hanging from underneath my bed. I don`t stay at my house every night. No, no. It`s definitely -- I just don`t want to cry again on another show.
PINSKY: Well, I don`t want to make you cry. I make too many people cry on my shows. Rhonda, we got less than a minute left. So, what do you think is going to happen to this guy and what is your advice for Claudia?
SAUNDERS: Well, I mean, I can`t comment on an ongoing case, but for stalking victims in general, you need to document as much as you can, because you need to help the prosecution and the police.
PINSKY: I think they`ll get this guy. I think they will.
SAUNDERS: Every time he calls or shows up, the other thing you can do is, if he does show up somewhere, look around and see if there`s anyone else standing around, because that -- those are potential witnesses for us. And you need to be very careful of your own security. I mean, look over your shoulder. I hate to tell you that, but these things can escalate, and we don`t want another Rebecca Schafer incident.
PINSKY: Last question, Claudia. Do you still Twitter where you are and that sort of thing?
JORDAN: I don`t do it like before. Like, before --
PINSKY: Don`t do it at all!
JORDAN: I don`t say, like, I`m on my way --
PINSKY: I hate certain things about Twitter. This is one of them.
JORDAN: The nature of what I do, like, if I`m hosting an event and we`re trying to get people there, and we have to promote that we`re going to be there, but now, I just do it when I`m there or when I`m leaving or after I left. I definitely am not as, you know, open about as I used to be, and I`m definitely cutting back on all of that.
PINSKY: All right. Good. Thank you, ladies. Interesting conversation.
Coming up, former Ms. USA Tara Conner reveals new details to us about her struggles with drug and alcohol and how she got her life back on track and into recovery. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TARA CONNER, FORMER MISS USA: I want to apologize to my family if I have put any disgrace upon you. But know that thank God, thank God, I had the chance to make it right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Former Miss USA, Tara Conner, had a tough choice, either give up drugs and alcohol and get into recovery or give up the crown. Fortunately, she made a healthy choice. With the help of Donald Trump, co- owner of the Miss USA organization, Tara gave up drugs and alcohol and is now deeply involved in her own recovery. She did so to keep her crown. Take a look at this.
DONALD TRUMP, BUSINESS TYCOON: You`re fired.
PINSKY (voice-over): That famous phrase nobody wants to hear from the man nobody wants to anger. Former Miss USA, Tara Conner, almost heard it up close.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If she makes even the slightest mistake from here on, she will be immediately replaced.
PINSKY: It was December 2006 and the newly minted Miss USA was caught in a scandal. Conner`s dazzling squeaky clean image was starting to crack. Reports of underage drinking, wild parties, racy photos, and the bombshell, the seemingly wholesome 20-year-old tested positive for drug use, including cocaine. Her short ride to the top looked like it might end with a long fall to the bottom, and denial did not help.
CONNER: I wouldn`t say that I`m an alcoholic. I think that that would be pushing the envelope.
PINSKY: But there was a light at the end of Tara`s tunnel.
TRUMP: She`s agreed to go into rehab.
PINSKY: It was the unwelcome light that exposed her dark side. Burning at first, but ultimately setting her free. No more secrets, no more lies, and no need to hide. Now, Tara`s tiara pales in comparison to the beauty she feels on the inside.
PINSKY (on-camera): Quite a story, and Tara Conner is my guest tonight. Thank you so much for being here.
CONNER: Thank you for having me.
PINSKY: She is currently on the cover of this month`s "Renew" magazine where she talks at length about the scandal that almost stripped her of her Miss USA title. So, let`s tell people the story. You started when you were 14, which is a common deal. That`s when most using begins.
CONNER: Yes. Yes. I started using around 14. I think that, basically, I just had a lot of life happen all at once. My parents were going through a divorce. And it was, you know, push and pull between the two of them. And my grandfather passed away. And I felt like he basically raised me. So, I lost someone very special to me.
PINSKY: It`s sort of a typical story I hear. You were in pain, and you were looking for a solution to that pain.
CONNER: Yes. I mean, I had so many doctors prescribe me anti- depressants. Oh, she is just depressed. Oh, she has OCD, anxiety depression, and I got sober and all that went out the door.
PINSKY: It`s funny how that works.
CONNER: Yes, it`s amazing. But, yes, I was on cheerleading trip once, and you know, makes my first drink, which was vodka and orange juice, and it was on.
PINSKY: You sort of reacted when we were watching the footage with Donald Trump being kind of thinking that he was being tough love. What was your response to all of that?
CONNER: You know, I think at the time, I was just so relieved because I didn`t have to hide my secrets anymore. There was a thousand pounds of pressure just lifted from my shoulders. And, you know, it could have went either way. If I would have lost the title, I would have been a 100 percent fine with that.
If I would have kept the title, I would have been fine with that as well, because there`s something about touching the bottom, like, when you hit rock bottom, you can touch the ground and there`s nowhere else to go but up. So, it was great.
PINSKY: It`s sort of a sense of relief and gratitude.
CONNER: Oh, yes.
PINSKY: Well, after Tara did test positive for cocaine, Donald Trump kept everyone in suspense, called a press conference to reveal if he was going to take the crown away or not. Take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I`ve always been a believer in second chances. Tara is a good person. Tara has tried hard. Tara is going to be given a second chance.
CONNER: And no, I did not think that it would be possible for a second chance to be given to me. I`ve had a very big blessing bestowed upon me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: So, Tara, what was the moment like when you realized you were going to keep your title?
CONNER: You know, it was pretty interesting, because I literally tried to prove so many people wrong my entire life, that finally I had proven everyone right. And I just didn`t think that it was going go that way. But when he brought me up to his office that morning, I didn`t know if I was going to keep it or if I was going to lose it, and I still had my manipulation skills in tow.
CONNER: And he asked me. He was like, what am I supposed to do about this situation? And I was like, you know, it would say far more about the organization and far more about your character if you gave me the opportunity to turn it around, and so, he did. He was like, second chance. You`re right.
PINSKY: That`s a pretty good feather in your cap. I manipulated Donald Trump,
CONNER: You know, I hate to say it, but it`s the truth. That`s one of the great skills that you acquire as an alcoholic. You always have to protect yourself. And, now, I know that you can`t really protect your face and your rear end at the same time. So, I just try to keep it honest.
PINSKY: Right. I mean, rigorous honesty is what`s necessary to stay sober.
PINSKY: Take us back to when this thing first broke. My understanding, it was your roommate or something that outed you?
CONNER: Yes. It was Miss Teen USA at the time, Katie Blair. She and I had a little drunken argument. And, she was like I`m going to tell the president of the organization everything I know about you. And I was like, OK, you know, because I really didn`t think that she would, but she did. Now, do I think she did it out of the goodness of her heart? (INAUDIBLE)
PINSKY: Oh, you mean, she was actually trying to help you by outing you?
CONNER: Oh, yes, sure.
PINSKY: OK. Got it.
CONNER: But, you know, if she didn`t, at the end of the day --
PINSKY: It did help you.
CONNER: If it weren`t for her, I don`t know where I would be right now. So, I`m extremely grateful. She is still in my life every now and then. You know, she`s like that sister of mine. We have a very strange relationship, but you know, she benefits from having me in her life, and she gives me a lot of great practice.
PINSKY: She`s your co-dependent?
CONNER: Oh, yes.
PINSKY: OK. I think people want to know whether or not your drug use intensified after getting the crown. Did things flare up a little bit?
CONNER: You know, I don`t think it did. I think that it was little harder for me to acquire the drugs that I regularly used when I was in Kentucky, because I did opiates. I did OxyContin and Vicodin --
PINSKY: Prescription stuff.
CONNER: Prescription stuff. Yes.
PINSKY: Did you get doctors to prescribe it?
CONNER: I did. And funny story. When I went into rehab, I was completely willing to get sober, but they say the disease is coming back powerful (ph). On my wrist band, they say, what you`re allergic to? I told them I was allergic to codeine, because when I would go to the dentist, I would say, oh, I`m allergic to codeine so that they wouldn`t give me a Tylenol 3, they would have to give me a Vicodin or Percocet. So, I still had drug-seeking behavior, even though, in my mind, I had no intentions to use or drink ever again.
PINSKY: People look back years into sobriety and see how their thinking got them into strange places even in sobriety.
CONNER: Oh, yes.
PINSKY: Now, we reached out to Donald Trump for a statement on Tara, and he sent us the following. He says, "Tara has done a remarkable job with a difficult situation. She stands to be a good example to others who may be struggling. I`m proud of the way she`s handling herself and expect great things from her." What do you think about that?
CONNER: That`s very sweet. Very, very nice. I know that he`s always been a really big supporter of mine, and he calls me his little superstar. And, you know, he`s just always been a really, really good guy. So --
PINSKY: Have you been able to educate him at all about sobriety? It seems like he doesn`t really get it.
CONNER: I think that he knows some things about sobriety, but I don`t really think that -- like a lot of people, there`s a lot of ignorance that comes around the disease. People just don`t know about it. So, I haven`t been able to have that sit-down conversation with him. And, when I got out of rehab, it wasn`t like, let`s all have this family conversation. It was like, oh, let`s put Tara on "The Today Show" and make her humiliate herself in front of everyone, you know?
So, it wasn`t a situation where I could just feel (ph) like, all right, let`s all grow together as a family, because they`re like, we`re getting rid of her in three months. It`s fine.
PINSKY: And plus, it takes people to realize, it takes many, many months to get securely involved in sobriety. I was sharing with Tara off the air that, I think, I first met you three months into sobriety or something.
PINSKY: And my take was, oh, this girl was not in. She`s going through the motions, but she`s not in yet. And, now, obviously, you`re completely in. It takes what it takes. It takes a while to get there.
CONNER: Well, I didn`t have the opportunity to secure a foundation either. I wasn`t able to go to 12-step meetings the way that I would have liked to it. I wasn`t able to create a foundation with strong people around me because I was so busy doing other things that --
PINSKY: That`s usually where most celebrities get taken down, but you`re very fortunate that you didn`t go out again. That speaks highly about your recovery and about maybe the support system you had around you. Very, very fortunate.
PINSKY: Now, coming up, Tara talks addiction to young girls. Would you want your daughter in on that conversation? I hope so. Stay with us.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK )
PINSKY: Welcome back, and we`re talking with former Miss USA, Tara Conner, about how she almost lost her crown due to problems with addiction and how she overcame those struggles with sobriety. Tara, I understand you`re traveling around the country talking to young girls about addiction and recovery.
CONNER: I am. I am actually the public advocacy consultant for the Care and Treatment Center, which was the rehab facility that I attended during my reign.
PINSKY: Great way to give back. Yes. That`s great.
CONNER: It`s wonderful. And it`s a great opportunity. And I found that one of the best experiences that I had or one of the first experiences I had with being of service was sitting down with some young adolescent girls while I was in treatment. And I was just very honest while I was in there, you know? I went through several different things that a lot of girls go through. I was raped while I was under the (INAUDIBLE)
PINSKY: Part of the recovery process.
CONNER: Oh, yes, which I think if you don`t attend some form of a 12- step program, then --
PINSKY: Well, it`s what works.
PINSKY: And people want to find easier, kinder different ways, and I`m offering, looking to --
CONNER: Sure. They research.
PINSKY: I mean, people in my field doing the research. I don`t recommend addicts doing researches. Research usually means more OxyContin.
CONNER: Yes. Which sometimes can be beneficial if they haven`t hit rock bottom yet.
PINSKY: And this is the part people don`t understand. You have -- I understand also you have started a band with your boyfriend. Can you tell me about that?
CONNER: I did. I`ve been writing music. I found a new niche through therapeutic writing, I guess, you`d say. And I love writing music, and I love singing. And I`ve done it my entire life. And so, he`s been in a few bands. And his name is Brandon Belsky and our other band member is Alex Seier, and we started a band called Jamestown Avenue.
It`s kind of country rock. It`s pretty cool. We`re very much in the beginning stages, but we`ve been playing shows and getting a great response.
PINSKY: It`s great. Congratulation. A very flourishing recovery. Thank you.
CONNER: Yes. Thank you.
PINSKY: Well done. You`re an inspiration as so many people are in this program.
CONNER: Thank you.
PINSKY: All right. Now, a few words before we go. I`m going to switch gears and talk about Lawrence King, something we discussed much earlier in the show, and perhaps, how people react to people that are different. Now, California`s ban on same-sex marriage is back in court. Proposition Eight forbids the unions. Now, what`s going on with the California Supreme Court is complex, complex legally, and in other ways, I`m not going to get into that here.
I`ve just got less than a minute left, but what I do want to mention is this. Laws can be far more than words on paper. They shape and impact our culture, our beliefs, and can affect how we treat one another. And how we do so, how we treat each other, is a currency that should not be devalued. We`d all be well-served to pay attention to what`s going on in this latest round regarding Proposition Eight, because, remember, next time you could be the target of someone attempt to restrict a minority right.
It`s not what the founding fathers intended, and the story earlier in the show about that poor young student is not a direct example, but it certainly brings up the issue of the impact of how our laws and culture result in behaviors and how we treat each other, and that is a -- I think we all agree -- a horrible, horrible inexcusable tragedy. Thanks for watching. See you next time.