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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Jerry Sandusky Trial Continues; Truth in Campaigning?
Aired June 12, 2012 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. It's 10:00 here on the East Coast.
We begin tonight "Keeping Them Honest" with the troubling new indication of just how hard American families have been slammed by the economy. A new study just released by the Federal Reserve paints a grim picture in numbers. The most stunning revelation from the study is that between 2007 and 2010, the average American family's net worth dropped by almost 40 percent.
Our focus tonight, though, is how that fact has been portrayed today in the presidential race.
On FOX News this morning, Mitt Romney was asked about the Fed study, particularly the drop in Americans' median net worth. Here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I knew that that's why the American people are having such a hard time. That's why where -- the idea of selecting as a campaign slogan "Forward" is so absurd. People are having hard times in this country. And the president needs to go out and talk to people, not just do fund- raisers. Go out and talk to people in the country and find out what's happening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, Mitt Romney certainly seems to be placing the blame on President Obama. Now, there's no doubt that a nearly 40 percent drop in median net worth over three years is terrible.
But what's lost in the Romney comments is the fact that the three years we're talking about, the three years the Federal Reserve study looked at, are from 2007 to 2010. President Obama didn't take office until 2009.
So President Obama and his supporters, say, well, you can't simply blame him. You have to look at the situation that he inherited. Now, you can agree with that or disagree. But in case you think I'm simply siding with President Obama here in this tit-for-tat, let me also point that out President Obama seems guilty of similar tactics in recent attacks on Romney.
In a new campaign ad, President Obama zings Governor Romney for some bad economic stats in Massachusetts, some of which can also be blamed on, well, you guessed it, the economic situation he was handed when Romney took office.
Keeping them both honest on both sides, here's Tom Foreman.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, let's look at those numbers because that really is the key to all this.
If you ignored who the candidates were, and you said what does it really tell us, look, here's the 2010 figure, $77,300, according to that study of the median family worth, and by comparison to what was before in 2007 under George Bush $126,400, if you just look at those two numbers, this looks huge. It looks obviously like things were much better here than here.
But the key is you have to go beyond that and you have to look at what's happening beyond it, which is the question of this. What were we losing money on? The simple truth is, we lost money on our jobs because a lot of people weren't making the money they expected to make.
We lost money on our savings because people weren't expecting that either. But the big loser, and this is the key to all of this, the big loser is over here in the question of savings -- or in the question of homeownership. Right there, that's where the big, big, precipitous fall came in terms of what people were owning and where they lost all of their family value.
And look at this chart when that happened. If you look at U.S. home prices, the number one driving force in changing that change in value of net value, median home value, happened right in here. President Obama didn't take office until about here. So, you can see this gigantic climb in home values, huge fall off the cliff. He wasn't in office until here.
So you're absolutely right. To suggest that somehow it's his policies that led the way to all of this is simply not true. The numbers say that's not the case.
COOPER: Mitt Romney certainly is saying also that President Obama hasn't done enough to help get home prices back up, get people out of the water, not fast enough.
We mentioned though, Tom, in this intro a second ago that the Obama campaign's now going over Governor Romney's Massachusetts record using kind of the same criteria they're crying foul against, no?
FOREMAN: Absolutely. And you're right. Republicans have a fair complaint to say that maybe the president should have stopped this sooner. He should have turned it around sooner. He should be doing more now. That's an absolutely valid complaint.
But on the other side, the Democrats are now coming back at the Republicans with the same tactics. They're saying president -- Romney, the figure they love to cite over and over again is that he created fewer jobs than he was governor than almost any other governor in the country.
They're absolutely right about that, but what they're not bearing in mind, when you look at this increase from his time when he was in office to here, that's a very, very small, like 1 percent gain in terms of jobs in his state. What they're not counting is the nature of the economy in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts was also hit by a huge recession right before he took office, one that hammered technology companies. And Massachusetts has a lot of them. So the simple truth is both sides are using the same trick on each other. There may be more or less blame either way, but it's the same trick. And it's equally unfair on both sides, Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Tom, appreciate that.
Joining me now to get into the "Raw Politics," Romney adviser and Republican strategist Kevin Madden, Democratic strategist and Obama 2012 pollster Cornell Belcher.
So, Kevin, Governor Romney knows the president isn't responsible for the 40 percent drop in net worth. But would someone who heard the answer he gave this morning be able to tell that?
KEVIN MADDEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think that the governor is talking more about the divide right now between the president's posture on the economy, some of the rhetoric that he's using, and the real -- the perceptions I think and the realities that Americans are feeling every single day in this economy.
The president's talked about that we're making progress and that the private sector's doing fine. But people are feeling very real anxieties about everything, like Tom said, about housing prices and the amount of savings that they have, and as well as the rising costs that they're seeing, whether it's at the gas pump or whether it's for food prices or everything from health care costs, energy costs, to education costs, higher education costs. All of those are rising right now, and that the president's policies right now haven't done enough to get us out of the economic doldrums that we have seen over last four years.
MADDEN: And that's the reason that we're having this election is that we're putting a contest right now of our vision for the future and how to fix the economy against President Obama's and his policies and his record over the last three-and-a-half years.
COOPER: Just for the record, gas prices have been falling.
MADDEN: They're still very high, though. They're still very high.
(CROSSTALK) COOPER: Right.
The Obama campaign, Cornell, is saying that people should look at the upward trend of job creation under President Obama, and take into account the dire economic situation he inherited. If that's true, shouldn't the Obama campaign do the exact same thing for judging Mitt Romney's record as governor of Massachusetts?
CORNELL BELCHER, OBAMA CAMPAIGN POLLSTER: I think when we judge Mitt Romney's record in Massachusetts, you have to look at what, in fact, he did in Massachusetts. You know, the same sort of policies he put in place in Massachusetts is the same sort of policies he is trying to talk about putting in place right now, which is, again, doubling down on giving massive tax breaks to very wealthy individuals, while raising taxes and fees on middle-class families and slashing public sector jobs.
Look, over the last 16 months, we have had positive job growth in the private sector, but for last 16 months, we have lost jobs of teachers and first-responders and firemen. Those are middle-class jobs that count also. So, you know, tactics aside, it's about the policies that Mitt Romney would implement if he were president, the same sort of policies of giving breaks to the wealthy while struggling middle-class families get the short shaft and get higher fees.
COOPER: Well, Kevin, let me ask you about something Cornell referenced. The Obama campaign has jumped on those comments that Mitt Romney made, saying he wants, according to the Obama campaign, fire police, firefighters and teachers to cut government even smaller.
Romney's team is now saying, well, look, Romney was taken out of context. I just want to play for our viewers what exactly he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: He says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It's time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Isn't the implication there we don't need more firemen, police or teachers and to cut government, that's where you would fire?
MADDEN: No, the implication is that we have very different world views on how we help spur economic growth. I think Governor Romney's made very clear that what we need to do is put more faith back in the American people, allow businesses both big and small to grow.
COOPER: But he's saying cut government...
(CROSSTALK) COOPER: He's talking about cutting government and he's citing teachers -- but he's citing teachers, firemen and police, which rarely candidates do.
MADDEN: President Obama's world view is that we help spur the economic growth by putting federal taxpayer dollars into growing the size of government and hiring more government workers.
Now, the big problem here is that in order to get the local tax base -- that's the other thing to remember too is that localities, local city governments and states, they're the ones that hire first- responders. They're the ones that are primarily responsible for education funding.
So, what happens is we're not going to have a federal government write a check. What happens when those -- when that money is gone? If you have a one-time hit, what happens when you don't have a local economic growth?
MADDEN: If you don't have the growth in the local economic base, you can't sustain teachers, firemen and police officers. So, what you have to do is grow the economic base.
COOPER: But doesn't it sound like Romney is saying we don't need more teachers, firemen or policemen and we got to cut government? Is he saying to cut -- to fire some?
MADDEN: No, no. I think he's saying that when we're looking at growing the economy, the most important thing to do is grow the private sector, because when you have a very -- a robust private sector, then you can sustain the jobs of firemen, teachers and policemen.
MADDEN: And, look, that's an important point that Governor Walker even made.
COOPER: Cornell, is that you think what Romney was saying?
BELCHER: Look, I think what you see is two very different visions, in all due respect to the other side on this.
You see one vision where you see President Obama saying, you know what, we have got to invest in those things that sort of help empower the middle class. The idea that we're going to cut teachers and police officers and somehow that's going to lead to a more prosperous and stronger and safer future for Americans, you have to scratch your head.
I mean, you know, what kind of thought process is it that, if I cut back on teachers, I have less kids getting, you know, into college, and I cut back on first-responders, somehow that's going to help our country grow and be successful?
I mean, I just -- you know, with all due respect, you have two very different visions, one about investing in those things that help the middle class grow and one about sort of cutting away those things that help the middle class grow in order to profit the very wealthy.
COOPER: All right, Kevin, appreciate it, Cornell as well.
Let us know what you think. Send me a tweet @AndersonCooper. I'm using Twitter during commercial breaks. I will be on it.
A stunning day in the Jerry Sandusky trial, prosecutors calling two of their most powerful witnesses to the stand, jurors hearing from the accuser whose allegations launched this entire criminal investigation, the first accuser, and also from the Penn State coach who claims that he actually caught Sandusky in the act. We have a live report from the courthouse.
Plus, the latest on the deadly and fast-moving wildfire in Colorado. Chad Myers tells us why firefighters could face an even tougher battle tomorrow next.
COOPER: In "Crime & Punishment" tonight: graphic, emotional testimony today in the Jerry Sandusky trial coming from two of the prosecution's star witnesses.
Now, it started with the now 18-year-old accuser whose allegations first triggered this entire criminal investigation against the Penn State assistant coach.
In court documents, he's known as victim number one. We will call him accuser number one. He's described meeting Sandusky when he was just 11 years old and detailed how their contact escalated from kissing to repeated sexual assault. Jurors also heard from Mike McQueary. The former member of the coaching staff of Penn State says he witnessed Sandusky in the middle of a sexual act with a young boy in the team's locker room.
Now, there are also new questions about school officials knew about Sandusky. Prosecutors allege that former Penn State vice president Gary Schultz, who's facing perjury charges in the case, withheld information during the investigation.
I want to bring in our national correspondent, Jason Carroll, who's covering the trial, also CNN contributor Sara Ganim, a reporter with "The Patriot News" who has won a Pulitzer Prize for her coverage of the Sandusky scandal. Both were in the court today. Also joining us in New York, former federal prosecutor Jeffrey Toobin.
So, Jason, one of the most powerful witnesses was accuser number one. What about his testimony? What did you hear today?
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, based on the courtroom reaction, Anderson, it was extremely compelling. This is an 18-year-old young man. When he walked into the courtroom, he looked vulnerable. Quite frankly, he looked scared. And when he sat down and began to testify, he really became emotional when he described the abuse which he says began in 2005 at the hands of Jerry Sandusky mostly occurring in the basement of Sandusky's home.
Anderson, he said it always began the same way, started with a back-rub. He went on to say -- quote -- "After rubbing and cracking my back, putting his hands down my shorts and blowing on my stomach, he -- he had" -- and then he paused for a moment. Then he broke down and began crying.
And before he could finish, he looked directly at Jerry Sandusky who was sitting in the front of the courtroom. Jerry Sandusky looked at him. And then he went on to say, he put his mouth on my privates.
And at that moment, I looked at the jurors who were sitting over to my left. Juror number nine, she's an elderly woman in her 70s. She's a bus driver. And if you will recall, during jury selection, she was one of those who said, I feel as though it's my duty to protect children. She had her hand over her mouth during this testimony. So it clearly had a major impact on her.
COOPER: Sara, the Sandusky defense attorney, Joe Amendola, really pressed accuser number one, inconsistencies in his grand jury testimony. How did he handle that?
SARA GANIM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Honestly, Anderson, he broke down at one point and looked directly at the prosecutor and asked him for help. He say, please make him stop asking me the same question.
You know, it was interesting, because during cross-examination, Joe Amendola was really harping on the fact that his story had changed slightly. And the accuser number one said on the stand -- he was quite honest, I thought, with jurors -- he said, look, I testified three times before a grand jury. I told my story to multiple police officers. And every time, it was someone new. And I didn't feel comfortable with someone new. And so I was embarrassed and I was holding back. And he said, but I'm here today telling the truth.
And Joe Amendola kept coming back at him and coming back at him with the same question. And he just broke down at one point. You know, he's 18 years old. And he looked at the prosecutor. He got no help. He gathered himself and he answered the question one more time. And then they moved on.
COOPER: Jeffrey, you have in courtrooms. How does that play to a jury? Is pressing a witness about apparent inconsistencies, is that a winning strategy?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Often, it is. In this case, I doubt it.
Given the magnitude of these charges, given the number of accusers, given how embarrassing the information is, it would not be surprising if an 18-year-old kid told the story somewhat differently. Look, Amendola is doing his job. I don't begrudge him that.
But think about how horrible this testimony is. And Mike McQueary -- what's Mike McQueary's incentive to lie here? He looks horrible. He's the one who didn't go to the police when he sees Jerry Sandusky raping this kid. Why would he lie about this? I just -- yes, it's possible that one witness could have a financial motive, as the defense has raised. Yes, it's possible someone could have told inconsistent stories.
But when you have so many witnesses, it just seems overwhelming.
COOPER: Jason, what did McQueary say on the stand today?
CARROLL: Well, Mike McQueary has basically been saying a lot of what we have been hearing all along, which is, basically, he said he went into that locker room during that alleged incident, heard rhythmic sort of slapping sounds, skin-on-skin sound, went into the locker area, turned around, looked through a mirror, and in his reflection, he says he allegedly saw Jerry Sandusky embracing a young boy, the young boy with his hands up against a wall.
And one point that really seemed to grab the jurors' attention was when prosecutors put up a huge video screen and showed actual pictures of the shower and then put mannequins to position exactly where Sandusky was standing and where this young boy was standing.
At a certain point, the defense tried to poke holes into McQueary's story, saying, well, why couldn't you be certain it happened in 2001 or 2002? What sort of specifics were you telling others about this, university officials? But McQueary seemed to stand by his story, saying all along, I know what I saw.
COOPER: And, Sara, what about these allegations of new documents that were released today that alleged that officials at Penn State withheld evidence that was subpoenaed by the grand jury?
GANIM: It was actually part of a response that prosecutors filed because one of those officials, Gary Schultz, is trying to get his charges dropped.
So prosecutors filed this response that said, look, we just obtained these new documents that show more evidence in your case. And they're using it to bolster their case. They're saying that he kept some kind of file. We don't know the contents of the file, only that it was some kind of file about allegations made against Jerry Sandusky.
We know that Gary Schultz, this defendant, is one of the only people that knew about several different allegations because he was the director of the police department. And there had been a report to police in 1998. And then he was also involved in the report that Mike McQueary is involved in.
And, Jason, I understand we just got a response from his attorney.
CARROLL: That's right.
I'm reading it to you right now. It's just come to me here on my BlackBerry. This comes from Tom Farrell. He represents Gary Schultz. He says, to be clear -- quote -- "Mr. Schultz did not possess any secret files. All his files were left behind after he retired and were available to his secretaries and his successor. The only -- quote -- 'secret information' revealed was the privileged grand jury information in inaccurately described by unidentified law enforcement sources to the media," so that statement coming to us just a few moments ago from Tom Farrell, Gary Schultz's attorney -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right.
Jeff, how long do you think this is going to go on for?
TOOBIN: It's going to go a few more weeks. That's a lot of -- he said -- the judge has said he's going to do this quickly, in a couple weeks. But I just find it hard to believe it's going -- you can get that much testimony in that quickly.
COOPER: Do you think Sandusky will take the stand?
TOOBIN: I think it is out of the question. I just don't see how he can possibly respond to all this testimony.
Jason Carroll, appreciate it, Sara Ganim as well, Jeff Toobin. Thank you very much.
Coming up next, a stunning new report levels some incredibly serious allegations against the Syrian government, saying they're specifically targeting children, torturing them, killing them, murdering them, using them even as human shields -- details ahead.
COOPER: George Zimmerman's wife is arrested -- what she is accused of tonight when we continue.
COOPER: Well, for months, we have reported on allegations of torture and murder of children by the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria.
Now a new report by the U.N. documents shocking abuses of kids., really unprecedented attacks on children in this conflict, saying that pro-regime forces have even used children as young as 8 years old as human shields.
Eyewitnesses say children of suspected dissidents are being captured and tortured. I just want to repeat that. Adults who have simply spoken out against the regime have had their children arrested and tortured, beatings, blindfoldings, stress positions, whippings with heavy electric cables, cigarette burns and at least one incident an electrical shock to the genitals. This is on children that we're talking about.
The U.N. peacekeeping chief now calling the conflict an all-out civil war. Pro-regime thugs are also physically preventing monitors from observing a cease-fire, a cease-fire that doesn't even exist. It's in name only. Russia and China have blocked the Security Council from taking any significant action against al-Assad.
Well, today, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accused Russia of sending Damascus helicopters like this one, the video posted on YouTube. The video allegedly shows regime forces firing rockets over northern Aleppo province.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We have confronted the Russians about stopping their continued arms shipments to Syria. They have from time to time said that we shouldn't worry, everything they're shipping is unrelated to their actions internally.
That's patently untrue. And we are concerned about the latest information we have that there are attack helicopters on the way from Russia to Syria, which will escalate the conflict quite dramatically.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, Human Rights Watch is begging the U.N. Security Council to tighten economic sanctions and impose an arms embargo on the Syrian government.
War photographer, photojournalist Robert King spend more than two months under siege in Homs. Last week, we showed you some of his really devastating footage from a makeshift hospital.
Well, Robert King has just made his way out of the country. He joins me from Beirut.
Robert, first of all, I'm so glad you're safe and that you have been able to focus world attention on what's happening inside Syria. The U.N. now has this new report. And they say that the Assad regime is targeting children as young as 9 years old. They're the victims of killings, maimings, arbitrary arrest, detention, torture, children used as human shields, even sexual violence.
We have been documenting. We have seen this for last 15 months. The U.N. special representatives on children and conflict says she's never seen such targeting of children. You have seen it firsthand. You saw children, correct?
ROBERT KING, WAR PHOTOGRAPHER: Yes. It was horrifying. Saw more children than I have seen in 20 years of covering conflicts that have been wounded by this butcher, this regime.
And their only crime is that they're children of the revolution.
COOPER: Have you ever seen that in other places? Have you seen children directly targeted at this level?
KING: No. In fact, it's horrifying. It's -- there's no real words to describe the type of war crimes that are taking place.
Al-Qusayr is just one small city, town in Syria, but may represent what's taking place all across the country.
COOPER: The U.N. peacekeeping chief says Syria is now in full- scale civil war. Do you agree?
KING: I think it's still an ethnic cleansing process. I don't think the FSA, or the Free Syrian Army, have enough weapons to conduct a civil war.
To have a civil war, both sides have to be relatively armed. With light weapons against heavy weapons, I don't think there's any room for reconciliation. I think that line has been crossed. So the next phase of this conflict would be an all-out civil war. Whether it's starting now or a week from now or a month from now, I don't know when that will take place. But it's obvious the country's heading in that direction, if it's not already there.
COOPER: But this is ethnic cleansing to you?
KING: Yes, you know, they're killing the revolutionaries. Then they're going after their children to kill them. The reports of them raping the women. And so you're wiping out two, three generations of people and to me that is -- describes ethnic cleansing.
COOPER: Secretary of State Clinton said today that the U.S. is concerned Russia is shipping attack helicopters to Syria. How would that change the dynamic on the ground? Just the other day, just yesterday we had reports of helicopters being used, which is clearly, if true, an escalation of the conflict. How would helicopters change the dynamic?
KING: Yes, they are using. They're already using helicopters. I've heard from the people of Al-Qusair (ph) yesterday that they were using airplanes.
COOPER: Oftentimes -- I mean, you spent a lot of time there, and you saw a lot of death very up close. You're now out. Sometimes when you leave a conflict zone -- I know you haven't had much time to reflect. But, you know, you have at least a little distance. You probably have a little more sleep than you've had before.
What do you think about now? I mean, what is it like to no longer be there? What stays with you?
KING: Just the stories. The people. There's a bit of survival guilt. A little bit of remorse. And just the friends that I made along the way. And -- I want to continue the relationships that we've built over this time. But I also have to continue and report on what's going on in their country.
COOPER: Would you want to go back to Syria?
KING: Yes, of course. Maybe not to the same town but, you know, I'm not done there. I'm not going to let our colleagues die in vain. I'm not going to be intimidated by this regime. And I'll continue to do my work.
COOPER: Well, Robert, I really appreciate you talking with us. And again, you've taken so many risks to try to get these images out. And I really just -- I thank you for that.
KING: OK, thank you, Anderson, I really thank you.
COOPER: Very brave reporter.
Coming up, a story we've been following for years that keeps getting, well, more intense. A school in Massachusetts that uses electric shocks on its students. Students with severe developmental behavioral problems. Autistic students.
A report from a human rights organization goes into graphic detail with what they say are horrifying claims of what's happening at the school. They call it torture, pure and simple. We'll talk to an attorney for this school when we continue.
COOPER: The fast-moving wildfire in Colorado turning deadly. More fire crews on their way to battle the flames. But will the weather help or hurt their efforts? The latest when we continue.
COOPER: Another "Keeping Them Honest" report tonight on a story we've been covering for years now. It's the story of a school called the Judge Rosenberg Center in Canton, Massachusetts. A school where autistic students and others with severe behavioral and developmental issues are given electrical shocks to try to control their behavior. Sometimes they're strapped down with restraints and shocked.
Now, the school says it's the last refuge for some of these students that no other facility will take. And to be sure, there are parents who stand by the school and say it has saved their children's lives.
There's public outcry over what's going on at the school, the JRC for short. Reached a new level -- the public outcry did -- when a video was released showing the so-called aversive therapy technique the school uses. The school fought to keep the video from getting out. And I want to warn you, it's hard to watch. It shows a then 18- year-old student named Andre McCollins being shocked 31 times over the course of seven hours.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: The video is from 2002. McCollins is no longer at the facility. His family recently settled a lawsuit against the JRC.
Now, as we said, nearly every time we dig into this story, we find new elements to it. We recently uncovered this report from a group called Mental Disability Rights International, a human rights organization that advocates for people with disabilities.
In 2010, the group issued an urgent appeal, saying the severe pain and suffering perpetrated against children and adults with disabilities at JRC violates the U.N. convention against torture. In its report, MDRI quotes former students and teachers from the school. And their accounts suggest the treatment goes far beyond the electrical shocks you just saw.
Some of the treatment is called behavioral research lessons, BRLs. One former student quoted in this report described them like this. Quote, "They try and make you do a bad behavior, and then they punish you. The first time I had a BRL, two guys came in the room and grabbed me. I had no idea what was going on. They held a knife to my throat, and I started to scream and I got shocked. I had BRLs three times a week for stuff I didn't even do. It went on for about six months or more. I was in a constant state of paranoia or fear. I never knew when the door opened is I would get one. It was more stress than I could ever imagine. Horror."
The JRC denied that any student has ever been threatened with violence to elicit an unacceptable behavior. In a moment we're going to hear from the attorney for the school.
Now, the school regularly compares the shocks to a bee sting. But in this report, a former student says it's much worse. Quote, "I got the shocks for swearing, saying no, leaving a supervised area without asking, and even for popping a pimple; any noncompliant behavior. I had one electrode on each arm, one on each leg, and one around my waist. It was the worst pain, like a third-degree burn. They tell people it feels like a bee sting, but they lie."
Also described in the report, systematically withholding food as a form of punishment. The report describes students being deprived of food all day. And then in the evening, in their behavior improves, getting some sort of mashed food sprinkled with liver power.
Here to respond to the report is Michael Flammia, a lawyer for the JRC. Also Dr. Louis Kraus, chief of child and adolescent psychiatry at Roush University Medical Center in Chicago.
Dr. Kraus, as a child psychologist -- psychiatrist, you say treatment like this is tantamount to using cattle prods on autistic children. Aren't there some kids who simply can't be controlled any other way? Or that's what the school officials say. And have been rejected by other schools.
DR. LOUIS KRAUS, CHILD OF CHILD & ADOLESCENT PSYCHIATRY, ROUGH UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: You know, that's ridiculous. As though this is the only school in the country that takes care of very difficult children? There probably isn't a state in our nation that doesn't take care of kids like this. But they don't use these types of aversive treatments.
There are many other treatments that have research basis to them that can be used often in a multidisciplinary-type way. Often bringing in consultants when necessary. But not using aversive therapy.
COOPER: Michael, if -- you're the attorney for the school. If this works, why is no other school in the country -- and we can't find anyone else in the world -- using it?
MICHAEL FLAMMIA, ATTORNEY FOR JRC: The schools that say they don't use it, that treat the tough kids, the very difficult behavior disordered students that they can't treat without the aversives, they come to JRC. They're discharged from those programs, and they're sent to JRC. So JRC is treating the most difficult cases of behavior disorders in the nation. The toughest cases are at JRC.
COOPER: Dr. Kraus, do you buy that?
KRAUS: I don't. I've worked in several residential facilities. I worked at the Illinois state maximum security youth center in Joliet for nine years. I just don't buy it.
Almost every state that I know, child psychiatrists, developmental pediatricians that work in very tough facilities with kids that do really disastrous things. There are other techniques in taking care of them.
Simply because somebody has a "no refusal" policy doesn't mean that they're necessarily taking care of the toughest kids. It means they want to get as many kids as they can.
COOPER: Michael -- sorry, Michael, the thing -- even the toughest prisoners in this country are not allowed to be, you know, strapped to electrodes and have shocks given to them to control their behavior. Even the wildest animals are not systematically shocked. So why is it OK to do this to kids, some of whom who can't even communicate?
FLAMMIA: Well, it's just an absurd comparison.
COOPER: Why is it an absurd comparison?
COOPER: You have prisoners who have violent -- a threat to others. FLAMMIA: Anderson -- Anderson, let me answer your question. You wouldn't perform any treatment on a prisoner if they didn't need it. You wouldn't do dentistry. You wouldn't give them chemotherapy. You wouldn't amputate a limb. You don't give any treatment to a prisoner that doesn't need it. You give treatment to someone who needs a treatment.
The students at JRC, the clients at JRC, they've been tried at all these other programs that the doc was talking about. They were expelled from those programs.
COOPER: What I'm saying is why is it humane to do this to a child when it's not humane to do it to a hardened criminal who is maybe going to kill another prisoner or bash their head against the wall?
FLAMMIA: Why -- why is it humane to just let them bash their heads until they have a stroke? Why is it humane to give them so much antipsychotic medication that they are catatonic? That is inhumane.
COOPER: But Michael, as you know, the allegations -- and we've heard from a former teacher's aide at the school who says it's not just severe behavior. Sometimes it's done to prevent, like with -- you know, severe behavior, you know, noncompliant behavior. If a student gets out of the seat, they can be shocked.
FLAMMIA: It's -- it's false. All of this treatment is approved by the courts. It's approved by the parents. It's approved by physicians. Those are just false statements
COOPER: So Andre McCollins, when he was shocked more than 30 times over the course of seven hours, and strapped down in four-point restraints, that was all priorly approved by the courts?
FLAMMIA: Yes, he had -- he had attacked a staff person earlier that day. He was -- he was struggling with the staff. The staff were doing everything they could to help him.
COOPER: So you're saying he needed to be -- but you're saying he needed to be shocked more than 30 times over the course of seven hours?
FLAMMIA: Well, at the trial, the expert for the plaintiff, Mrs. McCollins, testified that aversives are needed for some people, for the tough behavior disordered cases. Aversives were needed for Andre McCollins.
But his opinion was on that day they should have stopped after five applications. And this was something that happened ten years ago...
COOPER: OK. So that doctor is saying they should have stopped...
(CROSSTALK) COOPER: You just said this stuff is all court approved. No. You're saying this stuff is all court approved and doctor approved. You just talked about somebody who said no, this kid did not need to be shocked 30 times over seven hours.
FLAMMIA: No, this is the plaintiff's expert at the trial. And you're missing the important point, Anderson. Aversives -- he testified, aversives are needed for some tough cases. Aversives were needed for Andre McCollins.
Although on that day with that severe behavioral outbursts, he would have stopped after five applications. And again, this is ten years ago. That's not how JRC would handle it ten years into the future, which is where we are right now.
COOPER: Dr. Kraus, these students, I mean, can be dangerous. Is there a place in the treatment of these type of kids for -- for shocks? I mean, can you imagine any situation where shocks would be valuable?
KRAUS: I cannot imagine any situation where using this type of shock treatment or any type of aversive treatment would be a reasonable approach to help these kids.
When you look over the report, among some of the kids that are accepted into this program, you've got kids with posttraumatic stress disorder. The concept of shocking these kids.
If you look at the practice parameter for the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry on the treatment of children in residential facilities, they're very -- and this just came out. They're very specific about not using aversive treatment. They're very specific on using multidisciplinary approaches. And this -- there's no construct of this occurring.
You know, this is all based on antiquated theory from Skinner that basically has been debunked many years ago. Human beings are much more complicated than simply behavior.
COOPER: Michael, this report from this organization, you say what, that it's -- it's just false?
FLAMMIA: Well, they're -- no, it's a joke. I mean, that agency never told JRC they were doing an investigation. They never came to JRC. They never asked to come to JRC. They only talked to people who are already on the Internet, on record, being against aversives. It wasn't an investigation. The report isn't worth the paper it's written on.
The fact of the matter is I've been representing the school for over 20 years, Anderson. I see these people when they come into the school. They are on so much medication that they can't even open their eyes. They can barely walk. They're drooling on themselves. And they're coming from the institutions that say they can treat these behavior disorders without aversives. Well, guess what? They can. They just sedate them. And these parents want something better for their kids. And they see these kids getting less than one two-second applications a week. And the behaviors are gone. They're in the classroom. They're learning. That is far more humane than what this doctor is talking about.
COOPER: Dr. Kraus, do you agree this might work to control behavior? But it seems like your question is that -- what you're saying is this is just unethical, it's just inappropriate, whether or not it actually can control some behavior.
KRAUS: Yes. There are a couple of issues here. No. 1, aversive treatment at best is painful. At worst it's potentially a torturous process. It is not research based. It's not peer-reviewed.
This type of treatment was used prior to sensory integration modalities with occupational therapy. Prior to different types of medication managements. Prior to more intensive speech and language work. Prior to positive behavioral treatment plans being implemented.
Some would take -- most of my work is with child advocacy. I'm a child analyst and psychiatrist, and I certainly use psychotropic medications in my regimes. It's one small part of what we do. The reality is...
FLAMMIA: But it's what these kids -- what these kids...
KRAUS: Excuse me, I let you -- I let you...
COOPER: Let him finish, please.
KRAUS: These kids with behavioral disorder, that's what they get. They get that small part of the doctor's practice he's talking about. They get the drugs. They get massive doses of drugs. Saying you guys dope these kids up.
KRAUS: I understand. He's cutting me off. He apparently didn't like what I was saying.
The reality is the child psychiatrists really don't dope kids up. There are medications that are clearly tranquilizers that can potentially be used. That is not what we do in the great majority of children...
KRAUS: ... when medications are used. The point is there's a lot of other treatments -- you know what...
FLAMMIA: Small majority of students...
KRAUS: You're a joke, sir...
FLAMMIA: We get the small majority of students this doctor is talking about. Those are the people we get. And the doctor's not familiar with the literature. Because in the last five years, there have been several peer-reviewed articles that have said for the tough...
COOPER: But Michael, come on, if this thing worked, it would be used more across the nation. It would be used in some other country. No other place uses this. And the guy who runs your school and came up with it had to resign.
FLAMMIA: No, it's being used in other countries...
COOPER: Didn't the guy who created the school have to resign?
FLAMMIA: He retired, OK...
COOPER: Under -- to avoid prosecution.
FLAMMIA: The treatment -- the treatment. Well, you come to the school, Anderson, you'll see these kids. You'll see how well they...
COOPER: Again, you're not answering. He resigned to avoid prosecution, correct?
FLAMMIA: Yes, but Anderson...
COOPER: He destroyed videotapes.
FLAMMIA: Are we here to talk about the treatment? Is that the issue, Anderson?
COOPER: It's a lot -- well, the guy who created it...
FLAMMIA: I want to...
COOPER: You're talking about how this is peer-reviewed and is so widely approved. If the guy who created this destroyed documents and had to resign to avoid prosecution, that's part of the story.
FLAMMIA: I'm talking about the peer-reviewed articles that say shock is appropriate and necessary. We're going to talk about the kids that you're forgetting about, Anderson, that you're not focusing on.
COOPER: OK. I appreciate you being on and doctor, as well, Dr. Kraus.
KRAUS: If I could establish, I'm not aware of any peer-reviewed articles but so much again.
FLAMMIA: The doctor needs to look more closely.
COOPER: Michael, send us all your peer-reviewed articles. We'll review them and let us see them.
FLAMMIA: I'd be happy to do that.
COOPER: Michael, appreciate you being on. Dr. Kraus, as well.
Up next, the latest on the deadly wildfire in Colorado. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
COOPER: Colorado's massive Hyde Park fire now covers nearly 68 square miles. About the size of Washington, D.C. The fire's claimed its first victim, a 62-year-old woman whose body was found inside her burned home.
Officials hope to send 34 field crews into the field tomorrow. Seventeen today. It's so big, you can see the smoke from Denver 60 miles away.
Evacuated pets are being housed at the Larimer County Humane Society. Despite the danger, some people are refusing to evacuate. Want to go to meteorologist Chad Myers for more.
What is it going to look like tomorrow, Chad?
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It's going to look bad, especially on the western flank. We talk about this. Now, this is Roosevelt National Park.
The problem is, we talked about this a little bit yesterday. In that national park, 70 percent of the trees are dead because of a beetle infestation. So this isn't burning live trees. This is burning just dead timber that's just ready to burn.
The good news is not many people live out that way, because it is national park.
This thing grew about 10,000 acres -- 7,000 to 10,000 acres overnight. That's about ten square miles. And today was a good day. The winds weren't bad. Winds were down. Tomorrow, they pick up a little bit. Even at this point in time, gusts only 16 miles per hour, Anderson, right there are Fort Collins.
You get higher in elevation, though. Higher up towards Estes Park, you know, 15 -- 10, 15,000 feet. You have gusts to 22. That's the danger category. That's when sparks can fly.
We won't get those winds tomorrow. They will die off. But Thursday, we could see thunderstorms. That sounds like a good thing. Except for the lightning part. But very little rain. Saturday and Sunday, the winds could be back to 40. They need to get a handle on this tomorrow.
COOPER: Yes. We'll continue following it. Chad, appreciate the update.
A lot more following. Let's check in with Isha and the "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Isha.
ISHA SESAY, CNNI ANCHOR: Anderson, the manhunt for a prospective triple murder suspect is over in Alabama. The Montgomery County sheriff says Desmonte Leonard has turned himself in to U.S. marshals tonight. Leonard is accused of killing three people, including two former Albany University football players. George Zimmerman's wife, Shellie, is free on bail tonight, after being arrested on a perjury charge. Prosecutors say she lied at her husband's bond hearing about their finances. Due to those accusations, a judge ordered George Zimmerman back to jail.
Meanwhile, the parents of Trayvon Martin, who George Zimmerman is accused of murdering, are calling on a Florida task force to change or repeal the state's "stand your ground' law. They delivered more than $340,000 petitions today pleading for reform at the task force -- task force's first meeting.
At a heated hearing on Capitol Hill, Attorney General Eric Holder rejected a call for his resignation. Republican Senator John Cornyn accused Holder of misleading Congress about what he and other top Justice Department officials knew about the botched Fast and Furious gun-running operation in Mexico.
And here's your chance to own a piece of American history. George Washington's 223-year-old copies of the Constitution and Bill of Rights are being sold at auction. It's expected they'll fetch up to $3 million.
We'll be right back.
COOPER: That's it for us. Thanks for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts now.