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Terror on Campus
Aired January 22, 2013 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST (voice-over): Sex scandal rocks a small town. Did an exercise instructor use her studio as a front for prostitution? Is a fair trial possible in a place where everyone knows everyone else?
I`ll talk to the attorney for 10 men whose names were exposed as alleged clients.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Once these names are released, they`ll all have the mark of the scarlet letter.
PINSKY: And she is 20 years old but has the mind and body of a child. Why did Brooke Greenberg stop growing when she was 2? What can her case teach us about aging and the fountain of youth?
Let`s get started.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Hey, and thank you for joining us.
My co-host this week, Lisa Bloom, legal analyst with avo.com.
We`re going to get to the prostitution scandal in a few minutes. But, first, I think everyone is aware there`s been another shooting on a campus. This apparently was a gun fight at a suburban Houston institution. At least three people were injured.
What is this story really all about? We`re going to talk about it in just a minute. But, first, we`re going to get an update from Ed Lavandera in Houston.
Ed, what is the latest?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they`re -- authorities here in the Houston are interviewing the two men involved in the altercation at Lone Star College in the northern part of Houston. What exactly led to all of this isn`t exactly clear, but there was some sort of altercation. One of the men pulled a gun and started shooting the other. It`s not exactly clear how the gunman also wounded himself.
But in the melee there, a third person, a maintenance worker at the college, was also wounded and is being treated. No one has died.
And on top of all that, a fourth person nearby suffered a heart attack. So that person is being treated as well.
So investigators still have not filed any charges or arrested anyone in this case. They`re interviewing these -- the people involved in this melee today, but it was an incredibly tense situation for the thousands of students on campus who have known all too well many of the headlines that have been dominating across the country, so caught in the middle of that crossfire and that scary situation, this is a very tense situation for the thousands of students on campus.
PINSKY: Right, Ed, I think that`s the point here, is that the reason this captured national attention is that it was a shooting and it was on a campus.
Lisa, don`t you agree?
LISA BLOOM, AVO.COM: Yes, another school shooting.
PINSKY: I hate the idea that we all ran to the television to -- I don`t know what we were doing today, all day watching. It was a shootout. It was a fight between two people that happened to be on a campus.
BLOOM: Well --
PINSKY: It was not a deranged person. it was not a person with intent on mass killings on a college campus.
BLOOM: You know, it`s like we all have post-traumatic stress, I think, after Newtown and after Aurora and all the shootings. So when it happens again we go, oh, my God, oh, my God, not again.
PINSKY: Fair comment.
BLOOM: And then, well, thank God nobody died this time. They were, quote-unquote, "only injured".
PINSKY: All right. Well, Lisa, it`s something worthy of our attention, but a reminder that this was not like the Newtown situation. This was something different that happened to have happened on a campus. Nonetheless, mortifying, and especially mortifying for any of the students on campus who must have been -- Newtown must have been fresh on their mind.
Thank you, Ed.
Joining us to discuss exactly what this was like is Amanda Vasquez who joins us via phone.
Amanda, you were actually on the campus when the shooting broke out. What did you feel? What did you hear? Tell us about it.
AMANDA VASQUEZ, HID BENEATH DESK DURING SHOOTING TODAY (via telephone): Well, I was just waiting for my English class to start, and it was about five minutes before it started, and I just heard about six shots. And all -- my mind was racing, there`s people rushing in the hallway trying to find shelter, and some kids even came into our room.
And as quickly as I could, I, like, ducked under the desk, trying to hide, and luckily in our room, there was a trainee, an EMT person, a lady who was training to be an EMT. So, she took action immediately, turning off the lights, closing the door, putting a table in the way, and helping us to calm us down and there`s --
PINSY: Amanda, I`m going to interrupt you and ask, you sound pretty shook up. Are you OK?
VASQUEZ: I`m feeling a lot better than I did earlier, of course, because I`m surrounded by family.
PINSKY: Is what was so terrorizing for you the fact you did have Newtown fresh in your mind and you thought, oh, my God, we`re going through the same thing?
VASQUEZ: Definitely, that was in the front of my mind. I called my mom as soon as I could when I was under the desk just because I didn`t know, you know, if this was going to be my last time ever to speak to anyone, and I wanted everyone to know that I loved them, because I didn`t know the situation. And I just didn`t want to leave without letting them know how much I loved them.
PINSKY: Amanda, let me just say this was clearly traumatic.
In fact, I`m going to bring psychologist Wendy Walsh in right now.
Wendy, would you agree with me that it`s normal to have an acute stress reaction which would include sleeplessness, and intrusive thoughts, and anxiety, and shakiness and mood swings? But that if you get some help right now, you reduce the risk that that acute stress response is going to go to some post-traumatic stress response which can be more chronic?
WENDY WALSH, PH.D., PSYCHOLOGIST: Exactly. What happens, Drew, as you know, in the acute moment, you feel all the physiological symptoms. You feel fear.
But then you develop these coping mechanisms that include the longer term symptoms that we now call post-traumatic stress disorder, where people are having chronic eating disorders or crazy belief systems or superstitions like, well, if I do this, then that thing won`t happen. So, that`s where it becomes dysfunctional, and yes, the earlier you can get help and treatment, and, you know, talking it out with everybody is helpful.
I`m so glad she`s here and she`s calling in because words are healing, and talking it out can be the best thing to get it out of your body.
PINSKY: Yes, Lisa, making a cohesive narrative, making yourself mastery over the events.
BLOOM: Yes, on the individual level --
PINSKY: You`ve gone through something like this?
BLOOM: I did have somebody put a gun in my face and it was absolutely terrifying. Yes, I also think on a group level, we have to get less guns in our culture, you know?
PINSKY: Slow down, I want to talk about the gun in your face episode.
BLOOM: This is a big picture. Yes.
PINSKY: Did you have like sleeplessness for days afterwards and feel shaky?
BLOOM: No, because we got the guy. I called the police and they got him.
PINSKY: And you felt completely OK?
BLOOM: No, I was scared out of my mind, absolutely. I was a kid, about 18 years old.
PINSKY: Oh my God. What a story.
BLOOM: Actually, a couple times in my life. One time in New York walking down the street. We have too many guns in this culture.
PINSKY: And they seem to be pointed at you.
BLOOM: They`re pointed at all of us, you know?
I mean, poor Amanda. Amanda, I`m so sorry about what happened to you.
I`m so sick of children and young people in our country cowering behind doors, lights turned off, chairs and tables against the doors because there is some crazy gunman running around. Nine out of 10 times when it happens in the world, it happens in the United States.
PINSKY: Yes. Amanda, thanks for sharing your story. But please take care of yourself, OK?
VASQUEZ: OK. Thank you very much.
PINSKY: All right, my dear.
I`ve got Areva Martin in the mix here with us as well.
Areva, I`ve got to go to break right now, but you`re going to be part of my team coming up.
But, Wendy, thank you for having made comments here with us.
I`m going to say goodbye to Wendy and Amanda.
We`re going to be speaking next about a sex scandal in a small town. Entire community has been affected by this prostitution case.
And later on, Brooke -- see if we can get a picture of Brooke. There she is. She is 20 -- no, no, Brooke is the little one. She`s 20 years old.
BLOOM: The baby.
PINSKY: The baby has not aged in 20 years. It`s a medical mystery no one can solve. We`re going to get into it, meet the child and her parents, after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had a friendship. We talked often. It never became row mantic.
We did have intimate moments, but it`s not what I would consider romantic. It was strictly physical.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: All right, welcome back.
Attorney Lisa Bloom from avo.com is my co-host this week.
A sex scandal in a small town, jury selection under way in the trial of this business partner of an alleged madam -- business partner.
PINSKY: Yes, that was jut her partner in the clip you saw. He is accused of participating in the running of a sex ring out of a local exercise studio. In fact, what was it, the Zumba prostitute.
BLOOM: Dance studio.
PINSKY: Dance. Nice. Lovely.
BLOOM: He had intimate relations with her, he says.
PINSKY: I think we actually have pictures of her dancing, in fact, with a pole, strangely enough. We`re going to get to those in a minute.
But, first, I want to introduce my guest, attorney Areva Martin is with us. Also, Siggy Flicker, relationship expert. And Kenneth P. Altshuler, morning drive radio host. He`s also a divorce attorney and he lives in the town of Kennebunk, Maine where this all went down.
Kenneth, tell us about the impact this scandal is now having on your town as the trials are coming on.
KENNETH P. ALTSHULER, RADIO HOST, WGAN 560, KENNEBUNK, ME: I think the best words to describe it, Dr. Drew, is battle fatigue. This has been going on for months. As you may recall, the Kennebunk Police Department have released the names of alleged Johns on about an every-two-week basis. But only 40 percent of the names have been released.
So the town has been inundated with investigators and media and the questions about, when will the shoe drop? When will we find out the other names, the other Johns? And when will this case go to trial?
So, finally, the day has arrived. Mark Strong is the first of the two major defendants to go to trial tomorrow. Jury selection is very slow today, may end by noon tomorrow. Hopefully opening arguments will begin tomorrow afternoon.
BLOOM: Do you think it`s a good idea, Dr. Drew, to release the names of the alleged Johns? After all, for many years the prostitutes have had their pictures up --
BLOOM: -- their names up? I mean, it`s fair enough?
PINSKY: Funny you would ask, Lisa, as I close my body language here, because the last time I had this conversation, Areva Martin worked me over pretty good about this very issue. And she was saying I believe -- what was it -- if you play in the mud, you come up muddy? What was your saying?
AREVA MARTIN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, if you lay down with dogs, you get up with fleas.
PINSKY: OK. Right. That`s what it was.
MARTIN: The answer to Lisa is absolutely, the names of the Johns should be released, because as we discussed before, the names of the alleged prostitute has been released. Her family has been impacted. We find out she has a daughter, her daughter has been impacted.
So why are we trying to protect the men? I just say, you know, be fair. Have parity with respect to everyone involved in this trial.
BLOOM: It takes two to tango, right?
MARTIN: They`re consenting adults, consenting adults.
PINSKY: But let me go to Kenneth -- aren`t we sort of claiming the behavior -- we`re calling them guilty without there being evidence of guilt?
BLOOM: No, but they alleged.
MARTIN: No, Dr. Drew, we`re not calling them guilty at all. They have been arrested and charged with a crime.
And in our criminal justice system, once you`ve been arrested and charged with a crime, your name can be made public. Just like that woman whose picture has been all over the news. There is no difference in the men involved in this case.
And I`m glad. I am actually glad to see the names of those men being released and the story getting the attention that it`s getting because I think it has a different meaning. And it`s really showing in our society how, you know, we`re so hard on women involved in prostitution, but we don`t take the same attitude and don`t have the same position when it comes to the men. It wouldn`t be a prostitute without men paying for sex.
PINSKY: I am persuaded.
BLOOM: Ha! We got you!
PINSKY: No, no, you do. You have me, but it`s uncomfortable that so many families are affected --
BLOOM: But that`s true any time anyone is accused of a crime.
PINSKY: You`re right.
Kenneth, do you agree, though, in the town, is this sort of a prevailing opinion?
ALTSHULER: Actually, yes, we agree with attorney Martin. These people have been summoned to court. They`ve been accused of committing a crime. That warrants the release of their names.
And it`s no different with a shoplifting case, or an OUI. The names get released when summons.
So, I think it`s proper. It`s the procedure we have in Maine. It`s illegal in Maine, whether it should be or not, it is. As long as it`s illegal, if you`re accused of a crime, and Johns have committed a crime, allegedly, their names should be released.
PINSKY: I think we have a call from Carol in Massachusetts. You`re not too far away there, Carol. You have something to say?
CAROL, CALLER FROM MASSACHUSETTS: Yes, I do, Dr. Drew. We all know that these men would still be at it if they hadn`t gotten caught.
CAROL: They`re all upset about their names out there? Well, too bad.
SIGGY FLICKER, RELATIONSHIP EXPERT: I agree with her. And, Dr. Drew --
CAROL: They should have thought about that.
PINSKY: Siggy, you`re trying to ring in here. Please, go ahead.
FLICKER: Yes, Dr. Drew, I would like to say something. I agree with Ms. Martin. If it smells fishy, it usually is fishy.
I mean, these men -- and let`s not say they went to this dance studio. Dr. Drew, they went across the street above a flower shop and above a hair salon in the back door. These men knew exactly what they were doing.
But why are we thinking about these men? We should be thinking about the children and the wives. And my advice to any men`s names that haven`t been released yet to please man up and fess up to your family. If there was a hurricane coming to your town, you would get water bottles, you would get food or you would get in your car and protect your family. This is a time for you men now to really act like men and fess up if your names are about to be released.
BLOOM: I love it, and will this deter other men from going to prostitutes if they know their name and picture might be on Dr. Drew tomorrow?
PINSKY: No, but I`m not averse to this, but there is a Zumba prostitution hurricane coming.
I`ve got to take a break. Next up, is a fair trial even possible in this small town where everyone seems to know everyone?
And later on, as I`ve been saying, the young girl who doesn`t age. She`s 20 years old in that picture. What could this mysterious case mean for the science of aging? Back after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUNNY LANE, LEGAL PROSTITUTE IN NEVADA: She set these guys up. She purposely shot secret film of them, put them out on the internet, and she exposed them to the rest of the world.
Really, she should be the one that`s exposed. The guys should be very private in this. They shouldn`t have their names out there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Now, these are women that were legal prostitutes in Nevada that were sort of giving their opinion about this whole story. Welcome back.
My co-host this week, Lisa Bloom, avo.com.
As I said, those prostitutes were from the Bunny Ranch, commenting on the sex scandal in Maine.
So, Areva, I want to get back to whether or not a jury can be seated on this case. Will the jury be influenced by the prevailing winds in the community? Can people find an unbiased population where it`s so small and everyone is so exposed to this?
MARTIN: That`s a good question, Dr. Drew. There have been a lot of questions raised by the defense attorney with whether the publicity and the national and the local publicity has tainted the jury pool, and whether they can find unbiased jurors that can sit with respect to the trial that`s coming up.
The motion was made to move the trial, but the judge said no, the trial is going to take place in the town where the acts allegedly occurred. We also saw this defense attorney try to get himself removed from the case. He says this defendant doesn`t have the money to go forward to fund the litigation, to fund the cost of defense for the case. Well, the case, and the judge also said, no, you`re going to stay on this trial.
So it`s going to be some really interesting things happening, because we have a lawyer who is saying he`s not being paid, but he`s being forced to stay on and defend the alleged co-conspirator with the Zumba instructor, and we have the same lawyer saying he can`t find unbiased jurors. So, lots of interesting legal developments.
PINSKY: Interesting, interesting.
I actually have Gary Prolman. He is the attorney for the ten alleged Johns. He also represented a hockey coach that arose in the light of this scandal. How do you think this is being handled and this whole conversation we`ve had so far, in fact?
GARY PROLMAN, ATTORNEY (via telephone): Dr. Drew, thank you for having me on.
With all due respect to Areva and Ken, I don`t believe that the victims` identities should have been revealed, and I use the word victims because that is exactly what the prosecutor called them in her invasion of privacy counts against Mark Strong, whose case starts tomorrow.
BLOOM: Well, how are alleged Johns victims? That`s a new one to me.
PROLMAN: Well, it`s great that you asked that. The reason why is because Mr. Strong, allegedly, was filming these people, and he -- they were charged with counts of invasion of privacy. And according to Maine statute A MRS 1176 says as other victims of crimes, they`re supposed to be shielded by the court.
And in fact, three years ago, this same court up here, Justice Knowles presided over the case, sexual registration cases where they were convicted of gross sexual crimes that had been committed, and these people were shielded by the court because there were laws in question at the time.
BLOOM: If I could just jump in to explain in English a little bit, you`re saying that they are surreptitiously recorded, that these guys didn`t know they were being recorded and that`s what made them a victim?
PROLMAN: Absolutely. Absolutely. I didn`t make that up. That`s what the state has said.
PINSKY: You`re saying if they knew they were being recorded, they would have been protected by the First Amendment.
BLOOM: Right, it`s so fascinating to me. So, if these guys knew they were going to a prostitute but they didn`t know they were being recorded, does that make them a victim? That`s one question.
And of course, if someone intentionally makes a sex tape or pornography, and there`s a camera there --
PINSKY: Then you`re making pornography.
BLOOM: You`re making pornography. It`s protected by the First Amendment, even though somebody is paying for sex and being paid to have sex, right?
PINSKY: Wait, let`s state this again, so if someone goes to a prostitute and they film it, they`re now being protected?
BLOOM: Well, you know, if you have sexual activity for the purpose of making a film and money changes hands, that`s protected by the First amendment.
BLOOM: We have a huge pornography industry, right? That`s protected by the First Amendment.
PINSKY: Areva, real quick, I`ve got less than a minute.
MARTIN: The question I have for Gary is the fact they might be a victim doesn`t excuse them for being also a perpetrator. They also paid for sex. So they can be both victimized by the invasion of privacy, but they also committed a crime --
PINSKY: Areva, I`m going to let Gary finish this.
Go ahead, Gary. Go ahead, please finish. We can hear you.
PROLMAN: They did not pay for sex. In fact, Don Hill, whose first case I`ll be doing in March, you`ll see, went for massages. For $150 for a massage in Kennebunk is not out of line. That`s exactly what he did and he never paid more for sex.
BLOOM: But he`s sneaking in the backdoor --
PINSKY: You guys, I`ve got to break here. It`s very interesting material. These cases are going to play out. We`ll see where it goes.
Mr. Prolman, thank you for joining us.
A family is being torn apart. This is a serious issue. We`re going to take your calls on the case.
And later, I`ve got a young lady -- there she is, she is 20, but in the body of a 2-year-old and the mind of an infant. The 20-year-old is not the one holding. Twenty-year-old is the little girl we`re looking here. It`s a medical mystery, has doctors baffled.
We`re going to talk to her, her family and to a geneticist who`s researching this case.
PINSKY: And welcome back. We are discussing the prostitution scandal that has rocked a small town in Maine. I want to get straight off to callers who I know have a lot to say about this.
I`ve got Trish who she herself is in Maine right where the scandal is unfolding.
TRISH, CALLER FROM MAINE: Right. Hi, Dr. Drew. This is Trish from Maine.
And I just wanted to tell you that I love your show.
PINSKY: Thank you.
TRISH: Most people in this town are wondering why only half the names have been released, less than half the names. And if you commit another crime here, like an OUI, your name is put in the paper and released in the news.
It seems unfair, and some of us are speculating, is this because they`re being protected by, say, the law or government?
PINSKY: Trish, this issue came up last time we covered this case, and I heard, it was -- Areva, correct me if I`m wrong, it was sort of an administrative issue as much as anything. It was coming -- do you remember this?
MARTIN: I think the guests on the show today, Dr. Drew, also said that the judge is releasing names, like every two weeks he`s releasing another set of names. And from what we heard earlier, it has something to do with the courts.
PINSKY: Oh, he`s still with us. Areva -- was that, Kenneth? Kenneth, try that again. I`m sorry, we can`t hear you.
ALTSHULER: Yes, I can answer that question.
PINSKY: Go ahead.
ALTSHULER: The Justice Department has been releasing names every two weeks. What`s happened is many of these alleged Johns have gotten attorneys. The attorneys have slowed down the process by asking for discovery and pushing off the prosecuting issue some against them. So the delay has been more, frankly, because they`ve lawyered up, and that`s probably why most have been delayed.
But there`s still coming out. There`s still about 90 more to be released, and the prosecutors says that everybody will be charged eventually.
BLOOM: Ninety more? With everybody in this entire town going to the same brothel?
ALTSHULER: Not often Kennebunk, some are from other places.
BLOOM: A lot.
MARTIN: You know, it`s important, Dr. Drew, to note that 18 of these Johns have already pled to the charges that have been brought against them, so this isn`t just being made up out of whole cloth. So, to the attorney`s point about these guys being victims, the victims wouldn`t go in and take a plea.
Eighteen of them wouldn`t do that unless there was some acts committed for which they might have been convicted.
PINSKY: We actually have some footage of a woman at the center of the storm. Her name is Alexis. This is adult content, this video coming up, so caveat, beware. She was an exercise instructor accused of being a madam.
Siggy, did you want to ring in here during this video?
FLICKER: I just wanted to say, not only do they have so much evidence and videotape, they also have over 150 screen shots that were seized from computers. So -- and I love the thing these men are claiming that they are victims. Meanwhile, it was not like a spa that you walked in and the receptionist says, hi, John Doe. Thank you for coming for your massage. Your therapist will be with you in 15 minutes.
BLOOM: Instead they got this kind of reception that we`re looking at now. That should have been a tipoff.
PINSKY: Oh, this whole thing is so disturbing. It`s a sad case.
FLICKER: Maybe there`s a different definition of massage in that city than what we`re accustomed to.
PINSKY: I just realized -- Kenneth, you got to back me up here. I`m surrounded by women who are very angry at these men, and I don`t blame them. It`s a very uncomfortable thing --
FLICKER: But Dr. Drew --
FLICKER: But Dr. Drew, it`s not just angry, it`s like fess up. Do we need another Lance Armstrong now and you`re going to dupe me and dope me for another ten years? Fess up. You`re caught.
FLICKER: It`s like -- exactly. It`s like there are children involved here. You want somebody tapping your child next week and saying, hey, your dad`s name is the next one on the list.
PINSKY: I`m distressed about my male compatriots` behavior, that they`ve done things that have destroyed families, have torn a town apart.
BLOOM: If you`re going to take on your entire gender`s wrongs (ph), Dr. Drew, that`s quite a lot, right? I don`t think you have to take all that on.
PINSKY: I`m not. I`m not taking it on. You`re right. A very codependent --
BLOOM: But we do need to understand why men go to prostitutes, right, successful, family guys. Ninety or 100 of them in the small town? I mean, that`s a big percentage of the town.
PINSKY: I`d love to talk to somebody about that --
BLOOM: Why did they do it?
PINSKY: Why did they do it? Kenneth, help me on this.
PINSKY: I`m so uncomfortable with this story. Lisa goes right to the most uncomfortable question. Help me out, Ken.
KENNETH P. ALTSHULER, HIS TOWN`S AT CENTER OF SEX SCANDAL: You know, remember, first of all, they`re not all from Kennebunkport. There`s some from other states --
BLOOM: It makes a big difference.
ALTSHULER: They all have their reasons for it, but you know what, I don`t think they were all taking Zumba lessons, I can safely say that.
PINSKY: And it`s illegal, it`s immoral, it destroys family. You know what it is? You know what it is, Lisa? It`s people today don`t appreciate the consequences of their behaviors on their primarily relationships.
PINSKY: And when you diminish -- Siggy say yes for me on this, when you do something away from your primary intimacy, people are harmed.
BLOOM: It`s a thrill, right? That`s what guys -- that`s what guys have told me as why they go for prostitutes.
PINSKY: Some guys do.
AREVA MARTIN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: But more important -- also importantly, Dr. Drew, they`ve engaged in the behavior. Now, they want the court system to protect them from the very acts that they, you know, on their own volition, engaged in.
PINSKY: No, I understand.
BLOOM: But I think you put your finger on, that you don`t think there`s going to be any consequences for your actions?
PINSKY: That`s right. And we have way too much laxity in our feelings about relationships and what they need. Get the goofy stuff out of your system when you`re a kid. Once you`re married and committed -- when you cheat with a prostitute or anybody, you are attacking the people you supposedly love, your wife, your children. You are harming them actively.
BLOOM: Some guys say, well, a prostitute is safer because she`s not going to latch on and fall in love and want a relationship.
PINSKY: I direct them to this case. Thank you to everybody. Thank you to Ken, our Kenneth Altshuler, choking in every time, I`m sorry. Areva Martin, Siggy Flicker, and Gary Emproman (ph)
Next up, she is 20 years as I`ve been telling you, but looks like a toddler. We`re going to meet the little girl who doesn`t age after the break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (voice-over): Brooke Greenberg is 20 years old, but she appears to be a toddler. She was born with an unexplained condition, a rare condition, her doctors cannot yet identify. Brooke`s parents say she simply stopped growing. Medical experts call this condition Syndrome X. She suffered a series of medical crises early in life, went into a coma when she was five, suffered a stroke.
She now has the brain of a nine-month-old and largely the body of a two-year-old. Doctors are studying her genes hoping to and hopefully help her, and perhaps, solve the mysteries of aging.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (on-camera): Welcome back. I`m with my co-host this week, Attorney Lisa Bloom from Avo.com and joining us now, the Greenberg Family, Howard, Melanie, and their daughter, Brooke. Howard, how is Brooke doing these days?
HOWARD GREENBERG, DAUGHTER HAS SYNDROME X: She`s doing good. Just today, she`s kind of -- she`s developed a little cough.
PINSKY: Ah. And, Melanie, when did you first notice that something wasn`t developing sort of normally for your child, and when did it come to light what you were dealing with and how did you deal with that?
MELANIE GREENBERG, DAUGHTER HAS SYNDROME X: I believe, you know, nothing -- it took a long time to come to where we`re at. When she was born, there were some issues that we needed to take care of, but, then, we thought we took care of them, and I think the whole process with Brooke was like -- it was a gradual process.
PINSKY: And I understand something happened when Brooke was five, is that right, Howard?
HOWARD GREENBERG: Well, basically, it was a turning point for us where she spent the first five years in, you know, pretty about 80 percent of her life was in the hospital. But after five, she`s been out of the hospital a lot, and at that point, she, I guess, really stopped developing and was sort of stuck where she is. And at that point, she stopped aging.
PINSKY: And, the hospitalizations before age five, what was that for?
HOWARD GREENBERG: She was in the hospital for -- she had a nissen put in because her esophagus was too small, so when she would eat, a lot of the reflux would come back up. She had trouble digesting things. She was in the hospital for a stroke. She was -- you know, just major health issues.
And, you know, she just was in and out of the hospital. And when she was there, she was there for months at a time.
BLOOM: Ah! So Melanie, let me talk to you mom to mom. First of all, she`s a beautiful little girl. I just want to give her a hug through the camera.
MELANIE GREENBERG: Thank you.
BLOOM: What`s it like for you? Is it like having a two-year-old that you go out and do two-year-old things with her? What`s daily life like?
MELANIE GREENBERG: It`s like having a baby. In one breath, you know, you`re doing baby things with her. You`re changing her diaper. She`s obviously in a stroller. You tickle her and you try to make her laugh. On the other hand, you realize that she`s 20 years old, and you try to dress her like a little bit more mature. Of course, today, she has her ravens outfit on because she`s a true Ravens fan.
MELANIE GREENBERG: Uh-huh. You know, it just depends on what you`re trying to get from her.
PINSKY: Yes. I just -- I see a Ray Lewis fan right there, right away.
PINSKY: What do you tell people when they ask how old she is?
HOWARD GREENBERG: Well, in the past we used to -- when she was six, we said six months or eight, eight months, but I think now, we are good at sort of dodging that question. So, we sort of skirt around it because, you know, we can`t say she`s 20 years old and then we end up talking to somebody for two, three hours.
So, you know, we know where to go and we know where to eat and, you know, go to places where we can sort of skirt around all that.
BLOOM: You know, Howard, what`s so striking to me is that, as a mom, when my kids were sick, I`d go on line. I`d try to figure out what the problem was, maybe join a group if they had a particular problem other people had. She`s the only one in the world, as far as we know, that`s like this. What`s that like for you as parents in trying to cope with it?
HOWARD GREENBERG: Well, you know, I think what it really did for us is made our family extremely tight. You know, we have each other. You know, sometimes, it gets very involved if in the event she does get sick. We sort of go into a different mode and we can all pull on each other.
But, I can talk to Melanie and Melanie can talk to me, and, you know, I guess, that`s pretty much enough for us.
PINSKY: And you have three other daughters; is that correct?
MELANIE GREENBERG: Yes.
PINSKY: And they`re developmentally normal?
MELANIE GREENBERG: Yes.
PINSKY: I mean, they have no issues.
MELANIE GREENBERG: They`re fine.
PINSKY: And where does Brooke go to school or does she?
MELANIE GREENBERG: She does go to school. She goes to a school in Towson, Maryland. It`s a county -- it`s a public school, the Ridge Ruxton School. And it`s for children from ages five to 21 with special needs.
PINSKY: We have a phone call. I want to take that right now from Freddi in Connecticut -- Freddi.
FREDDI, CONNECTICUT: Hi, Dr. Drew.
PINSKY: Hi, Freddi.
FREDDI: I have to congratulate the parents on just being so loving and dedicated to a child like this. I`m sure that you are providing her with the happiest life possible. To say that the good that has come out of this has been a tightness of your family, I congratulate you, and I wish you all the best.
I was wondering whether or not you have been able to find playmates for her or a peer group for her to play with.
PINSKY: Good question.
MELANIE GREENBERG: No, not at this time. I think, you know, we`re really just looking -- you know, we have three other children. Brooke is 20. We`re not looking for any diagnosis. We`re not looking -- we`re just taking each day as it is with Brooke and we`re just trying to move on with life.
BLOOM: Do you know whether she has a longer life expectancy or a shorter life expectancy than the rest of us?
MELANIE GREENBERG: No. I don`t think that`s determined. And I don`t -- we, as parents, don`t --
HOWARD GREENBERG: We don`t think about that.
MELANIE GREENBERG: I don`t think about that. We just take each day as it is, and we treat her just like she is with the other children, to have a full life, to go to school, have lots of activities, get unconditional love, and meet her demands.
HOWARD GREENBERG: One thing you`ll see is --
PINSKY: Go ahead, Howard.
HOWARD GREENBERG: One thing you`ll see is that the biggest challenge is that she can get sick in an instant. I mean, she was fine today. She`s got some sort of cough going on right now.
HOWARD GREENBERG: But, you know, that`s our biggest challenge.
PINSKY: Right. Well, just from the standpoint -- you mentioned a couple of neurological issues and the issue of reflux. She could be prone to pneumonia just from either or both of those conditions.
Have you heard, Brooke`s parents are not, medical experts, they`re not predicting what the future holds, and probably no one knows, in fact, about this condition, as it pertains to this condition which has been called Syndrome X. Now, the question, though, to ask a geneticist is, is there something that can be learned from Brooke`s condition that can teach us about aging? We`ll talk about that after the break.
PINSKY: Welcome back. I`m with this week`s co-host, Attorney Lisa Bloom.
Brooke Greenberg is a unique 20-year-old. She has seemingly not aged in this 20 years. Joining us is Dr. Eric Schadt from the Icahn Institute for Genomics and multiscale biology at Mount Sinai University Medical School.
All right. Dr. Schadt, you studied her from a standpoint of her genetics. My understanding is there`s no specific chromosomal or genetic problem here that you guys could point out, is that accurate?
DR. ERIC SCHADT, PH.D., ICAHN INSTITUTE FOR GENOMICS, MOUNT SINAI: Yes, that`s correct, Dr. Drew. She`s been seen by, you know, many of the world`s experts who, you know, specialize in undiagnosed conditions such as this. She`s had the full gamut of testing done, you know, hormonal testing, cyber genetic testing and so on and nothing that, you know, has been uncovered that fits, you know, any current diagnosis. So, we`ve been pulled in to --
PINSKY: Go ahead, I`m sorry.
SCHADT: Yes. So, we`ve been pulled in to take a way more objective look at her genome and with modern technologies that exist, to sequence entire genomes very quickly for very cheaply. We can now sequence Brooke.
We`ve sequenced her entire family, and we`re studying those genomes today to try to uncover what are the changes in Brooke that are unique to her that we don`t see in the population that may be responsible for her condition?
PINSKY: Now, it would be accurate to say that the real problem with Brooke is not that she`s not aging, it`s that she`s not developing. And as I understand her condition, different parts of her system are developing at different rates, like her bones are age 10, teeth age eight, brain one and a half, and might that not be -- A, is that accurate, and B, might this not be epigenomics?
How the genes are transcribed? How the genetic system goes from the gene which may be normal to expression of the gene? Doctor?
SCHADT: Yes, yes, that`s absolutely correct, Dr. Drew. You know, at this point, it`s still a mystery. So, she could have -- you know, she`s not developing, obviously, as you can see, but there also is an aging component. Just the outward appearance, the skin, so, I mean, the baby teeth. No sexual maturity and so on.
It`s unlike a lot of developmental disorders where you may stop developing but outwardly appeared to be aging at the same rate. So, with Brooke, we don`t really understand to what degree are her internal organs and so on -- to what extent are they aging at a normal rate or a less progressed rate?
So, what we`re doing, again, is sequencing her entire genome. We`ve isolated stem cells from Brooke and are differentiating those into things like neurons and liver cells and (INAUDIBLE) and studying those transcriptional phenomena that you talked about. Whether the epigenomics, right, whether there are epigenetic marks in her that are actually driving transcriptional programs in a way that are --
PINSKY: Lisa lost --
BLOOM: Let me jump in and say something in English. OK. So, does this mean that this little girl who doesn`t appear to be aging, she`s 20 years old, but she looks like a two-year-old --
PINSKY: Not developing.
BLOOM: Not developing, right. She is aging, she is 20 years old. Not developing, right, Not changing. Is this potentially, if you could learn more about it from the scientific point of view, the fountain of youth or the basis of some kind of anti-aging treatments in the future?
SCHADT: Absolutely. You know, I think one of the gifts, you know, Brooke could provide to all of humanity is, you know, helping elucidate some of the age-old mysteries around aging and longevity and why, when we get older, do things start breaking down? Why are we at significantly higher risk of developing heart disease or Alzheimer`s or different types of cancer?
By studying Brooke`s condition, by studying the molecular changes within her, we can actually begin to uncover those sorts of mysteries, and there is the potential to have broad impacts on not only aging but on aging-related disorders --
BLOOM: Sorry, doctor, but do these tests on her hurt her? I mean, I hate to think of her as just sort of a specimen for science.
PINSKY: Well, that`s why I want to go to Howard and Melanie and ask them, too. Let`s ask them directly. Do you feel good about this, guys, as the parents, that she really could be a hero in the big picture, and does it subject her to anything, in your opinion?
HOWARD GREENBERG: Well, I think people ask us all the time, why do we do this? And, I think we, A, have a moral right to do this. She is in no jeopardy whatsoever. She`s not being stuck by needles and being in a laboratory or anything of that nature. But if something good could come out of this, then we`ve done the right thing.
And I think that at the end of the day, we can sleep a little better, and we feel that it`s the right thing to do because we do believe she holds the secret of something.
PINSKY: Well, let me be the first to say thank you, Brooke, and thank you, Howard, and thank you, Melanie, for allowing Dr. Schadt and his team to take a look so that we all might benefit. I want to take a quick call from Diane in Idaho -- Diane.
DIANE, IDAHO: Hello, Dr. Drew.
PINSKY: Hi, Diane.
DIANE: I`m just wondering if the parents have any concerns or preparations for a time when they might not be around to care for her?
PINSKY: Melanie, Howard, did you hear that?
HOWARD GREENBERG: We are a very strong family. She has three sisters. Carly is our youngest. She`s only 17. Kaitlyn and Emily, they are older sisters. If something happens, they will be more than glad to pick up the ball and finish what we started.
PINSKY: What I like, Lisa, is that`s just Brooke.
PINSKY: You know what I mean? That`s just Brooke who`s a family member and Brooke has her little liability --
BLOOM: You know, I am so astounded by this family. Howard and Melanie, I have to tell you, you`ve obviously drawn on some incredible reserves of faith and love in your family. Do you have advice for other people with special needs kids?
MELANIE GREENBERG: I think the one advice that I will say, and I always say it because it was many years ago when Brooke was in the hospital and she was extremely, extremely ill, and we didn`t know what -- how bad it would be, if we were going to bring her home or not. But one doctor approached us, and he had a pow-wow with us in the hallway.
And to this day I will never forget that he said, you know what? Don`t worry about what Friday is, don`t worry about what the end of the week is, you just take each day as it is. And your goal is to make her happy and healthy for each day.
And we have lived by that every -- I mean, I got chills because I remember the doctor actually saying that to us. But that`s what we live by. Just to keep her happy and healthy and take each day as it is.
PINSKY: Each of us, every family, each of us can learn a ton from the Greenberg Family.
BLOOM: Especially when you`re going through a tough time. God bless, you guys.
PINSKY: Yes. Thank you, guys. We appreciate it. I mean, those are words to live by. Dr. Schadt, thank you so much for helping to understand this condition and continue to study it.
SCHADT: Thank you.
PINSKY: We`ll probably checking in as time goes along, and we`re going to take a quick break and be right back after this.
PINSKY: I want to tell you a little bit about a story we`re going to address tomorrow. It`s the case of a New Mexico pastor`s son who is accused of -- there he is there -- cold-bloodedly gunning down his family. Shot his mom, shot his siblings who came to find the mom, then waited for his father to come home, shot him.
He says he killed his mom because, well, she annoyed him. Lisa, this kid is being potentially prosecuted as an adult. Do you think that`s the right thing to do with somebody that is --
BLOOM: Fifteen years old.
PINSKY: He`s 15. We`re looking into whether or not he has much antecedent history. But -- this kid is not going to be -- if he`s tried as a youth, he`d be out in the world again on a couple of years, right?
BLOOM: Twenty-one, yes.
BLOOM: Let me tell you, so, I do not believe that we should try children as adults. We are the last civilized country in the world to do that, to put young people away for long, long prison terms, and it`s not right. Why? Because you know, Dr. Drew that the brain is still developing, actually, up until the age of 25.
Fifteen15-year-olds do not -- are not adults in the civil law. They can`t work. They can`t live independently. They can`t vote. They can`t drink. Why in this one area do we say that they are adults?
PINSKY: But how about, then, having sort of a different category of likely to be criminally insane or something of that order where --
BLOOM: Well, that`s a different issue.
PINSKY: By 50 (ph), you begin to see people who don`t have the capacity to appreciate that other people exist.
BLOOM: Well, but we have so many young people in prison for such long terms unlike the rest of the world. Why? Because we are awash in guns, and this young man had the same assault weapon that was used at Newtown. So, we have a lot of young people in this country with easy access to guns.
They get angry, they lash out. They use a gun. Of course, it`s wrong, and then they go away for life.
PINSKY: This is where we`re going to get into a great detail tomorrow, Lisa. Thank you for that. You`ll be here tomorrow with us again.
BLOOM: I will.
PINSKY: Thank you to Lisa Bloom from Avo.com, also Wendy Walsh, Areva Martin, Ed Lavandera, Siggy Flicker, Amanda Vasquez, Ken Altshuler, all helped us out tonight, as well, of course, the Greenberg Family and Brooke as well as Dr. Eric Schadt who helped elucidate that story.
Thank you for watching and write in about this case in New Mexico tomorrow and be sure to call us tomorrow. We`ll be taking your calls at the usual number. We`ll see you next time, and "Nancy Grace" begins right now.