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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Cardinals End Morning Vote; Still No Pope; Ohio Rape Trial Begins Today; Colorado OK's Same Sex Unions; Super Size Mississippi; Google To Pay $7M For Privacy Violation; "Bushwhack Boogie"; Unwelcome Homecoming; Small Schools Punch Ticket To Big Dance; Free Final Four Tickets With Vasectomy?; The Family Business; The Wrong Kind Of "Hole In One"

Aired March 13, 2013 - 07:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


HOWARD KURTZ, HOST, CNN'S "RELIABLE SOURCES": -- shrouded in secrecy. There are no political consultants you can ask. There are no polls you can take.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: We take polls anyway and ask political consultants anyway.

BRUCE FEILER, AUTHOR, "THE SECRETS OF HAPPY FAMILIES": Speaking of politics, I think we've heard more positive things about the Catholic Church in the last two weeks because of the conclave. I mean, it seems to me they should institute term limits and do this every four or eight or ten years because this has been an amazing PR bonanza for the Catholic Church. Everybody is interested.

O'BRIEN: I completely agree with you on that. Fascinating. We should say that we're also interested so we'll continue to cover it. We'll know the next vote at roughly 2:00. They kind of jumped the gun a little bit, 20 minutes early this morning.

At 2:00 and then they'll wrap up for the day. If they don't have an actual pope in place, they have made a decision it rolls into the next day. There are other stories making news. John has got that.

JOHN BERMAN, ANCHOR, CNN'S "EARLY START": Thanks, Soledad. The town of Steubenville, Ohio, has been rocked by allegations that two of its star high school football players raped a 16-year-old girl last summer. Prosecutors say she was too drunk to consent. Now this case has drawn national attention and this morning the two teens go on trial.

CNN's Poppy Harlow has been covering the story for months, is live in Steubenville, Ohio. Good morning, Poppy.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. This is a small town of about 18,000 people in the Ohio Valley, and it has been famous for its winning high school football team the Steubenville Big Red, truly the pride of this town.

But the national spotlight for months now has been on the alleged rape of a 16-year-old girl by two of those players. Social media has been at the heart of all of it. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HARLOW (voice-over): This picture sparked outrage. A photo of a seemingly unconscious teenage girl, carried by two young men now about to stand trial, accused of raping her, Malik Richmond on the left, Trent Mays on the right, both 16. Both star players on the powerful Steubenville High School football team say they are innocent.

WALTER MADISON, MALIK RICHMOND'S ATTORNEY: At this point, we have denied the allegations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She voluntarily got herself intoxicated -- not once did you hear her say or any witnesses say she didn't want to do it.

HARLOW: Not so says the prosecutor.

MARIANNE T. HEMMETER, SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: She was unresponsive, not in a position to consent, they knew about it, and let's be clear, they knew she was drunk.

HARLOW: Police say the alleged rape occurred during all night partying on August 11th after a varsity football scrimmage. Three days later the accuser's mother went to the police with a flash drive, including tweets and other possible evidence.

Social media was abuzz with tweets and videos by fellow teens referring to that night in a vulgar manner. Song of the night is definitely "Rape Me" by Nirvana. Richmond and Mays were arrested. But critics like internet hacking group, "Anonymous" accuse law enforcement of not being aggressive enough.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you're a football player you've got to do what you want as long as you have a winning season.

HARLOW (on camera): Has preferential treatment being given to these boys because they're part of a football team?

FRED ABDALLA, JEFFERSON COUNTY SHERIFF: No. That's not true. They're facing charges. No.

HARLOW (voice-over): Sheriff Abdalla believes some of what is being posted online and on social media about the case is false.

ABDALLA: It gives us a black eye. When you have people continue to put false information out there, you know, it starts to make it go away.

HARLOW: Steubenville Police Chief Bill McCafferty says despite many pleas few witnesses came forward.

BILL MCCAFFERTY, STEUBENVILLE POLICE CHIEF: The thing I found was depending on who was actually there, why didn't somebody stop them?

HARLOW: This once thriving Eastern Ohio steel town now a shell of its former self, struggling economically, Big Red Football one of the few bright spots. But today, it's this alleged rape that has the town in the spot light.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARLOW: Now Mays and Richmond are both being charged with rape. Trent Mays is also being charged with distributing a photo of a nude minor through a text message. The attorney for Malik Richmond has actually filed a motion to dismiss this case so that will be heard first thing this morning when court begins in just a few hours.

Because these two boys are being tried as juveniles, if they're found guilty the maximum they could serve is until they're 21 years old. However, they would have to register as sex offenders for the rest of their life.

And, John, the key argument here is going to be consent. We've heard that from both sides. Did this girl consent to anything or was she too intoxicated to know what was happening? That is at the core of this trial, which is a bench trial. No jury. The judge will make the decision by Sunday -- John.

BERMAN: Poppy, so often at the center of sexual cases, our thanks to you so many people watching this case in Steubenville, Ohio.

Other news now, a 13-year-old Missouri boy has died two days after he was pulled from the swimming pool at Disney's Pop Century Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Anthony Johnson was swimming Sunday night with family members when he was spotted in about four feet of water by a cousin who pulled him out. There was no life guard on duty at the time. The Orange County Sheriff's Office says the boy died Tuesday morning. They did not have a cause of death.

Colorado the latest state to allow same sex civil unions, the Colorado civil union act passed Tuesday in that state's House of Representatives with a 39 to 26 votes. It goes into effect May 1st. This happens just weeks before the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments on whether gays can legally marry. Nine states along with District of Columbia have already passed laws realizing same-sex marriage.

So unlike New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Mississippi lawmakers seem to have no problem with supersize sugary drinks. In a 50 to 1 vote the State Senate approved an anti-Bloomberg bill that would prevent similar efforts in their state.

The measure now goes to the governor for his signature. Bryant says the proposal is now under review. A recent report claims that Mississippi has the nation's highest rate of adult obesity at 34.9 percent.

O'BRIEN: I was going to say, if it's not the highest, it's up with the highest there, and I wonder what the correlation is on that.

BERMAN: A 50-1 vote in the State Senate.

O'BRIEN: Well, they're sending a message, the anti-Bloomberg bill. So I think they're sending a message. BERMAN: It's 36 minutes after the hour. Google has reached a multimillion dollar settlement over how it selected its map images. The tech giant is paying 37 states a total of $7 million. Google admitted three years ago that when it sent around cars with cameras to collect images for its street view component the cameras also collected information like passwords and e-mails from unencrypted Wi- Fi networks.

Critics do note that the $7 million settlement is not enough. Google brings in sales of more than $100 million every single day.

O'BRIEN: What do they do with that information? That's the interesting thing.

BERMAN: It's the fact that they can get it that's concerning to so many people.

O'BRIEN: And then what did they do with it, right? If they're collecting it, why do you have -- they sell it, right?

FEILER: If they're collecting it can anybody drive down the street and collect --

O'BRIEN: They certainly can and that's why you should lock your Wi- Fi. Carry on, John.

BERMAN: All right, we have a little honky tonk happiness for former President George H.W. Bush. The 88-year-old made a cameo at the School of Government and Public Service that bears his name at Texas A&M University.

He thought this was going to be a regular photo-op instead he was greeted by a flash mob. The video just made its way to YouTube. You know, Bush 41 was with his wife, former first lady, Barbara Bush.

His granddaughter, Jenna Bush Hager, I think you see her here. She was also there. She played a key role. She was kind of whispering into her grandfather's ear explaining what was going on. He may not have seen too many flash mobs. The song --

O'BRIEN: Granddad, this is a flash mob. It's when everybody does the same dance.

BERMAN: The song was "Boot Scootin' Boogie." They changed the lyrics, it became Bushwhack boogie.

KURTZ: They should have danced.

O'BRIEN: Ahead this morning, we're going to talk to a golfer who was rescued after he fell through an 18-foot deep sinkhole that opened up beneath him on the fairway. We'll tell you what those terrifying moments felt like. That's ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: So Dwight Howard who is now with the Lakers, played his old team the Orlando Magic last night. It was his first game back since leaving and let's say that Magic fans were not all that happy to see him. Joe Carter has our "Bleacher Report" this morning. Hi, Joe.

JOE CARTER, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad. Yes, they don't really like him very much in Orlando that's because when he left it really wasn't a clean break. He sort of kept Magic fans guessing would he stay, would he go. So obviously he left behind as you'll hear a lot of bitter fans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Number 12, Dwight Howard --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARTER: All right, so there you have it. Magic fans actually tried to boo him. The entire game to distract him, but it didn't work. Every time he touched the ball, he seemed to score some points.

The Orlando strategy was hack him every time he touched the ball. That didn't work either because he scored 25 of his 39 points from the free-throw line. Lakers go on to win by nine. Howard afterwards, a parting message for his old fans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DWIGHT HOWARD, SEASON HIGH 39 POINTS AGAINST FORMER TEAM: I forgive them you know, everything, whatever happened, you know, it's just behind. I can't let it affect.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARTER: The Miami Heat won again last night. Make it 19 wins and counting. The Heat crushed the Atlanta Hawks. Lebron made just three slots, but as you see he helped in other ways. Dwyane Wade picked up the slack, another strong game for him. Miami goes for win number 20 in a row tonight. Only three teams in NBA history have won 20 in a row during a season.

Check out this happy jack rabbit. Yes, he's very happy that's because his school, South Dakota State got into the NCAA Tournament last night by winning the summit league finals, fans storming the court there.

Also on the court, Long Island Brooklyn, they got in last night. It's the school's third straight NCAA Tournament appearance. LIU won the Northeast Conference Tournament and Valparaiso also going to the big dance. They are the Horizon Conference champions. It's the first time in nine years that they'll be headed back to the NCAA Tournament.

Our friends at bleacherreport.com have real-time bubble watch updates as we get closer to selection Sunday. Find out who's in and who's out. Want to win free tickets to the final four? It's as simple as getting a vasectomy.

The tournament is in Atlanta this year so a local medical office in Georgia is offering two free tickets to the tournament if you come in. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you don't win, you still have had a procedure, and you're off your feet for the weekend to watch basketball. I mean, it truly is a win-win situation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARTER: Win-win I guess depends on who you're asking. But Soledad, so here's the catch, you come in, you can get a vasectomy, you can put your name in a drawing. But you don't necessarily have to get the procedure. They are saying if you just come in for the consultation, your name gets put in the drawing.

O'BRIEN: Not quite a win-win then. Listen, I'll tell you this, when you were saying you want tickets? John Berman was like yes! -- no.

BERMAN: I can still watch on TV.

O'BRIEN: You can just take the weekend off. Joe Carter, thanks. Swallowed by a sinkhole, a man who was literally sucked into the earth when he was playing golf, miraculously though he survived. We're going to hear from him to tell us what happened up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT, everyone. A couple stories to tell you about this morning, George P. Bush, the son of Jeb Bush and the grandson of George H.W. Bush is running for Texas land commissioner. It's a position seen as a jumping-off point for a more prominent statewide career.

A conservative activist told CNN that P as he sometimes called or Jorge P as his uncle called him is said to be more conservative than his grandfather and than his grandfather and more conservative than his uncle, George W. Bush.

"Curiosity," the Mars rover says yes there could really have been life on Mars. A chemical analysis of the powder from the robot's dig shows that conditions did exist that could have supported life on the red planet.

The mission's chief scientist even said there is evidence that water flowed there some 3 billion years ago and it would have been drinkable. So if you were there some 3 billion years, you could have a drink.

O'BRIEN: How many other Texas land commissioners, do you think people are talking about their run?

BERMAN: There aren't that many state wide offices. In all honesty and they all do matter and many are seen as stepping stones.

O'BRIEN: If he weren't a Bush, we wouldn't care.

KURTZ: It helps to have the right one. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I remember the 2000 convention, where he was sort of rolled out. And everybody was bowing down and saying he was a rock star.

FEILER: The pressure on the middle initial. Not just a Bush grandchild. What middle initial will stand out?

O'BRIEN: Let's talk about what happened on this golf course. A sinkhole opened up right under a guy who is golfing. His name is Mark Mihal and he was playing the fairway on the 14th hole in Waterloo, Illinois, when he was swallowed by an 18-foot sinkhole.

His friends raced to help, managed to get him out after about 20 minutes. Mark joins us by phone. He is home in St. Louis, Missouri this morning. Mark, thank you for talking us with. There you are. I thought we would get you by phone, but there are you in person. Our signal is working.

MARK MIHAL, FELL INTO 18-FOOT SINKHOLE DURING GOLF GAME: Hi, there.

O'BRIEN: Listen, first of all, tell me how are you doing? I know that you dislocated your shoulder in all of this. How are you feeling this morning?

MIHAL: I'm doing OK. There's a lot of pain. Not much sleep, but I feel very fortunate that the shoulder was the only injury.

O'BRIEN: I bet you do. So walk us through exactly what happened. You are on the fairway. Describe for me what happened.

MIHAL: I was on the fairway. I was on the fairway on the 14th hole. I had already laid out my second shot on the par 5. A couple buddies, on the left side in the trees skipping out and trying to find yardage for my friends.

And noticed an anomaly, a bathtub shaped, depression in the fairway and I thought it was a little unfair for golfers to hit one right down in the middle and have to maybe just chip out. So I went to look at it and took one step and then I was gone.

O'BRIEN: My gosh, it opened up. So what is going through your mind as you are falling something like 18 feet I guess to the bottom of this hole.

MIHAL: Yes, at first I just -- I actually thought about the poor family in Florida, it's been on the news a lot, the sinkhole issue down there and just darkness, hoping to land on something, sometime soon and hopefully not hard.

O'BRIEN: You told your friends to go get rope and to help you. It took them only 20 minutes. So describe for me what they were able to do.

MIHAL: We were luckily only about 14th hole to leave the clubhouse again so there were maybe just 300 or 400 yards away from the clubhouse. Once I got down there and was able to adjust my eyes to the light, I realized that there was no way out except straight up. And I didn't have the use of my left arm, dislocated my shoulder at some point in the fall, I knew I need a ladder, I knew I couldn't pull myself out there by myself.

O'BRIEN: So they could put a ladder down for you?

MIHAL: Yes, they put a ladder down. There was a mound in the middle of this cave like room that was in so I wasn't confined luckily. The ladder just barely reaches top of this mound. It was straight up, the top of the ladder -- I don't know if you seen a picture of it, at the top with the level of the ground, it didn't reach by much.

O'BRIEN: Right, I can see it. We've been showing pictures of this massive hole, when they finally excavated it, you can see how giant it was. So what happens now? Are you -- you must be so terrified and concerned about going to play golf again?

MIHAL: Yes, I mean, it's -- it was a little traumatic. I went to have an MRI done yesterday and I'm not too claustrophobic, I had a couple of panic attacks. Tried to put me in the machine a couple of times, I pressed the button to get out of there. So it's probably affected me a little bit. I don't know. I can't wait to get healthy and get back on the course.

O'BRIEN: Get back on the course. I'm surprised to hear you say that.

MIHAL: I want to keep playing, of course. Yes. Maybe they make snowshoes with golf spikes on them.

O'BRIEN: How does your wife feel about that getting back on the course?

MIHAL: She is a little freaked out herself.

O'BRIEN: Yes, I can imagine. Mark Mihal, it's nice to have you with us. I'm so glad to see that you are well obviously. We're covering that terrible story out of Florida the other day where the man did not survive.

MIHAL: I'm glad to be here.

O'BRIEN: I bet you are. Thank you for talking with us. Appreciate it.

Going to get back to some breaking news out of the Vatican, black smoke from the Sistine Chapel meant that a new pope wasn't chosen. So what happens now? We have some insight from the retired archbishop of Washington. He helped choose the last pope.

And she made her life mission to get America in shape by yelling at them a lot actually. A new book, called "Slim for Life."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome, everybody. Our STARTING POINT this morning, breaking news, no decision on a pope. Black smoke this morning from the Sistine Chapel, could we see a choice made this afternoon? Live for you in Rome this morning.

A frantic search is underway for a missing second grade teacher in New Orleans. We'll talk to her mother about where the investigation stands.

BERMAN: A truck crashes into a house, causing both to burst into flames. One of the first responders on the scene has a surprising connection to the home.

O'BRIEN: Later this hour, celebrity trainer Jillian Michaels joins us live with advice from her new book, which is called "Slim for Life."

It's Wednesday, March 13th and STARTING POINT begins right now. Welcome, everybody. Our team this morning, Howard Kurtz is with us. He is the host of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES," Washington bureau chief and "Newsweek's Daily Beast."

Lauren Ashburn is with us. She is a contributor for the "Daily Beast" and editor-in-chief of Daily Download. Bruce Feiler is the author of the "Secrets of Happy Families."