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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

San Diego Mayor Under Fire; Trayvon Martin's Mother Speaks Out; Cleveland Kidnapper Agrees to Plea Deal; Interview with NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn

Aired July 26, 2013 - 16:00   ET

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


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: The saga of San Diego Mayor Bob Filner is starting to sound like 50 shades of gross.

I'm Brianna Keilar and this is THE LEAD.

The politics lead. As more women keep lining up to accuse Mayor Bob Filner treating the city like his own private singles bar, he decides this might be the right time to take a little break.

Also, she wants her broken heart to be a lesson to others -- Trayvon Martin's mother speaking in her own words speaking for the first time since one juror said George Zimmerman got away with murder.

And the national lead, he won't die for his crimes, but he will spend the rest of his life behind bars. Ariel Castro, the man who kept three women captive for a decade, talks about the demons that drove him.

I'm Brianna Keilar, filling in for Jake Tapper, who is off this week.

We begin with the politics lead. For the last week, woman after woman has come forward accusing San Diego Mayor Bob Filner of grabbing, groping, kissing, literally drooling on them and generally acting like a whistling, howling wolf in a Tex Avery cartoon. Just an hour ago, Mayor Filner offered apologies, but not his resignation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOB FILNER (D), MAYOR OF SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA: I apologize to my staff. I apologize to the citizens and staff members who have supported me over many years. I apologize to the people of San Diego. And most of all, I apologize to the women that I have offended.

So, beginning on August 5, I will be entering a behavior consulting -- counseling clinic to undergo two weeks of intensive therapy to begin the process of addressing my behavior.

During this time period, I be at the clinic full time. I must become a better person. And my hope is that becoming a better person, I put myself in a position to someday be forgiven.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: That was actually from take two of Filner's statement. He had more than a little bit of trouble the first time around. The audio cut out, leaving the mayor to stand there awkwardly for minutes on end and then he decided to exit the room altogether and regroup, as the audiovisual team came in to try to fix the situation, first swapping the microphone there. No effect.

Then they swapped out the podium, put in a whole new podium. Only at that point did Mayor Filner come out, read the statement from the top, nailed it. Mayor Filner's decision today came after the San Diego Democratic Party voted to urge him to step down from office.

There's also a recall effort under way to drive him out. Four more women came forward yesterday accusing him of inappropriate sexual behavior, a businesswoman, a retired Navy rear admiral, the head of the port tenants association and even a dean at San Diego State University. That brings the total number of women who have gone public against Filner to seven.

The four latest accusers did a group interview with KPBS, at least one saying she was on the receiving end of the now infamous Filner headlock.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PATTI ROSCOE, BUSINESSWOMAN: I turned and he just slobbered down my chin. And I was so violated and I was so offended.

ADM. VERONICA FROMAN (RET.), U.S. NAVY: And he ran his finger up my cheek like this and he whispered to me, do you have a man in your life? Then he came up and gave me a hug. And then he touched mr, U.S. groped me on my backside inappropriately.

JOYCE GATTAS, SAN DIEGO STATE UNIVERSITY: This is inappropriate, it unwanted and this shouldn't be happening.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: We're joined by Gloria Allred. Her client, Irene McCormack Jackson, filed a harassment lawsuit against Filner.

And one of Filner's other accusers, Morgan Rose, joining me now on the phone from San Diego.

Let's start with you, Morgan. I'm just wondering, from you perspective, is this enough for you, two weeks of what he's calling intensive behavior therapy?

MORGAN ROSE, ACCUSING FILNER OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT: Absolutely not. It is actually very insulting once again by this mayor. I'm at the truck right now. Let me see.

KEILAR: You know, what we're trying to set you up there in front of the camera. As you do that, we're going to bring in Gloria Allred for just a moment.

Gloria, what do you think that Filner needs to do to make it right? Obviously, you would say go much further than this. GLORIA ALLRED, ATTORNEY: Yes. We did file a sexual harassment lawsuit. We're the only ones to have filed a lawsuit so far on behalf of our client, Irene McCormack Jackson, on Monday and held a news conference. And I want to commend all the other women for coming forward since then.

What I would say is that what I want is the mayor to resign. I think that this is a ploy to try to buy time. He has damaged many, many women if it is true that all of the allegations that these women have made and this is not about just apologizing to him. It is about the harm that he's done. He has disgraced the city of San Diego. He needs to resign and he needs to resign right now.

KEILAR: And obviously this is a sensitive question that I want to talk to you about, and I think a lot of people do understand why some of these women may not have come out sooner.

But you look at a lot of them on paper, these are very upstanding, professional, seemingly very believable women. Why wouldn't they come out sooner do you think?

ALLRED: Can I only speak for my client. She was his director of communications. She was part of what he called his core team and she was trying to tough it out.

But finally she couldn't tough it out anymore. And the mayor now is announcing, what, that he's getting therapy. So I ask therapy for what? Does he need help to know that you don't say to a person who is working for you such as Irene that she should come to work without her panties on? Does he need therapy to know that you don't treat women as pieces of meat?

Does he need therapy to know that you don't say that you want to consummate a relationship with a woman and tell her you love her and want to marry her, as you did with Irene, who was working for him and the city? This man needs to resign. It's simple as that. Then he can get therapy after he resigns.

BALDWIN: Morgan, is that what you would like to see? You would like to see him resign, I imagine?

ROSE: Yes, absolutely I agree. He is addicted to power and control and has been for at least all of his public life. And in his very weak decision to go into therapy, he still gets his addiction. He still gets his fix of keeping the power and control.

And in doing so he subjugates us once again to even see his face on television or around the city and bring up all that horrible feeling that we have when we see a state that brings back all of our experience with him, in the dehumanizing way that he treated us. This is a man addicted to power and control and he's not about to give it up and he doesn't care that we still have to suffer with him as our so-called mayor.

KEILAR: Morgan, talk about that. How egregious were his advances on you? How did you feel going through that process? ROSE: Well, like I have said in many of the interviews, I had not been restrained by a man in 24 years. And in that moment 24 years before, I vowed I would never let that happen in my life again, and I have worked diligently to make sure that didn't.

And here I was handing him the hope of America's children on the America's Angel Campaign to the Obamas and then he treats me like a piece of meat. He was entrapping me. He would not let me leave unless I kissed him, which that was not going to happen. And it brings it all back up again.

And, you know, there's a saying that I might forget what you said, but I will never forget how you made me feel. None of us will ever forget. We hear his name and it all comes back to us, much less seeing his face and thinking he's in power as our mayor.

BALDWIN: And at this point, you have seven women who have come forward. How long did this go on for you? And do you expect that you will be seeing more women come forward?

ROSE: I do expect, yes, that there will be more women coming forward, because there is a catharsis to be able to say yes and to hold him accountable.

Even if he resigned, I would still want to see women coming forward just to keep him feeling at some very superficial level what we feel, the humiliation, the shame, all of that, if he's capable of feeling those thing.

(CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: Certainly.

Gloria Allred, a final word from you.

ALLRED: Yes, again, he should get therapy after he resigns. It's just absurd that the mayor at age 70 doesn't know that sexual harassment is against the law, doesn't know it's not appropriate to say to someone who works for him that he'd like her to come to work without her panties on and grabs her in a headlock, as he did with Irene, and tries to kiss, and she pushes him away, and he still continues with his sexual harassment.

This is a ploy. We know what it is, we see what it is. We're not going to be fooled by it and we are going to continue with our lawsuit against him.

KEILAR: Gloria Allred, Morgan Rose, thank you to both of you.

And when we come back, he is finally admitting to his crimes. Ariel Castro pleads guilty to over 900 charges. Now his victims are speaking out. That is next.

And later Anthony Weiner keeps proving that he's his own worst enemy, but his loss is her gain. We will talk to Christine Quinn, who just leapt over him in the polls. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Brianna Keilar, filing in for Jake Tapper.

And in national news, an admitted kidnapper and sexual predator avoids the death penalty. Ariel Castro agreed this morning to take a plea deal involving over 900 charges that he faces in connection with -- or faced, I should say, in connection with the kidnapping and abuse of three women in Cleveland.

Under the deal, Castro agreed to plead guilty to 937 counts in exchange for taking the death penalty off the table. It recommends a life sentence plus 1,000 years and that the house where the three women were held be demolished. The deal should keep the three women from having to testify in court against Castro.

They released a statement through their attorney that said they are -- quote -- "relieved" by today's plea. They're satisfied by the resolution to the case and are looking forward to having these legal proceedings draw to a final close in the near future.

For more on today's developments, we are joined by Lydia Esparra, who has been covering this case for WOIO 19 Action News, and also former federal sex crimes prosecutor Allison Leotta here in the studio.

Let's start with you, though, Lydia. We heard a lot from Ariel Castro. But how would you describe him at this hearing today where you were?

LYDIA ESPARRA, WOIO REPORTER: You're right.

For the first time, you hear him a lot. In the past, he has had his head down, his eyes closed, he hasn't spoken very much. Today, for the first time today, he looks and sounds like the Ariel Castro that the neighbors have been saying talks a lot, is gregarious. Although he wasn't laughing, he was a lot more pleasant, he was a lot more chatty, more so than he has been in past court appearances. So, this is more of the person that people have described him.

And, of course, because he got the book thrown at him, that's probably why.

BALDWIN: And, Allison, we heard a little bit from Ariel Castro in this hearing. He was rather bizarre, I think it's fair to say. We want to play a little part of this. This is when he was asked if he's fluent in English.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARIEL CASTRO, DEFENDANT: English -- I'm very good at spelling and I'm very good at reading, but I can't comprehend because, like I mentioned earlier, my addiction to pornography and, like, sexual problem has really taken a toll on my mind.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KEILAR: So that question isn't even related to him being a sexual predator and he sort of sexualizes it in this very bizarre way.

ALLISON LEOTTA, FORMER FEDERAL SEX CRIMES PROSECUTOR: Right.

KEILAR: What do we read into that?

LEOTTA: Well, it's clearly on his mind, right? The judge is trying to make sure he understands what's going, what's happening in the sentencing, because he's getting locked in right now. It's going to be very hard for him to get out of this procedurally now, he's plead guilty.

But he wants to talk about his sex addiction. I think he's probably been sitting in jail all this time waiting to have his turn to talk about, you know, poor Ariel Castro, and what his life was like and why he did what he did so. So --

KEILAR: So, that -- he feels victimized in a way, is that --

LEOTTA: Absolutely. That's what he started to say at the very beginning, when he said, well, I was a victim, too, as a child, and he started to go down that road and the judge stopped him, said, no, we'll get to that later. You can talk about that at sentencing.

KEILAR: That's not what this is for. And also, he did say he was sexually abused. I imagine that's pretty common --

LEOTTA: That is very common.

KEILAR: -- in cases somewhat similar to this. This is sort of extremely extraordinary case.

LEOTTA: Right. I mean, it's just a very sad, really tragic cycle that you see over and over again. Perpetrators, you know, caused the sexual abuse and the children grow up and become perpetrators themselves. It's a really tragic sort of cycle.

That said, most of them don't grow up to become Ariel Castro, taking women off the streets, chaining them in his house, keeping them for ten years. This is extraordinary. This is really the extreme spectrum of the end of human evil.

KEILAR: And, Lydia, as we read that statement from the victims, they say they're relieved to have this coming to an end. We also heard that the house in Seymour Avenue where he held these women is going to be demolished. Is that going to be a symbolic moment for the community, do you think?

LYDIA ESPARRA, ANCHOR AND REPORTER, WOIO 19 ACTION NEWS: I think it is. I've been in the community talking to a lot of the folks there. They're so tired of seeing the house. They say it's an eyesore.

They remember Castro as this other person, friendly, talking with them. In fact, when the girls were missing, he would come and say, oh, God help them, you know, God bless 'em, you know, I hope they find them.

So they're so upset over him and that house. So certainly when it comes down, I'm sure there's going to be a celebration. Besides the fact you have a lot of people just driving by and wanting to take pictures of this house of horrors.

KEILAR: Allison Leotta, Lydia Esparra there for us in Cleveland -- thank you to both of you.

And coming up on THE LEAD: We know that Tim Tebow has a new boss. But does he also have a new job? One NFL insider caught Tebow at Patriots training camp today and he wasn't playing quarterback.

And later, Prince Harry talks Prince George. He opens up about his first visit with his new nephew and share as warning for his brother, William.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: In national news, the mother of Trayvon Martin listened along with the rest of the country as one of George Zimmerman's jurors said she believed Zimmerman got away with murder, even though she helped acquit him.

Sybrina Fulton, Martin's mother, issued a statement saying that she was devastated to hear that. Today, she took her heartbreak to the National Urban League conference in Philadelphia where she vowed the verdict would not define her son.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SYBRINA FULTON, TRAYVON MARTIN'S MOTHER: My message to you is please use my story, please use my tragedy, please use my broken heart to say to yourself we cannot let this happen to anybody else's child.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: Juror B-29 known only as "Maddy", told ABC News that she wanted to convict Zimmerman of murder but Florida law would not allow it.

And then the sports lead, Tim Tebow is supposed to throw it so what is he doing catching it? The struggling quarter was seen at the New England Patriots camp doing drills with the wide receivers and running backs catching passes. Now, keep in mind, these were just drills, nothing written in concrete yet and Coach Bill Belichick certainly isn't saying much. But apparently, when Tebow did take some snaps, he didn't do so well. A correspondent with the NFL Network tweeted that Tebow was back with the quarterbacks not long afterward.

Let's check in with our political panel in the green room. And speaking of green, that does happen to be the color of paint that some moronic vandals splattered on the Lincoln Memorial last night. So, Jim Geraghty, to you I say, Lincoln, one of those few guys both sides of the aisle agree. What should the punishment be when they catch whoever did this?

JIM GERAGHTY, NATIONAL REVIEW: You know, there's a legend if you deface the statute, it will rise up out of its seat and come and get you for doing it!

KEILAR: Really? That's interesting. Well, we'll see. That would be quite a punishment. Geraghty, we'll be right back with you.

Stick around for the politics lead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: Back to THE LEAD.

In other political news, Anthony Weiner took questions today about the New York budget, the aftermath of Sandy -- no, wait. It was about his sexting scandal. >

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTHONY WEINER (D), NYC MAYORAL CANDIDATE: This is from a year ago. Since I've gotten in the race, a lot of this information, the basic facts of this information has been out there, people have said to me, some of them are concerned about these issues, but many people want to talk about their future, not necessarily my past.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: He was also greeted by this, the last cover of "The New Yorker", normally gracing the cover of a news magazine would be a compliment. I doubt Anthony Weiner is placing a "thank you" call to "The New Yorker," however.

Perhaps the biggest benefactor politically in all of this is his biggest opponent in the primary race, Christine Quinn. She's now leading Weiner by nine points. She has picked up the endorsements of two huge women's groups, the National Organization for Women and Emily's List.

KEILAR: And Christine Quinn joining me now.

Christine, I first want to ask you if you think Anthony Weiner should leave the race.

CHRISTINE QUINN (D) SPEAKER OF THE NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL: You know, when former Congressmember Weiner was deciding whether or not to get in the race, I said that was a decision for him to make.

And now that he's in the race, I think it's a decision for voters to make come primary day.

You know, this is the greatest city in the world, New York City. And it deserves a mayor who's serious, who has a real record of results, of vision for the future, who's responsible and mature.

All we've seen here with Congressmember Weiner is really a pattern of reckless behavior, an immaturity and a real disconnect from the truth.

So what I'm going to focus on in the days we have left, between now and the primary, is having a conversation with voters about my record, about my vision for the future, because that's what they deserve, is a substantive conversation, not the kind of circus the former congressmember has brought us.

KEILAR: Christine, you're in a strange position; you're the beneficiary politically of Anthony Weiner's indiscretions. How does that feel?

QUINN: Well, I think my race has been about my record and my vision moving forward. And come primary day and runoff day, when New Yorkers join with me and elect me mayor, it won't be that somebody else. It will be about the work I've done with them for the past eight years, the work I've done creating new jobs with them for middle class New Yorkers, the work we did together.

So come September, kindergarten is mandatory in every borough. The work we did together adding 10,000 new full-day pre-kindergarten seats.

This isn't about Anthony Weiner. It's about the future of New York. You know, today in the papers, we see the first post-Hurricane Sandy baby born. This race is about that child's potential and future, not some adult's misbehavior. And that's what this election's going to be about.

KEILAR: Let me ask you, though, about this sort of point of this issue. You're the only woman in the race. Do you think that Anthony Weiner's behavior speaks to a kind of sexism? Do you think a female politician could get away with this kind of thing?

QUINN: You know, look, I think what the former congressmember has done, as I've said, is reckless. It's a pattern of recklessness. It's immature. It's irresponsible.

No one should have behaved this way; no one should have lied about how they behaved this way. His gender isn't the issue for me. The issue is that he clearly has a disconnect from an ability to tell the truth and a pattern of reckless behavior.

But what this race needs to be about isn't that. It's about who can get things done for New Yorkers, middle class moving forward. And I know I can because I've already done that -- protecting tenants, building more affordable housing, expanding early childhood education, protecting teacher jobs. New Yorkers are smart people. They're cutting through this circus and having conversations with me every day about the real issues in their lives and they want the mayor to be about their lives, not themselves.

KEILAR: I want to talk to you actually about some poll numbers. When you look at your supporters, yesterday's poll showed that you are now ahead of Anthony Weiner. But I want to point out something else more Anthony Weiner supporters say they strongly support him than your supporters do. What do you say about that enthusiasm gap?

QUINN: One thing I know about polls and anybody who has run for office knows they're going to go up and they're going to go down. And in our city, there are three polls that matter, the primary day, the runoff and the general election. I'm incredibly confident I'm going to be victorious in all three because I'm the only candidate who has a real record of having delivered for New York's middle class. A lot of other people can talk about it and at the end of the day talk is cheap. I'm the only one who is actually delivering.

KEILAR: Christine Quinn, thank you being with us.

QUINN: Thank you guys.

KEILAR: Coming up, with the clock ticking down to election night, Eliot Spitzer is denying rumors that it's over between him and his wife, but "The New York Post" says she's done.

And later even with all those fancy computers in the cockpit, human error is still a factor when something goes wrong on a flight. We'll look at what happened in among other recent incidents that deadly crash in San Francisco.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)