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Mystery of Molly`s Death

Aired August 13, 2013 - 21:00   ET



DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, a young woman shot in the head. No prints on the gun. Her texts and blog posts suggest suicide. Her father says murder. The behavior bureau reviews how to tell which one it might be. Dr. Bill Lloyd is here with what he knows.

Plus, a child sex criminal awarded custody of his 6-year-old daughter. Can he be father of the year? Or was this the biggest mistake the judge ever made? Convicted sex offender is here to defend the court`s decision.

Let`s get started.



PINSKY: Good evening.

My co-host Samantha Schacher, host of "Pop Trigger" on the Young Turks Network.

Coming up, more on the dad who had been granted custody of his 6-year- old daughter. He just happens to be, Sam, a convicted sex offender. I`m just saying.


PINSKY: What are you going to do?

SCHACHER: There are more details which we will discuss.

PINSKY: We will.

But, first, 21-year-old Molly Young was shot in the head and killed. She was in her ex-boyfriend`s room at the time. It was his gun. He called 911. Death was initially ruled a suicide. Her father says it was murder.

Watch this. You`ll see how involved this gets.


EX-BOYFRIEND: It`s my ex-girlfriend. I look up and she`s covered in blood. She`s overdosed. She`s bled out through the nose.

LOCAL REPORTER: Why wouldn`t he tell dispatchers she overdosed when she was shot in the head?

MOLLY`S MOM: Devastated. Our hearts are broken.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Minton woke up and discovered Young on the floor of his bedroom. Minton said he tried to give her CPR when he realized she`d been shot in the head.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This case remains open.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Carbondale authorities turned the case over to state police since Minton is a CPD employee. But state police have not talked to Minton. He`s never agreed to an interview. Something Young`s family would like to see changed.

MOLLY`S DAD: I`m going to get all the facts so I can prove what`s going on here.

MOLLY`S MOM: Even though we know in our hearts we feel like what happened, we just want some answers.


PINSKY: There are no suspects in this case. No one has been charged. I believe they had a grand jury assembled to look at this.

Investigative reporter Rita Cosby is here.

Rita, what is at the heart of this case?

RITA COSBY, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER (via telephone): Well, Dr. Drew, this case is extraordinary and very unusual because of the bizarre circumstances. There is a rumor that the case was closed, but it`s not. And there are notes and journal entries. There`s a text from her phone saying she wanted to commit suicide.

But -- and there are some very big buts in this case -- her ex- boyfriend a police dispatcher isn`t talking. He`s lawyered up. He moved the body. He changed his clothes, washed his hands. She`s right-handed and was shot above the ear on the left side of her head. That`s an awkward position if you try to simulate that.

And there`s no gun residue on her hands, no fingerprints on the gun and he claimed he slept through a loud gun shot a few feet away.

And all of this, Dr. Drew, makes it look very suspicious.

PINSKY: Thank you, Rita.

Joining us to discuss, Darren Kavinoky, attorney and host of "Deadly Sins" on Investigation Discovery, defense attorney Anahita Sedaghatfar, our HLN host Lynn Berry, and former prosecutor Loni Coombs, author of "You`re Perfect and Other Lies Parents Tell".

All right. So, the question here is should this case be investigated further? And if so, why?

Lynn, you`re first.

LYNN BERRY, HLN HOST: Well, here`s the deal -- the prosecutors say this is not a closed case, but there`s not enough admissible evidence. You can believe that or not, but really it seems to be the difficult thing to overcome is this journal entry.

And here`s why -- it`s three pages long. It`s from Molly Young herself. And in her own words, she goes through every single family member saying goodbye, apologizing for taking her own life. She even references Richie himself.

This is not a guy she paints as someone that`s madly in love with her, trying to get her back. In fact, she says all I ever wanted was to be with you and I`m sorry I made that so hard. I`m sorry I acted crazy. I probably am crazy.

I think prosecutors look at this and say this is going to be tough to overcome in front of a jury.

PINSKY: Darren, what do you say?

DARREN KAVINOKY, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Ahh, Drew, yes. I`m jumping out of my skin here.

Look, there`s a difference between somebody being suicidal as that note might suggest versus actually committing suicide.

PINSKY: Wait, Darren. Darren. Darren. Darren.

Hold on! Darren! I got to stop you. I`ve read the suicide note. It`s a suicide note.

She says good-bye to everybody. I`ll read some of it to you later. She says, farewell, I`m going to go visit grandma.

This is it. I have no option. I have no hope. This is what I`m going to do.

KAVINOKY: I got that.

SCHACHER: But do you rule out murder? But do you rule out murder?

KAVINOKY: But wait. It`s the objective evidence that`s going to tell the story here. The gun shot wound being above her left ear when she`s right-handed makes absolutely no sense. Think about it.

PINSKY: Darren. OK.

KAVINOKY: If you`re going to commit suicide, you`ll do it with the opposite hand? The lack of the gun shot residue. That`s another red flag. This has suspicion over it, Drew.

BERRY: It has suspicion, but can you overcome reasonable doubt when you have, you know, three pages of the journal entry basically saying good- bye, you have text messages saying I tried to take my life? It`s just something tough enough to overcome.

PINSKY: Hold on. I want to go to Lynn -- to Loni and Anahita.

Loni, you first. Before you talk about, I see you kind of jumping out of your screen, too. I want you to do something. I want you to hold your left hand up to your left temple just like this. You got it, Loni?


PINSKY: OK. Impossible, Darren. Impossible. She couldn`t possibly do that. That`s exactly where the gun went off was right here.

So, Loni -- and I`m right-handed. I can get my hand up to my left temple. I can do it. Loni, what do you want to say?

KAVINOKY: Oh, with your right hand?


PINKSY: No. With my left hand. Here it is. I picked it up in my left hand and put it on my left temple. You don`t have to use your right hand.

Loni, go ahead.


KAVINOKY: Of course not. But are you doing --

COOMBS: I understand what Darren -- look, Darren, I understand what you`re saying about the suicide note. But just because you write a suicide note doesn`t mean you`re actually going to commit suicide. But there`s even more compelling texts the week leading up to when she actually died talking about how she had just tried to kill herself by taking a poison and that didn`t work. So, now, she`s going to try shooting herself in the head. I think those are also very compelling.

But here`s the thing, it has to be beyond a reasonable doubt. A prosecutor cannot file a case until they have enough evidence where they believe they can prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. And I think if all of us were honest here, at this point, there is not enough evidence to show whether this is a disease or a murder beyond a reasonable doubt.

And that is why sometimes, I`m sorry to tell you, people get away with murder. I`m not saying that in this case. But people do get away with murder.


KAVINOKY: Something stinks here.

SCHACHER: Yes. I agree, Darren. I agree 100 percent.

PINSKY: Anahita?

ANAHITA SEDAGHATFAR, ATTORNEY: Yes. I actually agree with Loni. And I totally get that the parents want answers. This is a 21-year-old girl and she`s dead. And they do want to hold somebody responsible. It`s hard to think your own family member or in this case your daughter committed suicide.

But there was a thorough investigation conducted by the state police which incidentally was an independent agency to ensure there was no conflict of interest here. And there`s absolutely no forensic evidence that would tie her ex-boyfriend to this killing. There`s no DNA. There`s no gun residue. There`s nothing. I think the prosecution can`t --


KAVINOKY: -- her own death either. That`s the problem --


PINSKY: Sam, go ahead.

SEDAGHATFAR: -- which is why the prosecution can`t -- Darren, how can the prosecution in good faith bring criminal charges against someone when you yourself are admitting that there`s no evidence either way? The prosecution ethically has a duty only to file cases on the --

KAVINOKY: I`m not admitting that.

SEDAGHATFAR: -- they can prove.

PINSKY: OK. Hang on, Sam, go ahead.

SCHACHER: First of all, the father -- hold on. Anahita, hold on.

First of all, I get it. One second. I get it that there is evidence, of course, suggesting that she committed suicide, obviously. But I think that the father and the family, all they`re asking is all they`re advocating for is for the police to do further investigation into the other physical evidence. And there is other physical evidence.

PINSKY: What is that, Sam?

SCHACHER: Well, the fingerprints not being on the gun.

PINSKY: But nobody`s were on the gun. That`s weird. That`s the weirdest thing.

SCHACHER: I wonder if there was foul play. I wonder why there`s not other fingerprints on the gun, for the body to be moved. I mean, come on. He didn`t realize that she killed herself?

PINSKY: Happens all the time. People run and find somebody dead and start CPR.

SCHACHER: The 911 call is suspicious. I think there`s a lot of suspicious behavior here.

PINSKY: Lynn, he was talking -- listen, by the way, we`ve reached out to Richie Minton. HLN has reached out to him through his attorney and we received no word back.

But, Lynn, he was talking to his peers that were also dispatchers. He knows how difficult it is to listen to somebody calling a 911 line when they`re all worked up. He`s trying to be cool talking to his -- by the way, at that point, she was -- it was clear to him what was going on.

Lynn, what do you say?

BERRY: Listen, there`s no doubt there are things incredibly suspicious here. But, Darren, you and I both covered the Zimmerman trial, we`ve both covered the Joshua Young trial, Casey Anthony. How many times do the jurors have trouble with that word or those words reasonable doubt? You have to have the concrete evidence or you`re putting forth a case and you`re wasting a lot of people`s time when you know it`s not going to end up with a guilty verdict.

PINSKY: And, Loni, one of the things that really -- hang on. Darren, hold on. Hold on!

Loni, let me just say that I was on Jane an hour ago and we talked to the uncle. Jane brought up the coroner`s report. We have the 100-page coroner`s report where it was very, very thorough investigation. And the uncle said, well, you can`t believe the coroner.

So what -- if the family`s not going to believe the independent evidence, what are we going to do with this?

COOMBS: That`s exactly right. One of the hardest parts of the prosecutor`s job is to tell a victim`s family we`re not going to file charges. Whether it`s because of insufficient evidence or they just don`t believe that`s the right person. And the victim`s family may never accept it.

But you cannot file a case just because a victim`s family insists that this is the guy who did it. You have to as the prosecutor take that duty seriously and say, this may be hard, it may be unpopular, but this is what I`m paid to do, to look at the evidence and decide can I prove it beyond a reasonable doubt?

PINSKY: Got it, Loni.

I`m up against the clock. I want Anahita to take me home.

Go ahead, Darren, finish.

SEDAGHATFAR: Thank you, Dr. Drew. I was saying --


PINSKY: This is hard with the different satellite feeds and delays and things. I apologize. That`s why we`re stepping on each other. By the time they hear me saying Anahita, Darren is in there.

I want Anahita to take me home. Finish it up.

SEDAGHATFAR: OK. I was just going to mention, Dr. Drew, that there was a coroner`s inquest. There were six jurors that sat in that courtroom and listened to all of the evidence, listened to testimony. And they could not determine what the cause of death was here.

So, having said that, I don`t think the prosecution can ethically move forward and put any criminal charges here.

PINSKY: However, I am very sympathetic to this family and I think they should continue these investigations to their satisfaction. So they can put this to rest. I hope Richie Minton does tell his side of the story some day. I know he`s all lawyered up so he can`t talk.

But thank you, panel.

Coming up, I`ve got Dr. Bill Lloyd and what he knows about this history.

And later, should a sex offender ever get custody of a child? Some answers after the break.



MOLLY`S UNCLE: Richie, through some means or another, lured her to his apartment and we don`t know what happened after that. Because just as you found out from your show, Richie`s refusing to talk to anybody, the supposed ex-boyfriend who is supposed to care is refusing and has refused to talk to anybody.


PINSKY: Time for the behavior bureau.

Back with my co-host Samantha Schacher.

And we are talking about the mysterious death of Molly Young. Was it murder or was it suicide? No suspects as of it yet, no one has been charged.

Joining me, clinical and forensic psychologist Cheryl Arutt, attorney and SiriusXM Radio host Jenny Hutt, criminal investigator Danine Manette, author of "Ultimate Betrayal", and psychotherapist Wendy Walsh, author of "30-Day Love Detox."

All right. Cheryl, first out to you. How do you tell that someone did not commit suicide? You know what I`m asking?

I mean, when someone leaves a note, leaves a method, predicts what they`re going to do and has been chronically suicidal. And then they`re found with that methodology on them, how do you know they didn`t?

CHERYL ARUTT, CLINICAL AND FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, Dr. Drew, there is an enormous difference between being suicidal and actually committing suicide. And this is a crucial distinction. I don`t think anybody is arguing that Molly was not suicidal.

However, many times women don`t use guns. If they do use guns, they don`t manage to shoot themselves on the left side top of the head, right?

PINSKY: Cheryl?


PINSKY: I will say three things. One is, increasingly, women are using guns, number one. Number two, she had apparently attempted suicide repeatedly and then texted that she was going to go on to using a firearm.

Jenny, what do you say?

JENNY ARUTT, RADIO HOST: This is what I think. I think this whole situation is unbelievably tragic. And for that father, first of all, to lose a child is devastating. But to lose a child to suicide, to a self- inflicted gun shot wound is additionally devastating. I`m sure he`s going to search everywhere high and low to figure how this could have happened and that she didn`t do it.

Now, I`m not convinced -- and I`m in the minority here -- that she didn`t do it. This was clearly a suicidal girl based on they are blog entry and her notes and her text. This was not a happy girl.

Now, are there weird things about this case? Yes. But they can`t find the evidence to prove otherwise. So --

PINSKY: OK, well, that`s right.

ARUTT: Dr. Drew, where`s the gun shot residue though? Why aren`t we looking at his behavior? Why aren`t we looking at lots of suspicious behavior on his part? Did she hide the gloves that she shot herself in after she died? I mean, this doesn`t make any sense.

SCHACHER: And why did he decline the interview? If you`re an innocent person, what do you have to hide? This is somebody that you once loved or still love. I think that`s weird.

PINSKY: It is weird, but we can talk to our attorney friends about that.

What`s that, Wendy?

WENDY WALSH, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: I say -- speaking of love, that could be the issue. On one side, you could look at it through a lens of -- well, he lured her over there to get rid of her with their crazy traumatic attachment.

Or she could have gone over and committed suicide at his place while he was bombed just so he would have to endure this, this murder trial, as her last act of vengeance. We really don`t know.

PINSKY: Danine, you`re the criminal investigator. Talk to us about the gun residue. I read through the autopsy report carefully. This girl had pressed the gun up hard against her temple. There was gunpowder throughout her cranium inside. But it didn`t get out onto her hand.

Is that possible? Is that something that can be explained?

DANINE MANETTE, CRIMINAL INVESTIGATOR: It`s definitely possible. It`s also possible he would not have seen that upon the initial inspection of her body. He may have just truly believed she was bleeding out of the nose.

What I want to know about the gun is how many bullets were in the gun? Was there one bullet? Was this a game of Russian roulette that may have been playing? Was there alcohol in her system?

You know, there`s so many things about this (INAUDIBLE) case that I don`t know.

PINSKY: I don`t know the answer to the bullet thing. I know it was looked into and apparently wasn`t suspicious. But in her system was Ativan, Lorazepam, which is an anti-anxiety medication. By the way, sometimes, people get acutely you all agree with this, Wendy and Cheryl, they get acutely depressed, Cheryl, on Lorazepam sometimes. Or they`re using it and out of control with it and getting desperate about that.

What do you say, Cheryl?

ARUTT: can I ask you a question? I`m wondering -- I am wondering if you have heard about evidently Richie posted on a social media page several days before her death something like -- and the lead came down upon her head until she was dead. Are you familiar with the fact that he posted that a few days before she died?

PINSKY: I`m not. Nor do I understand what that means? Do you?

MANETTE: Are those lyrics to a song?


ARUTT: I don`t know if they`re lyrics to a song, but evidently on -- evidently, this was something that the coroner verified. I don`t know if you`re familiar with that. But if that is the case, would that shift at all your perspective on this?

PINSKY: Listen, I`m not saying I am right. We could find out this was murder and I would not -- in my career aye learned to expect anything. But I`m just saying the overwhelming evidence keeps pointing towards suicide.

Speaking of him, I want you to listen to him. Here`s a clip from the 911 call. The male voice is Molly`s friend Richie. Take a listen.


EX-BOYFRIEND: It`s my ex-girlfriend. I woke up and she`s covered in blood. She`s overdosed. She bled out through her nose.

DISPATCHER 1: And you said she`s 23?

EX-BOYFRIEND: Twenty-two.

DISPATCHER 1: Twenty-two. What`s her name?

DISPATCHER 2: 911, what is your emergency?

DISPATCHER 1: Hey, I`m going to send a number they have a 1079.



EX-BOYFRIEND: This is Richie. My girlfriend just committed suicide.

DISPATCHER 2: We`ll be on our way.

EX-BOYFRIEND: Thanks, Amber.

DISPATCHER: All righty. Bye.


PINSKY: Jenny, so there he is talking to another dispatcher Amber. They`re colleagues. That`s why it seems so bizarre. He`s calling some 911 operator by name.

Why do you say?

SCHACHER: He seems real calm.

HUTT: Yes. Well, so I have two things to say. Number one, he didn`t grant an interview because he didn`t feel he had anything to defend -- if, in fact, he didn`t murder her.

Number two, I think initially he`s so calm, because she initially, he did think she overdosed and though that`s horrific, I would be hysterically crying. Who knows why he was composed? I don`t think it sounded like he was lying when he thought she overdosed.

PINSKY: OK, all right.

HUTT: But I`m not an expert in that. I just don`t feel that way.


WENDY: And also, Dr. Drew --

PINSKY: All right. Danine first.

MANETTE: I listen to 911 tapes all the time in my job. And the dispatchers are always very calm. In view of a crazy situation, a lot of screaming, yelling, gun shots, whatever. They`re always calm. They`re calm by nature.

Secondly, when you work in certain fields, you`re not as shocked by things as other people are. I can look at a crime scene photo of a dead body and dismembered person and I`m not fazed by it where other people are.

So, you know, he`s worked in this field. He`s going to have a level of calmness that other people aren`t going to have.

PINSKY: As always, the behavior bureau --


PINSKY: What scares me about my participants is even as a physician it would screw me up, seeing a dismembered body.

But, Wendy, take me home.

WALSH: Well, we also should say that plenty of men in America have what`s called normative male elexopamia (ph). Those are big words for an inability to connect feelings with words. They have low affect. They speak in a very almost monotone.

That`s just how plenty of guys are.

PINSKY: Yes. Well, this guy, he is an operator, a 911 operator. He knows how to -- like if I were in the emergency room with a family member who was sick, I would be losing it on the inside, but I would know how to conduct myself to make sure things went well for my family member.

Thank you, panel.

Next up, our own forensic expert, Dr. Bill Lloyd joins us with his take on the evidence. Oh, my goodness -- we`ll find out what that means.

And later, should sex offenders give up all parental rights? That`s in the behavior bureau when we come back.



LOCAL REPORTER: Crime scene investigators believe Young was standing when the shooting happened. Her body had been moved.

MOLLY`S DAD: Molly was shot on the top left side of her head and she`s right-handed.

LOCAL REPORTER: The gun used belonged to Richie, but police could not pull any fingerprints from it or determine who shot it.


PINSKY: I`m back with Samantha Schacher.

Sam, we`ve been talking about the death of 20-year-old Molly Young. Suicide or something more sinister like murder. No suspects in the case just yet. No one has been charged.

But we will be speaking to the father whom you just saw on that tape tomorrow night. Again, I am prepared to accept that this was a murder. Just seeing all this suicidal evidence and right now I want to talk to Dr. Bill Lloyd. He`s a pathologist.

So, Dr. Lloyd -- and also I`ve got my panel back as well. I`ve got Jenny and Lynn and Darren.

Dr. Lloyd, does the fact that this was on the left side of her skull really bother you that much? Or are you like me and think she happened to pick it up with her left hand and shot with her left hand?

DR. BILL LLOYD, PATHOLOGIST: Drew, it`s one piece of the puzzle. And as pathologist, it`s important to be able to discriminate between authentic and fake.

Now, take a look at these flowers. They look very pretty. But there`s no aroma. There`s no fragrance.

This is a woman with a self-inflicted gun shot wound at the left side of the head right about here. But she`s right-handed. Why would she go to all that trouble?

You know, these pretty flowers, they just don`t feel right, because they`re not authentic. Why would someone who committed suicide not have their fingerprints on the gun?

We hear so much about the evidence. There wasn`t enough evidence, because the evidence was destroyed. So there are unanswered questions --

PINSKY: Hold on, Bill. Dr. Lloyd, I got to interrupt you. We`re having some microphone problem with you. We`re literally listening to you through somebody else`s microphone, I think.

But -- so, see if they can fix for us.

Jenny, you wanted to comment?

HUTT: Well, what Dr. Lloyd was saying was that he feels like this doesn`t add up. I think what he`s saying is he does think murder because he thinks the evidence was destroyed. That`s what I heard.

PINSKY: And what evidence do you think it was, Jenny?

HUTT: He`s saying that the fingerprints were destroyed and that the fact that she used her left hand or used her right hand to her left side doesn`t add up like a flower that has no fragrance doesn`t have fragrance. It`s not a real thing, it`s not authentic.

So, I think if that`s the case, then there`s a whole community that`s covering up one crime. Well, that`s disastrous, Drew. If, in fact, that`s the case as some people has said because this guy has ties to the police department. He was a dispatcher.

PINSKY: And yet, Lynn, we`ve had two independent sources -- well, three. We have the coroner, we have the state police, and we have grand jury independently looking at this thing.

How could that be?

BERRY: Well, I mean, that`s -- the question is what evidence are they coming up with? And they`re finding they don`t have enough evidence to charge him. They said that this case is still open.

But there`s another piece of this puzzle that is another nugget of suspicion. How did Richie Minton not hear the gun shot? He apparently woke up and said that he found his girlfriend dead. Well, if she shot herself in his room, which there was a piece or a speck of blood on his comforter which was away from the body which is another suspicion -- how did he not hear the gun shot?

Well, there was an investigator that addressed that issue and what he said was Minton was bombed. He was very drunk that night. If he passed out, it is possible he didn`t hear it.

Do you know many people that are so drunk and so passed out that they would miss a gun shot?

PINSKY: That to me -- that and the no finger prints on the gun, those are the two things that stand up. Dr. Lloyd then Darren.

Dr. Lloyd?

LLOYD: Yes, one more thing about authentic information. Let`s say -- let`s go with the point that she actually did go to all the trouble to bring her arm around and press so hard on her skull. She would have to have gun shot residue on her hand if her hand was that close to the gun because she was the one firing it, her hand should have been loaded with it. Even if somebody tried to watch the hands off there`s a little too much housekeeping going on --

PINSKY: Dr. Lloyd, hold on. Hold on. I agree. But answer me this. Why couldn`t she just have been shooting with her left hand? Just because your right-handed doesn`t mean your left hand doesn`t work?

And, by the way, I read the autopsy as I know you did, and there was gunpowder all throughout the brain meaning she pushes the gun very hard against her temple area here. Is it possible it was hard enough to prevent the gunpowder from coming back?

LLOYD: No, not at all. This was not a high energy wound. She did crack the scalp. But if it was a high energy pistol, that round would have gone straight through to the back of her head. No, this was a pinball. That bullet went around and around and around. It was a dirty gun. And it proves the point that she would have even more evidence on her hand. Why should she use her left hand --

PINSKY: Oh, that`s interesting.

LLOYD: Just a stupid proposition as to why she`d go all the way over to the other side. Where`s the burn? Where`s the fingerprints?

PINSKY: Interesting.

SCHACHER: And why if he was so bombed, how come he didn`t sound bombed on the 911 call?

PINSKY: Well, maybe that`s why he was so bland. But Darren, I know you`ve been dying. Take me home, Darren.


KAVINOKY: This case illustrates the difference between a prosecutor`s duty about bringing charges only when they have evidence to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt and something that just doesn`t pass the gut test, the smell test, this authenticity that the doctor was speaking about.

We know something`s up here. There`s too much that doesn`t add up, the changing of the clothes, the placement of the wound, the lack of the gunpowder residue. You can explain away any one of these things, but when you`ve got so many of these suspicious items, it just doesn`t make sense. And at the end of the day, that`s why this case is so unsatisfying for everybody that`s watching it.

PINSKY: And the family most importantly. We will speak to them tomorrow. That`s where we will leave this. Thank you, panel. Very interesting conversation.

Coming up, the six-year-old girl sent to live with her sex offender father. We`re going to hear from her outraged mom.

And later, another sex offender will defend the court`s decision to let this guy have that kid. Back after this.



PINSKY (voice-over): This man who pleaded no contest to one charge of lewd and lascivious acts with a child.

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HLN ANCHOR: -- raping step-daughter when she was just six years old.

PINSKY: He was just awarded sole custody of his six-year-old biological child by this judge.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His victim was, you know, six years old at the time. And she`s six years old right now.

NANCY GRACE, HLN ANCHOR: Judge Howard Haralson sends a defenseless six-year-old girl to live with her sex offender father.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hell would have froze over before I turn a kid over to a sexual predator.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This judge sounds like he`s in la la land.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What the heck was this judge thinking?

PINSKY: The story gets murkier when you take a good look at the mom.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The mom has been unemployed and bouncing back and forth from house to house. The daughter doesn`t have her own bed to sleep in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The child was really struggling with several things, one of them bedwetting. That may not sound like a big thing for a six-year-old. But the six-year-old was masturbating.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When a six-year-old masturbates, that`s trouble. There`s trouble in the household.


PINSKY (on-camera): Welcome back. My co-host is Samantha Schacher. A convicted sex offender who served three years in jail for being convicted of molesting his young stepdaughter was granted custody, sole custody I believe, of the six-year-old daughter, biological daughter. His ex-wife will be joining us shortly. She is outraged.

With us still, Attorney Darren Kavinoky and Anahita Sedaghatfar, former prosecutor, Loni Coombs. Lynn, you`re still here. And I have to think there`s more to this story. Do we know why the judge decided in favor of the sex offender?

LYNN BERRY, HLN HOST: There are so many details to this. And it`s so frustrating when you hear a sex offender got a six-year-old girl in his custody. But here`s his side of the story if there is one that`s justified. He says he had maintained his innocence that he never molested that six-year-old girl back in 1995.

He pled no contest to one charge because he was facing a slew of other charges and he probably would have spent his life behind bars. So, he served three years and he gets out of jail and he`s a registered sex offender. And at the custody hearing last June, the girl that he allegedly molested recanted her story. She said I was forced to say that I was molested. I actually wasn`t. All that --

PINSKY: Yes. Lynn --

BERRY: Yes, go ahead.

PINSKY: Well, I want to put that up as a full screen. I know the producers. You have the actual document that was sent to the court. When you see what was sent into the court, you realize it was Elizondo`s stepdaughter who he had supposedly molested. You recanted the story, and here`s what she says. She says her mom coerced her into doing it saying -- it is court document.

Please put it up there for me. "One day she started yelling at me that my stepfather had been touching me in the wrong places. I knew that it was not true, but she just kept yelling at me in a forceful way. So, I eventually went along with what she said." I`m sorry we don`t actually have the actual document.

There`s actually an official -- these are just outtakes from this official court document. But Lynn, that`s what you`re talking about, right?

BERRY: That`s exactly what I`m talking about. And Dr. Drew, that`s not to say that it`s not disturbing that this child is in the care of a registered sex offender, because my argument is if you plead guilty to being a registered -- to being a sex offender, you take the responsibility on of being a sex offender.

PINSKY: You take all that goes with it.

BERRY: You do.

PINSKY: Yes. Just take all that goes with it.

BERRY: And it was interesting. Jean Casares on covered, he actually tried to have that conviction overturned and it was denied. Why?

PINSKY: Darren, you`re a defense attorney. Have you ever heard of a judge granting a sex offender the sole custody effectively?

KAVINOKY: Well, it`s very interesting, because first of all, to follow-up on Lynn`s last point, why would that conviction not be overturned. You have a real problem when you`re claiming factual innocence. It`s got to be done by way of a habeas corpus writ, but if he`s not in custody, then you can`t run that through. So, this is a really tricky legal problem.

But Drew, there`s got to be more to this story than meets the eye. You don`t give custody of a child to any parent until a judge has had a hearing to determine what is in the best interest of the child.


KAVINOKY: I`ve never met the mom. I`ve never evaluated the mom. But there`s got to be something going on.

PINSKY: You`ll be hearing from her in a second. I agree with you. Anahita, what do you want to say? We got to go.

ANAHITA SEDAGHATFAR, ATTORNEY: I actually don`t think there`s anything troubling about -- or tricky about this case as Darren said. You don`t turn a child over to a convicted sex predator. Even if this young girl that claims she was molested is now recanting her story, at the end of the day, he pleaded guilty to this crime.

He`s a registered sex offender, and with that, there are legal ramifications, Dr. Drew. He can`t go near schools. He can`t go near parks. How can he give this young girl a normal life under these circumstances? There has to be a plan "B" or "C" here.

PINSKY: Like foster care or -- there`s all kinds of plan "Bs" and "Cs," I think. But -- in the same thing. I got to go.

Next, a convicted sex offender and activist will defend this father`s right to gain sole custody of his daughter.

And later, the mom we`ve been talking about, fighting to get her daughter back, joins me in the "Behavior Bureau." Be right back.



BERRY: The father, yes he claims that he didn`t do it. He actually says the stepdaughter that he was accused of molesting will testify that she was not molested.

MARK EIGLARSH, SPEAKTOMARK.COM: He was convicted. He entered a plea. He had a choice of either going to trial or taking a plea. He chose to take a plea. He is now convicted of that offense.

BERRY: Why is he not fighting to have his sex offender status revoked?

EIGLARSH: He can`t go back and call a do over.

BERRY: But don`t you then have to live with the consequences of taking a plea? You accepted a plea that you were a sex offender. Therefore, sex offenders should not have custody of children. That should be a blanket rule.


PINSKY: Lynn making that point again. It is time for the "Behavior Bureau" with my co-host, Samantha Schacher. We`re joined by Jenny Hutt, Wendy Walsh, and Danine Manette. Also, with us, Derek Logue, himself, had been a convicted sex offender, but now, he fights for the rights of people like Nicolas Elizondo (ph), the sex offender who`d been recently granted the custody of his six-year-old daughter.

So, Derek, I think you`re here to talk about this notion of a blanket rule that Lynn was advocating that sex offenders should not have custody of children. What do you say to that?

DEREK LOGUE, FOUNDER, ONCEFALLEN.COM: Well, first of all, I`d like to say that the judge did what a lot of people in our society should do, go beyond the label and look at the evidence presented before them. Not every person on the sex offender registry is a pedophile, not every pedophile is a registered sex offender.

There are a lot of different ways to land on a sex offender registry these days and not everybody on that list did so because they molested or raped somebody. And until society starts looking at things on it from an evidence-based standpoint, we`re never going to be able to get past the label.

PINSKY: All right. Jenny, you`re reacting.

JENNY HUTT, ATTORNEY: Right. Well, first of all, I think you`re correct about that statement, because there are different levels which is so maddening of sex offenses. But, first of all, what was your situation? I think I read something. Do you talk about it?

LOGUE: Yes. When I was in college, 1999, I had contact with an individual under, you know, under the age of consent. It was a willing participant, but even though it was, I accept responsibility that I did a crime. You know, I did something that I should not have done. I served three years. I got out.

For the last ten years, I have been on the sex offender registry here in Ohio. You know, I`ve experienced a lot of social ostracism, the denial of housing and services, and other things that go with being a registered sex offender. The vigilante problem --


PINSKY: Wendy, do you have a reaction?

WENDY WALSH, PH.D., PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, I actually want more information, because I want to know what the word contact means.

PINSKY: OK. Before you do, Danine, your take.

DANINE MANETTE, CRIMINAL INVESTIGATOR: Yes. You know, sometimes, there are consequences that come with actions. And we all wish we could go back and redo a lot of things that we did as a younger, dumber person. Some people pull a trigger and kill somebody. And unfortunately, they have to go to prison and they deal with that felony the rest of their life and it affects them. That`s life. I mean, when you make bad decisions, they`ll follow you.

PINSKY: Consequences. That`s right. And we`re trying to protect children here. So, we`re taking --

SCHACHER: You can`t defend sex offenders at the end of the day, because --


SCHACHER: You`re still robbing from that child their life.

PINSKY: Jenny, go ahead.

SCHACHER: You`re still taking from them.


HUTT: Hold on. Because it`s very kind of him to come and show his face here. It can`t be easy. So thanks for that.

SCHACHER: I`m speaking generally. Jenny, I`m speaking generally.

HUTT: Listen, there`s just a difference between what he did which I think is awful because it was an underage young child. And a 16-year-old who -- a 17-year-old who has sex with his 16-year-old girlfriend when they`ve been together for three years. That`s a different scenario.

PINSKY: You`re right.


HUTT: And they have both end up sex offenders.

SCHACHER: It still affects the child.

LOGUE: If you take that individual who was convicted of what we call a Romeo and Juliet offense and you look on the registry, it says sexual molestation of a child. It does not tell a person that, oh, this person was 18 and he was with a 15-year-old girlfriend. No. Society does not make differentiation.

They don`t understand the difference between a pedophile and a situational offender. And even some of the people in the media who come on shows like this do not differentiate. They use a term sex offender and pedophile interchangeably and there is something completely wrong with that.


PINSKY: Hang on, everybody. Wendy --


LOGUE: Not even every -- not every individual convicted of a sex crime even sex crimes against minors are categorized as pedophiles. That`s a clinical diagnosis that needs to be done before a licensed psychologist.

PINSKY: However, I don`t disagree with anything you`re saying. However, to get at Wendy`s point. I`ve got to go to break. I`m against the clock, guys. You did something that made me -- gave -- made the hair on the back of my neck stand up, Derek, as you talked about your 11-year- old partner as a willing participant in what happened with you and that made me very troubled.

And so, I`m just saying. Kids can`t give consent and they aren`t willing. They are part of a problem. They may have been previously molested and they have seemed willing, but they`re acting out trauma over and over again. It`s a complex issue. I appreciate your being here.

Next, the mother of the Elizondo (ph), the child that was given the custody -- she`ll be with us after this.


PINSKY: Back with the "Behavior Bureau" and my co-host, Samantha Schacher. Joining us Lisa Knight. She is the mom who is fighting to get her daughter back after a judge gave custody to the child`s dad who is a convicted sex offender. Also with her is Jody Coomer, the child`s aunt.

Lisa, I`m going to go to you first. Did you have any idea about your ex-husband`s background when you married him?

LISA KNIGHT, LOST CUSTODY OF DAUGHTER TO SEX OFFENDER: I did, but I was pretty much convinced that, you know, he was a truthful person. And he wanted me to believe that, you know, he was innocent.

PINSKY: You don`t believe that now?

KNIGHT: No, not really. Not after --

PINSKY: Jenny, you have a question.

HUTT: I do. I just want to know what was the moment that changed for you? What changed in the dynamic of your relationship with him that got you to doubt him?

KNIGHT: Well, he -- he had done some things to me that were very inappropriate. And I didn`t want to --

JODY COOMER, LISA KNIGHT`S COUSIN: Just say what he did.

KNIGHT: Well, he pretty much molested me.

Raped you. He raped you.

KNIGHT: When I was under the influence of a sleep medication.

PINSKY: OK. And Jody, I can`t -- HLN, CNN can`t confirm nor deny what Jody is alleging, but she said there that he had raped her. Jodi, there must be some reason the judge made this decision, don`t you agree? And that`s what we`re trying to get our head around. What was the judge thinking?

COOMER: Well, we`re trying to figure out what the judge was thinking as well. Last year, in 2012, her situation was completely different. And he gave her custody. And -- or, you know, remain custody, then Nicolas has brought her to court so many times or filed papers, filed papers just to keep her broke and keep her not able to take care of herself and scared to death from, you know, fighting with the judge.

PINSKY: All right. Hold on, Jody. Hold on one second. My panel has questions for you. Danine, go ahead.

MANETTE: I`m sorry. I just need to know what about a person that you know is a convicted sex offender and you claim is someone who raped you led you to believe that they were a suitable mating partner? Because if you were to die, your child would go to this person. So, I need to know what made you think this person was a suitable person to make a baby with?

KNIGHT: Well, she was pretty much an accident because I was on the birth control pill at the time. So yes. That`s all I can say.

PINSKY: Lisa, I think I understand what you were saying. There was a contraceptive failure. And Danine, it was not a planned pregnancy. The so-called unplanned pregnancy.

MANETTE: But what attracted her to him?

PINSKY: But -- well, we`re going to have to find out later. She was good enough to join us tonight, perhaps, she`ll join us again tomorrow night. We get the more details. I`m against the clock. Lisa and Jody, thank you so much for helping us try to get our head around this. "Last Call" is next.


PINSKY: Time for the "Last Call." Samantha, really interesting program tonight. A couple things. Lisa Knight, we just learned that this child in question may have been a contraceptive failure as we say in medicine.


PINSKY: So-called unplanned.

SCHACHER: Accident.

PINSKY: Well, I use the word unwanted and I want to correct myself. It should be unplanned pregnancy. Then she married the guy, though.

SCHACHER: Right. Here`s the thing, like, here`s where I`m concerned. Listen, this guy had gotten out of prison, was a convicted sex offender, and you did marry him and you did have a child with him.

PINSKY: You and I have tons of questions for her. Hopefully, she will come back tomorrow night. We also have Molly Young`s father planning to come in here tomorrow night, hopefully, to help us get more of these questions answered or at least understand the questions that he`s asking. So, we can, you know, get really get our head around this case.

SCHACHER: I appreciate him advocating for his daughter.

PINSKY: Thanks, Sam. Thank you all for watching. We will see you next time. "HLN After Dark" starts right now.