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LEGAL VIEW WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD
"Housewives" Couple Due in Court; Kidnapped Teen Shares Story; Celebrities Push for Protection of Kids from Paparazzi; Virginia Teen Kidnapped.
Aired August 14, 2013 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: They are headed to court, though. No more fun on the TV. They are headed to federal court. Both expected to plead not guilty and the charges are federal. The couple accused of, among other things, exaggerating their income on loan applications and hiding assets in a bankruptcy filing. Does make for some good watching, doesn't it? I hate to say it, because it is high rated.
Joining me is CNN entertainment correspondent, Nischelle Turner, and back with us is criminal defense attorney, Danny Cevallos.
I'm laughing over here because I know you've had to follow this
NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
BANFIELD: -- this as a big story. This is a massive franchise, "The Real Housewives." It's not a small case.
TURNER: No, it's not. If convicted on all of these charges, they could go to prison for up to 50 years.
TURNER: Each of them.
Here's the indictment right here. 39 counts is what they were indicted on -- bank fraud, mail fraud, loan application fraud charges, lots of different things that are all spelled out in this indictment. It is not a small case. It definitely isn't.
You just spoke with it, some of the things that they alleged that they were making up incomes for themselves in order to get bang loans, in order to get home loans, in order to get --
BANFIELD: And then saying it live on TV, right?
BANFIELD: And showing the evidence to the whole country. TURNER: Right. Well, during the first season, at one point, she was shopping for furnishing her new home and had a wad of money and spent $120,000, it seemed, in cash to buy furniture for her new home. It begs the question, who walks around with $120,000 in cash to do something like that?
BANFIELD: I've got to ask the question. Nischelle has been covering this story for years. They have been on TV for years. The evidence seems to be fun to look at and there's far more deep-seeded evidence in the paperwork that the feds have been able to discover?
DANNY CEVALLOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: The fed is not able to file a case based on some one holding a wad of cash. When the federal government makes a case they want it to stay made. They do not kid around. Believe me, the sentencing guidelines are much harsher than they are going to be in state court.
Basically, what the allegations here, for them to make these false statements, it doesn't mean that they numbered a little when they filed something. They flubbed numbers. When they filed for bankruptcy said, oh, wait, we don't have any money. I liken this to ladies out there, if you've ever gotten divorced, this is exactly what men do. They say, look at my Marsarati, I've got ton of cash, and then when they get divorced, they say I'm broke. That's why they did.
CEVALLOS: But to get there, they had to falsify documents. The federal government said they are going to make fraud their number-one priority. Whether or not you watch "The Real Housewives" or not, this is a very socially relevant issue. Mortgage fraud devastated this country. It's a very socially relevant topic.
BANFIELD: It's a great example because a lot of people know who they are, even if they don't watch -- I don't watch "The Real Housewives," I know that lady because she tipped over the table and I saw it over and over on every promo.
Nischelle, I know you'll get to the final resolution of this. Thank you.
And I know you were running up here because you were tracking the last of the developments.
TURNER: I know.
BANFIELD: Nischelle Turner, thank you so much.
BANFIELD: Danny Cevallos, stand by, if you will.
We have a lot more legal stories to cover, including, California teenager was kidnapped by a family friend. You know the story. But now this young woman has taken to the Internet to share her personal details. You won't believe some of the things she said, but was it a good idea to say them at all?
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WENDI WALSH, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: Sometimes in a numb state, you're doing things that you don't really -- really consider the consequences.
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BANFIELD: You'll hear Hannah Anderson's own words, coming up next.
BANFIELD: Welcome back to the "Legal View." I'm Ashleigh Banfield.
Hannah Anderson is free from her kidnapper but she is not free from the memory of the horrifying incident that left her mother and brother dead. Soon after being rescued, perhaps unbelievably, she took to social media and answered a lot of questions about her ordeal.
Our Casey Wian has more in today's "Crime and Punishment."
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 16-year-old Hannah Anderson is sharing details about her kidnapping on social media. She fielded questions on the site ASK.FM about the abduction that she knew as Uncle Jim, James DiMaggio.
A user asked, did you want to go with DiMaggio? She replied, no, not at all. Why didn't you run? He would have killed me. Why didn't you tell your parents he creeped you out? In part, he was my dad's best friend and I didn't want to ruin anything between them.
Hannah shed light on the night that she was kidnapped, the same night her mother and younger brother were murdered, their brother's bodies burned in DiMaggio's house. How did he separate you? He tied them up in the garage. How did he keep the fire a secret? He had it set where it would catch on fire at a certain time.
Hannah also wrote DiMaggio threatened to kill her if she fled and brought her at least, in part, to help carry equipment in the wilderness.
Some questions from subscribers were brutally blunt. Did he rape you? I'm not allowed to talk about it, so don't ask questions about it, thank you. Are you glad he's dead? Absolutely.
Some experts question the wisdom of Hannah's online chats.
WALSH: This is 16-year-old who is totally traumatized. She's in a state of trauma so she's not thinking. Sometimes in a numb state you're doing things that you don't really -- really consider the consequences. WIAN: Hannah even posted a selfie and engaged in lighter conversation typically of a teenage girl. Even some of that seemed painful. What design did you get on your nails? Pink for my mom and blue for Ethan. Those who know her tell CNN Hannah spent some of Tuesday helping to plan their funerals.
BANFIELD: That was our Casey Wian reporting.
Hannah Anderson, as you heard, is only 16, but her words may show how raw her emotions are from this experience that she's been through. What might be kind of surprising to you is a lot of people asking questions online were brutal. Some of them so brutal in their language we can't even post those for you or read them to you. But there are a couple of posts that represent their line of thinking. Take a look at this which was posted on ASK.FM. The news said you were with him willingly. Were you? And her answer, no, not at all. Another answer showed her perhaps honest and forthright side. She was asked, why is it uncomfortable to see your dad? She answers, well, personally, it's kind of hard to see any guy adult right now. She was also asked, do you -- did you talk to hikers when you were in the woods because the news said that the hikers said that you were calm. And she answers, I had to act calm. I didn't want them to get hurt. I was scared that he would kill them. And another question, why do you seem OK with everything when you answer these questions without emotion? What you've been through is tough and you had a lot of people praying for you. In fact, I did. It just seems too weird that everything that has happened to you doesn't seem to affect you at all. And her answer is, I'm trying to stay strong and get out the truth. You don't know, I could be crying, answering these questions at the moment.
We certainly all hope that Hannah is going to be able to recover from all of this. Let's remember, she's a teenager. She's not an adult. And we hope that she can now recover from this experience. Her family and friends are saying that she's right now spending a lot of time helping to plan the funerals for both her mother and her brother.
So switching gears entirely, it is all part of being a celebrity, people say, having the paparazzi chase you from restaurants to parks to stores and even to your children's schools. And now two moms who are also very famous actresses, Jennifer Garner and Halle Berry, say enough is enough when it comes to their kids.
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HALLE BARRY, ACTRESS: We are not just whiny celebrities that many times people think we are. We are moms here who are just trying to protect our children. It's not about me. Take my picture. I get it.
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BANFIELD: Welcome back to the "Legal View." I'm Ashleigh Banfield. And from our celebrity files today, Hollywood elite trying to protect their kids. It seems pretty darn fair. Here they are pleading to lawmakers in California. Jennifer Garner, Halle Berry, they are trying to crack down on the paparazzi and how intrusive it is with the kids.
Here is CNN's entertainment correspondent back with us, Nischelle Turner.
JENNIFER GARNER, ACTRESS: I love my kids. They are beautiful and sweet and innocent and I don't want a gang of shouting, arguing, law- breaking photographers who camp out everywhere we are, all day every day, to continue traumatizing my kids.
TURNER (voice-over): In an emotional appearance on Tuesday in front of lawmakers, they asked for better protection for their kids from paparazzi cameras.
BARRY: We are not just whiny celebrities that many times people they we are. We are just mothers of children.
TURNER: Testifying in support of a bill that would bring paparazzi charges of harassment that includes photographing a child without the permission of a legal guardian.
In recent year, children of celebrities have become unintentionally famous in their own rights. Suri, Mattis and Apple are known on their first-name basis because of their parents. Photos of the children of celebrities have become big business for photographers who sell them to an ever growing pool of entertainment magazines and websites at top dollar.
GARNER: My children are not actors or celebrities. They are just kids like any others, and just like you want to protect your children, I want to protect mine.
TURNER: Celebrity moms want to draw a line.
BARRY: What we're asking you to do is to take these pictures with some dignity, to take these pictures and not harass our children.
BANFIELD: That was Nischelle Turner reporting for us.
Paul Callan and Danny Cevallos back with me.
Paul, I think that behavior is it abhorrent. Where do we mesh these two issues?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's a tough problem. You can say I have no sympathy for celebrities. They buy this life. But a kid under the age of 16, they don't buy into this life. They deserve to have a childhood. BANFIELD: It's a safety matter, too.
CALLAN: Absolutely. But then you look at -- let's talk about the prince of Great Britain, George Louis Alexander, right, a few people wanted a picture of him. These things are news worthy, is the point, and that's where the First Amendment problem comes in. You have to balance it. The public is hungry for pictures and yet the kids deserve protection.
BANFIELD: Danny, already California has been tough on paparazzi. They have a number of different laws that stop them from doing everything they have been doing. Is it going to go this far? Is this bill going to be successful? What's the prevailing wisdom on it?
CEVALLOS: Well, presently you have privacy law versus news worthiness, and we struggle to define what is exactly news worthy. This law is clear in that it defines pictures of children as -- it protects them so the paparazzi can't take pictures of children. That would create a zone of additional privacy for the celebrities. It seems well defined and in that sense it could fallout side the world of news worthy because why on earth are they news worthy unless of course they are. And that's the hardest part about defining First Amendment activities, because it's ultimately a case-by-case basis.
CALLAN: Some celebrities are news worthy. We are all interested in them.
BANFIELD: They sell the pictures to the press when they are first born. Michael Jackson's kids were chased forever with masks over their faces to protect their identifies.
Thank you both. Great to see you, Danny Cevallos, as always.
Paul, thank you again.
So this is the first week of school for many. It was supposed to be for Alexis Murphy as well. Police say, instead, she was kidnapped from a gas station. The suspect has been arrested but Alexis is nowhere to be found and she may not be the only teenager affected.
Back in a moment.
BANFIELD: Welcome back. It's nice to have you with us on the first week of program.
I'm sorry to bring you this story. A 17-year-old girl in Virginia is missing and now police want your help to find her. Take a good look at this picture. Her name is Alexis Murphy. She's supposed to be going back to school but no one knows where she is, perhaps except for her abductor.
Vinnie Politan, the host of HLN's "AFTER DARK," has more.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) VINNIE POLITAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Alexis Murphy's family is separate for answers.
TRINA MURPHY, GREAT AUNT OF ALEXIS MURPHY: Alexis, if you're out there and you can hear us, just know that your family loves you. We will never stop until you are home. Our family circle is broken right now but it will be mended.
POLITAN: The 17-year-old last seen on surveillance video at this central Virginia gas station. That was August 3rd.
LAURA MURPHY, MOTHER OF ALEXIS MURPHY: I carried my youngest son to school this morning but I didn't have my daughter to take. If anybody knows anything please, please let us know. Please.
POLITAN: Investigators arrested Randy Taylor Sunday and charged him with abduction but they are still searching for Alexis.
JEFFREY MAZAMEC, FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: It's quite difficult to bring this type of case to resolution quickly and thoroughly, especially when time is of the essence and the area to be searched is extensive.
POLITAN: The FBI is asking anyone who has seen the suspect or his vehicle to come forward with tips. Alexis' family is counting on it.
ANGELA TAYLOR, AUNT OF ALEXIS MURPHY: We really have got to get her home. Our family is just struggling with this. We really do need the public to come forward with any information you may have.
BANFIELD: Our thanks to Vinnie Politan, the host of HLN's "AFTER DARK" for that report.
Randy Taylor is a person of interest in another teenager's case. Samantha Clark. He was last seen on September 13th in 2010. She told her brothers she was going out for the evening but she never came home. But Taylor knew Clark and he was in contact with her before her disturbance. Not the same story for Alexis.
But if you have any information on either of these girls' whereabouts, contact the Nelson County Sheriff's Office. The number is on your screen, 434-363-7050. Again, 434-363-7050. Hopefully, some kind of a tip can help.
A judge says the parents of this little boy need to change his name. I have news on the Messiah. It's the story of telling a parent that Messiah is not a proper name for your boy. That mom talked to CNN. Hear what she has to say about all of this, next.
BANFIELD: Welcome back. Here is a job that a lot of little boys dream of, even some little girls and some big leaguers. They aspire to this, being the announcer. Can you imagine how fun that would be? The Syracuse Chiefs' announcer, Jason Benetti, couldn't play ball as a kid because of a disable. It sure didn't keep him out of the game.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta has this week's "Human Factor."
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's Wednesday night at the ballpark in Syracuse, New York. Up in the press box, calling the game, Jason Benetti, the voice of the Syracuse Chiefs. Although he has a loyal following, few would recognize him off the field.
JASON BENETTI, SYRACUSE CHIEF'S ANNOUNCER: I like that people are surprised.
GUPTA: Benetti has a mild form of cerebral palsy. He's lived with the stares and glares that come with being different. Benetti knows his condition is something to be proud of and he now does television as well as radio.
BENETTI: If my look is an issue for somebody on television, great. I'm going to change your mind.
GUPTA: Benetti realizes he's an inspiration to young people who have disabilities. This month, he hosted a group of campers with CHAT, an organization that helps children who cannot speak use advanced technology to communicate.
BENETTI: It's fantastic. I love seeing the light bulb go off for people because many light bulbs have gone off for me.
GUPTA: Eventually, Benetti would like to write more but, for now, live is full of locker rooms, player interviews and books of states. And for Benetti, he'd have it no other way.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN reporting.
BANFIELD: Way to go.
On Monday, we told you about a judge in Tennessee who changed a baby boy's name from Messiah to Martin. Take a look. He's as cute as a button. Here is the judge's reasoning for changing his name, and I'm going to quote the judge" "Messiah is a title held only by Jesus Christ."
Well, whatever the judge said and whatever name you want to call him, he was our guest this morning on "New Day," along with his mom. Take a listen.
MOTHER OF SON WHO HAD NAME CHANGED: I had several people come up to me during the recess and tell me that what the judge was doing wasn't right and she had no right to do that to us at all. UNIDENTIFIED CO-HOST, NEW DAY: You're going to call your baby Messiah. You're fighting for that right. What do you call him his nickname? Big boy?
MOTHER OF SON WHO HAD NAME CHANGED: Siah. Siah.
UNIDENTIFIED CO-HOST, NEW DAY: Siah?
MOTHER OF SON WHO HAD NAME CHANGED: Or Messiah, either one.
BANFIELD: I love big boy.
By the way, she's going to appeal this decision.
And I just can stop looking at him. He's just so darn cute. No matter what you call him, he's adorable.
Thanks for watching.
AROUND THE WORLD is next.
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