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Obama: Make Sure Syria "Held Accountable"; George Zimmerman's Wife Pleads Guilty to Perjury; Has Obama Done Enough for African- Americans?

Aired August 28, 2013 - 19:00   ET


JESSICA YELLIN, CNN GUEST HOST: "OUTFRONT" next, breaking news. President Obama in his own words on his plans for Syria. What he means by consequences for the Assad regime.

A Montana man convicted of raping his 14-year-old student. How could a judge only sentence him to 30 days in prison? An exclusive interview tonight with the victim's mother.

And four famous words: I have a dream. Dr. Martin Luther King's vision 50 years later. Has the dream come true?

Let's go OUTFRONT.

I'm Jessica Yellin in for Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight breaking news, making the case for war. President Obama directly addressed the possibility of a strike against Syria just moments ago in an interview with PBS' "The News Hour."


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We have not yet made a decision, but the international norm against the use of chemical weapons needs to be kept in place. And nobody disputes or hardly anybody disputes that chemical weapons were used on a large scale in Syria against civilian populations.

We have looked at all of the evidence and we do not believe the opposition possessed nuclear weapons or chemical weapons of that sort. We do not believe that given the delivery systems using rockets that the opposition could have carried out these attacks. We have concluded that the Syrian government and if so there need to be international consequences.

We are consulting with allies and international community. I have no interest in open ended conflict in Syria. We have to make sure that when countries break international norms that they are held accountable. I think it is important that if, in fact, we make a choice to have repercussions for the use of chemical weapons then the Assad regime involved in a civil war will receive a strong signal that it better not do it again. And that doesn't solve all the problems inside of Syria.

And, you know, it doesn't obviously end the death of innocent civilians inside of Syria. And we hope that, in fact, ultimately a political transition can take place inside of Syria. We are prepared to work with anybody, the Russians and others to try to bring the parties together to resolve the conflict.

But we want the Assad regime to understand that by using chemical weapons on a large scale against your own people, against women, against infants, against children that you are not only breaking international norms and standards of decency but you are also creating a situation where U.S. national interests are affected. And that needs to stop.


YELLIN: Senator Bob Corker is the top Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee. Hi, Senator. It's always good to see you.


YELLIN: Senator, you have spoken with administration officials I know a few times over the past few days about Syria. We heard the president say if the U.S. launches a military strike on Syria the goal is to quote, "send a signal to Assad." In your view, is that a solid enough military objective?

CORKER: Well, look, we issued a warning or the president issued a warning some time ago regarding crossing this red line. They believe the red line has been crossed. I have a classified briefing in the morning here. I came back up for a meeting or two on this topic, actually but other meetings in addition. You know, I look forward to having that classified briefing for the case to be laid out as to the fact that the Assad regime has actually done this and I believe they have based on the evidence that I know publicly.

I do think it is important for us to cause international norms to be adhered to. I want to say, Jessica, I have been very forward on this saying that I do not want it on the other hand to change the policy that we have which is to support the vetted moderate opposition on the ground, not with boots on the ground but by quipping and training. That has been very slow to be forthcoming.

Again, I don't want what we may be getting ready to do with Syria to take us away from the stated strategy and policy of insuring that we don't get ourselves directly involved in any kind of quagmire relative to civil war. So, yes, I think what the president is proposing, a surgical proportional strike is called for here assuming again the intelligence briefing that I get justify those actions.

YELLIN: OK, so it is justified. Do you think the president has a clear Syria policy?

CORKER: I think the president has been very slow to come to the table. I know that we passed out of the Foreign Relations Committee a policy and I very much supported that. The administration has based on public comments that they have made have really embraced a policy very similar to what we passed out. But what we are doing is being done, Jessica, covertly so we really don't know the details of how we are actually arming the opposition groups.

I was just there two weeks ago and I know that those arms had still not begun to flow. I will say I think the administration has been frustratingly slow in helping build the capacity, not with our men and women on the ground, but through equipping and training the opposition. So I think our policy so far candidly has not met the test but I do believe it is beginning to take shape and I know that we are --

YELLIN: I want to play something else the president said tonight to PBS about the targeted missile strikes which you are saying you support. Listen to this.


OBAMA: If, in fact, we can take limited, tailored approaches, not getting drawn into a long conflict, not a repetition of Iraq, which I know a lot of people are worried about, but if we are saying in a clear and decisive, but very limited way, we send a shot across the bow saying stop doing this. That can have a positive impact on our national security over the long term and may have a positive impact in the sense that chemical weapons are not used again on innocent civilians.


YELLIN: Senator, we all know the saying you can't get a little bit pregnant. Are you prepared to support the president and the U.S. military if this does bleed into a larger conflict?

CORKER: No. I mean, I do not want it to bleed into a larger conflict. I have been very clear. I have had multiple conversations with the administration about that and there is a call that has been set up to walk through plans in the near future. Let me put it that way. So, Jessica, I will be hearing more clearly exactly what the intentions are, exactly, hopefully, how we are going to go through this without causing ourselves to be wrapped up in a quagmire that takes us to a place we do not want to go.

I do support that type of effort as long as we know that that is the goal and that we are not in any way implicating ourselves or getting ourselves more deeply involved in something that is nothing more than today it is a civil war. Obviously we would like to see the vetted opposition groups survive and win. I don't want to see boots on the ground or see us mired in a conflict much deeper.

I will say, if I could, one more thing, the administration has consulted and we have been aggressive candidly and being consulted meaning we made calls to the administration over the course of Friday, Sunday, heard from the secretary of state on Tuesday and there's more activity while I'm here tomorrow. But I do think we would be so much better off if the administration would come to Congress, call everybody back and let Congress authorize this activity.

Because as you just asked a minute ago, Jessica, am I willing to do x, I really do think that this is one of the cases where time allows for Congress to come back, to give an authorization. I think they have met the test, I am talking about the administration from the standpoint of what the war powers resolution says and that is that they must consult with Congress. I think we would be on so much stronger footing with this if they would call us back in and ask for a real authorization from Congress.

YELLIN: Thank you, Senator. I suspect that they are going to consult, but not ask for the authorization. We sure hope you come back and share with us what you learn. Senator Corker, thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate it.

And still to come, more on the crisis in Syria. We take you inside the country where we have exclusive video of mass graves in the after math of the chemical weapons attack.

Plus Army Major Nidal Hasan is sentenced to death for the mass shooting at Fort Hood. But will the sentence ever be carried out?

And dogs running wild in Detroit, the new problem facing America's largest bankrupt city.

And Honey Booboo's big day.


YELLIN: Our second story, OUTFRONT, the decision to go to war. President Obama said tonight he has not yet determined whether or not to strike Syria, but he did lay out his justification for U.S. involvement.


OBAMA: When you start talking about chemical weapons in a country that has the largest stock pile of chemical weapons in the world, where over time their control over chemical weapons may erode, where they lied to terrorist organizations that have targeted the united states, then there is a prospect, a possibility in which chemical weapons that can have devastating effects could be directed at us. And we want to make sure that that does not happen.


YELLIN: Fred Pleitgen joins us from Damascus and here in New York, Nick Paton Walsh. You spent time with the rebels in Syria, and also Christopher Harmer, senior naval analyst at the Institute for Study of War. Nick, I would like to start with you, President Obama also talked today about the future of Syria. Let's listen and talk about all of this.


OBAMA: What has happened there is tragic. Although I have called for Assad to leave and make sure that we have a transitional government that can be inclusive in Syria, what I have also concluded is that direct military engagement and involvement in the civil war in Syria would not help the situation on the ground. (END VIDEO CLIP)

YELLIN: Nick, his rationale for going in, or for I should say for a strike -- is the clearest I have heard to date talking about the danger of chemical weapons. You have spent time with the rebels, and you know a bit about the situation in Syria. If the chemical weapons were to fall into the hands of Syrian rebels, is there a good guy there, somebody we feel comfortable controlling the arsenal?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In a word, no. I mean, the secular liberal elements in the rebel movements shattered themselves. They're fractured. They're in many ways powerless if you compare them to the al Qaeda-backed, more radical groups who have the weapons, have the experience, often fighting in Iraq and have the cohesion and discipline to be affecting much of the change on the battlefield.

And that's what really comes down to the real dilemma here when you're dealing with chemical weapons. If you are going to launch a strike like this, you are going to be degrading the regime. You need to stay reasonably, coherently together to safeguard these chemical weapons in some way. You can't put U.S. boots on the ground in the current thinking to actually secure them, and you can't bomb them without potential for environmental catastrophe.

So you're really trying to balance both options here. You need this regime to be relatively coherent still to look after weapons until you find an alternative. But you want to teach a lesson, as well. So no real good option.

YELLIN: It seems like we are working against our own objective. Degrading Assad, yet we don't want the extremists, really. The rebels are extremists, you're saying.

WALSH: Fundamentally, yes. There is in many ways already functional Islamic (INAUDIBLE) in northern Syria. On the border of Turkey, as well. So the key thing they have to weigh out because he said he wants the signal to be clear in whatever they do. But you push the Assad regime too hard, I mean, Chris has referred to it, you take the Air Force out in 30 minutes perhaps. If you actually degrade them too heavily, the people to seize on that military advantage potentially are al Qaeda-linked militants in many ways.

YELLIN: And Chris, you're credited, and I'm told not correctly, but you're credited with coming up with a cruise missile-like strike on Syria similar to the one the president might be considering for hitting Assad right now. And you have said it is a bad idea. So, I want to ask you, what is a better idea?

CHRISTOPHER HARMER, SENIOR NAVAL ANALYST, INSTITUTE FOR THE STUDY OF WAR: Well, first off, let's start by saying this is a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions. I speak of these things in analytical terms because that's what I do. I'm a strategic analyst. But the reality is, we're dealing with a humanitarian crisis; 100,000 dead people. Two million internally displaced persons or refugees. The second thing: there are no good options here. There are bad options, worse options and horrible options. The plan that I came up with was an appropriate response prior to chemical weapons being used. Today it is wholly inadequate to address the situation.

YELLIN: But he wants to do something. The president clearly wants to do something. So what is the best option that involved the least use of U.S. treasure and the least threat to U.S. lives?

HARMER: Well, the best option at this point in my opinion is to decisively strike against Assad. Use the cruise missile attack to take out his air force. Use further cruise missile attacks to degrade his conventional military. At the same time, significantly increase the military aid we are giving to the secular rebels. Nick points out that the secular rebels have been fractured. That is true. Al Qaeda has superior funding, they have superior organization, they have superior discipline.

YELLIN: OK, let me just bring in Fred real quick because Fred is the one in Damascus risking really his life to bring us amazing reporting. Fred, we have exclusive video of mass graves in Syria from one of the areas that was allegedly hit by a chemical weapons attack. Can you tell us, does it even look like the Assad regime believes an attack is imminent, and are they doing anything to try to avoid it?

FREDRIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It certainly looks like they are slowly coming to the conclusion that an attack might be imminent. There are reports out that we haven't actually been able to confirm yet, but that the Syrian U.N. ambassador has been asked about whether or not maybe some of the headquarters of possibly the airports and the army as well might have moved a large part of their staff and also some hardware out of those areas and possibly into other areas in preparation for possible air strikes.

There were also some reports on news agencies saying possibly some of the artillery here around Damascus might have been abandoned by forces and might have been bringing it away. And that artillery which is in the mountains around Damascus, Jessica, has been used in the past couple of days around the clock to pound the outskirts of Damascus, which is, of course, the rebel-controlled territory and also the places where these chemical weapons attacks allegedly happened. And if you look at Damascus now it is very, very quiet. So, there is the possibility that they've stopped firing for now and there might be military movements going on to try to bring some of that hardware into safety. Of course, whether or not that will help the Syrian military in any way shape or form is really up in the air.

But I can tell you that people that I speak to on the ground, the regular people, they are also preparing for possible U.S. air strikes. They don't think they would be in danger of American rockets, but they also do fear the fact that this could change the balance on the battlefield and of course they also fear Islamist rebels, exactly the kind that Nick was talking about.

YELLIN: And just on a human level, Fred, do you feel safe or is there an eerie kind of quiet there? PLEITGEN: Well, most of the time we do feel safe here in the Syrian capital. But of course, there are areas that you go to where there is mortar fire going on where you are really not that sure. Especially if you go towards the outskirts into the contested areas, you do realize it is quite dangerous out there. I was on the front line with Syrian forces with the Assad regime just a couple of days ago in the Jobar district. And they are under fire there all the time. And of course, they're firing back as well.

This civil war really is one that is fought very, very tough in a very tough way. You do hear this artillery going off the entire time, as well. The outskirts of Damascus, the places where this fighting is going on, is a really, really tough place to be at this point in time. And when you go out there, when you go on the front line, there really isn't very much safety to speak of, Jessica.

YELLIN: OK, Fred, you're doing amazing work. Keep it up. Thanks so much for your reporting.

And thanks to both of you gentlemen.

Still to come, dogs running wild in Detroit. What can a bankrupt city do about its stray dog epidemic?

Plus, a Montana teacher is convicted of raping a 14-year-old student but is sentenced to just a month in prison. The victim's mother comes OUTFRONT with her reaction to that punishment.


YELLIN: Our third story OUTFRONT, Detroit's stray dog epidemic. It has been just a month since Detroit became the biggest U.S. city ever to file for bankruptcy. And our Poppy Harlow finds human beings aren't the only Motor city residents feeling the sting. Poppy is OUTFRONT.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just found her today.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You just found this dog?


HARLOW: Stray?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, running up the street. Running up Seven Mile.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In America's biggest bankrupt city where people are fleeing in droves there is another problem, thousands upon thousands of dogs roaming Detroit's streets.

He is a stray. He is so thin.

Most are pit bulls starving for food and affection. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody moved out, left him behind. He was tied up in the backyard.

HARLOW: This is a young stray pit bull that was just brought in here to the Michigan Humane Society, completely malnourished, injured, having a really hard time walking. And unfortunately, this is something that they see here every single day. One of the biggest problems facing Detroit and the stray dogs is the fact that so many are not spayed or neutered, and so the problem persists.

DEBORAH MACDONALD, CHIEF INVESTIGATOR, MICHIGAN HUMANE SOCIETY: They are disposable in people's minds. They don't vaccine, they don't spay, they don't neuter.

HARLOW: Kristen Huston is trying to curb the problem, educating owners to spay and neuter their dogs. She also provides free food.

KRISTEN HUSTON ALL ABOUT ANIMALS RESCUE: A lot of people have lost their homes, lost their jobs and they don't have the funds. They love their animals but, you know, it is very hard to feed their own kids and their family.

HARLOW: So, what are you going to do?

HUSTON: Exactly.

HARLOW: Are there more people living on this street or more stray dogs?

TOM MCPHEE, WORLD ANIMAL AWARENESS SOCIETY: Right now more stray dogs. In all of the houses on this street, all of them are empty except one.

HARLOW: Tom McPhee with the World Animal Awareness society took us to deserted homes to see the strays living there.

Would tearing down these abandoned homes help solve the problem?

MCPHEE: Absolutely. People are quickly absorbing animals and then passing them on to other people. There is no sense of guardianship and responsibility of having an animal.

HARLOW: So, we just found this dog in the backyard here. But the issue is the house is burned down. It is obviously an abandoned home. There is trash everywhere. The house next door is burnt down. And we have no idea how long the dog has been here or if the dog even has an owner.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Morning! Animal Control!

HARLOW: Detroit Animal Control hit by staffing shortages, is overwhelmed.

In one week they could be euthanized.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's quite possible.

HARLOW: Seventy percent are euthanized.

MALACHI JACKSON, DETROIT ANIMAL CONTROL: This is one of those prime examples of a discarded animal that someone let go.

HARLOW: Malachi Jackson has seen a lot, too much, in his 19 years doing this.

How bad is the problem?

JACKSON: The problem is as bad as the economic problem, I think. The whole society is pretty bad. People don't have jobs. They use animals to build revenue and protect their properties. Times are just tough.

HARLOW: Tough to say the least. And like so much else in Detroit, man's best friend is waiting to be rescued.

For OUTFRONT, Poppy Harlow, CNN.


YELLIN: Great story, Poppy.

Ahead, 50 years since Martin Luther King delivered his famous "I Have A Dream" speech. So, has his dream come true?

Plus, George Zimmerman's wife admits she lied in court. Her punishment.

And Russian president Vladimir Putin like you have never seen him before.


YELLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to the second half of OUTFRONT.

We start the second half of our show with stories where we focus on our own reporting from the front lines.

A 13-member jury deliberated for about two hours before recommending Major Nidal Hasan be put to death. Hasan was convicted of 13 counts of murderer and 32 counts of attempted murder in a shooting rampage in Fort Hood, Texas, nearly three years ago. Hasan said nothing as the decision was read. The verdict now goes to an Army general who will get to decide whether to accept the sentence but it ultimately requires approval from the president. As we reported, the military has not carried out a capital punishment since 1961.

Florida prosecutors were not able to convict George Zimmerman but made an example of his wife today. Shellie Zimmerman pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge for perjury for lying to a judge last year about being poor when it turns out the couple had about $135,000 at the time. By accepting this plea deal, she avoided potential prison time. Instead, she will get probation for one year and will have to pay court costs. This all comes a day after her husband's legal team said they will ask the state to cover as much as $300,000 in legal expenses after he was acquitted in the murderer of Trayvon Martin.

Well, in Russia authorities have ceased a painting that depicts President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev in lingerie. The artist reportedly fled the country. It's against the law in Russia to insult politicians.

But here is where we are stumped. Putin appears in the image to be wearing negligee, which is more than we often see him wearing. Yes, here he is shirtless and fishing. Shirtless and seeing a doctor because he wanted us to know that he hurt his shoulder during judo practice.

OK. You remember this one, shirtless and swimming, which is apparently -- yes, you know, that's reasonable. What about shirtless and feeding a horse and hunting? Yes, go figure.

OK. This one just in. Members of Martin Luther King Jr.'s family was in an accident this afternoon not far from the Martin Luther King Monument where they were celebrating the 50th anniversary on the march on Washington. One tells us a police escort was with the bus when a car came right at it. The witness says there were children and seniors on the bus and everybody was thrown out of their seats.

And that now brings us to our fourth story on OUTFRONT: I have a dream. Fifty years to the day that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his call for justice from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the nation's first African-American president, Barack Obama, stood in that very same spot to commemorate that historic day. But has Dr. King's dream been fully realized?

Joe Johns is OUTFRONT.


JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On King's Dream, the president's buzz word today was progress.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To dismiss the magnitude of this progress, to suggest as some sometimes do that little has changed -- that dishonors the courage and the sacrifice of those who paid the price to march in those years.


JOHNS: But Mr. Obama said there is still a lot of work to do for everyone especially when it comes to jobs and the economy.

OBAMA: To win that battle, to answer that call, this remains our great unfinished business.

JOHNS: The evidence of racial economic disparity is not pretty. The unemployment rate for blacks remains almost twice what it is for whites. About 30 percent of fewer blacks own homes than their white counterparts.

The president of the National Urban League, not exactly the president's biggest critic agrees that the White House still has unfinished business.

MARC MORIAL, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE: So, we would like to see him tackle this issue of the economic under class, poverty, jobs, the need to build an economy to lift up because economic disparities, the gap between the rich and the poor, the gap between black and white, between white and Latinos has not markedly changed since 1963.

JOHNS: And the Reverend Jesse Jackson, a contemporary of Dr. King, who was with him when he was assassinated in Memphis, says if King were alive, he would be pressuring the White House.

REV. JESSE JACKSON, CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER: He would feel proud of President Barack Obama. That would be a big deal. But there would be attention between the agenda of political order and the gin up to change it.

JOHNS: For OUTFRONT, Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.


YELLIN: A historic today.

And OUTFRONT tonight to talk about it, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s niece, Dr. Alveda King, and conservative blogger Crystal Wright.

Thanks to both of you for being with us.

Crystal, let me go to you first. I'd like to ask you -- black unemployment rate is double the white unemployment rate. The president mentioned that in his speech today. But I'm wondering if you think the president has actually done enough to help?

CRYSTAL WRIGHT, CONSERVATIVE BLOGGER: No. I don't. And I think it's interesting whenever the president talks about unemployment and the need for jobs, he talks about it as if he is a voyeur to his own administration. He is divorced from what is happening.

And, frankly, he is not creating policies to uplift all Americans but particularly black Americans who gave him over 95 percent -- over 90 percent let's say of the vote each time and he has abandoned any agenda for them.

And I think -- I agree with Jesse Jackson for the first time, if you can believe that, in that Martin Luther King would be horrified not only at the lack of focus on opportunity policies which King was all about but also the politics of low expectation and victimization that this president continues to tell black Americans -- oh, you are not good enough. You can't get a voter ID. Oh, it's because of racial profiling that violence is at epidemic proportions.

And, wait a minute, one final thing, its' because of -- you know, you are just a victim. Well, no, you are having 73 percent of your babies born to unmarried families.

I mean, so, I think King would say, hey, wait a minute. You are a testament to my dream, Barack Obama, but we need to have constructive criticism to black Americans so they can reach that mountain top. That's what I fought for, equality.

YELLIN: Dr. King, you are actually a member of the King family and an honor to have you with us on this important day. I wonder if you would like to respond to that.

Do you think the president does overly victimize the black community?

ALVEDA KING, NICE OF MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.: I believe the victimization is not going to be our answer. I grew up in the King family legacy, the family that nurtured Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

And we were taught the work ethic and to produce and to perform. We wanted equal opportunities and that's all. We didn't want to hand out.

And so, the programs that are going to continue to point to racism and to have us feel as though, we are victims that will not increase our opportunities for jobs, good education or decent housing. That's exactly what we were marching for 50 years ago. I did not go to the march, my parents. I was old enough and I grew up during that era.

And so, all of the programs and the race crying and everything that is being offered is not going to provide those basic human needs that we all have a right to.

YELLIN: So the president today called economic fairness the, quote, "great unfinished business on the march on Washington."

Dr. King, what do you think the president should do to finish that effort?

KING: Well, honestly I know because he mentioned the HHS mandate and wanted people to believe my uncle would be happy about that.

YELLIN: You mean Obama care?

KING: Yes, Obamacare. The Obamacare, excuse me.

But with Obamacare my uncle, of course, would want fair and adequate medical care for everyone. So do I. But what is being offered in Obamacare, for instance, are free contraceptives and easy access to abortions. We want people to be healthy, nutritional information, how to bring your blood pressure down, how not to have diabetes.

WRIGHT: Exactly.

YELLIN: OK. Crystal, what would you like to see him do to continue to expand economic opportunity?

WRIGHT: I would like to see him support school choice and vouchers, because we all know that blacks who are trapped in violent-riddled inner cities are disproportionately using school vouchers and choice to escape failing school so they can get an education. I'd like to see that. I'd like to see the president support comprehensive tax reform, because my grandfather was from Saint Kitts, he came here and he started a dry cleaning business and he sent three kids to college.

YELLIN: Your domestic agenda, each of you, which is a sign of advancement.

WRIGHT: Well, no, I'm just saying, you know, I think the president -- you know, I think all the things but real policies. Look, it's about education -- we know education is the great equalizer. I would like to see the president focus on education, tax policies and, frankly, you know, getting rid of Obamacare so people will hire again and blacks can have jobs and not supporting amnesty.

YELLIN: We don't see Obamacare, him promoting that. But he does have three years to work on some of the other issues you bring up.

Thanks to both of you for your time. Appreciate it. Big day.

And still to come, a shocking punishment. A Montana teacher receives a 30-day prison sentence for raping a teenage student. The victim's mother is OUTFRONT, next.


YELLIN: A fifth story OUTFRONT: growing outrage over a 30-day sentence for rape. Tonight, calls are intensifying for a judge to step down after he sentenced a former Montana teacher to 30 days in prison for raping his 14-year-old student who later committed suicide.

In a moment, we are going to speak exclusively to the victim's mother who is outraged over this sentence.

But, first, Kyung Lah is OUTFRONT.


KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This was to be a moment of justice, teacher Stacey Rambold was charged with raping his student, 14-year-old Cherice Morales. He was 49 at the time.

Prosecutors wanted a 20-year sentence. Instead, Judge G. Todd Baugh gave Rambold just one month for the crime.

AULIEA HANLON, VICTIM'S MOTHER: I was floored. I thought there was a minimum sentence. I don't know. My faith in the justice system is gone.

LAH: Especially, says Cherice's mother, when you hear the details. Fourteen-year-old Cherice Morales was a freshman at Billings Senior High School. Prosecutors say Rambold seduced her and began a month's long relationship. Police found out, Rambold was arrested and charge.

As the case lagged through, the justice system, Cherice Morales, now age 16, just shy of her 17th birthday, committed suicide. With the victim dead, prosecutors struck this deal with Rambold, confess to one rape, complete sexual offender treatment, stay away from children, and they would dismiss the charges. Rambold faced the judge this week because he violated that deal. Yet, Judge Baugh still only gave him 31 days, minus one day served in jail.

Why? In court, Judge Baugh says Cherice Morales seemed older than her chronological age. Later, he told CNN that was not the best choice of words, adding that "it was not a violent, forcible, beat-the-victim rape like you see in the movies, but it was nonetheless a rape and should not have happened."

As far as Rambold, a man Judge Baugh called treatable, he will be a free man in less than 30 days.

For OUTFRONT, Kyung Lah, CNN.


YELLIN: And OUTFRONT now is the mother of Cherice Morales, Auliea Hanlon.

Ms. Hanlon, I can't imagine what you are going through right now. First of all, our condolences go out to you and to your family. I want to ask you, your daughter Cherice was raped. We know she later took her own life and that her teacher, Stacey Dean Rambold, only got a month in prison. What went through your mind when you heard his sentence?

HANLON: I was horrified. Horrified. There were no words so I had to leave.

YELLIN: Left the courtroom?

I want to know what shocked us was --


YELLIN: -- what shocked was the judge defended his sentence saying that your daughter seemed, in his words, older than her chronological age and was in as much of control of the situation of the teacher. And we just received new words from the judge explaining those remarks. Would you listen to this for just a moment if you would?


G. TODD BAUGH, YELLOWSTONE COUNTY, MONT. DISTRICT JUDGE: Ad then the Rambold sentencing I made references to the victim's age and control. I'm not sure just what I was attempting to say at that point but it didn't come out correct. What I said was demeaning to all women, not what I believe in, and irrelevant to the sentencing. I owe all of our fellow citizens an apology.


YELLIN: An apology there. So, what was your reaction when you hear that?

HANLON: He broke the law. He doesn't owe anybody an apology, he broke law. She was 14. She never consented. I never consented. The crime was done. He confessed and chronological age is irrelevant.

He broke the law. He confessed, and he got to walk away.


So, ma'am, I don't want this to be too painful for you, so I just want to be gentle here. I'd like to know, how did you learn that your daughter had been raped by this man? Had you even heard of him before? Had she spoken about him to you?

HANLON: Not really. I seen his phone number in her numbers because I used to keep track of her numbers all the time because she was a teenager, and I needed to know, but I just thought it was a girl. His name was Stacey. I thought it was a girl.

I found out from a church member, and pressed charges.

YELLIN: And then what happened?

HANLON: Rambold was put on paid leave. She kept going to school. She was miserable, though, but she kept going back, until finally she couldn't go back anymore.

She was smart, so she gave it a shot. She tried hard to stay in school, and it just took too long, it took too much out of her.

YELLIN: Ma'am, it sounds creepy but you get the sense that Rambold sought out your daughter and lured her into a relationship?

HANLON: Yes, I believe so. She was an easy target for him, I think.

YELLIN: All right. Again, ma'am, our heart breaks for you. We are grateful for your time, and appreciate --

HANLON: Thank you.

YELLIN: -- what you're going through. Again, Auliea Hanlon, thank you for being with us.

And still to come, eight years after Katrina and the heart break is not ending in New Orleans.


YELLIN: Our sixth story OUTFRONT: devastation and heartbreak in New Orleans, eight years after Katrina.

On August 29th, 2005, hurricane Katrina forever changed the Crescent City when it made landfall and left hundreds dead and more than 200,000 homes damaged. Many returned and rebuilt but still, eight years later, some residents are in a fight for their homes.

Rosa Flores is OUTFRONT with this story.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Gaynelle and Adolf Sorina celebrated when they finished repairing their home after it was destroyed by hurricane Katrina.

ADOLF SORINA, NEW ORLEANS RESIDENT: You had to do what you had to do.


FLORES: They look forward to sewing these suites in a their family home, a tradition for four generations among members of the Black Feather Mardi gras Indian tribe.

ADOLF SORINA: This actually was.

GAYNELLE SORINA: The living room.

ADOLF SORINA: The living room area.

FLORES: But today, the Sorinas are without their historic home again, lost not to a hurricane but to foreclosure.

(on camera): After losing your home during Katrina, you weren't expecting something like this to happen again?

GAYNELLE SORINA: You could digest tragedy from Mother Nature, I can, me personally. But when you have this kind of storm to take place, I can't digest that.

FLORES (voice-over): Their troubles began when their son became very ill, all while they were rebuilding after another hurricane. Fearful of falling behind on their mortgage, they asked their bank to renegotiate their loan.

ADOLF SORINA: Notice date is July 11th, 2009, we're pleased to let you know your loan modification has been approved.

FLORES: Yet each month, Bank of America kept billing them the higher amount from the old mortgage. Adolf Sorina kept paying on time as bank reps assured him it was just a mistake.

(on camera): And did you make all of the payments?

ADOLF SORINA: Made all of the payments.

FLORES: On time.


FLORES (voice-over): A year later, the bank foreclosed anyway, taking the home where Adolf Sorina grew up, where his son was born. The bank sold off their home for $48,000, less than half of what they owed.

JAMES PERRY, GREATER NEW ORLEANS HOUSING ACTION CENTER: These are some of the files of people that we've helped over the years since Katrina.

FLORES: James Perry leads an organization that fights foreclosures.

PERRY: So proud of what they accomplished because they worked so hard to get there, and it didn't matter how many hurricanes came, it didn't matter what happened, those families rebuilt because they were there to stay.

FLORES: In a statement, Bank of America says, "We apologize to the Sorinas for the event that clearly should not have happened the way they did. While we did not provide the service they expected from us, we're confident this is a unique case."

The federal government accused 13 banks, including Bank of America with unsound foreclosure practices in 2009 and 2010. The banks admitted no wrongdoing but paid $3.6 billion in settlement money. The Sorina's cut, $2,000.

(on camera): Bank of America also said that it's working with the Sorinas to find a fairway to compensate them for their loss, but the family says that they have no agreement with the bank as of yet considering the loss to their home and to their credit rating. We will, of course, follow up and see what happens -- Jessica.


YELLIN: Rosa, thank you.

And thanks so much for watching. We'll see you again tomorrow night.

"AC360" starts right now.