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Olympic Skater's Hopes Crushed; The Best Surprise of All; Better than a Win

Aired September 26, 2013 - 08:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: You're watching NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan and Michaela Pereira.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to NEW DAY. It is Thursday, September 25th. Let's get right to Michaela for the five things you need to know for your new day.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, let's do it.

Number one, four days until a government shutdown. The Senate now poised to pass a spending bill by tomorrow that restores funding for Obamacare. Republicans still trying to find a way to gut the president's health care reforms.

A big moment for the U.S. and Iran. Secretary of State John Kerry set to meet with his Iranian counterpart. The highest level meeting between the nations since 1979 in hopes of eventual diplomatic relations.

The FBI's released new surveillance video of the Washington Navy Yard shootings. An FBI spokeswoman says gunman Aaron Alexis was delusional and believed he was being controlled or influenced by electromagnetic waves.

Saving the post office. Today, a Senate panel looks at ways to make the postal service more relevant and less of a financial drain in the age of e-mail.

And at number five, another court date for troubled former teen star Amanda Bynes. This time over an incident in May when she allegedly tossed a bong out of her 36th floor apartment in New York.

We always update those five things to know, so be sure to visit for the very latest.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Michaela, thank you.

So the winter Olympics are just a few months away. Our next story involves a figure skater who once seemed destined for greatness. She was considered one of the best in the world until she says her hopes were dashed by the very man she thought would lead her to glory. CNN's Pamela Brown is joining us now with this exclusive story.

So what happened?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is really a cautionary tale, Chris and Kate, of a teenage figure skater who truly was one of the best and the brightest. Well on her way to the top. But the man she thought would lead her to Olympic gold turned out to be her worst nightmare.


MORGAN GRANT: I feel like everything that I accomplished came with a - with a cost. It came - it came with strings. And I didn't feel like any of it was my own anymore. It was all his, and he took it all away.

BROWN (voice-over): Eighteen-year-old Morgan Grant was once considered one of the best figure skaters for her age in the United States. An ice dancer who was well on her way to compete for the U.S. at the highest levels.

GRANT: I wanted a Team USA jacket that said Team USA on the back. And I would have been a part of the U.S. skating team, representing America in international competitions.

BROWN: The last piece of the puzzle, Morgan says, was to hire a first class coach who turned out to be this man, Genrikh Sretenski, an accomplished ice dancer representing the Soviet Union at the 1988 winter Olympics. A no-brainer she and her dad thought.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He really knew his stuff and everybody thought he was one of the better -- best ice dancers for a very long time.

BROWN: According to Morgan and her father, that coach turned out to be a predator. And in the middle of this competition at Lake Placid in 2011, he asked 16-year-old Morgan to join him in his hotel room to talk about the competition, or so she thought.

BROWN (on camera): What happened?

GRANT: He closed the door and reached behind me to turn off the light and then pushed me against the wall. And he started kissing me. And he is 50 years old and a smoker. And I was like really overwhelmed with everything that was going on and freaked out and I didn't know what was happening. He pushed me on to the bed in the hotel room and climbed on top of me and started touching me inappropriately and the kissing continued. And this lasted for about 20 minutes. I don't remember a single thought that ran through my head during that moment. But I know that I finally looked up and said, it's late, I have to go and thank God he listened. I don't know why he did.

BROWN (voice-over): She fled his room and tried to reset her focus.

GRANT: I got up and I left and I went back to my room and I -- you know, I laid down and I just kind of tried to forget the whole thing.

BROWN: Over the next few weeks, Sretenski even began sending her suggestive text messages. GRANT: He would say stuff like, I miss you, or, I love you. Stuff that, again, he would act like we were in some sort of romantic relationship.

BROWN (on camera): As it turns out, Morgan is not alone. Over the last three years, the U.S. Figure Skating Association has suspended nearly a dozen male figure skating coaches across the country for inappropriate behavior. In fact, the National Governing Board is so concerned that it's thinking about creating an outside agency to police coaches' behavior.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The vast majority are outstanding coaches. But it's like any profession, there's some bad apples and they have an incredible amount of power. And they're dealing with young children. There has to be a complete zero tolerance for misconduct with these young people.

BROWN (voice-over): For Morgan, crying out for help wasn't easy.

GRANT: He had a reputation at the rink that I was skating at and training at and everyone -- everyone loved him. And i knew that when it came down to it, if it was my word against his, no one would want to believe me.

BROWN: She eventually told her dad. After criminal charges, Sretenski entered guilty pleas to misdemeanor charges of child endangerment and third degree assault. The family has since filed a civil suit against Sretenski. Because of that pending lawsuit, Sretenski's lawyer told CNN they had no comment. In the end, Morgan Grant decided to drop out of competitive skating. She'll never wear that Team USA jacket.

BROWN (on camera): If he were sitting here right now, what would you say to him?

GRANT: How dare you. How dare you take away the one thing that I wanted the most in my entire life and turn it into something for me to be ashamed of. I did it. I did it. You didn't do it. I did it. I accomplished everything that I did. And for him to do this one stupid thing and take everything that I was proud of and turn it into a source of shame is disgusting.


BROWN: That Russian coach is suspended from U.S. figure skating. That means he cannot coach in any sanctioned programs. But Morgan's story is one to think about. How many girls and boys in competitive sports share her story, how many times abuse of power happens and inappropriate behavior is overlooked just so a goal could be reached and dreams won't be crushed.

BOLDUAN: A sad story. Very strong to come forward and tell her story. Thanks.

BROWN: Absolutely. She's a very brave young woman.

BOLDUAN: Thank you, Pamela. Thanks for that story. BROWN: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY, the military mom who gave her daughter the surprise of a lifetime while a stadium full of people are watching. Mom and daughter joining us live to talk about that moment, next.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

So, who doesn't love a good surprise, right? Well, 13-year-old Bella Lund got the surprise of her life at a Wisconsin Badgers football game during their salute to military families. Just take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Bella is an eighth grader at Jefferson Middle School and she's an avid Badger fan, enjoys playing and competing in both volleyball and cross country. We also salute Bella's mother, Captain Jane Rea Lund (ph), better known as J.R. Ladies and gentlemen, could I please direct your attention to the (INAUDIBLE). Bella, turn around and walk towards your mother, Captain Jane Rea Lund.


BOLDUAN: I mean you could watch that over and over again. Bella Lund and her mother, Captain J.R. Lund, are joining us this morning from Wisconsin.

And I'll tell you, we've watched this multiple times and I am getting choked up yet again watching that beautiful moment between the two of you. It is great to meet you.

Captain, how did this surprise come about? Because Bella knew nothing about this, that you were coming home, especially to surprise her on a football field.

CAPTAIN J.R. LUND, VETERINARIAN, U.S. ARMY RESERVES: Yes. We - I was very happy we were able to pull it off. It really was a friend of mine, Katie Olson (ph). She mentioned it. I was talking about potentially surprising Bella. And she said, why don't you surprise her at a Badger game. Something I hadn't thought of. Didn't even think was an option. She set everything up with the UW athletics. They ran with it. And we were able to pull it off, which was super cool.

BOLDUAN: Bella, mom's been away for six months. Did you ever think that she would pull off a surprise like this, that she would make this kind of an entrance?

BELLA LUND, SURPRISED BY MOM AT WISCONSIN GAME: No way. I thought that maybe something small at school, but no way something as big as a Badger game.

BOLDUAN: No kidding. And I - I took a look at you, J.R., when you were -- while we were watching this clip and you go, wow, it was loud. It was a roar of the crowd when this moment was happening.

Bella, what was that moment like, can you even describe when you turned around and you saw mom there?

B. LUND: Well, it was just kind of like - I wasn't expecting it, so it was a huge shock. And when I was on the field, I was already nervous. But then when I saw her, everything just kind of went away and I was just really happy. Surprised.

BOLDUAN: Yes, to say the least.

And, J.R., what was it - what was it like for you?

J. LUND: It was an amazing day. I mean I was really nervous about trying to pull it all off. Bella was with my friend Katie and then I was, you know, trying to skirt them. So we were texting each other, letting each other know where we were so we wouldn't cross paths. And the timeline of getting there, you know, I was so nervous that it wasn't going to happen that I didn't really let myself think about it a lot until they pulled me down below and then I realized, you know, I was about to see my daughter very, very shortly. Just overwhelming, so exciting.

BOLDUAN: And it's exciting regardless to, you know, reunite with your daughter after a long absence, but especially when you've been away. You are serving in Afghanistan. You're serving in a very dangerous place and you know that your daughter is home, waiting for you to return. Did that just make that moment even that much sweeter?

J. LUND: Oh, absolutely. I mean, she, you know, she did a great job while I was gone, but it's -- you know I think it's really hard on families. They are really concerned and even if they -- you know they go around with their -- their day-to-day life, but in the back of their minds, they're always worried and they're always nervous.

To be able to come home and surprise her and just to have so much support around her, you know people shared their stories with us afterwards. Other children and young adults who had deployed parents came up to her and shared their stories. Just really wonderful to have all of that support from the community.

BOLDUAN: And what is that time like, Bella? Mom is away. Serving our country, which I know you're proud of, but you also know that she's in a very dangerous place. When you look back on those long six months, what is it like trying to stay connected with her during that time?

B. LUND: Sometimes it was harder to stay connected because of the nine-hour time difference. When I was waking up, she was going to bed. Over the summer it got easier because I could stay up later and I didn't have to wake up early for school. And that was a lot easier. But it was hard.


So Captain, real quick, what's next for you? J. LUND: I'm going to go back to my civilian year and I'm looking to see what sort of deployments are out there, potentially volunteer for something in the near future. So we'll see.

BOLDUAN: Well from everyone here at NEW DAY, thank you so much for your service. and thank you, Bella and thank you, Captain, for sharing this really beautiful moment with us this morning. Everyone can use a little heartwarming story these days.

J. LUND: Absolutely. Yes, thank you so much.

B. LUND: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much -- Chris.

CUOMO: And anything we can do to feature the service of the men and women who are protecting this country. It's a great story, Kate.

In fact we've got to make it a double stuff moment. Here's the good stuff. Today's edition, 8-year-old Jonathan Bent -- ok so his Tennessee apartment complex goes up in flames in the middle of the night. Terrible, right? Jonathan is sleeping. He leaps out of bed and into action as this firefighter's helmet cam you are watch. The footage it shows that the fire was terrifying engulfed almost the entire building. Did that stop Jonathan? No. He ran from apartment to apartment making sure people got out.


BEN JOHNSON, SURVIVE APARTMENT FIRE: He comes and starts knocking on neighbors doors. He was running everywhere, he was knocking on this door, knocking on this help, help, fire, fire.


CUOMO: Eight years old. It turns out an elderly neighbor fell asleep with a lit cigarette. You know how that goes. But the actions of this brave young boy -- third time, 8 years old. He ensured no one got hurt.

So where did Jonathan find the courage?


JONATHAN BENT, WARNED NEIGHBORS OF FIRE: I don't like people dying. I just want them to live whenever people say, Jonathan is a hero because he got, he woke up everyone and, well, I just feel like a hero.


CUOMO: That's right. And well he should. Talk about in a moment of crisis, does the right thing and that's why it is the good stuff. Look at the fire. Look what he helped avoid.

BOLDUAN: How scary. CUOMO: Ok that's enough for the fire. Come back to us now. Now it's too scary. There it is, it's the good stuff. Not the scary stuff.

So thank goodness for that kid -- eight years old -- amazing.

Now another thing that makes it amazing is that the stories come from you. And we want more of them. So we announced a brand new CNN iReport campaign to catch all of your good stuff. Please log on to and find out how you can become part of the NEW DAY family.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

Coming up next on NEW DAY -- no mask. No cape. Not much of a Halloween costume at all, I guess. The October challenge you just have to hear about. It's our NEW DAY award of the day.



CUOMO: Yes what do you call the person with the brush and the curling --

BOLDUAN: So why are you going when you're not a Canadian --

PEREIRA: Because I did that.

BOLDUAN: Wait, don't do it again.

PEREIRA: Score. And there's a future for me.


PEREIRA: Welcome back to NEW DAY. We want to give you a quick look at our top stories right now. Just in to CNN, two sets of human remains have been found on the doomed Costa Concordia. Thirty-two people you'll recall were killed when the cruise ship wrecked off Italy's Giglio coast in January of 2012. Two bodies have not been recovered. The boat was rotated upright in the water earlier this month. So that's a big discovery there.

Four days and counting for lawmakers to approve a spending bill to keep the government running. Now even if both sides do find common ground they'll need to approve an increase in the debt ceiling by mid- October.

The highest level meeting between the U.S. and Iran in more than three decades it is set for today. Secretary of State John Kerry meeting with Iran's foreign minister Muhammad Zarif at the United Nations. So those are your headlines.

CUOMO: Biggest headline of right now though. It is time for John Berman to give us his NEW DAY "Award of the Day."

JOHN BERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's getting high expectations. CUOMO: Yes. The meat or beat.

BOLDUAN: And there you go.

BERMAN: It is almost Halloween season. And we found something in the "New York Daily News" that might very well make you scream in terror or something else. There is a Halloween theme park called "Shocktoberfest in Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania that decided their regular old haunted house just wasn't enough. They wanted to make it scarier.


BERMAN: How do you make a haunted house scarier you ask?



BERMAN: More slime. More screams. More ghosts. No. They decided to go in another direction -- naked.


BERMAN: You go into the haunted house naked. It is called the "Naked and Scared Challenge". The owner of the naked and scared challenge told the "Daily News" it's taking people down to their core making them as vulnerable as possible with zero protection.

CUOMO: And then having cameras hidden all over the place.

BERMAN: Well you they claim they were inspired by the show "Naked and Afraid" on the Discovery Channel. There are some things about this that protect you allegedly, you know.

PEREIRA: Really?

BERMAN: You have to sign a disclaimer. You have to be over 18. There are private changing rooms before you go in and after you come out. And sexual misconduct or disrespectful behavior will not be tolerated.

BOLDUAN: Some people being naked to begin with is disrespectful behavior.

BERMAN: What are you talking about?

CUOMO: As is dancing.

BERMAN: Can you identify who are these people.

PEREIRA: Is alcohol served at this Shocktoberfest?

BERMAN: The whole thing is shocking to me like on many different levels. I mean --

PEREIRA: So what is the award?

BERMAN: The award today to Shocktoberfest is the "I hope it's a warm haunted house" award. You know, talk about shocking. All right. There you go.

BOLDUAN: Anyone? Anyone?

PEREIRA: Can you imagine?

BOLDUAN: turn up the heat.

BERMAN: I was thinking they say being naked makes you more scared.

CUOMO: They should have make all the people who are scaring you be naked. Not you.


CUOMO: You said you wanted some Van Morrison, didn't you? There you go "Brown Eyed Girl" one of my favorite songs. And you two.

That's it for NEW DAY. Thank you for joining us.

"CNN NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello, my favorite brown-eyed girl, begins right now.

BOLDUAN: Be careful Carol, he might kiss you.

PEREIRA: He will. He absolutely will.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: He was spreading the love.

Thanks, guys. You have a great day. "NEWSROOM" starts now.

Happening now in the "NEWSROOM", the clock is ticking: a double deadline -- a government shutdown and the debt ceiling. Are we really here again?

Also, wage race.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: this could very well kill any recovery that we have.


COSTELLO: California upping its minimum wage to 10 bucks an hour the first raise in five years.