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Mom Drives Kids into Ocean; Massachusetts Court Upskirting Legal; Principal Changes Lives on "CHICAGOLAND"

Aired March 6, 2014 - 08:30   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everyone. Time now for the five things you need to know for your new day.

Number one, President Obama leveling sanctions against those the White House says are responsible for the crisis in Ukraine. This came after Crimea's new lawmaker scheduled a referendum to become part of Russia.

More testimony in the Oscar Pistorius trial. The doctor who was first on the scene has revealed startling details about what he saw inside the house when Reeva Steenkamp was killed. And that Pistorius told him he thought she was a burglar.

President Obama is attending a town hall to sell his health care law to Latinos, one of the biggest blocs in need of coverage. The White House also announced extensions for some policies, avoiding cancellations in an election year.

A number of White House hopefuls take the stage for the first day of the Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC. Governors Chris Christie and Bobby Jindal, also Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio all on today's schedule.

Sweeping changes to the SAT college entrance exam. Scores will return to the 1,600 scale. The essay will now be optional and no penalty for a wrong answer. The College Board says the SAT revisions will take effect in 2016.

And we are also updating the five things you need to know. So go to for the latest.


Troubling new details this morning on that pregnant mother who drove her three kids into the ocean in Florida. You see the dramatic video. Family members say that the woman was talking about demons just hours before the incident. This morning, we're hearing from the brave rescuers as police say the kids, lucky to be alive, are now in protective custody. CNN's Alina Machado is in Daytona Beach, Florida, with much more on this story.


ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, it's not unusual to see people driving on this beach. But for the two people who were involved in this rescue, the moment they saw that minivan inside the water behind me and also heard the children screaming, they knew they had to act fast.


TIM TESSENEER, RESCUER: It was scary. The water was so rough, so windy.

MACHADO (voice-over): Tim Tesseneer is one of the men seen here rushing toward this minivan with a pregnant woman behind the wheel and her three children inside.

TESSENEER: One kid was in the back seat with his arms out, crying. And one kid was on the mother's lap like wrestling her for the steering wheel, trying to steer her away from the ocean.

MACHADO: Tesseneer and Stacy Robinson helped rescue the children, ages three, nine and 10, Tuesday, in Daytona Beach, Florida. The mother, according to the men, had a blank look on her face.

STACY ROBINSON, RESCUER: She wasn't saying much past that they were OK. She just kept repeating that they were OK and they were fine.

MACHADO: The children survived. So did the woman who police say is undergoing a mental evaluation.

BEN JOHNSON, VOLUSIA COUNTY SHERIFF: We need to determine, is this a medical incident, is it a mental incident? Also, at this time, we have to evaluate it, even if it is a crisis incident, do we file charges or not?

MACHADO: Earlier Tuesday, the woman's sister called Daytona Beach Police after hearing her talk about demons before leaving with the children. When police caught up with her, the woman appeared to be suffering from some form of mental illness but was lucid. The children, police noted, showed no signs of distress.

JOHNSON: They could not do anything with her. But then two hours later, it had escalated to this.

MACHADO: Robinson and Tesseneer say they'd love to see the children they helped save. As for whether they're heroes -

TESSENEER: Not really a hero. I'm just glad that we were there. I'm glad Stacy was there at the right time and I was there. We was there for a purpose at that particular moment, and it all turned out to the good.


MACHADO: The investigation into what happened here continues. Meanwhile, police say they're not sure if this woman will be facing any charges.

Kate and Chris. BOLDUAN: All right, Alina. And just as you're saying this, we can see a car driving behind you on the beach. So it's not unusual, as you said, that that actually happens, but definitely not like that. Thank you so much.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Right, everything about this situation is unusual. But they'll figure it out.

Coming up on NEW DAY, here's a headline for you, secretly taking pictures up someone's skirt or under their clothing is legal in Massachusetts. Sounds outrageous, because it is, but that's what the state supreme court ruled. We're going to tell you why it came out that way and whether it still makes no sense.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back.

A shocking court ruling out of Massachusetts. The state supreme court has ruled that it is legal to upskirt, as they call it, someone, which means it is OK to secretly record images under someone's skirt or dress. The state's highest court handed down the ruling after dismissing charges against a man who was accused of upskirting different women on Boston's transit system. There's more to this, of course, as there always is, so let's discuss. Joining us now, radio talk show host and defense attorney Mel Robbins.

Mel, Mel, Mel, Mel, Mel, where do we even begin? This defies logic, so how -

MEL ROBBINS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, let's begin with the good news.

BOLDUAN: Tell me the good news, because I don't hear it, because I'm wearing a skirt today and now I'm nervous.

ROBBINS: The good news is, Kate - the good news is that here in Boston it's about 20 degrees, so most women are wearing snow pants today. And it's not, you know, summer where you're wearing a sun dress and a thong. But this is a crazy case. Where do you want to begin, Kate?

BOLDUAN: How did the court reach this conclusion first, and then we'll talk about if they did a good job. But how did they reach this conclusion?

ROBBINS: OK, great. So there are peeping tom laws all across the country. And, of course, there's one here in Massachusetts, which basically makes it illegal to spy on or take pictures of people that are nude or partially nude. And what the court did here, Kate, is they said, hey, a woman wearing a skirt isn't nude and she's not partially nude either. She's covered up. So, therefore, the law doesn't apply. That was their reasoning.

BOLDUAN: So you're -- it turns on a couple of things, and I don't agree with either of them, but I'm often wrong, as we know if you've watched our show. So it turns on this idea of an expectation of privacy and then also on the definition of nude or partially nude. ROBBINS: Right.

BOLDUAN: I would argue, I would expect my undergarments are private. I would also expect that when you're under my skirt, that's me being partially nude, at least.

ROBBINS: You know, I totally agree with you, Kate. And I even went so far as to look up the gender of the supreme judicial court, because I thought, hey, wait a minute, if this is seven dudes, someone needs to show them that upskirting a woman is the equivalent of sticking a phone down your pants, boys.


ROBBINS: So I found that it's actually four guys and three women. And the truth of the matter is, that I believe, just like you do, Kate, that they could have easily said, look, a woman underneath her skirt is partially nude, end of story. And when somebody who is creepy as hell takes a phone and sticks it up underneath the skirt, that is exactly the kind of behavior that peeping tom laws were trying to criminalize.

You know, when I was in law school, Kate, here in Boston, I had a peeping tom. I had a guy -- I'm assuming it was a guy -- who was outside my first floor window. I could feel that somebody was there. So I called my neighbor. We went outside, it was snowing, and there were footprints outside the window of my bedroom.

BOLDUAN: Oh, my gosh.

ROBBINS: Terrifying. That sense of violation is the same thing that these women that are on the subway are having happen. So I think this is a total cop-out. But there is good news. You want to hear it?

BOLDUAN: Please, other than the fact that we're calling the bad weather good news, which shows how bad this story is. What's the other good news? Please tell me they're going to change the law.

ROBBINS: Well, the other good news, Kate - yes, the other good news is that I think this is a wake-up call, not only for the state of Massachusetts, but for everybody, because our current laws simply do not address what's going on with technology. And so I predict, by the end of next week, certainly before the spring when skirt season hits Boston, they will have changed the law to apply. But I think ahead, Kate, and I think, OK, well, wait a minute, what happens five years from now when people are wearing Google glasses -


ROBBINS: And they're recording everything that's going on. And this is just the precursor to, I'm sure, many conversations that you and I are going to have.

BOLDUAN: And so, Mel -

ROBBINS: But this was the hot topic last night in the pick-up line at the elementary school.

BOLDUAN: I'm sorry that I even had to learn what upskirt was. I didn't even know. I don't know why. Thankfully, I've never had to know what that meant. But bottom line, this guy, who I think is deserving of us actually saying his name, once and for all, Michael S. Robertson, 32 of Andover, who is involved in this, he's going to get off scot-free though?

ROBBINS: Correct. He absolutely will. And he's probably riding the subway right now. You know, it also reminds me of that air marshal. Remember just last year in October, we had the guy who was supposed to be protecting passengers doing the same thing on a Southwest flight. Thank God they didn't land in Massachusetts, because he probably would have gotten off, too.

BOLDUAN: I really hope this is a wake-up call. That's why we're talking about it. It defies logic. Also why we're talking about it. And I hope this - it starts at least on the grassroots ground level of people saying, this is ridiculous. If -- our laws need to be logical and they need to be applied in the right way because it sounds like a violation even us having to discuss.

Mel, you look fabulous. Hope you're wearing pants today, girl. I'll talk to you soon.

ROBBINS: You know I am, honey. I'll see you later.

BOLDUAN: All right. Gentlemen.

CUOMO: That was a very interesting conversation, Kate. And I don't know exactly that we're allowed to have any response to it.


CUOMO: Coming up on NEW DAY, a stunning look inside one of America's biggest cities and most violent. The name of the program is "CHICAGOLAND" and it puts you on the front lines of the city's war against gang violence. We're going to introduce you to one of its top soldiers, a principal who's trying to turn students' lives around and succeeding, when we come back.


BOLDUAN: Bangor High School in Chicago is facing -- has faced some huge challenges seen at one point as the most violent and lowest performing schools in the city. But Principal Liz Dozier is faced with -- also faced with some unbelievable situations, just like this one.


LIZ DOZIER, PRINCIPAL, BANGOR HIGH SCHOOL: You don't know what happened?


DOZIER: How many shots were fired?


DOZIER: And you don't know what direction they were shooting in?

He was like, "No, I don't know what's going on."


DOZIER: Right. Were they from a car or just walking by?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just people -- just like walking, I believe.

DOZIER: And started shooting?


DOZIER: Crazy as hell.


BOLDUAN: Crazy as hell. And unbelievable that she has to deal with this on a daily basis. But Dozier has been a game-changer for her students since she joined the school five years ago, overhauling how they handle gang violence and much more. She's featured in the new CNN Original Series "CHICAGOLAND" which is premiering tonight.

And Liz Dozier is joining us today to talk about it. Liz, it's so great to see you.

DOZIER: Thanks for having me.

BOLDUAN: And we want to talk about the progress and how you changed the school. I think -- and people get a sense of it when they see the series. But to understand how far you've come, they need to understand what you came into facing. What was the school like when you came in?

DOZIER: Yes. Just a few quick stats that I think if you look at our first year there were close to 300 arrests inside the school building, a 20 percent dropout rate. There's some things that just weren't sustainable for kids being successful. And we are now -- we're a model for restorative justice in the country. We are below 3 percent in terms of our dropout rate. And kids are going to college and becoming successful.

BOLDUAN: Liz, a lot of principals have to deal with so many things. You know, low-performing students, attendance problems, even bullying and all the cliques. You were dealing as you see in that one clip -- and you'll see more of it -- you're dealing with death, gang violence in your school, kids shooting other kids. Do you believe that this was part of your job?

DOZIER: Yes, so I think it's important to say that this is not something that happens like every day. There's not shootings happening every day but unfortunately this is a reality that happens within not only Chicago but across the country. And so it's really how we respond and so making sure we're building relationships with kids. Making sure that we actually have things in place, that they're able to talk things out and not resort to violent acts.

CUOMO: Chicago is known for its gang culture. The population of them, the amount of time they've been, even though the Cabrini Green Homes are gone now, you know, it's become like somewhat of a metaphor for the problem in the country. Do you believe it's fair to distinguish Chicago that way and why do you think the gang problems are as bad there as it is?

DOZIER: Yes. So first and foremost, if you look at the stats in terms of crime in the city and gang violence, things have actually gone down. We don't really know about that or talk about that but that's actually a fact.

And I know about my pocket there at Bangor High School, when I know that relationships matter. And at the end of the day these are children. Sometimes we kind of label them as -- this kid is in a gang or is gang banger. This is a child. And so it's incumbent upon us as the adults to reach out, build that relationship and show them something different so they can realize the promise and possibility within themselves.

I've seen this work. I've seen a child who was in a gang who was, you know, heavily involved in different things and now he's off to college. So it's completely possible if the adults are all pulling in the same direction.

BERMAN: There's two tracks because let's talk about the progress you've made.


BERMAN: Because it's enormous there. Do you deal with the violence? Do you deal with the external factors on one track and then try to teach the kids the things they need to know, reading, writing, arithmetic on the other hand? How do you get to that progress?

DOZIER: I think it's having a really strong social, emotional support built into the school. So we do things like anger management, grief counseling, we have the BAM Program which is --

BERMAN: Being a Man.

DOZIER: -- Becoming a Man -- yes.

And having those things built within the course of the school day while instruction is happening because at the end of the day, our kids need to be college ready and prepared. And so things are happening simultaneously.

CUOMO: You are teaching them to be people, not just students anymore. The job has changed.

DOZIER: Yes, I mean the job has changed across the country. I mean it's not just Bangor High School. I think it's across the country really looking at how do you develop good citizens?

BOLDUAN: Your story is inspiring. And one people need to listen. And it's also, some would say, you've stolen the show in this series as folks will see when it premieres tonight.

One person you've inspired, Robert Redford. Take a listen to what Robert Redford had to say.


ROBERT REDFORD, ACTOR: What I do like is having Liz Dozier here because she is -- she's at the heart of everything. And to me, the amount of courage and the amount of dignity she holds. But her motive, it's all about education. And she's doing what she can to force through the idea of how important education is. I think she's really a stellar character.


BOLDUAN: Now, Robert Redford is executive producing this series. It makes me wonder what you think of when you hear that. But also, what motivated you to want to sign on to having such a bright spotlight shined on you and your school to be part of this series?

DOZIER: First of all, wow, can I get a copy of that. Start there.

BOLDUAN: We're on it.

DOZER: But I've always felt that Bangor High School is a gold mine. These are children that have again all the promise and possibility within themselves. It's incumbent upon us as adults to bring that out. And so I just knew the school could go from where it was to something way -- just way better.

And so I think if change can happen at Bangor High School -- and this is the main reason why I did the show -- it can happen here and we can highlight that. It can happen really anywhere in the country. There are great principals and teachers across the city of Chicago doing the very same things we're doing at Bangor and seeing change and results for kids.

BOLDUAN: It's so fun to have you on the show --

DOZIER: Thanks for having me.

BOLDUAN: -- to have you here and highlight your story. Thank you so much, Liz.

DOZIER: Thanks.

CUOMO: People like you are the key to education. We talk about money and schools, you know, and what needs to be done. It's all about the teachers. It's all about the people involved. So thank you for the work.

DOZIER: Thank you so much. BOLDUAN: CNN's gripping new series "CHICAGOLAND" premieres tonight, 10:00, 9:00 Central right here on CNN.

CUOMO: Coming up next, we're going to stay in Chicago. And that's where we found "The Good Stuff". We're going to tell you about this message in the snow for one mom that wound up meaning so much more to so many. Stay with us.


CUOMO: All right. It's time for "The Good Stuff". A special edition in honor of our new series "CHICAGOLAND" may also be the only good thing about all that snow in Chicago what I'm about to tell you.

This happened at Rush University Medical Center where a message for a sick mom became so much more. You may remember it was a massive message carved into the top of the parking structure there. It reads, "Hi Mom, God bless you," with a smiley face in the "O" just for good measure.

Who did it and why was a mystery. But to solve it all people had to do was look up to the hospital room of Shari Hart who is undergoing leukemia treatment. The message was the idea of her 14-year-old son Will.


WILL HART, WROTE MESSAGE IN SNOW FOR MOM: I thought it would be nice for my mom to see it and for others to feel happy.

SHARI HART, MOTHER OF WILL HART: When I saw what he wrote it was just proud and amazed that he could think of doing something as spectacular as that for me. It was a big proud mommy moment.


CUOMO: "A proud mommy moment". That's good stuff for a son right there and his mom obviously. But even better, the rest of the patients -- turns out the message cheered up everybody.


TIM HART, SHARI HART'S HUSBAND: We were looking up in the windows and we could see all the people looking down. We kind of knew that a lot of people were appreciating it.


CUOMO: Will wanted to do more and that took a lot of work as it was when he found out how much people liked the sign. He tried to make it "God bless you all" but he ran out of parking spaces.

But he wanted to do the right thing and he did and he helped people. That's why Will is "The Good Stuff". Thank you my friend and not a bad use of snow.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Little things are the biggest things, that's all I'm saying.

BOLDUAN: You can see his footprints in between the words -- just adorable. I love that.

CUOMO: And as I said, it's a special edition because of "CHICAGOLAND". We want to tell you about that. Don't miss the premiere of the groundbreaking new CNN original series "CHICAGOLAND" following the struggles and successes of a quintessential American city. When is it? Tonight at 10:00, 9:00 Central only on CNN.

BOLDUAN: You can see Liz Dozier right there in the middle, the principal we were just talking to. She's someone to keep following. She's "The Good Stuff", herself.

A busy day here but a lot news happening here and around the world. Let's get you over for "NEWSROOM" with Jake Tapper.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and thanks for joining me in this special hour of CNN's "NEWSROOM". I'm Jake Tapper in for Carol Costello.

We begin this morning with breaking news out of Washington, D.C. President Obama and the State Department slapped the first sanctions against those they decide are to blame for the crisis in Ukraine. Michelle Kosinski has details now from the White House -- Michelle.