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JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL

Cop Accused of Being Child Predator Online

Aired March 28, 2014 - 19:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST: Tonight, a Florida community reeling in horror, as cops say one of their own has secretly been living a sick online double life as a child predator.

Investigators say they were shocked, stunned to discover a police officer was sexually propositioning young teen boys on Facebook. And perhaps the sickest twist? Detectives say this cop posed as a teenage girl to get boys to commit sexual acts on camera.

Good evening, I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell. Thanks for joining me.

The cop was busted after getting several unsuspecting young victims to send him photos of their genitals. But there`s another twist. Now his future mother-in-law is claiming he was framed?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sergeant Stavris created a phony Facebook account.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don`t know who to trust anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Posing as a teenage girl.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Can I see your (EXPLETIVE DELETED)?"

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of those victims came forward in December.

SHERRY BLEVINS, FUTURE MOTHER-IN-LAW IF STAVRIS: Michael is a really standup guy, and I would like to say he`s put his life on the line for hundreds and hundreds of people every year. That people should wait to hear the truth come out.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This cop, 30-year-old suspect Michael Stavris, admitted that he created a Facebook profile, a fake one, using the name of his ex-girlfriend`s 16-year-old daughter. At least that`s what cops are telling us tonight. He even gave investigators the login and password, they say.

Well, then they uncovered a trove of sick, explicit exchanges with at least six teenage boys and one girl.

According to the affidavit, the cop said, quote, "I want to see a pic of you getting bleeped," i.e, oral sex.

The boy responds, "Who`s going to give me the bleep."

The cop replies, "I will when we hang out, but I`m sure you`ve taken a pic before."

So the boy says, "OK. You want a pic of my bleep?" I.e., private parts?

And the cop says, "Yes, and a girl."

Unbelievable. Nervous parents are wondering, is this the tip of the iceberg? Because tonight we`ve uncovered this -- this cop used to work inside classrooms for years, where he taught public safety to middle-school students.

And tonight there`s new outrage, because this cop is already out of jail after posting $125,000 bond. You know, that means 12 grand in cash. Why on earth is this alleged predator out tonight? We`re going to debate it all.

But straight out to reporter Joe Gomez from KRLD in Dallas. What`s the very latest, Joe?

JOE GOMEZ, REPORTER, KRLD: Jane, this story is really unbelievable. A man who swore his life to protect the community is actually accused of doing the exact opposite: preying on young boys, underaged boys on Facebook, stealing the identity of a teenage girl to get photos of underaged boys, of their private parts. Jane, it`s absolutely unbelievable.

And what`s further mind-boggling is that he`s alleging this was all some sort of setup by his future mother-in-law, who says it`s all some sort of bizarre setup. What`s the real deal here? What`s the truth, Jane, is what we`re trying to figure out.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, what`s interesting is the cop has not entered a plea yet. But detectives say that he did admit to them that he created this Facebook page.

Well, now, as you just heard from Joe, the suspect`s soon-to-be mother-in-law is claiming, no, this cop is innocent.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLEVINS: I would like to say that Michael is a really stand-up guy. I would like to say that he`s put his life on the line for hundreds and hundreds of people every year. And I think that people should wait to hear the truth come out before they make a judgment.

I`m telling you this was all prompted when him and the ex-girlfriend broke up, when he wouldn`t take her back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, that`s their side of the story. But we spoke exclusively to the young girl`s mother, whose identity was allegedly stolen by this cop.

Johnna (ph) Faulkner wants the world to know her daughter, Dallas Brown, is another victim here. She`s furious that this cop allegedly used the 16-year-old`s photo to front this perverted Facebook page, asking for naked photos of boys` private parts, encouraging them to perform X-rated sexual acts.

Now the mother told us this horrific incident has caused her daughter to suffer enormously, because some refuse to believe she had nothing to do with it.

Straight out to the Lion`s Den. Wendy Murphy, former prosecutor, what`s happening to this girl is horrible. Her mother released her name. She wants to clear her name. She`s being humiliated at school because of this.

WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Yes, I mean, it`s really hard for the public to know the truth when it looks like this girl`s Facebook page, and she`s saying it`s a cop fraudulently and criminally engaging in this behavior secretly? I mean, who`s going to believe the girl, right?

So clearly, her best step is to file some kind of lawsuit fast to get the truth out immediately, so that people will believe what seems so hard to believe, that a cop would do this.

I`ll tell you this much. We know this guy probably is in very hot water, not only because he admitted putting up the Facebook page falsely, but you can always connect him up to his I.P. address.

And guess what? They dumped him without pay. What does that tell you? Most cops, if they get in trouble, they get suspended with pay. But that`s when there`s a chance that they`re not really guilty, or they might have a defense. This guy gone with no pay.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`ve got to tell you something, I am outraged that he is out. I am outraged that he is out. Eric Guster, this guy should not be walking the streets. I don`t care if he`s a cop. Look at the allegations against him.

ERIC GUSTER, ATTORNEY: Yes. And they`re serious allegations. Especially with him being a police officer. These are people who were hired to serve and protect. And he worked in a school, worked around children, and now he`s accused of one of the most heinous types of crimes that there is.

And it`s very interesting that we -- they put his face out there. And I`m interested to know if anyone else has seen him do anything, or any other allegations may come forward. But with him being out on bond, everyone is entitled to a bond...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, please. I`m sorry. There are children out there that need to be protected. He had 40 -- 4-0 -- students, minors, friending this perverse Facebook page. It`s outrageous, Simone Bienne.

SIMONE BIENNE, RELATIONSHIP EXPERT: It is outrageous, Jane, yes. Because what was he doing? He was grooming. All that time, did he become a police officer just so he could have the moral high ground? Just so that he could be more secretive so he could be untouched?

And Jane, your point is absolutely right. He should never be let out. Because what we do know about alleged pedophiles is that they do repeat offenses. This is an awful disease that he will not be able to get over, so children need to be protected.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, New York City attorney, Nora Moreno -- Nora Moreno, do you think he should be let out on bond?

NORA MORENO, ATTORNEY: I think if he`s convicted, absolutely the -- he should never be let out if he`s convicted. The truth is, there`s been no conviction; these are accusations. As heinous as they are and as repulsive as they are, they`re accusations. There`s been no conviction. And we have a Constitution we have to abide by.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So you think let him out? Let him out? Even though...

MORENO: I don`t think let him out.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Even -- He`s out, tonight.

MORENO: He`s out on $125,000 bond that he posted, like any other defendant. These are accusations.

And as far as the setup claim goes, I`ve done family court matters and matrimonial matters. And it`s not unheard of that scorned spouses do set up other scorned spouses. So that`s an avenue that ultimately needs to be explored.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Wendy Murphy, the problem -- the problem, Wendy, is that he, according to cops, gave them the password. How would you know the password if you didn`t set it up?

GUSTER: Look, ex-girlfriends know people`s passwords. I don`t think that`s really an issue on that. But he`s entitled to a bond.

(CROSSTALK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: One at a time. One at a time. Wendy, and then we`ll go to Eric. Go ahead, Wendy.

MURPHY: Look, this is exactly the sort of case where the technology is going to prove the truth, no matter what he says. Because they can connect the I.P. address to his confession that he set up the page. It`s all a bunch of hooey.

I understand that his fiancee`s mother wishes that her daughter was planning to marry a good guy and a cop. Well, guess what, mama? You`re wrong.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK, Eric.

GUSTER: Look at the I.P. address. They`re going to be able to look at his work schedule, see if he was home. Did his girlfriend have keys to his house and she may have done it? Now, that is a possibility.

But if he made a statement admitting that he set up a Facebook profile, he is in in the hot water anyway. And I`m shocked with him being a police officer that he made a statement without a lawyer being present. That is...

MORENO: He still needs to be convicted. He needs to be convicted.

(CROSSTALK)

BIENNE: The mother-in-law, the fact that I find it offensive as a woman that just because he`s a cop, we find this so hard to believe. Yet a scorned woman is suddenly like, oh, yes, that`s really easy to believe. I mean, this is just absolutely ridiculous.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you know what this case reminds me of? It reminds me of Jerry Sandusky. He was also in a position of power when he was the Penn State assistant coach. Considered a pillar of the community, very similar. Coming in as a white knight with his charity for underprivileged at-risk youth.

Then we find out he`s using that charity to get access to boys for years. Ultimately charged with more than 50 counts of sexual abuse on young boys. And you know what? There was outrage when he was let out on $250,000 bail. Remember, he lived next to a playground?

This cop, Stavris, posted $125,000 bond. That`s $12,500 in cash. No, I don`t think that he should be let out, because children cannot defend themselves. And if there is truth to this, then you have somebody who potentially might feel he has nothing to lose, Joe Gomez.

GUSTER: But everyone is entitled to a bond, Jane. I know we don`t like the accusation.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hold on a second. Joe Gomez, you`re out there...

GOMEZ: We don`t know -- we don`t know where this ends, Jane. You`re absolutely right. We don`t know where this ends. I mean, it could -- there could be more children that this guy could have talked to over Facebook. The list of victims could go on and on.

If he`s out of jail right now, what is to stop him from going and continuing these acts that he allegedly did before. He`s been working in schools for so long, Jane, he was -- he worked as a cop at a school. He taught activities to kids, public safety. For goodness sakes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Simone -- Simone, when you look at these selfies that he`s taking, that we found online, what does this tell you?

BIENNE: It tells me that he`s completely narcissistic. This is all about him. And I`m sorry. I don`t want to be offensive, but oh, yes, I will. He is just creepy.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Out on bail, or his attorney on the show anytime. We`ve reached out to them. We want to be fair. We want to hear your explanation. And we`re just getting started. Because the back story to this man, it will make you fall off your chair.

Later, an incredible road rage incident caught on video. We will talk with the woman who shot this. Who`s to blame? You`ll hear her side of the story. And we`ve got the other side, too.

But first, we`re just getting started. Did a cop proposition boys on Facebook pretending to be a real-life girl and, in the process, destroying her life to a large degree? Or was he set up?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stavris is accused of setting up a fake Facebook profile, posing as a teenage girl, and using it to contact young boys.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was logging on under -- you know, under a female profile. And soliciting explicit responses and photographs from teenage boys.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was logging on under a female profile, and soliciting explicit responses and photographs from -- from teenage boys. One of those victims came forward in December when they discovered what was going on, and brought it to our attention.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Police Officer Michael Stavris accused of stealing a 16-year-old girl`s identity to create a perverse Facebook page to pose as her. And then offer oral sex to teenage boys, ask them to perform sex acts, get them to send extremely graphic and naked photos, photos of themselves, photos of their private parts. The list goes on and on.

The affidavit says at least six young boys between the ages of 14 and 18 have come forward so far. But there were 40 minor students listed as friends on this perverted Facebook page.

Out to "The Lion`s Den." This is presumably their first association with sex. We talked about how the girl whose identity was allegedly stolen has been devastated. Undoubtedly, she`s -- she`s been the subject of gossip at school, and her mom wants to end that. She had nothing to do with it, OK, kids? Or parents if you`re watching? Tell your kids, leave that girl alone.

But Simone Bienne, what about these boys? How will they be impacted?

BIENNE: Well, actually, working with people when they`re in their 30s, and having their first experience with sex when they`re in their teenage years, they will be affected for the rest of their lives.

And look at that picture there, Jane. You asked me earlier, look where his hands are. He`s actually pointing to his genitals, which by the way, means he wants us to draw our attention there. These kids will be affected for the rest of their lives.

So by the way, it`s not just one life that he`s screwing up. He`s screwing up these kids` relationships forever. Because how can you trust? Relationships are all about trust. You can`t trust.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s go to the phone lines. They`re lighting up. Paul, Alabama, what do you have to say? Paul.

CALLER: When is us as a society going to make a law where these pedophiles have no bond? What if this guy gets back out -- he`s already out. Who`s to say he`s not messing with little boys right now? There needs to be a law: no bond for pedophiles.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I absolutely agree with you. And I get back to that. Wendy, people say, well, he`s not convicted, and it`s just an accusation. But we`re talking about children here. We`re talking about individuals who cannot speak for themselves or defend themselves.

MURPHY: Jane, I agree with you 100 percent about that. So he presents a particularly high risk of harm, because the people he targets are defenseless. Let`s remember that.

And when that happens, a judge is supposed to take that into account and say most people are supposed to get out on bond, but we`re extra worried about you. At a minimum, $12,000 sends the wrong message that this is a cheap crime. This is a big discount; we don`t care that much.

Plus, these kind of guys when they suffer shame, and he may feel, and he should feel horrible about what he did, horrible, you know what? There`s a real risk he`s going to either take off or jump off a bridge. That`s the kind of guy you want to hold so he`s there to face the music, to face trial, to be found guilty. And it`s not going to happen if he can just dump 12,000 and take off.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, and I`ve got to tell you, you know what these terrifying allegations remind me of? They remind me that predators are most often the most unlikely suspects. Come on. We see it time and time again on this show, on shows like "Dateline NBC`s" "To Catch a Predator." We`ve all seen that one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here comes another man who`s seen our previous broadcast.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s in the laundry room. He`s in the kitchen, coming towards the living room.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s been chatting online in an AOL gay chat room with a boy posing as a 14-year-old. It takes him less than seven minutes to ask the boy if he wants oral sex. The decoy says, "OK, cool." And a few hours later, he`s walking into our living room.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I mean, that`s the whole point. Listen, Eric Guster, these predators come from all walks of life, but I was always shocked, watching "To Catch a Predator," how many religious leaders, businessmen, officials in the community, the pillars of the community, the ones who purportedly help kids.

You know, you`ve always got to be careful if somebody`s very interested in helping children not their own. Yes, there are wonderful people, but there are people who are using whatever area, whether it`s a school, or a sports team, as a hunting ground.

GUSTER: That`s true. And that`s why it`s so important for parents to talk to their children. Don`t allow their children to have privacy with Internet access, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. All those accounts, the parents should have passwords to all of them. Because predators are everywhere.

My law firm does not accept any type of case like this at all. Because this type of case absolutely sickens me.

But what parents need to do is talk to their children, have open dialogue, and talk to them about everything. Because if this happened to this child, and several other children, there`s no telling how many children he talked to.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know what? You know, it`s easy to say that, but Wendy Murphy, you know. You`re a parent. Kids aren`t going to tell you everything. I mean, kids, they have Instagram accounts and other accounts that the parents don`t know about. They`re talking about all sorts of things. They`re talking about sex.

You know, it`s the "my dog doesn`t have fleas" syndrome. Nobody wants to think that their kid is even sexual, much less talking about oral sex with a girl, which turns out to be a cop, allegedly.

MURPHY: And children need to be able to develop that separation from parents. They need to develop their sexuality in a way that`s healthy. And that means, you know, saying, "Mom, don`t be looking at me." They reach that stage where they need to be able to do that.

But that vulnerability does require openness. Even if it makes the kids uncomfortable, we have to say words like penis and vagina, and the Internet has people like this on it. And don`t trust cops. It`s important to scare kids a little at this age.

COOPER: Because this guy was allegedly using those phrases.

Should we go back to school now, to these schools where he has once worked, and investigate whether anybody, any child has a story that they`re concerned about, has an experience that they want to relate. On the other side. Six years in schools.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLEVINS: I think that people should wait to hear the truth come out before they make a judgment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sherry Blevins is the police officer`s soon-to-be mother-in-law. She claims Sergeant Stavris is being framed by his ex- girlfriend.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLEVINS: I would like to say Michael`s a stand-up guy, and he`s put his life on the line for hundreds and hundreds of people every year. And I think that people should to hear the truth come out before they make a judgment. I`m telling you this was all prompted when he and his ex- girlfriend broke up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thirty-year-old cop Michael Stavris is accused of some horrific crimes. Now, he`s engaged. And that was -- the woman you just heard from, his soon-to-be mother-in-law. And she says this officer would never do this. And she goes so far as to claim that he was set up. This woman claims that he was framed by his ex-girlfriend.

Let`s debate this in "The Lion`s Den." Because the ex-girlfriend says, no. In fact, this guy stole my daughter`s identity, and has gone a long way toward ruining her life, because she`s made the subject of all sorts of X-rated conversation. So Nora Moreno, you say as an attorney, don`t close your mind to the possibility that somebody was being vindictive with this officer?

Moreno: Yes. The guy could be a total, you know, freak and deserve to be locked up for the rest of his life. But as an attorney, and society that should not pre-judge, there is this allegation that it could be a setup and it needs to be explored and investigated before we rush to judgment. I have seen cases, I`ve seen women and men deliberately injure themselves, call cops and make a false police report that their ex-spouse hurt them or beat them or something. I`m not saying it`s happening here, but this is an allegation and it needs to be investigated.

MURPHY: This has been investigated for months by police, with expertise by one of their own. Don`t you think they were a little careful...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This hasn`t been tried in a court of law. This is a complaint.

It doesn`t matter. They investigated it for months. You want to indulge some cuckoo claim about...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What`s the evidence that...

MURPHY: It doesn`t matter. They investigated it for months. Are you abandoning common sense for fun?

MORENO: I don`t believe anything, because I don`t know any facts. I`m just saying everything needs to be looked at.

MURPHY: Stories like....

BIENNE: Well, they have facts. What we`ve got to do is go by -- At what point does anybody want to imagine that the person that their daughter is going to marry is a pedophile? For goodness sake, this is a person she brought into her home. This is...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What disturbs me is for six years before he became a cop, he was in classrooms teaching public safety to middle school kids. And I wonder if there`s a possibility of more victims.

My suggestion tonight is that authorities go back to those schools and analyze what was happening during those six years, talk to people who were students, or their parents, and find out if anybody has uncomfortable stories to relate. Is this the tip of the iceberg?

Coming up next, it`s the road rage revenge incident that is blowing up online. Unbelievable. We`ll talk -- we`re going to talk in a primetime exclusive to the woman who shot this extraordinary video while she`s driving. And you don`t want to miss it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s what you get. All on video, buddy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HLN HOST: Tonight, public outrage and debate over a brand-new case of viral justice. Watch this stunning video. A driver catches a jaw-dropping road rage incident on her phone.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s what you get. All on video, buddy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That video now has more than 3.5 million hits on YouTube. A Florida woman says it all started when a man tailgated her for at least three minutes, so she whips out her cell phone, while she`s driving, and she records it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FLORIDA DRIVER: I just pulled out the phone and just, you know, driving with one hand and focusing on the road, focusing on my mirrors and I just kind of held up the phone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: When the driver of the truck cuts in front of her he smiles and flips her the bird -- the middle finger. But he wasn`t smiling when he loses control of his truck and then spinning into oncoming traffic and hits a pole. Cops say he then takes off. He was arrested and charged with leaving the scene of a traffic crash, careless driving, and failing to wear a seat belt.

But tonight we are asking, is there more to this story than meets the eye. The attorney for the man flipping the bird says the video doesn`t tell the whole story and that he`s not guilty. So what`s the real story here?

I have a fantastic "Lion`s Den" debate panel. But first, straight out to my very special primetime exclusive guest, yes, the woman who took the video.

Now, hello. I know you don`t want to be named so we`re calling you Florida driver. Florida driver, tell us what happened that day.

FLORIDA DRIVER: Well, I mean the proof is in the pudding on the video. You see exactly what happened. The whole video, which the highway patrol has, will show you exactly, you know, what was happening, what I was doing, what he was doing.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What was he doing? What do you say he was doing?

FLORIDA DRIVER: He was driving recklessly. He was tailgating. When he passed me, and he saw the camera, and tried to pose for the camera, with the bird, you know, I think a little bit of ego got in there. And then like when he tried to cut me off, you know, it just kind of caught up with him.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, you`re in the left-hand lane when this starts. And he`s behind you, is that correct? Because sometimes I know people get irritated if you`re in the fast lane and you`re driving slow. So what was the setup to this? What were you doing, what was he doing?

FLORIDA DRIVER: Well, I can guarantee you, I talked with the highway patrol officer today and on that road there is no fast lane. There is no passing lane on that road. It is not an interstate. So therefore, that argument is, you know, it`s moot at this point.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I have to tell you, we spoke to the lawyer for this man, Jeffrey White, and he claims a lot happened before the phone camera started recording. Quote, this woman was instigating at a high rate of speed, both behind him and in front of him. He was reacting. He wasn`t initiating. What do you make of that? I`d like to give you a chance to respond to that.

FLORIDA DRIVER: I would definitely like to respond to that. Basically we live in an America where nobody wants to take responsibility for their actions. Like a murderer pleading not guilty when there`s clear evidence of his crime.

In the full video, again, which the highway patrol has, basically you can see that not once was I flipping him off. Not once was I mouthing off. In fact, the whole entire time besides the laugh I was quiet. I wasn`t brake checking him for tailgating. I was not at a high rate of speed. I was doing the speed limit, which I showed when I showed the video.

So I don`t understand what the lawyer has to say for that. But I was doing everything by the book. And again, I talked to the highway patrol this morning, and he said there was nothing wrong with what I did.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Well, if I could ask you to stand by. We have a debate panel. And so we`re going to debate a little bit.

All right. Let`s start with Wendy Murphy, former prosecutor. Do you agree with this woman? Do you think she did absolutely the right thing?

WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: I love this woman. I love her. I want to make a fan page for her, although I don`t know how to do that. I`m not comfortable with the idea of people doing things while driving, you know, trying to film stuff. But, what she did really was important in the sense that probably people will now get the message that if you do what he did, you`re going to get caught on tape. And, if you don`t have a cell phone, people now have video cameras on pens -- they`re so easy.

We should be holding each other accountable. We should be policing one another on the streets, where anyone who acts like that crazy guy --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Does anybody on this panel disagree with Wendy Murphy? Does anyone thing.

F2: Well, I want to -- can I add something to what Wendy said? Wendy said it`s going to set the message or send a message that that people will know that they could be videotaped. It also sends a very bad message that it`s ok to be filming stuff while you`re driving. That is not ok.

MURPHY: Sometimes it is.

F2: She filmed her speedometer, out the side. I saw the coat next to her. How can you be paying attention to the road when you`re filming everything around you? That`s a very bad message.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Eric.

ERIC GUSTER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: She shouldn`t have been filming. She should not have been filming but this guy was actually instigating. Regardless of what she did before, he pulled up past her, backed up, shot her the bird, then sped in front of her and cut her off.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Florida driver wants to speak. Florida driver, speak.

FLORIDA DRIVER: Ok. I want to give you a story of my cousin, who is a sheriff`s deputy for St. John`s County.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It better be a short story.

FLORIDA DRIVER: Her mother was in the same kind of situation. Short story -- the guy was tailgating, he ended up clipping her and killing her mother in front of her grandkids. You know, if he would have sped, there would have been no -- without a video, you wouldn`t have been able to find him.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I`m just happy that you`re safe. I`m happy that nobody got hurt. And I think it`s a story we`ve got to talk about because road rage is real, and it`s growing.

Thank you for joining us, Florida driver.

"Scandal", one of the hottest shows on TV, one of my favorites and now one of its stars smack in the middle of a real-life scandal -- and I`m talking a big scandal. Columbus Short, he needs crisis management right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you want?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your boss has rendered justice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know (inaudible) why.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think they`re looking for (inaudible). You know what; never mind. I don`t want to (inaudible)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ABC`s "Scandal".

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you don`t want to be president anymore, if that`s why you`re quitting, then that`s ok.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I work for Liv (ph), not for you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No matter where you are tonight, no matter what the weather`s doing, you`ve got to watch "Scandal".

GWYNETH PALTROW, ACTRESS: "Scandal" for example. I`m obsessed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Columbus Short from the TV show "Scandal" is accused of punching a guy unconscious at a bar.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We built this following and they`re crazy for our show.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good luck with what (inaudible).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re all going to watch, right? Everybody into "Scandal"? Oh, yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I love this show. But tonight, art imitating life, as a "Scandal" star finds himself up to his neck in a scandal of his own. Columbus Short, who plays "Harrison Wright" on the ABC drama is charged with felony battery. He is accused of punching a guy`s lights out at an L.A. bar, this L.A. bar, after the two got into an argument. The guy allegedly knocked out cold.

Yesterday`s arrest just the latest in a string of arrests and charges of violent behavior. The L.A. sheriff`s office doesn`t release booking photos, so this is our own rendition of what it could look like. Short was released on $50,000 bail.

Now, I admit this story really caught my attention, because I`m a huge "Scandal" fan. Let`s take a look at why this show is such a runaway hit for ABC.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, you make bad things happen to good people. Who put you up to this? I want to know. Who? Who made you do this? You tell me who made you do this? Who?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am in command, Olivia. Who do you think?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s good. Here`s Columbus out shopping yesterday with his baby and his wife. The very woman he`s accused of assaulting last month, his "Scandal" characterworks for Olivia Pope Crisis Management Team. Now he needs some crisis management of his own.

ABC won`t comment and Columbus` camp hasn`t responded to our requests for comment. What`s the deal?

Kendra G, entertainment correspondent, sounds like he has a violent streak?

KENDRA G, ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Oh, my god. I wish it was a real "Scandal" episode. Where is Olivia Pope when you need her? How do we know he`s not doing something for (inaudible) right now Jane? I love Columbus Sort in real life. This makes me so sad. I don`t want him to go to jail. Maybe we could get him anger management classes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely.

G: And then he made me think of this. You know? Think of this. I don`t want his career to get ruined. Because we know, Isaiah Washington who once worked for (inaudible) his career is over since he messed up in real life. So I`m nervous for Columbus Short. I don`t want to see this all go down bad for him. I don`t.

(CROSSTALK)

ANNA YUM, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Jane, like you --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes.

YUM: Like you, I`m a huge "Scandal" fan. And if I were his defense attorney I would channel my inner Olivia Pope. What would she say? It`s handled. What would she do? She would minimize or eliminate the damage.

Is this a trivial case, is there self-defense or defense of others? If not, how do we mitigate here? Get him in anger management. Get him counseling. Get him shrunk in a psych eval. Do all those things to help me help you, right?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes.

YUM: That`s what I would do if I was his attorney.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And there she is. She always tells her client, "Listen to me. Obey me if you want to get out of this." So yes, I wish he had a real-life Olivia Pope to guide him through this mess.

I`ve got to tell you, this is not a joking matter. These are serious charges. He has a rap sheet as long as my arm. He`s never served any time, perhaps the familiar Hollywood scene.

In the summer of 2008 he was arrested for drunk driving. 2010, accused of sucker punching another player during a basketball game. He ended up pleading no contest to disturbing the peace. Last month he was charged with spousal battery for allegedly hitting his wife. Two weeks later, arrested again for allegedly shoving his wife and then the bar incident, which led to the trip to jail just this past Wednesday.

Columbus seems to be crisis management of his own. Here he is, ok, Loni Coombs, strolling along with his wife and baby at The Grove, all smiles. This is the very woman that he`s accused of assaulting.

Everybody in L.A. knows, you don`t go to this Grove if you don`t want to see the paparazzi. Is this a setup?

LONI COOMBS, FORMER PROSECUTOR: No, no. Right, it`s filled with paparazzi. They know there`s cameras everywhere. This is his crisis management. And believe I love "Scandal". I think Olivia Pope can do anything.

But even in this case I`m not sure she`s going to be able to keep him out of jail. Look, he has this string of violent incidents. Just last month, he got arrested twice for hitting and pushing his own wife.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Allegedly.

COOMBS: And in this latest charge -- allegedly -- and in this latest charge, the latest one, he allegedly punched the guy and broke his nose. That`s why it`s a felony charge. He`s looking at four years in state prison. He should have been getting the anger management in the past. He should be getting anger management now instead of just going out and walking around The Grove with his wife.

He should be walking to the judge and say, "I`ve been going to all these anger management classes. I`ve been doing everything I can to control my temper. I`ve been getting therapy. I`ve turned my life around." Because going out and shopping with his wife is only going to get nice pictures in the tabloids. It`s not going to help him in court.

(CROSSTALK)

YUM: I don`t think there`s any way he`s going to get four years in prison, though. Come on --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to get to Kendra G. Kendra G --

G: Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- more important than prison, even could he get written out? Could they write his character out of the script?

(CROSSTALK)

G: I`m looking forward to him not going to jail. I think anger management will do better for him because come on now, like I said, I`m not sure you heard it because of our connection, but we live in a country where a black man can get shot and killed and the killer doesn`t go to jail at all. So yes, I`m fighting for anger management and not jail time for this. He has a career, he`s not a bad guy, he has a problem.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Kendra G, yes or no, is this increasing his chances that his character could get killed off, because he`s become a pain in the tuckus?

G: Oh, God, Jane -- why would you ask me that? Yes, I do think his character might get written out over this.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: He might disappear, if you know what I mean. It happens to a lot of people on "Scandal".

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hey there, little Foxie.

Tonight we`re speaking up for the voiceless monkeys who are being ripped from the wild, babies taken from their mothers and tortured in laboratories. Animal Defenders International broke the story of the problem surrounding a proposed monkey breeding facility in Hendry County, Florida.

ADI says thousands of monkeys may be taken from the wild in Mauritius, a country off the coast of Africa and then shipped to this proposed monkey- breeding facility in Florida which will churn out monkeys for lab experimentation.

ADI investigated what they say is a company in Mauritius that would be supplying this monkeys and they caught on tape horrifying abuse: workers swinging monkeys by their tails, tearing babies away from their mothers, injecting them without anesthesia. Is any U.S. government agency studying whether this facility should even be built? Apparently not. No one.

We reached out to the Governor of Florida. He told us it`s a federal issue. So we reached out to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife services. They told us contact the USDA. The USDA said they`re only going to check out the facility once it`s built. The Hendry County Florida commissioners say they just cover the zoning. That federal and state permits have to be obtained prior to commencement. Which permit? Nobody will tell us. Everybody seems to be passing the buck here.

Now this is what monkey experimentation looks like -- this footage out of the U.K. The European Union has outlawed the use of apes and wild monkeys caught for experiments. I believe the U.S. needs to do the same.

Straight out to my very special guest, Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States. Wayne, critics are saying this proposed facility is a step backward, the government is really not looking into it. What`s the underlying problem here?

WAYNE PACELLE, HUMANE SOCIETY OF THE UNITED STATES: Jane, I think you`ve got it right. I mean we are moving away as a nation and broadly as a global community from using primates in experiments. The United States is stopping the use of chimpanzees in government-owned facilities and also essentially stopping private facilities from using government owned chimps because we realize, number one, that they are no longer useful, that we have alternatives to the use of chimps.

And also that these are highly intelligent, sociable animals and there is a moral problem in using them. I think we at the Humane Society of the United States are asking many of those same questions about the usefulness of the research and the availability of alternatives and also the moral problems associated with using primates.

The New England Regional Primate Center, which is part of Harvard, is shutting down its doors. Other primate facilities are shrinking numbers. Why are we expanding the use of primates in breeding facilities at a time when the world is moving in the opposite direction? Just as a business decision, it seems completely opposite of where we need to be going.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, the industry that breeds monkeys has apparently found a very poor, relatively poor county in Florida that`s very unpopulated, sparsely populated. And they found their sweet spot, as it were.

As medicine and technology gets more sophisticated, as you mentioned, Wayne, there are more alternatives every day to animal testing. In fact, many people believe this kind of experimentation is holding back down progress by eating up grant money that could better be used in more sophisticated experiments. The Humane Society of the United States is now pushing a bill in Congress to outlaw the sale of any animal tested cosmetics in the United States.

Wayne, you know, a lot of people say this is saving lives. A lot of times it`s just about some product that could be made in another way. Tell us about your bill.

PACELLE: Well, it`s called the Humane Cosmetics Act, and it essentially stops the United States from continuing to test on animals for cosmetics. In the European Union, all 28 nations of the EU are complying with this standard. India just banned the use of animals for cosmetic testing. Even China is making progress.

We have alternatives that are safer, faster, cheaper. Why are we just clinging to the continued use of animals when we have alternatives available? Absolutely the case with cosmetics -- no need to do it. We need to pass this federal legislation.

Wayne, I thank you for coming on. I know you`re very busy, I know you`re fighting for animals in Congress. American people, get involved. You can go to my Facebook page and see how to contact your lawmaker and tell that person to pass this bill. We have it all, and go to the humanesociety.org and get involved because these monkeys are terrified. You can see it. They can`t speak for themselves. They need your help. Together we can make a change and bring the United States into the 21st century. Nancy is next.

END