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CNN NEWSROOM

Arizona's School Superintendent Under Fire; Detroit Mystery

Aired June 27, 2014 - 15:00   ET

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


JOSE ANTONIO VARGAS, JOURNALIST: And what the president gave is a political answer to a political situation. Well, let's talk about morality. And let's talk about what being an American is. So, I was one of these kids that was smuggled. The person that brought me here, I thought he was my uncle, but he wasn't. I was smuggled to be here.

I could be one of those kids. What if -- you know, and, sometimes, I have been listening to the president and this sound bite all day. And what if that was your kid? What if that's your mom who is waiting for one of those kids? What are we doing here?

In a country that was built and replenished by immigrants, in a country that was built on the back of cheap labor, what are we doing here? Is this what we're about? I look at those kids, you know?

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. Yes.

VARGAS: And I think of the future journalists or doctors. What if we had said back in the Ellis Island days, oh, no, Italy, don't send your people, no, Ireland, after the potato famine, don't send your kids?

BALDWIN: We would be a very different place, wouldn't we? A very different place.

VARGAS: Yes.

BALDWIN: I hope that your film ignites a conversation. But that's only one step, right, in fixing the system that is broken.

VARGAS: Yes, it's only one step.

BALDWIN: Jose Vargas, I thank you so much. I'm excited for everyone else to get to watch your film. It's called "Documented." It premiers this Sunday 9:00 p.m. Eastern here on CNN. Thank you.

And we continue on, hour two here. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

Beginning this hour with some major developments, a new twist here in the case of this 12-year-old Michigan boy who had vanished from his home for nearly two weeks, but then suddenly turned up, barricaded in his father's basement.

I know many of you may have seen, you know, how the father got the news that his son was found alive in the basement, HLN's Nancy Grace breaking to him in this interview. I want you to watch again as he seemed absolutely stunned by the news. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NANCY GRACE, HOST, "NANCY GRACE": we're getting reports that your son has been found in your basement. Sir?

Mr. Bothuell, are you...

CHARLIE BOTHUELL, FATHER: What?

GRACE: Yes. We're getting reports that your son has been found alive in your basement.

BOTHUELL: What?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: So, his father says he had had no idea the son was in his basement. But since that interview -- that was two days ago -- we have learned his son has talked to police about what happened and he may actually talk to them again today.

His stepmother -- or, rather, his mother now has custody of him. Investigators aren't saying exactly what they have learned so far. But they may know more about what happened in that house and what caused this 12-year-old to just up and disappear, like the alleged chores the boy had to do, 4,000 strides on an elliptical machine without a break?

That's just part of the details that CNN and HLN's Nancy Grace are learning about this case. Mr. Bothuell talked to her again.

And she joins me with more on that and what else she is learning -- Nancy.

NANCY GRACE, HOST, "NANCY GRACE": Brooke, thank you so much for having me on.

I spoke with Charlie Bothuell IV, the father, last night. I was surprised he came on to the show. But he came on to thank us for publicizing his child missing. And, Brooke, I still stand by my belief that the father did not know his son had been hiding out behind that barricade in the basement, I mean, because common sense.

Why would he call police, call the FBI and take a grilling on the "NANCY GRACE" show if he himself was the one hiding the child or forcing the child to live in the basement? Why would you take the FBI down there?

There have been some reports that the stepmother has been feeding Charlie or helping Charlie stay hidden. We also know that, overnight, the stepmother, Monique Bothuell, was put behind bars on a probation revocation. But it's not as bad as it sounds.

It has unrelated significance to this case. This is what else we have learned, Brooke. I didn't understand the significance of this when I first interviewed Mr. Bothuell. Also, when I first interviewed him, it took such a crazy turn, because the child was found alive in his basement during the interview.

But he said this to our bookers right before he went on the air. He said the day little Charlie went missing that he had gotten a text or e-mail from the stepmother, Monique, saying that Charlie had not done his chores.

What he explained that was, was Charlie had not done his exercise regimen. They apparently have the 12-year-old boy on some kind of a strict exercise regimen. And there have been reports that the child was doing 4,000 steps a day on an elliptical, and that the text the mom -- stepmom sent was a picture of the elliptical.

And the father said that when he went home when Charlie was missing, he was going to have to deal with that. Is that child abuse? I don't know. That will be up to a judge and jury if Bothuell is ever even charged with child abuse.

Right now, neither of them are charged with abusing Charlie. I find that very difficult to believe that Charlie was not getting help from an adult. And, you know, two and two equals four. It looks like the stepmother was helping him. Still, the specter of child abuse charges are out there.

I want to find out why there were bloody clothes and PVC pipe in the home. Was that used to beat Charlie? I don't know the answer to that. But I can tell you one thing, Brooke. I'm going to find out.

BALDWIN: OK, Nancy Grace, thank you.

Let's begin, you two, CNN legal analyst Danny Cevallos and Sunny Hostin. Let's begin on this notion of child abuse, right, because said -- and she pointed out accurately that police aren't ruling out some kind of abuse by the parents. And she mentioned the strict workout routine; 4,000 steps on the elliptical roughly translates to two miles.

Sunny, first to you. Could that constitute child abuse?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think it certainly can. I spent a lot of my career prosecuting crimes against children.

And I do think that there are various forms of child abuse. When we hear about child abuse, we think about those most heinous cases where you have children that are burned or killed or maimed. They're mal -- you know, they're not fed. They're not given water. They're locked in basements.

You hear about those cases. But what you don't hear about are those cases of emotional child abuse, those cases where kids are forced into rigorous, you know, physical regimens. That can be classified as child abuse, and, quite frankly, I have had had some of those cases. And so we don't know enough, of course, at this point to say that this is child abuse. But if your question is, can this kind of fact scenario lead to a child abuse case, absolutely, absolutely.

BALDWIN: OK. And, apparently, when I was talking to Nancy yesterday about the story, she said that there was also reports that this child would be sent to some sort of military school. So that's out there in the ether.

And then, Danny, Nancy said that earlier the boy had called his grandmother and that his dad then got on the phone? What do you make of the boy not calling the dad?

DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think there are a couple things in play here.

First, I think law enforcement or child protective services may be limiting dad's access to the children. But even more interesting is that more children apparently have been removed from dad's home. Now, that's a really important fact, because children cannot be removed from a home without a court order.

That means a judge in response to a request by child protective services has looked at these allegations and determined that removal of the children from the home would be in their best interest for safety reasons. There is no other reason that a court will order the removal. That's a very drastic solution, to order children removed. They will do anything they can. They will put services in the home. They will try anything possible to avoid that conclusion, which is taking children out of a parent's home.

So I think looking at those facts, very compelling, probably more compelling than the idea that someone was made to do two miles on an elliptical. That alone, without more, I don't know that that rises to the same level of child abuse.

BALDWIN: That's interesting. And then the facts of the case, how this child was found, cereal, soda reportedly behind this massive, you know, five-gallon drum, behind boxes. To so many people's point, it's difficult to think that he could have barricaded himself in there like that without some kind of help, Sunny.

If the stepmother, ultimately, it comes out that she did help the boy hide, would she face charges?

HOSTIN: You know, I think that that is possible.

Again, you know, what we're talking about is what transpired. What is in the best interest of the child? Are we talking about this evil stepmother that was disciplining him or perhaps hiding him to protect him from someone else? I don't want to speculate.

I don't think we know enough. I don't think we know enough about the circumstances that's been reported that perhaps other children have been taken away from this couple. I don't think we know enough. But if she were disciplining him in a physical way, if she were hiding him, it is possible that she could be charged as well.

BALDWIN: OK. Sunny Hostin, Danny Cevallos, thank you so much. We will stay on it, as we know, apparently, FBI, police, looking for him. his dad was going door to door. It's just -- it's not adding up.

Coming up next, it started out as an apology, but ended with a breakdown.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN HUPPENTHAL, ARIZONA SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION: I am here today to apologize for my hurtful blog comments, especially given my comments about bringing honor to the system.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: And then there are tears. This is Arizona's school superintendent. He was apologizing for these anonymous comments, once anonymous, online. Tears start to fall, walks out of the room. What did he post that caused all this controversy and raw emotion? We will talk to someone who says he should resign because of what he posted. That's coming up next.

Also ahead, notice something different about this athlete -- wait for the picture -- running in the track and field championships? She's 34 weeks' pregnant. Who is she? Why is she running? Is this OK? We will be talking to her, live, here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: The head of Arizona public schools breaks down in tears while apologizing for these blog comments he made for years under these fake names. And these posts, they're pretty nasty.

Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal posted most of the comments online while he has been in office. Let me just run through a couple of these for you just for some background.

He wrote: "Obama is rewarding the lazy pigs with food stamps, 44 million people, air conditioning, free health care, flat-screen TVs, typical of poor families" was one.

Here's another. "It was Darwin, not Hitler, who named the Germans the master race. It was Darwin who expressed approval of eliminating both Jews and Africans. Hitler worked to eliminate the Jews. Margaret Sanger founded -- founder of Planned Parenthood, was given the job of eliminating African-Americans. Hitler fed six million Jews into the ovens. Sanger has fed 60 million African-Americans into the abortion mills," from the head of the school board here of education in Arizona.

The room was packed when Huppenthal called a news conference to apologize.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HUPPENTHAL: I'm here today to repudiate those blog comments. I'm here to renounce those blog comments. They are not what is in my mind. They don't reflect the love that is in my heart.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: But he didn't end there. I want you to watch what happened when Huppenthal then talked to his own staff.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HUPPENTHAL: I have talked to people who have -- who have been hurt by the hour.

The person I feel most, you know, to the point of my own tears, is my assistant, Merle. She has been with me for...

QUESTION: Did you hurt her with your comments?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. (OFF-MIKE) cut it off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you all for being here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Despite this huge backlash, Huppenthal says he will not step down as superintendent or drop his bid to be reelected in November.

And among those who want John Huppenthal to resign is Phoenix school board member Lawrence Johnson -- forgive me -- Lawrence Robinson.

Mr. Robinson, thank you so much for coming on.

First, before we get into what he posted, I mean, just watching that news conference, it is not often you see a public official break down like that. What's your reaction to his raw emotion there?

LAWRENCE ROBINSON, PHOENIX SCHOOL DISTRICT BOARD MEMBER: Well, thank you for having me on, Brooke.

My reaction is simple. His words and his actions speak for themselves. And, you know, we look at the tears of John Huppenthal, but what about all of the students and the families across our state and really across our nation who have to really live with his actions?

This is a man who is responsible for every public student in this state. And he has a job to do. And when you have those types of ideas in your mind, and you express them, you're obviously not fit for the duty that he's been elected to serve.

BALDWIN: On the school board -- I'm curious -- we know how you feel. You want him out. How do others in your same position feel?

ROBINSON: You know, there are various people who are shocked at this moment.

I mean, you have got to feel for the guy with his emotional response. But look at our schools. I mean, Arizona always ranks near or at the bottom in terms of education metrics. Our students aren't reading at the proper level. And, in fact, since the economic downturn, our state has had some of the steepest cuts to public education.

John Huppenthal in fact himself went on a robo-call recently suggesting that parents should take their money out of the public school system and put it into private ventures and private schools. So this is a man who has not done his job and is really not serving the kids that he's there to serve.

BALDWIN: Right. I understand. And that's his policy. And that's how you feel about his policy.

But we want to focus on his behavior here and these blog posts. Let me just read, Lawrence, one more comment for our viewers. This is what just came to light this week. He says, Russell Pearce, who wrote that tough immigration -- anti-illegal immigration law in Arizona brought town crime rates and he says he wants immigrants to assimilate quickly.

Quote: "No Spanish radio stations, no Spanish billboards, no Spanish TV stations, no Spanish newspapers. This is America. Speak English."

Here's what I know, not coming from an Arizona perspective, sir. Is his perspective, is that common within your state?

ROBINSON: Well, even if he was the only person who had this perspective in the state, he's in charge of our schools.

So, even just one person would be too much. But, you know, I think look at SB-1070, the anti-immigration bill, or SB-1062, the anti-LGBT, the anti-gay and lesbian bill. We see this coming from a small faction of folks in our state. I grew up here. I remember seeing some of this early on in childhood.

I hope that this is the wakeup call to our state. I mean, we should want our students to speak not just one language, but two or three. We would have a competitive advantage if our students spoke Spanish, English, French. You know, it's amazing that he has these views.

BALDWIN: I would love to have him on. We called to have Mr. Huppenthal on. His office hasn't returned our call, but just looking a little bit his background, he's had quite a number of years in public service, public office, first elected in '84, been a city councilman, state representative, state senator.

And, again, to reiterate his comments, he said the comments "don't reflect the love in my heart or the mission I'm on."

Final question to you, Lawrence. Is there any circumstances, any circumstance in which you would be willing to support him moving forward?

ROBINSON: No. We need to expel Huppenthal. You can't have the guy in charge of our schools and our children calling their families lazy pigs, berating a culture that is really strong and proud and an advantage for Arizona. That's the Mexican-American culture. This man has got to go and we need to focus on fixing our schools.

BALDWIN: Lawrence Robinson, thank you so much for coming on, Arizona school board. We will follow it and we will see what happens to him.

Coming up, athletes play through pain, play through injury, but this woman may take the cake here. She competed in a track and field championships 34 weeks' pregnant. Why did she do this? Let's ask her. She's joining me live next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: You have probably seen nothing like the clip we are about to show you, U.S. track and field championships, women's 800 meters. Here is the end of that race yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And our four-time defending champion puts in a great effort here, and a big congratulations for her as she finishes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: In case anyone is wondering, Alysia Montano is not out of shape. She is eight months' pregnant. And as far as being pregnant, and running a half-a-mile as fast as she probably can, she says she is not the first, not hardly.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALYSIA MONTANO, CHAMPION RUNNER: You know, if you think about it, primally, like back in the day, you know, people were -- they had to continue working. They had to, you know, live on the land and, I like to joke around, be like run from saber-toothed tigers.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Right now I have on the phone from Sacramento, California, Alysia Montano.

Alysia, can you hear me?

MONTANO: I can. Hello. How are you?

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: I think the question is, how are you? How are you feeling today?

MONTANO: I feel fantastic.

I am just feeling so much positivity, so much encouragement, and that's exactly what I wanted to accomplish yesterday. I just wanted to be able to go out there and empower people, empower women mainly, you know, have people see this is something they can do, and, yes.

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: I'm curious if anyone, even before you ran, did anyone say to you, no way, you should not be doing this? MONTANO: You know, before I even ran, before I even was pregnant, I had friends that had run before me. Like I said, I'm not the first person.

And they were like, you know there's going to be a lot of ignorant people. And they're going to say whatever they feel like saying. But it happens in anything in life. Do your thing. It's good for you and the baby.

And, of course, when I got pregnant, I asked my midwife, I asked my doctor, and they all were 100 percent OK with it. So I knew there were a lot of people that were ill-informed and the same people that, you know, have the information from 1980s, when they said that a woman couldn't run more than a mile. Otherwise, her uterus would fall out.

(LAUGHTER)

MONTANO: I expected for there to be comments like that, but because of that, I didn't tell anybody I was running before I came out there on the line, and, you know, had...

BALDWIN: Surprise.

(CROSSTALK)

MONTANO: ... amazing amount of -- exactly -- applauses and people telling me that was awesome. And it just is what it is. And here I am. So...

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: Here you are, one month away.

I should tell everyone, we reached out to our own CNN medical unit, and they say there should be no long-term effect on your little one, because you are in such amazing condition, shape.

If it were someone else trying to do this, I have a feeling Dr. Gupta and our team would probably have different advice. Let me just end -- let me end with this. As you are racing, what reactions were you getting around the track eight months' pregnant?

MONTANO: I love the running community.

I just seriously had -- I -- like I said, I went out there expecting just whatever, and, you know, knowing it could be either way. And I had claps the entire -- most -- loudest roars, more than I had when I have won my multiple championships, just me starting the race.

And, you know, immediately, I'm about 100 meters behind the entire field, and me coming in first time I have ever been clapped in, but loved it. I loved it. It was so fantastic. I had a standing ovation when I finished. And, you know, it was just such a good environment, such a good vibe, and so positive, so encouraged to see people recognizing that this is a good thing.

BALDWIN: Whew. Is it a boy or a girl?

MONTANO: We don't know. We're going -- it's going to be a surprise, so...

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: Well, you will have quite the story to tell that little girl or little boy.

(LAUGHTER)

BALDWIN: Alysia Montano, thank you so much. Keep running. Good luck to you and the little one. Thank you so much for calling in and taking -- taking the time as well.

Coming up next, we have learned the U.S. is now flying armed drones in Iraq. Could this move help set up airstrikes in the future? We will tell you what the White House is saying.

Also ahead, former news anchor Joan Lunden back in the spotlight -- she recently announced she is battling breast cancer. And this afternoon, she sat down with Sanjay Gupta for an incredibly revealing interview. Hear what she says about her diagnosis and her first reaction to hearing the news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)