updated 3/24/2006 10:25:44 AM ET 2006-03-24T15:25:44

Guests: Davidson Goldin, Jonna Spilbor, Gayle Abramson, “Sally”, Karen Welles, James Ecker, Alex Their

DAN ABRAMS, HOST, “ABRAMS REPORT”:  Coming up, bar bouncer Darryl Littlejohn pleads not guilty to murdering grad student Imette St. Guillen and says on camera the authorities have the wrong guy. 

The program about justice starts now. 

Just hours ago this man was arraigned for the brutal murder of graduate student Imette St. Guillen. 

Hi, everyone.  First up on the docket, bouncer Darryl Littlejohn pleaded not guilty to charges he murdered 24-year-old Guillen.  She was found strangled and wrapped in tape.  This was just a day after Littlejohn spoke out for first time telling WCBS in New York that police have got the wrong guy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was a brilliant person, she was going on with her life to become you know somebody in this world and you have to be—the family have to be devastated.  And I’m truly sorry for what happened to this young lady, but they have the wrong person.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  We’re going to play more of that interview but joining me now “New York Sun” columnist Davidson Goldin who was at the arraignment today.  All right, so David, set the scene for us. 

DAVIDSON GOLDIN, “NEW YORK SUN” COLUMNIST:  Well, at about 2:15 this afternoon in a packed ceremonial courtroom in Brooklyn court with Imette’s sister and mother sitting in the front row and dozens of reporters watching, Mr. Littlejohn walked in.  He was shackled.  He did not say a word throughout the entire hearing but his attorney entered the plea for him of not guilty. 

Three charges here, one count of first-degree murder.  To convict on that a jury would have to find that in the course of killing Imette, Mr.  Littlejohn committed some sort of sex crime.  Also to protect themselves, prosecutors have added two second-degree murder charges that do not require a sex crime to have taken place. 

Earlier in the day the Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Brooklyn District Attorney Joe Hynes laid out some of the evidence in the case.  In addition, Dan, to what we heard before, which was the cops had cell phone records placing Mr. Littlejohn in the area where Imette’s body was found, witnesses say that Littlejohn left The Falls bar with Imette and blood of Mr. Littlejohn’s apparently on the ties that were binding together Imette’s hands. 

We heard two new pieces of forensic evidence today.  From Mr.  Littlejohn’s diverse wardrobe, apparently, cops say they found hairs matching two of his jackets on the tape that was wrapping Imette’s face and also on the blanket that was wrapping her body. 

ABRAMS:  You say diverse wardrobe.  You know you’re talking about some weird, like mink coats and stuff, right...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... like some sort of rabbit coat or something? 

GOLDIN:  There was a rabbit coat and a mink coat and fibers from those coats were apparently found on both the tape, as I said, and also on the blanket that her body was found in.  And that’s the extent at this point of the evidence that police say they have, although they pointed out that they’ve gone through forensically 20 percent of the evidence they’ve collected, still waiting on, they say, plenty more evidence that’s undergoing tests. 

ABRAMS:  All right, I’m going to ask you about any eye contact, interaction between the family members and Darryl Littlejohn in a moment, but first, here’s a little bit of sound from outside of court.  First we’ve got Imette’s sister, Alejandra, and then Kevin O’Donnell, Littlejohn’s attorney; this again only hours ago. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALEJANDRA ST. GUILLEN, IMETTE ST. GUILLEN’S SISTER:  Imette was a good person, a kind person.  Her heart was full of love, a love she willingly shared with her friends and family.  She had a passion for life and a thirst for seeing the world and learning new things.  With Imette’s death, the world has lost something very special far too soon.

KEVIN O’DONNELL, DARRYL LITTLEJOHN’S ATTORNEY:  My heart and prayers go out to the family of Imette St. Guillen.  I can’t imagine what they’re going through, and they have my word that I will not put her on trial here.  I will treat her with the same dignity that she lived her life with.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  We’ll see about that.  But David, any interaction between the families and Littlejohn in court? 

GOLDIN:  None whatsoever.  They were on opposite sides of the courtroom.  On the right side facing in at the defense table where Mr.  Littlejohn sat, as I said he was shackled the whole time.  Just he stared forward in a gray jumpsuit that was clearly the prison garb he was issued apparently.  Maybe it was his own clothes.  We don’t know.

He just sat there staring forward.  On the opposite side of the courtroom sitting with some other family and friends in the front row Alejandra St. Guillen had her arm around her mother.  Her mother was wearing those sunglasses in court that you just saw her wearing just now.  They were staring straight ahead as well.  Very little spoken between them.  At one point Ms. St. Guillen while the judge and the various lawyers were discussing future court dates was asking...

(CROSSTALK)

GOLDIN:  ... simply what was going on, but that was it. 

ABRAMS:  All right, Davidson, stick around because I’m going to get to our panel in a minute.  They’ll join us.  But over the last 24 hours a sort of war of words has erupted between the police and that man officially charged with Imette’s murder. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DARRYL LITTLEJOHN, CHARGED WITH IMETTE ST. GUILLEN’S  MURDER:  This focus shouldn’t really be on me.  It should be on them finding who is really responsible for this young lady’s you know tragic death. 

COMMISSIONER RAYMOND KELLY, NEW YORK POLICE DEPT.:  Imette’s hands and feet were bound and her mouth gagged with a white athletic sock.  She had been sexually abused and asphyxiated.  Plastic packing tape covered her eyes, her nose, and her mouth.  Imette was last seen leaving The Falls bar with Darryl Littlejohn. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Did you see Imette St. Guillen at the bar? 

LITTLEJOHN:  I did (UNINTELLIGIBLE) yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  OK.  You...

LITTLEJOHN:  Just before closing. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Did somebody ask you to escort her out? 

LITTLEJOHN:  Yes.  It was close to closing time.  Every—all the other patrons had left the bar and I was asked to escort her out. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Did you do that? 

LITTLEJOHN:  Yes.  That’s normal.  Upon closing time, the stragglers (UNINTELLIGIBLE) they have to be out of—off the premises by 4:00 a.m. or the bar gets fined.  So, yes, that’s normal. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  When police were questioning you, did you volunteer to give your DNA?

LITTLEJOHN:  Yes, I did. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And you gave it?

LITTLEJOHN:  Yes.  There was never a question about me consenting to give my DNA.  When they first approached me at The Falls, I provided them with my real name, my real address, Social Security number, birth date, so on and so forth.

KELLY:  A DNA match was made with Littlejohn’s blood on the plastic ties that bound her hands.  Red polyester rug fibers from carpeting in Littlejohn’s residence along with brown mink hair from a jacket in his residence and blue rabbit hair from a jacket collar in his residence were consistent with rug fibers, mink, and rabbit hair that were found on the tapes used on Imette’s head, in the blanket in which her body was found and in the Winstar van used by Littlejohn. 

LITTLEJOHN:  I’m a likely suspect because I have a criminal background and I wasn’t supposed to be there working. 

KELLY:  A cell phone used exclusively by Littlejohn had been in close proximity to where her body was found.  His phone was used there at 7:31 p.m., less than an hour before the body was reported by the 911-caller.  Further, a witness said he saw a van that matched the description of the one used by Littlejohn, making a u-turn at about 7:30 p.m. at the place Imette’s body was found.  Finally, there are no witnesses or other evidence to support Littlejohn’s claim that he visited his mother in a nursing home on the day Imette was killed. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Did you kill Imette St. Guillen? 

LITTLEJOHN:  No, I did not. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  His other problem, of course, is that he told “The Daily News” reporter that he hardly even remembered Imette being there and now he’s saying oh yes, I walked her out. 

Joining us now former prosecutor Gayle Abramson and criminal defense attorney Jonna Spilbor.  All right, so Jonna look, this defense attorney is out there, you know, talking a big game, basically saying I’ve got a solid defense here.  He took the subway home.  He had nothing to do with this, et cetera. 

JONNA SPILBOR, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Yes and what’s wrong with that?  He’s going to present the some other dude defense did it.  And that could work in this case, Dan, because we don’t have a lot of solid evidence yet linking Littlejohn to Imette St. Guillen’s rape or her murder.

ABRAMS:  Well, you mean, you’re ignoring all the evidence that Ray Kelly just laid out?

SPILBOR:  No.  You know what, because that evidence is weak at best.  I mean you can have an alternate explanation for all of that.  The fibers transference, that’s easy.  I mean it is...

ABRAMS:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

SPILBOR:  But listen, if the theory is that she was raped and killed, why isn’t Littlejohn’s DNA all over her body?  We have no semen.  We have no evidence of rape. 

ABRAMS:  I’m sorry.  Have you not been involved in any cases where there were rapes where there was no semen?

SPILBOR:  It’s highly unlikely, Dan. 

ABRAMS:  Oh really? 

SPILBOR:  Yes...

(CROSSTALK)

SPILBOR:  ... you know unless you’re going to claim that the rapist was polite and used a condom and I don’t think that that’s the case.  Is there any evidence of that?  No. 

(CROSSTALK)

SPILBOR:  So at worst we might have a couple of people involved in this crime, but we have no evidence that this guy raped her.  The theory is rape and murder.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  But see—but Gayle, this is what defense attorneys do. 

They change the subject.  They start saying...

SPILBOR:  Exactly.

ABRAMS:  ... (UNINTELLIGIBLE) prove the rape, prove the rape and—even the prosecutors are suggesting, well, you know what, we have alternate theories here and it sounds like they’re not even 100 percent certain that they can prove the rape. 

GAYLE ABRAMSON, FORMER PROSECUTOR:  And here’s the thing, Dan.  Jonna, with all due respect, this is—we’re talking about a career criminal who knows about DNA, who knows about criminal evidence...

SPILBOR:  Not a career rapist...

ABRAMSON:  ... probably been tried.  Well, rape can be a crime of opportunity and there will—there has been many, many, many career criminals who do not have rape on their rap sheet until they have an opportunity to rape someone.  He could have used a condom.  In addition Charles Hynes, the district attorney, came out today saying that they’re only 20 percent through analyzing the physical evidence. 

ABRAMS:  And they’re also concerned...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Gayle, they were also concerned that other cases, which they think Littlejohn might be—might be - linked to were cases where the rapist forced the women to clean themselves off.

ABRAMSON:  Absolutely.  And the—one in particular, a woman called when she saw his picture on the television, her story is exactly that.  And Littlejohn, whether he’s a rapist or a drug dealer or whatever, he is a career criminal.  And he’s also a smart guy.  I mean he managed to you know while he was on parole work as a security guard, which he wasn’t supposed to do, told people he was a federal marshal and people believed him. 

And now he’s telling the whole world that he didn’t do this when he absolutely did.  And what’s more important, Dan is that he’s charged with first-degree murder and we don’t have to prove rape to prove first-degree murder.  First-degree murder will have a sexual assault but you don’t need to prove that there is semen.  You know you don’t need to prove that there was any kind of marks left on her body...

SPILBOR:  Not according to this indictment.  If you’re going to follow this indictment, which incidentally is the most confusing indictment I’ve ever read, you’ve got one crime, one murder, and they’ve charged it three different ways.  Under count one they do have to prove that there was a sex crime and under count three as well.

ABRAMSON:  What I mean is they don’t have to...

ABRAMS:  All right.

ABRAMSON:  ... bring forth any forensic evidence of it. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Here is Kevin O’Donnell, Littlejohn’s attorney, on Rita’s show last night saying that his client took the subway home that night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RITA COSBY, “RITA COSBY LIVE & DIRECT”:  So how did he get home that night?  What transportation did he get home with? 

O’DONNELL:  He took the subway. 

COSBY:  He took the subway? 

O’DONNELL:  Yes. 

COSBY:  And do we have a record of that? 

O’DONNELL:  No, we’re still looking into that. 

COSBY:  But he says that—did he go with anybody? 

O’DONNELL:  No, he went home alone just like he does just about every night when he leaves that bar. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  I’ve only got a little time left and there’s another issue I want to talk about.  And that is that the D.A., there’s been a lot of question about the manager of the bar and the fact that he may not have come clean about what he knew early on.  A lot of people saying that he actually misled the authorities and that could lead to prosecution.  Well, it seems like the D.A. didn’t seem to think that was that big a deal today. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  ... investigated for obstruction of justice, has Danny Dorrian been called as a witness yet? 

KELLY:  The investigation is certainly still going forward. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  How were you personally affected by the fact that there were citizens of the city, some of them relatively prominent, who called cops (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and misleading this investigation? 

CHARLES HYNES, KINGS COUNTY, NY DISTRICT ATTORNEY:  Oh, I’ve been lied to before.  And I’ve gotten over it. 

(LAUGHTER)

HYNES:  Yes? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Will you indict? 

HYNES:  When that becomes a crime, I think we should all get out of this business.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  But the problem, Gayle Abramson, is it is a crime if the bar manager lied to the authorities about what happened, led them on a wild goose chase.  You’re allowed to say nothing but in the state of New York you’re not allowed to simply tell the authorities something that’s not true and send them going elsewhere. 

ABRAMSON:  Exactly.  And he’s going to argue one of two things.  Number one, he’s going to argue that he had no idea that Darryl Littlejohn, AKA “B” as he’s known at the bar, was on parole and was not allowed to be working there.  You know, number two—so he’s going to argue ignorance. 

And he’s also going to argue that you know he felt threatened or something like that and that he was threatened by someone.  Remember, there was another bouncer by the name—that they called Kwan who never showed up again either. 

ABRAMS:  Right.

ABRAMSON:  So he might plead I was a victim in this case. 

ABRAMS:  Yes, but David Goldin, that’s going to be a hard argument to make, right? 

GOLDIN:  It’s going to be a tough argument in part because the original story that the bar manager told cops was that he—that he’d seen Imette leave alone and then how would you just suddenly remember five or six days later that in fact he was the one who asked Darryl Littlejohn to escort her out.  One other thing, Dan, worth I think pointing out real quickly here is that we did hear for the first time today a potential alibi for Mr. Littlejohn that Ray Kelly indicated they don’t believe that he visited his mother that day. 

But cops still don’t know where she was killed.  A lot of holes still in this case.  They believe that he took his van to work that day and his van back...

ABRAMS:  All right.

GOLDIN:  ... a lot still to be answered. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Gayle Abramson...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Well we have an eyewitness...

ABRAMS:  I got to wrap it up.  Gayle, good to have you as a guest on the program.

ABRAMSON:  OK.

ABRAMS:  I think this is...

ABRAMSON:  Thank you, Dan.

ABRAMS:  ... your first time as a guest.  Appreciate it.  Jonna Spilbor and Davidson Goldin, thanks a lot. 

SPILBOR:  Thanks, Dan. 

ABRAMS:  Coming up, the mother of a 14-year-old who had sex with teacher Debra Lafave joins us for her first live interview.  She didn’t want her son to testify and now she is furious at the judge. 

And this woman back home with her family.  She apparently went missing 10 years ago when she was 14.  It turns out she was just two miles from her father’s home the entire time.

Your e-mails abramsreport@msnbc.com.  Please include your name and where you’re writing from.  I respond at the end of the show.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEBRA LAFAVE, HAD SEX WITH HER STUDENT:  And my passion was teaching.  That’s taken away from me.  I have lost family and I’ve lost friends and as you can see my face has been plastered on every Internet address, every news outlet, and that’s not easy.  It’s not easy feeling the guilt and the remorse and having my own family suffer for my actions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Do you think that you will not reoffend?

LAFAVE:  Absolutely not.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  How do you know for sure? 

LAFAVE:  In my hearts of heart, I definitely know.  I am a strong Christian woman and I believe that God has a path for me, and this was just a bump in the road.  I believe that I’m going through therapy and doing everything that I can possible to better myself for the community and society. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  She had sex with her 14-year-old student and all Debra Lafave got was three years’ house arrest, seven years probation after entering into a plea deal.  Now, remember, a judge in a neighboring county said—quote—“That plea deal shocks the conscience of the court.”  Prosecutors in that county dropped the charges and so the plea deal stands.  But here’s what the judge, that judge said. 

The victim in this case is not a young child; he’s now 16 years old.  The effect a trial of this nature might have on young children, less than 12 years old, therefore is not a factor. 

Someone who is not happy with this opinion is “Sally”, who is the young boy’s mother.  She joins me now on the phone for her first TV interview since these charges were dropped.  Thanks a lot for coming on the program.  We appreciate it.

“SALLY”, MOTHER OF DEBRA LAFAVE’S VICTIM (via phone):  You’re welcome. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  So the judge seemed to really be, I don’t know if it’s saying going after your son, but basically saying that your son should be forced to testify. 

“SALLY”:  Exactly.  And on one hand he basically says that he is, you know, appalled that a teacher would do this to a child and on the other hand he’s saying that because, yes, he’s not under 12 years old, nobody likes to testify, even referred to police officers don’t like to testify.  So basically he should just—you know he needed to do this.  So I have to tell you I’ve just been mostly shocked that the judge really did not appear to consider my son at all through this and largely you know that was made known through his comments and his order that he issued. 

ABRAMS:  Yes, look, I made a lot of comments yesterday on this program saying that I thought that a lot of people were demanding that she be prosecuted, were suggesting that your son be forced to testify in this case, and, you know, I was saying that the same people who are usually out there yelling and screaming for the victims, we got to protect the victims, are suddenly saying, oh, well, you know the victim doesn’t—we don’t really have to worry about the victim in this case. 

“SALLY”:  Exactly.  And there was no one that wanted her to serve prison time more than myself, and we, you know that was our original plea agreement that we offered to them.  But at the end of the day and as it got closer to the trial we were you know less than a week before trial that the Court TV refusing to—which originally they had said they would do a delay and they would shadow my face and the family members as well as my son. 

Without a delay, then there’s—my son’s name would have ended up being said, you know with 30 or 40 witnesses you can’t help it.  And you know just having all of this aired live and being debated, re-debated, every statement, every comment...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

“SALLY”:  ... and as you—I know you know, you can say one sentence and it’s many times taken out of context, so at the end of the day I couldn’t move forward with that, forcing her to prison, and have my son basically re-victimized.

ABRAMS:  Before I play a little bit of sound from Debra today and get your response to it, you know a lot of people have said, well, this teacher is so attractive, every 14-year-old—this would be his dream, what’s your reaction to that?  How is your son reacting? 

“SALLY”:  She’s a teacher.  She’s a person of authority and she you know molested my child.  It’s unacceptable.  You know her attractiveness or lack thereof in my opinion plays no part in this. 

ABRAMS:  What is he saying about it now?

“SALLY”:  He doesn’t.  He doesn’t like to talk about it.  To be honest with you, he is doing extremely well.  He just has a wonderful circle of friends.  He’s—you know he’s an honor student.  He loves to play sports.  He is extremely well balanced.  He’s doing absolutely wonderful and my goal is to you know help keep him that way. 

ABRAMS:  How did you find out about this?  He came to you, right? 

“SALLY”:  No, he didn’t. 

(CROSSTALK)

“SALLY”:  Actually my sister had overheard just basic—she put two and two together, heard different comments, conversations, and then all of a sudden spotted my son and this teacher in Ocala and called me and asked if I knew my son was in Ocala, which I thought it was a, you know a normal summer day, I thought he was at the Rec Center, which is the place that he’s always been.  Anyway, I confronted him, one thing led to the other, and it all came out.

ABRAMS:  Here’s Debra Lafave on Tuesday.  I know that you were not entirely satisfied with her statements, public statements.  I did not find them to be particularly sympathetic either.  But here is a little bit more of what she said and I want to get your reaction. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAFAVE:  My greatest regret would probably be the fact that I put this young man through this.  I mean, the media has totally taken it out of proportion and he’s suffering even more so by the media’s actions.  He is a young man and his privacy has been violated.  He has walked outside the door and been approached by media.  His picture was published on the Internet.  That’s what I’m talking about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Well “Sally”, it seems your son now has a great defender in the woman who molested him. 

“SALLY”:  Well, that’s what I find ironic.  That I appreciate her concern for my son but instead of saying her concern because of what she did to him, instead it’s—she’s you know always blaming someone else.  It’s really never her fault from what I’ve seen up to this point. 

ABRAMS:  What did you want to hear from her? 

“SALLY”:  You know, I’m beyond that at this point.  I have to tell you that I—when all of this first happened I, you know saw this young teacher.  She was not my son’s student.  I had never seen her before.  I didn’t know who we were talking about until the day she was arrested and I was shocked and then to find out she’s a newlywed and, you know, has her whole life in front of her and why in the world would someone do what she did to my son and also throw her, you know throw her life away like that. 

So I—but I expected—you know I thought at first I wanted to talk with her and have her explain to me why.  I just wanted to understand, but I’m beyond that because I’ve yet to see any remorse from her.  So...

ABRAMS:  Yes...

“SALLY”:  ... she might not be capable of it. 

ABRAMS:  Well, she seems to be blaming this all on her mental condition.  She says she’s bipolar, et cetera, but...

“SALLY”:  I believe she does have mental illnesses.  But I—it’s—there’s absolutely no doubt that she knew exactly what she was doing on five different occasions.

ABRAMS:  Yes.  All right.  “Sally”, good luck to you and good luck to your son.  Look, I’ve made my views on this very clear that I fully support you and your decision to say, look, I don’t want to go through this anymore.  She’s got three years of house arrest.  You now get to put this behind you as much as you can, so I wish you all the best of luck. 

“SALLY”:  Thank you very much. 

ABRAMS:  Coming up, a girl went missing when she was only 14 years old.  Now she reappears 10 years’ later living only miles away from her father’s home.

And in Afghanistan a man faces possible execution for converting to Christianity in violation of Islamic law.  We’ll take a look at the law in this horrible case. 

Our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to find missing offenders before they strike.  Our search today is in New Mexico.

Authorities are searching for Benny Whitehorse.  He’s 38.  He is five-eleven, 172, convicted of sexually abusing a minor.  He hasn’t registered his address with the state.  If you’ve got any information on his whereabouts, please contact the New Mexico Department of Public Safety, 505-827-9297.  Be right back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Coming up, an amazing story, a 14-year-old girl disappears a decade ago.  This week she shows up.  Turns out she’s been living just two miles from her family all this time, allegedly held as a prisoner in a man’s home.  Details after the headlines.

(NEWS BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JERRY KACH, FATHER:  She is back where she belongs and that’s all that matters.

TANYA KACH, MISSING FOR 10 YEARS:  And I’m free.  I’m free.  I can walk outside the door anytime I want.  I can walk down the street.  I didn’t think anybody cared because he would tell me your case is dead.  It’s cold. 

J. KACH:  I knew right away, as soon as I seen the eyes.  To me she hasn’t changed.  We just pick up right where we left off.

T. KACH:  Don’t leave your mom and dad.  If you don’t think they love you, and somebody tells you they don’t love you, yes they do.  I didn’t know that.  I didn’t think they did. 

J. KACH:  We never stopped loving you.

T. KACH:  I didn’t know that.  My dad loves me.  And I love him and I always did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Girl goes missing in Pittsburgh when she’s 14.  Now 10 years later goes into a local deli mart and tells the owner she’s been held captive for the last 10 years, locked in a bedroom about two miles from her childhood home and only recently allowed out.  Tanya Kach, who had been going by the name Nikki, said she ran away from home in eighth grade when she fell in love with the security guard at her middle school more than twice her age.  The two were secretly “dating” and she says the man, Thomas Hose, convinced her that she should come live with him at his house. 

Once she disappeared from her family, Kach says Hose locked her in a bedroom leaving her a bucket to use for a toilet and giving her peanut butter sandwiches and bottled water.  Police are investigating whether some of Hose’s family members may have lived in the house unaware of what was going on. 

Joining me now is Karen Welles from affiliate WPXI who interviewed Tanya Kach and her father yesterday and James Ecker who is Thomas Hose’s attorney.  Thanks to both of you for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.

All right, before I get to Mr. Ecker, Karen, if you can lay out the story for us a little bit.  I mean you spoke to her.  You spoke to her father.  She’s saying that this was perfectly clear what happened, that she starts—goes home with this guy at age 14 and that he effectively locks her in the home? 

KAREN WELLES, WPXI REPORTER:  That’s what she says.  She says she didn’t feel like she was loved at home.  Her parents were going through a divorce and she said this man told her that he would love her and take care of her and she says for the next four years she was locked in a bedroom. 

ABRAMS:  So why did it take her so long to come forward?

WELLES:  Well, I tried to press her on that and she said that she feels she was brainwashed, she felt—he threatened her, she said, he threatened to kill her if she tried to leave.  He said her case was a cold case.  Nobody cared about her anymore. 

So she just felt like she had no other choice but to stay there.  I asked her if she was physically or sexually abused.  She said, no.  She said he did take care of her.  He bought her things.  If you look at the video of her, you know she has her nails done, her hair is done.  She had nice clothing on, so certainly not someone you would think was locked in a bedroom for 10 years.

ABRAMS:  But let’s be clear about something.  You said she wasn’t sexually abused, but she does say she had sex with him when she was a child, right? 

WELLES:  Yes, and under the law that would be a crime...

ABRAMS:  Right.

WELLES:  ... to have sex with a person who is 14 years old.  When she says sexually abused, I guess she doesn’t consider it rape.  I don’t know. 

ABRAMS:  OK.  I just want to be clear because, you know, if you’re having sex with a 14-year-old girl, you know that’s...

WELLES:  That’s against the law, right.

ABRAMS:  ... that’s against the law.  James Ecker, let’s go through this.  I know that your position is that this woman was not forced to be there.  Did she live in the house since she was 14? 

JAMES ECKER, ATTORNEY FOR THOMAS HOSE:  Dan, you know as well as I do that—and I respect you for that question, but I’m certainly not going to go into facts like that as to whether she lived there or she didn’t live there.  You know as well as I do there’s two sides to every story and this is a side you hear from what you just heard and from her.

ABRAMS:  That’s why you’re on the show. 

ECKER:  And I appreciate that and there’s another side, and the side

is that we have a man who has never been involved in any crime in his

lifetime.  He’s almost 50.  He’s always worked.  In his entire life he’s

worked.  He worked as a security guard for the last 12 years.  Never had no

any problems whatsoever.  He lives with his mother and dad and his son, 21-year-old...

(CROSSTALK)

ECKER:  ... and he’s out on bond now or he will be out on bond with a $200 bond and that’s about it. 

ABRAMS:  So you won’t say whether he had sex with her when she was 14?

ECKER:  Dan, you know very well I’m not going to say he had sex with a 14-year-old when we have a preliminary hearing coming up...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  I thought you might deny it. 

ECKER:  ... and a trial coming up...

ABRAMS:  I thought you might deny it.  I didn’t expect you to say he did.

ECKER:  No, I did not say he did nor will I say he even had sex with her.  You know that, Dan. 

ABRAMS:  I didn’t know that.  I didn’t know that you didn’t want to talk about that at all.  Will you say anything about how he knew her? 

ECKER:  No.  The only thing I can tell you is it would appear to me that at no time whatsoever was she a prisoner.  If she had been a prisoner in any way, shape, or form I’m sure the Allegheny County police would have charged him with those charges.  He has never been charged with anything like that.  The only charges against him were four counts of a sexual situation and frankly from the time she was 18, that’s an adult in this state of Pennsylvania, she could have walked away, done anything she wanted to do. 

She did go out.  She—you saw how she looked.  And she was never a prisoner in any way, shape, or form.  She could have four or five years ago done whatever she wanted to do.  Suddenly this wonderful story of hers comes out, which I assume will be made into a book some day. 

ABRAMS:  But, you know—but you’re sort of mocking her, but yet if he was having sex with her from the time she was 14, you know there is something about that where you could say that he really may have really messed this girl up. 

ECKER:  Well if I said with you, Dan, that he did have sex with her, that’s true, but I’m not saying that nor would I say that.

ABRAMS:  Right...

ECKER:  ... if you were representing him, you wouldn’t be saying it either and you know that. 

ABRAMS:  Well, but you are sort of attacking her by saying if she wanted to go she could have gone and this and that and she look—and then you’re saying well, but I’m not going to comment on whether he ruined her life before that. 

ECKER:  I said certainly if any part of this were true from the time she was 18 years old until she’s 24, now she looks very mature for her age as you just saw and heard, there’s no question in my mind she could have done anything she wanted.  As a matter of fact, this relationship she suddenly has with her father, she left him on several occasions and ran away from him from what I understand...

ABRAMS:  She was 14. 

ECKER:  But I’m saying she ran away from him is what I understand. 

Where she ran, I’m not sure.  I only know what I hear.

ABRAMS:  Right.  Karen Welles, what is the—what is her position?  Is she basically saying that she was brainwashed or is she saying she doesn’t know?

WELLES:  No, she’s basically saying she was brainwashed and her father feels she was as well.  They called it... 

ABRAMS:  But how did she come to that?  How did she come to as just recently?

WELLES:  Well, she explains it as over the past 10 months she had some more freedom to go out.  She started going out.  She volunteered at a church.  She was wearing a purple ribbon.  I asked her what that was about, she said it was for lent, so she was out and about in the public and she started making friends, especially a man at a deli and people kept questioning her, how come you don’t have a driver’s license?  How come you didn’t graduate from high school?  You don’t work.  You don’t have a job. 

And she couldn’t really come up with the right answers and then she says finally she broke down and told this man at the deli everything because she just didn’t have any answers for these questions anymore.  And she felt that she had people she could trust and that she could turn to.  She said her biggest fear was that if she tried to escape or if she told people they wouldn’t believe her and she’d be out on the street.  She’d living on the street...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

WELLES:  ... and she didn’t want that. 

ABRAMS:  Well, no question there’s a lot of unanswered questions here and we’ll follow this to try and help get some of those answered.  Karen Welles and James Ecker thank you very much for coming on the program.  Appreciate it. 

ECKER:  Thank you, Dan.  Have a good night.

WELLES:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, a man faces a death sentence in Afghanistan after he admits he’s converted to Christianity and lawyers say the only way he can escape execution under Islamic law is to be declared mentally incompetent. 

And later we got a copy of Vice President Dick Cheney’s must-haves for when he’s staying in a hotel.  I’ll compare them to mine.

Your e-mails abramsreport@msnbc.com.  Please include your name and where you’re writing from.  I respond at the end of the show.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Coming up, an Afghani man facing the death penalty because he converted to Christianity from Islam.  The details after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)  

ABRAMS:  This next story may make you wonder which century you’re living in.  An Afghan court could order this man executed for converting from Islam to Christianity.  Abdul Rahman says he became a Christian 15 years ago and was living in Germany before going back to Afghanistan in 2002, in part to try and get custody of his daughters.  Apparently he was arrested when police found him with a copy of the Bible.  President Bush not happy about this. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  It’s deeply troubling that a country we helped liberate is—would hold a person to account because they chose a particular religion over another.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  But in the Afghan capital of Kabul it’s Islamic values that count and under some interpretations of Islamic law apparently you can be sentenced to death for switching religions.  Now the government is hinting that Rahman might be mentally ill and unfit to stand trial.  But this Islamic cleric, Abdul Raoulf, isn’t impressed. 

He told reporters—quote—“He’s not mad.  The government are playing games.  The people will not be fooled.  This is humiliating for Islam.  Cut off his head.”

And he’s considered a moderate.  The Taliban jailed him three times for criticizing their policies.  Alex Thier is a senior rule of law advisor with the United States Institute of Peace from 2003 to 2004.  He helped develop Afghanistan’s constitution and judicial system.  Thanks a lot for coming on the program.  Appreciate it. 

ALEX THIER, UNITED STATES INSTITUTE OF PEACE:  My pleasure.

ABRAMS:  If you can, explain this to us. 

THIER:  Well, Dan, there’s really two things at play.  In Afghanistan there is a power struggle going on between those who want to bring the country back into the community of nations and make it a modern and democratic country and the Islamic conservatives who have really run the country for the last decade.  Even before the Taliban there was also an Islamic government and many of those same people are back in power.  And Afghanistan really represents something that’s happening in the broader Islamic world, which is attention between democratic values on one hand and Islamic values on the other hand. 

ABRAMS:  Well I mean because the Afghan Constitution, Article 2.2 says followers of other religions are free to exercise their faith and perform their religious rights within the limits of the provisions of law.  Seems pretty straightforward.

THIER:  That’s right.  And Article 7 of the Constitution also cites the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which specifically says that people should have freedom to choose their own religion. 

ABRAMS:  Let me read that.  The state shall abide by the U.N.  charter, international treaties, international conventions that Afghanistan has signed and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

THIER:  That’s exactly right, but there are contradictions within this Constitution.  Article 3 of the Constitution says that no law shall contradict the beliefs or provisions of Islam and Article 130 of the Constitution says that if there is not something specific in Afghan law that speaks to a certain situation, then judges should use their interpretation of Islamic law.  In this case there is nothing in the Afghan criminal code which actually talks about the crime of apostasy or changing one’s religion. 

ABRAMS:  Let me ask you about that.  I mean since you were involved in helping them create their Constitution and their law, when you were helping them do that, did you foresee something like this maybe happening?

THIER:  We absolutely did and there were several of us who really advised strongly both to the Afghan government and the people drafting the Constitution, as well as our own government that there were some potentially very dangerous contradictions within the Constitution.  This was ultimately a document that was agreed upon, that was drafted by Afghans and agreed upon by the Afghans. 

And in the final negotiations they actually made the document even more Islamic and made the judiciary even more powerful than what the original draft has done.  So we did foresee some of these problems. 

ABRAMS:  Here is the president talking about how he hopes to deal with this.  I want to listen to this and then ask you if you think that they’re going to be able to achieve this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  We can solve this problem by working closely with the government that we’ve got contacts with and will.  We’ll deal with this issue diplomatically and remind people that there is something as universal as being able to choose religions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  It is hard to believe, right, as outsiders that this is a country that has been liberated by the United States, that there are still many U.S. troops there fighting the Taliban, et cetera, and somehow we have to now negotiate the right of citizens there to practice Christianity. 

THIER:  You’re right, Dan.  It’s a travesty that something like this could happen anywhere in the world.  And I think that it really contains a very important lesson for us in that we really need to pay close attention not to just broad questions like elections, but specifically the law in countries like this. 

We could have worked over the last four years I believe much harder to make sure that Afghanistan had a competent non-ideological and nonpolitical judiciary.  And we’re really going to have to work very closely with the Afghans in the future to help them improve their judicial system. 

ABRAMS:  Is it going 0 work?  I mean is the president going to be able to work on this diplomatically, as he says, and with the people that they have contacts with and resolve this?  I mean it sounds like what’s going to happen is the government is going to declare this guy is mentally ill. 

THIER:  Well I think that the government is really looking for a way out of this.  They have come under a tremendous amount of pressure and obviously when Secretary of State Rice and the president weigh in, this is of extreme importance at the highest levels.  And so I have little doubt that the Afghan government will find some way to wiggle out of this either by declaring him insane or perhaps quietly letting him slip out of the country to seek asylum elsewhere.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Alex Thier, thanks a lot for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.

THIER:  My pleasure. 

ABRAMS:  Coming up, I thought it was only rock stars who have particular demands when they travel.  But Vice President Cheney?  It’s my “Closing Argument”.

And later, no surprise here.  Lots of e-mails on the Debra Lafave case and whether there’s a double standard when prosecuting female teachers who have sex with young boys. 

Our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to find missing offenders before they strike.  Our search is in New Mexico. 

Authorities are looking for Jason Heuser.  He’s 25, six-four, 165, was convicted of sexually exploiting children.  He has not registered his address with the state.  If you’ve got any information on his whereabouts, please contact the New Mexico Department of Public Safety, 505-827-9297.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  My “Closing Argument”—I’m here in Chicago.  When I travel, I have to get up early, I want a hotel close to the airport, preferably a nice one.  I need to know where I’m going when I get here and hopefully I get a ride.  When I hear about people making specific demands, what has to be in a hotel room, I think pampered rock stars who only eat a particular color M&M or certain divas who require a particular type of flower in their suite, but Vice President Cheney? 

The Web site, The Smoking Gun obtained the items Cheney requires and required is underlined for his—quote—“down time”.  It lists what must be in his hotel rooms when he’s on the road, everything from the type of bed to the brand of soda.  The lights must be turned on and the room must be at 68 degrees.  OK.  Fair enough.  But I wonder if someone comes in and looks at the thermostat to check and then goes down and says to the manager, we said 68 degrees.  And he wants brewed decaff coffee and just so he does not succumb to his innate desire to watch the program about justice all the televisions must be tuned to the home team, FOX News. 

Horrors to think he might encounter other networks while flipping the channels himself on his way over.  Can’t have that.  For some of the demands, it’s a bit surprising they even had to ask.  A private bathroom.  Can you imagine.  Welcome Vice President Cheney.  We have you in a lovely room today.  You’ll be sharing a bathroom with Steve Robbins in 202 and a lovely couple in 203.  Please have the Secret Service wait outside.  And they add, if the hotel would like to put a gift in the suite, let the advance team know.  I want to let the IRS know as well. 

It’s got me thinking I should make some demands of my own.  From now on whenever I travel, I want a bottle of wine waiting, not just any wine, but fine wine.  I want the TV tuned to MSNBC.  I want extra pillows and one of those really soft beds and if it’s not there, well, then, well, I guess I’ll just take the private bathroom. 

Coming up, your e-mails on Debra Lafave.  Again, all these guys writing in, oh, I wish I had a teacher like her when I was 14.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  I’ve had had my say, now it’s time for “Your Rebuttal”.  A lot of you still writing in about former schoolteacher Debra Lafave who had sex with her 14-year-old student, won’t serve any time in jail.  We asked would a male teacher accused of the same crimes be spared prison time and should there be a double standard? 

From Vermont, Christine McGinnis, “Shallow men like my own husband have made comments regarding her.  You know the ones, how they wish that she had been their teacher, et cetera, how hot she is, yada, yada, shallow.  At least you aren’t like them.  Thanks for that, Dan.”  I know.  My producers...

San Francisco, Jonathan Rasmussen, “The double standard is not between male and female, but between real rape, non-consensual, and statutory rape, consensual.” 

And Christopher Frank writes from New York about West Virginia teacher Toni Woods was sentenced to four to 20 for having sex with four boys under the age of 16.  “The ugly female teacher who slept with her students get four to 20 years.  The pretty ones get home confinement and probation.  Your guests were talking about the double standard between male and female sex offenders.  They should be focused on the double standard within the sexes.”

Well, Christopher, there’s also the fact that there were four victims versus one.  Might have had something to do with it.

Content and programming copyright 2006 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2006 Voxant, Inc. ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user’s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and Voxant, Inc.’s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

Abramsreport@msnbc.com

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