updated 4/13/2006 10:47:26 AM ET 2006-04-13T14:47:26

Guest: Dave Holloway, Katrina Szish

RITA COSBY, HOST:  Good evening, everybody.  After months of keeping quiet, Aruban police are finally revealing that there is a suspected sexual attacker on the very same beach where Natalee Holloway may have vanished.  Tonight, the woman who escaped from him joins us live for an exclusive interview.

And is Ryan Seacrest being dissed by a fellow “American Idol” colleague?  Paula Abdul may have let loose another “American Idol” fuel (ph).  We will explain.

But firs, a report that the accuser in the Duke rape case did not mention Duke or the lacrosse players when she arrived at the hospital to be examined.  Meantime, district attorney Mike Nifong is feeling the heat big-time from some community members who want to see an arrest and see it soon.  Also, just hours ago, the case ignited a fiery debate between candidates running for the DA position, putting him on the defensive.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL NIFONG, DURHAM COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY:  I didn't pick the crime.  I didn't pick the time.  But I'm going to do the case right because you deserve that!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  And joining me now is reporter Rucks Russell with NBC station WNCN out of Raleigh-Durham.  What's with the latest there?

RUCKS RUSSELL, WNCN-TV:  Well, Rita, you mentioned that candidates' forum.  It took place earlier this evening over in the county courthouse, which is not far from here.  It did become somewhat heated when other candidates started to offer how they might have handled this case differently.

Now, I want to share with you the sharp response that drew from district attorney Mike Nifong.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIFONG:  I am not going to allow Durham's view, in the minds of the world, to be a bunch of lacrosse players from Duke raping a black girl in Durham!  It is just every bit as important to find out who was not responsible and to let them leave Durham without that cloud hanging over their head about, My goodness, look at that, he used to be a member of the Duke lacrosse team.  He must be a rapist.  That is also not acceptable!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RUSSELL:  Another development comes by way of an article that appears in “ESPN” magazine.  It quotes a source, an unnamed source who was present on the night the accuser arrived at Duke hospital for treatment.  Now, according to that source, referring to the accuser, she said,, quote, “She never said anything about Duke, any athlete or anything.  She just kept hollering and screaming.  She never said who did it.”

Also today, there was an interfaith vigil which took place in front of the Duke University chapel for a brief unity prayer.  Dozens showed up.  They said they wanted to pray for healing at this critical time in this city's history—Rita.

COSBY:  You know, Rucks, there's a lot of buzz that there may be some arrests, that there may be some presentation to the grand jury soon.  What are you hearing?

RUSSELL:  Well, my sources tell me that you can expect a presentation of evidence to the government when it convenes on Monday, and as many as two arrests could follow some time next week.  We're going to stay on top of that.

COSBY:  All right, Rucks.  And also, a second set of DNA, too, as well, we heard.

RUSSELL:  That's right.  We're looking at a second set of DNA, more sophisticated tests.  Those results are also expected some time next week,  Possibly on Monday.

COSBY:  All right, Rucks.  Good job.  Thank you very much

And also, at today's very vocal forum, the district attorney took a jab at one of his challengers, attorney Keith Bishop.  Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIFONG:  I also appreciate the fact that it's very difficult for anybody to respond to a question about how you'd do something differently when you don't know what it is, although Mr. Bishop the other night at the Democratic Party forum said that if he were the DA, everybody'd already be in jail.  He didn't say who, he just said everybody.

(APPLAUSE)

NIFONG:  And of course, if you arrest everybody, it's a lot easier.  I mean, I guess the idea is to put everybody in jail, we'll sort it out later.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  And joining me is the man he was just talking about—live is Durham district attorney candidate Keith Bishop.  Mr. Bishop, he took a big slam at you.  What do you say?

KEITH BISHOP, DURHAM COUNTY DA CANDIDATE:  Well, I told him he was mischaracterizing my statements.  I told him I would arrest the folks, if I had evidence to support it.  But he mischaracterized my statements, hoping, no doubt, to score political points.

COSBY:  Well, let me play...

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  Let me play a little bit more of—let me play a little bit more of what he had to say, and I'll get you to respond.

BISHOP:  Sure.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIFONG:  The only thing I really said about the case publicly is that, based on the medical evidence, I believed that the woman had been raped.  And then I said that the lacrosse team was the focus of the investigation because they self-nominated themselves for that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  So Mr. Bishop, I'm a little confused on your position.  Are you saying that people should be arrested?  Are you saying he's using this for political gain?  What's your position?

BISHOP:  Well, Mr. Nifong's memory is failing.  He guaranteed the community that he would have arrests within a week.  And after that, his campaign supporters, who represent some of the players, came out and said he was rushing to judgment, and he backed off.  And I'm saying if he can commit to the community that he would guarantee arrests, he ought to make those arrests.

COSBY:  But are you saying...

BISHOP:  I know...

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  ... there should be arrests?  Are you saying there should be arrests right now, based on the evidence at hand?

BISHOP:  I don't know the evidence on hand.  He has that evidence.  If he has evidence supporting an arrest, that should happen.  And if he doesn't, he shouldn't make false promises to the community.

COSBY:  Let me play a little bit—this is from Joe Cheshire.  He's one of the defense attorneys for one of the boys, one of the lacrosse young men.  Let's play it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSEPH CHESHIRE, ATTORNEY FOR DUKE LACROSSE TEAM MEMBER:  I think that it is a false accusation that has been made for some reason against these boys.  And I think that it has been used to hurt their lives forever and to tear this community apart.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  So Mr. Bishop, are you saying that it's just a lot of bluster on his part and not delivering, that he should have arrested them, even though the DNA so far came back inconclusive?

BISHOP:  Well, we know DNA of itself does not exonerate anyone.  It's good evidence.  But the problem is, by making those statements, he has inflamed the passions of the community and he should not have done it.  He did so in a callous way.

COSBY:  So what are you—what are you saying...

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  You're saying he shouldn't have said anything?

BISHOP:  That is right.  He should not have said anything until he had sufficient proof or sufficient evidence.  And he didn't have it.

COSBY:  Let me play another...

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  Go ahead.  You go ahead, sir.

BISHOP:  I was saying that's why the community is up in arms, because he's got the accused under a lot of stress.  We have the victim being disrespected, and no resolution.

COSBY:  Let me play this...

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  This is his last comment.  Hold on one second.  Let me play—this is his last comment.  This is, again, the current district attorney.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIFONG:  Certainly, I have heard the criticism from many people that if the situation were reversed—I think it's usually said something like, if this were a white girl and the focus was on the NC Central basketball team, they would all be in jail right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  So I'm going to ask you a question.  Yes or no, Mr. Bishop.  Do you believe, if the tables were, you know, swapped and that it was a white girl, African-American lacrosse players, that they would be behind bars now?

BISHOP:  The reality is it's quite possible that that would be the case, but there's no way to really tell because you're asking us to speculate about what law enforcement might have done.  We only need to look at the history, and the history would support that that kind of thing has happened in the past, and quite possibly could happen.

But in this case, we know this district attorney should not have jumped out into the public the way he did if he was not prepared to act.  And the fact that he didn't act and seems to say he doesn't have the evidence supports that conclusion.  He was playing politics with the lives of the young men and the young women...

COSBY:  And I'll give you two seconds...

(CROSSTALK)

BISHOP:  ... and that is wrong.

COSBY:  Who do you think is going to win this case for DA?  Do you think you have a shot?

BISHOP:  Oh, I think I'll win, hands down.

COSBY:  You do?  All right.  Well, we're going to—we'll get you back, and we're going to be following this case very closely.  Mr. Bishop, thank you.

So should the DA, the current one, drop the case against the lacrosse players?  Also, a poll from TV station WRAL in Durham shows only 21 percent of the people think, Yes, the case should be dropped.  Now, this was surprising.  A whopping 68 percent say no.  They believe that the case should go forward.  Again, 68 percent saying it should go forward.  Of course, we should note this is not a scientific poll.

So how do students at Duke University feel?  Well, joining me now is Duke student government president Jesse Longoria.  Jesse, what's the reaction on Duke campus?  How do they feel?

JESSE LONGORIA, PRES., DUKE STUDENT GOVERNMENT:  Well, I think it's hard to represent one view right now.  People are very conflicted in opinions.  There's people on every side of the fence, and...

COSBY:  You sound like Keith Bishop.  You sound like Keith Bishop, the candidate who we just had on.  How do you feel personally?

LONGORIA:  Personally, I don't want to speculate.  I don't want to play the game of trying to try this in the court of public opinion before we have any facts.  I want to wait and have facts come back and try to then make an opinion.

COSBY:  Let's put up the poll again, too, because it was kind of surprising.  And if we can go back to that?  Should this case be dropped, is the big question.  And again, should it—should it proceed, rather?  Should he proceed with the criminal case?  Again, 21 percent say yes, no is 68 percent.

What do you base that on?  And what do you think—is that the same sentiment that you have there at the university, or do you think it's different, actually, on the campus itself?

LONGORIA:  I would say, on the campus, that's probably representative of a lot of the opinion.  Again, I can't speak to it exactly, but I would say that there are a lot of people who, when the DNA came back a few days ago, they said, You know, this kind of exonerates the players.  Although I think the majority of the campus still wants to step back and let the whole situation play itself out.  Again, we need to respect the rights of everyone involved and find the truth.  I think that's obviously what everybody wants to find, is just the truth to come out in the end.

COSBY:  You bet.  Whichever way it goes.  And let me play—of course, because the community is very heated up about this, and I want to play—this is a little bit from the forum that took place yesterday, a lot of tempers flaring.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  That young lady was brutally raped, and it took you guys two days to go over there and investigate.  (INAUDIBLE) Yes, I want—I want those three boys in jail by 5:00 o'clock today, or I'm going to call the FBI!  I'm going to ask for a hate crime investigation because I'm tired of the cover-up, and there is a big cover-up!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  You know, Jesse, do people feel like there is a cover-up?  Is that the sense on campus, too?

LONGORIA:  I wouldn't say that's the sense on campus.  I think that we have the hopes that this is being dealt with in an ethical manner, that everybody's just trying to find out what happened.  And obviously, that was a very emotionally charged environment.  And whenever there's allegations of anything like sexual assault, it's going to be an emotional circumstance, and you have to give it the proper respect.

COSBY:  Let's show also—because—very heated, when we're talking about, again, an African-American accuser and, you know, white lacrosse players, the ones that they're looking at, at this point.  Let's play, if we could, again, some other things that happened at the forum.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHAWN CUNNINGHAM, NCCU STUDENT:  You have minimalized my sister to a stripper and an exotic dancer!  She walks this campus every day, going to class, trying to provide for her family.  You don't identify her as a mother.  You don't identify her as a student.  You don't identify her as a woman!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  Jesse, is it—it's hard for people—you know, how to reconcile—look, you know, anybody could be raped, and it doesn't matter who the accuser is, if the facts were there—and again, this is a big if, at this point—are people trying to be sensitive and look at both sides?

LONGORIA:  I think that on this campus that we are.  We're a very coherent student body that's trying to respect all parties involved.  And again, it was kind of ironic when these initial incidents took place, but it coincided with Sexual Assault Prevention Week on campus, where sexual assault was the topic of dialogue, and again, trying to show that this could happen to anybody and giving it, again, the appropriate respect.

COSBY:  You bet.  Well, Jesse, thank you very much.  We'll stay posted with you.  And we'll have a lot more on this controversial story.  Will we see the DA file some charges in the next few days, presenting it to the government?  That's coming up.  And that's not all we have on tap tonight.

Still ahead: For the first time, authorities revealed that a woman was attacked on the very same beach where Natalee Holloway may have vanished.  The victim joins me live for her first interview since police released a sketch of the suspect.  Why did they wait so long?

And “Idol” chaos.  Is Paula Abdul stirring up the pot with her colleagues again?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAULA ABDUL, “AMERICAN IDOL”:  Do you think Teri Hatcher is that desperate (INAUDIBLE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  Is she now taking shots at Ryan Seacrest?  And why isn't he is on the cover of this magazine?

And more baby drama for Britney Spears.  Find out why investigators had to check out her home.  When it comes to motherly mistakes, you guessed it.

That and a whole lot more coming up on LIVE AND DIRECT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIFONG:  The only thing I've really said about this case publicly is that, based on the medical evidence, I believed that the woman had been raped.  And then I said that the lacrosse team was the focus of the investigation because they self-nominated themselves for that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  More now on the rape allegations that sidelined Duke University's lacrosse team and the possibility of presenting evidence to a grand jury in a matter of days.  The heat is on for the Durham district attorney, who's pushing forward on this case amid some intense public scrutiny.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIFONG:  I didn't pick the crime.  I didn't pick the time.  But I'm going to do the case right because you deserve that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  And joining us now is former sex crimes prosecutor Wendy Murphy, and also criminal defense attorney Mickey Sherman.  Wendy, how much pressure is this guy under?

WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR:  You know, he's under a lot of pressure.  I mean, obviously, it started by the defense team, who decided to do their little dog and pony show and use their authority and a false characterization of the DNA report, I might add, to whip their crowd into a frenzy and suggest that he's going to lose votes if he doesn't drop the case right now.  And so I wasn't surprised to see him turn around and then show up at a different kind of forum and say, I'm not going to drop the charges.

It's too bad it's politicized, Rita.  My personal opinion is the integrity of the justice system deserves better from both sides, but the defense started it...

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  And Wendy, hold on.  Let me play...

MURPHY: -- popularity contest, which I...

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  ... a little more from the DA here.  Let me play a little more because he was asked, basically, Is it politics?  This is what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIFONG:  I'm not really running for office, I'm running an office.  There's a difference.  I mean, for me, the campaigning is incidental.  I have an office to run.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  All right, Mickey, he says, I'm not really running for office. 

I'm running an office.  Mickey?

MICKEY SHERMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  I think he's running for his career.  And you know, one thing I do agree with Wendy is that there's no place for the politicization, if you will, of this case.  But...

COSBY:  Is it politicizing it, Mickey?

SHERMAN:  Totally.  And...

COSBY:  How so?

SHERMAN:  They all are, apparently.  And they've also made this a racially polarized case, which has no business in that campaign or any community.  But you know, the defense didn't start this mess.  The district attorney is one who said, The lacrosse team committed this crime, and we're getting DNA from 46 of these people, and then when the DNA comes back, then we're really going to nail them.

(CROSSTALK)

BISHOP:  ... came back and it didn't nail them!

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  Let me show the background of this...

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  Hold on a second.  He's handled 300 felony jury trials.  This is not sort of a neophyte to the political process, Wendy.  Do you think this guy knows what he's doing?

MURPHY:  Yes, absolutely.  He is not new to this.  And he took—lookit, let's be honest, right?  This—there was two weeks during which no one said anything.  This guy, if he really wanted to make a big deal about it, because he knew she was black and they were white for a long time.

SHERMAN:  Rita, you're close...

MURPHY:  For two weeks, he said absolutely nothing.  Nothing!

SHERMAN:  He's not a neophyte to this serious case, but...

MURPHY:  Mickey, lookit.  He looked at the evidence for two weeks and said nothing!  And the most insightful thing that happened came out of the defense bar, their stupid spin thing they did the other day.  That's what created the most problem.  And don't say race isn't an issue!  There's a report that the guy said to her after she left the house, Tell your grandpa thanks for the cotton shirt!  That's a racist remark, Mickey, and that's part of the evidence!

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  Mickey, is race a factor?  And also, Mickey, let me bring in the ESPN report because this was interesting.  This is new today, everybody, in just the last few hours.  This is a source telling ESPN, and they said that when—this is when she went to the hospital and reported the rape—she never said anything about Duke, the university, any athlete or anything.  But it does say she kept hollering and screaming.  She never said who did it.  Does that help or hurt the case, Mickey?

SHERMAN:  Well, Wendy and other people will say that it helps the case because that's part of rape crisis syndrome.  But common sense—common sense dictates that something called “constancy of accusation,” when you're allowed to introduce—here's the evidence, that is what she said to other people can come into evidence in most states in order to convict somebody. 

And the reason that can is because most times, rape victims will say, Joe

Blow did it.  this guy did it.  It's—that's the person responsible.  She

·         the fact that she didn't mention Duke, the lacrosse team or anybody else is very, very, very damaging to...

(CROSSTALK)

MURPHY:  That's exactly wrong!

COSBY:  Wendy—but Wendy, doesn't sound like she accused someone else.  At least, we're not hearing that at this point.  So could this help her case?

MURPHY:  No.  Look, the point is, Mickey is exactly wrong that this is inconsistent with what rape victims do.  The average rape victim doesn't report at all.  Those that do, do so with as little trauma as possible to themselves.  And make no mistake about it.  She knew she was black.  She knew she was on the other side of the coin, so to speak, in terms of wealth and privilege.  She knew what had happened happened at a house full of rich white boys.  You think she was going to march into a hospital—a Duke medical facility, I might add—and say, Oh, I'd just like to let you know that this happened at the hands of the Duke lacrosse team.  You know, those guys, those really powerful guys?

SHERMAN:  Well, then, why did she go to the hospital?

(CROSSTALK)

SHERMAN:  Then why did she go to the hospital?

MURPHY:  ... that would be consistent.  You know what, Mickey, you'd be saying...

SHERMAN:  Then why go to the hospital at all?

MURPHY:  ... if she did that?  You'd say, Obviously, she was planning to falsely accuse them.  This was a big plot.

COSBY:  You know, let me show, Mickey—we got a lot of e-mails on this because folks are very interested in this.  So I want to put up one of the viewer e-mails, if we could.  Somebody asked—I thought this was a great question—Where was the other girl during this?  Remember that there were two dancers that actually went to the house.  We have yet to hear from this other person.  “Why haven't we heard what she was doing during this time?”  That's from Pat from Wisconsin.

Mickey, do you think this other person could be the key to this case? 

We don't know.  She might have been the one who dialed 911.

SHERMAN:  Without—well, more importantly, if, in fact, she was raped by these people, you tell your girlfriend.  Maybe you don't want to tell a doctor or a stranger...

COSBY:  but Mickey, they weren't friends.

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  They weren't friends.

SHERMAN:  ... but you tell your girlfriends.

COSBY:  We're told that they were both girls...

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  Mickey, hold on one second.  We were told that both were called, that's what the father told me, that they didn't know each other.  Both got this call to go to this house.  Would she still have told this girl that she just met that night?

SHERMAN:  But she's still with her.  She—you would tell the person closest to you, certainly, if you were a victim of a rape.

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  Wendy, go ahead.  Wendy, respond.

MURPHY:  No!  Lookit, let's not generalize about what you should or shouldn't do.  Every victim is different, and every victim deserves to be judged...

COSBY:  But Wendy, answer my question on this one.  This woman didn't know...

MURPHY:  I understand.

COSBY:  ... apparently, the other dancer.

MURPHY:  No, obviously, the fact that they didn't know each other...

COSBY:  But she was there.

(CROSSTALK)

MURPHY:  ... but what's been reported is that that other woman knew that she had been dragged into the bathroom, the victim had been dragged into the bathroom.  The door was shut, and they said to her, You're not going anywhere, honey.

So I assume—I don't know...

SHERMAN:  Do you have...

(CROSSTALK)

MURPHY:  ... took off because she didn't like the scene.  It was dangerous.  And she went for her own personal safety, and I'm glad she's not talking and she's not out and about and, you know, giving renditions of the evidence.   She may be a very important witness in this case, so she should stay silent!

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  You guys, let me put up another e-mail—go ahead, Mickey, real quick.  Go ahead, Mickey.

SHERMAN:  The DA has painted himself in a corner here.  And you know what?  Most rape cases are “He said, she said.”  The William Kennedy Smith case was a classic rape case.  You try it on the word of the victim, perhaps with no corroborative or physical evidence.  The problem here is you have a lack of physical evidence, especially when the DNA comes in.  And in the “CSI” generation, juries these days want to see more or hear more than the victim's protestations.

COSBY:  And in fact, Mickey, let me put up a viewer e-mail because it sort of responds to that.  It says, “We all know that the DNA did not match any of the 46 players at the party.”  And of course, they just did the Caucasian ones.  “What if there were some other players—some other guys at the party that weren't lacrosse players?”

What if that's a possibility that maybe they said they were lacrosse players?  On the other hand, we do know from the father and also the DA, suggesting that she pointed them out in a line-up, Wendy.

MURPHY:  Yes.  I mean, at least guy apparently has been identified.  It may well be more.  And look, you know, I think it's really likely that at least one of the guys is actually cooperating.  Remember, one of them leaked that e-mail, that very damning e-mail that suggested terrible malicious intent on the part of at least one of the players.  I think there's a real chance here that the DNA evidence is still going to come out because, you know, new tests are under way and...

COSBY:  All right, you guys...

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  Let me give Mickey—Mickey, 10 seconds.

SHERMAN:  Yes.  No way.  You know, there's two words for this case, Kobe Bryant.  It's the same situation.

MURPHY:  Yes, they are rich enough to pay her off!

COSBY:  I think this case is going to be...

MURPHY:  I'll give you that!

SHERMAN:  ... a setback—a major setback for the rape crisis trauma places everywhere, which is unfortunate because this is not the typical rape case.

COSBY:  All right.  We're going to be following this, everybody.  And of course, on the Kobe Bryan case, there was a settlement in that case.

Everybody, thank you.  And we also want to hear from you.  Your e-mails are terrific.  So if there is a question that you want answered about the Duke University gang rape investigation, please send us your question to rita@msnbc.com, or you can log onto our Web site at rita.msnbc.com.  We will try to get to as many points and also as many questions as possible.

And everybody, you better believe we will stay on this story and follow it all the way to the end.  We're going to keep you posted on any big developments.

Plus, also coming up here tonight; Could an attack on the very same Aruban beach be tied to the Natalee Holloway mystery?  The victim, who narrowly escaped that attack, will tell us exclusively about the suspect that police now want to talk to and why investigators haven't done anything about it until this moment.

And who was trying to steal the spotlight on “American Idol” this week?  is it Ryan Seacrest versus Paula Abdul?  You may be surprised to hear what Paula Abdul is saying right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Is Ryan dating Teri Hatcher?  You can tell us (INAUDIBLE)

ABDUL:  Yes.  No.  You just had him on your show last week.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He was here last week, yes.

ABDUL:  He only kisses the mirror.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER:  From MSNBC world headquarters, here is Rita Cosby.

COSBY:  And just when you thought that you had heard it all in the Natalee Holloway case, we've got a new and maybe important twist for you tonight.  Aruban police say that they want to talk to a man who tried to sexually assault a tourist just days before Natalee vanished, possibly on that very same beach.  It is all part of a Dutch TV show called “Arrest Requested” that recreated what could have been the final hours of Natalee's life.  Police have known about this incident for months, but are now only releasing a sketch of the man in question.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator):  The 21st of May, 2005, nine days before Natalee disappeared, a woman was harassed here at the beach, close to the fisherman's hut, by an unknown man.  We don't know if it has anything to do with Natalee's disappearance, but it might be connected to it.  This is a sketch of that man.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  And LIVE AND DIRECT right now is Tracy Allan.  She is the woman who fought off an attack on that Aruban beach.  This is her first TV interview since that sketch has been released.

You know, Tracy, I am stunned.  Here it is, it's almost a year.  You reported this incident the day it happened, nine days before Natalee vanishes, and they've just now put out a sketch?  What do you make of that?

TRACY ALLAN, ASSAULTED IN ARUBA:  Well, I think I was a little naive.  I thought that they would handle it from the beginning and it was only when I decided to go to the press that they are following up on this case.

COSBY:  Let's talk about what happened to you.  May 21, again, nine days before Natalee vanished, you were what, near the Fisherman's Hut and what happened?

ALLAN:  I went for an early morning walk and I went by the Fisherman's Hut, which is still; the wind surfing area.  A gentleman, a man accosted me and luckily fishermen arrived at the same time the assault started.  And he realized it wasn't going to go any further.  There were witnesses.  He got very agitated and threatened me and fled.  And then I ran back to the hotel and had the manager call the police.

COSBY:  You said he assaulted you.  What did he try to do and what was he wearing and what did he say?

ALLAN:  He was wearing just a shirt, but it was not a flashing.  He was beckoning me towards his car, he grabbed my arms several times and I just held my ground and would not move towards his car, which agitated him and he fled.  He threatened me first and then he fled.

COSBY:  How worried were you and what do you think he wanted?

ALLAN:  I knew for sure that if I did what he said I would at least get raped and probably abducted.  His car was running so he was trying to get me to his car.  I was scared for my life.

COSBY:  This is stunning.  This happens to you and again the fisherman said I was out there in Aruba.  This is where we heard from the boy that is Natalee may have been and this is an area that has been a point of interest.  We're looking at pictures now.  I don't know if you can see this, this is where you were, right?

ALLAN:  Yes.  That's correct.

COSBY:  So nine days before Natalee vanishes, you go to the police.  What was their reaction?

ALLAN:  I gave a statement, I signed the statement and they said they would look into it and I didn't hear anything at all.  When Joran Van der Sloot, the story changed and he said he left her there, up to that point I thought he left her at the Holiday Inn.  But that's when I really got involved.  I had already contacted the FBI.  I already tried several times to contact the Aruban police and got in contact and tried to get a hold of the Holloway and Twitty family.

So when the story changed then I contacted Tim Miller of Equisearch and he was the who started pressuring the Aruban law enforcement to look into this case.  And it still didn't happen until we decided to go to the press.

COSBY:  This is stunning to me.  You go to the Aruba authorities and then nine days later this happens with Natalee and they get the details soon after that and you still don't get any calls back at all from the Aruban authorities?

ALLAN:  No, no.

COSBY:  What the FBI say to you?

ALLAN:  The FBI took a statement and didn't contact me again until December 2 is when I did the sketch.

COSBY:  Let's take a look at the sketch.  Because I want to put this up again.  This is a sketch that you basically contributed towards.  When you look at this guy, do you have any idea, is this like a local guy, do you have any idea who this man is?

ALLAN:  I believe he is local, yes.  He had a car, he had an older car.  It wouldn't have been a rental and he had the physical characteristics of an Aruban.

COSBY:  And do you believe this man is capable - obviously he sounds like a very dangerous man?  Capable of raping and killing?

ALLAN:  Yes, definitely.  It was only for lack of opportunity that I feel I escaped.  I'm sure that other women have seen him or come in contact with him and I hope they will come forward.  I am hoping that the Aruban police will take it seriously enough to try to get information on this man and see it to its end.

COSBY:  How disappointed are you with this investigation by Aruban authorities?

ALLAN:  I'm very disappointed because the more times that goes by, the more opportunity he has.  I never—I don't know if it's related or not, but any evidence—further time goes by, there is less evidence if it is related.

COSBY:  If you saw this man again, if they could locate this man, and you saw this man again, would you remember his face, would you be able to I.D.  him?

ALLAN:  Yes, absolutely.  I was with him for about four minutes, about eight inches away for four minutes and I could identify him, no problem.

COSBY:  And Tracy, in your gut, do you believe it may be related?  The same beach, nine days later?

ALLAN:  It very well could be.  Very well could be.  I just hope they find him for the safety of all the women on the island.  The Aruban women should demand safety on their beaches too.  I don't think he cared if I was American or not.  He was looking for an opportunity.  He's a sexual predator.  He needs to be caught.

COSBY:  Tracy Allan, I'm glad you got away unscathed and did the right thing to report it to reports and shame on them for not responding sooner.

ALLAN:  Thank you.  I agree.

COSBY:  Thank you for being with us tonight.

ALLAN:  Thank you.

COSBY:  Thank you for speaking out on this.  We appreciate it.  And I want to get to Joran Van der Sloot's American defense attorney, Joe Tacopina, who joins us on the phone.  He just got back from the trip to Aruba.  Joe, this I think this is pretty incredible.  You hear from the woman who genuinely said she feared for her and thought this man would rape her or maybe even do something worse and they put up the picture now and give it credibility, they put it up in this reenactment?  Why did they wait so long?  And were you looking for the guy in Aruba?

JOE TACOPINA, JORAN VAN DER SLOOT'S AMERICAN ATTORNEY (on phone):  I certainly wasn't looking for him but or investigators led by Les Levine, we had a team of investigators down there and we have some former homicide people who certainly were.  I have to tell you, you just hit the nail on the head.  This is so despicable that 11 months later we are now putting out a sketch of the individual that may or may not be connected to Natalee Holloway's disappearance, but certainly someone who would be a person of interest, someone we should want to see—let alone Tracy's concern about trying to find predator because of the crime she felt victim to.  They should want to have done that just for her.

But I watched that reenactment with the Van der Sloot family and I have got to you, they actually were pleased to hear this new superintendent in charge of the investigation.  Who is illegally educated in the law, who is trained in legal schools in Aruba.

COSBY:  We are looking at pictures of the reenactment, and do they have more faith in the lead chief?

TACOPINA:  They do.  They do.  We certainly do.  For starters, one of the first words out of his mouth is they put up this sketch of this individual and said does anyone know who he is or they talked about the incident and said this is something we would like to follow-up on and may have something to do with Natalee's disappearance.

My question is, how useful is that 11 months later?  This guy could be anywhere and why did Dompeg (ph) and all these other investigators and people who just wanted to find something about Joran, why did they ignore things like this, things that we are hearing now about people who are people in the know in Aruba and people in law enforcement who have seen what they claim to say is a videotape of Natalee at 3:00 a.m. or 3:10 a.m.  in the lobby of the Holiday Inn.

Why is it coming out now?  Why are all these bits and pieces of evidence that point away from Joran as a suspect coming out now?  I will tell you.  The more I get into this case and the more documents I look, we spent three days down there with a series of lawyers and investigators and documents seeing things like this and this was what we were focused on when we were down there, Rita.  And we confronted police officers.  We spoke to witnesses.  There really isn't a person in the know in this late a stage that thinks that Joran was involved in Natalee's disappearance.

COSBY:  And Joe, I will tell you, it is shocking, regardless of wherever this place goes, that they did not look at the person, they waited almost a year and now finally put out the sketch.  It is outrageous.

TACOPINA:  Outrageous.

COSBY:  Joe thank you very much.  We will talk with you soon.  Still ahead, Natalee's father joins me now in the studio to tells us what he thinks of this assault on the same beach where Natalee may have been.  He has a new book out with some new details.  You have got to tune in for that.

And find out why Britney's baby is at the center of a very serious investigation inside the pop star's own home.  Those details are coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator):  The 21st of May, 2005, nine days before Natalee disappeared a woman was harassed here at the beach close to the Fisherman's Hut by an unknown man.  We don't know if it has anything to do with Natalee's disappearance, but it might be connected to it.  This is a sketch of that man.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  And you just heard from the woman who gave Aruban police that sketch that you were just looking at and now many people are asking why did it take so long for this potentially key piece of information to be released.  With us here tonight in the studio is Natalee's father, Dave Holloway.  He is the author of a new book, “Aruba, the Tragic Untold Story of Natalee Holloway and Corruption in Paradise.”

Dave, it is so great to finally see you in person.  We have been praying for you so much.

DAVE HOLLOWAY, NATALEE'S FATHER:  I appreciate it very much.

COSBY:  Are you amazed at the support?  Everybody feels they know Natalee, it's a big credit to the fight and everybody feels this could have been their daughter.

HOLLOWAY: Absolutely.  This case has been going on for 11 months and I wouldn't - I'd trade it with anyone but wouldn't wish it on them.  That's for sure.

COSBY:  You know, you and I talked just a few seconds ago before we got on

the air.  Tracy Allan, I was very surprised it hear her story.  Here she is

·         She does all the right things, she obviously fights off the attacker but then she reports it to authorities.  And nothing happens.  Nothing happens.  Here we are many months later and they finally put up a sketch.  You actually spoke with her?

HOLLOWAY:  I did.

COSBY:  What did you think about this?

HOLLOWAY:  She contacted the Texas Equisearch.  I subsequently spoke with her on one of my trips down there.  She wanted a copy of the police report.  So we went through our attorney down there to possibly get the police report but I had a very good physical description of the individual.  A description of the vehicle and Art Wood and I happen to be out on the island doing some work and .

COSBY:  One of the investigators.  So you took it seriously?  You believed this could be something substantive.

HOLLOWAY:  All of the sudden the caller came by us and I thought that looks like the guy that meets the description, all this kind of stuff, and let's write down the tag number.  We were on the way to the police station at that time and gave it to the police.

COSBY:  And what did they do?

HOLLOWAY:  We don't know.

COSBY:  How furious are you?

HOLLOWAY:  Tracy called us a month or so later and asked us if we gave that information to the police and yes, we did.

COSBY:  And how frustrated are you.  You hear her story today being released to the public and then trying to put out the picture, this sketch and please help us.  How outrageous is that?

HOLLOWAY:  That's just typical of the way this investigation has gone from the beginning.

COSBY:  And they have also putting out in this reenactment—I want to play a little clip, this is where they talk about the tip that led to the search on the sand dunes from the Colombian.  Let's play that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator):  The last year, the 31st of December, 2005, we think it was a Colombian man who called and he wanted to be anonymous.  He called Carlos n Charlie's, the last place Natalee was seen and he said Natalee was buried and we really want to get into contact with that man.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  How hard is it through all this time?  You hear so many tips and so many things.  And you and Larry Garrison wrote this book.

HOLLOWAY:  Right.

COSBY:  Why do you think now is the time and how did you sort out what to put in and what not to?

HOLLOWAY:  It's exactly what we've been going through all along.  You provide the police with the tips and they are not followed up on.  So we decided to put everything in the book and all the tips and all the leads and potential theories and people who needed to be talked to and put it together.  Maybe someone can read it or if they will read it - if the Aruba police will read it, they will understand where we're coming from.

COSBY:  And this show, too.  Hopefully something in the book might jog somebody.  The show has already gotten dozens of tips.  Do you believe maybe something might come about?

HOLLOWAY:  I think what I need to do is get the telephone number for the Dutch television thing and call my tips in.  Because I have a lot more than they do.

COSBY:  It sounds like you have done a lot of investigating.  Hats off to you.  The two of you staying on this case and I think it has hit such a chord because you have fought so much for the truth.  Do you believe you will get it?

HOLLOWAY:  I believe the truth will come out eventually.  I didn't realize it would be 11 months.  I thought we would have resolution to this - Natalee's disappearance—in a matter of weeks at the most.  But 11 months, that is totally, like Joe said, it is not right.

COSBY:  We got so many emails, I told you this, we get so many emails from people saying how is Dave?  Our prayers are with you.  They also have a lot of questions.  I want to put up if I could, too, and I am going to get you to answer.

Is it possible that Dave Holloway's theory that Natalee was raped drugged on a boat and dumped into the ocean be credible?  Do you believe that's still an option even though they are focusing on the sand dunes versus the water?

HOLLOWAY:  Well, they didn't find anything in the sand dunes and my theory all along has been that theory.

COSBY:  And let me put up another one.  This is about Paulus Van der Sloot, Joran's father.  It says, has anyone ever found out what Paulus Van der Sloot was doing on the morning that Natalee went missing.  Do we know?  Do you believe the no body, no case?  There is something there?

HOLLOWAY:  That concerned me when either he made it or his attorneys made it.  Paul told me that his attorney made that statement.  So I am going live with that.  Let me back up.  I think Deepak had mentioned that Paul Van der Sloot made that statement as well.  So that was very—I guess when I was out searching, that was a hard thing for me to take.  Because I knew then that for someone to make that statement, they were very, very confident.

COSBY:  Very quickly, what has been the hardest thing through all of this, Dave?

HOLLOWAY:  The hardest thing is the time factor.  I left Meridian, Mississippi through prayers and the statement that the pastor told us was God, let's give Dave the strength to get through this.  He and his family.  And we've carried that burden.

COSBY:  The rest of the country is helping you and carrying it with you too.  We are all rooting for you very much, Dave.  Thank you very much - thank you for being with us.

HOLLOWAY:  Thank you.

COSBY:  And everybody, there is a lot more coming up here on MSNBC tonight.  Let's check if we could in with Michael Smerconish, who is filling in for Joe Scarborough.  Michael?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, MSNBC HOST:  Thank you, Rita.  What are a great interview that was.  Tragic interview, but good to hear the Holloway family represented again.

The cockpit tapes of Flight 93, they rocked that Moussaoui trial courtroom today.  Flight 93 had only four terrorists on board whereas the other flights on September 11th each had five.  Why?  Exclusively tonight in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, you are going to meet the man, Jose Melendez who single handedly kept the man who would have been the fifth terrorist on Flight 93 out of the United States.  We can't wait to bring him to the nation.

COSBY:  We are going to be watching, Michael.  Thank you very much.  Nice to see you there.  And still ahead, everybody, on a completely different note, what is going on with “American Idol”?  Some say the real competition is between Simon, Paula and Ryan Seacrest for the spotlight.

And is Britney Spears' baby safe inside her house.  Details on a new investigation, that's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY LENO, TALK SHOW HOST:  Paula Abdul.  “American Idol.”  You're on the cover of “Rolling Stone.”  Ryan, he is not on there.  There you go.  He's down there in the corner.

PAULA ABDUL, ENTERTAINER:  Yeah, I guess that didn't go over very well.

LENO:  Was he mad about that?

ABDUL:  I heard plenty mad.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  Well, that was “American Idol” judge Paula Abdul commenting as you can see on this recent cover of “Rolling Stone” magazine.  As you can see, Ryan Seacrest is not really featured.  He's there in the corner as Jay Leno was pointing out even though he is a huge part of that very successful show.

Well, does this mean there's tension brewing between the “Idol” stars or is it all just publicity?  Joining me now is “Us Weekly” reporter Katrina Szish.  Katrina, why was he not prominently featured on the cover?

KATRINA SZISH, “US WEEKLY”:  I think the three kind of main people on the show are the judges, of course, because they are the ones who are selecting the talent.

COSBY:  Are you making excuses for Paula's comment?  Come on.

SZISH:  I do think—he was featured on that book that Randy Jackson was holding.

COSBY:  Let's hold it up.  It's a little, little thing.  Wait a minute.

SZISH:  He got a double cover.  He was on the cover of the book and the magazine.  But I think really when you think of the show, you think of the judges because they are the ones selecting the next “American Idol.”

COSBY:  One of the judges, Paula Abdul, was on Jay Leno and took a real slam at Ryan Seacrest.  Talking about the rumors, is he dating Teri Hatcher.  Let's play it.  I'll get your reaction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LENO:  Is Ryan dating Teri Hatcher?  You can tell us about this.

ABDUL:  Yeah—no.  You just had him on your show last week.

LENO:  He was here last week.

ABDUL:  He only kisses the mirror.

LENO:  Only kisses the mirror?

ABDUL:  Only kisses the mirror.  And honestly, do you think Teri Hatcher is that desperate of a housewife?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  Ouch.

SZISH:  Ouch is right.

COSBY:  What was your reaction?

SZISH:  Ouch, exactly what you said.

COSBY:  Why is she doing that?

SZISH:  Part of the vibe of the show is to sort of give each other digs here and there.  But usually Paula is the nice one.  So I think all of a sudden she has been hearing she has been too sweet, she has been too nice.

COSBY:  So publicity?

SZISH:  She needs to toughen up.

A little bit of publicity to give her an edge.

COSBY:  Give the ratings an edge.

SZISH:  And that

COSBY:  I had Simon Cowell on the show not that long ago and I asked about the rumors, he and Ryan have a feisty relationship onscreen, off screen.  Let me play it and get you to respond to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SIMON COWELL, TV PERSONALITY:  I have to tell you we're actually good friends but when we go out it's exactly the same as on the show, we just make fun of each other.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  You make?  Is this how to generate the best publicity?  You put on the show, there's a different persona off?

SZISH:  I think that's absolutely true.  Part of the fun of the show is seeing Simon take little shots at Seacrest.  And seeing Paula argue with Simon.  Part of that tension is what keeps the show interesting.

COSBY:  And was this good for Paula to take the attention off Ryan who has been getting all these good deals lately?

SZISH:  Ryan's not doing too bad, is he?

COSBY:  That's the question.  Is she doing it so don't forget about me, guys?

SZISH:  As much as she might be doing it in jest just to joke around a little bit, I'm sure there's a teensy bit of hey, guys, notice me.

COSBY:  You're very kind and stick around.  We are going to notice you on the next break because still ahead, Katrina is going to tell us why investigators were checking out Britney's baby-rearing ability.  Again.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSBY:  Joining me again is “Us Weekly” reporter Katrina Szish.  Let's talk about the latest scandal involving Britney's baby.  What happened this time?

SZISH:  This time it was an accident and accidents do happen.  Britney's nanny was lifting the baby out of the high chair and something broke on the high chair and the baby slipped through the nanny's hands, fell on the floor and hit his head.

COSBY:  And a doctor was called and the doctor reported it.

SZISH:  Yes.  The baby was examined and was fine.  And Britney is getting lots of flak for this as we know.  But what to point out, Britney took the baby to the emergency room because she noticed the baby was sleeping more than usual.

COSBY:  So she is getting mom of the year awards is what you're saying?

SZISH:  Not mom of the year awards but she knows her baby.  She knows her seven month old was not acting in the normal manner and she was - she is an attentive mom.

COSBY:  Really quickly.  There is obviously a lot of tension on her.  Is every little thing she has to do with this baby, first of course the child seat—and the seat belt .

SZISH:  Driving with the baby on the lap, yes.

COSBY:  That whole thing.  Now this?  Is it like anything she does is under the microscope?

SZISH:  Yes.  We are going to hear oops, she did it again, a thousand times with every little thing that happens with Sean Preston.  And fortunately (ph) the first car incident was a drama.  This one, accidents happen.

COSBY:  All right.  Katrina Szish with “Us Weekly.”  Thank you for coming. 

Keep us updated on Katie and Tom and Brad and Angelina, right?

SZISH:  Baby season.

COSBY:  You're on baby watch.

SZISH:  Baby watch.

COSBY:  All right, thanks Katrina.  And coming up tomorrow, they prowl the Internet.  We've got another story.  Hunting for young children.  But what if their victims hunted them?  Sexual predators beware.  Now a new film is taking action.  And we're going to show you the dramatic impact that it could have on keeping our kids safe.  That is all tomorrow night.  And that's going to be right here, “Caught in the Web, Stopping the Predators.”  Again, right here tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time.  Parents and kids, you do not want to miss this report.  And that does it for me on LIVE & DIRECT, everybody.

I'm Rita Cosby.  Have a terrific night.  SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY with Michael Smerconish filling in for Joe is starting right now.  Hi, Michael.

SMERCONISH:  Hey, Rita.  Thank you very much.  Folks, stay right where you

are because we've got a huge show in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY

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

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