updated 5/10/2006 11:37:13 AM ET 2006-05-10T15:37:13

Guests: Wendy Murphy, Kimberly Lerner, Kimberly Locke, Orlando Dominguez, Jr., Rob Pardon, Carrie Andreson, Ron Vande Weerd, Joann Nathy, Erica Eckerso, Russ Roby

RITA COSBY, HOST:  Good evening everybody.   Tonight a new report on the Duke rape investigation that is shaking things up. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I have seen the report.  I have read the report. 

I have not commented on reports.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  Why this stunning report has a lot of people saying, the district attorney should change course.  And why most people say he won‘t.

Plus late-breaking developments in the search of wanted cult leader and polygamist Warren Jeffs.   Did the FBI just miss him a few hours ago?

But first tonight, Florida wildfires are burning out of control and firefighters are worried that the situation could only get worse.   The blazes are threatening areas near three of Florida‘s largest cities, including - as you can see on the map - Orlando, Tampa and Miami. 

Thousands of acres of land have already been destroyed.  And some homes have been leveled.

Governor Jeb Bush has declared a state of emergency.

And with us now on the phone is Orlando Dominguez, with the Brevard County Fire and Rescue.

(BEGIN AUDIO FEED)

COSBY:  Orlando, what are conditions right now?  

ORLANDO DOMINGUEZ, JR., BREVARD COUNTRY FIRE RESCUE:  Well, right now, in our county we‘ve been pretty fortunate.   Right now, our fire has consumed 6,500 acres.  However, we have 40 percent of the fire actually contained and there has    been no damage to any structure.  So we have been actually pretty fortunate. 

COSBY:  And how are crews battling and how many crews are involved, Orlando?   

DOMINGUEZ:  We‘ve got our local crews on the frontlines as well as state   and federal agencies.   We just had a reenforcement of, what we call, the blue team, from the Division of Forestry.  They came in on Sunday.  So we‘re   getting much relief from outside crews. 

COSBY:  What is causing these blazes all over the state?   

DOMINGUEZ:  Right now the actual conditions—very dry conditions.   We haven‘t had any rain in a significant amount of time.  Humidity has been low.

However, they‘re predicting some thundershowers over the next three days, as well as the humidity should be a little higher than normal.  So we‘re going to take advantage of that.   And hopefully we can get this thing under control. 

COSBY:  You bet.   I hope Mother Nature brings you some relief.

Thank you very much, Orlando.

Now let‘s move into new details in the search for cult leader and wanted polygamist Warren Jeffs.

Just a few hours ago, we learned that investigators have searched a house in Colorado, in connection with this case.  

Live and direct, right now, is reporter Chip Yost, from NBC affiliate

KUSA, in   Denver.

                Chip, tell us what happened in the last few hours.  What is going on

with that search?   

CHIP YOST, REPORTER, KUSA:  Well, what happened is, this afternoon, I got a call from a source of mine, who said you might want to go over to Lakewood, which is just west of Denver here, and check out a house that was being searched.  He said he‘d heard they were searching for Warren Jeffs.

Well, we went there, not thinking much of the tip, and we got there, we saw some FBI agents outside of a  house, talking to some residents.  Hung out a little bit.  Talked to them for a moment.  There wouldn‘t say much.

What we learned later on is that officers arrived in the neighborhood   some time around 9:00 or 10:00 this morning.  We were told a bunch of them showed up. They had a perimeter set up, according to some of the neighbors    around the neighborhood.  And they went on to search the house.

We‘re told that it was a rented house.  There was a couple and possibly   an older gentleman had moved in there just about a month ago, and someone that someone had called over the weekend or in the last few days and said that they had seen Warren Jeffs at this house.  So that‘s what led them there.

We learned that they were there probably, I don‘t know, five, six hours from the time we got there, from the time they originally showed up.

So, it seems like it wasn‘t a bogus tip at least. It did have some significance.  They were doing a lot of questioning.

All the FBI would tell us, at this point, is that they have gotten some tips of value, but they would not comment specifically on what they found at this house. 

COSBY:  You know, Chip, I don‘t know if you know this, but what is the

connection to Warren Jeffs to Denver?  Does he have a lot of followers

there?   He‘s his base there?  

                YOST:  He has—there was a report one of my colleagues did about a

year ago.  The church has bought some property in Colorado, so there has been a following in Colorado.   Seth Jeffs had some connections here to Colorado.  So there is a following here, I don‘t know, you know, the extent of it, but there is a following.

When I went to talk to the people, I actually spoke to the people that lived at the home that was searched today.  I went and knocked on the door.  And when I went to the door and I identified myself as a reporter, they shut the door and put a sheet up over the window.

But before that, I was able to get a look at them and these folks that are part of this church do have a unique dress, a look, if you‘ve seen it, it‘s kind of an old-style, kind of Little House on the Prairie look.  And these folks fit that you description.  Whether than means anything or not, I don‘t know.  That may have been why they spent more time than they would have normally at the house. 

COSBY:  So, Chip, it does look like they were probably members of his    group of his church?

YOST:  Possibly, yes.  A very family look.  You know, I‘m going off a look.  You know, that‘s general assumption on my part.  But it was a very familiar look, from what we‘ve seen in Colorado City, and some of the others areas where they operate.  

COSBY:  Really interesting.  Chip, stick with us, if you could.  Because I want to bring with us—on the phone right now, we have Bob Newman.  He‘s the host for KOA Radio.

Bob, what are you hearing about this couple that Chip was just talking about in the house?  

BOB NEWMAN, HOST, KOA RADIO:  Yes, I agree with Chip.  When you look at them, they pretty much look like your standard fundamentalist Latter Day Saints or Mormons.

But what is even more interesting is what happened back in October.  His brother was arrested in Pueblo.  And his bothers‘ named Seth Steve Jeffs.  He‘s 33 years old.

He was stopped down in Pueblo for driving erratically, supposedly.

Well, last week he pled guilty here in Colorado to harboring his brother. 

Now, that‘s interesting.  And he‘s going to get sentenced on July 14.

He had $142,000 on him, but more interesting than the money, was what else was in the car with his brother, like prepaid credit cards and cellular phone cards and also he had seven cell phones.  Now, that‘s a lot of evidence for    the FBI to work off of.  And this tip may, in fact, have been linked to some of the evidence found in Warren‘s, Steve‘s brother‘s car in Pueblo last fall. 

COSBY:  Just to give everybody perspective, Bob, how far is Pueblo from Lakewood, from this house was - Lakeland rather - where this house was searched just a few hours ago?   

NEWMAN:  It‘s just two hours.  You go through Colorado Springs, and then the next big city is Pueblo.  So it‘s approximately two hours when you come out of Lakewood.

And this is just good police work, Rita, is what we‘re seeing here, by the   FBI, checking those cell phone records, trying to find out where the prepaid cell phone cards were bought.  Where were the prepaid credit cards bought?

And this was good police work that may—may have led to this

incident   in Lakewood just this morning. 

                COSBY:  You know, Bob, also, you have some details about authorities,

the feds also looking at this house.   How long were they sort of surveying the house and what were they doing?   

NEWMAN:  Well, they were watching it for a  minimum of a day prior to this.   Now, when I say minimum, that means it could have been a few days, but I know it was at least a day that they surveyed it.

But they didn‘t think that they were necessarily going to find Warren Jeffs there.   Remember, it would be quite lucky to actually catch him there, along with some good police work.

But what they‘re really trying to do is gather information.  Remember, this is an ongoing police case.  And now that his face is out more - because this past weekend, of course, he made the FBI‘s top ten most wanted list.  And that makes him a lot more visible to the public out there.

He‘s 6‘3” or so, and he‘s also thin.  He‘s thin as a rail. They believe that he moves around from place to place and may have simply been staying there for the evening or for a day.  And they think he moves primarily at night.  In part, to conceal his height and his very thin build.  He‘s easily recognized. 

COSBY:  And of course the brother - Warren Jeffs, the key guys - we‘re looking at a picture here.

Chip, you know, I think Bob hit on a real interesting point.  The brother    stopped, now, turning on the  other brother.  Also tons of cash on him, these prepaid credit cards.   This guy also has a lot of followers, right?  There are unfortunately a lot of people trying  to help this guy, right, Chip? 

Chip, can you hear me?  

YOST:  Yes.  

COSBY:  Yes, Chip, let‘s talk about his network.  Because, what Bob Newman was just talking about, just the network of folks that are actually protecting this guy and credit cards, cell phones, the amount of numbers.  

YOST:  Yes, like I said, that‘s why I think one of the things that came up today in the neighborhood when his brother was caught with all the cash on   him.  The concern was, if this house was in fact somewhere where he had stayed—it was being used as a safe house.  Because they had been in there for such a    short time. 

And, according to the neighbors, didn‘t socialize a lot with the neighbors.   They didn‘t know about a lot about them.  They said they were nice.  Kept up their yard nice and that sort of thing, but really didn‘t talk a lot, didn‘t see a lot of them.  So that was a concern, that this might have been a safe house, if in fact, it was a house that Jeffs was staying in.  And that he   might have more. 

COSBY:  Chip, do us a favor, if you hear any more details -Bob Newman also, both of you, thank you very much for rushing in with these new developments.   We really appreciate it, both of you very much.

And as the search goes on for Warren Jeffs, some investigators are worried that his potentially fanatical followers could lead to trouble if or when they find him.

Just what is the allure of these cults and why are some people willing to give up their freedom and lives for that?

Live and direct is a cult survivor, Carrie Andreson.   Also with us is Bob Pardon.  He‘s a consult exit counselor and the director of Meadow Haven, a center for recovering cult members.

Bob, first to you, new developments, searching this house—it seems    like this guy has a lot of followers.  How tough is it to track someone like this down?   

BOB PARDON, CULT EXIT COUNSELOR:  It can be extremely  difficult.  If

he has so many followers that are willing to hide him, then it can go on

almost    indefinitely.  

                COSBY:  What drives these people to protect him at all costs?  One of

the notes we were hearing last night on our show, Ed Miller, with “America‘s Most Wanted” said there was a memo put out, basically do whatever you can, even    put your own life on the line, for this man?  

PARDON:  Well, they believe he‘s God‘s profit and being God‘s mouthpiece or God‘s prophet on the face of the Earth today, they‘re willing to go to any extent to protect him.  And they will go to any extent.   They‘ll do whatever it takes in order to protect this man. 

COSBY:  Cary, you got involved in a cult, when you were, what, 19 years old, is that right?

CARRIE ANDRESON, CULT SURVIVOR:  Yes.

COSBY:  What was so appealing?   What drew to you a consult?   

ANDRESON:  Well, I was at college.  He was very charismatic.  He was very fervent in his mission of wanting to help humanity.  And that appealed to the good will inside of me.  

COSBY:  And when you say he, you‘re talking about the leader himself.

ANDRESON:  Yes, he was a grad student at the college I attended.

COSBY:  Did you realize what was happening at the time?   That this was a consult leader?  Were you aware of the process that he was undergoing?   

ANDRESON:  Not at all.  I had a lot of misconceptions about cults.  And I thought  that all consults looked the same.   I thought that they all were   isolated and that they wouldn‘t be on a college campus.  And so I wasn‘t aware of the signs to look out for.  

COSBY:  You know, what did you  experience while you were in the cult?  

What kind of abuse, physical and mental?   

ANDRESON:  I would say the mental abuse was the most severe.  Although there was a lot of physical torture as well.   And because of all the sleep    deprivation and the food deprivation, it really beats you down so that you‘re willing to just buy into a lot of different reasonings that you wouldn‘t normally. 

COSBY:  You just break down because you‘re so exhausted physically and mentally?   

ANDRESON:  Exactly.   You‘re not able to have time to think, to

question your leader.   And you‘re always tattling on one another in the

cult, so,   really, there‘s no safe place to be within the cult.  

                COSBY:  You know, Carrie, also, physically, I was reading some  

information. It was saying that there were actually beatings.   Tell us about what you did to each other and to yourselves?   

ANDRESON:  I can‘t believe now what I did, but, we would beat one   another with different instruments, with belts.  We would whip one another;

we‘d   pull out our hair.  We would bang each other‘s heads on the ground

until we    bled.   It was very physically torturous.  

                COSBY:  Just what you do, then you would beat each other so you were

bleeding that much?  Did you realize what was happening or were you so

brain    washed at the time?   

                ANDRESON:  At the time, any negative thought that was coming into my

head about being   mistreated or abused was instantly shut down and that‘s 

how we were trained.  We were trained that we were on a mission for God and everything was redefined within the group so that beatings became discipline.  We weren‘t allowed to call them beatings.  

COSBY:  It‘s amazing.  When you hear these stories, Bob, of Carrie‘s and so many others.  How do these people get away?   

PARDON:  Excuse me?   

COSBY:  How do they get away?   How do they leave the cults?   

PARDON:  Individuals get away.  They leave for one of three reasons.  They‘re either walk aways.   The individual can no longer deal with it and they just walkway away from the group.  They get kicked out of the group because they can no longer live up to the things that are required by the group.  Or they   get kicked out of the group.  The group decides that they no longer want to deal with them and so they just kick them out.  

COSBY:  You know, how do you see this ending with Warren Jeffs case,

Bob?    Is there anything law enforcement can do to turn these folks to

actually   cooperate with authorities?   

                PARDON:  Well, it‘s going to be very, very difficult.   Unless they

are able to catch Jeffs outside of one of the compounds, it could very much end up like what happened with the Branch Davidians.  

COSBY:  The Waco compound?   

PARDON:  Exactly.   If it‘s true that he has amassed munitions, if it is true that his followers are willing to die for him, which is the case, in these extremist groups, then it could end up being something very, very serious.

Hopefully that won‘t be the case.  But who knows what‘s going to happen in this. 

COSBY:  As you said, we certainly hope that is not the case.

Both of you, thank you very much for coming forward.

And Carrie, we appreciate your courage for being on here too.

Well, all polygamists are not members of a cult.   We‘re going to go inside a suburban polygamist family next.   A different perspective.

Plus, the search for a missing TV anchorwoman takes a bizarre twist. 

We‘ll tell you why police were searching a farm and what they found.

Plus, cocktail dresses, corsages and controversy.  Find out why a school is telling a group of girls to find new prom dates or stay home.  Is it fair.

And “American Idol” is all about music.  Are the judges in a forgiving   mood?

Simon Cowan‘s girlfriend, Terry Seymour, and former contestant Kimberly Love joint me live.  What‘s it like being in the hot seat?  All that and a whole lot more coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSBY:  And we‘re following new details at this hour in the search for fugitive polygamist cult leader Warren Jeffs. 

The FBI has been searching a house in Colorado where they suspect he may have been.   They could have just missed him. 

His bizarre consult has many people wondering what polygamists are really like.  But tonight, even some polygamists are angry at this wanted fugitive.  They say their lives have nothing to do with any cult.

Here‘s NBC‘s Lester Holt. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LESTER HOLT, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Because this family is breaking the law, they chose to talk to us from the shadows. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We‘re just religious, everyday, country-loving   people.  

HOLT:  And they are also polygamist.   A husband and his three wives who offered NBC News a rare glimpse into a lifestyle that many find curious, still    others, immoral. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  A lot of the myths are that this is about sex. 

UNIDENTFIED FEMALE: There are easier ways to get sex. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I can certainly understand why some people would view it as they do.   Especially in light of some of the stories that people have heard.  However, you know, it‘s just the age-old thing with  consenting adults. 

HOLT:  They do not live in a religious compound.   Instead they live in a Salt Lake City suburb.   Joe is a businessman.   Together they have 19 children who attend public school.  

HOLT:  What does growing up in this environment do to the children?   

EMILY:  It‘s always good that they have a parent at home and their needs are met. 

HOLT:  Only Emily, as she wants to be called, is legally married to Joe. 

Especially, Diane, to what extent do you feel that you have to kind of hide this relationship because you are not legally married to Joe.

DIANE:

DIANE:  I don‘t know if I‘ve had to hide if from anybody.  For instance he‘s a Little League coach so if I go to a game, I try stay in the background.  

HOLT:  The HBO TV series “Big Love” about a suburban man and his three wives is advancing this imagine of the polygamist next door.

You say you‘re like every other family?   

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Money is like in every family.  The conflicts are always compounded.  Did I say fights - we have conflicts.  

HOLT:  But their biggest conflict is with the law.  

DIANE:  I would love to be out in the open about it. 

HOLT:  A law that leaves them in the shadows.

Lester Holt, NBC News, Salt Lake City. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSBY:  Thank you Lester. 

And everybody, we will continue to follow that story in Warren Jeffs. 

Any developments, we‘ll bring them to you right away.

In the meantime, some late breaking developments in the case of Jody Hoosentrude.  She‘s a young TV anchor who disappeared suddenly more than 10 years ago.   Police have just finished searching an area 30 miles away from where she was last seen.

Joining us now on the phone, with the latest, is Lieutenant Ron Vande Weerd.  He is with the Mason City, Iowa, police department.  Also on the phone is Jody‘s sister, Joann Nathe.

Lieutenant, let me start with you.  Was anything found?  Tell us about this search today?   

RON VANDE WEERD, MASON CITY IOWA POLICE DEPT:  No, nothing was found today.   We searched the area and the area on the ground that contained radar told to us look.  Just uncovered some bricks and stone.  

COSBY:  How frustrating is it for you to come up empty-handed.  Obviously, everybody is hoping this could be solved, including your department.   How tough is it, in law enforcement to keep coming up empty-handed 10 years later?  

WEERD:  Well, next to the family, I don‘t think anyone wants this case solved more than we do.  Over the years, I try to keep myself from getting too excited or too worked up.  There‘s been so many tips.  But today I was hopeful and unfortunately disappointed.  

COSBY:  Absolutely.  Joann, as a family member, how tough is this for you to get your hopes up and for them to only be dashed again?  

JOANN NATHE, VICTIM‘S SISTER:  Like Ron said, we‘ve had so    Many of these where we‘ve gotten calls and we wondered if it was Jody or not.

But really, I wasn‘t that hopeful that it was Jody.  Of course, you always wonder, maybe it is, in the back of your mind, maybe they do have enough evidence.  Maybe this is the one that will solve it.   But I wasn‘t totally convinced.   No.  

COSBY:  I want to play, Joann, this is a comment from the last person

who actually spoke  to your sister that we know of.   This is the producer

at her TV    station.

                This is what the producer had to say.

                “To give her a wakeup call.   And it sounded like she was just sound

asleep.   I said Joe; it‘s 10 after 4:00 are you coming into work today?   

And she said, oh, I‘ll be right there. 

COSBY:  You know, Joann, when you hear that, what do you think happened to your sister?   

NATHY:  Well, there‘s two scenarios.  It‘s either somebody who knew her and wanted more of a  relationship with her and they were upset with her.  Or, it was somebody who had been following her, stalking her and she didn‘t know the person.  

I just recently found out that Jodi did feel she was being stalked right prior to June 27, when this happened.

Now, I knew she had thought she was being stalked previously, months before, you know.  But I wasn‘t aware that it had been that close to June 27.  Just a few days before she had   written, a very close friend a  letter and she said that she was worried that she was being stalked. 

COSBY:  And, Joann, did she know who was doing it?   

NATHY:  No, she did not know who it was.  According to the letter or    anything.   But, so, I‘m finding out new things as we go along, too. 

Like I said, I was aware that she was concerned about being stalked   prior, months or year or so prior to her abduction but I didn‘t know that it was so recent to June 27.  She had revealed it to a close friend and one other source  that she was worried that someone was following her.

So, that‘s a great possibility.   Also I was listening to another   newscast tonight and they pointed out the fact that she screamed and oftentimes if you know somebody you don‘t scream like that, like she did.

Although, maybe she was very upset at the person, too, and she knew that the person had a temper and she was worried and she could have screamed for that reason, also. 

COSBY:  Most importantly we hope that this case is solved and if anybody has information on  this case, call 911, as you‘re looking at this beautiful face. 

Joann, keep up hope because sometimes even though these cases go on a   long time, cold cases do get solved, even after 10 years.  Hopefully someone will come forward with information.

Thank you, both you and the Lieutenant.

Coming up, imagine being banned from your own prom because of your date.  It sounds outrageous, but imagine being one of the girls banned from the prom.   Their story is coming up. We‘ll explain.

And new reports that the accuser in the Duke rape investigation initially said it was 20 players who rapped her and then changed her story to three.  Is it time for the DA to drop the charges, her condition that night.  And they put a whole new twist on it. 

That‘s all coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSBY:  Well, the prom is one of the biggest events in a student‘s life.   So imagine finding out at the very last minute that the school won‘t let your date go through the door.

That‘s what happened to six Massachusetts students whose dates failed a background check, which they say they didn‘t even know about.

Linda Urga, from NBC affiliate WHTH, has the details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LINDA URGA, WHTH-TV:  Prom night is certainly a highlight for some teenagers.  For senior Erica Eckerso, things are not going quite her way.

ERICA ECKERSON:  When I found out I was kind of shocked.

URGA:  Her school, Dennick Yorman Regional (ph) did a background check on her boyfriend, 19-year-old Russ Roby.  And he‘s been banned from the big dance because he has a charge of alcohol possession on his record.

RUSS ROBY:   They probably think that we‘re going to cause some ruckus or something, you know, show up at the door drunk or something stupid, you know.  We all learn from our mistakes, and it‘s just ridiculous. 

URGA:  Because Russ is not a student at the high school, Erica had to fill out some paperwork about her date, and nowhere on the form does it say a check was going to be done. 

ERICA ECKERT, DATE BANNED FROM PROM:  They didn‘t tell us that they were going to do a background check. 

URGA:  Mom and dad signed that form, never thinking this could even happen. 

ROBERT ECKERT, FATHER:  I think they‘re going overboard because from what I understand, they do have a police officer there. 

KATHY ECKERT, MOTHER:  It‘s a senior prom.  He‘s not going for this great big important job. 

URGA:  But, there are parents who think the criminal checks are a good thing. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I do agree with what they‘re doing, yes.  For the kids‘ safety. 

URGA:  Erica has decided she will be going to the prom this Saturday, but she‘s still got a beef. 

E. ECKERT:  There‘s also other kids at the school that have longer records than our boyfriends and stuff like that.  So, it‘s like, you know, what‘s good for them should be good for everyone else.

URGA:  Reporting in south Yarmouth, Linda Urga, 7 News.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSBY:  And Linda, thanks so much.  And we‘re joined now by former prosecutor, Wendy Murphy, and criminal defense attorney, Kimberly Lerner. 

Wendy, first to you.  Should these people be banned from the prom?

WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR:  I live here in Massachusetts, and I‘ve got to tell you, I think it‘s a little bit silly to ban somebody because they had an alcohol-related crime on their record.  I think it‘s important that the public know about these things.  I mean, it‘s preposterous if you ask me. 

And it‘s really unique to Massachusetts that we give criminals, convicted criminals, privacy rights, constitutionally-based, by the way, in the Massachusetts constitution, privacy rights in their rap sheets.  I mean, how absurd is that?  No other state does this.  And that‘s why people are all up in arms. 

COSBY:  But let me bring in Kimberly.  Kimberly, in this case, these were minor things.  I mean, you know, alcohol possession.  Marijuana possession.  I mean, you know, these are charges, but not, you know, very serious charges. 

KIMBERLY LERNER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  This is absolutely ridiculous, Rita.  This is a prom.  They‘re not applying for job as the head of the CIA.  They‘re a—there are police officers and attorneys out there who have more serious records than this. 

COSBY:  Are they playing parent?

LERNER:  Absolutely.  The next thing they‘re going to tell the kids who they can date during the year.  What, next year they‘re going to decide whose religious beliefs or political beliefs they don‘t like.  They are overstepping their boundaries.   

COSBY:  Wendy, let me put up a couple things.  This is why—go ahead, Wendy, first.  Go ahead.

MURPHY:  They‘re not students, and I don‘t disagree.  I think they should be allowed to go, because it‘s stupid.  Their records are minor.  But they‘re not students.  And let me tell you something, if they did something horrible at the prom, they hurt somebody, they got drunk, they used drugs, they sold drugs, the school would be sued.  The parents would be up in arms.  And you know, you can‘t have it both ways.

COSBY:  So Wendy, why not check the students, then?  Why not check the students, too?

MURPHY:  Well, because the students, I think, have different rights.  As a public school student you have different rights than if you‘re not a student in a particular school.  That‘s just the way the law draws the light. 

LERNER:  I would let them in.  Make them do breathalyzer tests.  Make them go through medal detectors.  Hire security guards.  There are precautions you can take to ensure they will be...

MURPHY:  I agree.

LERNER:  This is a complete overreaction. 

MURPHY:  I don‘t disagree.  The question is, is the public entitled to know their criminal records?  Is it a public matter or a private matter?

LERNER:  These are kids.

MURPHY:  If you‘re convicted of a crime, you‘ve got a lot of chutzpa claimed that those rap sheet bits of information are private.  It‘s a public problem...

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  Let me walk you guys there through.  This—this is some of the things they‘re supposed to do.  It‘s supposed to—these are for nonstudents again.  Sign a consent form from students and the guest.  Date the driver‘s licenses.  No one over 21 allowed, also, to the—to the prom. 

What‘s interesting is, parents are saying that they didn‘t know about it, that they didn‘t read this.  And then the other thing, too, they just found out about it Friday that their dates were rejected.  This is a big deal. 

LERNER:  Rita, I find it interesting that nobody has seen these consent forms.  They wouldn‘t release them to the media.  I have a feeling these consent forms were extremely misleading. 

And if somebody is signing away their rights to have their records sealed, to have people see their criminal background, they should know what they‘re signing. 

COSBY:  Wendy, shouldn‘t it be out in the open?  And also, in fairness to the kids, these poor kids are crushed.  I mean, granted, but to a lot of people, they should have more time, don‘t you think?

MURPHY:  I do—I do feel bad for them, but it is ridiculous, per se, for a person convicted of a crime which is a quintessential public event to claim that it‘s an invasion of privacy.  They are not students.  They are not entitled by...

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  They‘re not murderers, Wendy.

LERNER:  Is alcohol possession a crime?

MURPHY:  I would let them go.  I would let them go because they‘re not serious crimes.  But you‘ve got to be kidding me that a criminal should claim a privacy in a rap sheet.  That‘s what‘s stupid. 

LERNER:  It‘s not appropriate...

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  Let me—let me give Kimberly last word.  Five seconds, real quick.

LERNER:  It‘s not even appropriate that they‘re looking at this. 

They‘re overstepping their bounds and playing parent. 

COSBY:  All right.  Both of you—both of you, hang on.  We‘re going to have you back a little bit. 

And when we come back, we have gotten our hands on the actual police report from the Duke University rape investigation.  What it says about the accuser, her story, and whether there has been a case there, whether that ever happened or not.  Find out.  We‘ve got some new details.  A live report from Durham ahead. 

And back by popular demand, Simon Cowell‘s girlfriend.  She‘s here to talk about the show that everybody loves but the judge who everybody loves to hate.  And best of all, she‘ll be front row and center for all the action on “American Idol” tonight.  She‘s going to give us the inside scoop, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSBY:  And now an unprecedented move by police investigating the Duke rape allegations.  As the university police department just released an internal report on their visit to the lacrosse house and accuser statements after the alleged attack.  This is now the second brand new report documenting potentially critical details on the rape allegations and statements made by the accuser at the time. 

Let‘s go straight to NBC‘s Michelle Hofland, who‘s live in Raleigh, North Carolina, with the very latest.  Michelle, tell us about this second report. 

MICHELLE HOFLAND, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Well, good evening, Rita.  That‘s right.  This is an unprecedented move by Duke University.  This is an internal, confidential memo.  It‘s the Duke lacrosse, or the Duke police report from the night of the alleged rape. 

Let‘s go straight to the last paragraph in here.  It says, quote, “The victim changed her story several times, and eventually Durham police stated that charges would not exceed misdemeanor simple assault against the occupants at 610 N. Buchanan.  There were no files charged by Duke police officers.  No suspects have been identified at this time.” 

And Rita, there‘s more.  Inside this 20-page Duke committee report released last night, there‘s other very new information. 

Let‘s go straight to the second page.  Quote, “The alleged victim earlier told police that she was raped by approximately 20 white members of the Duke team.”

This is the first time that we‘ve heard anything about 20 members being involved in this.  All along the Durham district attorney has said that the hired dancer claims that she was raped and beaten by three members by the Duke lacrosse team inside of a bathroom at a party on March 13. 

The report does not say who at the Durham Police Department cast out on the alleged victim‘s story, but the report does say taking these comments at face value and allowing them to shape Duke‘s thinking was, quote, “a major mistake.”

Now, in a footnote on page five of this 20-page report it says Duke officials might possibly have reacted differently had they known that, quote, “one female member of the Duke Police Department saw the alleged victim was, quote, ‘crying uncontrollably and visibly shaken, shaking, crying and upset‘.”  That report says, quote, “That behavior you the doesn‘t suggest that this case will just go away.”

The president of Duke University commissioned this report.  The news of what‘s obtained inside of it, this has spread throughout this area quickly.  The district—or defense attorneys say that this only proves or shows that what they‘ve been saying all along, that this alleged victim has a serious credibility problem and that it looks more and more like to them like, if the district attorney did not have a race coming up last week, that this case would have never gotten off the ground—Rita. 

COSBY:  Michelle, thank you very much.  If you see anything more, please come back to us.  We appreciate it.

And let‘s now bring in our legal experts, Wendy Murphy and also Kimberly Lerner.  Michelle pointed out, this is sort of unprecedented for a university to be releasing now a second report.  Why are they doing this, Kimberly?  Why now?

LERNER:  Well, I think they‘re trying to make up for some mistakes they made.  I think Duke officials...

COSBY:  Are they trying to cover up their own behinds?

LERNER:  Well, I think it was a bold move, because they came out and said, “We‘re open to any recommendations.” 

And I think the report was extremely fair.  I think Duke—the Duke officials did what they could with the information they had.  Clearly, there was a huge communication gap, and maybe their mistake was relying on the information they were getting from the police.  Maybe they should have done their own investigation and not relied on the police officers‘ assessment of visibility. 

However, hindsight is 20/20, and maybe in the future they‘ll handle things differently. 

COSBY:  You know, of course, the district attorney was asked about this earlier, you know, what relevance this report has, in particular about the—because at first she said 20 and then she changed it to three.  This is what the D.A. had to say. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE NIFONG, DURHAM DISTRICT ATTORNEY:  I have seen the report.  I have read the report.  I have not commented on reports, and I have not commented on whatever the people have to say.  And I don‘t really see any need to change that now. 

The facts of the case are things that are going to be set out at trial, or perhaps in some motions prior to trial.  But the fact that that is placed in some report doesn‘t mean that it‘s true.  And even if it were true it would not mean it was relevant. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  Wendy, do you agree that maybe it‘s not relevant or how you can say that?

MURPHY:  Yes, you know, look, you‘ve got to remember that this is the Duke police report that we‘re talking about.  The report that is then characterized in the commissioned report that critiqued the behavior of the Duke police response to this crime. 

COSBY:  So what are you trying to say, that they would pad it to be the way they want it to be to cover themselves?

MURPHY:  I‘m just saying—I‘m just saying the report that came out that was commissioned by the president at Duke is very critical of the Duke police response.  They soft-pedaled it.  They characterized her credibility improperly. 

And they didn‘t even take into account, for example, that a woman police officer from the Duke Police Department went to the emergency room with the victim and observed her hysterical crying, shaking and so forth. 

I mean, the fact that they characterized this as a nothing incident that would blow over, the report today suggests that that was a reflection of a racist, entitlement and so forth, those kind of attitudes that people have been complaining about from day one.  So it really doesn‘t tell us anything about the...

LERNER:  Wendy—Wendy...

COSBY:  Go ahead.

LERNER:  Don‘t you think they were sitting back and waiting for more information, unlike the district attorney in this matter, who rushed to conclusions and rushed to indictment?

MURPHY:  Oh, yes, a real rush.  Two and a half weeks before he said a word about this case.  It‘s hardly a rush to judgment. 

LERNER:  Based upon—based upon a terrible, terrible photo array with no corroboration.  Now he finds himself in a hole, and he‘s digging himself out. 

MURPHY:  Stop, stop.  Look it, this report condemns the behavior and does not at all suggest that this was a hoax, which is all the nonsense we‘re hearing.  This report supports the victim‘s credibility.

And frankly, you know, it‘s good that Duke did this.  I give them a lot of credit, because they‘re taking a lot of hits.  And they commissioned this report to be critical of them. 

But I also want to take note of a particular portion where they characterized—the lack of communication is described as incredible.  The idea that the president of the university with a rape on campus...

COSBY:  Wendy, let me interrupt you, because let me put that up.  Let me put up the timeline, Wendy.  Hold on.  Let me put up the timeline, because I think you‘re hitting on a very key point.  This, I was very surprised about, too.  The timeline.

It shows, of course, the incident, the alleged incident, happened at March 14, wee hours of the morning.  Of course, they received a complaint of the racial slurs coming from the house.

The president of the university—remember, this is a campus owned house—finds out about it six days later.  Kimberly, what does that say to you about their lack of communication? 

LERNER:  It shows that there‘s a lot of red tape, and they need a better organized system. 

COSBY:  But this is Duke University.  This is not, you know, a major corporation.  Come on, Kim.

LERNER:  I think that that‘s a real problem.  I think the fact that he didn‘t know about racial slurs being thrown around on his own campus, that‘s a real problem and that‘s something they need to address. 

COSBY:  And of course, at that point, at that point, Kimberly, it was much more severe than racial slurs. 

LERNER:  Absolutely.

COSBY:  Six days later, they have this alleged gang rape. 

LERNER:  Absolutely. 

COSBY:  That‘s a big deal. 

LERNER:  And I think he‘s doing an excellent job of addressing it now. 

I think he‘s done everything he could to address it now. 

MURPHY:  Look it—look it...

COSBY:  Wendy, real quick.

MURPHY:  Give them credit for being critical.  But look, this is the language in the report.  “This gap in communications is extraordinary.”  That‘s code for, we don‘t buy it at all.  There‘s no way a rape happens on campus.  Police were searching property of Duke University.  This was bubbling up under the surface.  There were racial issues.  And you‘re telling me the president didn‘t know anything until he read it in a newspaper?  I don‘t think so. 

LERNER:  The paper said no allegation of cover up. 

MURPHY:  Nobody buys that he didn‘t know.

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  I love you both.  We‘re going to have you both on back soon.  We‘ve got three spirited women on tonight.  Thank you, you two.  And myself.  Thank you.

And everybody, there‘s a lot more coming up here on MSNBC tonight.  Let‘s go to a guy in the lineup.  Tucker Carlson, what do you have in store?

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  An amazing story out of Washington.  Rupert Murdoch, the head of FOX, your former boss, Rita, organizes a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton, who meanwhile, Mrs. Clinton compliments George W.  Bush.  What is going on with Hillary Clinton?  We‘ll tell you.

Plus, inside the world of competitive eating.  We‘ll talk to the author of the book “Horsemen of the Esophagus”, who spent a year following people who eat hundreds of hotdogs in an afternoon.  We‘re getting the inside on what that‘s like.

COSBY:  Oh, that sounds like a very diverse show.

CARLSON:  Yes, it is.

COSBY:  Thank you very much. 

CARLSON:  Thanks, Rita.

COSBY:  We‘ll be tuning in in just a few minutes.

And when we come back, the final four “American Idols” go to Graceland.  But which “American Idol” is ready to take it all off?  And we‘re not talking about Elvis‘ jump suits here. 

And we‘ve all seen plenty of police chases before, but trust me, on this next story you have not seen a chase like this one and neither had the cops who made the bust.  Stick around, everybody. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATHARINE MCPHEE, “AMERICAN IDOL” FINALIST:  It‘s a whole different ball game now.  I just suddenly felt the pressure this last week. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  Well, the pressure is certainly on for the final four contestants left on “American Idol”.  Tonight Taylor, Katharine, Chris and Elliot took a trip to Graceland, the home of America‘s original pop idol, Elvis Presley.  They also performed some of the king‘s most famous hits. 

But were their performances enough to leave the audience all shook up? 

“Extra” correspondent Terri Seymour was there.  She‘ll tell us the details.  And also joining us right now is former “American Idol” contestant Kimberly Locke, a gorgeous woman.  And you made it to, what, the final three, right?

KIMBERLY LOCKE, FORMER “AMERICAN IDOL” CONTESTANT:  The final three, yes.

COSBY:  You are a hero.  You made it through the heat.

LOCKE:  I made it through the heat. 

COSBY:  And Terri, speaking of the heat, tonight you just saw the show.  How was it, and any surprises?

TERRI SEYMOUR, “EXTRA” CORRESPONDENT:  It was a really great show.  Yes, it was a great show tonight.  Elliott finally—not finally, but he really pulled it out of the bag tonight.  And I think Simon thinks he‘s made it to the top three. 

COSBY:  And your wonderful boyfriend, Simon, talked about, in fact, how the polls, you know, sort of reflect his view, how—we talked about this last week.  But Simon talked about it on the show.  Let me play you a clip of your guy in action, Terri. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SIMON COWELL, JUDGE, “AMERICAN IDOL”:  I just go by the official polls which say that 78 percent of people believe with me.  I don‘t make the polls up. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  Who do you think is going to make it, Terri?  What‘s the inside buzz from Simon?  Is he still sort of sticking by the two guys at the end?

SEYMOUR:  Well, you know, after tonight‘s performances, Simon seems pretty sure that Elliott and Taylor have definitely made it through.  Katherine‘s performances, because they obviously did two songs this evening, he wasn‘t so sure about. 

COSBY:  OK.  One of the things we are sure about, they went to Graceland.  And I think this is a really cool idea.  They mix it up, take them to different places.  And let me—Kimberly, this is Priscilla.  And of course, Lisa Marie Presley talked a bit about it.  And Priscilla had this to say.  She was talking about “Idol”.

She says, “Elvis, too, had to audition.”  You know, sort of putting the two together, “American Idol” and Elvis.  “He was laughed at.  He was basically booed off the stage.”  He, of course, Elvis, the wonderful days of him.  “He had to struggle with the fact that he came from very humble beginnings and didn‘t have opportunities to have others experience his talent.”

Kimberly, do you see an Elvis in the ranks in the final group here? 

Is there a potential Elvis out there?

LOCKE:  I guess there‘s a potential Elvis in everybody. 

COSBY:  Is there somebody who can really skyrocket, from what you‘ve seen?

LOCKE:  Yes.  Absolutely.  I mean, a perfect example is—would be Clay from our season.  It was absolutely phenomenal what happened to him and where his stand...

COSBY:  And Ruben Studdard, too, and yourself. 

LOCKE:  Well, what happens on the show is that you get this instant fan base, and you‘re like, where do they come from?  What are they going to do?  Are they going to stick with me?  And they stick and they stay.  And they carry you.  Like, I know—I know my fans now.  I know, like, they come to my Lane Bryant appearances.  I know them by name.  It‘s kind of scary.

COSBY:  And you have a deal with Lane Bryant, obviously, fashion—fashion designer. 

LOCKE:  I have a deal with Lane Bryant.  I‘m the new spokesmodel.  I got a television show on MTV that I‘m going to be part of.  And I have a new album coming out in June.  So...

COSBY:  You‘ve got a lot of stuff cooking.

LOCKE:  A lot of stuff going on.

COSBY:  You know, Terri, speaking of stuff going on, some hidden secrets I‘ve been teasing you about, about your boyfriend.  A lot of people think it‘s R-rated.  It‘s actually PG-rated.

First of all, I told you, he‘s been on my show.  I like him.  A little background: producer, obviously, judge, makes a measly $36 million a year.  Not bad for “American Idol”.  I don‘t know if you‘ve counted the change yet here. 

He hosts—he hosts other shows like “Pop Idol”, “American Inventor” and “X-Factor”.  But there is a rumor going around that he‘s also a chef.  Is that true?  Is he a good cook, Terri?

SEYMOUR:  You know, I heard this rumor today.  And I just have to say, he‘s a terrible cook, so I have no idea where this came from. 

COSBY:  So it‘s just a bad rumor?

SEYMOUR:  You won‘t see Simon in the kitchen (ph).

COSBY:  And in fact we‘re looking at him.  He does look a little silly with a chef‘s hat on. 

SEYMOUR:  I‘d love to see that.  It‘s a very bad rumor. 

COSBY:  You know, one of the other things, and this, again, may be rumor, too.  But there‘s buzz out there.  Ace Young, who of course, got kicked off, but a lot of the girls just thought this guys was totally gorgeous...

LOCKE:  Right.

COSBY:  Kimberly‘s nodding her head.  Serious, hunky, hunky guy.

SEYMOUR:  Calm down, Kimberly. 

COSBY:  Trying to lock her in.  I‘m trying to lock her in her seat there, trying to hold her back.  What do both of you make of the fact that there‘s word—let me start with you, Kimberly, first—he may pose for “Playgirl” after this—first, there‘s a morality clause.  He can‘t do it now. 

LOCKE:  Right.

COSBY:  But after it‘s over?  Should he do it?  How would that affect his career, Kimberly?

LOCKE:  I mean, do it, you know.  I don‘t think it would be a bad thing.  What do you think, Terri?

COSBY:  What do you think?

LOCKE:  You know, it‘s one of those things where people want you.  When you‘re off the show, you‘ve got to work with what you‘ve got.  And if he‘s got that appeal, go for it. 

COSBY:  Terri, real quick, what do you think?

SEYMOUR:  I think if he wants to be taken seriously, musically, as he does, he shouldn‘t do it.

LOCKE:  You‘re joking, Terri.

COSBY:   All right, Terri.  Well, we may see a lot more of him. 

Both of you ladies, thank you very much. 

And still ahead, everybody, designer shoes are hot.  But this is ridiculous.  We‘ll tell you why some women are on the run.  That‘s coming up.  The hot chase. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSBY:  And caught by Cosby tonight, if the shoe fits, steel it.  San Diego police were led on a high-speed chase by two female shoe thieves.  They were even throwing the shoes at a patrol car.  Both suspects are now under arrest.  No word on the condition of the shoes. 

And that does it for me on LIVE AND DIRECT.  I‘m Rita Cosby.  “THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER” starts right now—Tucker.

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

END   

Copy: Content and programming copyright 2006 NBC.  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 NBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

transcripts

Watch Rita Cosby Live & Direct each weeknight at 10 p.m. ET

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,