updated 5/12/2006 11:33:11 AM ET 2006-05-12T15:33:11

Guests: Mark Dana, Susan Filan, Yale Galanter, Brent Jeffs, Greg Hoole, Hilton Daniels

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Coming up, the manager of the rock group, Great White, breaks down in court before he is sentenced for the deaths of 100 people in a 2003 Rhode Island nightclub fire. 

The program about justice starts now.  

Hi everyone.  First up on the docket, tears from both the defendant and the victims‘ families as the tour manager for the rock band, Great White, is sentenced.  Daniel Biechele lit off the fireworks that started that fire in the Rhode Island club, The Station that killed 100 people and injured more than 200 in February of 2003.  After two days of anguished testimony from families of the victims killed in the fire after the prosecution asked for the 10-year maximum sentence under the plea deal, the defendants asked for community service.  Daniel Biechele addressed the families and the court. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANIEL BIECHELE, SENTENCED IN NIGHTCLUB FIRE:  For three years I‘ve wanted to be able to speak to the people that were affected by this tragedy.  But I know that there is nothing that I can say or do that will ever undo what happened that night.  Since the fire, I‘ve wanted to tell the victims and their families I‘m truly sorry I am for what happened that night and the part that I had in it. 

I never wanted anyone to be hurt in any way.  I never imagined that anyone ever would be.  I know how this tragedy has devastated me, but I can only begin to understand what the people who lost loved ones have endured.  I will never forgive myself for what happened that night, so I can‘t expect anybody else to.

I can only pray that they understand that I would do anything to undo what happened that night and give them back their loved ones.  I‘m so sorry for what I‘ve done and I don‘t want to cause anyone any more pain.  I will next forget that night and I‘ll me forget the people that were hurt by it.  I am so sorry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Then Judge Francis Darigan imposed the sentence. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUDGE FRANCIS DARIGAN, JR., RHODE ISLAND SUPERIOR COURT:  Considering all the totality of the circumstances in this case is that this offense does require a period of incarceration as a result of this criminal act.  This court will therefore sentence you to 15 years at the ACI, four years of which of to be served by you with 11 years suspended, and the court will place you on probation for a period of three years. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Four years in prison, he had entered into a plea agreement that said that he couldn‘t be sentenced to more than 10 years in prison.  The judge giving him on the low end, could have sentenced him anywhere from community service to the 10 years, give him four, the rest a suspended sentence.  Outside of court some of the victims‘ families reacted to the sentence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The time he was given I believe, I think it‘s fair.  I‘m happy with it.  I‘m satisfied with it.  He is serving some time.  I did not believe he should have to serve the full 10 to 15 years. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It doesn‘t make him any less responsible for what he‘s done and they talk about his life of suffering.  What about ours? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  He was much more remorseful than I thought.  It was sometimes kind of hard to read him when he was sitting there, but there were other times when I thought I could really look into his heart and see how he felt. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Our loved ones didn‘t even have the respect of having their names read individually.  This is such a gross injustice.  It is a total slap in the face. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Mark Dana is a Rhode Island defense attorney, former prosecutor.  Susan Filan is an MSNBC analyst, former Connecticut prosecutor.  Yale Galanter is a criminal defense attorney.  All right, thanks to all of you.

Mark, what do you make of the sentence?  It is on the low end, right?

MARK DANA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  I think it is.  I think what saved Mr.

Biechele was when he spoke to the court.  I mean...

ABRAMS:  He had written letters to all—remember, he has also handwritten letters to each and every one of the 100 plus victims. 

DANA:  Absolutely.  And then when he actually spoke to the court and sobbing, I mean, the hallmark of sentencing is remorse.  That‘s what the court looks at.  And I think if Judge Darigan had intended anything higher, he may have brought it down right then.  I think that was a real important factor for Mr. Biechele at this hearing.

ABRAMS:  Four years means what in the state of Rhode Island?  How much time does he serve before he can be eligible for parole or release? 

DANA:  In this case he most likely will serve almost all of it.  He will be entitled to some good time, maybe a month, maybe a little more than that.  But it is highly unlikely that he will get parole.  He will be eligible for parole after serving two of those years.  But the likelihood of him getting it is—he probably won‘t.  So more likely than not, he‘ll serve the vast majority of the four years.

ABRAMS:  You know, Susan Filan, in many of these cases, you could be as remorseful as you want and it wouldn‘t make much of a difference.  You could write letters to everyone in the world and it wouldn‘t help you.  I‘m thinking that what makes this different is the fact this was considered an unintentional crime, meaning he engaged in a misdemeanor and that was lighting the pyrotechnics without a permit.  But that beyond that, in terms of his criminal knowledge going into it, the court is saying, you didn‘t have a whole lot of culpability apart from the fact that you did something wrong that led to a horrible, horrible incident.

SUSAN FILAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:  Exactly.  The court basically said look you‘re really a fine person.  You‘ve got nothing in your background to show that you‘re a bad person.  You just did a really, really dumb thing.  What I found inconsistent in the court‘s logic was he said—the judge said you—what you essentially committed was a misdemeanor that was very small.  You lit fireworks without a permit, but the result was huge, 100 people died. 

I‘m not punishing you for the consequences of the misdemeanor.  I‘m punishing you for the misdemeanor, which to me doesn‘t make sense, to get four years essentially for that misdemeanor.  The four years really does represent the 100 people‘s deaths.  Now if you‘re going to look at 100 people‘s deaths, that‘s 10 years easy.  How could you not give him 10 years? 

The thing that I find odd is the victims aren‘t going to be satisfied with four years.  And yet four years out of this young man‘s life is going to ruin him. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.

FILAN:  So what has the judge accomplished?  He has not satisfied the victims. 

ABRAMS:  I don‘t know...

FILAN:  He‘s ruined this young man‘s life. 

ABRAMS:  Some of the—you heard our sound there. 

FILAN:  I did.

ABRAMS:  Some of the victims seem perfectly satisfied with it.

FILAN:  But I heard the other ones...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

FILAN:  ... saying it‘s a travesty.  They didn‘t read our names and...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

FILAN:  ... you know out of 100 victims, I don‘t know how that

sampling really does show how the majority of them feel.  I can‘t tell from

that.  But my guess is, what I heard the moan and the cry in the courtroom

again, I don‘t know if that‘s his family or the victims, but I guess it‘s the victim‘s family—they‘re feeling like they got cheated.  And think about what the prosecutor asked for.  The prosecutor said...

(CROSSTALK)

FILAN:  ... if you‘re not going to punish misdemeanors like this seriously, what would you ever punish...

ABRAMS:  Let me play the sound from the prosecutor.  Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RANDY WHITE, PROSECUTOR:  The suffering is endless and the extent and depth of the pain is bottomless.  The state submits that the scope of the harm caused by this defendant is simply something that is so staggering as to be incalculable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Yale, are you surprised that he only got four years? 

YALE GALANTER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  I am, Dan.  Normally when you have 100 deaths, a judge in a small community, a small state like Rhode Island, screams out for a much harsher sentence.  I commend the judge.  I commend the defense team.  I commend the prosecutors. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.

GALANTER:  I think everybody did their job.  And what you really walk away from here is that not everybody is going to be happy.  You know we empathize with the families of the victims, but when you get right down to it, his criminal conduct was not getting a permit and lighting it.  There were other intervening causes, which was the problem I had with the judge‘s logic.  I mean you had the fire marshal who was there.  You had the owners of the club who had all these flammable materials in the club...

ABRAMS:  Who still will be tried as well. 

GALANTER:  You know...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Right.

GALANTER:  Right.  And this—you know this young man really had the perfect background.  He had nothing wrong with him.  He had good ties to the community, good ties to his family.  And you know, justice screamed out for a prison sentence and not everybody was going to be happy here.

ABRAMS:  Let‘s remember that the defense was asking for no time, community service.  Here‘s what the defense attorney had argued.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THOMAS BRIODY, ATTORNEY FOR DANIEL BIECHELE:  What was it that Dan Biechele did?  He didn‘t have a permit.  He committed a misdemeanor.  I heard the sister of a person who died come up here and call what my client did murder.  I respect her feelings.  I sympathize with her grief, but she couldn‘t be more wrong.  It was not murder.  And despite what some of these victims have been led to believe, despite what I think the state has suggested to you in its memorandum and in its argument to this court, the evidence shows that Dan Biechele was not reckless. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Mark Dana, explain to us how this plea deal worked.  He basically comes forward and he says yes, I was guilty of this misdemeanor, yes it led to all these deaths, and then how do they decide well, you can‘t get more than 10 years.

DANA:  Well in this instance, if it‘s accepted by Judge Darigan, which it was, the defense did a very good job in getting that as a cap.  Having said that, I think the prosecution going into this sentence hearing, and I‘ve known Randy White for a long, long time, fully expected a higher sentence.  And the basis for that was that he had stated that Mr. Biechele, that this was his job.  That Mr. Biechele knew in fact how to get permits, how to get the proper insurance, to have what they call local shooters, to shoot off the pyrotechnics, and he didn‘t do that here.  So I think truly the prosecution was expecting something higher and even Mr. White indicated, the prosecutor said look, we gave him his pass here.  We‘ve given him a cap...

(CROSSTALK)

DANA:  ... of 10.

ABRAMS:  Real quick, Susan, let me ask you, who do you think is more at fault?  The owners of the club, who are also going to be tried, or Mr.  Biechele?

FILAN:  I think the owners of the club because I think the question is had Mr. Biechele gotten that permit and lit this pyrotechnic, would this have happened anyway?  And I think it would have.  Yale used the right word.  He said there are intervening causes.  The judge used a different word.  He said this is the proximate cause...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

FILAN:  That‘s my question about that case.  Is not getting a permit...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

FILAN:  ... the proximate cause of these deaths or is it...

ABRAMS:  This is...

FILAN:  ... lighting it in a club that‘s so...

(CROSSTALK)

FILAN:  ... a firecracker...

ABRAMS:  I think all of us are kind of hedging on this case a little bit because we all just look at the results here and it‘s just so awful and you want to like—in a case where you see this you want to say punish, punish, punish, and then you think but what did this guy...

FILAN:  Exactly.

ABRAMS:  ... specifically do that was criminal...

FILAN:  Exactly.

ABRAMS:  ... and the only thing was that he didn‘t get this permit.  And so it makes it a kind of a hard case.  Mark Dana, thanks a lot for helping us out with it.  Appreciate it.

DANA:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Susan and Yale are going to stick around.

Coming up, the man who supervises the Durham Police Department taking issue with a Duke University report that said the alleged victim changed her story.  He says she never said she was raped by 20 guys and the Duke police come out to defend themselves.

Plus, the polygamist now on the FBI‘s most wanted list now also under investigation for running an organized crime ring and his nephew is suing him for sexual abuse.  We‘re going to talk to the nephew.

Plus, “Dateline NBC” is at it again.  This time authorities in Florida asked them to come help catch suspected sexual predators.  Once again the men kept showing up including one guy who showed up with his son.  Not that guy, a different guy.

Your e-mails.  Please include your name and where you‘re writing from. 

I respond at the end of the show.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  The man who oversees the Durham Police Department comes out swinging, attacking the Duke police—remember Durham versus Duke.  This is with regard to that report we talked about yesterday.  The one that said that the alleged victim in the case repeatedly changed her story from the get-go.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PATRICK BAKER, DURHAM CITY MANAGER:  The officer, the Duke officer who wrote that report did not have a conversation with the Durham police officer.  He overheard a conversation that the Durham police officer was involved in.  That wasn‘t directed to the Duke police officer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  As for the account that the accuser originally said she was assaulted by 20 men instead of three...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BAKER:  No one knows where the 20 -- the allegation that she was raped

by 20 men came from. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  And in the past couple of hours the Duke police confirmed that the information in that report came from a conversation the Duke officer overheard from a Durham Police Department officer. 

Joining me now is WNCN reporter Carolyn Costello, who sat down and talked to City Manager Patrick Baker today.  Carolyn, so is he saying that it is not true that she changed her story from 20 to three guys? 

CAROLYN COSTELLO, WNCN REPORTER:  Well he‘s not saying it‘s not true.  He‘s saying that at this point as far as he knows, nobody on the Durham Police Department knows where that statement came from.  As far as the other statements in that report about the accuser‘s credibility, that she kept changing her story and that this probably wouldn‘t result in anything more than misdemeanor charges, he‘s saying at this point he doesn‘t really know if any of that is true.  He hasn‘t himself spoken with that Durham police officer. 

ABRAMS:  And what exactly is his role?  I mean we hear the Durham city manager.  Is he the boss of the police department? 

COSTELLO:  Well, he‘s not exactly the boss.  He is like the chief executive officer of the city, the police department as well as other departments throughout the city report directly to him.  He then reports to the city council.  He‘s getting this information from leaders in the police department. 

He is not speaking directly with that Durham officer or other officers who are involved in the investigation.  He says he has asked about 25 questions of the Durham Police Department.  He is expecting to get those answers and bring them to the city council and to the public on Monday night. 

ABRAMS:  All right, just so everyone knows, we‘re talking about overhearing a Durham police officer say oh, you know what?  She changed her story.  She‘s not credible.  The Duke police officer then takes it and writes it in a report and that‘s what‘s led to all this.  Here‘s again what the city manager said in the interview with Carolyn. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BAKER:  At the time of that phone conversation, the officer does recall this Duke police officer being around him when he was reporting the information that he had at that particular moment.  At that particular moment, he thought that he was dealing with an intoxicated person and did not feel that he was dealing with a sexual assault case.  But it looks like about 10 minutes later after she was seen by the Duke nurses, that a decision was made to change the classification of the matter to a sexual assault allegation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  And let‘s be clear, Carolyn.  He is part of the team of people, including the prosecutors who essentially believe that this case needs to move forward against these Duke students, correct?

COSTELLO:  He does believe it needs to move forward.  He seems as though he wants answers like the rest of us.  He‘s willing to try and bring them to us.  It seems that there is still a lot of confusion as far as he‘s concerned and as far as everybody else is concerned in this case.

ABRAMS:  All right, Carolyn Costello, as always, thanks a lot. 

Appreciate it. 

COSTELLO:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Joining me again former prosecutor and MSNBC legal analyst Susan Filan and criminal defense attorney Yale Galanter.  All right, Yale, so look, yesterday we were talking about this as if it was a really big bombshell in the case.  Is it not as big a bombshell as we had initially thought? 

GALANTER:  Oh, Dan, this is a huge bombshell because this police officer that signed this police report and his supervisor who approved the report has got to say one of two things.  (A), I made it up.  That‘s very unlikely because his career would be over.  (B), I got the information from the Durham police officer...

ABRAMS:  Wait, but he‘s overhearing it...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Wait.  Yale, let‘s be clear.  Even the Duke police are saying it was overheard.  They‘re not saying we had a conversation with the Durham police.  We exchanged information.  The Duke police officer saying, I overheard the Durham police officer talking.

GALANTER:  But I understand that, Dan, but either he has got to say—the Duke police officer—this officer (UNINTELLIGIBLE) has got to say I got it wrong or (B), you know I didn‘t hear what I heard.  So the Durham police are either going to come in and say that this police officer is wrong or he‘s imagining it.  Either way, there is a signed police report. 

This Duke police officer is now going to be—I thought the father was going to be the number one witness.  Now this Duke police officer is going to be the number one witness.  Because her coming in and giving information to any law enforcement officer saying 20 white men raped me and then changing it to three, and the Durham police being overheard saying she‘s changing her story several times is devastating. 

ABRAMS:  But see, Susan, the problem I guess is that the city manager is saying that at the time that they were listening to this conversation they didn‘t realize it was a sexual assault case.  Well at that time there wouldn‘t be any discussion of 20 men versus three men, right?

FILAN:  Exactly.  Exactly.  The part about changing her story could very well be it is going from an intoxicated report to the sexual assault.  This isn‘t a bombshell at all.  Remember I said...

ABRAMS:  Wait, wait, wait, but address the 20 versus three.  I mean because I don‘t think—he‘s basically saying he doesn‘t know where that‘s coming from, right...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  I mean the 20 versus three can‘t—the answer can‘t just be that at that time they thought they were dealing with an intoxicated person because they wouldn‘t be talking about an intoxicated person being raped by 20 people or three people. 

FILAN:  But I don‘t think...

GALANTER:  Dan, what difference does it make what the focus of the investigation is, whether it‘s an intoxicated person or a possible rape.  She is the one who says to somebody...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  But that‘s what I‘m asking...

GALANTER:  ... 20 white men raped me at that house.

ABRAMS:  Well, but—well, go ahead Susan...

FILAN:  But I don‘t think it is clear from that report that that officer wrote, that he overheard.  See he‘s overhearing half of a cell phone conversation, standing out on the back of a loading dock outside the back of the hospital.  It is not clear that he overheard that Durham police officer say, yes, she said she was raped by 20 men and she‘s changing her story.  I think he just overheard him say she is changing her story a lot.  I don‘t think this is ever going to result in anything...

ABRAMS:  So wait...

FILAN:  ... certainly going to be...

ABRAMS:  So you‘re saying someone is making up the 20?

GALANTER:  Susan...

FILAN:  Everybody is saying...

(CROSSTALK)

FILAN:  Everybody is saying that they have no idea where this Duke police officer...

ABRAMS:  Not everybody.  Wait.  Wait.

FILAN:  Everything I‘ve read says...

ABRAMS:  Right.

FILAN:  ... they‘ve got no idea where this Duke officer got this 20 to three number.  Nobody can put a source to that.

ABRAMS:  No one—wait, none of the—meaning the D.A. doesn‘t know and the city manager doesn‘t know, right? 

FILAN:  And Durham police doesn‘t know and Duke police doesn‘t know, so who have I left out? 

ABRAMS:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Duke police know.  I mean Duke police are saying—they filed a supplemental report in connection with this case.  And they‘re saying it was based on an overheard conversation the Durham police were having.

FILAN:  But my understanding is that the Durham police are saying that this officer standing out on the back of a loading dock didn‘t say that.

ABRAMS:  Well...

FILAN:  It doesn‘t come from him.

ABRAMS:  I don‘t know...

GALANTER:  Yes, but Susan, he got the information from somewhere. 

Whether he overheard it, whether he got it directly from the Durham police. 

He got information that she initially said I was raped by 20 white men. 

ABRAMS:  I got to wrap it up.  Susan and Yale, thanks a lot.

FILAN:  You‘re welcome.

ABRAMS:  Coming up...

GALANTER:  Thanks, Dan.

ABRAMS:  ... the manhunt for the polygamist Warren Jeffs.  His nephew has filed a civil suit against him.  He joins us next.

And “Dateline NBC” heads to Florida to help police catch potential sexual predators.  You‘ve seen similar undercover operations before.  This one unbelievable, a guy actually shows up with his son.

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

Police need your help finding Robert Allen.  He‘s 48, five-ten, 160, was convicted of felony sexual contact with a minor, hasn‘t registered his address with the state.  If you‘ve got any information about his whereabouts, please contact the Pennington County Sheriff‘s Office, 605-394-6117.  We‘ll be right back.

(NEWS BREAK)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  The manhunt intensifies for this man, infamous polygamist

Warren Jeffs facing up to life in prison.  If convicted on charges that he

forced a 16-year-old into—quote—“marriage” with a 28-year-old man and

that he acted as an accomplice to the rape of a teenage girl he allegedly -

quote—“married” to an older man.  He then instructed her to—quote -

“multiply and replenish the earth” and—quote—“give yourself mind, body and soul to your husband like you‘re supposed to.”

He‘s considered a fugitive by law enforcement and a prophet to his some 10,000 followers.  Police and prosecutors arrived in the polygamous community in Colorado City, Arizona, to serve subpoenas.  Some residents were seen heading out of town.  City hall was empty.  Now the Utah attorney general has launched an organized crime investigation into the way Jeffs has run the Fundamentalist Church of the Latter Day Saints. 

Joining me now, Brent Jeffs, Warren Jeffs‘ nephew who has filed a lawsuit against his uncle and the church, alleging he was repeatedly sodomized and otherwise sexually abused as a child by Jeffs and Greg Hoole, who—he also joins us—he represents Brent.  Thank you very much to both of you for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Thank you, Dan.

ABRAMS:  All right, Brent, just tell us what is it that this guy did to you as a child.

BRENT JEFFS, POLYGAMIST LEADER WARREN JEFFS‘ NEPHEW:  When I was around 5 to 6 years old, we held a Sunday class church, and the classes would separate.  The child—all the children would go downstairs into a little playroom.  There—we would be playing and he would come downstairs and grab me by my hand.  And take me down the hall and escort me into the bathroom, and then there he would sodomize and rape me.

ABRAMS:  And this went on for years? 

JEFFS:  About a year and a half. 

ABRAMS:  And how did it stop? 

JEFFS:  It just—it‘s—I don‘t know.  He just never came and got me after I guess he was done with me and maybe moved on to somebody else. 

ABRAMS:  How did you get out of this “sect” quote, unquote? 

JEFFS:  How did I get out...

ABRAMS:  Yes, how did you get out of the sect?  I mean how did you—

I mean you were apparently born into it, right? 

JEFFS:  Yes.  When I was around 15 years old, I had just have—had it with religion and I just told my parents that I was moving out of the house and left.  I never looked back. 

ABRAMS:  And I assume he didn‘t come after you in any way or anything like that as far as you know. 

JEFFS:  No, he didn‘t try at all. 

ABRAMS:  All right, Greg, what is the status of the lawsuit?  I mean this guy is on the run.  He‘s on the top 10 FBI‘s most wanted list now. 

GREG HOOLE, BRENT JEFFS‘ ATTORNEY:  That‘s right.  We‘re moving forward.  We‘re hoping Warren will have the decency and the courage to come forward and answer these charges that have been leveled by Brent and the...

ABRAMS:  But you know he‘s not going to do that.  I mean...

HOOLE:  No...

ABRAMS:  ... you know he‘s on the run.  He‘s hiding.  The—he is on the FBI‘s 10 most wanted list.  He‘s not going to come back to answer a civil lawsuit. 

HOOLE:  He‘s on the run and the fact that he is on the run speaks volumes of what he thinks about Brent‘s allegations against him. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  Brent, based on what you know about him, is he going to be tough to catch?

JEFFS:  Absolutely.  He is very sly.  He is going to always have his bodyguards around him, you know very well hidden, because he has all this money coming to him all the time.  And so you know he won‘t have to surface to you know try and gather up some more money, so it will be difficult, I think, but...

ABRAMS:  Are your...

JEFFS:  ... catch him.

ABRAMS:  Are your parents still part of the sect? 

JEFFS:  No.  They left around five years ago. 

ABRAMS:  OK.  And I assume you saw other activities going on which would also be illegal, right?

JEFFS:  As far as what? 

ABRAMS:  As far as him marrying away—you know young girls being basically forced to marry?  Did you see any of that?  Any of the girls who were your age or younger?

JEFFS:  Yes, growing up I did.  Seeing—you know, obviously the girls around 14 to 15 would know that it was time for you know them to be married off to somebody, so yes, I did see it. 

ABRAMS:  And when did you decide to file the lawsuit? 

JEFFS:  It was a couple of years ago.  When my oldest brother, Cane (ph), had taken his life.  He was also a victim of Warren being sodomized and raped.  Just soon after that is when I came out with it and decided to do something about it. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Well, look, everyone is hoping this guy is going to get caught and this is one of the many things he‘s going to have to deal with, is these allegations.  Brent, thanks a lot for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.  Greg Hoole, thanks to you as well.

JEFFS:  Thank you.

HOOLE:  Thank you, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, authorities asked “Dateline‘s” Chris Hansen to come to Florida to try to help catch potential predators before they strike.  You‘ve seen these investigations.  You know what happens, but this time a father shows up with his child.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Coming up, “Dateline‘s” Chris Hansen heads to Fort Myers, Florida, tracking down potential sexual offenders before they strike.  It‘s all on camera.  This time one guy shows up with his son.  Chris and the tape are up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Tonight “Dateline NBC” takes its continuing investigation into online sexual predators to Fort Myers, Florida, after sexually charged conversations with decoys from the online watchdog group Perverted Justice.  A lot of guys show up at an undercover house to meet who they think is a teenager home alone. 

Once again, here‘s “Dateline‘s” Chris Hansen. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(KNOCKING ON DOOR)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Hey, come on in.  I baked some cookies.  They‘re on the table.  Take a seat. 

CHRIS HANSEN, “DATELINE NBC” (voice-over):  This 49-year-old man and the teenager talking to him have never met before.  He probably believes she‘s the 15-year-old he‘s been chatting online with for the last week and a half. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Hey, I just had to change my shirt real quick, but just come in and watch some TV, I‘ll be right there. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  OK.

HANSEN:  What he doesn‘t know is she‘s really a 19-year-old actress we hired to be a decoy, and he has just walked into a “Dateline” hidden camera investigation. 

(on camera):  Come on in over here.  Have a seat there.  Hungry?  How does it taste?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Great.  Wow, these are home baked. 

HANSEN:  Do you want time to finish your cookie or...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Not really. 

HANSEN:  OK, so you‘re good if I ask you a couple of questions.  What are you doing here today? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I was just going to see Jolanda for a minute. 

HANSEN:  And how did you meet Jolanda?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Is this some kind of setup or something? 

HANSEN:  What do you mean?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m just on my way to the beach. 

HANSEN (voice-over):  He‘s Michael Willis (ph), screen name generic white male.  He‘s almost 50 years old and he‘s been chatting online with a girl who calls herself Jolanda and who says she‘s 15.  It‘s really a decoy from the online watchdog group Perverted Justice.  He lies to her about his age, typing I‘m 30, you probably don‘t want me around you.  I‘m cute though, built good.  Then he says...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We‘d have to keep us a secret because of the age difference.  Younger girls like you don‘t come along often.  I‘d want you again and again. 

HANSEN:  Then I remind generic white male that Jolanda told him she was 15. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What?  No way. 

HANSEN (on camera):  You know I have the transcript of your conversation with Jolanda.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You know what, I don‘t want this cookie.  I just want to get to the beach.

HANSEN:  Come here.  Just one second, sir...

(CROSSTALK)

HANSEN (voice-over):  But generic white male won‘t be going to the beach today.  As he heads out the back, he stumbles off the porch right into the arms of the Fort Myers Police Department. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Police, get on the ground...

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Get on the ground...

HANSEN:  Officers quickly take him into custody, as they do with 23 other men who showed up at our undercover house in three days. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

HANSEN:  Including 21-year-old David Schumacher (ph), who apparently duped his sister into driving him here to meet a girl who said she was 14 after a sexually charged online conversation.  Watch how he reacts when I tell him who I am.

(on camera):  We‘re doing a story on adults...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You do look kind of familiar. 

HANSEN:  ... who try to meet kids on the Internet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Hey, man, I don‘t want to be on the news.  Are you filming?

HANSEN:  We are filming. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I don‘t want to be on the news though. 

HANSEN:  Well it‘s a little late for that dog.  Now if there‘s anything else you want to tell me...

(voice-over):  He quickly comes up with a disguise and as far as interviews go, this may be a television first.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  All I got to say is ain‘t nothing going on here dude.  Nothing funny going on here.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  Joining me now once again, “Dateline‘s”—our own dog, Chris Hansen joins us.  All right, Chris, I mean these guys seem almost dumber than some of the other guys that you‘ve dealt with in the past.  I mean all of these guys are dangerous to some degree, all of them seem to be seeking out young girls, am I over reading this one? 

HANSEN:  Well I don‘t know if I‘d say dumber.  Certainly a couple of them would appear that way, but I can tell you, you know, we‘ve done this in four states prior to Florida, and you know, we pretty much thought we had seen it and heard it all, but even we weren‘t prepared for some of the things we saw in Florida.  I mean, Dan, it got to the point where some of these guys had actually seen the stories, and once they walked into the house, they actually recognized me and it was almost like oh, you‘re that guy, or this is that show, oh and this is the chair where you want me to sit, and so now I‘ll answer the questions. 

ABRAMS:  Are those cookies actually home baked, Chris...

HANSEN:  They were home baked...

ABRAMS:  Really?

HANSEN:  Actually, home baked and baked by the 19-year-old actress...

ABRAMS:  Really?

HANSEN:  ... who we hired to pose as the underage kid at home. 

ABRAMS:  All right. 

HANSEN:  Honest engine. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Let me play another piece of sound.  This is you confronting...

HANSEN:  Sure.

ABRAMS:  ... someone by the name of Don Morris (ph). 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)  

HANSEN:  So it‘s OK because you were bored...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.

HANSEN:  ... to come over and visit a 15-year-old girl who is home alone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.

HANSEN:  So boredom is an excuse for this behavior? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No, it‘s not an excuse.  I know it‘s wrong.  I shouldn‘t have done it.

HANSEN:  Why did you do it then? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, I have a compulsion just for younger women, just meeting them.  I haven‘t—I‘ve met about a dozen of them online. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)  

ABRAMS:  Well that‘s great.  Seems they can‘t stay away from the cookies either.  They‘re all going right for the cookies.  But Chris, do you feel—I mean but you were lecturing these guys to a certain degree and I think in a way that a lot of people would like them to be lectured.  I mean you know part of this is an undercover investigation, but part of what I see you doing is really reminding these guys that you know what they‘re doing, you know, is not OK and it‘s not what they‘re saying they‘re doing.

HANSEN:  Well, I‘m really curious to figure out what these guys are thinking about, what goes on in their minds, you know what made them pick today to show up at a home where they thought a boy or girl was alone and go pay a visit.  I mean what Mr. Morris (ph) just said about you know a compulsion for underage women, I mean, you know, he didn‘t perhaps come across as eloquent as some of the other people but I think he sort of hit it on the head.  I mean I think this compulsion develops, this addiction, and at some point, a lot of these people can only satisfy their urge by taking it to the next level and actually having a meeting. 

ABRAMS:  And here‘s another example of you confronting someone else, Eric Thornton (ph) who talks about how many underage girls that he‘s met online.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Ten, 15...

HANSEN:  Ten, 15 underage girls you‘ve met online, and how many of those girls have you had sex with? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  None of them actually. 

HANSEN:  None of them. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Zero. 

HANSEN:  So what have you done with those 10 or 15 underage girls you‘ve met online?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I haven‘t done anything to them at all. 

HANSEN:  You just met them? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)  

ABRAMS:  Yes, of course.  Real quick, Chris, all—are a lot of them admitting to you that this isn‘t the first time they‘ve met a girl online? 

HANSEN:  You know, still the vast majority say it‘s the first time they‘ve ever done something like this.  They may have chatted online with somebody, but this is the first time they‘ve ever paid a visit to a house where they thought somebody was there. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Chris, if you could stick around for a minute after the break, Chris encounters a father who brought his child with him after having a sexually charged conversation online.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  We‘re talking about “Dateline‘s” undercover operation to bust potential online predators.  They thought they were showing up at a house to meet an underage teenager presumably for sex.  Chris Hansen told us they never know who‘s going to show up at one of their houses, but what they found this time in Fort Myers, Florida, what I‘m about to show you is as bad as anything that they have seen. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He‘s getting out of the car.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Oh, no.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Oh my God. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He brought his son with him.  He brought his son with him.  He‘s got his child with him, coming in the back door. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

HANSEN (on camera):  I‘ve got to tell you something and I‘m going to tell you this straight out right now.  I‘m Chris Hansen with “Dateline NBC”.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  OK.

HANSEN:  We‘re doing a story on adults meeting children and since you have your child here, I‘m not going to pursue this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  OK.

HANSEN:  But I think you know what you were doing here, don‘t you? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No, I was just coming to take someone to lunch.

HANSEN:  My point is because your child is here, I think it would be best if you just went ahead and left. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.  I‘m never going to do this again. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Sir, right there, you come here, you come here. 

Let go of the child. 

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m not doing anything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Do what you‘re told.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Please give me my son, please. 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

ABRAMS:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Joining me now is Chief Hilton Daniels from the Fort Myers Police Department.  They invited Perverted Justice and “Dateline” to go undercover in their city.  And back with us is “Dateline‘s” Chris Hansen.

Chris, just for some clarification, give us a sense of what it is that guy had said online that makes it clear what he was there for.

HANSEN:  He had an online conversation with a decoy posing as a 14-year-old boy.  There was a phone conversation following regarding oral sex.  A date was made.  He shows up.  We had no indication prior to his arrival that he was actually going to bring his 5-year-old son, and he pulls up in the SUV, as you see right there, and as that‘s happening, we‘re having a discussion in the house as to what do we do to handle this.  Perverted Justice radios Chief Hilton‘s people, and we decide that we‘d just you know do this as begin gingerly as possible as to not traumatize the boy. 

ABRAMS:  Chief Daniels, you asked “Dateline” to come there, it‘s an important issue, even knowing what you had seen before, were you still surprised by what happened at this house? 

CHIEF HILTON DANIELS, FORT MYERS, FL POLICE DEPARTMENT:  Absolutely.  I was very surprised.  I cannot believe the amount of adult males that would show up at this house to have sex with a child.

ABRAMS:  And when this man showed up with his child, I assume that the most important thing for you at that point was protecting the child who was there, right?

DANIELS:  Yes.  As you can see in the video, one of our female officers immediately moved in, picked the child up, cradled the child and began comforting the child and letting the child know that everything was all right and that we would be taking care of him.

ABRAMS:  Do you know, is that father back with his child?

DANIELS:  As far as I know, he bonded out of jail and they went back together. 

ABRAMS:  They are back together? 

DANIELS:  As far as we know at this point, they are back together. 

ABRAMS:  And are you concerned about that? 

DANIELS:  Oh, absolutely.  And that‘s why we contacted our youth services within the state of Florida to have them monitor what‘s going on inside that house.

ABRAMS:  Any sense of his mother, are they separated, do you know?  You may not know this and I don‘t mean to put you on the spot, but if you do know, do you know if his mom is around? 

DANIELS:  Well, we know the mother was at work because once we made a telephone call, the mother came to the police station to pick up the child.

ABRAMS:  OK.  Well I think I have to say, Chris and Chief, I think you both handled that one very well, not sort of going into detail and asking all the sort of questions that are often asked.  This is—but these are the sort of questions of Dennis Ramsey (ph), who was another man who arrived at the house with the usual excuse.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Look, I don‘t do this kind of thing.  I really don‘t.  This is the first time in my life I‘ve ever left my house like this.

HANSEN:  What made you do it then?  Help me to understand. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I don‘t know.  I don‘t know.  I can‘t tell you that.  I just don‘t know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Chief, I‘ve got to believe that having Chris and having “Dateline” there makes it even more of a—quote—“memorable experience” for these men than it might be just being arrested. 

DANIELS:  What we‘re hoping with “Dateline” is this is a national

story, and we so and hopes, believe that parents, grandparents, guardians

that have children that are using the Internet will start monitoring the

Internet and let the children know that who they believe that are talking -

they‘re not talking to children their age.  They could be talking to adults that intend to harm them.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Chief Daniels, thanks very much for coming on the program.  Chris Hansen...

DANIELS:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  ... there‘s no one better at this and this is important stuff.  And you, thanks a lot for coming back.

HANSEN:  Thanks, Dan.

ABRAMS:  You can see “Dateline” “To Catch a Predator” tonight on NBC at 9:00, 8:00 Central.  They‘ll have a lot more of that.  Be right back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Time now for “Your Rebuttal”.  Yesterday an independent Duke report revealed the accuser in the Duke rape investigation initially said she was raped by 20 players, then changed her story to three, at least according to a Duke police report that was based on an overheard conversation from the Durham police. 

Laura Birchett in North Little Rock, Arkansas, “Now let‘s see.  The Durham police told the Duke police, who told the Duke administration, who told the investigating committee, who told the public about the 20 versus the three.  Give me a break.”

Ashley Klein in Mississippi, “As for the differences in the 20 versus three rapists, that can easily be explained by excited hyperbolic utterance.  Imagine you had just been raped at a crowded party, might you be disoriented?”

The report also criticized school officials for relying too much on the initial skepticism of some in the Durham and Duke police departments about the accuser‘s claim. 

Sue James, “I was just curious, have you ever heard of a police officer that made a mistake, distorted information or even lied?  As far as I know, police are not given a vaccine that prevents them from ever making a mistake.”

Gerald Smith in Schertz, Texas, “A Duke officer overhears half the conversation, makes a written report without even following up to make sure everything said was factual.”

But from Garden City, New York, Zach Zimmer, “With each new development, the credibility of the accuser is question and the plausibility that an assault even took place seemingly diminishes.  Where does Nifong, the D.A., draw the line between seeking justice and destroying the lives of two young men?”

I also spoke to the former Princeton University president and co-author of the Duke Report, William Bowen.  He said Duke—quote—“can‘t rely on second party assessments of credibility and that more attention should have been given in our opinion to the allegation itself.”

Tom Sedwick in Erie, Pennsylvania, “According to Bowen, the campus police should not have believed the Durham police.”

I was stunned to hear the D.A. Mike Nifong say that even if the report about the 20 versus three was true, it wouldn‘t be relevant. 

Chris in Tacoma, Washington, “I think the reason the D.A. responded that the questioned information in the report is irrelevant is based on the fact that he has a witness, most likely a player, that will testify on what happened in the house.”

Well, he better, Chris.  I mean if he does, you‘re right.  This is a different ballgame.  Some of the inconsistencies wouldn‘t be as significant.  But I don‘t know how you know that.  I mean, I guess we‘ll see, but I haven‘t heard that. 

Your e-mails abramsreport—one word -- @msnbc.com.  We go through them at the end of the show.  That does it for us tonight.  Coming up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews.  Good night.

END  

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

END   

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