updated 8/5/2004 11:28:33 AM ET 2004-08-05T15:28:33

Guest: John Clune, Lin Wood, Leslie Crocker Snyder, David Gehrke

DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Coming up, another ABRAMS REPORT cable exclusive. Lawyers for the alleged victim in the Kobe Bryant case speak out.


LIN WOOD, BRYANT ACCUSER‘S ATTORNEY: This girl’s not the monster or the slut that she’s been made out to be by the defense in this case. This girl is a fairly typical teenager and she made a mistake.

ABRAMS (voice-over): Her lawyers suggest the young woman may be ready to throw in the towel in the criminal case, but to continue pursuing Bryant for civil damages. Plus, new details about why the government raised the terror alert and why they stand by that decision. Intelligence pointing to an active al Qaeda operation targeting the U.S. And she had sex with her 12-year-old student. Now, Mary Kay Letourneau has been released from prison, and she’s hoping to see him again. We’ll talk with one of her lawyers. The program about justice starts now.


ABRAMS: Hi, everyone. First up on the docket tonight: Is it possible the alleged victim in the Kobe Bryant case will back out? After explosive information was released by the court yesterday from a closed-door hearing, her attorneys have agreed to speak to us for the first time in a cable exclusive.

On Monday night, actually, Judge Terry Ruckriegle released transcripts of testimony from a defense expert who claims the woman likely had sex with someone after her encounter with Bryant but before her rape exam. Now, if that’s true, it seems pretty clear the case is done. But her attorneys say it’s not true. But that the documents raise serious questions about whether the trial can now be fair. And so, now, the young woman, they say, is reconsidering her role in the case. I spoke to Attorneys John Clune and Lin Wood earlier today and I asked if their client was wavering about going forward with the case and about what they’ve told her.


JOHN CLUNE, BRYANT ACCUSER‘S ATTORNEY: Sure, and you know, when we started this case, obviously we sat down and talked to her and we explained to her, this is what you can expect. You can expect everything that you’ve ever done and probably some things that you haven’t done to come out in the media. You can expect it to be in the tabloids. What we didn’t tell her and what we hadn’t expected that she needed to expect that the very people that are supposed to protect her were not going to do that.

ABRAMS: But is she ready to go forward as of right now?

CLUNE: As of right now, she’s ready to go forward, but...

ABRAMS: Reluctantly?

CLUNE: Well, again, keep in mind that this one-sided selective transcript that’s been released that nobody has the ability to address before trial is somewhat devastating. So, I think that she and the prosecution will have to have that meeting in the very near future and make a decision about what they want to do.

ABRAMS: It sounds, Lin, like there are questions now about whether this case is going to move forward.

WOOD: I think there legitimately should be questions about whether the criminal case should move forward in light of the prejudice to this young girl’s rights, resulting from the release of this one-sided transcript of a paid defense expert. I think anyone would have to reevaluate what am I doing and is this system treating me fairly. I don’t think the criminal justice system in Eagle, Colorado, has treated this young girl fairly at all, and this is a terrible blow to her to have this information come out with the prosecution unable to refute it three weeks before they’re supposed to start the trial. And that’s why

I’ve said before that I think she’s got to consider whether she is best served in terms of finding justice in proving the truth of what happened that night in that hotel room, whether she’s better served in this criminal procedure or whether she’s going to get a fair shake in a civil action, a civil lawsuit. I am of the mind that she’s only going to be treated fairly in a civil case where the playing field is level and Mr. Bryant’s life will be scrutinized.

ABRAMS: But it sounds like both of you are saying that there’s a real possibility that this criminal case is not going to happen. WOOD: I think it’s going to be something that they’ve got to consider and some hard decisions have got to be made.

ABRAMS: Did this woman have sex after Kobe Bryant and before the rape exam?

CLUNE: Absolutely not. Absolutely not. ABRAMS: No question?

CLUNE: No question whatsoever.


ABRAMS: She’s come to you, and she said this is a non-issue.

CLUNE: This is a non-issue. Absolutely not.

ABRAMS: Might there be some sort of resolution whereby Kobe Bryant would say, I am sorry for everything she’s been through, but not accept responsibility for any sexual assault?

CLUNE: No. That would be unacceptable. To apologize for the nature, the difficult nature of the court system that he and his attorneys have created and I think that that would be a sufficient means to get something like the case dismissed, that’s not an acceptable option.

ABRAMS: But might there be a way, Lin, for Kobe Bryant to say something publicly that might put an end to the criminal proceedings or at least from the alleged victim’s point of view?

WOOD: Kobe Bryant would have to publicly admit the truth of what happened in that hotel room that night, and I don’t believe Kobe Bryant is willing to do that, because to do so would be the end of his career. And so, I think he will continue to have his well-paid lawyers fight to try to avoid the truth from coming out.

ABRAMS: John, if she were sitting here right now and I were to say to her, why did you go up to that room, what would she say?

CLUNE: I’ll tell you what. The first thing that she would tell you is that there is nobody that has asked that question more than she has over the last year. If she could take that one moment back, that is the one thing that she would do to change all of this. But as I’ve said before, one of the touchstones of addressing acquaintance rape is this concept, this age-old concept from victims and victims‘ rights groups that I wanted to kiss him. I wanted him to kiss me, not rape me.

WOOD: She’s 19 years old, Dan. She made a mistake. Hindsight’s 20/20. Obviously, if any of us knew now what was going to happen in that room that night, she would have never have gotten near it. This girl is not the monster or the slut that she’s been made out to be by the defense in this case. This girl is a fairly typical teenager, and she made a mistake. ABRAMS: Is the young woman ever sorry that she went forward with this?

CLUNE: She’s not sorry that she went forward with this.

ABRAMS: She doesn’t ever say this just wasn’t worth it?

CLUNE: No, she doesn’t say that. She holds the people accountable that are responsible for the harm that she’s suffered in this criminal justice system. But she doesn’t regret doing the right thing.

ABRAMS: Do you ever think about saying to her, put this behind you, let’s figure out a way out of this, I don’t want you to face that criminal trial?

WOOD: The responsibility of this young girl’s attorneys is first and foremost to protect her and to work for her best interest. I am convinced and I think John is likewise convinced, and I think this young girl is convinced that her best interest would not be served by walking away from the truth.

ABRAMS: John, tell me about the most recent incident where the court put the young woman’s name on the Web site. Did you have to call her to tell her, “I got to tell you, they did it again”?

CLUNE: I did. And those are the most difficult phone calls to make because I know what the response is going to be. I know that even prior to the last mistake by the court, this girl and her family had lost faith in this judge and his ability to maintain decorum in his courtroom.

That’s why you heard me in court pleading with the judge, for God’s sake, take down the Web site, and stop e-mailing. Your office, for whatever reason, can’t seem to do it without hurting the crime victim. And the fact that it happened again while he ignored our request was inconceivable. And to have to call her and explain to her and maybe harder, to explain that to her mother was probably one of the most difficult calls I’ve had to make on this case.

ABRAMS: And what did she say?

CLUNE: Her mother is in disbelief. And I don’t know if you asked her mother what she feels if she had to go back in time and make the decision about whether or not to report this case; I don’t know what she would tell you. But the frustration is not just with the mistakes.

Mistakes happen. We know that. But the court has provided a forum by which those mistakes are published on worldwide fashion instantaneously. And not only the mistakes, but his refusal to take any action to correct those mistakes is what is offensive. And what compounds the matter, and one of the things that I don’t have any explanation for to this family, is why we have never heard from the court on this issue. When this happens, they don’t call us. They don’t call the family. They don’t call me. We hear from you. We hear from the media.

WOOD: He has not stood up and taken accountability for what he has repeatedly done wrong that has always been consistently prejudicial to this young girl. That order should have included a sentence that said the court regrets that this has occurred, acknowledges that it’s the result of the court’s mistake, and in the interest of giving the public and the participants the confidence that this will be a fair tribunal, get another judge. This judge should have stepped down, in my opinion.


ABRAMS: When we come back, more of my interview with the young woman’s attorneys. I’m also going to lay out for them some of the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case. But they sure sound ready to file civil charges and I asked whether people will then say it’s all about money.


WOOD: It’s not about money. It’s about establishing truth and it’s about accountability.


ABRAMS: And another setback for the prosecution in the Scott Peterson case. Jurors told to ignore everything one witness said because of something prosecutors didn’t do. And new details about why the government raised the terror threat level. More intelligence pointing to an active al Qaeda operation in this country. Your e-mails abramsreport@msnbc.com. I respond at the end of the show.


ABRAMS: Coming up: Even if Kobe Bryant’s case doesn’t go to trial, it sure sounds like her lawyers are preparing to sue. Would that mean it’s all about the money? I ask her lawyers. It’s another ABRAMS REPORT cable exclusive, coming up.


ABRAMS: We’re back with our cable exclusive, the attorneys for the alleged victim in the Kobe Bryant case. We’re talking about the fact that those lawyers in the case are suggesting the woman might back out of the criminal case but that she’ll likely sue Bryant anyway.

More of my interview with the attorneys‘ John Clone and Lin Wood. I asked them whether she’s going to file a civil case against Bryant.


WOOD: That decision’s going to be made in the next few days. You know it’s, I would say likely. Because the bottom line is this young girl has got to make a decision, where can she best establish the truth of what happened that night.

ABRAMS: But people are going to say it’s about the money. Yes, they’re going to say...


ABRAMS: ... now she’s filing a civil lawsuit. This was always about getting Kobe Bryant’s money.

WOOD: Everybody always said that when you file a civil lawsuit because the civil justice system by design compensates victims by financial compensation—fair compensation for injury done.

Let me suggest to you very strongly that Kobe Bryant raped this young lady. And when a fair-minded person recognizes that to be the truth of the case, a fair-minded person will say he should compensate her for what he did to her that night. So, it’s not about money. It’s about establishing truth and it’s about accountability.

ABRAMS: John, some have said that the prosecution case and the criminal case has been falling apart, that the detectives, even in the preliminary hearing seemed uncertain about when and whether the young woman had said no.

You have the D.A. himself now saying, “I don’t want to be the one to prosecute the case,” even though he’d been involved in the every day aspects of the case. Now, you’ve got this new document being released, which seems to suggest from the defense point of view that she may have had sex with someone after Kobe Bryant. I mean, is this a prosecution case falling apart?

CLUNE: It’s not. But there are significant challenges to this case and the challenges are exacerbated by the judge’s—or the court’s own mistakes in releasing this prejudicial information. But the thing is, I know these prosecutors, I’ve worked with these prosecutors, and I know their case.

And I would love to see nothing more, despite whether or not there’s going to be a civil case, I would like nothing more than a jury from my community hear the facts that I know are going to come out at trial and return a verdict, but have a fair opportunity to hear those facts. And with the information that has been inadvertently released from the court, I don’t know if that’s ever going to happen.

ABRAMS: But you’ve got to concede it’s a tough case for prosecutors. I mean apart from the—what’s been released to the media or not, it’s a tough case...

WOOD: Any case of date rape or acquaintance rape is by definition a tough case. If you add in the fact that this particular defendant is worth hundreds of millions of dollars and has—given a defense team—a very experienced and skilled defense team, an unlimited budget, if you build in on top of all that the inexcusable mistakes that have been made by the court in Eagle resulting in this type of prejudicial information coming out against this young girl three weeks before the trial, listen, it’s a tough case. That any be an understatement.

ABRAMS: How do you prepare her for the cross examination that will certainly ensue in the criminal trial? She’s going to be asked some really personal, tough questions.

CLUNE: It will be easy. And although the topic, the subject matter may be difficult, this girl will take the stand and she’ll tell the truth about what happened. It needs very little preparation when you have the truth on your side.

ABRAMS: Finally, let me ask both of you this. John, do you expect that the criminal case will actually go to trial?

CLUNE: No. I expect that that’s a decision that has to be made by the prosecution in the immediate future. That the disadvantage that they have suffered from this release of this one-sided transcript, like I said, if we were talking about Kobe Bryant’s statements they’d be screaming for a dismissal. The prejudice of this being out there leading up to the trial is...

ABRAMS: Makes you wonder whether it’s going to go to trial.

CLUNE: It does. And that’s something that the prosecution will have to deal with and hopefully they’ll do that in closed consultation with this girl.

ABRAMS: And Lin, do you expect that the criminal case will actually go to trial?

WOOD: Decision for the prosecution with closed consultation with this young girl. I will tell you that I believe that this type of prejudicial publicity generated from this report, this expert’s opinion three weeks before the trial, in my view, the harm is irreparable. I don’t think they can undo it.

CLUNE: But the one thing that you should know and that Kobe Bryant should know is that doing nothing, going away, is not an option. Whether this proceeds criminally, civilly or both, justice is going to be had for this young woman.


ABRAMS: All right. My take—sure sounds like this case is not going to trial in the criminal court. I now predict that the young woman and then the prosecutors will bow out before the trial. The alleged victim will move forward and sue Bryant in civil court. And eventually, I’ve got to believe this case is going to be settled out of court, but we shall see. The case is still scheduled to begin on August the 27th.

Coming up: More details on why the terror alert is now orange for several financial institutions. A pilot—al Qaeda operative tells authorities a plot to attack them was about to go into effect. And after serving seven years in prison for having sex with her 12-year-old student, Mary Kay Letourneau is a free woman. Now, her former student, now a young man, is going to court saying I want to be able to see her again. We’ll talk to one of her lawyers, coming up.


ABRAMS: Some new details tonight about the terror alert that has financial institutions in three U.S. cities on edge. And British police arrest and question a dozen men, all suspected of involvement in terrorism. Despite what we’ve heard about the threat data being two, three, four years old, it seems there’s quite a bit of new information as well according to officials. Once again, NBC News investigative producer, Bob Winder joins us from New York. Bob, just lay it out for us. What do we know?

BOB WINDREM, NBC NEWS INVESTIGATIVE PRODUCER: Well, basically what we are told, and we are told this within the last few minutes, is that there was not just the one stream of intelligence that dealt with the sensitive surveillance of five buildings, but in fact, there were three streams of intelligence that all hit on Friday. And from what we understand, the last one to hit was the information regarding the five buildings. Prior to that on Friday, there were two other streams of intelligence.

One was site specific in that New York was going to be a target and an economic site in New York would be a target. The other was time specific, that there might be an attack in August or September. The problem, however, with all of this is that it remains uncorroborated. These are viewed as credible. They‘re viewed as credible in some cases because of the source. They‘re viewed as credible in some cases because of the information matching other information that the U.S. has had.

But essentially what you had was three streams of intelligence hitting on Friday and that drove the decision that was made on Sunday to go to the orange level for financial institutions in New York, northern New Jersey and Washington.

ABRAMS: Bob, some of my cynical viewers have been writing in saying that all of this new information that we’re gathering about the intelligence is just leaks in an effort to explain away the fact that some of the intelligence was old. What’s the response to that?

WINDREM: I think to a certain degree, if not—I don’t want to say specifically, because I don’t know specifically, but I think that there is some evidence that when “The New York Times” and “The Washington Post” reported that this was old intelligence, which others had reported, but then questioned whether the age of this intelligence made it perishable, the administration went forward and then began to brief people, particularly “The Times” and “The Post” about other streams of intelligence. So, if you say that the questions about the perish ability of old information is driving the administration to release new information on the other streams of intelligence, I think that’s accurate.

ABRAMS: Bob Windrem, just so the viewers know, when you see Bob Windrem on the air, you’re getting the inside look that those of us here at MSNBC get, and that is they call Bob Windrem to find out what’s going on and we bring him right to you, to the viewers. Thanks, Bob.

WINDREM: Thank you.

ABRAMS: Coming up: Prosecutors focus on Scott Peterson’s computers, trying to prove he planned on killing his wife weeks in advance and try to make up ground they lost late yesterday when the judge threw out everything one witness had to say. Plus, Mary Kay Letourneau walks free. And the former student she was convicted of, quote, “raping”—not quote—raping. He was 12. You have sex with a 12-year-old boy, its rape. But he’s now asking the court to let him see her again. He’s 21 now. Your e-mails abramsreport@msnbc.com. I read them at the end of the show.


ABRAMS: Coming up: Scott Peterson looked for used boats on the Internet a day after a friend of his girlfriend confronted him about being married. We’ve got the latest from the courthouse, but first the headlines.


ABRAMS: Welcome back. Now to the Scott Peterson case. Today, a look inside Peterson’s computers in the weeks before his wife went missing. A detective testifying to what Internet sites Peterson visited, who he e-mailed during that time. MSNBC’s Jennifer London is at the courthouse. So, Jennifer the prosecution is using this to show that this was a premeditated murder?

JENNIFER LONDON, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dan, the prosecution certainly spending a lot of time today showing the jury that in the weeks before Laci disappeared, he spent a lot of time surfing the Web for places in the San Francisco Bay, places to dispose of a body? Well, that is what the prosecution would like the jury to believe. We heard from Detective Lydell Wall.

He is a computer forensics expert and he was on the stand for most of the morning. For starters, he told the jury that he found evidence on Scott’s computer that Scott was searching the want ads, looking for a 14-foot aluminum boat and also that Scott Peterson was searching a lot of Web sites, including a Web site for the San Francisco Bay and a site for the Berkeley Marina. Detective Wall also spoke about a lady’s watch, a diamond watch that Scott Peterson put up for sale on e-Bay, the auction site. And then, there are the e-mails that were recovered from Scott Peterson’s computer.

Two of these e-mails were with a woman named Shawn Sibley. You may remember, she is the person who introduced Peterson to his mistress, Amber Frey. Details of these two e-mails, however, were not revealed in court. Now also today we heard from a friend of Scott Peterson’s, a gentleman named Gregory Reed.

He testified that on 12/24/02, the day Laci disappeared, he received a voicemail message from Scott. He described Scott’s voice as being frantic. He said on the message Scott asked him if he or his wife had seen Laci today or yesterday.

Now Dan, this is odd because Scott told detectives that he was with Laci on the morning of Christmas Eve. They watched Martha Stewart. Laci was going to walk the dog. So, why would he call a very good friend of his later that day and say have you seen Laci today or yesterday. So, that’s odd. And also, Reed telling the court that he never knew about Scott Peterson’s affair with Amber Frey.

ABRAMS: It is odd. Jennifer London thanks a lot. And another blow for the prosecution arguably, the most obvious one to the jurors. Yesterday the judge threw out the entire testimony of one of their witnesses. Just said to the jurors disregard it. Why? Well, apparently the prosecution failed to share information the defense needed to question her.

The witness, Lissa McElroy, told jurors she helped Peterson pick out photos of his wife, which were used in the search for her. That Peterson was, quote, “nonchalant” during the process and that Peterson was choosing some inappropriate photos. One of his wife in a bathing suit, another partying with friends.

On cross examination, though, she admitted being unable to pick out any of the photos the night before, testifying that when given some of Peterson’s photo albums by a Modesto detective Monday night none of the photos she looked at of Peterson were in those specific albums. With the jury out of the room, Judge Delucchi blasted the prosecution saying, quote, “I am getting sick of this. I have had it about up to here with these violations” and told the jury to disregard the McElroy’s testimony.

My take—discovery issues come up all the time in cases. And the defense is almost always complaining that they’re not getting enough of information. But the fact that these prosecutors are having so much trouble in this case leads me to continue to believe that they are blowing this case. Let’s bring in our legal team: famed criminal defense attorney and NBC News analyst Roy Black; and retired justice of the New York State Supreme Court, Judge Leslie Crocker Snyder. All right, look, Judge Snyder...


ABRAMS: ... on the whole these discovery violations are generally not that big a deal. They say we should have gotten it three days ago, instead we got it today. We should have gotten it two weeks ago; instead we got it three days ago. But if this judge is getting so angry about it at this point, it says to me that there’s something wrong in all likelihood with the way the prosecutors are moving forward.

CROCKER SNYDER: Well, as we’ve discussed often on this program and others, Dan, there’s no question that the prosecution seems to have flunked prosecution 101 right from the beginning. And I think what’s happened here is that the judge is simply extremely frustrated. I think he finally vented his frustration, which he could have done earlier. And I don’t really think that he would necessarily have gotten as upset about this particular violation if it hadn’t had been for an entire series of events in which the prosecution did a lot of stupid things, including on other occasions failing to turn over exculpatory information. I don’t think that the judge, however, striking this testimony really meant that much to the jury.

ABRAMS: Well, that’s what I was going to ask Roy about, because I think I agree with Judge Snyder on that, Roy. I mean, it’s one of these things where the day of it feels so awful, and you think to yourself the judge is angry, but then in the end most of the time it doesn’t matter.

ROY BLACK, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I agree with Leslie on this one. If the judge had had the explosion that he had in front of the jury, then it would have meant something, but that was outside the presence of the jury. And his order to disregard the evidence was a lot more neutral. The important part here, I think, is not, Dan, that there are just you know problems with discovery. It’s the exculpatory evidence they’re not turning over. That’s what is the real problem because that—it could cause error in the case and that’s why the judge is so concerned about it.

ABRAMS: Let me read you a little interchange that occurred between the prosecutor and a witness, Lisa Krueger, who was at the vigil for Laci and what the prosecutors have been trying to show is that Scott Peterson wasn’t exactly acting like someone who was mourning. Let’s—here’s what—Distaso says, did you observe his demeanor? Krueger: Yes. How was his demeanor? He really didn’t display any emotion. Did you observe Scott Peterson’s demeanor closer to the stage? Krueger: Yes.

How was the demeanor then? He seemed to be smiling. And there are pictures—pictures that were introduced in court. There they are: Scott Peterson at the vigil. Those—where’s the next one? There’s one—there it is. I mean, that’s the one that I think really gets you. And I know Roy’s going to say, so the guy smiles for a second at the vigil.

They catch it on camera, and suddenly it means he’s a murderer?ABRAMS: I was going to say, Roy, is that what you were going to say?

BLACK: Well, Dan, let me give you an example. I was watching the funeral services for President Ronald Reagan. I saw some members of Congress smiling and laughing, you know, during the service. I mean...

CROCKER SNYDER: How can you...

BLACK: ... this is—it’s a human type of thing that happens.

CROCKER SNYDER: Oh come on. This is totally different. This is his wife is missing, nobody knows where she is and he’s smiling. That and he order the porno channels. I mean this guy’s state of mind...

ABRAMS: Yes...

CROCKER SNYDER: ... his every action...

ABRAMS: The porno channels, Roy, really get me. I mean, you know, apart from the...

BLACK: Dan...

ABRAMS: ... salacious nature, the bottom line is it sure doesn’t sound like he thought Laci was coming home when he’s ordering you know the extra premium channels about two weeks after Laci‘s reported missing.

BLACK: Dan, I have to talk about that. That is going—that is really something else. Can you imagine if this was a rape case and the alleged victim ordered some porno channels, you think any chance anybody could introduce that into evidence?

ABRAMS: But it shows state of mind. It shows that he didn’t expect her to come home.


BLACK: ... state of mind. This is totally outrageous to bring in the fact he’s watching the “Playboy” channel.

ABRAMS: He’s ordering...


BLACK: Since when does this prove...

CROCKER SNYDER: ... absolutely...

BLACK: ... that he has a motive to kill his wife.

CROCKER SNYDER: It doesn’t prove that he killed his wife, but it’s absolutely relevant as to his state of mind and that’s why the judge let it in. He very carefully balanced the probative value versus the prejudicial effect and this, the probative value along with everything else is extraordinarily important. You can’t analogize it to a rape case and the rape shield law issues like in Kobe Bryant...

BLACK: Why not...

CROCKER SNYDER: It’s totally different. BLACK: But his...


BLACK: ... the sexual history...

CROCKER SNYDER: You know what...

BLACK: ... is too prejudicial...

CROCKER SNYDER: You know Roy...

BLACK: ... in those cases why isn’t it here?

CROCKER SNYDER: Roy, I just want to say one thing. Don’t worry. The way the prosecution is screwing up this case, they’re going to lose it. So, you know all these things are going to be irrelevant.

ABRAMS: Very quickly, Roy, the fact that Scott Peterson is surfing the net, looking for all this detailed information on buying a boat and the boat ramps at the Berkley Marina and fishing in the bay, et cetera. And then yet, when he was asked after the fact like what were you fishing for and what bait were you using, he wasn’t so sure? Is that a big deal?

BLACK: Well, Dan, a couple of things about that. I did notice in the transcript there one of the sites had to do with sturgeon, which he claims he was fishing for. But certainly it looks a little suspicious. You know, it’s like—standing alone, it doesn’t mean much, but it’s like Lizzie Borden going in to buy an ax. You know, it looks a little suspicious...


BLACK: ... after the fact.

ABRAMS: Roy Black and Judge Leslie Crocker Snyder, thanks very much.

CROCKER SNYDER: Good to see you. Bye, Roy.

BLACK: Bye, Leslie.

ABRAMS: Coming up later, your e-mails on yesterday’s testimony that Scott Peterson added the porn channels. See a lot of you have a lot of thoughts. Many of you say that is no motive for murder. But up next: She had sex and then children with her then 12-year-old student—those are the children. Now, May Kay Letourneau is released from prison hoping to see her lover again. We’ll talk with one of her lawyers.


ABRAMS: We’re back. A new chapter tonight in a sex crime that made a household name of a one-time elementary schoolteacher. Mary Kay Letourneau convicted of child rape for having a sexual affair with a student who was 12 years old when it started. She was released from prison early this morning. The student, Vili Fualaau, is now 21. Here’s what he said about Letourneau’s release last night.


VILI FUALAAU: I don’t know where things are right now, but I know I do love her.


ABRAMS: And today, Fualaau asked a Washington State Court to lift a no contact order that effectively keeps them apart, meaning they’re not allowed to see each other. His lawyer says Fualaau is now an adult and is requesting the court to allow him to associate with other adults of his own choosing, specifically, Mary Kay Letourneau. The local prosecutor is reviewing Fualaau‘s request and hasn’t decided whether to challenge it.

Mary Kay Letourneau has two daughters, now five and seven, with Fualaau. She also has four children with her first husband.

My take: I think Letourneau should be treated as a sex offender, someone who could commit the same crime again. But I also think she should be with Vili Fualaau if she wants to be and he wants to be. He’s 21. She’s served her time. They have two kids together. Doesn’t do society any good to keep them apart now. Earlier today, I spoke with David Gehrke, Mary Kay Letourneau’s lawyer during her criminal trial and a man whose wife has remained very close with Letourneau. Gehrke talked to Letourneau during her last few weeks in prison. I asked him what has he said—what has she said actually in terms of what she wants in any future relationship with Vili Fualaau.


DAVID GEHRKE, LETOURNEAU‘S CRIMINAL ATTY: She wants to know what it is, what it’s going to be. She’s intelligent enough and mature enough to know that after a seven-year absence you can’t assume it’s going to be the way it was seven years ago. She’s also intelligent enough to know that she’s went through a lot seven years in prison because of that relationship. And she’d be a fool just to toss it all aside, saying well, there’s nothing there. She wants to find out what the relationship is.

ABRAMS: Does she...


ABRAMS: I apologize. Does she view it solely as a relationship, meaning as opposed to a crime, as opposed to sort of molesting a young boy?

GEHRKE: Yes, absolutely. She’s always—she understands that technically the crime was entitled rape of a child. But she never looked at it that way, never considered it that way and it always hurts her, make her cringe when people call her a child rapist.

ABRAMS: Doesn’t that make her a threat to other young boys out there if she simply doesn’t think it was a crime and views it as a relationship? She could do it again, no?

GEHRKE: At the sentencing, some seven and a half years ago, our experts and the state’s experts all agreed that she was not a pedophile. She was not attracted to young men or young boys. She was only attracted, only had this relationship with Vili. And if Vili were not in her life, she would not consider any other young children or young boys. She’s not a threat at all.

ABRAMS: Do you think if she were—and I know you’ve been asked this question hundreds of times—if she were a man and we would talk about the fact that well this man isn’t attracted to young girls, he’s just attracted to this one particular 12-year-old girl, we would view it differently, right?

GEHRKE: We would and even if you look at just a woman that’s attracted to one boy, as a society we have to look at it differently. We can’t—our judicial system doesn’t have the resources to carefully examine and try and make excuses or exceptions. And generally for the general population that’s good.

But there are exceptions. And people have to not throw this blanket on all men or on all women. We have to as a society look carefully and with skepticism anytime we hear that, well, this is special, because even the worst perverts say that, but every once in a while, it is special. It is different. This is one of those cases.

ABRAMS: So, do you think that this should not have been considered a crime at all or do you think that basically justice has been served and now it’s time to let—because I have said on my program before that I think that now, having a no-contact order between them is sort of silly. He’s a 21-year-old. Her crime, she committed a crime. She served her time. And now if they want to spend time together, I think he’s an adult. They should be able to do it.

GEHRKE: Well, remember, when there’s a no contact order it’s to protect the victim from the criminal action of the defendant. The only reason this was a criminal action was because of his age.

ABRAMS: Right.

GEHRKE: And now he’s legal. There’s nothing to protect him from. And on top of that, they have to talk about the children, things like that. So, I’m confident a judge when they review all of this will lift the no-contact order. ABRAMS: Your wife, as it turns out, is the one who has often brought their children, Vili and Mary Kay Letourneau’s children to prison.


GEHRKE: She’s the only one...

ABRAMS: The only one.

GEHRKE: ... that ever had the approval from the prison, family law judges, all the parents, all the Guardian ad Litems.

ABRAMS: Tell me about what she said about the relationship between Mary Kay Letourneau and her children.

GEHRKE: She thinks it’s a beautiful relationship, that Mary with her ability to reach out to everyone and especially her own children has been able to forge a mother-daughter bond that’s—that will only get stronger now that Mary is out.

ABRAMS: Would—I’ve asked other people this question. Would you and your wife feel comfortable having Mary Kay Letourneau baby-sit for your children, being alone with your children?

GEHRKE: That’s an excellent question, Dan. I have a 13-year-old son, just turned 13. I have a 10-year-old son and I can’t wait for Mary to meet them, and I would trust her I impeccably with the safety, the well being of my children. She has often given us educational tips, schooling tips. Even though my wife is a teacher, Mary is a teacher at a primary level, and she’s an excellent teacher. I would not fear her around my children at all.

ABRAMS: And why no concern about you know a possible attraction to a 13-year-old or 10-year-old son?

GEHRKE: Because, remember, I was her attorney at the time of her plea, at the time of her sentencing, and I’ve read all the psychological reports. I’ve read all the experts‘ reports, both ours and the state’s. I know what’s in there and without revealing the detail because of lawyer confidentiality, I can sort of give you the substance of it by saying she’s welcome at my house whether my wife and I are there or not.

ABRAMS: David Gehrke, thank you so much for taking the time to come on the program. Appreciate it.

GEHRKE: Thank you so much.


ABRAMS: Coming up, your e-mails on the Scott Peterson case. More about the woman on the right, Gloria Allred. Many of you still asking why we have her on the program. Well, I’m going to answer that question coming up. Stay with us.


ABRAMS: Coming up: Scott Peterson added porno channels to his cable system weeks after his wife disappeared. Is that a motive for murder? You weigh in.


ABRAMS: We’re back. “Your Rebuttal” last night in the Scott Peterson case, details from a witness who said a few days after Laci disappeared, about two weeks, Scott Peterson changed the original programming lineup adding two porno channels. The prosecution suggesting that this shows Peterson knew Laci wasn’t coming home.

From Waltham, Massachusetts, Russell Greene. “So, the idea the Scott Peterson may have had a sexual addiction problem is proof that he must be a murderer? Talk about logic leaping. The porn factor is simply a way to sully his reputation in front of a jury.” Dan Hall in Palm Springs responds. “I believe what the prosecution was trying to prove was when Laci contracted her cable in 2001, she intentionally left out the adult channels. Then, Scott added them on January 8, 2002, indicating that he knew she wasn’t coming back.” Right-o Dan-o. Again, many of you writing about a frequent member of my legal panel, Gloria Allred, who’s also representing Scott Peterson’s former girlfriend, Amber Frey.

Dave Beaman in Iola, Kansas, writes a question I think so many of you have been asking again. “I think it’s inappropriate to have Gloria Allred on as an expert dealing with the Scott Peterson case when she has a vested interest in the case.” Why are so many of you under the impression that she’s supposed to be objective? She’s not. We know that. She’s on as an advocate.

Your e-mails on the new terror threats issued by the Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. I said that there has got to be a way to make that position nonpolitical or the new position, but I complimented Ridge for refusing to attend political fundraisers, et cetera.

Wayne Whitlock from Chicago points out that Secretary Ridge once said, quote, “The kind of information available to us today is the result of the president’s leadership in the war against terror.” And Wayne writes, “He might as well have been wearing a Bush/Cheney ‘04 button when making those remarks.” Good point, Wayne. He should not be doing that so that terror is never perceived as political. I agree with you.

Finally, Martha K. in Broward, Florida doesn’t like the fact that I state my opinion on the program. “Mr. Abrams, your job is to report the news and not to tell us what you think. Your job is to inform us of the known facts and let us decide for ourselves what we think.” No, Martha. My take—rather than being a faker who pretends to be fair and objective and then covertly inserting an opinion into everything, as do some TV news hosts—I’m coming out and being straight with you trying to tell you my take on every opinion-based story so that you know where I’m coming from and then you can better decide for yourself what you think about the issue and me. I think that’s the best way for me to keep your trust. I hope so because I need it. Your e-mails abramsreport@msnbc.com.

Thanks for watching. “HARDBALL” up next. See you tomorrow.


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