updated 2/18/2005 8:57:56 AM ET 2005-02-18T13:57:56

Guest: Susan Filan, Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom, Mickey Sherman, Stacy Brown, Heather Brown

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Coming up, prosecutors decide not to charge Bill Cosby with sexual assault. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS (voice-over):  Weeks after a Canadian woman told authorities that Cosby tried to drug and sexually abuse her, Philadelphia-area prosecutors decide no charges are warranted. 

Until now, those details kept secret by the court.  Now the facts the grand jury used to charge Jackson are out, and we‘ve got some exclusive details about a one-time Jackson insider meeting with sheriff‘s deputies today. 

Plus, a Marine dies mysteriously at boot camp, just one day after cameras record him refusing to take part in training exercises.  What happened?  We have an exclusive report. 

The program about justice starts now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  Hi everyone.  In the last 10 minutes, the district attorney in Montgomery has announced that Bill Cosby will not be charged with any crime in connection with a woman who accused him of sexually abusing her.  Let me read to you directly from the document, which has just been released.  And I quote “after reviewing the above and consulting with county detectives, the district attorney finds insufficient credible and admissible evidence exists upon which any charge against Mr. Cosby could be sustained beyond a reasonable doubt.”

They go on to say, “After this analysis, the district attorney concludes that a conviction under the circumstances of this case would be unattainable.”  But, the D.A. goes on, “because a civil action with a much lower standard of proof is possible, the D.A. renders no opinion concerning the credibility of any party involved so as not to contribute to the publicity and taint prospective jurors.  The D.A. does not intend to expound publicly on the details of his decision for fear that his opinions and analysis might be given undue weight by jurors in any contemplated civil action.”

This is a district attorney that has been evaluating this case for just over a month.  We had expected some sort of decision last week.  The D.A. said that there was additional evidence that they needed to review.  And in fact, they do talk about the fact that other people came forward, and they simply said that—quote—“detectives could find no instance in Mr. Cosby‘s past or anyone complained to law enforcement of conduct which would constitute a criminal offense.”

“My Take”—last night I said it would happen, and so this is no surprise.  Even if the allegations were true, the circumstances surrounding this allegation would have made this tough to prove.  The woman coming forward almost a year after it supposedly happened, her dad saying she realized it was wrong only after she went to take classes for massage therapy.  Without serious corroboration, this was a case that would have been doomed. 

Joining me now, criminal defense attorney Mickey Sherman, Court TV anchor and former San Francisco D.A., Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom, and Connecticut prosecutor Susan Filan.

All right, Susan, you and I talked about this the other night, and you weren‘t so certain that the D.A.s were going to come up with this decision.  Why? 

SUSAN FILAN, CONNECTICUT STATE‘S ATTORNEYS OFFICE:  That‘s right, I wasn‘t so certain, because I thought that the way they were taking their time and looking into it so carefully may have suggested to them that the other people coming forward provided information that may have provided some sort of corroboration for this complainant, not that it would have been admissible, but that it certainly gave him pause and he had to look at it very, very carefully.  I also wanted to make clear that women shouldn‘t feel that because there‘s a delay they won‘t be taken seriously or because they‘ve complained against somebody extremely high profiled they don‘t have a chance. 

ABRAMS:  The district attorney has reviewed the statements of the parties involved, those of all witnesses who might have firsthand knowledge of the alleged incident, including family, friends, and co-workers of the complainant, and professional acquaintances and employees of Mr. Cosby.  Kimberly, what does this tell us? 

KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE NEWSOM, COURT TV ANCHOR:  Well, this tells me that they did a thorough, fact-finding investigation.  Just like you said, Dan, absent some corroboration, this case was going nowhere.  The circumstances in which it arose a year later, et cetera weren‘t determinative of the outcome from the beginning, but it already caused some suspicion and some doubt, I think, on the credibility of the alleged accuser here.  What I think is clear is that the D.A. is not making a comment, because there probably will be a civil case here where the standard of proof is very different, a preponderance of the evidence, so we may see some kind of settlement, but clearly good news for Bill Cosby.  Since no criminal case, I think that hurts her case in general. 

ABRAMS:  You know, Mickey, as of January 26, when the D.A. held a press conference—I‘m going to play a piece of sound from it—it sounded like he wasn‘t going to move forward then and you got to wonder sort of what‘s happened in the last few weeks.  Let me play this piece of sound.  This is him talking about the fact that she didn‘t come forward for almost a year. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRUCE CASTOR, MONTGOMERY CTY, PA DISTRICT ATTORNEY:  The delay in this particular case is of importance to us and one of the factors that I‘ll have to look at, assuming we decide that there‘s enough evidence that we could consider moving forward is my judgment on whether her reason for the delay is good enough to overcome what I think would be a juror‘s predisposition to use that to adversely assess her credibility.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Mickey, this sounded to me then and now in retrospect, sounds to me now like a D.A. who was saying from the beginning, I‘m just not sure I buy it. 

MICKEY SHERMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  But it‘s not a question of buying it.  You know what he said what‘s interesting, Dan, is usually prosecutors will sign a warrant for someone‘s arrest if probable cause exists that the crime was committed and they committed it.  But that‘s not what the standard was in this case, and I agree with this prosecutor.  He basically said, yes, there‘s probable cause, I could probably arrest him, but it doesn‘t appear as though I could get a conviction...

ABRAMS:  But why do you think he‘s—where is he saying that?  I don‘t hear him saying that.

SHERMAN:  He said he could not prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt.  That‘s exactly the statement that was read before...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

SHERMAN:  ... and that‘s a higher standard than probable cause...

ABRAMS:  Yes...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... I don‘t know. 

SHERMAN:  But you know what else is going on here, Dan, as well it should?  It‘s not just the fact that it‘s a one year old complaint, and that by itself shouldn‘t make the case go away.  But you‘re dealing, and he‘s being realistic, he‘s dealing with an icon.  This is Bill Cosby.  It‘s not Kobe Bryant.  It‘s not somebody who is someone that this country is not in love with...

ABRAMS:  But if this hadn‘t been—but Kimberly...

GUILFOYLE NEWSOM:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  ... if this hadn‘t been Bill Cosby, I‘ve got to wonder whether they would have said what, you‘re coming to us now 11 months after the fact, you‘re reporting it to the Canadian authorities.  I mean I‘ve got to wonder whether they would have considered it for anything like this amount of time. 

GUILFOYLE NEWSOM:  Oh—let me tell you something, I‘ve been in the D.A.‘s office and worked as a D.A. for 10 years.  You take these cases seriously no matter who makes the charge.  But because it‘s Bill Cosby, hello, the king of Jell-o pudding and everything else, the guy who loves kids, you better make sure when you‘re trying to take down an icon that you‘ve got hard, fast evidence.  This case was going nowhere from the beginning, but they need to cover themselves and investigate it because of who he was. 

ABRAMS:  Do you agree, Susan?

FILAN:  I agree.  I do agree.  But look, I don‘t want to set a double standard here.  Think about the Paul Shanley case.  Isn‘t a priest an icon to some and weren‘t his memories questionable, and didn‘t that happen many, many, many years ago?  Let‘s not send a message that...

ABRAMS:  Wait a second.  You‘re not really comparing this case to the priest abuse scandal, are you? 

SHERMAN:  What‘s the likelihood of conviction?  That‘s what the prosecutor decided here.  What‘s the likelihood of conviction?  Should we just spin the wheels and give more airtime to folks like us?  Bill Cosby is not going to get convicted on the basis of his record, on the basis of his reputation, not in the community, but in the world, but the fact that this one made a complaint, which is not the greatest in the world.  He weighed all those, made use of sound prosecutorial discretion, and that‘s what you want a state‘s attorney or a district attorney to do. 

ABRAMS:  All right, here‘s a piece of sound from Tamara Green, who‘s a woman who came forward after this allegation was made by this woman.  Tamara Green said, you know what?  Same thing happened to me 30 years ago.  He drugged me.  He tried to sexually abuse me.  Here‘s what she had to say about the amount of time between the time the woman—it happened and the time she reported it. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TAMARA GREEN, COSBY‘S SECOND ACCUSER:   And the girl who‘s being charged in Philadelphia waited 11 months and everybody‘s sticking up their nose saying that she waited too long.  Everybody has an idea about how you‘re supposed to react, what you‘re supposed to do, what you would have, could have, or should have done.  But they‘ve never been there.  They haven‘t been molested.  They don‘t know. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  But Susan, if someone comes to you with this sort of allegation and you‘re the prosecutor, don‘t you have to get an explanation from them at the very least, why did you wait so long? 

FILAN:  Absolutely, you have to get an explanation.  I don‘t disagree with anything that Kimberly or Mick or even you, Dan, are saying. 

ABRAMS:  Even me...

FILAN:  You get an explanation, you look, you balance, you weigh, and I think something else happened in this case that may not happen in every case.  Bill Cosby cooperated.  He came forward.  He came forward with counsel.  He provided his side of the story.  Very often a prosecutor doesn‘t have that...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

FILAN:  I think that may have been...

ABRAMS:  Actually, you know, that‘s a very good point.  I want to bring that up in a minute.  I should—everyone involved in this matter cooperated with investigators, including the complainant and Mr. Cosby.  Everyone‘s going to stick around.  More of our special coverage of the announcement from the D.A. only moments ago that there will be no charges filed against Bill Cosby.  What happens for Cosby now? 

Plus, we get our first look ever at details in the indictment against Michael Jackson and a longtime Jackson insider agrees to spill the beans to authorities today.  We tell you who he is and why he could be so important to the case.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  The district attorney in Montgomery County Pennsylvania decides there is not enough evidence to charge Bill Cosby, so what does Cosby do now?  Coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

ABRAMS:  We‘re back, and the decision from the Montgomery County District Attorney‘s Office only minutes ago that Bill Cosby will not be charged with any crime.  And I quote, “The district attorney finds insufficient credible and admissible evidence exists upon which any charge against Mr. Cosby could be sustained beyond a reasonable doubt.”  I want to play another piece of sound.  This is from January the 26th—number 13 here.  This could have been a crucial issue in the decision-making process. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CASTOR:  What I have seen reported is that she had contacts with Cosby after this alleged incident and that there was a series of those.  Now, that would tend to argue in—to the benefit of Mr. Cosby because that would tend to suggest to a jury that she didn‘t think the contact was that offensive. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Susan, this district attorney gave reason after reason back in January as to why these charges likely wouldn‘t be filed, and that was one of them. 

FILAN:  And I don‘t have a problem with that, and I‘m not for one minute advocating that he should have been charged.  I agree with the way the district attorney handled this and the analysis and the steps that he took.  The point that I‘m trying to make is very simple—I don‘t want women to take away from this that if you wait quote—unquote—“too long” or you take on somebody too big...

ABRAMS:  Wait...

FILAN:  ... you‘re done. 

ABRAMS:  Why shouldn‘t they take from this that if you wait too long, that‘s a bad thing.  That you should try and come forward in a timely fashion.

FILAN:  Because I don‘t think that the basis for not charging him necessarily was the time delay.  I think there was a whole myriad of factors that went into this.  And his key words were there isn‘t sufficient credible and admissible evidence.  So what—we‘re not deciding here is whether it happened or not.  What we‘re deciding here is whether it can be proven. 

It is unethical for a state‘s attorney to bring a charge that it can‘t prove, but it doesn‘t mean that it didn‘t happen.  And I‘m not saying that it did or didn‘t.  I‘m passing no judgment on Mr. Cosby.  But what I am trying to make very, very clear is there is no such thing globally as too late.  Women‘s reactions are complicated... 

ABRAMS:  Well let me read a statement from the woman‘s attorney that has just come to us via The AP.  I think this is so disrespectful.  We have a law in Pennsylvania that he‘s supposed to notify crime victims.  I don‘t understand why he would do it in this manner.  It sounds, Kimberly, like the attorney for this woman is upset about how it was released, and I‘m sure she‘s also upset about the decision. 

GUILFOYLE NEWSOM:  Maybe perhaps because she saw the news, breaking news on THE ABRAMS REPORT...

ABRAMS:  That‘s right.

GUILFOYLE NEWSOM:  ... and she, you know, wanted to be notified personally.  Listen, this case came down to two things, the decision not to charge, which was lack of credibility apparently in terms of evaluating the case and lack of corroboration.  But clearly, Dan, as you read in this press release, the D.A. isn‘t saying that he thinks this case is over. 

He even said, if other things come forward, he will reconsider.  And that both parties should be aware of that, and he encourages both sides to deal with this matter with as little rhetoric as possible.  I think this may go the way of the Kobe Bryant case, which is a civil suit filed by this woman. 

ABRAMS:  And along those lines, the D.A. made a comment saying almost exactly that, again, back on the 26th

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CASTOR:  Sometimes cases where there might be criminality can‘t be prosecuted for lack of evidence or lack of likelihood of prevailing. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Mickey, you think the D.A. has an obligation to say more...

SHERMAN:  No.

ABRAMS:  ... than simply we don‘t have enough evidence.  I mean these allegations have been made.  He comes out and holds a press conference, all right, adding to the media coverage of these allegations, and now all he‘s saying is, well, all I can say is that there‘s not enough evidence for me to move forward. 

SHERMAN:  You know something Dan...

ABRAMS:  Go ahead.

SHERMAN:  ... he has an obligation to say no more than that.  We had a state‘s attorney up in Connecticut some years ago who investigated Woody Allen for child molestation charges.  At the end of the investigation, he got on the courthouse steps and said, we‘re not going to prosecute him because this and this and this, but I still think he‘s guilty.  I think he‘s still being sued by Woody Allen and I‘m not making that up.  The idea is he makes a decision, I‘m either going to prosecute...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

SHERMAN:  ... or not prosecute.  He owes no other duty to anyone other than to make a brief statement saying what he‘s going to do...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

SHERMAN:  ... not necessarily why. 

ABRAMS:  Yes, no question.  I mean look, the D.A.‘s got to be real careful what he says. 

All right, let me take a quick break here.  When we come back I want to ask if Bill Cosby should think about some sort of action now or might file some sort of action against in particular that second woman who came forward and went public. 

And a Marine dies mysteriously at boot camp just a day after cameras caught him refusing to get in a swimming pool for a training exercise.  We‘ve got an exclusive report.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  We continue with our coverage of the announcement only moments ago that Bill Cosby will not be charged by the Montgomery, Pennsylvania authorities.  In a press release issued less than half an hour ago, they announced that they simply did not believe there was enough evidence to move forward.  Before I talk about Cosby possibly suing, Mickey Sherman, how important was it that Bill Cosby cooperated with the authorities? 

SHERMAN:  I think in a big way.  He didn‘t shy away from this.  He didn‘t hide necessarily behind lawyers with no comments.  He did everything he could.  And he obviously knew that he was going to get slimed here.  There‘s no question about it.  But he will survive this, I‘m very confident.  This is a man who—don‘t forget, his son was murdered in an awful incident some years ago.  He‘s been through some heavy stuff. 

ABRAMS:  I want to know if the second woman to come forward, Tamara Green, who says she was abused, she was drugged by Cosby 30 years ago, is possibly going to be sued by Bill Cosby.  Here‘s what she had to say about what happened. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GREEN:  I was fighting and struggling with him.  I‘m a person who, when attacked, makes a great deal of noise.  I can‘t tell you how long it all went on.  He had his pants down.  He did all kinds of things to me.  He touched me and fondled me and, you know, all this stuff that you—that I had never invited, did not want, and was helpless to prevent. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Cosby‘s team says not only is it false, but he doesn‘t even know who she is.  So Kimberly, with that in mind, would you expect that team Cosby is going to go after Tamara Green? 

GUILFOYLE NEWSOM:  Absolutely, if these are false allegations.  Here‘s the problem, Dan.  I know a little bit of the history of this woman, and the state bar in California filed 12 counts of attorney misconduct against her, and she also voluntarily submitted to a substance abuse and mental health program for attorneys that have problems.  So there are some issues here about her credibility, her mental state, whether or not she‘s someone who has problems like that and just made this up. 

So he‘ll have a tough time prevailing if, in fact, she suffers from mental illness.  But nevertheless, the matter should be investigated.  I think it‘s serious, because he could have a case against her for slander and against some newspapers for libel if they did not thoroughly check their sources and determine if there was any corroborative evidence to support these stories. 

SHERMAN:  Dan, there‘s no way he‘s going after her. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.

SHERMAN:  There‘s just no way.  You know, not long ago about, a year ago, another actor in California was accused of kind of a groping thing.  He came out, said I‘m sorry and was promptly elected governor, OK?  This community...

ABRAMS:  Mickey, this is more than groping—if a client comes to you

·         let‘s assume for a minute everything Cosby‘s team is saying is true, which is totally made up...

SHERMAN:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  ... never happened, didn‘t know her, and he comes to you and he says, that‘s a fact. 

SHERMAN:  Right. 

ABRAMS:  Do I sue? 

SHERMAN:  No, no.  Why perpetuate the goofiness?  Why put this woman on more television shows than she‘s already been in?  No one is buying her story, they‘re not prosecuting, let her go back to wherever she came from.  You don‘t perpetuate...

ABRAMS:  Susan, very quickly...

GUILFOYLE NEWSOM:  That‘s P.R. decision...

ABRAMS:  Susan, very quickly, final thought. 

FILAN:  I couldn‘t agree with you more, walk away, let it go.  They‘ve already decided not to do anything with it.  And besides if truth is a defense and we have to get down into the mud and find out did it really happen.  Let it go, walk away, leave it alone.  It‘s done.  It‘s over. 

ABRAMS:  This case is closed as far as the Montgomery County authorities are concerned.  Susan Filan, thanks a lot.  Appreciate it.  Kimberly and Mickey are going to stick around. 

Coming up, our first look ever at the details in the indictment against Michael Jackson.  Until now the details were kept secret by the court.  Now the facts the grand jury used to charge Jackson are out.  And we‘ve got some exclusive details about a one-time Jackson insider meeting with sheriffs today.  What was he doing there? 

And hockey is supposed to be the toughest sport around, but I say both the players and owners acted like wimps before the season was ended yesterday.  It‘s my “Closing Argument”.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Coming up, for the first time, the facts that convinced a grand jury to charge Michael Jackson are out.  And we‘ve got exclusive details about a one-time Jackson insider meeting with sheriffs today.  First the headlines. 

(NEWS BREAK)

ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  We‘ve got exclusive new information about the Michael Jackson case.  A former member of Jackson‘s inner circle—and this guy knows a lot—agreed to be interviewed today about Jackson‘s dealings with, among other things, kids over the years.  We‘ll bring you information on that, but before we do, we‘re getting a first look at the never before seen indictment used to charge Jackson. 

NBC‘s Mike Taibbi has the story. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MIKE TAIBBI, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  By order of the Michael Jackson trial judge, the 10-count child molestation and conspiracy indictment against the pop star has been heavily edited.  Now The Smoking Gun Web site has filled in the blanks revealing what the grand jury heard to support the charge that Jackson molested his then 13-year-old accuser while holding the boy and his family at his Neverland Ranch against their will, charges Jackson has denied. 

BILL BASTONE, THESMOKINGGUN.COM:  We are able to see finally, outside of the family members, who else the D.A. put into the grand jury. 

(SCREAMS)

TAIBBI:  A bodyguard who saw Jackson‘s accuser drunk and a flight attendant who saw Jackson drunk—the boy sitting beside him—and a Neverland security manager at the time the family was supposedly in prison there. 

BASTONE:  He says he‘s in the security office at Neverland and there is a directive up on the wall that says do not allow the boy, using his first name, to leave the ranch. 

TAIBBI (on camera):  But in what prosecutors called the entire presentation of the evidence of the grand jury, they didn‘t present that written directive or DNA evidence linking Jackson and his accuser or any witnesses outside of the accuser and his brother to the alleged molestations. 

BASTONE:  Nobody ever saw him do anything to a child that was inappropriate.  That‘s the weak point. 

TAIBBI (voice-over):  The indictment followed much testimony without cross-examination about kids and booze at Neverland and about the accusing family‘s belief that they were harassed and surveilled outside of Neverland.  But the heart of the prosecution‘s molestation case, even with the blanks now filled in, rests on the stories told and to be told again at trial, by the accuser and his younger brother. 

BASTONE:  If they‘re believable, I think Jackson has a problem, and if the kids get, you know, diced to pieces, it‘s over. 

TAIBBI:  Over, says Bastone, as in Jackson walks. 

Mike Taibbi, NBC News, Santa Maria.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  All right, thanks Mike.  Joining me now, Court TV anchor, former California prosecutor, Kimberly Guilfoyle, criminal defense attorney Mickey Sherman will be joined in a minute by Stacy Brown.

All right, Kimberly, based on the new stuff we‘ve learned, stronger case or weaker case than you had initially thought? 

GUILFOYLE NEWSOM:  Well, you know, Dan, I have a lot of background on this case, and I expected some of these things to come out.  Of course, the grand jury documents coming out was a big surprise and probably a big blow to the Jackson defense.  Bottom line, Dan, is there appears to be some key corroboration of important elements of this offense. 

I think it spells big trouble for Michael Jackson.  You‘ve got people that can verify, in fact, that he was giving liquor to a young cancer survivor, a kid who had a kidney and a spleen taken...

ABRAMS:  Do we know—does it say in the indictment that they have corroboration that he gave it or that he‘s drunk and he‘s with the kid? 

GUILFOYLE NEWSOM:  Well, that‘s circumstantial evidence, that if he‘s, in fact, drunk, he‘s at Neverland, he‘s not allowed to leave, who gave it to him, and he‘s with Michael Jackson.  And specifically, the accuser said, Michael told me that it‘s OK for me to drink if I can handle it.  It‘s part of being a man. 

How‘s that for lessons to live and learn by at Neverland?  Now, if all of this is true, again, it comes down to credibility.  If these young boys, the accuser and his younger brother, do get diced to pieces as Bastone said, it‘s big trouble for the prosecution.  But right now, the evidence is piling up. 

ABRAMS:  Mickey, stronger or weaker based on what you‘ve heard? 

SHERMAN:  Weaker.  Over 100 search warrants, umpteen years

investigation, a maniacal obsession by Tom Sneddon to do anything against

Michael Jackson, and a grand jury investigation and grand jury transcripts

·         and remember, a grand jury, it ain‘t two sides.  It‘s just one side. 

It‘s the best of the best of the prosecutor.  And what did Mike Taibbi quote?  No one saw Michael Jackson do anything inappropriate with children...

GUILFOYLE NEWSOM:  Except the accuser‘s...

SHERMAN:  That does not sound like a strong case to me. 

GUILFOYLE NEWSOM:  ... the accuser‘s younger brother alleges that, in fact, he saw his brother be molested by Michael Jackson. 

SHERMAN:  That‘s not what Michael Taibbi says comes out of the grand jury statement. 

ABRAMS:  Yes—no, no, the boy—we know that the little brother says he saw. 

GUILFOYLE NEWSOM:  That‘s right.

ABRAMS:  There was no one else who saw it...

GUILFOYLE NEWSOM:  That‘s correct.

ABRAMS:  ... apart from the little brother. 

SHERMAN:  Other than the victim...

GUILFOYLE NEWSOM:  Other than the...

SHERMAN:  ... there‘s no other corroboration. 

ABRAMS:  Right.  Mickey, what do you make of the sign that they talk about at Neverland that said basically don‘t let the boy leave Neverland? 

SHERMAN:  I want to see the sign.  I don‘t know if that‘s exactly what it says.  It sounds like not B.S., but again, this is a one-sided aspect of this thing.  I‘m skeptical.  The other thing that bothers me is why do we know about this?  Why is this grand jury testimony leaked?  Where did that come from?  Doesn‘t that say something about the process here? 

ABRAMS:  Yes, the process, I mean it doesn‘t tell us whether it‘s true or not, though.

SHERMAN:  Yes, but if they‘re cutting corners here, maybe they cut corners during the investigation itself.  These things should not be leaked. 

ABRAMS:  Very quickly, Kimberly...

GUILFOYLE NEWSOM:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  ... no DNA they said, and yet we know they conducted a search after the indictment as well where it seems DNA was an issue.

GUILFOYLE NEWSOM:  No, you‘re absolutely right.  There‘s definitely some weaknesses in this case.  They looked for stuff that they couldn‘t find.  They were thorough and exhaustive, Dan, so that‘s positive for the defense, because if there was other evidence, they would have come up with it.  They would have found it. 

ABRAMS:  Now on to the exclusive new information.  Today, the Santa Barbara sheriff questioned Jackson‘s former publicist about the star‘s behavior with young boys.  Bob Jones was a close confidant of Jackson for more than 30 years.  He traveled the world with him until last year when he was fired. 

According to insiders, including our own Stacy Brown, Jones knows a lot more than Jackson would want him to reveal.  Joining me now with the details is Jackson family friend, MSNBC analyst Stacy Brown, who is working on a book with Bob Jones. 

All right, Stacy, what do we know about what Bob Jones could say?  How damaging could he be?

STACY BROWN, JACKSON FAMILY FRIEND:  We do know as we speak he‘s being questioned by investigators and one of the prosecutors in this case.  One of the main things that they are interested in is him corroborating past bad acts.  Now, we know that hasn‘t been let in yet.  The judge hasn‘t ruled on that yet...

ABRAMS:  Right.

BROWN:  ... but this is what they have really been asking him about. 

ABRAMS:  What has he seen, as far as you know?

BROWN:  Well Bob will tell them that he has seen Michael go into hotel suites with his young accusers...

ABRAMS:  Accuser—when you say accusers, let‘s be specific.

BROWN:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  You just mean young boys. 

BROWN:  Yes, young boys...

ABRAMS:  You don‘t mean this particular boy?

BROWN:  Not this particular boy. 

ABRAMS:  Right.

BROWN:  That‘s...

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN:  ... one thing he‘s made clear.  He has no information about this particular young boy. 

ABRAMS:  But he‘s seen—Bob Jones has seen Michael Jackson with other boys? 

BROWN:  Yes. 

ABRAMS:  And what has he seen? 

BROWN:  And he‘s seen them go into bed, to hotel suites, and in Bob‘s words, “gone in for days without coming out”.  He‘s seen certain things of holding hands.  There are pieces of information in particular that the Sheriff‘s Department was looking for, and one I can tell you is the allegation that the first accuser had made, and that was the licking of the head, and this is the things that they are asking Bob to corroborate. 

ABRAMS:  And is he going to be able to corroborate that?  Has he seen... 

BROWN:  Bob has seen a lot, and there are several things that he‘s going to be able to corroborate. 

ABRAMS:  He‘s bad news for Michael Jackson, right, the fact that... 

BROWN:  Oh, I would say so, especially based on his own comments that he would not lie for Michael or anyone. 

ABRAMS:  And let‘s be clear how you know them.  You‘ve been literally working on a book with Bob Jones...

BROWN:  With Bob, yes...

ABRAMS:  Right, so it‘s not as if sources are telling you. 

BROWN:  No, no...

ABRAMS:  Bob Jones is telling you.

BROWN:  Bob Jones is telling me...

ABRAMS:  Right.

BROWN:  ... directly, yes.

ABRAMS:  Right.  You‘ve been taking notes and you‘ve been copiously gathering all this information, all right.  Mickey, you know, this could be bad news. 

SHERMAN:  Dan, what‘s the book about?  Is it like a self-help book or something, about sailing, or is it about Michael Jackson? 

ABRAMS:  Stacy? 

BROWN:  The book is—Mickey, is about mainly Bob Jones‘ career with Michael Jackson. 

SHERMAN:  Oh, OK, OK.  Any tie-in between him going to the media and the press now and maybe the book coming out or just a coincidence? 

BROWN:  Well, Mickey, you sound like one of Michael Jackson‘s camp

members.  The first thing that they hollered is disgruntled former

employee.  Well, Bob has been loyal.  There‘s, in fact, the television show

·         well, the television station BET, Black Entertainment...

SHERMAN:  Right.

BROWN:  ... did a special on Bob Jones a few years ago, and Michael was the first one on that special to talk about Bob Jones‘ honesty.  He said—quote—“Bob Jones is the most honest man who‘s ever lived”...

SHERMAN:  So why did he get fired? 

ABRAMS:  Yes, so what happened...

SHERMAN:  Why did he get fired?

BROWN:  Well, apparently there‘s some cost cutting has been going on, and the book details that.  This cost cutting—in fact, Bob Jones, for the last several years, working as Michael Jackson‘s vice president of communications, worked out of his own home because they could not—no longer afford the Century City offices in Los Angeles. 

ABRAMS:  Kimberly...

GUILFOYLE NEWSOM:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  ... as a legal matter, though...

GUILFOYLE NEWSOM:  Right.

ABRAMS:  ... how much of this will actually matter, come into play, et cetera? 

GUILFOYLE NEWSOM:  If he‘s a direct percipient witness to any molestation...

ABRAMS:  But he‘s not...

GUILFOYLE NEWSOM:  ... at all...

ABRAMS:  Stacy is making it clear...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... that Bob Jones...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Right.

ABRAMS:  ... Bob Jones is saying...

GUILFOYLE NEWSOM:  Yes, I know in this case...

ABRAMS:  No, no, in any case...

GUILFOYLE NEWSOM:  ... the past.

ABRAMS:  Bob is saying he didn‘t see any molestation...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Right.

ABRAMS:  Let‘s be clear. 

GUILFOYLE NEWSOM:  He saw head licking. 

ABRAMS:  No.  Well, he may—we don‘t know if he saw the head licking.  We know he saw him going into hotel rooms with boys.

GUILFOYLE NEWSOM:  OK, right now, the only way this could possibly come in is under California law as some kind of prior batik that they can also show, though, some kind of motive, intent, common—a planner scheme that Michael Jackson uses with young boys.  Right now it doesn‘t seem to be close enough a tie-in.  But what I do see here, Dan, is a theme of the inner circle of Michael Jackson closing in on him.  Corey Feldman, Bob Jones, perhaps other people with really relevant information may come forward.  That could be a problem.

SHERMAN:  Isn‘t the better theme people sucking up to Michael Jackson...

ABRAMS:  Yes...

SHERMAN:  ... and turning on him to gain publicity. 

ABRAMS:  I got to—very quickly, yes.

BROWN:  Well you got to understand, quickly, the way Bob Jones was fired was disgraceful.  Randy Jackson sent a messenger over to fire Bob Jones.

ABRAMS:  That‘s what angered him.  All right, still a tough case.  I say that they‘re still going to have a tough time with this case, but we shall see.  Stacy Brown, Kimberly Guilfoyle, Mickey Sherman, thanks a lot. 

Coming up, a Marine mysteriously dies at boot camp a day after this tape was shot of the Marine and his drill instructor in a tense conversation.  We‘ve got the exclusive details and the tape. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  A Marine mysteriously died at boot camp at Parris Island earlier this month.  Our South Carolina affiliate in Columbia was at the base just one day before Jason Tharp‘s apparent drowning, working on a story about potential base closures when they happened to catch on tape some tense interaction between Jason and his drill instructor. 

WIS reporter Heather Brown joins us with the story.  Hi Heather. 

HEATHER BROWN, WIS-TV REPORTER:  Hi Dan.  We shot video of recruit Jason that was just 24 hours before he died at Parris Island.  Tonight, his family speaks out for the first time about their son and his troubles at boot camp. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

H. BROWN (voice-over):  We caught Jason Tharp in a tense interaction with a drill instructor.  We were far away and couldn‘t hear what was going on.  A few minutes later, we saw this. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  They usually want to get back to training...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Really?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Because a lot of them have never been (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And sitting up in the brig and realizing that oh my God...

H. BROWN:  Jason disappears.  When he comes back—and that‘s where our video ends.  Twenty-four hours later, Jason dies.  Preliminary reports say he drowned at this pool. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

H. BROWN:  We traveled to West Virginia to show Jason‘s family what we saw at Parris Island.  Johnny Tharp (ph) told us about his son, a quiet young man who loved art and worked at Wendy‘s before heading to boot camp. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He was just the kindest, gentlest person I ever knew.  We can‘t understand why, and my little girl, all she knows is her big brother‘s in heaven. 

H. BROWN:  There‘s a lot the family doesn‘t understand about Jason‘s death.  They were especially upset about the drill instructor grabbing and having other contact with their son. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I don‘t know how they can treat my son the way we saw on that video.  He never hurt nobody.  He‘d do anything that anybody asked him.  It‘s just not right. 

H. BROWN:  A different drill instructor told us that day that Jason was being belligerent and refusing to train.  He also told us Jason wanted out.  Jason‘s parents say that‘s true.  That he sent home seven letters during his five-week stay telling his parents he‘d made a mistake. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We just wanted to go down there right then and get him and bring him home. 

H. BROWN:  The last letter Jason sent was postmarked February 2.  In it, he wrote he was starting the swim qualifications the next day. 

(on camera):  Did Jason know how to swim? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Not pretty good, but they assured us, the recruiter said that nothing would happen, they have enough people in the pool where nothing would happen to him.

H. BROWN (voice-over):  But something did.  The Tharps won‘t know what until the Marine‘s investigation is complete.  That could take weeks.  Right now, they are too sad to be angry.  The heartbreak is still so raw. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That doesn‘t happen.  I swear to God, I don‘t want this to happen to another family.  It‘s the hardest thing we‘ve ever had to (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

(END VIDEOTAPE)

H. BROWN:  We have just gotten in new details from Marine Corps officials in Washington about the investigation into Jason‘s death.  They say the day he died, Jason voluntarily entered the pool and that he was swimming the 25-meter requirement at the time.  They also say that Marines on hand took immediate action to try and rescue and resuscitate him. 

Marine Corps officials who saw the tape say striking and grabbing Jason appears to be in direct violation of Marine Corps regulation.  And they say, in addition to the Navy investigation of Jason‘s death, there will be a separate Marine Corps investigation into the conduct of the drill instructors the day before he died.

ABRAMS:  And Heather, this is an investigation, I assume, that could take some months.

H. BROWN:  They expect it will take—they tell me 30 days, but there was just a recent death at Parris Island in November, and we still don‘t have the results of those investigation yet.

ABRAMS:  Heather Brown from WIS-TV in Columbia, South Carolina. 

Thanks a lot for coming on the program. 

H. BROWN:  Thank you. 

ABRAMS:  Coming up, machismo looks to have played a bigger role than cash in the cancellation of the NHL season.  It‘s my “Closing Argument”.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Coming up, why I say ego ended the NHL season.  It‘s my “Closing Argument”.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  My “Closing Argument”—did the National Hockey League really have to just call it quits and end the season?  For five months representatives of the owners and players duked it out while the fans sat and waited.  The sticky issue was salary caps.  The NHL wanted them.  The players didn‘t.  Then finally some progress this week.  The players offered to agree to salary caps. 

The NHL agreed the caps didn‘t have to be tied to the league‘s revenue.  By Tuesday the difference between the proposed salary caps on each side was $6.5 million.  The NHL‘s final offer 42.5.  The players offered 49 million.  Both sides have come down from supposedly ironclad offers or come up.

The deadline for a deal was set for 11:00 a.m. Wednesday and then, well, neither side contacted the other, and the owners announced the season was canceled.  Look, hockey is a contact sport so I would expect that the negotiators on both sides to be tough.  But honest negotiating is all about contact.  Not avoiding contact.  It sounds like it was more machismo than cash that got in the way. 

That they have to call us first mentality.  Hockey legend Mario Lemieux, both a player and a team owner, couldn‘t believe it.  Quote—“I always thought that at the end of the day there would be too much at stake for both sides to not make a deal”, he said yesterday.  I did, too.  The United States hockey has been a sport on the road for a few years or I guess more appropriately a sport on the boards. 

With ticket sales slumping, the teams lost 1.8 billion over the past 10 years.  It was a distant fourth in popularity among major league sports.  Now the sport may never recover.  A lot of the star players are already playing on teams in Europe and saying they just might stay there.  I don‘t follow hockey too closely anymore, but as a kid I used to play and go to a lot of Ranger games. 

For die-hard fans, hockey is a way of life.  A defining part of who you are, particularly for the young fans.  This is a cheap shot.  They may not get to see aging greats like Lemieux, Mark Messier and Brett Hull on the ice again.  Negotiators for both sides here failed their constituents, their opponents and ultimately the fans. 

Coming up in 60 seconds, why so many men in Boise, Idaho are taking up drawing.  It‘s tonight‘s “OH PLEAs!”.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  I‘ve had my say, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”.  Last night on the program, family members of two victims shot and killed by a 16-year-old are blaming the video game “Grand Theft Auto” for the murder.  They filed a $600-million wrongful death suit against four companies for selling the game to a minor and making and marketing the game.  I said to suggest that the stores and game makers can be held liable for the actions of a crazy child is ludicrous.  And remember, of course, there‘s a rule that says that kids aren‘t supposed to buy it.  And I asked if the makers of violent movies are in trouble because they show violence. 

Joann Fischella in Las Vegas.  “What is different about violent movies and video games is that these games involve interactive violence where you are the actual perpetrator.  The one who commits the most violence is the winner.  There should be personal responsibility, but I think the person responsible is the person who makes the game designed to program our kids to kill.”

I said this is the ultimate example of trying to avoid personal responsibility.  Many of you agreed including Kathleen Cooke in Colorado Springs.  “In most crimes it seems that something or someone made them do it.  It‘s time that criminals were held responsible for their acts and these ridiculous excuses for killing, et cetera, are no longer accepted.”

From Denton, Texas, Michael Leza.  “Good thing that kid didn‘t watch Hamlet.  He might have killed the queen of Denmark.  They really dodged a bullet on this one.”

Rich Reilly in Gaithersburg, Maryland.  “I am sick of people blaming video games, music or movies.  When I was a teenager, my grandmother thought I was sure to kill somebody because I listened to Ozzy Osbourne and played Dungeons and Dragons.  I didn‘t and now it‘s Marilyn Manson and Grand Theft Auto.”

In Virginia, Tosha Moorefield.  “Retail stores have policies in place to stop kids from buying violent games, but no way to stop the parents from buying it for their own underage children.  To blame the makers of these games who admit freely that the games are not for children is ridiculous.”

And one of my guests stated you get points for how many people you kill.  Warnie Pritchett, II with a correction.  “After hearing one of your guests it‘s become apparent they‘ve probably never even played the game.  You don‘t get points for randomly killing people and you‘re certainly not rewarded for killing officers.”

Finally Kevin Kehoe in Terre Haute, Indiana.  “Thanks to an ‘80‘s game that shall remain nameless, I‘ve spent the last 20 years gorging on flashing dots, fruit and ghosts, and am now morbidly obese.”  That‘s a good one, you know, like Pac-Man I guess.

Is that the game, Joe, Pac-Man, the one—yes—all right with the fruits, right? 

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Your e-mails abramsreport—one word -- @msnbc.com.  We go through them at the end of the show. 

“OH PLEAs!”—why would so many men suddenly take up drawing in Boise, Idaho, and why is the—quote—“art class being held in a building with no windows?  Here are the answers.

Every Monday and Tuesday night, club owner Chris Teague hosts art night at the windowless building at Teague‘s art sanctuary alternatively known by patrons as Erotic City, customers can fulfill their creative urges, but oddly enough, these art classes are made up mostly of men.  Teague offers up sketchpads and pencils for free to encourage drawing, although apparently not much encouragement is needed. 

You see, the goal here is not really to find the next Matisse.  It is, let‘s just say, a creative solution to a city ordinance that banned complete nudity at strip clubs, so Erotic City no longer has strippers on those nights.  No, they are nude models, nude models who also happen to dance. 

Since the city ordinance has an exception for artistic displays, Teague offers drawing class while the—quote—“models” perform their nude dance routines.  The Boise Police Department has decided not to cite Erotic City for ordinance violations.  It‘s nice to see a city getting so committed as to having those creative juices flowing. 

(MUSIC)

ABRAMS:  That does it for us tonight.  Coming up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews.  Come back tomorrow night.  We‘ll have more coverage of the decision not to charge Bill Cosby.  Thanks.  I‘ll see you on the “Today” show tomorrow morning and then again on this program tomorrow night.  See you tomorrow.

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

Content and programming copyright 2005 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2005 Voxant, Inc. ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

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