updated 5/2/2005 2:13:56 PM ET 2005-05-02T18:13:56

Guests: Don Woodruff, Jim Moret, William Fallon, Jonna Spilbor, Paul Gilespie

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Coming up, hundreds of volunteers join police searching for a Georgia bride-to- be. 


ABRAMS (voice-over):  Thirty-two-year-old Jennifer Wilbanks is supposed to get married on Saturday.  She went out for a jog last night and never came back.  We‘ll get a report. 

And Michael Jackson‘s ex-wife takes the stand.  She and Jackson are also battling over custody of their children.  Will she finally tell all she knows about Jackson? 

Plus, police are looking for this girl.  She may know a child who was sexually abused and photographed at a Disney World hotel. 

The program about justice starts now. 


ABRAMS:  Hi everyone.  First up on the docket, just days before her wedding, a bride-to-be is missing in Georgia.  Thirty-two-year-old Jennifer Wilbanks left her house for a jog at 8:30 last night and never came home.  Her fiance, John Mason (ph), said that after she had been gone for more than an hour he went to look for her on his own.  When he says he couldn‘t find her—she was a former marathon runner—at anywhere in the neighborhood or at any local hospitals he called the police to report her missing.  Jennifer and John were planning to be married this Saturday in Georgia.  Jennifer‘s friends and family have dismissed suggestions that her disappearance is a case of cold feet. 


SHELLEY RAY, JENNIFER WILBANKS‘ BRIDESMAID:  My fear is that, you know, maybe something has happened to her again because this is so uncharacteristic for this time of—in her life.  It‘s such an exciting and happy time for her and she‘s been so excited. 


ABRAMS:  Joining us now on the phone with an update on the status of the investigation, Major Don Woodruff who‘s with the police department in Duluth, Georgia.  Major, thanks a lot for coming on the program.  We appreciate it.  All right, give us a stat.  I mean this is considered at this point what? 

MAJ. DON WOODRUFF, DULUTH, GA POLICE DEPT. (via phone):  Well, what we know is that we have a missing person, so we‘re treating it as such and that‘s what we‘ve been doing is looking for a missing person. 

ABRAMS:  So you—your office gets a call last night from the fiance, is that right? 

WOODRUFF:  That is correct.  He called about 10:30, said she went out a couple hours before jogging, had not returned, he got concerned.  We immediately had our K-9 unit out trying to do a track and it was unsuccessful.  Because it was dark, we decided to wait until this morning.  This morning we organized a massive search.  We had volunteers and other law enforcement agencies from Hall County, Gwinnett County to assist and put about 250 people out in the area to see if we could find her, and that has been negative results so far. 

ABRAMS:  And I assume you‘ve spoken at length to her fiance, correct? 

WOODRUFF:  Correct.  We‘ve spoken with the family members and friends to try to see if they can provide any leads.

ABRAMS:  And has the—again, has the fiance been able to provide you with anything in terms of location as to where she went running, et cetera?  I mean she‘s a marathon runner so she may be the type of person who can run and run. 

WOODRUFF:  Well, he gave us what would normally be her running path, so to speak, her trek, and we took that area and went out a considerable radius from that area and gritted it off and made an extensive thorough good pattern search of that area. 

ABRAMS:  Did they live together? 

WOODRUFF:  I‘m not sure. 

ABRAMS:  OK.  So when the question of whether she returned home, unclear whether that was home to their house or to his or her house, right? 

WOODRUFF:  I‘m unsure of their situation at this point in time.  I know they were planning to get married this Saturday; at least that‘s what I‘ve been given to understand from family members and friends. 

ABRAMS:  And friends—I assume the friends of hers are echoing what we just heard from that friend on tape there, which is that this is not a woman who would have had cold feet and just decided to run off? 

WOODRUFF:  That‘s correct.  The family members and friends have said this is totally uncharacteristic of her and they—for that reason they had concerns and of course because of their concerns then we immediately went to work looking for her. 

ABRAMS:  And as part of this investigation, have you been administering lie detectors to anyone? 

WOODRUFF:  At the present time that has not taken place.  We have just been interviewing people to make a determination if they know anything that can help us find her.

ABRAMS:  All right, well that‘s the number, if you‘ve got any information as to Jennifer Wilbanks‘ whereabouts, 770-476-4151.  Major, thanks for taking the time.  Appreciate it.

WOODRUFF:  Thank you very much.

ABRAMS:  Now to the Michael Jackson case.  Just a short time ago Jackson‘s ex-wife walked into a California courtroom and took the stand to testify against the man who is raising her children, identifying herself as Debbie Rowe Jackson, the mother of Michael Jackson‘s kids.  She said she prefers to be called Ms. Rowe, told jurors she and Jackson knew each other 20 years before they married. 

They never shared a home.  A confidentiality agreement with Jackson has kept Rowe relatively confidential, silent.  Reportedly she has only been able to speak publicly if Jackson gave her permission.  Jim Moret, attorney, senior correspondent for “Inside Edition” was in the courtroom when Debbie Rowe testified.  All right, so Jim, what has she said so far? 

JIM MORET, “INSIDE EDITION” SENIOR CORRESPONDENT:  Well you have to understand we‘ve been waiting all day for this.  She walked up to the witness stand very deliberately.  She appeared to be nervous.  It didn‘t appear that she and Jackson looked at each other.  She basically said that it was the very first time that she‘d seen Michael Jackson since their divorce back in 1999.  She said in early February of 2003 she got a phone call from one of Jackson‘s associates, put Michael Jackson on the phone and he said, I need help. 

I need you to participate in a video.  There are going—there‘s going to be lies spread about me in another video coming out.  This is prior to the Martin Bashir documentary airing in the United States.  He then puts on one of the unindicted co-conspirators, the associates and this person then directs her to make a rebuttal video, this rebuttal video that aired on FOX.  She said she couldn‘t talk to him until the confidentiality agreement issue was worked out.

That took a couple of days and then she basically did a videotape for these people, but this is the interesting part.  She said that when she got to this person‘s home, one of the—one of Jackson‘s associates, she was not given a script as prosecutors have led us to believe.  She was not told what to say ahead of time...


MORET:  ... but then for the prosecution she said this, I did lie about some of the things that I said, specifically about Michael Jackson‘s parenting skills and that in the classic cliffhanger style is when the courtroom day ended, so more to come tomorrow. 

ABRAMS:  But, Jim, so what if she lied about Michael Jackson‘s parenting skills.  The reason she‘s an important witness for the prosecution is because she backs up the accuser‘s mother here who says I was given a script, I was forced to say this, they kept me at Neverland to make sure I wouldn‘t leave and his ex-wife is saying, no script, yes, I may have embellished things a bit but I wasn‘t told, I wasn‘t coerced, right? 

MORET:  Well, it‘s even worse than that because the videographer who had been Michael Jackson‘s videographer for years was on the stand earlier today.  He shot both the interview with Debbie Rowe and the family, the accuser and the boy‘s mother and brother and he said with respect to the family, he did not see them coached.  He did not see them get a script.  So you‘re right, the prosecution‘s key argument—the only thing the prosecution really got out of this is they tied Michael Jackson to these alleged co-conspirators.  But you‘re right, if there‘s no crime, so what if he‘s tied to them. 

ABRAMS:  And you know you make a good point.  I mean that is that some people have asked you know how do we know Michael Jackson was behind any of this and the fact that Jackson actually called her but, you know, then again she is his ex-wife.  I mean who is going to call her up?  Some—hi, I‘m calling on behalf of Michael Jackson.  I know you‘re his ex-wife—you know, he‘s going to call her.  What‘s the big deal, right? 

MORET:  Well but they didn‘t have a relationship like that.  She said that originally she was given a very strange visitation schedule.  She was able to see her children eight hours every 45 days but that didn‘t really work out because Michael was often gone and touring, so she eventually gave up her parental rights and she said that she regretted that or at least she implied she regretted that.  She said she did this video because she really wanted to always be there for Michael Jackson and she wanted to be reacquainted with him and reintroduced to her children.  So that clearly was her motivation, but she definitely helped the defense today, I have to say. 

ABRAMS:  This is not the first witness where this has happened. 

Here‘s a piece of what she said on that FOX rebuttal video. 


DEBBIE ROWE, MICHAEL JACKSON‘S EX-WIFE:  He really wanted to be a dad and I said so be a dad.  And he looked at me puzzled.  And I said let me do this.  I want to do this.  You‘ve been so good to me.  You‘re such a great friend.  Please let me do this.  I said you need to be a dad.  I want to do this.  And I nagged him into it, if you will. 


ABRAMS:  All right, apart from the cheesy music and the fireplace playing in the background there, Jim, does she now say that that‘s not true that she sort of nagged Michael Jackson into doing this? 

MORET:  Well, it appears that—what about—into having kids? 

Because I wasn‘t able to hear all that...


MORET:  ... clearly.  I was able to see the video.  Yes, she...

ABRAMS:  That fireplace can be sort of mesmerizing, Jim.  And you sort of watch that video and you see that sort of fireplace with that sort of like porno film music in the background and it makes you...

MORET:  I know.  I was hypnotized.

ABRAMS:  Yes.  Yes.  All right.  Let me take...

MORET:  And one interesting point about this video...

ABRAMS:  Go ahead.

MORET:  She said it took nine hours to tape the video.  Now, it may not have been scripted, but it was clearly edited.  So we don‘t know much about this interview because, as I said, you know she was only on the stand for about 40 minutes.  More to come tomorrow, but she didn‘t—she hasn‘t seen her kids since 1999 in any meaningful way.  She hasn‘t seen Michael Jackson since then. 

She basically married him—she said she was friends with him and it was apparent that there was some affection there when she was talking about him.  She began to well up with tears.  She wiped her eyes.  She said I want to be reintroduced to him, reacquainted with my kids.  I‘m their mother. 

You know she appears to have a great fondness for Michael Jackson, but they never lived together, as you mentioned earlier.  So it was certainly not a traditional marriage.  But she may have been motivated to do this out of her desire to see her children...

ABRAMS:  Speaking of...

MORET:  ... maybe that‘s thwarting the prosecution. 

ABRAMS:  Speaking of traditional marriage, let me take a break.  We‘re going to come back and talk about whether she is going to discuss their sex life.  I don‘t even know that I want to hear about it, if there is one.  But anyway...

And authorities try to track down a child pornographer and the girl he victimized at a Disney World hotel.  They want to know if you‘ve seen this girl who they say is not a victim but may know the victim in this case. 

Plus, damaging testimony against the Marine who gave up a job as a Wall Street trader to fight in Iraq, the military deciding whether to charge him with murder for killing two Iraqis.  Today two men who had been under his command testified they didn‘t think it was self-defense. 

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




ROWE:  Kids don‘t call me mom because I don‘t want them to.  They‘re not—they‘re Michael‘s children.  It‘s not that they‘re not my children, but I had them because I wanted him to be a father.  I believe that there are people who should be parents and he‘s one of them. 


ABRAMS:  So what the heck is she doing now fighting to get the kids back?  And she says it wasn‘t scripted.  Joining me now former Essex County prosecutor Bill Fallon and criminal defense attorney Jonna Spilbor, as well as attorney, senior correspondent for “Inside Edition” Jim Moret. 

Jim, real quick, so is she now saying that‘s not true?  I mean or is she standing by that?  I don‘t—where do we stand on all this? 

MORET:  Well, it‘s a cliffhanger.  As I said, we don‘t know.  She says there were certain untruths that she said, certain things she lied about, namely how he is as a parent.  Let me read to you the last thing she said. 

I‘ve—when they were asking about seeing Michael Jackson with children, I‘ve seen him with kids the whole time I‘ve known him and that‘s where the break ended.  So the question is, how far are they going to get into that with him?  You mentioned their sex life.  I do not believe the judge will allow that to be a topic of discussion in this case. 

ABRAMS:  Or their lack thereof. 

MORET:  Or their lack thereof, you‘re right. 

ABRAMS:  Right.  All right.  All right.  This is from “The Globe” and it‘s not actually—this is a guy who wrote—who actually conducted an interview with the—with Debbie Rowe and it was supposed to be for the rebuttal video, didn‘t make it in apparently and then he published it or sold it to “The Globe”, and here‘s what she said.

She‘s said Michael is not a pedophile and he is not gay.  He‘s a big kid.  Michael is just a 44-year-old kid.  Let me play one more piece of sound—number seven here.  This is from the FOX rebuttal video sort of echoing that sentiment. 


ROWE:  He would never hurt a child, never.  It‘s not in him.  It‘s—no way.  He would never do anything inappropriate with a child.  It‘s the furthest thing from his mind.  When those allegations came in ‘93, I think it was, he was devastated.  I mean talk about going for the jugular. 


ABRAMS:  Talk about that music.  All right, I should make a correction.  I mentioned “The Globe” a minute ago.  Apparently, the author of that article says that it was not sold to “The Globe”.

Bill Fallon, it seems to me this is going to be a disastrous witness in the end for the prosecutors.

WILLIAM FALLON, FORMER ESSEX COUNTY MA PROSECUTOR:  Dan, I don‘t know if it‘s going to be disastrous, but I think she probably had to be put on.  Fortunately...

ABRAMS:  Why? 

FALLON:  ... or—because I think she at least says Jackson can be there as part of the rebuttal tape.  I think that that‘s the only thing she‘s going to come out of this other than the nine hours, even though she says I‘m not scripted, the nine hours is a little difficult.  I think the jury is going to look at two things, the prosecution didn‘t give what they promised, is bad for the prosecution.  You know I think that‘s the worst mistake either side ever makes in this case.  But there is going to be nine hours of preparation for whatever is on this.  As you say, there‘s this pornography film music here...


FALLON:  ... I mean it‘s kind of an absurd—I don‘t know, lovingness.  Now that she‘s on right now, what is she telling us?  The one subterranean thing, if you will, is that she is saying I am testifying here and I‘m going after my kids.  So a jury could say after all is said and done, I wonder why she‘s backing out now.  So maybe—and you know what, the 44-year-old kid I hope that comes in, because if I‘m trying this case, maybe I wouldn‘t get a guilty either, but if I‘m trying it, I‘m saying he is a 40-year-old kid who just becomes an 11-year-old kid and does this masturbatory stuff because he‘s not the worst pedophile.  I don‘t know what‘s going to happen here.  She certainly wasn‘t a blockbuster so far. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  I don‘t know, Jonna.

JONNA SPILBOR, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Dan, Debbie Rowe is going to go down in history as the one witness too many for the prosecution in this case because here is the point.  How dead does this conspiracy horse need to be before the prosecution stops beating it?  In a word, her testimony is completely irrelevant.  Who cares?  Who cares that she gave a glowing recommendation.  Who cares that she doesn‘t want to give a glowing recommendation now.  What does it prove?  Nothing.


FALLON:  It proves that she‘s—the thing is though Jonna, what she does prove is Michael Jackson has his hand in that rebuttal tape, and if you buy the rebuttal tape...

SPILBOR:   But so what...

FALLON:  Nobody, because that becomes part of the conspiracy...

SPILBOR:   Why is the rebuttal tape...

FALLON:  No...

SPILBOR:  ... it‘s not.  There‘s no conspiracy.  The rebuttal tape is a commercial for Michael Jackson to right the wrong... 

FALLON:  I‘m not saying there‘s a great conspiracy here...

SPILBOR:   ... that Bashir...

FALLON:  ... hands on it for the first time you have someone calling his ex-wife out and Michael is getting on there probably in a high pitched voice or a low pitch,  I‘d be asking what was the pitch of your voice.  He‘s in there.  At least you have Michael‘s...

SPILBOR:   That doesn‘t...

FALLON:  ... voice or hands on this...


FALLON:  ... you‘ve never had that before. 

SPILBOR:   You know this is the first time we‘ve ever heard of Michael Jackson actually having a hand in any of this...

FALLON:  And that‘s why it‘s here...

SPILBOR:   ... so-called conspiracy...

FALLON:  That‘s the only hope...

SPILBOR:   That is so (UNINTELLIGIBLE).  It‘s nothing. 

ABRAMS:  Here‘s Debbie Rowe...

FALLON:  Well it‘s better than nothing. 

ABRAMS:  ... again on that rebuttal video and this I think is one of the most important pieces of sound because you know again, she‘s now saying that it wasn‘t scripted.  It would have been hard to say that this was scripted. 


ROWE:  He was welling up and then his son was born and the look on his face—talk amongst yourselves.  I‘ve never seen him that happy.  And that‘s what made it wonderful for me, was to see the look on his face. 



SPILBOR:   That‘s real.  That‘s real. 


FALLON:  Mother of God...

ABRAMS:  Jim...


FALLON:  This isn‘t real.  This is like...

SPILBOR:   That is real...

FALLON:  Whether it‘s scripted or not, this is the fakest kind of thing I‘ve ever seen.  Talk about...

SPILBOR:   Julia Roberts...


SPILBOR:   ... Julia Roberts couldn‘t put on that good of a performance.

ABRAMS:  Wait a sec.  Wait a sec.

SPILBOR:   Those are real tears. 


FALLON:  Talk amongst yourselves. 


FALLON:  Oh Mother of God.  You think that‘s real? 


ABRAMS:  Jim Moret, do we know officially what the official position from Debbie Rowe and Michael Jackson is as to whether their children were conceived through sex or some other method? 

MORET:  Well, no, we don‘t.  And I suspect because of their confidentiality agreement we‘re not going to hear it here in court.  You know, that music was making your crew well up with tears; I just want you to know that.  That clip—you should be very careful about playing those clips. 

I think that really the prosecution promised a bombshell.  They delivered a firecracker.  I just don‘t see the bombshell witness here.  You‘re right;

Michael Jackson may have cooperated with these un-indicted co-conspirators, but so what?  To do this commercial—I agree with your guests.  This is a commercial and P.R. agents all over the country will tell you they do these things all the time.  So what?

ABRAMS:  We‘re going to see this video in court, right, Jim?

MORET:  I suspect the defense is going to try to get it in.  The defense tried today unsuccessfully to get in the outtakes of the Martin Bashir documentary because they contend that Martin Bashir took Michael Jackson out of context and made him appear in a bad light, but the judge says that‘s for your case not for the case in chief.  So I suspect we‘re going to see a lot of these videos in on the defense case. 

ABRAMS:  Bill, what else are you expecting to hear from Debbie Rowe that will be helpful to the prosecution? 

FALLON:  Oh you know, I‘m in the minority here, Dan, but I‘m still surprised that the prosecution is not going to try to get in please define your relationship with Michael Jackson.  I have never heard of a relationship—of any husband and ex-wife situation where one side or the other is not entitled to get in what the relationship is, what the bias is, how the relationship broke down, how loving was it when it broke down. 

You know, everybody is so reluctant to think that comes in because it paints him with a horrible brush.  They don‘t have a normal relationship.  What would be interesting here is just how intimate was it over the long haul?  I‘m not sure he‘s going to let them get in how many times they had sex, but I think when you talk about how they have fallen out of love or they‘re now separated and the kids...


FALLON:  ... was it a business relationship or was it a romantic one?

ABRAMS:  Jim, do we know—has the judge ruled on that or they‘re just not going to go there? 

MORET:  No, he hasn‘t.  I—well the judge has said she‘s coming in for a very limited purpose.  The prosecution offered her up to show a conspiracy and I suspect that you‘re not going to get too far a field of that.  But Bill is right.  This is not a normal relationship.  There is nothing about any member of this case that‘s normal. 

Certainly Michael Jackson isn‘t normal.  So you know what, it‘s anybody‘s guess.   I think the defense wants to be very careful.  They don‘t want to bring character evidence in because that‘s going to open the door to a lot of things that the defense frankly doesn‘t want to deal with.  So I suspect the defense is going to try to keep this as narrow as the judge wants to keep this. 

FALLON:  But Dan...


FALLON:  ... they‘re going to ask how many times you‘ve been alone with Michael Jackson and I think that can come in.  They may not get the graphics of the sex.  But I think you have to say this woman has changed her mind.  Is it just a business relationship gone bad, if so, how so?   And I agree that the—it was a firecracker.   I think Jim said it perfectly, but the firecracker at least had a spark, otherwise it‘s a totally washout so far. 

ABRAMS:  Why is it Jim—why, Jim has she now decided—what does she say the reason is that she‘s now fighting for custody? 

MORET:  She—it seems like she‘s just had a change of heart.  I mean she wants to see her kids.  You know, parental rights, it‘s a tough thing.   I suspect that if a woman gives up her rights to her children, as unusual as that is, it‘s not unusual to think that somebody could have a change of heart, maybe she legitimately misses them.  I—it‘s hard to look into her mind, but you know, she did well up with tears.  It didn‘t look like she was acting.  When her children mentioned, maybe she just misses them. 

ABRAMS:  Yes, Jonna, is it possible that that‘s going to work against Jackson, the idea that she‘s now coming in that maybe they‘ll—the jurors will walk away thinking she‘s scared of what Michael Jackson would do to the kids? 

SPILBOR:   No, I don‘t think that at all.  And I don‘t even think that testimony would be relevant in this case.  If anything, if she‘s had a change of heart, if she‘s gone from being a friendly egg donor, which is what she was, which is not a bad thing, if her change of heart is probably only motivated by dollar signs, maybe she wants Michael Jackson to give her child support, who knows.  But we can‘t fault her for giving up parental rights.  I mean she gave these children willingly to Michael Jackson.  She said he‘s a good father and as far we know he is, except for the baby hanging incident.  That‘s the one thing (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

FALLON:  Jonna, she wasn‘t an egg donor.  She was his wife...

SPILBOR:   A friendly egg donor...

FALLON:  I mean that‘s what I‘m saying...

SPILBOR:   That‘s what she just said on video...

FALLON:  ... looking at it a little differently.  All I‘m suggesting...

SPILBOR:   Which is OK.

FALLON:  ... here is somebody in the jury might say...

ABRAMS:  All right...

FALLON:  ... you know is she in fact...

ABRAMS:  ... got to wrap it up...

FALLON:  ... struck by he sleeps with little boys? 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Bill Fallon, Jonna Spilbor, Jim Moret, thanks a lot. 

SPILBOR:   Dan, thanks.

MORET:  Thanks Dan.

ABRAMS:  A reminder, you can get more on the Jackson trial on our blawg “Sidebar”, the blawg—get it—about justice, including entries from Jackson insider Stacy Brown.  It‘s all at abramsreport.msnbc.com. 

Coming up, police looking for this girl, hoping she knows a child who was sexually abused and photographed at a Disney World hotel. 

And drama in a hearing to decide if a former Wall Street trader who gave up his career to fight in Iraq should be charged with murder.


ABRAMS:  Coming up, new developments in the search for a child pornographer and the girl he repeatedly victimized apparently at a Disney World hotel.  Police want your help, first the headlines.


ABRAMS:  This is a disturbing story to report to you.  It‘s an unsolved mystery involving a child victim of pornography.  Authorities are hoping it‘s getting closer to being solved.  She‘s apparently been seen all over the Internet being victimized by her abuser in a series of hundreds of horrific images.  Until recently it was believed only her abuser and those viewing the pictures posted on the Internet know who she is.  But today Florida‘s Orange County Sheriff‘s Office, the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and the Toronto Police Department released this photo of a girl they believe to be a witness, just a witness, in the case.  In a press conference just hours ago, authorities explained what led them to believe she might have information they‘re looking for. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We believe she‘s been on the same furniture in the same room and quite possibly knows the person that photographed the victim in our case. 


ABRAMS:  Investigators working on the case are adding the picture to a series of photos they released in February, photos of the hotel, the victim digitally removed from the photos.  The release of these photos led to thousands of phone calls, many from people who recognize the location of the photos.  Authorities believe it is a hotel in Disney World, the Port Orleans French Quarter Resort. 

Joining me now with the latest on the investigation, Detective Sergeant Paul Gilespie with the Toronto Police Department.  Detective, thanks very much for coming on the program.  We appreciate it. 


ABRAMS:  All right, so give us a sense of how you‘re able to link up a picture of this girl who, you know, as you all have said repeatedly, there‘s no evidence that she was a victim of anything with this case? 

GILESPIE:  Well, there‘s about 200 images of abuse in this series of child pornography that are going around the Internet.  Two of these images, in fact, contain this particular girl who we have deemed a witness and that is one of the two images we released today.  There are enough characteristics and similarities in the pictures—the two pictures of her leading us to believe this is in fact the location of what we‘ve said is the other crime scene not in Orlando, but perhaps somewhere in the northeast United States or southeast Canada. 

ABRAMS:  Now we had to—we weighed the whole process of putting her picture on television, the reason we decided to do it was because you all in law enforcement have decided it‘s so important that her picture get out there.  How can you be so certain that she is not also a victim such that you shouldn‘t be releasing her picture and we shouldn‘t be showing her picture? 

GILESPIE:  Well that speaks perfectly to the bigger picture that I have to deal with in my dilemma.  I have 17 officers in my unit and all we do is Internet child pornography investigations.  We have pictures of 50,000 different children right now that are victims of this horrific abuse worldwide and the majority of them are from quote-unquote, “first world countries”.

By not doing enough, we have not done very well.  We‘ve identified less than 500 of these children worldwide from—and that‘s the best efforts of all the law enforcement around the world including Scotland Yard and all the American law enforcement agencies.  So we haven‘t done very well.  I think we need to get a little aggressive in our manners.  We have to understand there could be certain risks involved, but we have to do something that starts to lead us to identify and rescue these kids.  Our number one motivation is getting them the help they need and we‘re just not doing very well.

ABRAMS:  Any sense of the age of that photograph?  Meaning, is it recent?  So we might have a sense of how old she might be now.

GILESPIE:  We believe the picture we released today is three to four years old.  So that‘s putting the child on the couch that we released, we think she‘s probably around 12 now. 

ABRAMS:  And you believe that the victim who was, you know, again victimized and those disgusting pictures are apparently all over the Internet, was on the very same couch that that girl is sitting on?

GILESPIE:  Yes, we do. 

ABRAMS:  And that‘s just based on pictures from photographs, et cetera? 

GILESPIE:  The pictures and other evidence within the case.  So we‘re

·         we‘ve examined this and we‘ve been working on this case for over two years and we only found this picture about three weeks ago, the one that we released today.  There‘s been a—awfully put, there‘s been a feeding frenzy in certain areas of the Internet over this series.  This particular victim is being re-abused regularly and the predators who like this kind of thing are actively trading and trying to determine if in fact there‘s new material out there...

ABRAMS:  They keep showing...


ABRAMS:  They keep showing new photos of this girl being abused? 

GILESPIE:  Well the same photos.  We‘re not sure exactly which ones are the new ones and I‘m sure that we don‘t have all the pictures in the series, but there‘s a lot of trading going on right now and this is one of the new pictures that we just identified about three weeks ago.

ABRAMS:  And let‘s—again, let‘s be clear, there are no photos of this girl or no suggestion or no evidence that you have that this girl has been abused? 

GILESPIE:  Absolutely.  We want to speak to her as a witness.  We believe she probably knows who the victim is and we‘d just like to ask her and certainly interview her as well to determine that nothing bad has happened to her.

ABRAMS:  I remember when we were talking about this case a while back there was a sense that the victim, the actual victim here may have known the person who was doing this to her, correct? 

GILESPIE:  Absolutely.  In my experience these are not stranger cases.  Ninety-nine percent, over that, 99.5 percent of the victims of Internet child abuse are victims that know the offender.  These aren‘t stranger cases.  These are persons who have a position of trust who have been left to care for the children, perhaps a father, an uncle, a coach, a friend of the family and these are the people who are victimizing the children unbeknownst to the loving family that they have. 

ABRAMS:  Well I have to tell you it‘s reassuring that you guys are not letting this investigation die.  If you have any information that can help in their investigation, that‘s the number, 866-635-HELP, 866-635-HELP.  Remember, if you know that girl that we showed a minute ago, it‘s about a three to four-year-old picture, again, not believed to be a victim here, just a witness.  The authorities want to talk to her to find out if she knows anything.  So if you have any information, please call that number. 

Detective, thanks for coming back on the program.  Appreciate it.

GILESPIE:  You‘re welcome. 

ABRAMS:  Coming up, potentially damaging testimony for a Marine facing the death penalty for shooting two Iraqi soldiers in Iraq, two Iraqis in Iraq.  We don‘t know if they were soldiers.  Marines who were at the scene say the Iraqis were not a threat.  A live report is up next.


ABRAMS:  Coming up, a Marine could face the death penalty for shooting two Iraqis.  He says it was self-defense.  What did other Marines who were there say today on the stand?  A live report is up next.




2ND LT. ILARIO PANTANO, U.S. MARINE CORPS:  I shot them in the side. 

I shot them in the chest.  I shot them as they were turning towards me. 


ABRAMS:  But he insists he didn‘t shoot them in the back and that‘s at the core of Lieutenant Ilario Pantano‘s defense.  It‘s a military hearing that could put him on trial for premeditated murder, went into its second day.  On the stand, two members of Pantano‘s command who say they were ordered to turn away before Pantano emptied two clips of M-16 ammunition into two suspected insurgents he says he feared were about to attack him. 

Navy corpsman George “Doc” Gobles told the hearing he heard Pantano warn the Iraqis to stop in Arabic and in English.  That‘s good for the defense.  But he also said—quote—“myself, I didn‘t see anything” when asked if he thought the Iraqis did anything that justified being shot.  Charles Gittins is Lieutenant Pantano‘s attorney. 


CHARLES GITTINS, LT. ILARIO PANTANO‘S ATTORNEY:  He didn‘t see the first shots fired.  He thought the Iraqis were trying to flee.  A lieutenant was three to four feet away from the Iraqis.  When they moved, he could reasonably have believed that he was being challenged. 


ABRAMS:  In addition to Gobles, Pantano‘s really chief accuser is Sergeant Daniel Coburn.  He testified that Pantano was angry at the Iraqis he killed, that Coburn couldn‘t perceive them as a threat.  But late this afternoon Coburn was officially notified of his legal rights against self-incrimination as he sat on the witness stand. 

“My Take” on this, the more I read about this case, the more I read about the testimony, the more I wonder why they brought this case against Pantano.  Remember, no one saw exactly what happened in that car apart from Pantano.  Both of the key witnesses say they had their backs turned.  Pantano says that these two Iraqis turned together, started speaking in Arabic, he told them to stop, you hear the one witness say he heard them say stop, that they then turned towards him, and that‘s when he shot. 

NBC News Mark Potter is at the scene of the Marine base camp at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.  All right, Mark, there are these two key witnesses, right, you‘ve got Gobles and...


ABRAMS:  ... Coburn and it seems to me Gobles is helping the defense more than the prosecution. 

POTTER:  Well absolutely.  We thought he was a defense witness today.  He came on and said that he heard, as you indicated, that he heard Pantano tell the Iraqi detainees in English and in Arabic, stop, before he then heard the shots and then he went on to spend quite a bit of time praising the lieutenant as a wonderful commander, saying he respected him, he felt very safe with him.  He felt that he cared about the Iraqi people.  He clearly turned into a defense witness by the time that his time on the stand was done. 

ABRAMS:  Well what happened...

POTTER:  We‘re talking about problems with the prosecution, let me just make one other point...


POTTER:  ... not only do they not have any eyewitnesses, they don‘t have any bodies.  The men who were shot were buried right afterward and then this case was developed months later and they never were able to go back and find the bodies to do a forensic analysis.  There are no autopsies to determine entrance wounds and exit wounds.  It is a major problem for the prosecution as well. 

ABRAMS:  Yes and that‘s why it‘s good this is a hearing.  Maybe they‘ll decide not to bring him to trial.  Here‘s one of the things interesting, though.  We talked about Gobles, you said he‘s been sort of turned into a defense witness.  Here‘s him quoted in a “New York” magazine article.

He said the following.  I know for a fact that if I were in Lieutenant Pantano‘s shoes under the same circumstances, I would not have fired at the Iraqis.  I believe this was an unjustified shooting.

Do you know where that came from? 

POTTER:  Right and on the stand—a slightly different tone on the stand today.  He said that he had no reason to believe that there was a threat, but he also made the point that he didn‘t see the shooting and he at least supported one part of Pantano‘s allegation that he made this verbal command to the Iraqis.  So the assessment of many people watching today is that he actually seemed to help the defense. 

And then you had the problem with Coburn.  He actually was a better witness for the prosecution, saying that he saw no way that these Iraqis could have caused problems for Pantano.  They were on their knees.  They had been searched.  There were no weapons.  They were not acting in a threatening manner.  They were frightened.  In that way he helped.

He also said, as you indicated, that Pantano was angry, but then he had his own problems on the stand when he was impeached by the defense attorney, trying to prove that he had talked to reporters and then they ended up having to read him his rights and he was taken off the stand so that he could deal with military lawyers before he could come back.  It was a real problem...

ABRAMS:  Here is what Pantano said to “Dateline”.


PANTANO:  I could feel that this thing was happening.  There was this beat and they both pivoted to me at the same time, moving towards me at the same time.  And in that moment of them, you know, of them disobeying my command to stop and pivoting to me at the same time, I shot them. 


ABRAMS:  All right, Mark, we‘re going to keep following this case, but boy based on what I see so far this is not a strong case against a guy who is considered a very respected leader and Marine.

Mark Potter is going to be there.  We‘ll check in with him again. 

Thanks a lot Mark.

POTTER:  Thank you Dan. 

ABRAMS:  Coming up, why being powerful or famous shouldn‘t mean you can‘t admit you‘re wrong some of the time.  It‘s my “Closing Argument”.


ABRAMS:  My “Closing Argument”—why is it sometime so hard for the powerful or famous to say, I was wrong?  First example in the news recently, Maggie Gyllenhaal, the India actress told the press at the Tribeca Film Festival last week, the U.S. was—quote—“responsible in some way for the September 11 attacks”, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) thinking maybe she misspoke, she might recognize that she made the wrong comment at the wrong time to viewing a movie at the film festival created to revive the very neighborhood devastated by the terrorist attacks? 

But no, after the public outcry began, rather than just apologize and say she didn‘t mean to suggest that the innocent victims had it coming to them, she just added fuel to the fire, saying we have to be brave enough to ask questions about America‘s role in the world or we risk betraying the victims of 9/11.  OK, now she‘s either just incredibly ignorant or just unwilling to say she was wrong.  I‘m going to give her the benefit of the doubt and assume she just can‘t the words, I blew it. 

And if you look at the news and events this week, well it seems she is not alone in the inability to say I, we were wrong.  Yesterday, the CIA‘s top weapons hunter issued his final report on Iraq and concluded after 18 months of investigation, there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.  The administration used the weapons as the primary justification for the war.  People like me supported the war for that reason. 

But even after this final report, still no admission that we were wrong and it is not coming.  Why do it you ask?  Well because the United States‘ credibility is on the line.  If we don‘t admit that we made a mistake in that regard, we lose even more credibility with the world.  When you‘re fighting a global war on terror, the rest of the globe matters a lot. 

That doesn‘t mean the administration has to apologize for the war.  It can still rightly say the war has achieved certain important objectives, nor should it have any impact on whether to pull our troops from Iraq.  But the administration shouldn‘t be so reluctant to say we got that wrong.  All this reminds me of the show “Happy Days” and the Fonz. 

He could never say the word wrong.  He would always say I was (UNINTELLIGIBLE) but at least Fonzie tried.  Maybe he recognized that it is better to say I was wrong than for everyone else to just know it and wonder why can‘t he, she, they just fess up? 

Coming up, why being a one-time diminutive child star can have its advantages, even when your TV career is long over.  Coming up. 


ABRAMS:  I‘ve had my say, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”.  Last night we debated whether teens selling sex should be prosecuted on prostitution charges, but I said that if a young girl can‘t legally consent to have sex, how can she be charged for selling it, particularly when in most cases he or she is forced or exploited. 

Scott Stewart, “What‘s the effect of minors not being held accountable for prostitution?  It would be legal for kids to prostitute themselves.  Won‘t at least it being a crime get them off the streets?”

Scott, the legislation in New York that we discussed would still pull them off the streets.  But rather than be prosecuted, they would be helped and treated as victims the same we do when they have sex with anyone. 

From Ontario, Canada, Cynda writes, “Using that logic, wouldn‘t it be the same as saying that a teenager should not be charged with drinking because they‘re not of legal age to drink?”

A lot of you asked this question.  Here‘s the difference.  Teens aren‘t allowed to buy liquor and if they try, they can be prosecuted.  Meaning, they‘re perpetrating a crime.  Teens who have underage sex are considered victims.  We don‘t prosecute the victims.  And the same should apply for prostitutes under a certain age. 

Remember in the New York case, she was 12 and prosecuted.  There has got to be a way to craft legislation that encourages them to testify against the pimps and still get them help rather than prosecution. 

Jeff White, “It seems as if we always want to blame the pimp or the John only.  For goodness sake, make everyone face up to their responsibilities.”

I hope you feel the same way, John, when you know a young girl has sex with someone, you know...

Finally, Todd in Florida, “I would also like to point out one other flaw with your logic.  Remember that there have been teens 12 to 15 years old, male and female that have raped adults.  If a teen cannot consent to sex, did they commit a crime by raping an adult?”

Unfortunately Todd, the flaw is in your logic.  You assume that rape is about sex.  Rape is a violent crime.  If a teen rapes an adult, meaning forces himself on an adult, then that‘s a crime, completely distinct from the whole notion of whether a teen can consent to sex.

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

“OH PLEAs!”—who would ever think an autograph and a picture from Emmanuel Lewis would precipitate a serious town hall meeting.  You know Emmanuel Lewis, i.e. Webster.  The informer child star created quite a stir when he was pulled over two weeks ago, driving through Warwick, Georgia 70 miles an hour in a 45 zone. 

He was also towing an SUV, but it wasn‘t the speed that has the town of Warwick in an uproar.  It is the autograph and picture that Lewis gave to a star-struck officer who pulled him over in exchange for a courtesy warning.  Officer Ron Kirk admitted to letting Lewis off a speeding ticket and asking for an autograph and picture, a picture that even the police chief arrived to pose in. 

When the town got wind of Officer Kirk‘s actions, it led to a town meeting.  Not on how the commemorate their celebrity visitor, to make clear there are no exceptions for speeding tickets.  The town lawyer said Kirk will get an official reprimand.  The police chief was unaware of the speeding charge will not be disciplined. 

Talk about the surreal life.  Imagine if it had been a real celebrity. 

That does it for us tonight.


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