updated 5/26/2005 2:29:12 PM ET 2005-05-26T18:29:12

Guest: Mary Fulginiti, Pam Bondi, John McCain, Mary Prevost, Stacey Honowitz, Arthur Aidala, Martha Zoller


DANNY PORTER, GWINNETT COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY:  There has to be a consequence for lying to the police.  And we don‘t want, as a society, to allow people to lie to the police. 


JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Tonight‘s top headline, the runaway bride facing jail time.  She ran from her wedding, but now can she outrun the law? 

Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, no passport required and only common sense allowed. 


SCARBOROUGH (voice-over):  Jennifer Wilbanks faces up to six years in prison for lying to police about her make-believe kidnapping and rape, but is it justice or just unfair?  That‘s tonight‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY showdown. 

Plus, comedian Chris Tucker testifies, as the defense rests at the Jackson trial.  But the former king of pop never took the stand.  Will it matter to the jury?  We are going to have the very latest from inside the courthouse, as tensions rise. 

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA:  The extremes wanted a battle here. 

They didn‘t want a compromise. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Then, he led the charge for the compromise on the filibuster fight in Washington.  And, tonight, John McCain is in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY to talk about his future plans and his new movie about his life. 


ANNOUNCER:  From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all.  Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

SCARBOROUGH:  Good evening, and welcome to tonight‘s show. 

She jilted her fiance and she jumped on a greyhound bus to Las Vegas, then to New Mexico, before calling the cops with bizarre stories of a kidnapping and a rape that came right out of a porn movie.  And, tonight, a month almost to the day after she ran out on her fiance, Jennifer Wilbanks was finally charged with crimes that could send her to jail for six years. 


PORTER:  They have returned an indictment charging Jennifer Carol Wilbanks with one count of the offense of false statements and one count of the offense of false report of a crime. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Then the D.A. went on to say that the charges could mean up to six years in jail.  The D.A. also says an arrest warrant is going to be issued in the next few days, though Wilbanks is expected to turn herself in, of course, if she doesn‘t run away first. 

So, will that punishment fit the crime? 

With me now to talk about it, we have got some—we have got a great panel.  We have got defense attorney Mary Prevost.  We have radio talk show host Martha Zoller, who knew Jennifer Wilbanks, also defense attorney and also prosecutor Stacey Honowitz.

Stacey, I want to start with you.  You are the only prosecutor on the panel tonight. 

Some people out there would say, six years for making a bizarre phone call to the police?  And, again, does this charge, do these two charges that could land her in jail for six years fit this crime, or is it overkill? 

STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA ASSISTANT STATE ATTORNEY:  Well, when you say that she is going to get six years, you have to step back.  That‘s the maximum penalty that she is looking at, five, of course, on the felony and one year on the misdemeanor. 

And I think, if people actually knew what she did—not many people know exactly what she told the police.  She told them...


SCARBOROUGH:  What did she tell them? 

HONOWITZ:  Well, I am not going to get very graphic on the show, because some of the things aren‘t proper for me to speak about.

But all I can tell you, if you ever read the old “Forum” magazines, it‘s a very graphic description of what allegedly took place, which was all a big lie.  She talked about a sexual assault by the gentleman.  She talked about a sexual assault by the woman.  She talked about it happening at the same time.  You can use your imagination to try to figure out how graphic it actually got.  And I think...


SCARBOROUGH:  Well, let me ask—let me ask you, Stacey.  I want to ask the significance of that, because, again, for everybody that read this complaint—and I would guess a lot of people went online to read it, because I will get a little more—I won‘t be graphic.  You don‘t have to cover your children‘s ears.  But she talks about having sex with a woman.  But she talks about having sex with a man.  She talks about the woman doing things to her.  She talks about how she did things to the woman and the man, and it was all happening at the same time.

HONOWITZ:  Right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And my question is this.  If I am a police officer and somebody just comes in and they are scared and they say, I was kidnapped and raped, you know, it would bother me if they lied to me, but going into this great detail, coming up with this story that, again, it is a bizarre scenario.  There is something seriously wrong with this woman‘s psychological state.  I would take that more personally.  Do you think the level of detail may have angered the police, that she had concocted this bizarre lie? 

HONOWITZ:  Oh, absolutely.

And I can tell you that it‘s not even just the detail of the—and the graphic nature of what she told.  But, Joe, you have to remember, this wasn‘t somebody that just walked in and said, I have been kidnapped; I have been raped.  You have to remember how many police officers were out there looking for her.  She gave a description of this woman, of this man.  If anybody was stopped along the way, became suspect, her fiance became a suspect.  He had to go through a lie detector. 

All these things add up to make it a point to show this woman, you are not going to get away with this.  She needed to be charged.  And I think the grand jury did the right thing by charging her with both the felony and the misdemeanor.  My—my prediction is, she will plead out.  She will probably plea to a misdemeanor.  She won‘t get six years in jail.  I don‘t think they are looking for jail time.  She needs to be on probation and continue her counseling.  That‘s what needs to happen in this case. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Martha, it‘s your community.  You know her attorney.  You have spoken with her attorney over the past week.  You knew Jennifer in passing.  Do you think the D.A.‘s charges today may have reflected anger and animosity in that community, and that‘s why he felt like he had to throw these—throw these charges at her? 

MARTHA ZOLLER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Well, what I don‘t understand is that this story was told, this long, concocted story was not told to the Gwinnett Police or to the people in Duluth.  It was told to the Albuquerque Police.  And they determined within a day that they weren‘t going to bring charges. 

Clearly, a woman that goes in and concocts a story like that, the reason why the police kept asking her questions, do you remember anything else, is because they knew from the beginning it didn‘t add up.  They had a feeling that it didn‘t add up.  And they decided within a day not to bring charges.  Why it took almost 30 days for Gwinnett County to decide what to do, when it was a conversation with the police chief or with the police officer—there was no report filed.  There were no people that were out looking for these people. 

In fact, that‘s what Albuquerque kept pushing the question, and she said, don‘t go look for anybody, because I have been lying.  And it was wrong to lie.  It was completely wrong to lie, and people think there should be a pay—a payment for it of some kind.  But a felony charge for something like this I think is ridiculous. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, let‘s listen to the 911 call that Jennifer Wilbanks made on April the 30th


DISPATCHER:  And the person that did this to you, was it a he or a she?

WILBANKS:  It was a Hispanic man and a Caucasian woman.


WILBANKS:  It happened in Duluth.

DISPATCHER:  Did they have any weapons on them?

WILBANKS:  Yes.  They had a huge pistol and a small handgun.

DISPATCHER:  Do you know if they were real?


(END 911 CALL)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Arthur, with our law enforcement officers having to investigate child abductions across America—and there are a lot of Americans tonight that hear a tape like that and are very angry.  And they want her to be punished.  They want her to go to jail. 

Isn‘t it fair to say, if you lie to the police that way, if you tie up 911, if you tie up a community, you deserve to do time behind bars? 

ARTHUR AIDALA, FORMER PROSECUTOR:  Well, no.  I disagree with that. 

First of all, this young woman was totally freaked out—let‘s face it—by the prospects of getting married.  She takes off, which she is allowed to do.  This is the United States of America.  This is why we are the greatest country in the world, is because you are allowed to exercise your... 


SCARBOROUGH:  You‘re allowed to lie to law enforcement officers and... 


AIDALA:  First of all...


SCARBOROUGH:  That makes us a great country?  Is that why our troops are fighting over in Iraq? 

AIDALA:  In federal court, in federal court, you cannot lie to law enforcement officers.  And that‘s why Martha Stewart became the poster child for not lying to the FBI.

But, in state court, yes, you absolutely can lie to law enforcement officers, the same way they are allowed to lie to you.  And think about it.  Look at the scenario.  And this is what bothers me about this, is that the prosecutor, who was trying to do the right thing, he‘s trying probably the biggest case of his career, instead of having the courage and the internal fortitude to do what he thought was right, he didn‘t. 

He threw it in the hands of a grand jury.  Any first-year graduate of a law school would know, this is not a felony.  Any prosecutor or former prosecutor on your panel will tell you, this is not a felony.  This is a kid...


SCARBOROUGH:  Mary Prevost... 


AIDALA:  This is a case that the D.A.—that the D.A. looks at, that this is a misdemeanor by all stretch of the imagination. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Mary, if I understand it, it is a felony in Georgia to lie to the police. 

MARY PREVOST, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Well, yes, it is.  And it‘s a felony or a misdemeanor in just about every other state in the country, not just federal court.  And I practice in both here in California. 

But I have to say, I wonder if this wasn‘t an opportunity for the D.A.  to get his own high-profile case and play to the press.  I mean, I don‘t see it as a felony case, because... 

SCARBOROUGH:  Mary, you heard the—you heard the 911 call, though, Mary.  I mean, don‘t you think this woman should be punished?  Don‘t you think she should be sent behind bars for at least a year or two? 

PREVOST:  No.  I don‘t think that she should go behind bars. 

I think she needs serious counseling.  And that may be one reason why they did pursue it, because, as I understand from reading some reports today, some of the law enforcement agencies I think that racked up maybe up to $40,000 in fees in investigating this don‘t want restitution from her. 

HONOWITZ:  Joe, can I ask...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  ... question? 

PREVOST:  I think that the D.A. may be wanting...

SCARBOROUGH:  Wait.  Let—let Mary finish. 

PREVOST:  I think the D.A. may be wanting a plea out of this case, so that they can monitor her and put her into mental health counseling, which is exactly what she needs. 

ZOLLER:  And that‘s where she is now. 


I don‘t understand, Joe.  Every time someone is arrested and it‘s a high-profile case and charges are brought, automatically, people say, well, the D.A. is looking for a political move or he‘s trying to make a name for himself.  People have to realize what she did in this case.  And I don‘t know why they are handling her with kid gloves.  She faked an abduction.  She faked a rape.  She cut off her hair.  She had her entire family in shambles.

She had the whole country looking for her.  So, to look at it and say, well, she just has a mental problem and she had every right to run away is ridiculous.  She committed a crime.


AIDALA:  But that only lasted a very short amount of time.  That only lasted a very short amount of time.  From when she actually reported that she lied to them to when it was turned up that she was—the truth—was a very small period of time of all of those days they were searching for her. 

HONOWITZ:  It doesn‘t matter.  You can‘t backtrack from what...


AIDALA:  She—by all accounts, she did not know everybody was looking for her.  By all accounts...


AIDALA:  She didn‘t know that.

ZOLLER:  But up until the time she lied to the police, I would hope—and I think any of us would hope—that if one of our children, loved ones were missing, that people would be looking for that person, just the way they were looking for Jennifer Wilbanks. 

You know, we have got to really keep this in perspective.  There‘s a responsibility, no doubt about it, but I don‘t think she should go to jail for what she did.  She needs to get help for what her problems are.  And let‘s hope, in the future, that we don‘t wait to look for someone who is missing, because then we could end up in a more serious situation. 

HONOWITZ:  Well, that‘s the message, unfortunately, that gets sent in a case like this, because that‘s what happens. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Mary—Mary—I want to ask Mary.  I guess that is my biggest concern, and that is Stacey‘s biggest concern.  What if she doesn‘t spend a day behind bars?  What kind of message does that send to other people? 

PREVOST:  I think...

SCARBOROUGH:  You can lie to the police and get away with it? 

PREVOST:  Well, prosecutors aren‘t supposed to prosecute crimes to send messages to other people.  They are supposed to be looking at the individual charge. 

And let‘s not forget, this woman has destroyed her own life, more than any prosecutor or prosecution can ever do.  She is on every TV show all the time with a terrible picture.  Her entire past has been dragged up.  She can‘t walk down the street probably for the rest of her life without sheer embarrassment. 

She has done more for hurting herself than any prosecutor ever could.  And I think that what she really needs is to get herself straight.  She needs a lot of serious help.  And that‘s probably what‘s going to happen in this case.  She needs help.  And I think they need to send that message out. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, Mary, yes, she definitely does need help.  I mean, anybody that saw what she told the police, absolutely unbelievable.  And she has also been charged three other times, if I am not mistaken, three other times, for shoplifting.

And there are her three different mug shots.  I guess the first time it was OK.  She was chipper about it.  Second time, not as happy.  Third time, looks a little stunned. 

Martha, thanks for being with us. 

Also, Stacey Honowitz, greatly appreciate it. 

Mary and Arthur, stick around, because, coming up next, the very latest on the Michael Jackson trial.  The defense rested its case.  It finished today without calling the former king of pop to defend himself on the stand.  You know, they promised they were going to do that.  I guess Jacko wasn‘t up to it.  Will the jury be fine with that strategy?  We are going to be hearing from our all-star legal team. 



MCCAIN:  It‘s not an accident that only 33 percent of the American people think that the Congress is doing a good job. 


SCARBOROUGH:  My one-on-one with Senator John McCain.  He is at the center of a political firestorm over President Bush‘s judges, and he is here to answer those saying that he let the Republican Party down.

Hey, it‘s a big night in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  Stick around.  We‘ve got a lot more.


SCARBOROUGH:  The Michael Jackson case ended.  It wasn‘t a thriller.  The defense didn‘t even call him.  We‘re going to be talking about that, that decision, and much, much more when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns in just a minute.




JAY LENO, HOST:  Actually, there was one kind of embarrassing moment.  When I took the stand, they asked me to point to the defendant, and I pointed out LaToya. 

LENO:  Well, after, what, 12 weeks of trial, Michael Jackson‘s attorneys, they have finally admitted that Michael slept with children, but it was about love, not sex, which just goes to prove, that line works for all guys.



SCARBOROUGH:  I will tell you what.  Jay Leno has been going after Michael Jackson over the past few nights on his show.  But I‘ll tell you what.  It‘s getting very, very serious in the Jackson child molestation case.  After 10 weeks, closing arguments are set to begin, and the jury could be deciding Michael Jackson‘s fate as early as next week. 

Here to talk about the end game in the trial against Michael Jackson is our all-star legal panel.  We have former federal prosecutor Mary Fulginiti.  We also have prosecutor Pam Bondi.  And still with us, criminal defense attorneys Mary Prevost and Arthur Aidala.

Let‘s begin with you, Mary.

The defense rested.  Did they place enough reasonable doubt in the minds of the jurors to help Michael Jackson walk? 

PREVOST:  I think they did, and I think they did it well.  And I think the prosecution came in with a sketchy case to begin with. 

I would anticipate, when the jury goes out after rebuttal and if there‘s any surrebuttal after that, when they go out to deliberate, it‘s going to take a while, but I think they will either hang on the molest charges or not guilty on the molest charges, and not guilty on the other two charges. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Mary Fulginiti, what do you think? 

MARY FULGINITI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR:  You know, I think it‘s too soon to tell. 

I think you have to hear the closing arguments, because in any case where the defense puts on a very vigorous defense, it all comes down to closing arguments.  You have really got to hear how the prosecution puts together their case for the jury and undermines the defense‘s theory of this case.  I think, after that, we will have a better perspective on trying to figure out how we think the jury will or will not come back. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, though, Jackson‘s attorneys said up front that they were going to produce Michael Jackson, put him on the stand.  He was going to answer a lot of these charges.  That didn‘t happen.  A lot of other things the defense said was going to happen didn‘t happen either. 

Does that end up working against Michael Jackson?  Does the jury remember that? 

AIDALA:  Well, what Mesereau said in his opening statement is, you were going to hear from Jackson‘s mouth.  And I think what he was alluding to, as many defense attorneys do in their opening, is different statements that come in, not necessarily—he never said, Michael is going to take the stand.

And if I could respectfully disagree with my colleagues, I think, as attorneys, our egos are so big that we think it all comes down to closing arguments.  But most of the jurors I speak to afterwards tell me that their minds were made up way before the closing arguments.  And, in this case, Mesereau here did a great job in cutting out the legs of the mother.

And the mother here, as we spoke about last night, Joe, is like the puppeteer.  You can‘t really attack the kid, because this probably isn‘t the kid.  He is not the mastermind.  The mother is the mastermind. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, you know, Arthur...

AIDALA:  And if you just annihilate her credibility, it all flows from there. 

SCARBOROUGH:  They aggressively went after her. 

Pam Bondi, I—you know, I thought the defense may have overpromised. 

Well, also, the prosecution did also.  But, tonight, the defense rested. 

Do you think they may have overpromised a bit? 

PAM BONDI, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR:  Joe, I do, and especially with what you said about those jurors wanted to hear from Michael Jackson, based on the defense‘s opening argument.

And I think the defense promised a lot, a lot of hype that just didn‘t happen.  And, I mean, with Michael Jackson sitting there for all those weeks and then the defense rests, I really, really think that that hurt the defense, and...


SCARBOROUGH:  Well, they also said, Pam, at the very beginning, Jay Leno was going to come out.

BONDI:  That‘s right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And prove that this kid was a little shakedown artist that asked for money.  Leno came out and said no such thing. 

BONDI:  That‘s right. 

And, you know, it really hurts an attorney‘s credibility when you promise a lot of things and it just—it doesn‘t happen.  And, you know, one thing, don‘t ever underestimate the power of a closing argument, especially in a case like this.  The prosecution can really hit a home run and put it all together, because it is.  It‘s based on this boy‘s testimony.  But what they can show is everything that corroborates his testimony.

And I really think that they can bring it all together in the closing argument. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Mary Prevost, how important is it for a defendant to get up on the stand and tell his side of the story?  If Michael Jackson does not get up on the stand, we all know that he has got the right to remain silent, to not—to not get up and testify in the court of law.

But, at the same time, is that held against him by the jury? 

PREVOST:  You know, when I have spoken to juries after cases where I had not put my client on the witness stand, I would have to say that 90 percent of the jurors didn‘t—were not upset that my client did not take the stand.  They understood that they had the right to remain silent.

And I think that‘s the case here.  And I think that this jury isn‘t living under a rock.  I think they know probably that Michael Jackson is an odd person, that this would drag this through forever, that Mesereau wasn‘t going to put up this odd duck, this really—really, he is just a weirdo - - up on the witness stand, so the prosecutor can open up all sorts of weirdnesses about his life. 

I mean, I think that they know why he is not taking the witness stand.  I wouldn‘t put him up.  I don‘t think anybody would put him on the witness stand. 


SCARBOROUGH:  I don‘t think many would. 

And, Mary Fulginiti, I will ask you—I will ask you the same thing, but, obviously from the other side of it.  Would a prosecutor—would a prosecutor want Michael Jackson up there or would a prosecutor feel like, well, you know what?  The jury is going to hold it against this guy for not answering these charges that he molested a little kid?

FULGINITI:  Well, you know, I think, while all of us, including the jury, would love to hear from Michael Jackson what really happened, the reality of it is, a prosecutor, I think, in this type of case, knowing who Michael is, would absolutely love to have him take the stand, just like they were probably thrilled that he showed up to court on the day that the victim took the stand in pajamas, because I think he is, as the other Mary said, he‘s an odd duck, to put it mildly and lightly.

And I don‘t think that would actually weigh in his favor here.  I mean, there‘s too many admissions that he has made, even on videotapes, that would just be reinforced, the fact that he, you know, has stated before that he finds it to be appropriate to sleep with little boys that he doesn‘t know.  I think most people, if this wasn‘t Michael Jackson and this was John Smith being tried, would think, that is not only unusually bizarre and bad behavior, but that it‘s downright wrong. 

And so, therefore, you know, I think that they don‘t have a choice in this case but not to put him on the stand. 

AIDALA:  Joe, if I could...

FULGINITI:  I am just surprised...



SCARBOROUGH:  Well, I will tell you what.  We will be right back.  We have got more of this.

Plus, we are going to be having my interview with Senator John McCain.  He enters SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, and he is not backing down one bit with those conservatives who are angry with his big compromise on the president‘s judges. 

And her story sparked international outrage, the girl without a smile suffering in silence, sent into the world of Internet child porn by her own father.  But now, for the very first time, the mysterious girl speaks and she is alive and well.  And we will tell you her incredible story. 


SCARBOROUGH:  He has been attacked by his own party for compromising on a deal in Washington that had to do with federal judges.  But, tonight, Senator John McCain fires back, telling SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY how the deal went down. 

But, first, here‘s the latest news your family needs to know.

(NEWS BREAK)        

SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome back to the show. 

Michael Jackson leaving court in California today after his lawyers rested their case. 

Welcome back.  Our all-star panel is also here to discuss the Michael Jackson case.  We have got former federal prosecutor Mary Fulginiti.  We also have prosecutor Pam Bondi, criminal defense attorneys Mary Prevost and also Arthur Aidala.

Arthur, let me begin with you.

Did the prosecution do all the things that it claimed it was going to do at the top of this trial? 

AIDALA:  No.  No.  They didn‘t hit the ball out of the park.  It‘s not a home run.  This is not a clear conviction, although, I think when they arrested, people thought it may have been a clear conviction.

But I think Mesereau and his team did a great job of taking a lot of wind out of their sails.  In particular, don‘t forget Michael‘s wife.  That was a big promise.  Everyone is focusing right now on Jay Leno and the defense not delivering on Jay Leno.  But what about Michael‘s wife and the mother of his children, who testified about what a wonderful man he was? 

SCARBOROUGH:  It was a disaster. 

AIDALA:  It was a disaster for the prosecution. 

And what Mary Prevost had said earlier about the jurors not needing to hear the defendant testify I think is 100 percent accurate.  And Mesereau will definitely address that and drive that home to some degree in the closing arguments, that Michael doesn‘t need to take the stand.  And, more importantly, that he‘s going to drill them, is, they don‘t have to prove anything.  And beyond a reasonable doubt is what is going to dictate here.  And he can rattle off 15 to 25 different reasonable doubts, doubts that these jurors should have in their mind that there‘s a reason for—there‘s a reason for why they should doubt his guilt. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Pam Bondi, I—you know, going into this trial, I think, like most Americans, I believed Michael Jackson was guilty.  I believed he was a child molester.  I believe he had strange attachments with very young boys.

But, at the same time, what I believe and what even the juries believe is a big difference between the prosecution proving beyond a reasonable doubt that Michael Jackson molested this child at this time.  Do you think they did their job? 

BONDI:  Joe, I really do.

And I think also that the 1108, or similar fact evidence, as it‘s called in Florida, really comes into play here, the prior bad acts where he allegedly molested two other children.  I really think that adds to the victim‘s credibility in this case.  But, you know, when it comes down to it, when those jurors in that jury room, it‘s going to be whether or not they believed that boy, the boy in this case.  And it‘s going to be whether or not his credibility withstood the cross-examination. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Mary Prevost, it is going to just come down to whether they believe this boy, whether they believe the boy‘s mother, because Michael Jackson is out of it.  He hasn‘t testified.  So, it really is the victims, the alleged victims, that are on trial here, right? 

PREVOST:  Well, no, it‘s not.  They are the ones who are testifying, obviously, for the prosecution.  They are not on trial.  They are just telling their story, but their stories, I think...

SCARBOROUGH:  No, but it—it comes down to their character, right, whether people believe them or not? 

PREVOST:  Absolutely. 

It comes down very much to character.  And I can‘t believe that the prosecution didn‘t know about the shakedown previously by the mother and the boy, where the mother claimed that her son was attacked and she was attacked, and, really, her ex-husband had beaten her up, and all of these other things.

And the other thing that I think that was sort of odd about this case, why I never really believed Michael Jackson myself was guilty, is because people who are pedophiles, who like little boys, who touch little boys, do more than that, and they do it a lot.  And when they are not caught, they continue to do so.  And you would have seen so many more of these boys coming forward, I think, like what happened with the Catholic Church when the first set of young men who were molested came forward. 

SCARBOROUGH:  They keep coming.

PREVOST:  The other ones felt that they could.


PREVOST:  You know, I mean...

SCARBOROUGH:  Mary Fulginiti, let me ask you—we have got to go, but, Mary, give me your prediction.  What do you think is going to happen? 

FULGINITI:  You know, I think the prosecutor has done their job here, and I think the only problem is that it‘s a celebrity case.  And, as we have seen in O.J. and in the Robert Blake case, although the standard of proof is beyond a reasonable doubt, I really think, in celebrity cases, jurors are looking for beyond all possible doubt, even though that isn‘t the standard, and I am not sure that that‘s where this case ended up. 


FULGINITI:  But I do think the prosecution did their job. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I think it‘s a great point.  And I think, because of celebrity, I think Michael Jackson walks.  I‘m not happy about it, but I think that‘s going to happen. 

Mary, Mary, Pam, and Arthur, thank you so much for being with us.  We greatly appreciate it. 

PREVOST:  Thank you. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, from a child abuse trial to a child abuse victim.

As you may know, today is National Missing Children Day.  And we bring you the moving story of the young girl who miraculously survived years of abuse from her father, who adopted her.  He also sold his young daughter‘s image online.  Tonight, for the first time, we are hearing from that brave girl known to many law enforcement officers as the girl without a smile. 

Bob Kealing from our NBC station WESH in Orlando spoke to her.  And he has this story. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I just can tell what he is feeling. 

BOB KEALING, WESH REPORTER (voice-over):  We will call her Mia.  She is 12 years old.  Her favorite color is purple.  Her pet hamster‘s name is B.J. 

“MIA,” ABUSE VICTIM:  One day, I was watching a show.  I forget what it was about.  It was on Discovery Channel about hamsters.  That was right after I got it, when he was sitting there watching it.  That‘s Theodore.  This is Marley (ph). 

KEALING:  This insightful and funny sixth grader. 

MIA:  I will give him a hair transplant. 

KEALING:  Has been through hell.  Mia‘s new adoptive mother, Faith. 

“FAITH,” ADOPTIVE MOTHER OF “MIA”:  When she was in Russia with her parents, she was stabbed in the back of her neck, where she still has scars. 

MIA:  Going down, you don‘t have to pedal. 

KEALING:  Russian authorities moved Mia to an orphanage.  Then came new hope, an American from Pittsburgh.  He saw five-year-old Mia and decided to adopt, but her savior was just another monster. 

(on camera):  He brought her over here specifically to abuse her? 

FAITH:  I believe that. 

KEALING:  And you said she provided some confirmation for that, too, didn‘t she? 

FAITH:  Yes.  She said everything started the same day. 

KEALING (voice-over):  For six years, Faith said Mia was a virtual slave, forced against her will to have sex.  And it didn‘t stop there.  Mia‘s abuser took sexually explicit photos of her in arcades and hotel elevators. 

FAITH:  She knew it wasn‘t normal, but she was scared, and he told her that no one would believe her, or that there was just no way out of it. 

KEALING:  The abuser sold hundreds of images of his own adoptive daughter to Internet pedophiles.  Some were taken during Orlando vacations. 

Two years ago, the FBI finally unmasked Mia‘s monster.  In February 2004, a judge sentenced Pittsburgh engineer Matthew Alan Mancuso to 15 years in prison for producing child pornography of his own daughter.  But he has not been tried for raping her. 

MIA:  I think it‘s wrong how he didn‘t get charged with half the stuff he did, and I don‘t think that should happen to anybody. 

KEALING (on camera):  Her mother says Mia is well aware of how difficult it‘s going to be to bring the man who abused her for so long to justice.  And, for that, they will both lean on the Faith that‘s gotten them through so much already. 

MIA:  Lead me to the towering rock of safety, for you are my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me. 

Since I know I have people that are backing me up and are there for me. 


SCARBOROUGH:  What a story. 

With me now is Bob Kealing, the WESH reporter who covered this story and spoke to the young girl. 

Bob, thank you so much for being with us. 

First of all, I have just got to ask you.  I mean, you look at your report, and she seems like a normal sixth grader.  Tell me, how is she responding? 

KEALING:  Yes, Joe, not just normal.  I mean, she was captivating.  She was funny and intelligent and articulate.  And I think that‘s a good sign in terms of how she is responding to having a new adoptive mother, and having people around her who genuinely care for her and love her. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Bob, I know a lot of law enforcement officers throughout this search for her took this very personally.  What kind of reaction are you getting from police officers and others, FBI agents, who have been tracking down this young girl for some time? 

I mean, they have to almost feel like she is their adoptive daughter, too. 

KEALING:  Oh, without a doubt.  In fact, you know, the Toronto police services Internet sex crimes unit was the first unit to really call attention to these photos and start looking for this girl two years ago.

And I got an e-mail from one of the lead detectives on the case who said watching this story brought tears to his eyes, because he felt it had taken so long to find her.  It was such a relief to see that, you know, given all she has been through, she is doing pretty well. 

SCARBOROUGH:  So, what is next for her?  What is next for her family?  What are they—I guess she is in counseling now.  They expect it to be a long road to recovery for her personally mentally.  But what is the next step for them? 

KEALING:  Well, there‘s a couple of things.  The woman you saw in the piece who adopted her is only 28 years old, but she is a courageous abuse survivor herself.  And Mia thinks that‘s very important, to have someone who really genuinely understands what she has been through. 

From a law enforcement perspective, we can tell you that authorities here in Orange County, Florida, as well as in Pittsburgh now are both seeking to press state charges of child abuse, of child rape against Matthew Alan Mancuso.  So, perhaps, if they have the proper evidence, he will be behind bars for life, which is exactly what Mia wants. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  And I will tell you what.  That‘s exactly what the monster deserves. 

Hey, Bob, thanks so much for that report.  It was very moving. 

And, certainly, all of our thoughts and prayers are going to be with her and her family in the coming weeks, months and years.  She is going to need it. 

Coming up next, the man all of Washington is talking about.  I go one on one with Senator John McCain, what he is saying to conservatives still angry about his compromise on the president‘s judges and what his plans are for 2008. 

Stay tuned.  That‘s coming up next. 



SCARBOROUGH:  Senator John McCain has always been known as a maverick senator, and never more so than this week.  And he is in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY tonight to talk about a new movie based on his life, “Faith of My Fathers,” which airs on A&E this weekend, and also to talk about the big compromise he led this week in Washington. 


MCCAIN:  It‘s a film about my time in prison, with flashbacks to my time at the Naval Academy and as a young pilot.  And it‘s a film about my relationship with my father and my relationship with my beloved comrades that I was in Hanoi with.  And I am proud of the job they did.  And you can see Shawn Hatosy here, who plays me in the film.  Some claim that I was never that good-looking.  I claim I was better-looking. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, over this past week, you have also been through something that politically awfully tough, nothing to compare with what you went through in Vietnam.  And maybe that explains why you don‘t care about a lot of the criticism that has come your way, obviously, a lot of people upset about the deal you helped to broker regarding judges. 

You have Pat Buchanan, who today wrote an article that had this title:

“McCain Sells Out the GOP.”  James Dobson, as you know, head of Focus on the Family, called the deal a complete bailout and a betrayal by a cabal of Republicans.  And Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council that is also connected with James Dobson, warned that there would be repercussions. 

Senator, what do you say to those people out there who claim that you betrayed the president, Bill Frist and the Republican Party? 

MCCAIN:  Well, first of all, you forgot to mention that, on the far left, the People for the American Way and all those other organizations, they are just as mad as those on the right, because the extremes wanted a battle here.  They didn‘t want a compromise. 

You watch.  We are going to confirm judges.  We confirmed one that had been blocked for four years today.  We are scheduled to take up and debate and confirm the others.  And we are not going to slow down or shut down the Senate, as the Democrats had said they were going to do.  We are going to take up the defense authorization bill and energy bill.  We are going to move forward with the people‘s business. 

Joe, it‘s not an accident that only 33 percent of the American people think the Congress is doing a good job; 58 percent said that they thought we‘re acting like spoiled children.  They expect us to work together.  That‘s what this was all about.  And you watch and see what happens in the Senate.  I think we are going to go back to doing the people‘s business, rather than insulting each other on the floor of the Senate, as has been the case for the last period of time. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Senator, after I left Washington in 2001, it struck me—and I said this to several people—that you were the least popular person in the Washington, D.C., easily the least popular politician that I knew.  Outside of the beltway, outside of Washington, D.C., you were the most popular politician in America.  And I think you still are.

But the big question is, what about those primary states like South Carolina?  What about Iowa, where religious conservatives determine who wins the Republican nomination in 2008? 

MCCAIN:  Joe, first of all, I have not decided whether I am going to run or not, and I won‘t for a couple of years.

But, second of all, look, I have got to do what is right.  I have got to do what I believe is right.  I was, and so were those 13 others, and we were all in this equally, were worried about the institution of the United States Senate.  And we didn‘t want to see it blown up.  We didn‘t want to see further divisiveness.  We think—we are very grateful for Bill Frist‘s leadership and his efforts.

And he couldn‘t quite carry it off.  And we couldn‘t have done it without his leadership.  And I still respect and admire his leadership.  But the fact is, I have got to do what is right.  I have got to do what I think is right.  And, you know, I have been in politics for a long time, Joe.  And I have found that, when I do what I believe is right, it usually turns out OK. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It certainly does, but again, the word betrayal, awfully tough.  Does that bother you or have you just gotten to a stage in your life, a stage in your political career where it just rolls off your back and you keep going? 

MCCAIN:  Well, when I see where it‘s coming from.

For people that—they weren‘t interested in the fight over judges.  They were interested in a battle to win supremacy, to bend us to their will, people from outside the United States Senate on the extreme left and the extreme right.  We don‘t have that obligation.  Our obligation is to work for our constituents and to do what we are supposed to do. 

And all 14 of us equally were people of goodwill.  We trust one another.  And my response to them is, see what we do.  See how this works out and then make a judgment.  And my response to those people who are watching this program, that you want us to do your work.  We have now reached this compromise that we are going to.  We are going to take up issues.  We are going to try to figure out why you are paying 2.5 bucks at the gas tank for—a gallon at the gas pump. 

We are going to win this war in Iraq, where young men and women are sacrificing every day.  We are going to win the war on terror.  We are not going to spend our time fighting over judges and insulting one another on the floor of the Senate. 


SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s fascinating, what he said about Bill Frist.  Bill Frist couldn‘t quite carry it off. 

We are going to have more with my interview with Senator John McCain right after this. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, you can find out what everybody is reading in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY every morning by going to Joe.MSNBC.com. 

Stick around.  We‘ll be right back with more with John McCain.


SCARBOROUGH:  You are looking at a clip from the movie “Faith of our Fathers.”  It‘ going to be on A&E this Memorial Day weekend.  It‘s based on the great book by John McCain.

And I spoke to Senator McCain earlier tonight and asked him about some of his happier days right here in Pensacola. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know, everybody has a story about you, Senator, from Pensacola.  You obviously were in flight school here.  And most of those stories have very little to do with your Naval career.  It has to do with things that happened off of the base.

But you talk to them.  They say, you know, we knew the senator and we loved him back then.  But we never would have expected him to show the type of strength he showed in Vietnam when he was a POW.  What was your source of strength?  What made you rise to the occasion, when, so often, we have people that are faced with great challenges that aren‘t able to rise to the moment? 

MCCAIN:  Well, I think there was two factors, one, the legacy of my family, my father and my grandfather, who I knew I didn‘t want to dishonor their honorable service.

But, also, the major reason was those men that I served with, who were my comrades, who lifted me up when I was down, who gave me comfort when I failed, and were basically the source of my strength.  And I will always be grateful to those men that I served with in prison.  They are my heroes.  I was privileged to observe 1,000 acts of courage and compassion and love. 


SCARBOROUGH:  What a great American hero.  Great to have him here with us tonight. 

You can also see him tomorrow morning, Senator John McCain, on “IMUS.” 

And we will see you here tomorrow night in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. 


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