updated 6/17/2005 8:12:00 AM ET 2005-06-17T12:12:00

Guest:  Mariaine Croes, Thomas Mesereau, Scott Cornfield, Clint Van Zandt

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Coming up, police searching for missing Alabama teen, Natalee Holloway, take to the skies of Aruba searching by helicopter. 


ABRAMS (voice-over):  With no sign of Natalee after exhaustive searches of the entire island and three suspects in custody, where do the authorities turn now?  We ask an official from Aruba‘s prosecutor‘s office. 

And police say this man may have molested as many as 36,000 children.  That is right, 36,000.  Police found logs in his bedroom, which detail his alleged crimes. 

Plus, breaking news, we‘ve just learned the jury in the Michael Jackson case initially told the judge they were hung, that they could not reach a verdict on some of the counts.  Jackson‘s attorney is here for the first time, Tom Mesereau questioned live, lawyer-to-lawyer. 

The program about justice starts now. 


ABRAMS:  Hi everyone.  We‘ll get to the latest on the search for Natalee Holloway in a moment, but first we want to get the latest on an earthquake that has shaken Los Angeles just over an hour ago. 

MSNBC‘s Jennifer London joins us now from Los Angeles with the latest.  Hi Jennifer.

JENNIFER LONDON, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Hi Dan.  Well there are certainly some nervous people in the Los Angeles area today, specifically San Bernardino County.  And just before 2:00 p.m. local time today, a 5.3 magnitude shook the area.  The epicenter was just a few miles away from the town of Yucaipa.  Now we are not getting any immediate reports of major damage or any injuries. 

We are hearing reports of some minor damage like pictures have fallen off the wall and we are just hearing that the magnitude of this quake has been downgraded to a 4.9.  All of this just coming in to us now, Dan, and I can tell you here in Burbank I actually felt the quake.  I was sitting at a table and it was sort of a slow rumbling. 

The table moved a little bit and then it was a waving, rolling motion and I looked around to see if anyone else felt it, and then I noticed that a phone was hanging on the wall and the cord of the phone was shaking back and forth.  And I thought yes, we did have an earthquake.  Now this is the third moderate earthquake that has hit the California area in the past week.  So we do certainly have some nervous folks out here, but again, no reports of any major damage or injuries—Dan. 

ABRAMS:  Jennifer London, thanks very much.  Appreciate it.

Now to the search for missing Alabama teen, Natalee Holloway.  Aruban police are now using helicopters to search for her.  Last night a copter equipped with infrared technology combed the island where the teen went missing over two weeks ago.  So far the search has turned up nothing. 

Meanwhile, the family of Dutch suspect Joran Van Der Sloot is still waiting to hear a judge‘s ruling on their effort to allow the teen‘s father, who‘s a judge in training on the island, to be allowed to visit his son.  Authorities barred the official from seeing his son, concerned he might give his boy legal advice or coach him on how to answer investigators‘ questions. 

NBC‘s Martin Savidge is in Aruba with the latest.  So Martin, is this the first time that they have used a helicopter for this search? 

MARTIN SAVIDGE, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  That‘s right.  It happened last night, Dan.  They were telling us that they were going to bring some new technology to bear and then sure enough as the sun set, you begin to hear the sound of helicopter blades.  And this helicopter, although you couldn‘t see anything unusual about it, you noted the pattern that it took.  And what it was doing, it was flying over areas that have been searched heavily on the ground, say like the lighthouse or the area on the beach behind us here that had been reported to be the last place that Natalee Holloway had been the night she vanished. 

This helicopter would then hover over those areas and after that, would begin to move along again, so it was clear that surveillance work was going on.  We just weren‘t sure exactly how this imaging will be used.  We have been told that there are ways to tell if the ground has been disturbed apparently.  So we‘ll watch now to see if there are follow-up investigations on the sites where the helicopter was.

ABRAMS:  Martin, I know some of my viewers have been asking why only now? 

It has been over two weeks.  Why are they only doing this now?

SAVIDGE:  Well you know there‘s a lot of questions about why now.  In other words, why did they arrest those boys 11 days after we all knew they were the last ones to see Natalee Holloway the night she vanished?  I don‘t know exactly.  Authorities are saying that they are doing everything methodically, carefully, and by the book as they know to conduct investigations. 

Admittedly, the technology is not always the swiftest and the latest, so perhaps they had to bring this equipment in from somewhere else.  Maybe it was suggested by the FBI, we don‘t know exactly the answer to that. 

ABRAMS:  Now Martin, the father and stepmother of Natalee were on the program yesterday.  Are they still keeping their spirits up, hoping that maybe she will be found alive? 

SAVIDGE:  They do.  They do, although every now and then you hear them talking about their daughter in the past tense, although that could be just a slip of the tongue.  When I was talking with—every time I talked to Beth there is always that flash of optimism, yes it could still happen.  But you know we all know that with this much time going by and what is known about this young woman, that she wouldn‘t perpetuate this kind of story if she was able to get free and talk with someone. 

So yes, they try to keep that hope alive, but the rest of us on the side of reality are going boy, it just does not look good at all.  And that includes the investigators.  

ABRAMS:  And remind us real quick, Martin, how big Aruba is because I think when you talk about losing hope, et cetera, that‘s related, I think in part to the size of the island.  Give us a sense of that.

SAVIDGE:  Well, the island is about 18 miles long and it‘s about six miles wide, so a little bit bigger than the total square mile say of Washington, D.C., which if you remember the case of Chandra Levy, how long it took for her body to be discovered.  Now that‘s not saying that there is a body here, but it shows you that even in an area where you know to search, it can take a long time. 

And Aruba is no different.  There are plenty of places in this terrain where a body could be hidden or it‘s also very possible if a person were alive, that they could be moved from place to place or kept hidden from view and not necessarily where authorities could find them...

ABRAMS:  Martin Savidge, thanks very much.  We appreciate it. 

Together with the United States FBI, the Aruban police have been working around the clock in the investigation into Natalee‘s disappearance and there are a lot of questions that people have been asking about how this investigation has been proceeding.  You heard Martin right there talking about why the boys were arrested 11 days after the incident when presumably they were the last ones to have seen her.

Why were those two security guards arrested initially and then released.  So a lot of people are asking a lot of questions.  Let‘s talk to Mariaine Croes, spokesperson for Aruba‘s prosecutor‘s office.  Thanks very much for coming on the program.  We appreciate it.

All right, so let me start by asking you about the latest news, and that is that the suspect, Joran Van Der Sloot‘s father, who‘s a judge in training on the island, is coming to try and see his son.  So far your office is opposing that.  Why? 

MARIAINE CROES, ARUBA‘S PROSECUTOR‘S OFFICE:  Yes, this is because of the investigation.  The prosecutor has decided that at this moment she will not allow the father to see his son. 

ABRAMS:  And what is the reason for that? 

CROES:  Because as part of the investigation we are doing everything to not harm this investigation, and at this moment, the prosecutor thought that was the best decision to make. 

ABRAMS:  You don‘t want papa telling son how to answer questions, right? 

CROES:  I can only say what I have already said. 

ABRAMS:  All right, let me ask you this—Martin Savidge just made a point, and we were talking about why the helicopter search just started today and I understand that‘s not your office‘s job.  But let me ask you with regard to the arrest of the three boys, 11 days after the incident, these boys were arrested and yet it‘s long been known that they were the last ones to have seen her, and then the security guards were the first ones arrested and then they were released.  Is this a prosecutor‘s office that‘s on top of this case or is it fair to ask some questions about what‘s going on here? 

CROES:  No, we are on top of this case.  We are working very hard together with the police of Aruba and also we are cooperating with the FBI.  Let me explain why they were detained after 11 days, because they were first heard as witnesses, and their stories that they gave as witnesses were then checked out.  And when—because of the investigation, as a result that their story did not check out completely, that‘s when the switch—that is when they became a suspect instead of only a witness. 

ABRAMS:  And is it considered—I mean, again, I know that you have a different system there and so you can hold people merely on suspicion and then as the investigation proceeds, as it did with the two security guards, you eventually released them.  Does that happen a lot in your system, or is that unusual that people will be arrested, put in jail for a number of nights, and then released? 

CROES:  No, let me explain a little bit more about our system.  Maybe that will make it clearer for everybody to understand the system.  When you arrest somebody you have to have a reasonable suspicion that he has committed a crime.  So you have to have a reasonable suspicion that somebody has been involved in a crime.  So then you arrest this person, and then you have a couple of days to do your investigation.  And the further along you get in your investigation, the more evidence you have to have to keep this person in custody.

ABRAMS:  But is there something—does it say that something went wrong when two people who had apparently nothing to do with it were the first ones arrested? 

CROES:  At this time the only thing I can say is that our investigation, like all investigations that we do here, we always start very wide.  We try to cover all angles.  And as the investigation furthers, we try to exclude other angles and then so that we can get to the complete image of what has happened. 

ABRAMS:  Do you know anything about this helicopter search? 

CROES:  I can confirm that yesterday evening there was a helicopter search, and this helicopter had special equipment on board to perform technical investigation in certain areas of Aruba. 

ABRAMS:  And finally, can you tell us anything about whether any of that evidence or alleged evidence found on the beach was somehow connected to Natalee?  There was underwear, other items found as well. 

CROES:  I can say that the complete results of that search was that that particular area can be excluded from further searches. 

ABRAMS:  Oh, so it was not connected to Natalee.  I mean fair enough? 

CROES:  Yes. 

ABRAMS:  OK.  Interesting.  OK, that‘s an important development.  I should say that the family has been very complimentary of your office saying repeatedly that you all have been very good about providing them with very updated information, et cetera. 

Mariaine Croes, thank you very much for coming on the program.  We appreciate it. 

CROES:  You‘re welcome. 

ABRAMS:  We‘re going to have more on the search for Natalee later in the hour.  But that‘s an interesting development that we just heard, that that search had turned up that it was not related to Natalee. 

Coming up, breaking news about the Michael Jackson case.  We‘ve just learned it turns out jurors initially told the judge they were hung and couldn‘t reach a decision on some counts.  Wow.  I‘ll attorney Tom Mesereau about that and did he prepare Jackson for a possible guilty verdict? 

And next, police arrest a man who they say may have molested as many as 36,000 children -- 36,000.  Police say he kept logs of his victims and what he did to them. 

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



ABRAMS:  Was Michael Jackson close to being convicted or at least hung jury?  Documents just released by the court show the jurors initially said they could not reach a verdict on at least two of the charges against Jackson, the misdemeanor alcohol charges just hours before the verdict was read.  The jury sent a note to the judge that read we cannot agree on the lesser counts of seven and eight.  About 15 minutes later, another note, please disregard our previous request with counts seven and eight.  Less than two hours later the jury had reached a verdict, not guilty on all counts. 

Joining me now for what I like to call his first live lawyer-to-lawyer interview, Jackson‘s attorney Tom Mesereau.  Tom, thanks for being on the program.  Appreciate it.

THOMAS MESEREAU, MICHAEL JACKSON‘S ATTORNEY:  Thank you for inviting me, Dan. 

ABRAMS:  So, you must have thought that things were looking pretty good when they sent out that first note if they are fighting over misdemeanor alcohol charges? 

MESEREAU:  You bet.  It was obvious they had acquitted Mr. Jackson on the serious felony counts.  They were briefly divided on some misdemeanor counts, none of which would have brought any jail time.  And before we even completed our discussions with Judge Melville about that question they sent another note saying disregard the last note, so of course we were encouraged. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  Now, at the courthouse, there was a sense near the end of the case, as opposed to the beginning of the case, that Michael Jackson actually might get convicted of something.  Was there ever a point where you were concerned that he might get convicted of one of the serious charges? 

MESEREAU:  No.  The only thing I was worried about was the fact that I don‘t know the jurors.  And when you are being judged by 12 people that you don‘t know there‘s always the possibility something could go wrong.  But other than that normal concern, I was never concerned about their case.  I never thought they had a case to begin with.  I think it never should have been prosecuted.  And we were always hopeful from the very beginning that Michael Jackson was going to be acquitted of all counts. 

ABRAMS:  And I have to say to be fair we had heard from various sources that you remained confident throughout the deliberation process.  I remember saying to people you know come on, he can‘t really be that confident, and they kept saying yes, no, he is.  He is.  He‘s really that confident.

Let me ask you this, did you ever prepare Michael Jackson for the possibility of a conviction?  Did you every sit him down and say look, if you are convicted they‘re going to—they very well may put the cuffs on you right there in court and take you away? 

MESEREAU:  Well you always have to be candid with your client about possibilities.  That‘s part of your ethical and professional duty to the client.  But I was always optimistic about the case from day one.  I always thought the case was bogus.  I always thought their witnesses would collapse on the witness stand.  And I always thought the witness we had and the investigation we had done was going to be earth shattering in the courtroom and I think I was correct on all of those issues. 

ABRAMS:  But how do you say something like that to a guy like Michael Jackson?  And how down you sit him down and warn him about what you hope isn‘t going to happen, what you say you think wasn‘t going to happen, but you still, as you point out, still have to warn him about the possibilities?  How do you do it? 

MESEREAU:  Well what you often do with a client is you say listen, you know I‘m your lawyer, I have professional and ethical obligations to disclose to you what the realities are about this process.  Here is what is theoretically possible under the law.  Here is what could happen.  And then you start telling your client candidly if you are going to be honest, and you should be, about how you think the case is going.  And I always thought this case was a pile of rubbish and I still do.

ABRAMS:  How did he react when you talked to him about that possibility? 

MESEREAU:  Well I don‘t want to go into confidential discussions with Michael Jackson, but Michael is a very easy person to deal with.  He was always very down-to-earth, very sincere, very honest, very cooperative.  You know, it would be nice if every client was as nice and comfortable to deal with as Michael Jackson.  Believe me.  He‘s a very down to earth, nice, kindhearted person. 

ABRAMS:  You say—talk about easy to deal with, so I‘ve got to ask you this question.  There‘s that day that you‘re seen pacing in front of the courthouse waiting for Michael Jackson to arrive.  He has gone to the hospital, the judge has said he‘s going to hold him in contempt of court if he doesn‘t get there within an hour.  You are seen there on your cell phone frantically calling, et cetera.  Tell us what was happening at that moment for you. 

MESEREAU:  Well, Michael had a health problem.  He went to the hospital.  We disclosed all of this immediately to the court.  The judge got very firm about wanting to see him in the courtroom despite whatever health problem he might have.  And of course, I called the hospital and said get him here immediately.  And I did not want to have Michael held in contempt.  I didn‘t want a bench warrant imposed.  I didn‘t want bail to be revoked, so obviously I was concerned.  But it was a legitimate health problem... 

ABRAMS:  Were you nervous? 

MESEREAU:  ... and the judge—sure, I was nervous that would he get there on time, but this had nothing to do with any peculiarity of Michael Jackson.  He had legitimate health problems that‘s why he was in the hospital. 

ABRAMS:  But have you ever had a client who‘s gone—I mean a lot of people kept saying why does he keep going to the hospital for back problems?  I mean a lot of our viewers kept writing in and saying I‘ve had serious back problems, I don‘t go to the hospital every time my back hurts. 

MESEREAU:  Well you‘re not Michael Jackson.  Michael Jackson is a unique individual who has had health problems from time to time, including serious back problems.  So you‘re welcome to your situation and he is welcome to his. 

ABRAMS:  And—but when you say he was easy to deal with that didn‘t make it a little tougher having to deal with, as you point out, Michael Jackson being unique in that way? 

MESEREAU:  That particular day I was concerned about him getting there on time when the judge became unusually firm.  But on a regular basis dealing with Michael Jackson was delightful.  He was very cooperative and very kind and very understanding.  And one of the reasons he got into this problem was because he has been too kind and too good-natured to too many people. 

ABRAMS:  Let me ask you about that...

MESEREAU:  He‘s a very nice person to deal with.

ABRAMS:  Let me ask you about that.  I want to play you a little piece of sound from one of the jurors when—juror number one—when he was on our program. 


UNIDENTIFIED JUROR:  Based on the evidence that I have reviewed from the early ‘90‘s, I think that it‘s quite possible that he has molested children. 


ABRAMS:  So juror number one clearly didn‘t believe there was enough evidence to convict him in this particular case.  But this juror, and some of the other jurors, saying that they thought it was either possible, likely, that Michael Jackson had molested children in the past.  Were you always convinced that none, not a single one of the allegations, the youth pastor who came in and testified, other people who testified about things they saw, not a single one of those was true? 

MESEREAU:  That is absolutely correct.  He has never molested a soul.  The prosecution tried to prove that five individuals were molested.  Three of them came in and said it was ridiculous, it never happened.  One of them never showed up to testify and his family took money from Mr. Jackson.  The other one who came in took money from Mr. Jackson, his mother took money from Mr. Jackson and his mother went to a tabloid and sold the story. 

ABRAMS:  So why do you think some of the jurors...

MESEREAU:  You add all that up and what do you get? 

ABRAMS:  Why do you think some of the jurors believe that he had molested children in the past? 

MESEREAU:  Because I think the prosecutors kept trying to float false theories to influence them, and I think just the allegations alone disturbed people.  But if you really looked at the facts carefully, if you really looked at the credibility or lack there of these witnesses, Mr.  Jackson was not only not guilty, he was completely innocent of any of these allegations. 

ABRAMS:  Play a little bit of sound from prosecutor Ron Zonen on the program earlier this week.


RON ZONEN, PROSECUTED MICHAEL JACKSON:  Ten years ago there were credible accusations from two young boys, Mr. Jackson paid them enormous amounts of money to make them go away.  Ten years later another child comes along saying exactly the same thing.  What are we supposed to do not file a case like that because somebody might be critical of us?  They‘d be more critical of us if we didn‘t pursue that type of case. 


ABRAMS:  You can understand why it‘s hard for some to believe that someone pays $20-something million in one case for something that never happened.

MESEREAU:  Not if you know the situation.  Not if you know that Michael Jackson is a musical genius, a creative soul who likes to sit in trees and create music, who likes to spend time in the studio, who likes to walk alone through the forest.  He‘s someone who doesn‘t like lawyers, doesn‘t like you know to be involved in serious and complex business discussions.  And basically what he told people to do was hey, just settle this thing, I want to get along with my musical career. 

And Larry Feldman, a very, very competent lawyer was representing some people and dragging it along and going to the airwaves.  And yes, money was paid.  It was paid by somebody who has probably grossed over $1 billion in his career.  He now regrets making any settlement.  He wishes he had taken the right to trial and if he had, he would have won the case. 

ABRAMS:  We are going to take a break.  Tom Mesereau, if you could stick around for a moment there‘s I know one thing that I‘m sure he‘s looking forward to responding to, and that is someone who‘s out there saying that Michael Jackson shouldn‘t have custody of his kids anymore.  We‘ll talk to Tom Mesereau about that. 

And we‘ve got more on the search for missing American teen, Natalee Holloway.  It‘s now been 17 days since she disappeared in Aruba.  Police using a helicopter to search for her. 

And a convicted child molester apparently took notes about what seems like or allegedly was the molestations of 36,000 children across five states.  Police say he may be one of the most prolific child molesters they‘ve ever seen, apparently kept a diary of his alleged victims.  Police are even asking for your help.  Coming up.


ABRAMS:  Coming up, more with Michael Jackson‘s attorney, Tom Mesereau, but first the headlines. 



JAY LENO, “THE TONIGHT SHOW”:  They‘re reporting that Michael Jackson, $270 million in debt.  That‘s amazing.  This announcement was made at the Thomas Mesereau Neverland Ranch. 



ABRAMS:  We‘re back with Michael Jackson‘s attorney, Tom Mesereau.  So Tom, Jay Leno there making some jokes at Michael Jackson‘s expense.  Did the jokes bother you? 

MESEREAU:  Yes, they did because they were based on false facts, false publicity and a false understanding of the case.  Fortunately, the jury was not affected by any of this nonsense and they acquitted him across the board. 

ABRAMS:  But you‘re going—you are going to talk to Jay tomorrow, right, on his show? 


ABRAMS:  Speaking of his finances, how bad are his finances and have all of your fees been paid? 

MESEREAU:  I‘m not going to tell you about my fees.  That is confidential as you know as a lawyer, and as far as his finances go that‘s really not my area.  I‘m not one of his financial advisors.  I will tell you this.  That Michael Jackson is most certainly not broke.  He has all kinds of opportunities all over the world, and he will always do well. 

ABRAMS:  Any truth to the allegation that you or Michael Jackson, more

specifically, is trying to get back pictures that have been taken of him of

·         in 1993, naked pictures? 

MESEREAU:  Well, my co-counsel made a motion to have all property returned by the court.  As you already I think have gathered, Mr. Sneddon and his office have been trying for you know almost 15 years to try and find a case against Mr. Jackson and they have done all kinds of search warrants and seizures and they‘ve tried to hang on to anything they could for hoping that something might develop in the future, and we want all of his property returned.

ABRAMS:  This is—let me play a piece of sound.  This is from Tom Sneddon speaking on MSNBC earlier this week. 


TOM SNEDDON, PROSECUTED MICHAEL JACKSON:  That is just another instance where the defense team doesn‘t know what they are talking about.  I don‘t have those photos.  The sheriff‘s department doesn‘t have those photos.  Nobody can get those photos without a court order.  There are only three names on the signature to get in there and you need signatures from two of them and a court—a judge‘s approval, so this is just typical of what‘s been going on in this case ever since it‘s happened.  The people don‘t know what they are talking about and it‘s not true. 


ABRAMS:  What do you make of that? 

MESEREAU:  It‘s sour grapes.  He knows they‘ve seized material through the years, which they‘ve hung on to.  In fact, in this trial they tried to use some material they found in the early ‘90‘s to influence the juror in this case.  And as you may recall one or more of the jurors commented on the fact that this material had nothing to do with these alleged victims.  So all we want to do is get all of his property back and stop them from hanging on to it and trying to use it for improper purposes. 

ABRAMS:  In the opening statements you said the following, Mr. Jackson will tell you he found those kids going through his magazines and grabbed them from them and locked them in his briefcase.  Michael Jackson will tell you he got a very bad feeling and intuition.  The accuser‘s mother grabs Michael‘s hand and has her children all hold hands, and she says let‘s all kneel down and pray with our daddy Michael.  Is sure sounded like in the opening statements you were saying Michael Jackson is going to testify. 

MESEREAU:  At that time I intended to put him on the stand and he wanted to be on the stand.  But their case was so poor and their witnesses so lacking in credibility, and after we had showed the jury a two-hour and 45-minute interview with Michael Jackson about his life and his philosophy and how he lives, it looked as if it would serve no purpose.  And I was correct.  He was acquitted on every single count, felony and misdemeanor. 

ABRAMS:  But you‘ve even said that Michael Jackson is different than many people.  And as a result, I would think that would have made you very nervous to put him on the witness stand. 

MESEREAU:  Not at all.  When Michael Jackson opens his mouth, as he did in the interview that went for two hours and 45 minutes, you see what kind of a person he is.  Very down-to-earth, very honest, very simple taste, and he‘s really a good person.  And trust me that affected the jury tremendously.

ABRAMS:  Well and some of the jurors made that quite clear on interviews that we did with them.  They seemed to echo that statement.  But I had that picture in my head of him testifying in that civil case, putting up the, you know, his hands behind his ears with the you know, the donkey sign or whatever it was.  And you know I think people say boy it would had to have been a risk to even consider putting Michael Jackson on the witness stand. 

MESEREAU:  I don‘t think so at all.  I think he would have been a terrific witness.  The problem was that their case was so bad, their witnesses just were so destroyed, and our witnesses were so good that we thought about it and said you know we‘ve won the case, there is no purpose.  We were correct. 

ABRAMS:  Well I think you were correct and I think that everyone sort of agreed at that point I think it would have been a mistake to put him on the witness stand.

Finally, let me ask you this about this new effort by Gloria Allred, who has filed a request that the Department of Child and Family Services to take Michael‘s children away from him, saying that there is a different burden of proof there, a lower burden of proof, and as a result that he‘s simply not a fit father. 

MESEREAU:  Gloria Allred is a publicity hound.  She‘s trying to get something out of this case.  She‘s devastated and humiliated by what she said about the prosecution‘s case and what the jury came back with, so she‘s looking for some press, she‘s looking for something to be involved in.  So what else is new? 

ABRAMS:  And so I assume Michael Jackson will fight any effort to have his kids taken away from him? 

MESEREAU:  You bet he will.  He is a wonderful loving, doting, caring father.  He will absolutely fight it. 

ABRAMS:  So look, you are someone who‘s been involved with civil rights and

a lot of important causes.  You‘ve taken on a lot of cases pro bono.  I

think a lot of people may not know that.  That you do a lot of work for

free for people who need it, et cetera.  You are not the typical—quote -

·         “celebrity attorney”, and yet you are now going to be the guy that many people are going to say get me Mesereau on the line.  How does that feel? 

MESEREAU:  Well, I don‘t want to be known as an entertainment lawyer and I don‘t want to be known as a celebrity lawyer.  My deep interest is in civil rights.  It‘s in justice.  I‘m going to continue to do pro bono work at clinics in Los Angeles.  I‘m going to continue to try a death penalty case in the Deep South every year for free.  And I‘m going to continue to be who I am.  And I really would rather be known as someone who fights for justice than someone who just attracts celebrities. 

ABRAMS:  Well let me warn you that when you show in court these days, there may be a little bit of a different reaction whether you like it or not.

Tom Mesereau, thank you very much for taking the time.  We appreciate it. 

MESEREAU:  Thank you, Dan, for inviting me.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, more on the search for missing Alabama teen, Natalee Holloway.  Police now using a helicopter to search for her.  It has been 17 days.  And we just heard from the prosecutor‘s office that that search on the beach that we heard about, where they found underwear and other items, not related to Natalee.  We‘ll talk to an FBI veteran coming up.


ABRAMS:  Coming up, a convicted child molester kept a log of all the children he‘s allegedly molested, possibly thousands and thousands.  He may be the most prolific sex offender caught to date.  We‘ll get the latest from the authorities on that, up next.



ABRAMS:  He could be one of the worst child molesters ever caught.  Police believe Dean Arthur Schwartzmiller may have molested thousands, thousands of young victims over the last 30 years, leaving a detailed trail of his abuse.  Police raided Schwartzmiller‘s bedroom, they found binders they say full of child pornography and explicit records of the sex acts he allegedly performed on children.  He listed the names of young boys in 36,000 entries.  The victims believed to have been abused in the United States, Mexico and Brazil. 


SGT. TOM SIMS, SAN JOSE, CA POLICE DEPT:  Gentlemen (UNINTELLIGIBLE) asking based on the information that we have here and the evidence that we‘ve seized, could this suspect, Mr. Schwartzmiller, be one of the worst child molesters that we are aware of to this time, and I agreed, and I said absolutely. 


ABRAMS:  Wow.  Joining me now is Lieutenant Scott Cornfield, who heads the sexual assault investigation unit for the San Jose Police Department investigating this case.  Lieutenant, thanks for coming on the program.  We appreciate it.

All right.  So this guy sounds absolutely awful.  Was he a already convicted child molester? 

LT. SCOTT CORNFIELD, SAN JOSE POLICE DEPT:  Yes, he did have a couple of prior convictions in other states. 

ABRAMS:  So how did he get caught this time? 

CORNFIELD:  This time he had contacted one of his victims.  He had asked the victim to destroy some evidence, and the victim didn‘t destroy it all.  Some of the evidence was preserved and the victim‘s mother stumbled upon it and she brought him and the evidence down to the police department.  That‘s how we got involved. 

ABRAMS:  And so he‘s now being charged with—what is he facing now in terms of charges? 

CORNFIELD:  Currently he‘s been charged with seven counts, and he‘s facing a maximum of 105 years at this point. 

ABRAMS:  Do you all believe his logs?  I mean do you think that he actually may have had 36,000 incidents of molestation? 

CORNFIELD:  Well we don‘t think there are 36,000 incidents, because we know from looking at them that some of those things have been duplicated.  But until he translates it for us, we won‘t know exactly how extensive it is, but it is extremely extensive.  We‘re looking at seven binders with names and I did the math and came up with those 36,000 entries. 

ABRAMS:  And he came up with little, little descriptions, right?  Summaries of what he did to each child by using some code? 

CORNFIELD:  Yes, it appears that he has come up with some kind of codes, which we believe described the different sex acts.  And the reason that we think this is what we‘re onto is because some of the pages are titled things like boys under 14...


CORNFIELD:  ... boys under 16, boys I‘ve done specific things with, and he has some of the acts listed at the top of the page.  So it appears as though he‘s created his own kind of code to document and chronicle all these events. 

ABRAMS:  And do you still—and apparently you still are asking for the public‘s help in connection with this case, right? 

CORNFIELD:  Yes, a lot of times we suspect there are additional cases.  In this instance, we know there are other cases and the scope of this is so extremely great that we think not only does it cross our country, but per his own writings, Mexico and Brazil.  But we strongly suspect and if this picture—his picture is shown throughout the country that we are going to find victims from throughout the country and going back as far as 30 years. 

ABRAMS:  And you want any of them to call the San Jose Police Department? 

CORNFIELD:  Yes, we need to start right here in San Jose and we firmly believe in getting these victims all the help that they can get.  The hardest thing for most victims is to come forward with that terrible secret they‘ve been holding in.  And the first step is to let that out and we need to let them know that they are victims.  They did nothing to bring this on...

ABRAMS:  And that will help you in your prosecution, correct? 

CORNFIELD:  It certainly will...

ABRAMS:  Right.

CORNFIELD:  ... and we‘ll be able to make sure that no one ever sees this guy again short of being a prisoner. 

ABRAMS:  We‘ve had the number up there throughout the segment.  Lieutenant, thanks a lot for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.

CORNFIELD:  Thank you.  Appreciate it.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, Natalee Holloway, missing for 17 days.  We just got some information a few moments ago.  We‘ve got more coming up.


ABRAMS:  Now back to the search for Natalee Holloway, the 18-year-old Alabama teen missing more than two weeks on the island of Aruba.  Last night helicopters equipped with infrared technology unsuccessfully searched the island or maybe they successfully, but they didn‘t turn up anything. 

Police have also combed the area near the hotel where Natalee was apparently dropped off in the early morning hours after her disappearance or at least according to one witness.  That is where she was dropped off.  There‘s real questions about exactly where she was dropped off. 

All right, Clint van Zandt, let me ask you something about the way this investigation has been going so far. 


ABRAMS:  They start—they arrest the wrong guys to start, the security guards, first two people arrested.  They are just using the helicopters today for the first time, 17 days after she went missing.  And the three boys who are now considered to be the ones who knew the most, because they were apparently the last ones with her, at least it seems that way, weren‘t arrested until 11 days after she went missing.  Is this an investigation we should be concerned about that? 

VAN ZANDT:  Well Dan, there is one story that suggests that the police are really cagey.  This story says that and the Arubans have confirmed it, that initially when they had the car that Natalee was in with the three other boys, that right away they put a GPS device to follow it and they also got wiretaps on the cell phones of the three boys and then they make a calculated decision. 

And that decision was if we leave the car on the street, if we leave these three boys on the street, perhaps they will say something to each other on the phone or perhaps they‘ll drive the car to where she is being held or where her body is or whatever.  Now should that be the case that‘s a very calculated decision because the upside is you can solve the case.  The downside is you lose the benefit of the evidence in the car, perhaps, and you give the three boys time to get their story together. 

ABRAMS:  So bottom line is, Clint, let‘s say you‘re still with the FBI...


ABRAMS:  ... used to be with the FBI and you are down there...


ABRAMS:  ... are you trying to sort of put yourself in more of this investigation?  Because you are thinking (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I don‘t know if we trust these guys or are you deferring to them? 

VAN ZANDT:  Well it‘s not a question I guess of trusting them, but I would really, you know, as an FBI agent I would really as nice as I can be trying to influence this investigation.  I‘d be—I‘d find the lead investigator or detective, I would be running everything by him.  I would be offering every bit of technology that the FBI or any other government agency has.  But again, you know you‘ve got to realize the FBI there, they are guests. 

They are not there...


VAN ZANDT:  ... as badge carrying officials who can actually conduct an investigation. 

ABRAMS:  Yes, I think that‘s a good point.  Clint, good to see you.  Thanks for coming back. 

VAN ZANDT:  Thanks for having me, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, your e-mails on Terri Schiavo‘s autopsy, coming up.


ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  I‘ve had my say, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”.  The results of Terri Schiavo‘s autopsy released yesterday, it was confirmed that she was in a persistent vegetative state exactly as her husband had argued.  I questioned David Gibbs, the attorney for Terri‘s parents, about why he would not now admit that their intentions were good but that he and the parents were just wrong about that. 

Jill Weinstein in Pleasant Hill, California, “Bravo, you really went after Terri Schiavo‘s parents‘ attorney beautifully.  You said everything I was thinking as I was listening.  The family has changed their entire focus and I think that is unfair.”

Gayle Kretschmer from Fernley, Nevada, “Dan, you‘re gloating.  Where Terri Schiavo is concerned, you still have no compassion.  Why do you think that the husband is the only one telling the truth?”

Well Gayle, he was right about her condition.  That‘s all I was saying.  Yesterday—and Bill Clark agrees with me.  “To admit the truth would mean admitting to the most aggressive and unreasoned approach to that problem.  Those people tried to destroy Michael Schiavo.  They should be ashamed and apologetic.  Instead, they seem to be trying to play the Michael killed her card.  It makes me sick.”

Carter Hall from Florida, “One of the most important virtues an individual can have is the ability to admit when you‘re wrong.  I guess the Schindler lawyer is shy of that virtue.”

And Tuesday night, a viewer e-mailed asking why I did not correct a comment one of my guests made, that Michael Jackson was acquitted, not proven innocent.  The viewer snidely commented that American citizens are presumed innocent even after a trial if there was no conviction.  My response?  That a presumption of innocence has never meant that someone has been shown to be or proven to be innocent by fact.  It‘s merely a presumption. 

Attorney Joseph A. Ettinger in Scottsdale, Arizona attempts to put me in my place.  “I just heard your remarks on the presumption of innocence.  You closed by saying it‘s only a presumption.  Had you been one of my law school students, I would have been careful to assure the public that you knew at least the basic tenants of reasonable doubt before your graduation.  I feel comfortable in commenting on your lack of knowledge after my almost 50 years as a criminal defense attorney and law professor.  Perhaps you can display this e-mail as a rebuttal to your incorrect comments on the law.”

Well, Professor, I will display it but for a different reason.  First of all, I assume you meant basic tenets rather than tenants.  I‘ll assume that was a typo.  But you seem to have missed the point.  These jurors were not asked to determine if Michael Jackson was factually innocent.  Only if he was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. 

They said no, but that does not mean they found that it did not happen.  Only that they did not have enough evidence to take away his freedom.  The viewer asked what about the presumption of innocence and my answer, which I stand by, is that I had no obligation to correct my guest who had said there‘s a difference between not guilty and factual innocence.  I hope you did not confuse your students by failing to distinguish between the two. 

Last night in my “Closing Argument” I told a story about three servicemen I met in the airport who were home to attend three different funerals of comrades who died in a plane crash on Memorial Day in Iraq.  One of them was on crutches after suffering a gunshot wound.  I then watched them kick into action by helping an elderly man who had fallen flat on his face and was bruised and bleeding.  I saluted their heroism both on and off the battlefield. 

Diane Mikos in Schererville, Indiana, “I‘m not ashamed to say that your experience at the airport first gave me chills and then I found myself starting to cry.  What a great story.  Thanks again.”

From Northampton, Pennsylvania, Vietnam vet Rich Zettle.  “Most U.S.  citizens don‘t realize how much a thank you for our service to our country means to a soldier, especially a combat soldier.  Thank you so much for sharing.”

Traci in Pleasanton, California, “In a nation that worships celebrity, it‘s too bad all the fans outside the Jackson courthouse didn‘t encounter these guys.  Then they would know what a real hero is.”

Finally, Michael Clement in Jacksonville, Florida, “I salute you Dan for your putting a spotlight on such a heroic group of men.  Thank you very much.”

Again, they deserve the credit.  Not me.  Your e-mails abramsreport—one word -- @msnbc.com.  We go through them at the end of the show. 

That does it for us tonight.  Thanks for watching.  Coming up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews.  See you tomorrow.



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.


Discussion comments