Guests: Bree Smith, Maureen Smith, George Smith Sr., Chuck Harris, Bridget Murphy, John Acosta, Michael Brewer, Jon Husted, Joe Mammana, Hulk Hogan, Linda Hogan, Brooke Hogan, Nick Hogan
RITA COSBY, HOST: Good evening, everybody. Tonight: A young woman‘s brutal murder is just the latest in a city where the killing appears to be out of control. Can police get a handle on it?
And outrage tonight at a judge who let an admitted child molester off with basically a slap of the wrist. Tonight, two men who are leading the charge to get him kicked out of his job.
But we begin tonight with late-breaking developments in the case of missing honeymooner George Smith. Tonight, the family is livid. At a cruise line industry meeting this week, while speaking about the Smith case, the president of Carnival Cruise Lines had this to say.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BOB DICKINSON, CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES PRESIDENT: It‘s a non-event. It‘s more entertainment than anything else. The facts of the case, the story of the husband and wife, the bride and the groom, when—and—I mean, it‘s just so absolutely bizarre.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
COSBY: And joining us now live in an exclusive interview with their reaction is George Smith‘s family, George, Maureen and Bree Smith. Maureen, how did you feel the president of Carnival saying it‘s a non-event, your son‘s disappearance?
MAUREEN SMITH, MOTHER OF MISSING HONEYMOONER: Well, Rita, When I heard it, I went into the bathroom and I threw up because I think it‘s outrageous that this man would call my son‘s life a non-event and call it entertainment, after what this family has been through with what happened to my son on Brilliance of the Seas, Royal Caribbean, how he was murdered and thrown overboard. And I think it‘s absolutely disgraceful, and I think he needs to be terminated from Carnival Cruise Lines. It is absolutely disgraceful, Rita, what he has come out with.
COSBY: You know, and George, what‘s your reaction, and what would you like to see happen?
GEORGE SMITH III, FATHER OF MISSING HONEYMOONER: I totally agree with my wife. How can you have a CEO of a major cruise line that‘s traded on the New York Stock Exchange come out say that about my son? I‘m disgusted with him. I can‘t believe he would some out say that.
COSBY: Were you surprised, too, George? A lost people just thought, after all this, after all the attention that‘s happened, that he would use that choice of words.
GEORGE SMITH: That was really bad. It was out of place. I don‘t know why he came out with that, maybe because his stock is down 10 percent in the last month. Maybe he‘s just upset.
COSBY: Bree, what—how did you feel?
BREE SMITH, MISSING HONEYMOONER‘S SISTER: I‘d like to know where his compassion is. And I just can‘t even believe that he would call my brother‘s murder a non-event.
Additionally, he said he didn‘t understand why his company would have to discuss cruise line safety, since the two events were completely unrelated. Well, I‘m a little confused about this, Rita. Why would a murder on a cruise ship have nothing to do with cruise line safety? I don‘t understand his statements.
I think that not only should he publicly apologize to my family for the statement, he should also be terminated. And I think that all Americans should contact Carnival Corporation in Miami, Florida, and demand his termination.
COSBY: Look, I think a lot of families, if this was their family, they would be outraged, too.
BREE SMITH: Yes.
COSBY: Were you surprised, Bree? I know you feel like you guys have been sort of given the run-around, kept in the dark on information, and then to have someone like this say this.
BREE SMITH: Well, to be honest, it was an awful thing to say, but I‘m not all that surprised because I think that it‘s typical of the cruise line industry. They want to minimize the bad things that happen on their ships because it‘s the cruise line‘s dirty little secret. Well, their dirty little secret is public knowledge, and people are aware that cruise ships are not the safe place that they thought they once were.
COSBY: Let me play a comment, Maureen. This is, again, a little bit more of what this man—this is the head of Carnival Cruise Lines—had to say at that meeting.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DICKINSON: It‘s annoying that we‘re talking about it. We‘re giving this thing legs, which is a total non-event. It‘s just—that‘s the kind of stuff that bothers me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSBY: You know, Maureen, he also sort of suggests that talking about your son‘s, you know, case is annoying to him.
MAUREEN SMITH: Well, Mr. Dickinson has given it legs. He doesn‘t
want to give it legs, but now he has given it legs. And the Smith family
are not going to go away. There is crime on cruise ships. Face it. Don‘t
stop the cover-up and the lies. Let‘s get the crimes off the cruise ship. Face it, what‘s going on on them, and stop lying and the cover-ups. We didn‘t have an argument with Carnival cruise ships, but they‘ve attacked us and we‘re going right back after them.
COSBY: You know, and George, what would you want to say—after using the word non-event twice, basically, in that speech, what would you want to say to the head of Carnival and other cruise lines...
GEORGE SMITH: I don‘t think you could repeat what I want to say to him. I think it‘s disgusting. We did not pick on Carnival. They have just the same problems as Royal Caribbean. They‘ve tried to cover up their crimes. This needs to be taken care of, and I think Congress will. They will deal with this problem, and the cruise lines will have to put up with the new laws that are going to be passed.
COSBY: And George, if he‘s watching tonight, what would you want to say to the head of Carnival?
GEORGE SMITH: I think that you should be replaced. I think the board ought to take you and replace you. I don‘t—you know, it‘s unbelievable for you to come out and say something like that about my son, who‘s not even here to defend himself.
COSBY: You know, let me show—the head of Carnival released a statement just a little bit ago to another news organization that came out, apologies. I want to show a quote. He says, “My comments were within a larger discussion on cruise industry issues and were not meant to minimize the tragedy of George Smith‘s disappearance. I regret any pain my comments may have caused his family.”
Bree, did that go far enough? And are you surprised it took a couple days for him to come out?
BREE SMITH: Well, first of all, it doesn‘t go far enough. He never specifically told us that he was sorry for his unbelievable and uncompassionate comments. And it‘s not far enough because what we need to do, Rita, is change the attitude of the cruise line industry, and this mere apology in one publication is not enough. We need to send a signal to the cruise line industry that this lack of compassion to cruise line victims is not enough. He needs to be terminated and replaced.
COSBY: You know, Bree, there was also an article, a big article in “Vanity Fair” magazine, and it talks about the ship‘s captain. And this information had never come out before. This statement never came out before. The ship‘s captain is quoted as saying—what he says—he called a butt print on the balcony railing. The outline a derriere in the dew in the next morning—in other words, suggesting that George may have been sitting on the railing and fallen off accidentally. Bree, what do you say? This is surprising. I‘d never seen this captain say this before.
BREE SMITH: Well, no, and I think that‘s very telling, Rita. You know, this Captain Michael Lachtaridis, he filed this casualty report with the Bahamian government, never mentioned this, and there‘s a specific section of the report that specifically asked for this type of information. Also, he had a very lengthy interview with Dan Abrams on MSNBC, and I‘ve read the entire transcript of that interview and not once did he mention this butt print. So I‘m wondering where this came from all of a sudden.
COSBY: And in fact, let me play a little quote from his interview with Dan Abrams. Here‘s what he had to say then.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL LACHTARIDIS, FORMER ROYAL CARIBBEAN CAPTAIN: He wanted to get some fresh air from the balcony. He was sitting on the railing, and he lost his balance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSBY: You know, Bree, again, where‘s the comment about the butt print, especially if this was something significant?
BREE SMITH: Well, that‘s what I‘d like to know, Rita. I just think it‘s typical Royal Caribbean cover-up behavior that all of a sudden, they‘re thinking up this idea of a butt print eight months later. Well, it‘s not good enough. People know that something sinister happened to my brother, and I believe—and so does my family—that we will get to the bottom of it and there will be arrests for my brother‘s murder.
COSBY: You do believe that, Bree?
BREE SMITH: Yes. Yes. We still believe that. You know, it‘s obviously not happening as quickly as we would like, but we do have faith that there will be arrests and convictions for my brother‘s murderers.
COSBY: You know, and let me put up a quote, if I could. This is also
this is from the “Vanity Fair” article. It gives a timeline. And Maureen, I want to ask you about this because I‘ve been on a lot of cruises, and I never got to know the casino manager that well or have him so involved with other guests, from what I‘ve seen. This is the timeline. It says, George and Jennifer and the casino manager, the croupier, is the French term there, the boys leave the casino. Then George and Jennifer fight in the disco. Jennifer leaves. Then the casino manager leaves the disco. The disco closes. George and the boys look for Jennifer.
Does that bother you that now we‘re hearing, Maureen, that the guy has an attorney and—why is he‘s so involved in this case and in these guests?
MAUREEN SMITH: Well, we just learned that he has retained a lawyer, a Royal Caribbean lawyer, probably. And we really don‘t want to speak about this tonight, Rita, because it‘s not about this. It‘s about what‘s happened to us with Carnival cruise ships tonight. It‘s—that‘s what we came here to speak about tonight.
You know, obviously, there‘s a lot of stories out there. And I honestly believe that the FBI will solve this case for us. And I know they‘re not giving up on it, and that is why, Rita, it is not an accident. It‘s been brought before the grand jury, and we know it‘s not—everybody knows it‘s not an accident, but the cruise ships are trying to cover up, as per usual, by saying it‘s an accident. It‘s not an accident, Rita, it was murder.
COSBY: And of course, Royal Caribbean, at this point, strongly suggests that it is.
MAUREEN SMITH: Right.
COSBY: You know, but George, do you believe that this will be solved?
And where does the investigation stand now?
GEORGE SMITH: Well, you know, I believe it will be solved. You know, I think some of the people of interest are—you know, have taken the 5th. I think there‘s a lot of pressure on them. I think now you have another Carnival employee that‘s taken a lawyer to protect himself. I think the FBI is putting on a huge amount of pressure on everyone, and I think someone will crack.
COSBY: You do?
GEORGE SMITH: I honestly believe someone will crack shortly.
COSBY: You know, Bree, the civil lawsuit that all of you were thinking of filing on George‘s behalf, the deadline is July 5. It‘s the year, obviously, that year window from his disappearance. What‘s the status of that? Are you planning, if there is no resolution, to do that?
BREE SMITH: Yes, we are planning. We were asked by the Department of Justice, as well as the FBI, to hold off because they‘re concerned with, you know, the civil investigation interfering with the criminal investigation. So we have agreed to do that, and we‘ve put our lawsuit on hold. However, we will be sure to file before July 5 because it‘s our only way of getting information. You know, the FBI, because of their procedures, are unable to tell us anything, and the cruise line has not volunteered hardly any information, despite numerous requests. So you know, this discovery procedure through the civil lawsuit is really our only way of gaining any information.
COSBY: Well, Bree and George and Maureen, we continue to pray for all of you, and we hope that you get some answers as to what happened to George. Thank you...
BREE SMITH: Thank you, Rita.
GEORGE SMITH: Thank you, Rita.
COSBY: Thank you, all of you.
And we personally reached out to Carnival Cruise Lines to see if they wanted to come on the show, but they said that the comments speak for themselves. We also contacted Royal Caribbean—of course, that‘s the cruise line that George was on—and they chose not to respond.
We‘re joined now on the phone by former Carnival chief of security Chuck Harris. Chuck, when you hear these comments from Carnival Cruise Lines—and remember, you were chief of security for them—the head saying a non-event, using that word twice, are you surprised?
CHUCK HARRIS, FORMER CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES SECURITY CHIEF: No, I‘m not surprised at all because their lack and concern about the victims of these ships is proven right now. You know, they speak out. These people are hurt. And yet Carnival still doesn‘t believe people disappearing, getting lost on the ship and conducting thorough investigations is important. I don‘t know when they‘re going to get the answers.
COSBY: Well, you know, it sounds, hopefully, they‘re getting the
answer from the Smith family loud and clear tonight because, I mean,
they‘re calling for his ouster with the board of directors, even sent a
letter there, too, which we obtained exclusively. I mean, I can understand
this family—you know, and also, why do you think they would pick this choice of words at an industry summit, Chuck, I mean, before other industry executives, other cruise line execs?
HARRIS: Well, you know, they are the largest. They are the premiere cruise lines. They‘re the biggest. And you know, they‘re going to try to set a tough attitude. And you know, the problem is—I want the families to stand up and fight. I believe they are truthfully and honestly on the right track. Congress needs to intervene, and the people who are victims on Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Lines, they need to scream out and say they want satisfaction out of this.
COSBY: You know, Chuck, you‘ve followed the case quite a bit. You and I have talked before on this. Do you still believe to this day that there‘s much more to the story, that it wasn‘t just an accident?
HARRIS: I do not honestly, truthfully believe it‘s an accident. I‘ve talked with you and other people. I still believe there‘s a criminal investigation that needs to be conducted. I believe that there was negligence and even probably cover-up into this investigation. And I hope the bureau and I hope the Congress finds out, and finally people realize that the cruise line industry needs to be held accountable.
COSBY: You bet, like everybody else. Chuck Harris, thank you very much.
And still to come, everybody, disturbing new video as a gang of thugs goes around capturing their attacks on videotape. Police say there may be nearly 40 attacks on camera. And that‘s not all we have coming up tonight. Take a look.
Still ahead: A man charged with 20 counts of rape is walking the street. How? The judge gave him probation. Now it‘s the judge facing a lynch mob, and the man leading the charge joins me live.
And a young woman, a nursing student, murdered in her home. Do police have the evidence to catch her killer? And wait until you hear where she lives and how her hometown has a murder rate that will make your jaw drop.
Plus, nobody beats Hulk Hogan. After being king of the ring, the pro wrestler is burning up the airwaves with a raucous reality show. The wrestler and his superstar family join me live, and who know what can happen with a pro wrestler in our studios. The one and only Hulk Hogan coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
“MELISSA,” THINKS SHE MET “PERSON OF INTEREST”: He was tall. He had blond hair. He had on a T-shirt that was advertising a plumbing company.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSBY: And that‘s a possible new lead that police are following up on in the murder of a 23-year-old Jacksonville, Florida, nursing student. Sarah Whitlock was found stabbed to death in her apartment less than one week ago. She‘s just one of the latest victims in a recent rash of killings there. There have been a surprising almost 30 murders in Jacksonville, Florida, since the beginning of this year alone.
Joining me now is reporter Bridget Murphy with “The Florida Times-Union” newspaper. Bridget, any leads on who may have killed this nursing student?
BRIDGET MURPHY, “FLORIDA TIMES-UNION”: Well, we have some new information tonight. Police aren‘t saying much, but what they are saying is the killer may have gained access to the young nursing student‘s apartment by impersonating a police officer. And they have come forward with a very strong message to the community to make sure—before letting anyone in your home that you make sure you check their badge, and if you have any doubts, to call 911 to verify their identification before you open the door.
Right now, that‘s all we have in terms of new information in the case. We do know that police are looking for a six-foot-tall man with sandy hair that possibly was injured in the area of the apartment. They believe the homicide occurred between 10:00 PM and midnight leading into Saturday morning. That‘s really all they‘re saying right now.
COSBY: Well, I have a lost questions. You just dropped some bombshells, some new information. Impersonating an officer—it‘s the first time we‘ve heard about that with this case. What‘s leading authorities? Did somebody else see an officer in the area between 10:00 and midnight?
MURPHY: Would you repeat that, Rita?
COSBY: Did somebody see an officer or someone posing as an officer between 10:00 and midnight? Is that where that tip came from?
MURPHY: That‘s a good question. I know the tips have been flooding in to authorities, and they‘re not really saying, at this point, where they got that information. They‘re being very tight-lipped and they‘re taking this case quite seriously.
I can you that it‘s a bit unusual that they had evidence technicians at the apartment complex for more than a day after the homicide, which indicates to me that they‘re being very careful about how they collect evidence in this case.
COSBY: You know, you put up the description before. If we can put that back up again because the woman who also may have run into the same guy described this, you know, person of interest, Caucasian, 6-foot tall, sandy blond—may have an injury. Do we believe, in Sarah‘s case, who was stabbed to death in her apartment, that maybe she fought off her attacker? Is that why we believe there‘s an injury?
MURPHY: I do believe that‘s what police were indicating, Rita, at the time, that she may have fought off her attacker. And I do know, without getting too much into the details of the crime, that there was some blood found on the young woman‘s front door, as well. So some residents of the complex have told us that in the days since the killing.
COSBY: Bridget, what type of community or area did Sarah live in? I understand it was a pretty nice community.
MURPHY: I agree. It is a very nice area of town. What you have to keep in mind is Jacksonville is America‘s biggest city, geographically speaking, so we have people from all different cultures colliding in this very large place. The neighborhood is on the edge of the river, so you have some very affluent people colliding with sort of an artsy community. And on the other side of that is a community where, you know, you wouldn‘t be walking out at night by yourself.
COSBY: Bridget, thank you. Please keep us posted if there‘s any more leads.
And police are, of course, asking anyone with any information on this case, especially now that we‘re hearing somebody may be impersonating a police officer, be sure to call Crimestoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS, 1-866-845-TIPS.
And also, that murder is just one of many. So why is the murder rate in Jacksonville, Florida, so high right now? Remember, almost 30 of them in just three months. Joining us now is investigator John Acosta. He‘s with KMS Investigations. He‘s an expert on state-to-state homicides. Are you surprised that the number is that high? And again, I don‘t know if this one is connected to others, but the new lead we just heard, impersonating a cop—that‘s scary.
JOHN ACOSTA, KMS INVESTIGATIONS: Yes, that is very scary. But you know what? We had a very similar situation on the West Coast just within the last week for a gentlemen approaches a woman sitting in her car, and again, tells her he is an officer, has no badge, has no uniform. So it‘s just almost like this kind of crime has no boundaries.
COSBY: You know, we did a little research of our own, looking at the population of Jacksonville. It‘s about 800,000 people. And I want to compare it to other cities about the same size. For instance, Indianapolis, very similar in number, only 15 murders this year. Of course, 15 is still one too many, but 15 murders in that community. In San Francisco, 12 murders. New York, by contrast, of course, America‘s largest city, has 10 times the amount of population, but they‘ve had 102 murders, just about four times the amount.
Why do you think it is so high in Jacksonville? Is there something demographically or the way it‘s just laid out?
ACOSTA: Yes. I have to agree with that statement. Demographically speaking, I think that where you have a multi-cultural mix of population, the tendency for this kind of a crime increases tremendously.
COSBY: You know, I want to put up a quote by the police department because we asked them for a comment about the murder. This is what they had to say. “We‘re not going on the air to talk about anything, at this point. Some murders were solved, and we have leads on others.”
Are they trying to downplay it, John?
ACOSTA: I think it‘s very normal for a police department to downplay it. Nobody likes to be looked upon as not doing their job. So therefore, it‘s just a basic standard answer that you would normally receive from a police department, yes.
COSBY: Yes, the typical can-dancers, then. Of course, we hope that they solve all those murders. John, thank you very much.
And “Caught by Cosby” tonight. We‘ve obtained some shocking new video of a group of Virginia teenagers robbing and assaulting people. And get this, they videotaped themselves. You‘re looking at some of these horrific acts right now on your screen. Police have already arrested six juveniles and two adults in connection to the attacks, but they‘re still searching for more suspects at this hour.
And joining me now is Captain Michael Brewer with the Newport News, Virginia, Police Department. Captain, how outraged—when you see this tape—we were so surprised to see it.
CAPT. MICHAEL BREWER, NEWPORT NEWS, VA, POLICE DEPARTMENT: We are all outraged. It is unbelievable footage. We—the executive staff, the commonwealth attorney and those involved in the investigation and prosecution of these cases used this tape just yesterday. And most of us have a long experience in law enforcement, and all of us came away from the table very, very discouraged with what we saw.
COSBY: How did you obtain this videotape?
BREWER: I have a crime response team that assists me in a non-investigative function of the traditional type of investigative function, but they assist the detectives in solving their crimes. They were actually out looking for a robbery suspect and came across an individual in an apartment, who gave us information that her brother was involved in some of these offenses and that a videotape existed.
COSBY: Was she obviously pretty disgusted with her brother?
BREWER: Well, I think she just has had enough, actually. And in a
couple of the cases—we have been watching some similarity in some cases,
but we really didn‘t have any solid leads to believe that they were really
connected until one of the individuals that was a victim said that a person
one of the—one of the people involved in this group of 10 to 15 individuals had a video, had a videocamera.
COSBY: And why do you think they videotaped it?
BREWER: I haven‘t a clue. We are as shocked, as far as the assaults and as far as them doing the videotape. And we don‘t really have a clue. We have—since you have received your information, tonight we have picked up two more individuals and charged them. So we now have three adults and seven juveniles in custody. Just before going on air, I was told by of the two primary detectives on this case that we now have another one en route to the station.
When we questioned them, they‘re not really giving us any—they‘re admitting to the crimes, but they‘re not giving us any indication of why they committed these crimes.
COSBY: And how many more people all together could be involved with this?
BREWER: Well, it‘s hard to say. We know what we see on tape, but we‘re not sure—and I don‘t want to focus just on the little bit of tape that we have. And of course, you only have just a snippet of that tape.
We think that this goes further and more far-reaching. We‘ve asked our
local media and we‘ve asked the community to come forward. We believe that
as a result of what we saw on the tape, we had to go out and identify witnesses—I mean, victims that hadn‘t come forward. And we‘re afraid that there may be additional victims out there that just didn‘t call.
COSBY: And speaking of victims, we just saw a shot of a guy, like, picking up a bicycle and slamming it onto somebody. How seriously injured are some of these victims?
BREWER: Fortunately, not too bad. We have not had anyone that we know of that has been hospitalized. They have received medical attention. Some have been transported to the hospital, treated and released.
COSBY: Captain, thank you very much. I hope you catch everybody responsible with this just horrible thing caught on tape. Thank you, sir.
And still ahead, everybody, a judge who let an admitted child rapist walk free with no jail time is now fighting seriously to keep his feet on the bench. You‘ll be surprised to see who wants him removed. They‘re going to join me next.
Plus, an all-points-bulletin for the so-called “dungeon man,” a sexual predator who lured teens to this underground hellhole. We‘ll explain.
And later, Hulk-o-mania, LIVE AND DIRECT. The man who could be the most famous wrestler of all time, Hulk Hogan, is going to join me live in our studios. The guys are all excited here on the floor. After conquering the wrestling ring and reality TV, what does he have next? Maybe some of our floor guys? We‘ll find out. That‘s coming up.
COSBY: And an urgent all-points bulletin for a violent sex predator on the run. Police are asking for your help in finding Kenneth Glenn Hinson, who fled his South Carolina home. There‘s a picture of him. Police say he allegedly bound and raped two teenage girls after luring them and leaving them tied up in an underground hell hole, hidden in his backyard. The teens were able to eventually break free and get cops involved. And of course, anybody with any information is asked to call Crimestoppers at the number that you see there now on your screen.
And now to another developing story that‘s causing outrage across the country, especially in the state of Ohio. The heat is on Judge John Connor, who let an admitted child rapist walk free without jail time. And on top of it all, he also has his own rap sheet that includes eight DUI offenses. Today, more protest and calls for the judge to leave his post.
John Ivanic of NBC‘s WCMH has the latest details.
CROWD: Judge Connor must go! Do the right thing!
JOHN IVANIC, WCMH CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A small group of central Ohioans at the Rhodes (ph) office tower this morning united in their efforts to get John Connor off the bench.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Making decisions like these and letting these people walk free or with minimal sentences, it‘s going to stop.
IVANIC: Connor is at the center of a national outcry over a sentence given to this man, Andrew Selva. Selva was once charged with raping two young boys; Connor sentenced Selva, following a plea bargain, to treatment, house arrest and probation. The prosecution did ask for jail time.
JUDGE JOHN CONNOR, FRANKLIN COUNTY COURT OF COMMON: I‘m not a perfect person.
IVANIC: But Connor does stand by the Selva sentence, saying it was the right judicial decision.
CONNOR: I am one of the least reversed judges on this court. My docket is current. I don‘t—I just don‘t believe I should be taken out for one decision.
IVANIC: But that is a possibility. Republican leaders in the state, including the governor, believe the Democratic judge should quit or face impeachment.
CONNOR: The governor is asking for my resignation. I suppose he can say what he wants, although I‘m kind of surprised at him asking for anybody‘s resignation. But if someone says they made a mistake, to impeach me or to remove me from the bench with all of the good that I have done and all the years that I have spent here, I think it‘s unbelievable.
COSBY: And that was John Ivanic reporting from the NBC affiliate in Columbus, Ohio, where all this is happening.
And joining us now are two people who are leading the charge for the judge‘s ouster, Ohio Speaker Jon Husted, and also with me right here on the set is the man who started it all—in his first interview about the case, Philadelphia philanthropist—I don‘t know why I can‘t get that out—
Philadelphia philanthropist Joe Mammana.
Joe, why did you get involved in this? You have been involved in a lot of cases with Natalee Holloway and others.
JOE MAMMANA, PHILANTHROPIST: Yes, well, I had been down in Columbus -
I was down there for several other cases out, you know, the Julie Popovich case, putting the reward money up, because that—the coward that killed and raped her was also—was arrested.
COSBY: And what interested you about this case?
MAMMANA: Well, I was asked by a group of people down there, by the Justice League, to go and talk to a small little group of people that were outraged about something that was going on in their community. And it was the night before I went, and when I spoke to them and they told me what was going on—I was kind of blown away. And I almost didn‘t believe it, until I sat and read some of the transcripts myself. And that‘s when I finally made a comment that, you know what, I‘m going to take this to a national level and something had to be done. This judge has to be removed from the bench.
COSBY: What angers you more? You know, I‘m astounded, when I—same thing, when I heard about his record, I said wait a minute, this is a judge? Is it the soft punishments that he seems to be doling out, or his own rap sheet? What angers you more?
MAMMANA: Well, there‘s three things. First of all, you have people in the prisons down there for scoff laws. You have people in there for small bad checks. You have people in there that owe $25 in child support back, and you have a rapist—not—this guy is a rapist. He is trash. And he walked away unscathed from this.
Does the judge‘s rap sheet bother me? Of course it bothers me. If that was anybody else in the United States, it would be hanging in Times Square. So of course everything here bothers me.
But the bottom line is, this judge needs to be removed, and if he is looking for a job, the best way for him to go is to Aruba. They hire people just like him down there.
COSBY: Who you feel didn‘t do a sufficient job in the investigation in your opinion down there.
MAMMANA: Without a doubt.
COSBY: Mr. Speaker, let me bring you in, because, you know, you look at this guy‘s background, you know, the state legislature is the only thing that can sort of remove him, or quote, impeach him, correct? Where does that stand? And is this grounds for impeachment in your opinion?
JON HUSTED ®, OHIO HOUSE SPEAKER: Well, we are researching the matter right now. We are considering a joint resolution with the House and the Senate that with the two-thirds majority would remove the judge from office. And we are hearing outcries from citizens across the state of Ohio and nationwide asking us to act, and the judge really is not leaving us many options here. He has really put us in a position with this public outcry that we have to research the matter very thoroughly and consider action in removing him from the bench.
COSBY: Is your gut that this guy will probably be removed by the state legislature?
HUSTED: Well, we are going to gather the facts first. We want to make sure that we are giving the judge the opportunity to present the information to us so that we can make a sound decision. But either way, this is going to spawn action in Ohio. Either the judge is going to get removed, possibly, or we are going to pass tougher mandatory sentences in the state, because these circumstances where judges are given discretion and they don‘t use it appropriately leaves us no option in the legislature but to pass down mandatory sentencing guidelines for these types of offenders.
COSBY: You know, let me put up a little bit of the judge‘s past. And we‘ve touched on it, but I‘ve got to put this up on the screen, Joe. Eight DUI arrests. This is a judge we‘re talking about. 1978 to 2002. Convicted of cocaine possession in 1984. And in this case that we are talking about, this is one of the drunk drivers, Jose Sanpallo. Sentenced to four years in jail. He serves only nine months, causes a drunk driving accident that kills a 19-year-old and a 20-year-old couple.
Does this judge have blood on his hands?
MAMMANA: The judge has blood on his hands. And if anything, it proves alcohol does kill brain cells, in this case all of them.
The bottom line is, this judge is no good. How he got where he is I have no idea, and the people need to remove him. America should be outraged, because this could happen to their children, and the only thing this guy did was take this trash that raped these little boys and moved him from one place to the other, which is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
The judge has got to go. The judge has to be held accountable for his actions, like they want the people that sit in front of him to be held accountable for their actions.
But not just that. The prosecutor in this case also needs to be looked into, because he was one of the ones also involved in the deal here.
COSBY: Yes, he agreed to the deal, and then the judge sealed it?
MAMMANA: Yes, ma‘am. So they‘re both in this. Also, I want to know, during the course of his judges, when he was being sentenced for his DUIs, how did these judges keep moving him along? I mean, when does this stop?
So, yes, America should be outraged, Columbus should be outraged. I am outraged, and I want this judge removed, and I want him where he belongs, in the unemployment line or like I said before, in Aruba, working for their judicial.
COSBY: Mr. Speaker, where do you see this headed? Do you think also, you know, Joe brought up a good point; the prosecutor too.
HUSTED: Well, the prosecutor asked for jail time in this particular case, and the judge—the judge had discretion and chose not to exercise or offer any jail time.
We believe the standard that we are looking at here is a pattern of gross neglect and habitual disregard for the public interest in the discharge of his public duties, and that is the standard that we are looking at this matter. And we believe that the pattern of offenses, of drug and alcohol offenses and then the leniency in sentencing and now this final matter, really warrants consideration from the legislature for his removal from office.
COSBY: And Joe, let me play it, this is a comment from the judge, because he finally made some statements on camera just a little bit ago. We just got it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONNOR: My whole life is a public record. And the voters elected me by I think close to 60 percent of the vote. And they knew everything. They knew the good and the bad, and they knew, you know, that I took control of my issue, that I took my last drink in December 15th, 2002. I work a daily program of recovery, and I think it‘s made me a better person and a better judge.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSBY: Joe, what do you say to the judge tonight, after that statement?
MAMMANA: To be honest with you, I don‘t even want to look at this judge. This judge disgusts me, OK? And was he voted in—to be honest with you, Rita, I sat and talked to these people. OK? I was in Jim Petro‘s office this morning, the attorney general of Ohio. The phone didn‘t stop ringing. And all these people I spoke to that did vote for this judge knew nothing about his past.
I think people need to know a little bit more about their public officials before they put them in.
This judge, case closed, needs to be removed from the bench, and I think other cases he was involved in need to be brought out. Because I do know there were other cases down there that right now are being questioned with some of the things—there was a young woman that was also raped not too long ago that has a $6 million lawsuit against Ohio state, Stacey Bogart (ph), who has come public with this. And she has a lot of problems with this judge. So this judge definitely is not making good decisions. And again, you know, great for him that he‘s not drinking anymore, but there is no doubt that the alcohol has had a major effect, and there‘s no more brain cells left on this judge.
COSBY: A lot of people are going to be watching this case, and hats off to you for keeping those people in check. Joe Mammana, also Mr. Speaker, please keep us posted, find out what happens with this judge. We appreciate it.
And everybody, still ahead, he is probably the best known and most colorful wrestler of all time. Hulk-a-mania, Hulk-a-maniac, are going to get ready, including the guys—our floor guys here in the room, my camera guys are going crazy about this, because Hulk Hogan and his family are coming up right after the break. Find out what he is conquering now, out of the rink.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HULK HOGAN, WRESTLER: Yo, hello.
BROOKE HOGAN, DAUGHTER: Dad?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, what‘s up?
B. HOGAN: Nothing, I‘m on the phone.
H. HOGAN: Who are you talking to?
B. HOGAN: Jerry.
H. HOGAN: Jerry curl.
B. HOGAN: Dad.
H. HOGAN: OK. I‘m out, bye. Good God, how sensitive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
H. HOGAN: We start here and not only different sizes, shapes, colors, smells and tastes, I guess, look at this, thong panties, extra-long, light days.
B. HOGAN: Dad, come on let‘s go.
H. HOGAN: Don‘t you think these panty liners would be better than the pearls? They‘re unscented too.
B. HOGAN: Dad, you‘re embarrassing me, let‘s go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSBY: And that was a clip from the new season of the reality hit show on VH1, “Hogan Knows Best,” which premieres, again in a second season, this weekend. Well we all know Hulk Hogan best as the superstar wrestler. But the show centers around Hulk just trying to be a normal dad, raising two teenage kids with his beautiful wife of more than 20 years, in the suburbs of Florida.
Well, we have a very special treat for everybody here, including as a I said, all the guys in the studio. You know, I tell everybody, we have presidents come in, they don‘t care. Hulk Hogan‘s coming, everybody‘s crazy. Hulk Hogan joins me, along with his beautiful wife Linda, also his daughter Brooke, and his son Nick. Welcome to all of you, guys. It‘s so great to see you. What a good-looking family.
H. HOGAN: Well we‘re big fans.
COSBY: Thank you.
H. HOGAN: Thank you, I think you‘re beautiful too.
COSBY: Yes, you did all right for yourself.
H. HOGAN: Yes, I got lucky.
COSBY: Yes, you did.
LINDA HOGAN, WIFE OF HULK HOGAN: You could be his sister.
COSBY: I see that. I can be part of the family. I can join the family, the reality show.
H. HOGAN: She‘s like my other missing daughter.
COSBY: Tell me about why the show is such a big hit. Why do you think—you know, here you are, you‘re a little bit over 20, but all the kids are still looking at you. They still all these Hulk-a-maniacs out there. What is it?
H. HOGAN: Well we met with the big wigs of VH1 the other night and they said, “You guys we are our base, you‘re our foundation.” That gives us the artistic liberty to go out here with this show or out there with that show. And I went, “You know what, that‘s exactly what it is.” We‘re kind of like a normal family with the normal problems.
Even though had I had a different job. You know, we have problems with the neighbors and the taxes and everything else and we‘re really normal. We‘re not way out there. Nothing against the Osbournes, but we run a tight ship.
I think people can‘t believe that that‘s what Hulk Hogan‘s personal live is. And I‘m a married man and a father and my daughter‘s a singer and now my 15-year-old son is the youngest pro driver ever. It‘s crazy, so it‘s an ongoing saga.
COSBY: Well you talked about your running a tight ship. I‘ve got to play a little clip, because you did something—I would kill my dad if he ever did this. He was listening in on phone calls. There was also a GPS tracker involved, when you went out with a guy on a date. Let me play a little clip and let‘s see Hulk Hogan in action.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
B. HOGAN: Hey, you know, the first few times was funny, horning in on my phone call with Jerry, but I mean...
L. HOGAN: Again?
B. HOGAN: No, like six times. But you know what, it‘s not even dad. It‘s you and it‘s Nick and it‘s everybody. I can‘t think straight, I can‘t write any music. I need to get out of this house.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSBY: So you know, Brooke, your dad is going “hmm” over here. Is it tough having Hulk Hogan as a dad?
B. HOGAN: It is because he‘s very, you know, protective and it‘s hard to get out, it‘s hard to get dates and guys to come around because they‘re very intimidated.
COSBY: What are has he done when you‘ve gone on some dates? I know we‘ve seen some glimpses of it, but what are some of the other outlandish things or surprising things he has done?
B. HOGAN: He put the tracking device in my car on one of the episodes, that you‘ll see in the season, it‘s actually that episode that you just watched. He actually went to the spy store and got spy equipment and earphones and a bit satellite thing to hear sound from miles away and binoculars. It was crazy.
COSBY: And Nick, what has he done to some of your girlfriends? I understand he‘s kept them in check too.
NICK HOGAN, SON OF HULK HOGAN: No, actually, he‘s a little bit more lenient with me just because Brooke‘s a girl and she‘s—I‘m a guy. I can kind of defend myself better than Brooke.
COSBY: Do you want to follow—I know you talked about race car driving, but do you want to follow at all? Have you ever thought about going in the ring and doing what your dad has made such a legend of being?
N. HOGAN: That‘s one thing you‘ll see in the season. You have to stay tuned, because you will actually see me get in the ring.
COSBY: Oh you are, against who?
N. HOGAN: I‘m with my dad and John Cena and Big Show and Brian Knobs.
COSBY: And some of those—by the way, John Cena and the other guy you mentioned, we went over to Afghanistan with these guys not too long ago.
What I was surprised about, because it was my first real exposure to wrestling and people always wonder, are they the same as they are in the ring, out of the ring. You have been with this guy for a long time, Linda. What is he like? Is he like he is on the show, is he a different personality?
L. HOGAN: Two totally different personas. I mean, the ring, he‘s Hulk Hogan, slams Andre the Giant. But at home, he‘s really a teddy bear, Southern gentlemen. Yes, he‘s a good egg, he‘s a good dad and a great husband.
COSBY: Were you ever scared, oh my God, I don‘t want to ever get in a fight with this guy?
L. HOGAN: In the beginning, I was like, well he is bigger than me, let‘s see, I‘d better just be quiet.
COSBY: Just tiny little arms. Tiny little arms here I think.
L. HOGAN: I won‘t answer that.
H. HOGAN: We have been married 22 years and we love each other to death, but we do fight.
L. HOGAN: I‘m definitely more comfortable now, let‘s just put it that way.
COSBY: Who wins the fights though, who wins the fights?
H. HOGAN: She does. She‘s the aggressive one. She‘s the one that really is the disciplinarian.
COSBY: And you‘re the shy, weeping willow of the group, right?
H. HOGAN: No, not really, but she is not afraid to say no. I mean, we‘re are a good team.
COSBY: All of you stick with us. We‘re just going to take a quick break and we‘re going to have a lot more with Hulk Hogan and his great family in a second.
But first if we could, let‘s check in with Joe Body Slam Scarborough, with a preview of what‘s coming up tonight. Body Slam, what do you have in store?
JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC ANCHOR: Rita, how did you know my nickname in Congress? I mean, that‘s spooky. I thought I kept that in the House gym.
COSBY: It was either that or head lock, I wasn‘t sure which one.
SCARBOROUGH: Exactly, head lock Joe. Well tonight we‘ve got anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan and really icon Cindy Sheehan coming to “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.” She‘s going to talk about what she‘s doing right now to battle the president‘s war on terrorism. Of course, that comes on the day when the United States launches a furious counteroffensive against insurgents and terrorists in Iraq. We‘re going to have that interview.
Also, the latest on the Dixie Chicks, straight ahead in “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.” Rita?
COSBY: Thank you, Body Slam. We appreciate it. We‘ll be tuning in a couple of minutes. And everybody, stick with us, Hulk Hogan and his great family. More with them when we come back.
COSBY: And he has single handedly created a new word in the dictionary, Hulk-a-mania. We continue now with none other than wrestling great and now reality great, Hulk Hogan and also his family.
You know, what I think is great, in this new reality show, and again it‘s premiering in a few days, you‘re juggling your kids and your wife and your house. What, you‘ve got 30 animals, is that right?
H. HOGAN: We have a lot, a lot of animals.
COSBY: You‘ve gone up against, what is, Andre the Giant, who was 7‘4, 500 pounds. What is a bigger challenge, keeping all these guys and all the cameras, or Andre the Giant?
H. HOGAN: Well without a doubt, it‘s the family. I mean, Andre was easy because he was my buddy. These guys, with Nick getting—he‘s only 15, getting ready to turn 16, Brooke almost 18, you know, and my wife nonstop doing business at the house, it‘s tough. I thought when I got old like this, I could rest and relax.
COSBY: Oh yes, I bet you can take on anybody, come on.
H. HOGAN: But I‘m telling you, these guys are nonstop, 24/7.
COSBY: You know, Brooke, speaking of 24/7, you‘ve got what a singing career coming out.
B. HOGAN: I do.
COSBY: You have an album already, right?
B. HOGAN: We‘re working on the album. I just got signed with Scott Storch, and Soby Music (ph) and it‘s amazing, because Scott is the most sought-after producer today. He did so many hits.
COSBY: And you look absolutely gorgeous, we‘re just looking at some pictures of you. What do people say when they find out your dad is Hulk Hogan?
B. HOGAN: OK, thanks, anyway, I won‘t be coming over.
COSBY: And then he goes and says, wait a minute, you are going to her her. And Nick, what reaction do you get from your friends, when they say, “Hey, by the way, who‘s your dad?”
N. HOGAN: I tell them Hulk Hogan and they‘re like, ha, ha, you‘re funny. And I‘m like, “I‘m serious.” And they‘re, like, “Oh, my God.”
COSBY: I bet they‘re surprised.
N. HOGAN: Yes.
COSBY: What are some of the most interesting questions people say, how do you stay married to this guy for more than 20 years?
L. HOGAN: Right, does he eat a lot.
COSBY: What do you feed him, do you keep feeding him?
N. HOGAN: Cooking was like a prerequisite to marrying this guy.
COSBY: What are some of the most funny moments you guys have shared together?
H. HOGAN: Well, the first night I took her on a date, it was after a wrestling match, and Andre the Giant was there. And Andre used to drink two double screwdrivers at a time. When we went downstairs, there were like 24 lined up. She goes, I told her, “I said, well after the matches, we‘re going to go down and have a few drinks with a giant.” She goes, “Yes, OK, you‘re the giant.” I go, “No, I mean a giant.”
L. HOGAN: I couldn‘t quit staring. I swear, he was just like—his hands were like literally a baseball mitt. And he ordered all six or eight or however many ever on his tray—were all for him, he was like, one, two, three, four—just compared to one person‘s drink, that was like one for him.
COSBY: And really quickly, before we go, Joe (ph) over here—can we bring Joe (ph) in? He‘s our stage manager. Right before the show, he said he could take you on, that you‘re like a schoolgirl, basically. Is there something you want to say to Joe (ph) right now?
H. HOGAN: Joe, stick it up here, brother, let‘s see what you‘ve got.
One, two, three, oh, Joe got me.
COSBY: I think you‘re full of it on that one. We‘ll be right back and we‘ll see if Joe will be right back after the break.
COSBY: And I want to tell you about a special event. Tomorrow, I‘m playing a role, along with honorary co-chair Donald Trump at his beautiful place Mar-a-Lago in Florida, all in an effort to help children with cancer.
We‘re working with some great folks, raising money and attention for St. Jude Children‘s Research Hospital. There‘s a lot more information on this event and this great site on my blog, which is going up tomorrow at rita.MSNBC.com. And you can also log onto their Web site for any information. I hope you do log on, it‘s www.stjude.org. I do hope you log on, it‘s a great cause.
And that does it for me on LIVE & DIRECT. I‘m Rita Cosby and now I‘m going to toss it away to my co-host and new partner in crime, Hulk Hogan.
H. HOGAN: Hey, don‘t forget, this Sunday night, 10:00, VH1, “Hogan Knows Best.” And by the way guys, teleprompter.
COSBY: Oops, Joe Scarborough with “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY” starts now.
H. HOGAN: You‘ve got Joe Scarborough with “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY” starts now. So what are you going to do?
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