Guests: Christopher Darden, Leslie Crocker Snyder, Yale Galanter, Moses Schanfield, James Ewinger, David Harris
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Coming up, new questions about whether the alleged victim in the Duke lacrosse rape investigation will go forward with the case. This as her father says his daughter was raped with a broomstick. So why didn‘t police search for one at the home?
The program about justice starts now.
Hi everyone. But first up on the docket, breaking news here in Washington, D.C. in the CIA leak investigation. It involves the president‘s top political advisor, Karl Rove back before a grand jury. The question, did Rove lie in his first grand jury session in February 2004 or possibly just forget when he denied talking with “TIME” magazine‘s Matt Cooper about CIA agent Valerie Plame?
Rove‘s lawyers reportedly convinced special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald last fall that he had forgotten about the conversation with Cooper until reminded by an e-mail, and then the lawyer said that Rove quickly went to the grand jury to correct his testimony once his memory had been refreshed. The problem—former “TIME” reporter Viveca Novak said she told Rove‘s lawyers about the Cooper-Rove connection months before Rove changed his testimony.
MSNBC‘s chief Washington correspondent Norah O‘Donnell joins us. So, Norah, what more can Rove say now to the grand jury?
NORAH O‘DONNELL, MSNBC CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well Karl Rove spent the afternoon in court today in the CIA leak investigation case and as one source very familiar with this investigation said to me, Karl Rove has testified inaccurately so many times that the special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald wants to know why. And that‘s why Karl Rove came back again for a fifth time today.
Now, remember, this whole case is about the rationale for the war in Iraq and whether there was a White House cover-up to discredit Joseph Wilson, who was an anti-war critic and happened to be married to a covert CIA operative, Valerie Plame. What has changed since the last time that Karl Rove testified, which was in October 2005, is these new revelations that all of a sudden we‘ve learned that in fact Viveca Novak of “TIME” magazine had over drinks, a conversation with Bob Luskin at a very critical time in this investigation, drinks and disclosed oh by the way, Karl Rove has testified he didn‘t talk to Matt Cooper.
Well guess what? The buzz at “TIME” magazine is that Matt Cooper is testifying in fact he did talk to Karl Rove, so that information was passed on in a social way to Karl Rove‘s attorney and yet, it took Karl Rove anywhere from between five, six months to then correct the record to the grand jury in his second appearance before the grand jury. So why have there been all these different changes in the story since also Karl Rove‘s last appearance? Viveca Novak of “TIME” magazine has been disposed; also Karl Rove‘s attorney has been deposed by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald...
O‘DONNELL: ... so clearly this is a turning point, Dan, I think, and attorneys, people close to this case I‘ve talked to today say this could mean that Karl Rove gets the clear or it could mean that special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald thinks that he has not been accurate and that he has been trying to cover up and obstructing justice. That of course is what Libby was indicted on, the vice-president‘s chief of staff, was five counts of perjury and obstructing justice.
ABRAMS: Let me understand, Norah, so Luskin, the attorney for Karl Rove, talks to this “TIME” magazine reporter, and the “TIME” magazine reporter says oh by the way, another one of our reporters was talking to Karl Rove. How long after that conversation occurred did Karl Rove go back to the grand jury?
O‘DONNELL: Great question. That‘s the key point. Karl Rove‘s first testimony is in February 2004. Viveca Novak says that she had that conversation with Rove‘s attorney somewhere around she says as early as January, as late as May, sometime around there, she can‘t remember. She passed on that information. It wasn‘t then until October...
O‘DONNELL: ... later that year, that he goes back and corrects the record, so the question has always been, at least since we learned of this, why did it take so long? Of course...
O‘DONNELL: ... it was in the middle of the election year, Dan, and a very heated election year, but why did it take so long to correct the record? That‘s clearly been one of the big question marks and unanswered questions in this case. Was it because Karl Rove was trying to obstruct justice, to slow the investigation? We don‘t know.
ABRAMS: Or did his lawyer somehow mess up here. That‘s the other question I guess...
O‘DONNELL: Which was why he was deposed...
ABRAMS: Right. Right. Right.
O‘DONNELL: ... as well by the special prosecutor.
ABRAMS: Understood. Norah O‘Donnell, as always, thanks a lot.
O‘DONNELL: My pleasure.
ABRAMS: Now to the Duke University rape investigation where the alleged victim‘s father says it‘s possible that she‘ll decide not to move forward with the case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RITA COSBY, “LIVE & DIRECT” HOST: We‘ve heard your daughter has considered dropping the case, that maybe the pressure is too much. Is that true?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She has talked about it. She has talked about it. As a matter of fact, she told me it was getting to be too much on her, she couldn‘t take it. And so far she‘s still hanging in there though.
COSBY: Do you think she will continue to hang in there or is the pressure too great?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘m hoping she‘ll hang in there, but I know it‘s getting rough on her now.
COSBY: Is it possible she may drop out of the case?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It‘s possible. It‘s possible. I‘m hoping not, but it‘s possible. I‘m praying and hoping that she don‘t.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: That was Rita Cosby interviewing the father, but that‘s not the case according to the D.A., Mike Nifong.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE NIFONG, DURHAM, NC DISTRICT ATTORNEY: There‘s realistically no way that anybody can try a rape case without a victim. I mean it‘s just not likely to happen that way, but I don‘t anticipate that that‘s going to be the issue. I anticipate that the victim will be there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Joining me now, retired New York State judge, Leslie Crocker Snyder, was also a former sex crimes prosecutor, former Los Angeles County Chris Darden. He prosecuted the O.J. Simpson case—He‘s been teaching and writing books—Chris, good to see you back on the program.
CHRISTOPHER DARDEN, FMR. LOS ANGELES CTY. PROSECUTOR: Nice to see you.
ABRAMS: And defense attorney Yale Galanter joins us as well, who by way of fate actually represents O.J. Simpson these days. All right. First of all, Leslie, let me ask you the question about you‘re the prosecutor in this case, you know your case hinges on the alleged victim. How often are you staying in contact with her (A), to make sure she continues with the case and “B” to make sure that she wants to?
LESLIE CROCKER SNYDER, RETIRED NY STATE JUDGE: Well obviously you‘re going to be in contact with her as much as possible, any rape victim or alleged rape victim needs support. She needs support, she may need counseling, she may need some kind of crisis intervention. This is a case in which her reputation has already been dragged through the mud.
I‘m not saying I know what happened, you don‘t know what happened, we don‘t even know all the facts, but she needs support and that‘s why I guess you know she‘s actually or her family has consulted with some well-known attorneys because the other side, the defendants, who also have a lot to lose, have a group of very prominent lawyers. So this victim or alleged victim like any rape victim needs a lot of support.
ABRAMS: You know, Chris Darden, with I hear the father say boy, she‘s been really thinking about pulling out and I‘m hoping she doesn‘t, but I think it‘s possible, I‘ve just got to believe that as time passes, it‘s just more and more likely that she would pull out.
DARDEN: And you‘re probably right, and that happens a lot of times in rape cases and certainly in cases like this, where there‘s so much publicity and where the victim‘s picture has been shown in the media and where her name has been made public, and you know, I‘ve got to tell you, it‘s clear to me that that is the strategy of the defense, and that is to pummel her in the press and in the media and to force her out of this case.
ABRAMS: And Yale, from the defense perspective, I assume it‘s viewed a little differently?
YALE GALANTER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I think the defense lawyers have done an excellent job. I mean everything they‘ve showed us has turned out to be accurate from the photos, the receipts, everything. I do agree with Leslie and I agree with Chris, you know complaining witnesses in rape cases need a lot family support. The problem is I don‘t think she‘s getting a lot of family support. I mean the father is giving interviews and Rita‘s interview last night when asked you know is your daughter sure about who she picked? Are they the people that committed this crime? He says well, you know, she‘s pretty sure and Rita says, well you mean she‘s not positive?
Well, no, she‘s not positive, she‘s pretty sure, and those are the types of things that really add fuel to the fire. The mother not going to a criminal defense lawyer for help yesterday but going to a well-known civil lawyer who sues people for money certainly adds fuel to what the defense has been saying...
SNYDER: You know...
GALANTER: ... that these people are after money. I mean, you know, it‘s just every day facts come out that add to the defense case.
SNYDER: Well, it‘s not really facts though, Dan and Yale. It‘s not facts at all. The fact that Rita Cosby talks to the father, I mean, the only person whom we have to worry about on either side—or either side has to worry about is the victim or the alleged victim and what she says. I don‘t know that the father can speak for her.
GALANTER: Leslie, but that‘s not correct. The father is going to be a defense witness now, because when asked, did your daughter tell you whether or not she was positive of the I.D...
GALANTER: ... the father is going to say no, she said she was pretty sure but she wasn‘t...
SNYDER: I don‘t know what the father will say...
GALANTER: That‘s powerful defense...
SNYDER: What I‘m suggesting...
GALANTER: Well that‘s what she said on Rita‘s show last night...
SNYDER: I think—you know, I think that Chris made the best point. What‘s really sad about—I was the first sex crimes‘ prosecutor in the country and rape victims are treated miserably. Their reputation is dragged through the mud. I don‘t know if this woman was raped. We don‘t know, but she deserves to be treated fairly and the defense has done a brilliant job of trashing her already before we know all the facts. So obviously, she‘s been through so much already. It‘s tough decision to go forward.
ABRAMS: But Leslie, let me ask you this...
GALANTER: Leslie, it‘s not trashing her.
ABRAMS: Hang on. Hang on. Hang on. Yale, hang on a sec...
DARDEN: ... case has already been tried in the press.
ABRAMS: Let me ask you this, Leslie...
DARDEN: ... case has already been tried in the press.
ABRAMS: Well, let me ask you this, Leslie...
ABRAMS: ... if you‘re a defense attorney, right, and you are personally convinced, let‘s say, that based on the evidence that you‘ve seen, that the crime didn‘t happen, right, then aren‘t you obligated almost to do everything you can to say, boy, I‘m so convinced that this didn‘t happen, that would mean that there‘s someone who is lying about this, right?
SNYDER: Well, I‘m not suggesting that there shouldn‘t be a vigorous defense. This is the kind of case, which cries out for a vigorous defense. I have no problem with that. I think the real problem is that we‘re here now and we‘re always you know dissecting, not the evidence, because we don‘t know the evidence.
SNYDER: We‘re dissecting everything...
SNYDER: ... that everyone says and ultimately I think that unfortunately the media has probably done a lot of harm to this victim or complainant because of everything we‘re talking about, and I feel bad about that.
ABRAMS: Let me...
ABRAMS: Mike Nifong, the D.A. yesterday, seemed to even be I think sounding like he‘s not even 100 percent certain this case is going to go to a jury. Here‘s what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIFONG: I expect that this case is going to go to its conclusion the way that every other case does. That would be my expectation. When that will happen, I don‘t know. It will depend on many things. The case is still under investigation. We don‘t have all the information we need back yet. I don‘t want to speculate on any of that stuff, but I would say that I expect this case to go to a jury at some point in the future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Boy, I don‘t know, Chris, I mean, he‘s saying the right things, but it just sounds to me like even he‘s not sure.
DARDEN: Well, you know, I don‘t think he—I don‘t think it‘s proper for him to guarantee anything, number one. And number two, he actually can‘t speak for the victim. You know this case has been tried in the press to an extent and so quickly, quicker than I‘ve ever seen any case quite frankly.
You know, assumptions have been made about what happened, and those assumptions have become facts in the media. He is right to say that he expects the case to go to trial. After all, he obtained an indictment of two defendants. So using the term expectations and expect I think is appropriate.
ABRAMS: All right. Leslie, Chris and Yale stay with us. Coming up, the alleged victim‘s father also saying that he believes his daughter was raped with a broomstick. So the question of course why didn‘t the police search for one and if true, could this mean that she‘s changed her story?
And “Dateline NBC” is at it again, setting up another sting to bust suspected sexual predators. This time one of the guys who showed up had even seen an earlier “Dateline” report on the same thing.
Plus, a priest on trial for killing a nun in a chapel more than a quarter century ago, prosecutors say he did it with a letter opener. They didn‘t have enough evidence they said to prosecute until now.
Your e-mails email@example.com. Please include your name and where you‘re writing from. I respond at the end of the show.
ABRAMS: We‘re back. We know the first round of DNA results in the Duke rape investigation came back without a match. We‘re told the second round won‘t be back for another couple of weeks, prosecutors hoping for a match to back up the alleged victim‘s claim that she was raped by three members of the school‘s lacrosse team. Meanwhile, her father told Rita Cosby last night that he believes his daughter was raped with a broomstick.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COSBY: We know so far that there has been no DNA connecting your daughter to the boys. Can you explain how that could have happened and how the rape could have happened?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, they used a broom on her. If they use a broom, then there wouldn‘t be no DNA.
COSBY: How do you know your daughter was raped with a broom?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I heard it through some—through the news and some more people and then she told me afterwards. It‘s like she didn‘t want me to know that part.
COSBY: So she is telling you she was raped with a broom by multiple boys, is that correct?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. She also said that they did—made her do oral sex on them too.
COSBY: So she is saying that she was raped with a broom and then she was asked to perform oral sex?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
COSBY: And she is sure of that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: All right. But there are problems with that accusation. First of all, in the search warrant obtained by THE ABRAMS REPORT for the house where the party was held on March 13, police never were looking for a broomstick nor did the police ever recover one from the house. Also, in her account of what happened the night of March 13, the alleged victim never mentioned being assaulted with a broomstick.
According to the affidavit—quote—“Shortly after going back into the dwelling, the two women were separated. Two males pulled the victim into the bathroom. Someone closed the door to the bathroom and said sweetheart you can‘t leave. The victim stated she tried to leave, but the three males forcefully held her legs and arms and raped and sexually assaulted her anally, vaginally and orally.”
No mention of a broomstick and then of course, there is this non-testimonial order from early in the case as to why they needed DNA from all 46 of the lacrosse players or 46 of the 47. It said the following.
The DNA evidence requested will immediately rule out any innocent persons and show conclusive evidence as to who the suspects are in the alleged violent attack upon this victim.
Leslie, if the story is going to be that she was raped with a broomstick, it sure seems like the police have been pursuing the wrong leads.
SNYDER: Well first of all, there are all sorts of possibilities here and of course I‘m speculating wildly because we don‘t know. She could have changed her story, if she‘s not telling the whole truth, but it‘s also possible that she was extremely embarrassed to talk about the broomstick.
I‘d like to see the medical evidence. That seems to be something the
D.A. is relying upon. We know there were traumatic injuries and also, if
she performed oral sex and they swabbed her mouth, it is possible that they
or the prosecution felt that they would have some conclusive result. So there are all sorts of possibilities, but let‘s remember, we‘re all speculating.
ABRAMS: Yale, what do you make of those possibilities?
GALANTER: Leslie, I love you, but I‘ve got to disagree with you. I mean none of the paperwork over the past three weeks even mentions a broomstick. I mean if this woman was assaulted with a broomstick, she would have told the rape treatment people, she would have told the police, they would have tried to look for it.
You know we‘re just hearing about the broomstick last night?
SNYDER: Yes, but Yale...
GALANTER: I mean none of it...
GALANTER: ... clearly...
DARDEN: You know, I mean...
GALANTER: ... clearly Mr. Nifong was under the impression that this woman was penetrated by these males, you know, union with sexual organs and that there was going to be DNA...
ABRAMS: And I should say...
GALANTER: That‘s why...
ABRAMS: Let me say this...
ABRAMS: I want to let Chris Darden...
ABRAMS: I want Chris Darden in, but Chris, let me just tell you this also. We also know from the police‘s identification report when they showed her pictures that she identified Collin Finnerty as the person who assaulted her and she said—she used very descriptive terms to say how he assaulted her with his body, saying nothing about a broomstick. Go ahead, Chris.
DARDEN: Well you know we don‘t know everything that she has said. We haven‘t seen all of the reports. We don‘t know whether or not there...
ABRAMS: I‘ve seen a lot of them.
DARDEN: ... search warrants. And I‘m sure you have, Dan, but we don‘t know if there are other search warrants that are sealed at this point in time. Again, we‘re making assumptions and turning those assumptions into facts when we really don‘t know. Nobody knows. She knows. The lacrosse team knows and I‘m sure the prosecution must know a great deal about this, but we can‘t continue to make these assumptions and assume that they are necessarily facts.
SNYDER: You know, Dan, I just want to say one thing. I mean being raped with a broomstick and we‘re relying upon what her father is saying that she said, that other people said, which is really objectionable, but she could have been raped with a broomstick in addition to other things. Again...
ABRAMS: No question. Look and again, I‘m not suggesting—I‘m not trying to suggest what did or didn‘t happen. I‘m saying that it seems to me based on the way the prosecutors and police have been acting, meaning not putting it in the search warrant, we know that they didn‘t retrieve it from the house—that I know for a fact that they didn‘t retrieve the broomstick from the house. That initially they were saying that the DNA would necessary rule in or out. That in the identification of Collin Finnerty, which occurred on April the 4th, that there was no mention of a broomstick.
SNYDER: I understand what you‘re saying, Dan, but first of all we don‘t know that there wasn‘t a broomstick in the house, right...
ABRAMS: No. That‘s right. That‘s right.
ABRAMS: I‘m just saying that at least...
ABRAMS: ... it would seem to indicate...
ABRAMS: Wait. Wait. Wait.
ABRAMS: Wait. Wait.
ABRAMS: I‘m not making a judgment as to what happened.
SNYDER: Neither am I.
ABRAMS: I‘m asking whether we can draw conclusions about what she has told the authorities, because I can‘t believe the authorities would be so negligent as to not look for this material...
SNYDER: Well let me just say...
ABRAMS: ... if she had said anything about it.
SNYDER: Dan, I‘ve seen a tremendous number of search warrants that were inaccurate, defective, not all inconclusive, however, there‘s no question that it appears that we have not heard the whole story from one or the other side or that the victim has not told the whole story or it hasn‘t been communicated to us, but until we hear and see everything directly like the medical evidence...
SNYDER: ... how do we know.
ABRAMS: All right. Let me bring in forensic biology professor at George Washington University, Moses Schanfield joins us as well. Thanks a lot for coming on the program.
All right. So in terms of the second round of DNA tests that we‘re still expecting to get back, we believe that it relates to hair evidence, possibly mitochondrial DNA tests, et cetera. Would you expect that it would take this many weeks to get those results back?
MOSES SCHANFIELD, FORENSIC BIOLOGY PROFESSOR: When you‘re dealing with hair evidence, in this case, if we‘re talking about mitochondrial DNA, that technology is a lot slower than the STR testing that was done on semen evidence. There is also a much more limited array of laboratories that are doing it, so it‘s quite possible that if they were looking for hairs that were collected during the rape examination, it could take longer to get that information back.
ABRAMS: So let me ask you this, Doctor, if they were to get the broomstick, let‘s assume that they‘re able to find it and retrieve it, this much after the fact, you could still do DNA tests that could be relevant, right?
SCHANFIELD: They could certainly do DNA on the end of the broomstick to show that in fact it had been in the victim, with low copy number DNA, it‘s theoretically possible that they might be able to get DNA off of fingerprints from the more distal part of the stick to identify who was holding it.
ABRAMS: You mean from the bottom—you mean from the other end of the stick in an effort to say not just where it was placed but who was holding it?
SCHANFIELD: Yes. It‘s possible. I‘m not guaranteeing anything.
ABRAMS: Yale, it sounds like, look, a lot of the prosecutors that we talk to on this program, you know, are basically saying, look, Mike Nifong, the D.A., is an experienced guy, he wouldn‘t be going forward with this case if it was as contradictory as it might seem to people watching TV right now. I think that‘s a fair characterization. I‘ll let Chris Darden fine-tune it in a minute, but I think it‘s basically the position that Chris and some others are taking is that look, there‘s got to be more out there, we don‘t know everything that Mike Nifong knows and as a result, that those who are criticizing him again and again are being unfair. What‘s your response to that?
GALANTER: Well, I think there are two issues. I think you could be a very experienced prosecutor, handling these types of cases in Durham without a media glow on you. I think once the media gets involved, his experience level at dealing with the media, the rush to judgment, you know, the political pressure on him, you know, throws that all out the window.
I don‘t think he‘s acting as an experienced prosecutor. I don‘t think experienced prosecutors get up on your show, Dan, and make the type of statements he made. I don‘t think...
ABRAMS: All right...
GALANTER: ... experienced prosecutors...
ABRAMS: Let me let Chris Darden have the final word on this. Go ahead.
GALANTER: ... give 70 interviews.
DARDEN: Well you know you have to assume that the grand jury has seen the victim and perhaps has heard her statement and had an opportunity to assess her credibility and to assess the credibility of the statements that she‘s made. They found enough evidence. They apparently believed the allegation enough to justify an indictment of these two defendants, and so there has to be something and there has to be something more there.
I would say to the D.A. in Durham, shut up, and I would say to the victim‘s father, shut up, and allow the prosecution to go forward with this case if it can, because every time the D.A. speaks, and the father speaks, they do damage to the prosecution‘s case.
ABRAMS: All right. Moses Schanfield, Chris Darden, and Yale Galanter, thanks a lot. Appreciate it. Chris, it‘s great to have you back on the program.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks, Dan.
ABRAMS: It‘s been a long time. Good to see you.
DARDEN: It has been a long time. Good to see you.
ABRAMS: All right. Leslie is going to stick around for another segment. Coming up, “Dateline‘s” Chris Hansen is back with another sting operation, trying to catch would-be sexual predators before they can act. Remember the rabbi and the naked guy he ran into before? Wait until you see who he‘s run into now. One guy had actually seen the previous “Dateline” stories and he still went to the house. Chris Hansen joins us next.
And a priest on trial for killing a nun more than a quarter century ago, prosecutors say he did it with a letter opener.
And our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to find missing offenders before they strike. Our search today is in Oklahoma.
Authorities are looking for Robert Wise, 27, six-two, 190, was convicted of first-degree rape, hasn‘t registered his address with the state. If you‘ve got any information on his whereabouts, please contact Oklahoma Department of Corrections, 405-425-2500. Be right back.
ABRAMS: We‘re back. Tonight, “Dateline NBC” airs another in a series of sting operations targeting potential online sexual predators. In past undercover investigations they nabbed a doctor, a teacher, even a rabbi, all allegedly coming to a house to possibly have sex with an underage boy or girl. This time, they went undercover at a house in Greenville, Ohio, to see if men who had engaged in sexually charged conversations with what they thought was a minor on the Internet would show up. Once again, no shortage of surprises at this house either. Once again, here‘s “Dateline‘s” Chris Hansen.
CHRIS HANSEN, “DATELINE NBC” (voice-over): What you‘re about to see happen is going to repeat itself over and over again at our undercover house. The man emerging from the shadows is 40-year-old Alonzo Wade. He‘s been chatting online about sex with a girl who said she was 15. When she says she‘s worried she‘ll get pregnant, he says, I am fixed. He drives 104 miles, more than two hours, to meet the young teen home alone. And look, he‘s loaded down with alcohol.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Come on.
HANSEN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) pretending to be the young girl waves him in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where are you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I‘m just going upstairs to get a band-aid.
I‘ll be right back down, OK?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right.
HANSEN: Then he appears to pull down the zipper on the front of his pants. What he‘s planning to do next, we‘ll never know.
HANSEN (on camera): How are you tonight?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fine.
HANSEN (voice-over): He stops as soon as he sees me.
(on camera): Now what were you doing with your pants there when you were heading towards the door?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My zipper came down. Excuse me. I was just going to go outside and make sure everything was OK.
HANSEN: You brought quite the selection tonight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir.
HANSEN: What do we have here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That‘s mine...
HANSEN (voice-over): Alonzo claims the 12-pack of beer and two six packs of Mike‘s Hard Lemonade are all just for him.
HANSEN (on camera): Were you going to give any to the 15-year-old?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh no, no, no, no, no. I don‘t do that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘ve got a 15-year-old daughter myself.
HANSEN: Well come on...
HANSEN: ... Alonzo, you brought the 12-pack and two six-packs...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I said what does she like to drink that day. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) never what I was going to bring it. You got it in black and white saying that I would bring it.
HANSEN: And you brought it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I did.
HANSEN: You say that...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But she also asked for it.
HANSEN (voice-over): Alonzo says he didn‘t want to drink in front of his daughters so he came here to drink. Not to have sex. But he seems to leave the door open.
(on camera): It appears to be clear from this transcript that you are open to the idea of having sex with this girl.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. Well, it appeared, yes. Would I, no? Or maybe. All right. Maybe.
HANSEN: What is it Alonzo? Yes, no, maybe so?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe.
HANSEN: So maybe you would have had sex with this girl.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe.
HANSEN: What should happen to you Alonzo?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I should go to jail.
HANSEN (voice-over): And that‘s exactly what‘s about to happen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sheriff‘s Office. Put the beer down right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put it down.
HANSEN: To Alonzo and all the other men who will show up at our undercover house, including this man, 26-year-old Jim Rutherford, who drove two hours to meet someone who said she was a 13-year-old girl home alone. He is a sixth grade teacher.
(on camera): Do you ever watch “Dateline NBC”?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh damn, I‘ve seen one of these.
HANSEN: You‘ve seen one of these...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know that‘s—and that was what—one of the reasons I thought, why am I doing this? This could be a setup.
HANSEN: You‘ve actually seen our previous programs on computer predators?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn‘t think I was a predator. I wasn‘t out—
I wasn‘t coming up here for anything physical.
HANSEN (voice-over): That‘s a common excuse we‘ve heard again and again. And this man knows it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know you‘ve heard this. Hell, I‘ve seen people sit here and say the same stuff.
HANSEN (on camera): You were suspicious; you had seen our previous stories, probably got a chuckle out of what happened to some of these guys.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes and honestly I sat there and watched and thought those guys are sick. Why would you do that? And that was what, a month, a month and a half ago, and then here I am.
ABRAMS: Chris Hansen joins me now. You know, Chris, we shouldn‘t be surprised. I know. I mean, you do this—you‘ve done this again and again, and I guess at this point we should expect this to happen, but are you still surprised at what you see, despite the fact that you have now done this a number of times?
HANSEN: I am, Dan, and you know, we made this one about as difficult as you could make it. We picked a small town, the home was—is surrounded by farmland, it was dark, it was hard to get to, guys really had to want to be there. Word got out of the investigation locally in Greenville, so we had, you know, at least a dozen people committed to come who didn‘t come. In spite of all that, 18 men were arrested who surfaced in this thing over three days, several of them, and not just the teacher, several of them had seen our previous stories and had come anyway.
ABRAMS: And they thought, what, it just—I just won‘t get caught;
I‘m just not the guy who is going to get busted?
HANSEN: I think that there‘s so much of this going on and as hard as law enforcement tries to make a dent here, to do sting operations, across the country, I think the prevailing thought amongst people who take part in this, in the chat rooms, is that they‘ll never catch me. There are too many people out here doing this and not enough police officers investigating.
ABRAMS: Any distinct differences in terms of the location, meaning you did it in a more rural area this time versus some of the more urban areas?
HANSEN: Greenville, where we set up, is in Darke County, Ohio, about 40 miles away from Dayton, the population is 13,000. As I said, it‘s very rural, a lot of farmland around. And we just wanted to see if we would find the same sort of activity going on that we found outside Los Angeles, outside of Washington, D.C. and outside of New York City, and in fact, we did.
ABRAMS: Has it gotten easier for you to confront these guys? I mean I know we‘ve talked about this before and you‘ve talked about the fact that you know it‘s sometimes uncomfortable and at sometimes frightening when you are confronting them. Has it gotten easier for you now that you‘ve gotten this down pat?
HANSEN: Well, in some ways, Dan, it has. And we‘re still very cautious because you really don‘t know that much about the person coming in. I mean, typically you know what they do for a living, you‘ve been able to see them from the hidden cameras as they drive up, kind of monitor their behavior. We have security there. Obviously the police are not far away you know running their operations, so you know as much as we can, we know all about these guys before they come in.
In terms of actually talking to them, that has gotten a little easier in that you know I‘m just really truly curious to find out what makes a guy get up on a Saturday morning and instead of going to the grocery store or to, you know, the cleaners, to come over to try to meet the 12 to 15-year-old kid for sex. And so, you know, my line of questioning is to try to determine that, and every time we do it, these guys open up a little bit more, for whatever reason.
I think some want to get it off their chest. I think some feel extremely guilty. Some want to plead their case.
HANSEN: Some want help, but this teacher who you saw in the tape, he‘s there, he stayed for 40 minutes to talk about his addiction and his compulsion when it comes to this sort of activity.
ABRAMS: Chris Hansen, enterprising journalist and psychologist, thanks very much for coming on the program.
HANSEN: Thank you.
ABRAMS: You can see Chris‘ full report tonight. Tune into “Dateline” at 9:00 p.m. Eastern on NBC.
Coming up, a nun discovered brutally killed in a chapel, stabbed over 30 times. Many of the wounds, signs of the cross. Twenty years after the crime, a priest finally standing trial for her murder.
ABRAMS: Coming up, a priest on trial for killing a nun more than a quarter century ago. Prosecutors say he did it with a letter opener, stabbed her more than 30 times. Coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was your impression when you first saw Sister Margaret Ann Pahl on the floor?
SISTER PHYLLIS ANN GEROLD, FOUND NUN MURDERED IN CHAPEL: The horror, the horror—I think it was the weirdness of it and then, you know, that she needed to be saved and then—and the afterthought is why?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: More than a quarter century ago, the body of a 71-year-old Catholic nun was discovered in a Toledo hospital chapel. Sister Margaret Ann Pahl had been strangled and stabbed. Prosecutors say her body posed in a ritualistic manner with stab wounds described in the shape of an inverted cross carved on her chest. For decades, her murder went unsolved, but now prosecutors say this man, 68-year-old Catholic priest, Gerald Robinson, who presided over Sister Margaret Ann‘s funeral killed her in the early morning hours of April 5, 1980.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEAN MANDROS, LUCAS COUNTY, OH ASSISTANT PROSECUTOR: Someone took her by the neck and choked her. Choked her so hard that two bones in the side of her neck broke. Choked her so hard that the blood vessels in her eyes burst. Choked to the very verge of death. And after laying her on the floor, he covered her with a white altar cloth. And after doing that, he stabbed her over the heart, nine times.
Nine piercings of her flesh in the shape of an upside down cross. He takes off the altar cloth, he stabs her 22 more times. This crime is still not over. Because after doing these things, he carefully rolls up her dress, her smock, up over her breasts, he pulls her girdle, her underpants, her hose down to her ankles and leaves her exposed, naked, stretched out as if in a coffin on the sacristy floor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Of course a dummy they‘re using there in the courtroom. During Father Robinson‘s police interview back in 1980, he denied being involved in the murder but said the real killer had confessed to him but that his vows as a priest prevented him from revealing that person‘s identity, an account he later recanted. Father Robinson‘s attorney says the prosecution‘s theory just doesn‘t add up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALAN KONOP, ATTY FOR PRIEST CHARGED WITH MURDER: There will be reasonable doubt, reasonable doubt, reasonable doubt to the point where you will see that that puzzle pieces don‘t fit, you can jam them, shove them, carve them, whatever you want to do, there will be reasonable doubt in this case.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Today, a forensic witness testifying for the defense told the jury the DNA found on Sister Margaret Ann Pahl was likely from a man, but the test did not link the sample to the man on trial.
Joining me now, David Harris, professor of criminal law with the University of Toledo and a former public defender and James Ewinger, who has been covering the story for “The Cleveland Plain Dealer”. Thanks to both of you for coming on the program. Appreciate it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Dan.
ABRAMS: We‘re joined as well by a former New York State judge, Leslie Crocker Snyder is back with us.
All right. James Ewinger, let me start with you. You‘ve been covering this case from the beginning. Bottom line is the key evidence that the prosecutors have is what?
JAMES EWINGER, REPORTER, “THE PLAIN DEALER”: It‘s largely scientific forensic evidence based on the testimony of experts, because there really are no eyewitnesses to put the priest at the scene of the crime. So this going to really unfold from the experts.
ABRAMS: And for example, that it was his letter opener that was used in the crime, correct?
EWINGER: Yes. That‘s what it—well, that‘s what they allege.
ABRAMS: Right, right. I‘m saying it‘s the prosecution‘s theory. All right. This is another thing though that the prosecutors have brought up and they don‘t have to prove motive, but it sounds like they‘re at least touching on it.
EWINGER: They‘ve hinted at one...
ABRAMS: Hang on one sec. Hang on...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They had talked to a hospital worker who told them that Sister Margaret Ann Pahl was very upset on Good Friday. Upset to the points of tears. Upset with the priest over the way he had conducted Good Friday service.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Professor Harris, it doesn‘t quite sound like they‘re saying and that‘s why she was killed, but they‘re putting it out there as a possibility, right?
DAVID HARRIS, UNIVERSITY OF TOLEDO LAW PROFESSOR: Yes, they are. The prosecution doesn‘t have to prove a motive, but any case will be more persuasive if they can supply one. That particular statement, if that‘s as strong of evidence as they have of motive is not likely to be very persuasive to the jury at all in my opinion.
ABRAMS: But so what is the evidence, Professor? I mean they‘ve got the letter opener. They‘ve got that possible motive. What else do they have?
HARRIS: Well, as Jim said, it‘s a lot of forensic evidence, but from my point...
ABRAMS: Like what?
HARRIS: Well from my point of view, it isn‘t very persuasive.
HARRIS: They‘re talking about blood patterns on the altar cloth, for instance. That is a very, very new forensic science. It does not have the kind of persuasive weight that one would expect from DNA for instance. When there is DNA evidence, all we hear is, it‘s consistent with a man, but not Father Robinson and as far as the letter opener, it is his. Nobody disputes that. But we get a little bit of evidence that it is consistent with one of the 30 stab wounds. To me, that doesn‘t just—that just doesn‘t seem very persuasive and I think we can see why this case laid fallow for 26 years.
ABRAMS: Here‘s what the defense says about that DNA evidence.
SNYDER: I hope you‘ll let me say something, Dan.
ABRAMS: Hang on. I will. Yes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KONOP: April of ‘05, there‘s foreign material taken from sister‘s fingernails, male chromosome in the mix. Guess what? I‘m sure you know. It‘s not Father Robinson‘s DNA.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Leslie, of course I‘m going to have you say something.
ABRAMS: Go ahead. Lay it out.
SNYDER: Let me pretend I‘m the prosecutor for a minute. There‘s some powerful stuff here, I don‘t know how it will all play out, because I haven‘t heard all the forensic evidence, but this is clearly a crime of passion. Look at the number of wounds. Look—and look at the shape of the wounds. We already can link that to some kind of religious situation. It does happen in a church, none in priests. Crime of passion, someone who knew her.
Now, I think the forensic evidence is stronger from what I‘ve heard than the professor is making out because when they exhumed the body, the unusual shape of the priest‘s letter and the defendant‘s letter opener is absolutely not just consistent with, but the testimony went further than that, it is an exact fit with the puncture wound of the jaw, and also the fact that the DNA, what traces there were on the nun‘s underwear were supposedly—some of the experts testified could have been put there by anybody touching it over the years or bagging it for evidence.
So, if you look at a circumstantial case from a prosecution point of view, most cases are not as strong as you would like, because it‘s—you know, they‘re not perfect, but the situation in the church, which is what, you know, prosecutors are always saying, well, the murder—we wish our crime occurred in the church, well here it did and it‘s got every...
ABRAMS: All right.
SNYDER: ... indicia of being committed by somebody connected with the church.
ABRAMS: Professor Harris, final 15 seconds.
HARRIS: Yes, I don‘t think that that really connects the things up. The consistency of the testimony, consistent with the wounds and so forth, that‘s all we‘re getting and this is supposed to be the high point of the prosecution‘s case. Unless we see more, my sense is that the prosecution‘s case is not very strong.
ABRAMS: All right. We shall see. David Harris, James Ewinger, and Judge Leslie Crocker Snyder, thanks a lot. Appreciate it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A pleasure.
ABRAMS: Coming up, a prosecutor upset with ABC for airing video of a man beating his daughter and not going to the police first. Many of you asking the same question. Why didn‘t they notify the police? But some of you saying (UNINTELLIGIBLE) come on. The father could have done a lot worse. Oh, my. Your e-mails are coming up.
ABRAMS: Now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”. Yesterday we showed you violent video from a report aired on ABC‘s Primetime about the dynamics of stepfamilies. At one point a father is caught on tape beating his daughter while the stepmother watches and they have three other kids in the house as well. The D.A. in New York County is upset because ABC didn‘t report the beating to authorities even though the girl says it was an isolated incident.
Teri in Texas, “She was verbally and physically abused by her ignorant father and his ignorant wife over and over again. Shame on ABC for not paying attention to the footage they obtained from that family.”
But Louie from—Louie Bookout in Northridge, California writes, “”The dad spanks the girl three hard times on the butt. That shows me he controlled his anger towards her. If he punched her in the face, that would be a different issue.” Boy.
From Pasadena, California, Heather Meier, “The stepmother is clearly shadow boxing with her fists as the father is striking the girl. The other children still remaining in the home should be removed until the stepmother is evaluated for mental illness.”
Ashley Baldwin in Roanoke, Virginia, “I‘m glad you shared this news with America and hope it raises awareness for children who are abused, even just once.”
Durham D.A. Mike Nifong is trying to reinstate the old misdemeanor charges against at least some of 15 current, former lacrosse team members at Duke who had deferred prosecutions or had their cases dismissed.
Mary Spach writes, “He wants the boys to all come in and prove that they did or didn‘t do the things he accused them of. He is just fishing for information.”
Regina Lustberg on the new accusation from the father of the alleged victim. “If she was sodomized with a broomstick, then why did the D.A. need to take DNA samples from the 46 players?”
Now yesterday I addressed a viewer‘s e-mail who prioritized how I should address the alleged victim, as a—quote—“mother first, student sex and stripper third.” I said we described her has a stripper or exotic dancer because to just call her a mother or a student wouldn‘t explain why she was at the house in the first place.
Kelly Welch in Manhattan, Kansas, “You stated that you‘re not going to sugarcoat the fact that she‘s a stripper and that her profession perhaps led to the unfortunate circumstances she now finds herself in. Tsk, tsk, tsk.”
Tsk, tsk, tsk to you, Kelly, and to the couple of others who wrote similar notes. It tells me you weren‘t listening. Go back and look at the transcript. Never, ever did I suggest that somehow her being a stripper led to what happened. I did say that I won‘t just call her a mother or a student not to demean her, but because it‘s important to understanding the facts of what happened at the house.
Be right back.
ABRAMS: That does it for us tonight. Coming up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews here in Washington as well. See you later.
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