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'The Abrams Report' for May 11

Guests: Larry Kobilinsky, Moses Schanfield, Yale Galanter, Susan Filan

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Coming up, a potential bombshell in the Duke lacrosse team rape case.  Prosecutors now may have a DNA link from the accuser‘s fingernail to a Duke lacrosse player. 

The program about justice starts now.

Hi everyone.  First up on the docket, what may be a partial DNA match in the Duke rape investigation.  Human tissue found under a fake fingernail belonging to the woman accusing three Duke lacrosse players of raping her at a party almost a month ago is apparently consistent with the DNA of a player and not Collin Finnerty or Reade Seligmann who have been charged with rape. 

“THE HERALD SUN” newspaper is reporting that analyzing the tissue scientists concluded it came from the same genetic pool and was consistent with the bodily makeup of one of the 46 lacrosse players who gave DNA samples for testing.  At the same time, scientists ruled out a possible match with any of the other 45 students, according to the sources. 

Now remember, there were no matches in the first round of DNA tests.  D.A. Nifong in turn hired a private lab to do further testing.  Indications again are that it seems it‘s consistent with the person who the woman said she was 90 percent certain was the one who strangled her in a bathroom but has not been charged in this case. 

Joining me now DNA expert and professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Larry Kobilinsky, George Washington University forensic science professor and DNA Moses Schanfield, MSNBC legal analyst and former prosecutor Susan Filan, and criminal defense attorney Yale Galanter.  All right, before we get to the legal, I‘ve got to understand the science on this. 

So Larry, let me start with you.  Look, I don‘t have a report in front of me to hand to you so you can evaluate it.  All I‘ve got is these terms that the sources are using consistent with indications that it matches some of the genetic profile.  Based on the language that you‘ve heard us just quote, what does that say to you about what we‘re talking about here? 

LARRY KOBILINSKY, DNA EXPERT:  Well, the word consistent is always an ambiguous word and it could have significance and it may not, but the point is, is they probably do not have the full CODIS loci, the 13...

ABRAMS:  Right.

KOBILINSKY:  ... possessions. 

ABRAMS:  But let‘s assume they don‘t have that, all right. 


ABRAMS:  I mean...

KOBILINSKY:  That‘s right...

ABRAMS:  ... what does that mean?  I mean how certain then—let‘s—

I don‘t know.  Let‘s say they‘ve got nine or eight.  I don‘t—you tell me.  You talk DNA to me and tell me what this means. 


KOBILINSKY:  A partial profile could be very significant.  It could in fact result in statistics in one in millions or even one in billions.  On the other hand, having less than six loci usually raises some questions.  But I must say here that it‘s quite possible they are doing a different kind of DNA testing. 

And what I‘m talking is the Y chromosome testing, which is quite often used in allegations of rape where there are multiple offenders.  That is another possibility.  It‘s not as specific in terms of the statistics as the other nuclear type of DNA testing, but this is quite a possibility here, that that‘s what they have done. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Moses Schanfield, what do you make of this? 

MOSES SCHANFIELD, FORENSIC SCIENCE PROFESSOR:  Well, I agree with Larry.  What is consistent is a term—it simply means the person wasn‘t excluded.  How powerful the test is, is going to depend on how many loci were there.  So again, if it‘s more than six and less than 13, you could still have a highly individualizing profile. 

Clearly, the profile was good enough that it eliminated the 45 other or the 25 or however many students there were that—except for this one individual.  So we‘re somewhere between the trillions that exist in a full CODIS profile and some lesser number depending on how many loci are present. 

ABRAMS:  Yale Galanter look, it‘s not a good day for the defense in terms of the news that‘s coming out.  How are the defense attorneys responding?

YALE GALANTER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Well, there are two issues.  One is we just don‘t know.  I mean the word consistent with—as Larry has said, is a very ambiguous word.  It may mean that it‘s consistent with one out of 100 in the population or one out of 200 in the population. 

Then from a legal standpoint, the judge has got to make a determination as to how scientifically reliable that test is.  Most people use DNA the same way they would use a fingerprint.  In other words, if it‘s a positive DNA match, it‘s to the exclusion of...

ABRAMS:  But see, Yale...

GALANTER:  ... you know trillions and billions of people. 

ABRAMS:  ... I would think the defense team doesn‘t want to start getting into the business at this point of starting to quibble over thousands versus millions—in court they may.  But I‘m saying that now when the defense up to this point has been nothing happened, period, that when you start getting into, well, we‘re going to try and have this excluded, et cetera, you know that starts to feel like defense—typical defense attorney arguments.

GALANTER:  Dan, it‘s real difficult to discuss without looking at the report.  To give you an example, let‘s say the material was at the very end of her fingertip and the defense says well, this girl was doing a lap dance...


GALANTER:  ... with the person, so of course, there would be some transference of material.  They would say the fact that it‘s consistent with means that she really didn‘t dig her fingers into this guy, didn‘t make him bleed, didn‘t cause any scarring, didn‘t cause any bruising, which we already know because the police have looked at all these boys and taken photographs of them. 

ABRAMS:  Susan...

GALANTER:  So without really having the report, we just don‘t know. 

ABRAMS:  If it‘s one of the people who lived in the house...


ABRAMS:  ... let‘s say, for example, and it indicates that there was some consistent DNA tissue under her fingernails...

FILAN:  Right.

ABRAMS:  ... with someone who lived in the house...

FILAN:  Right.

ABRAMS:  ... how big a deal is that? 

FILAN:  Well I still think it‘s a big deal.  Because how did her fingernails come up?  I mean the fact that her fingernails came off and there is someone‘s DNA and it‘s the person that she says she‘s 90 percent sure is one of the people that attacked her I think it‘s pretty significant.  But what I‘m worried about is we don‘t have DNA as to the other two guys. 

ABRAMS:  But remember, because if you actually read the entire identification report, she‘s not suggesting, it doesn‘t seem, that either of the two accused attacked her, strangled her.  She seems to be suggesting that it was the other person. 


ABRAMS:  If you read very carefully and WRAL actually put up the entire transcript of it.  It‘s something that we had seen, but now we can actually put up the quotes.  You know, you see from this and again, I think that we can put up number 10.  This is referring to the person. 

She says she‘s 90 percent.  He looks like one of the guys who assaulted me.  How sure are you of this image?  He looks like him without the mustache.  OK.  Percentage wise, what is the chance?  Ninety percent and maybe—actually this is the one I meant to read, which is number nine.

This is the one—this is the point when she‘s identifying Collin Finnerty.  She says he‘s the guy who assaulted me.  What did he do?  He put his, you know, penis in me, et cetera.  Was he the first or second one to do that?  The second one.  Is he the one who strangled you or not?  No.

FILAN:  Right, so fair enough.  OK, the third guy is the guy that you would expect DNA under the fingernails but you‘d also expect from the other two some bodily fluid transfer.  You would expect some DNA in some other cavity of hers or some other orifice of hers.  And so to find DNA as to one and none of the other two, I‘m afraid the defense is going to jump on that and maybe number three is going to be the sacrificial lamb who is going to get hung out to dry. 

ABRAMS:  And will this be enough?  Do you think?  Let‘s assume for a moment that there is—and I guess it depends on how definitive a match it is.

FILAN:  Right.

ABRAMS:  As our DNA experts are point out, if it‘s 12 alleles out of 13...

FILAN:  Right.

ABRAMS:  ... versus five...

FILAN:  Right.

ABRAMS:  ... could make a big difference.

FILAN:  Sure.

ABRAMS:  But is this going to be enough to charge that third person?

FILAN:  Absolutely.  We got two indictments without DNA on the first two guys, so we‘re going to have an identification, now we‘re going to have some kind of scientific corroborative evidence.  I think absolutely.

ABRAMS:  Yale, do you expect a third indictment now? 

GALANTER:  Yes, I do.  I think a third person will be indicted.  You know the grand jury is sitting again on Monday.  I think with a consistent with plus that 90 percent identification in the photo lineup, we are going to see somebody else indicted next week, Dan. 

ABRAMS:  You know, what‘s interesting to me is exactly—sort of the language that we‘re getting.  And obviously we‘re getting all this information based on sources close to the prosecutors or close to the authorities who are releasing these results because the actual DNA result, meaning the actual report, hasn‘t even been completed apparently. 

What does that mean, Larry Kobilinsky?  I mean we‘re hearing that the full DNA report will be received by Monday.  Does that mean that they are done, but they haven‘t put it down on paper? 

KOBILINSKY:  I think that‘s correct.  You know, there‘s a lot of paper that has to accompany testing.  This is a legal matter and, you know, typically a file on a case like this could be several inches thick.  So I think they are dotting the I‘s, crossing the T‘s and making sure that all of the necessary quality control and quality assurance has been taken care of.  But I think the fact that we‘ve already got an indication that there is consistency with one individual is very significant, especially since it corroborates...

ABRAMS:  But would it be that significant, Larry, if it‘s someone who lived in the house?

KOBILINSKY:  Well, it‘s just the oddity of how do you explain finding the DNA under the fingernails.  Is there some casual way that that happened? 

ABRAMS:  Well look, I can tell you that the defense‘s theory—the defense claims that the woman and her friend were in the bathroom and that presumably she was putting on fingernail polish.  They don‘t say anyone saw this, but based on the fact that there were these fingernails they say in the garbage in the bathroom that that‘s how it happened, was that she may have been putting them on, et cetera, or in the bathroom.  Could that be—

I mean, again could that be an explanation for transfer...

KOBILINSKY:  Well Dan...

ABRAMS:  ... or is that a long shot? 

KOBILINSKY:  ... no doubt—it‘s a long shot, but no doubt the defense attorney can argue secondary transfer, that that DNA got onto the fingernails and that‘s what you are measuring.  It‘s a long shot, though.  You‘d have to convince a jury of the probability of that happening.

ABRAMS:  Moses Schanfield, what do you make of that?  Do you agree? 

SCHANFIELD:  Well, I think the question is if, in fact, there is tissue and the DNA was extracted from tissue, it‘s much less likely.  When we‘re talking about low copy number from fingerprints and casual transfers, you are talking about very small amounts of DNA.

Would it have wound up where it did on the fingernails?  Well, without knowing where it came from on the fingernails, that‘s difficult to answer.  So, certainly the defense can argue that it‘s casual transfer or passive transfer.  I think the physical evidence and the location will tell us a lot more about it. 

ABRAMS:  Yale, how big a blow is this to the entirety of the defense? 

GALANTER:  Well, it‘s certainly a blow to the third suspect because, you know, the 90 percent and if there‘s a DNA, you know, consistent with whatever type of match it turns out to be, that‘s going to be a tough road to hoe.  I don‘t think it affects Seligmann or Finnerty at all.  As a matter of fact, it may actually help them and Susan brought that up at the top of the block.

I think the fact that we now know based on you know the story that she‘s told, the photographic lineup, you know the whole broomstick theory is out the window.  So there was actual union with these body parts, why wasn‘t there DNA...

ABRAMS:  Right...

GALANTER:  ... either Mr. Seligmann or Mr. Finnerty? 

ABRAMS:  But that‘s the ultimate issue, Yale.  See in my mind, if there was a rape, if they can show that there was a rape in that bathroom, that‘s bad for anyone who‘s on trial here.  Because the defense has been nothing happened, period.  Right?  I mean...

GALANTER:  You know—well, but Dan, I‘m not sure I agree with that.

ABRAMS:  Really?

GALANTER:  Because Reade Seligmann‘s attorney and Finnerty‘s attorneys have come up and said that nothing‘s happened.  We don‘t know what the third suspect‘s lawyer is going to say.  We have no idea.

ABRAMS:  Well...

GALANTER:  We don‘t even know who the third suspect is. 

ABRAMS:  Well, well, we do...

GALANTER:  We don‘t know.

ABRAMS:  Yes.  You know we‘re not naming the person.  We do know who it is.

GALANTER:  Right. 

ABRAMS:  But—I don‘t know.  With that said, Susan, it just seems to me that if, and this is a big if, if they can show that there was a rape, that changes everything.

FILAN:  Absolutely...

ABRAMS:  I don‘t know that they are going to be able to show that. 


ABRAMS:  But if they are, you know then you start getting into a more typical case.

FILAN:  That‘s right.  And you called it from day one.  You said this is a really risky strategy.  Why would you go for all or nothing?  Why would you say no rape, nothing happened.  Because if anything comes back and does show a rape, they have pretty much convicted themselves.  You were sort of saying why don‘t you go for something in the middle, it was consent or you know it was for payment or it was something like that. 


ABRAMS:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) talk to any of these players, they all tell you the same thing.  They reason that we said that is because nothing happened.  So all right, we shall see. 

Coming up—everyone is going to stick around—police are also getting tough with the potential defense witness.  They arrested the cabdriver who said he drove Reade Finnerty from the—sorry—Reade Seligmann from the party.  They hauled him off to jail for a minor misdemeanor.  He says he didn‘t even know what he was charged with. 

And it took prosecutors 26 years to build a case against a priest they say stabbed a nun to death.  It took jurors just over six hours to reach a verdict.

Plus, more of “Dateline NBC‘s” undercover operation to catch potential sex predators, this time Chris Hansen heads to Florida where he finds one guy who is apparently a big fan of the “Dateline” story.  He showed up anyway.

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


ABRAMS:  An alibi witness in the Duke rape investigation arrested for a crime he was charged with two and a half years ago.  Remember the cabdriver, Moezeldin Almostafa, charged in 2003 with misdemeanor larceny for apparently driving a woman who stole five purses from a department store to and from a shopping mall.  He was arrested yesterday. 

Last month, Almostafa submitted an affidavit saying he picked up Reade Seligmann from a party at 12:19 a.m. the morning of March 14 and drove him to an ATM, fast food restaurant, then back to his dorm.  Seligmann has been charged with rape.  He submitted copies of his phone records, photos from the ATM and records showing when he entered the dorm to support his alibi that he wasn‘t at the party when the alleged rape could have occurred. 

Susan, these guys are playing hardball now, right?  Arresting this guy on an outstanding misdemeanor charge.  I mean that seems to me a mistake because it‘s going to be perceived as vindictive. 

FILAN:  Well if they had a warrant for him and it wasn‘t served, it simply has to be served.  But if they did pursue this just sort of on the complaint, it seems a little odd.  And the question that I have is what‘s their theory of the case?  If he‘s the cabdriver, he drove these women, they went inside, shoplifted...


FILAN:  ... and got back in his car, what culpability does he have...

ABRAMS:  It must have been they—I mean he pled guilty, so there must have been there was some like, knowledge, right?  I mean they must have thought that he had some knowledge of the larceny. 

FILAN:  He has to have more than knowledge.


FILAN:  I mean if I know you commit a crime and I don‘t tell somebody, have I committed a crime too?  It‘s got to be more than knowledge.  It‘s got...

ABRAMS:  But if he knows what they were doing and he‘s driving them, I mean he‘s the driver, right...

FILAN:  Yes. 

ABRAMS:  Yes, and if he knows that they are doing this.  I don‘t know.  I mean Yale, what do you make of this? 

GALANTER:  Well, the date of the warrant, Dan, apparently is September of 2003, so it doesn‘t look like he‘s being vindictive and going back and charging conduct that‘s three years old.  The real issue is the timing of it.  I mean did Mike Nifong just realize that this man had an outstanding warrant?  Has he not interviewed him before?  Has he not tried to make contact with him...

ABRAMS:  I should say...

GALANTER:  ... until yesterday?

ABRAMS:  I said something wrong. 


ABRAMS:  He didn‘t actually plead guilty.  It was the woman who pled guilty. 

FILAN:  Right.

ABRAMS:  In fact...


ABRAMS:  ... the cabdriver says he didn‘t even know what he was—he didn‘t even know that there was a charge.  This is from “The News and Observer”.  He says the detective asked if I had anything new to say about the lacrosse case, when I said no, they took me to the magistrate.  Go ahead, Yale.

GALANTER:  Yes, I mean you know he‘s totally clueless.  He apparently drops these women off at a store, they come back.  He‘s notified later.  He cooperates.  He gives all the identifying information he has.  Three years goes by, he gives the affidavit in this case and, boom, he ends up getting arrested for the warrant. 

What‘s interesting about it, Dan, is this case has been going on for months.  Is Mike Nifong‘s investigators and office, they just realized this week that there was a warrant for this cabdriver. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  I mean here is my concern.  I mean, whatever you think about this case, the D.A. has to be careful, does he not, Susan, in terms of the perception of what he‘s doing and how he‘s doing it?  I mean because people say to me on this program well you know you guys have been attacking the alleged victim.  Not really.  What we really have been talking about is what the prosecutor has been doing. 

Sure, there have been issues about their credibility.  There have been issues—we have been talking about the credibility of the players as well.  But the—you know the question of how the D.A. is handling it is one that‘s almost separate from guilt or innocence.

FILAN:  Yes.  Rock, hard place.  You got a warrant, you don‘t serve it on a witness that you‘re going to have to call to testify in court, could show favoritism.  You serve a warrant after you‘ve found out he‘s going to say something that‘s perhaps unfavorable to the prosecution, you‘re being vindictive. 

Bottom line, if there‘s an outstanding warrant, it simply has to be served. 

The key will be how does this guy get treated in court. 


FILAN:  I mean really does he get favorable treatment?  Does he get somebody trying to stick him in jail for a year on a misdemeanor, which never happens?  That‘s where I think the question is going to come down...

ABRAMS:  Are we seeing a changing strategy on the part of the prosecutors here?  And that is yesterday we see the Durham city manager who oversees effectively the Durham Police Department out publicly talking about a report in this case.  Now, we‘re getting a leak about DNA that may be consistent. 

FILAN:  Right.

ABRAMS:  Are the prosecutors you think tired of getting bashed? 

FILAN:  Well it‘s almost like they have sort of figured it out maybe a little bit too late.  You‘ve got to speak to the media, you can‘t ignore them.  And the D.A. himself...


FILAN:  ... shouldn‘t do it.  So the bottom line to me is like OK, we‘re going to get our information out, not through the D.A., and we‘re going to try to give the country, who is watching, some faith in what we‘re doing.  I think what Nifong is trying to do now is basically keep his head down, keep moving forward, go for more indictments, just put blinders on, saying that his blinders are justice and do his job, but at the same time not let himself get killed in the media by his silence for his missteps.

ABRAMS:  See, because the missteps remain and that is early on saying, for example, the DNA would be able to—and again, that was the authorities who filed that document—but basically being able to say that the DNA would separate the guilty from the innocent.  And regardless of whether you think there‘s DNA that may be consistent with one of these people, it‘s clearly not answering the question of the guilty from the innocent. 

FILAN:  I still think that that might have been a real oversell or a real hard sell to get a court to allow a search of 46 people, because without their consent this could very well be challenged for constitutionality.  And I think he was probably...


FILAN:  ... saying to the court look, judge, this doesn‘t sound right.  It doesn‘t sound orthodox, but guess what, it‘s going to get maybe 45, 44 innocent people to go free, so wouldn‘t we...

ABRAMS:  I think and listen to—this is Mike Nifong on this program a while ago in March.  This is right before she came in and made the I.D.  It‘s like a day or two before she comes in.  I‘m thinking at this point he may not have even known exactly what the theory of the case was going to be.  There had not been an indictment at this time.  Remember this piece of sound.


MIKE NIFONG, DURHAM DISTRICT ATTORNEY:  She was grabbed from behind, so that in essence somebody had an arm around her like this which she then had to struggle with in order to be able to breathe.  And it was in the course of that struggle that the fingernails, the artificial fingernails broke off.  Now as you can see from my arm, if I were wearing a shirt, a long-sleeved shirt or a jacket of some sort, even if there were enough force used to press down to break my skin through the clothing, there might not be any way that anything from my arm could get on to those fingernails. 


ABRAMS:  But you‘d think that one way or the other, he‘d know if that was going to be the theory...

FILAN:  Not necessarily.  I think what he did was I think he jumped on the bandwagon...


FILAN:  ... of listening to and believing the complainant. 


FILAN:  But look, now we‘ve got DNA under her fingernails that matches the guy...

ABRAMS:  Maybe.  Maybe. 

FILAN:  ... supposedly strangled her.

ABRAMS:  Maybe.  We‘ll see. 

FILAN:  So I mean...

ABRAMS:  We‘ll see.  All right, Larry Kobilinsky, Moses Schanfield, Susan Filan, Yale Galanter, thank you. 

Switching topics.  After deliberating for six and a half hours, a Toledo, Ohio jury decided the fate of Reverend Gerald Robinson, charged with the 1980 murder of Sister Margaret Ann Pahl.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We, the jury—will the defendant rise—find the defendant guilty of murder.


ABRAMS:  All right.  Fairly straightforward.  The judge sentenced the 68-year-old Catholic priest to a mandatory term of 15 years to life.  The key evidence in the case, the sword-shaped letter opener found in Reverend Robinson‘s room.  Prosecutors say he used it to stab Sister Pahl 31 times in a hospital chapel, leaving bloody marks on an altar cloth on the murdered nun‘s body, some in the pattern of an inverted cross.  In his closing argument Tuesday, defense attorney Alan Konop insisted the case against his client hadn‘t been proved and was a rush to justice. 


ALAN KONOP, ATTORNEY FOR REV. ROBINSON:  It was an incomplete investigation.  They arrest him.  They arrest him.  Subjected to the humiliation of an arrest and to national publicity.  And the investigation is nowhere near completion to do this.  There‘s no timeline that makes any sense whatsoever. 

It‘s circular.  He‘s going in every different direction at every different time.  No one is sure about the time.  It‘s reasonable doubt, proof beyond a reasonable doubt.  It‘s impossible to say that Father Robinson at the time that this happened is in that church.  Nothing—there‘s nothing here. 


ABRAMS:  The prosecutor Dean Mandros told the jury that there was plenty of evidence.  While the state wasn‘t obliged to offer a motive for the murder, that he could.


DEAN MANDROS, PROSECUTOR:  You heard what took place in that sacristy, is this some sort of satanic cult killing?  No.  Was this part of some ritualistic black mass?  No.  Sorry to disappoint.  This case is about perhaps the most common scenario there is for a homicide.  A man got very angry at a woman and the woman died. 

The only thing different is the man wore a white collar and the woman with wore a habit.  What do we know about the victim‘s relationship with this man?  Again, he told us.  He said she was dominant.  She had a dominating personality. 

Now, does that give you some insight in terms of their relationship?  He had had enough.  The man had decided he had had enough.  He had taken a lot and wasn‘t going to take any more.  And he knew where Sister Margaret Ann Pahl would be that morning.


ABRAMS:  And the jury accepted that.  Guilty, guilty, guilty. 

Coming up, “Dateline” back undercover “To Catch a Predator”.  This time they lure men who think they‘re going to meet an underage girl at a home in Florida.  Turns out the only date these men have is with the handsome Chris Hansen and, of course, the Fort Myers Police Department.  And wait until you see what one of these guys brought with him. 

Our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to help find missing offenders before they strike.  Our search today is in South Dakota. 

Authorities want your help finding Christopher Yerden.  He‘s 30, five-five, 150, convicted of third-degree rape, hasn‘t registered his address with the state.  If you‘ve got any information on his whereabouts, please contact the Pennington County Sheriff‘s Office, 605-394-6117.  We‘ll be right back.



ABRAMS:  “Dateline” back at it again with the undercover investigation to catch potential sex predators.  This time they‘re in Fort Myers, Florida.  The men you are about to see had sexually charged conversations with someone they apparently thought was underage.  They show up at a house and here is what happens when the ever-friendly Chris Hansen surprises a 49-year-old man who showed up after chatting online with a decoy who said she was 15.


CHRIS HANSEN, “DATELINE NBC”:  Why don‘t you come in over here and have a seat there.  Hungry?  How does it taste? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Great, wow.  These are home-baked. 

HANSEN:  Do you want time to finish your cookie or...


HANSEN:  OK.  So you‘re good if I ask you a couple of questions.

(voice-over):  It‘s the latest in our continuing series of investigations into online sex predators.  For the first time, we‘re in the south, Fort Myers, Florida.  Hilton Daniels is Fort Myers chief of police. 

HILTON DANIELS, FORT MYERS CHIEF OF POLICE:  I‘ve had a lot of parents call me and say hey, I‘ve caught my kid talking to someone over the Internet.  I‘ve had my kid slip out of the house and go meet someone.  What do I do? 

HANSEN:  While searching for a way to help parents and children in his community, Chief Daniels says he saw one of our previous broadcasts and had an idea. 

DANIELS:  We decided well, let‘s get a hold of Perverted Justice and have them teach us how to do this operation. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We‘re trying to make contact and get an update...

HANSEN:  Perverted justice, an online watchdog group “Dateline” has been working with during each of our computer predator investigations.  Its members are experts at pretending to be kids online and on the phone. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Yes, you sound nice.

HANSEN:  “Dateline” hired Perverted Justice members to do what they have been doing for the last four years, chat online with men looking for minors, hoping to mean teens for sex.  The members go into chat rooms and on social networking sites like MySpace and TeenSpot, using profiles of young teens.  Sometimes the decoys act eager about having sex. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  He thinks she‘s talking to the girl. 

HANSEN:  Since Perverted Justice members want to see these predators arrested, they were more than willing to help out the Fort Myers Police Department.

DANIELS:  Perverted justice said hey not only will we teach you, we‘ll come down and do it for you.  So the next thing I know, we‘re setting up the sting operation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  His left hand is in his pocket. 

HANSEN:  Frag, his screen name, from Perverted Justice worked out a plan with Chief Daniels‘ officers.  Once a potential predator makes a date online for sex with a minor the chat logs will be sent to detectives and prosecutors who are staked out in the guesthouse behind our house.

DANIELS:  Florida Department Law Enforcement and the State Attorney‘s Office, they were reviewing the chat logs to make sure that this person had already violated state statute. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We just now got the chat log on him.  We‘ll take a look at it as soon...

HANSEN:  Under Florida law, it‘s a crime for an adult to solicit sex with a minor online. 

DANIELS:  Coming to the house was kind of like the icing on the cake.

HANSEN:  For our latest investigation, we‘ve come to this lovely home in an upscale neighborhood.  There are five cameras outside including one hidden in a palm tree that covers the street from both sides, able to spot a potential predator‘s car a block before he arrives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Knocking on the back door, call out. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Hey, come on in. 

HANSEN:  As for the cameras inside the house, there are eight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Coming your way.  Move. 

HANSEN:  Watch this man. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He‘s in the kitchen. 

HANSEN:  From the moment he walks in the door, his every move is caught on tape, although he doesn‘t know it yet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He‘s coming into the living room.  Chris has him. 

HANSEN (on camera):  What are you doing here today? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Is this some kind of setup or something? 

HANSEN:  What do you mean?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m just on my way to the beach. 

HANSEN (voice-over):  He‘s Michael Willis (ph), screen name generic white male.  He‘s almost 50 years old and he‘s been chatting online with a girl who calls herself Jolanda and who says she‘s 15.  He lies to her about his age typing I‘m 30.  You probably don‘t want me around you.  I‘m cute, though.  Built good.  Then he says...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We‘d have to keep us a secret because of the age difference.  Younger girls like you don‘t come along often.  I‘d want you again and again.

HANSEN:  Then he sends an online picture of his penis to the girl who told him she was 15.

(on camera):  And how did you meet her? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well of course online. 

HANSEN:  You act like I should know that. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, yes.  I mean that‘s a common thing now. 

HANSEN:  Just to met young girls online? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No.  Meet any women online. 

HANSEN (voice-over):  Then I remind generic white male that Jolanda told him she was 15. 


HANSEN (on camera):  You know I have the transcript of your conversation with Jolanda. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You know what, I don‘t want this cookie.  I just want to get to the beach.

HANSEN:  Come here—just one second, sir. 


HANSEN (voice-over):  But generic white male won‘t be going to the beach today.  As he heads out the back, he stumbles off the porch right into the arms of the Fort Myers Police Department. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Police, get on the ground.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Get on the ground.

HANSEN:  The police quickly take him down to the ground.  In Florida, where it‘s relatively easy to get a permit to carry a concealed weapon, these officers aren‘t taking any chances. 


DANIELS:  The best thing to do is as quickly as possible was to get this person on the ground with their hands behind them and handcuffed.

HANSEN:  He‘s taken away in an unmarked police vehicle and brought to this transfer station.  Generic white male‘s car is searched. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There are some condoms and things like that in there. 

HANSEN:  And he‘s put into a marked police car and taken to jail.  The next morning, he‘s brought before a judge and bail is set.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  So it‘ll be a composite bond of $40,000.  That‘s all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Get up on four.  The gold car coming down is our boy. 

HANSEN:  After previous investigations in four different states, we‘ve seen and heard some strange things.  But even we were surprised at what we found here in Florida.


ABRAMS:  I mean I can watch this stuff—again—I can‘t believe that it keeps happening again and again.  And coming up, more of “Dateline‘s” undercover sting.  Next up, they catch two guys who admit this isn‘t the first time they have targeted underage teens.  Whoa.


ABRAMS:  Coming up, more of “Dateline NBC‘s” undercover operation to catch potential sex predators.  Up next, one guy shows up at the house even though he‘s seen similar stories on “Dateline”...


ABRAMS:  We‘re back with a look at “Dateline‘s” undercover investigation in the world of potential online predators.  A decoy posed as an underage teen at a Florida house.  “Dateline” and law enforcement watched as the men who had sexually explicit conversations with what they thought was a young girl online showed up at the house.

Here again “Dateline‘s” Chris Hansen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He‘s pulling in the driveway.  Go out and throw a little wave at him.

HANSEN (voice-over):  This is 27-year-old Eric Thorn (ph), screen name balin79.  He drove four hours thinking he was going to meet a girl who told him online she was 14.  At one point during the chat he gets on his Web cam and masturbates and types, did you see it.  The decoy says not really, too dark and he types back, shoot and then brags about what he had just done. 


HANSEN:  Now, he‘s in our house.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Hey, come on in.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I made some chocolate chip cookies and I left them on the table.  Just take a seat.  I‘ll be right there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That‘s fine.  No problem.  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) these are good.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I made them all by myself.  I can‘t wait to see you.


HANSEN:  Online, he said he‘d bring alcohol and condoms, so the actress asks him about it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  What kind of alcohol did you bring?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I brought (UNINTELLIGIBLE).  I brought mandarin orange.  I brought a shot of jagermeister.  I got Busch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And I don‘t know.  I could get some more if I need to. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Did you bring condoms? 


HANSEN (on camera):  Well, with all that, it sounds like you got a pretty big night planned, (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?


HANSEN:  Two different kinds of vodka, brought some beer, and what else? 


HANSEN:  That‘s it.  Condoms.  So what was your plan here tonight?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  My plan?  Just to hang out. 

HANSEN:  To hang out. 


HANSEN:  And you thought it was OK as a 27-year-old to come here and meet a 14-year-old with alcohol and condoms? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No.  Not at all. 

HANSEN:  Then why did you do it? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Because I just thought it was like a good idea.

HANSEN (voice-over):  A good idea.  Turns out he says this isn‘t the first time he‘s gone after underage teens.

(on camera):  How often do you meet underage girls online and set up a visit?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Not that much. 

HANSEN:  Ballpark it for me. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Probably 10, 15.

HANSEN:  Ten, 15.  Have you met them in person?


HANSEN:  And what did you do when you met them in person?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Just, like I say I didn‘t really meet them...

HANSEN (voice-over):  He keeps changing history.  Finally he admits he has a problem when it comes to chatting with underage girls online.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘ve went to counseling many, many times.

HANSEN (on camera):  So based upon the fact that you are here to meet a 14-year-old, that counseling isn‘t working out too well, is it? 


HANSEN (voice-over):  It‘s possible that the counseling isn‘t working, because he says he stopped going about five months ago.

(on camera):  Did you plan on spending the night? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.  I wanted to spend the night, but I didn‘t want to do anything too graphic until I actually met that person.

HANSEN:  What do you think should happen to you, Eric? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Just go home and learn from this.

HANSEN (voice-over):  But he‘s not going to get off that easy.  It‘s time to tell him who I am.

(on camera):  I‘m Chris Hansen from “Dateline NBC” and...

(voice-over):  He doesn‘t run when he sees the cameras, instead he decides to give any potential predator this advice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Just, whatever you do, do not get into underage people at all.  I feel regretful.  I feel horrible that I did this.

HANSEN:  But that heart-felt speech, those words of wisdom won‘t help him this time around. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Get on the ground.

HANSEN:  Like all the other men you‘ve seen, he‘s patted down, photographed and his car is searched. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He‘s got beer and we found in his...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  In his pocket...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  ... pocket...

HANSEN:  And off to jail.  Most of the men who came to our undercover house were chatting online with decoys for a week or more. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The red pickup is coming back.

HANSEN:  But not this potential predator.  He‘s 48-year-old Donald Morrison (ph), screen name Donni1957_male.  He started the online chat with a girl posing as a 15-year-old at 8:00 p.m. this very same night.  Wasting no time, he types I want to meet you and fool around.  Are you up to meeting tonight, hon?  Then he makes a plan to come to her house around 11:00 p.m.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He‘s walking up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The guy is in the driveway...

HANSEN:  Now 11:30 and look who is walking up the driveway.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He‘s knocking on the door.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Hey, come on in. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Boy, you‘ve got a big house.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Try one of my cookies.  They are so good. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Chocolate chip is my favorite.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  When I make them for Christmas, I make about 10 dozen of them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Whoa.  Why so many?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Because we usually have family in from up north. 

We had like 14 of us here this year.


HANSEN (on camera):  Can I get you a glass of milk to go along with those cookies?


HANSEN:  What‘s going on?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I don‘t know.  I just was talking to her and she said come down and visit her.

HANSEN (voice-over):  Just like our other visitor, he admits he has a problem when it comes to underage girls.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I have a compulsion just to - with—for younger women, just meeting them.  I haven‘t—I have met about a dozen of them online. 

HANSEN (on camera):  And so this is something you do frequently? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No, I haven‘t done it in—well actually I haven‘t done it since I moved here to Florida. 

HANSEN:  And where did you live before? 


HANSEN:  And so you did this a lot in Texas?


HANSEN:  Did you ever get in trouble for it?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, I got in trouble because I met a girl in Michigan. 

HANSEN:  And how old was that girl? 


HANSEN:  And what trouble did you get in there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well her grandfather tried to charge me with something.  They couldn‘t do anything, so they arrested me for possessing child pornography because I had nude pictures of her on my computer.  They ended up dropping the charges.

HANSEN:  And how did you get the naked pictures of the teenage girl?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I met her in Michigan and I took them. 

HANSEN:  You took the pictures of the girl? 


HANSEN:  And then you put them on your computer. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  On my computer.  Yes, they were digital pictures.

HANSEN (voice-over):  After the 48-year-old asks the decoy online if she‘s looking for sex, he brings up the possibility that she might be a cop. 

(on camera):  What made you think that this might be a police operation? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Just after seeing all these things on “Dateline”.  You know, I don‘t—like I said, this is the first time I‘ve done it since I‘ve been here. 

HANSEN:  So you‘ve seen all the “Dateline” stories. 


HANSEN:  And what did you think of those stories? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I thought some of them were pretty bad.  I mean, I saw the one where they were coming over for sex with boys and stuff like that. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And I—you know I‘m not really into, you know, pedophilia or this might be—this is probably considered that.  And I know this is probably going to be on “Dateline,” too, so go ahead and put it on. 

HANSEN:  Well, you know, Donald...


HANSEN:  I‘m Chris Hansen with “Dateline NBC”.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Right.  I understand.  I know who—I recognize from the voice. 

HANSEN:  And everything you‘ve just said and done has all been recorded.


HANSEN:  And if you have anything else you‘d like to tell us, we‘d like to hear it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Just saying that, you know, I shouldn‘t have done it.  I mean I‘m—this is something I normally don‘t go out and do.

HANSEN:  I want you to be honest with me.  If I wasn‘t here tonight, and a young girl was who was alone and willing to have sex, what do you think would have happened? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Probably would have happened. 

HANSEN:  Probably would have had sex?  You would have gone ahead and done it? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Probably yes.  I mean I can say honestly, yes, it probably would have if she would have, you know, said, hey, let‘s go for it. 

HANSEN:  And you don‘t see anything wrong with that? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, I do see things wrong with it, but I have lack of judgment. 

HANSEN (voice-over):  And here‘s a first.  Before he leaves, he actually thanks me. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Thank you for bringing, you know, kicking me in the pants and setting me straight, Chris.

HANSEN:  He leaves through the back door and the police are waiting. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Get on the ground.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Get on the ground.  On the ground.


HANSEN:  He‘s taken to the transfer station. 


HANSEN:  When he gets to the jail, he goes into diabetic shock. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Am I going to be able to get...

HANSEN:  He‘s taken in handcuffs to the hospital where he‘s treated and then brought back to jail.  The next day, he appears before a judge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Donald Morrison, you are charged with sex offenses against a child.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Your honor, may I ask a question? 




ABRAMS:  Man, they body slam those guys.  We‘ll have more of Chris Hansen‘s report tomorrow, including his run-in with a man who shows up at the undercover house with his son. 

Coming up, a rock band manager sentenced to four years in prison for the death of 100 people in Rhode Island‘s worst nightclub fire.  We got mixed reactions from you about the sentence.


ABRAMS:  Time for “Your Rebuttal”.  Yesterday, Daniel Biechele, the manager of the rock group Great White sentenced for the deaths of 100 people in a 2003 Rhode Island nightclub fire.  Biechele lit off the fireworks that started the whole fire.  In court, cried before he was sentenced to four years in prison, plus an 11 year-suspended sentence.  Mixed reactions to the sentence.

Doris Torres writes, “What a travesty of justice.  A few tears and choking up in front of the judge is all it takes to wipe out the memory of 100 human beings.”

Lisa Stahl in Ohio, “I did hear some of the family members calling the defendant a murderer.  Take it from someone whose brother was chased into a closet and shot in the back seven times.  This man is not a murderer.  Big difference.”

Carrie Taranova in Florida, “I think the club owners are the most to blame because they gave the go-ahead and claimed they had permits for it.  The guy on trial was the least to blame for any of it.”

On to Glenn Fulton in Mason, Ohio on the “Dateline” sex predator series, “How long can “Dateline” and NBC keep beating this horse?  I‘m not sure who is taking more advantage of youth.  Is it the predators or is it the news media who uses their victimization to boost ratings?”    

So wait a second, Glenn.  Let me understand this.  They exposed predators before they strike.  How is that victimizing anyone apart from the perspective perverts?  The police department is now calling “Dateline” to try and help.  This is helping deter these people from doing it because they‘re going to get afraid that they‘re going to get caught on “Dateline.”

Your e-mails abramsreport—one word --  Please include your name and where you‘re writing from.  Be back in a minute.


ABRAMS:  “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews is up next.  See you. 



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