Guests: Ed West, Yale Galanter, Georgia Goslee, Philip Carlo, Celeste Headlee
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Coming up, defendant Reade Seligmann makes his first court appearance in the Duke lacrosse rape case. His attorney says he has got an airtight alibi. The D.A. seems to be laughing in response. This is going to get ugly.
The program about justice starts now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIRK OSBORN, READE SELIGMANN‘S ATTORNEY: I want a trial as fast as we can. This young kid you know wants to go to school in the fall.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
OSBORN: And you know he can‘t until this is resolved.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well I mean, I understand and appreciate that, but, again, given the number of cases that we‘ve got in front of it and everything else I can‘t—surely can‘t assure you of that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Reade Seligmann, one of the three Duke lacrosse players in court for the first time today. The defense saying Seligmann wants to go back to school in the fall. The D.A. laughing at the defense, and a heckler threatening Seligmann.
Hi everyone. First up on the docket, the Duke lacrosse rape case moves forward. Twenty-year-old Reade Seligmann in court today with his lawyer Kirk Osborn watched as the district attorney laughed at what Osborn claims is Seligmann‘s airtight alibi.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OSBORN: We have submitted you know what we think is a pretty clear alibi defense. It‘s you know airtight, and we have a box of material from you know senators, congressmen, friends you know that say that he‘s not a flight risk.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: And his lawyer argued why the defense team should get access to the cell phone the accuser had the night she says she was raped.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OSBORN: That was carried by the complainant that night. It was canceled—the service provider was canceled the next day. So—and we need to get the number, we can get access to the call detail sheets of the service provider and that would enable us to see who she was talking with that day.
MIKE NIFONG, DURHAM, NC DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I would wonder what evidence he thinks that he‘s entitled to would be on that telephone.
OSBORN: Why wouldn‘t we be entitled, your honor, to find out if she were calling people from the house? Why wouldn‘t we be entitled to that? Why wouldn‘t know—be able to know the last 10 calls that she made?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: All right. So that was what was happening during the hearing, but there were some threats and fireworks going on in the pew of that courtroom.
NBC‘s Michelle Hofland was in court and joins us now. Michelle, what happened? There was someone in there threatening Reade Seligmann?
MICHELLE HOFLAND, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. He was sitting right behind Reade Seligmann when he came in and sat down in the court and he said—quote—“you‘re a dead man walking”, then he used a swear word. Then he said I can‘t sit behind this guy, well he used a swear word there, then he got up and left.
And actually, the swear words and the yelling out occurred down here before Reade Seligmann and his attorneys ever even entered the courthouse. As they came up here to the courthouse this afternoon about two hours ago, they were flanked by the attorneys.
As they walked in, there was a group here from the new Black Panther organization. As they walked up to head into the courthouse, there were some people calling out to Reade Seligmann—quote—“justice will be served, rapist.” And they kept calling him a rapist as he was walking inside the courthouse today.
A lot of fireworks. Then just as the court started this afternoon, the judge said hey, basically, I‘m in charge here. This will not be a forum. And I decide what happens in court. And I will be in control.
ABRAMS: So this guy left before the proceedings started, right? Because the judge basically said if anyone is going to yell, if anyone is going to shout, if anyone is going to say anything, they are going to get arrested?
HOFLAND: No. Actually, he left from the seat right behind Reade Seligmann, then went around to about two rows back to where the group of the new Black Panther organization was sitting down. They were trying to calm him down. One of the deputies who—went in there, talked to him, and made sure that he was going to behave himself while he was in the courtroom.
And we didn‘t hear anything else from him. When he left the courtroom, I was standing out in the hall and one of the deputies took him into a private room, had a chat with him, and then brought him back out, and then that man left after the court proceedings today.
ABRAMS: All right. Michelle Hofland, thanks a lot. Appreciate it.
Joining me now, criminal defense attorney Yale Galanter, North Carolina attorney Ed West. And we‘ll be joined in a minute by former federal prosecutor Georgia Goslee.
All right, Ed, let‘s talk about what happened first inside that courtroom. Judge—the judge said this is my courtroom—not really his courtroom, but the bottom line is trying to make sure that in a case where you have this kind of a divide and this kind of passion, that things don‘t get out of hand as the court is—as the court proceeding is ongoing.
ED WEST, NC CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I can assure you that Judge Stephens is the kind of judge that nothing is going to get out of hand in his courtroom. He runs with a very firm hand. And it was very clear that he was very in control of what was going on there and pretty much said to folks if you can‘t behave, get out of my courtroom. I think at one point, he even said you will be held in contempt of court right now.
ABRAMS: Yes. Yes. Said—he said they would be put in jail.
ABRAMS: You know Yale, it seemed to me that the defense was arguing more than just about discovery here. You know discovery always means what is the defense entitled to, and that‘s presumably what this hearing was about. The defense saying we ought to make sure we get this material, et cetera. We want to make sure it‘s preserved. OK, fine.
But the defense seems to be going a step further and basically saying to the judge, Judge, you know that this is a terrible case being brought by the prosecutors, and as a result, we want you to kind of treat this case a little differently. Am I misreading that? Because that‘s what it sounded like the undercurrent of their statement was.
YALE GALANTER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: No, I think you‘re right on the money, Dan. I think the defense said two things other than we want discovery. The first thing they said was we want to get this case to trial as soon as possible. The second thing Kirk Osborn told the judge is we think we have an airtight alibi. The judge said hold on a second, I‘m not going to order anything in terms of discovery that would normally be turned over voluntarily. And you‘re going to have to get in line in back of everybody else.
The fact that you think you have a—although the judge didn‘t say this, this is what he implied. Although you think you have an airtight alibi and you want a fast trial, there are a lot of people in front of you, we‘re going to handle this like a normal case, we‘re going to do it in due course. At one point, Kirk Osborn said to the judge, you know Judge, we would like to have everything recorded. And the judge looked at him and said but this is an administrative courtroom. We have a lot of private conversations at sidebar.
Do you really want to do that? Do you really want me to treat this case differently? You know, indicating that there are a lot of things that go on between attorneys, judges, adversaries to kind of smooth the road before it‘s made public. And Kirk Osborn stood firm and he said Judge, I think it‘s the better course to have everything recorded, and the judge ultimately agreed. So yes, I think...
GALANTER: ... the defense did make much more than I want discovery, Dan. I think you‘re absolutely right.
ABRAMS: Ed, put aside for the moment the fact that this is a high-profile case. Can a judge in North Carolina say to himself that he believes that—let‘s assume he believes what Kirk Osborn is saying, that this is effectively a very weak case. Can that allow him to treat it differently at this stage of the case?
WEST: Not really. I mean, obviously, a judge has a lot of power to move things and do things both in the courtroom and, frankly, outside of the courtroom, and can force things, but in North Carolina, the prosecutors have a great deal of authority and discretion in terms of when cases move forward. And so even though there are cases that follow a case management system, and you saw part of that today with this administrative hearing in this what they call first setting, the D.A. has a lot of control about that, and the judge is only going to push so much on that.
ABRAMS: Georgia Goslee joins us now. Georgia, I know you missed the beginning of our conversation. We apologize for that. But in court today, the D.A. fighting a little bit with the defense attorney, not much, over these issues of what the defense is entitled to and what they are not entitled to. This case seems to be a little different in the sense that it seems that the defense team wants to move this case more quickly, and the prosecutor wants more time. Is that unusual?
GEORGIA GOSLEE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, I think it‘s a little unusual, Dan. And certainly, the defense team is entitled to exculpatory evidence or that evidence or any facts that would lead to evidence that would exculpate any of the defendants, but my question, I‘m just so perplexed as to why this particular case wants—the defense wants to rush it through. Why not go through the ordinary judicial process and let the stages take their course?
ABRAMS: What‘s the matter? I mean the defendant is entitled to a speedy trial. It‘s usually the defendant who is always saying I need more time, I need more time, I need more time. In this case all they‘re saying is we don‘t need any more time because there is no case here.
GOSLEE: And that‘s fine. If they don‘t need more time, perhaps the state‘s attorney needs more time. You can‘t just make unilateral decisions as though they have a monopoly on the truth here.
ABRAMS: Wait, wait...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dan, Dan...
ABRAMS: There is a constitutional right. I mean...
GOSLEE: I understand they have...
GOSLEE: ... a constitutional right, but they seem to be thrusting this case forward more than in any other typical criminal case.
ABRAMS: Maybe that‘s because they are that convinced that there is going to be an acquittal.
GOSLEE: Listen, Dan, if they are that convinced, that‘s a wonderful thing, but remember this is our judicial process. And you cannot have a unilateral decision. There is more to this case than the defense‘s theory.
WEST: Dan, if I could interrupt there...
ABRAMS: Go ahead.
WEST: I think that absolutely the defendants feel very good about their case and that‘s why they are pushing it, but Mike Nifong doesn‘t want this case to go quickly because he‘s still got to find out what he‘s going to be doing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
WEST: And I think he is actually trying to hope that...
ABRAMS: What do you mean?
WEST: I think he‘s hoping that one of those 40-some players is going to somehow come forward or he is going to press somebody and something is going to happen. And I think he feels like time will help him with that as opposed to moving this thing forward more quickly. And obviously from Mr. Osborn‘s point of view, he feels like he has got something pretty airtight. He has put a lot of things out about that in terms of the things he‘s filed. And so I think he feels pretty confident about what he wants to do.
ABRAMS: Yale, we hear about the issue of his right...
ABRAMS: Well go ahead. You want to finish making that comment...
GALANTER: Yes, I just...
GALANTER: ... I just want to comment on what Mark said. You know one of the other things we got out of this hearing today, Dan, was that Nifong, consistent with what you and I have been talking about for weeks, really is a step behind as opposed to a step ahead. When the issue came up with the accuser‘s cell phone, he said, number one, he wasn‘t sure that it was in police custody, which I found absolutely amazing, and he also made a statement that his experts hadn‘t looked at it yet.
GALANTER: Now how does—number one, does he not know where the accuser‘s cell phone is, and number two, how does he not have examined the data that‘s on that phone already prosecuting these boys and indicting them when the timeline is so serious in this case?
WEST: Well, and there is no question under North Carolina law that Mr. Osborn‘s client is entitled to it. It‘s in evidence.
WEST: And under our discovery statute, he absolutely is entitled to have it. And his concern is a very valid one about spoliation.
GOSLEE: I just think that Mr. Nifong—if I can interrupt—I think that Mr. Nifong is doing actually a great job. And unfortunately, he cannot satisfy the whims and the thrust of everybody who is trying to move this case forward. I think he‘s methodically planning his case and plotting his case.
And to the contrary, I don‘t believe that—what a lot of the pundits and the commentators are saying and what Yale has been consistently saying about a weak case. I think Nifong is having some good moments here, and I think he‘s going to move this case along and I think he‘s going to be successful in the end.
GALANTER: Georgia, I love what you say on this show all the time, but I‘ve got to disagree with you. I think he‘s reacting to things that come out in the media and things the defense is bringing up. I don‘t think he knows this case from Adam.
GOSLEE: I think he knows way more about it, Yale. Unfortunately, I think he knows some things that we still just don‘t know.
GALANTER: Not based on that comment he made about that cell phone today.
ABRAMS: Look and here‘s the problem. There is only so long that we‘re all going to be able to say he‘s probably got something we don‘t know about, because Ed West, under North Carolina law, we‘re not—he‘s not allowed to keep it hidden, right?
GOSLEE: Not forever. Not forever.
WEST: Absolutely and actually, it‘s pretty clear. I mean about two years ago, there was a comprehensive change to North Carolina‘s discovery laws. And if it‘s in his files, you‘re entitled to it, and the only thing that he can‘t do—or that he may be able to do, excuse me, is go to a judge and say look at this in camera because I want to protect the third or fourth party like that was discussed with the cell phone.
ABRAMS: But wait—what if he‘s got—if he‘s got one of the lacrosse—I mean again, that‘s the only potential wildcard here in my mind, is does he have someone else who was at that party who is going to testify against these guys? If he has that, the defense is entitled to know it.
WEST: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. I mean there is not even any question about that.
ABRAMS: So I don‘t understand, Georgia, what is it that he has that we—what is it that he could have...
GOSLEE: Let me...
ABRAMS: ... that we don‘t know about?
GOSLEE: Dan, listen, we‘re all litigators here. We have tried a number of cases. And just like all of us have, we‘ve tried cases, and we know that even at this stage of the game, if you put a microscope on it, they are constantly—there are new revelations being discovered every day. And even though we may not be privy to all of the details, I still—
I‘m not sure exactly what he has, but I can tell you my hunch is he has a little more. He is so confident moving forward, he has more than we know about.
ABRAMS: You hope. You hope.
GOSLEE: Well, I don‘t really hope. I think—well I guess I‘m like everybody else.
ABRAMS: Yes. Yes. You‘re hoping. You‘re hoping.
GOSLEE: I‘m speculating like we all are...
ABRAMS: As a fellow prosecutor, you‘re hoping in the sense that you‘re saying boy, I hope he didn‘t indict with this many problems in the case without anything else.
GOSLEE: I think one thing I‘m doing is I‘m drawing a reasonable inference from a seasoned, experienced prosecutor to move this case forward, and I think that‘s a reasonable inference, that if he is being so adamant and consistent, that he does know more than we do.
ABRAMS: Well, I can tell you I‘ve got...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dan...
ABRAMS: In my hand here, I have the list of the—the D.A. has already submitted this, just submitted this to the defense of who a lot of their expert witnesses are going to be, et cetera. And we know there are going to be five members of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab, two DNA experts from an independent lab, a sexual assault forensic nurse in the E.R. at the Duke University Hospital.
Nothing there that we don‘t know about, but I guess, look, we will just have to see. There will be more hearings. There will be more arguments in this case.
GOSLEE: And maybe he has time to add more witnesses.
GOSLEE: I‘m not familiar with the North Carolina statutes...
ABRAMS: Yes. All right. He better...
GOSLEE: He may be able to add more.
ABRAMS: I‘ve said it before, he better get more than we know about because...
GOSLEE: Or at least disclose more.
ABRAMS: We‘re out of time on this one. Yale Galanter, Ed West, Georgia Goslee, thanks a lot.
Coming up, this is the scene at a farm outside of Detroit right now.
FBI officials acting on a tip are looking for Jimmy Hoffa‘s remains. Disappeared over 30 years ago, last seen heading to a meeting with two alleged mafia members. Will they actually find him there?
ABRAMS: One of the most notorious mysteries in U.S. history could be close to being solved. The disappearance, many believe the murder of one-time Teamster Union boss Jimmy Hoffa. A team of FBI agents, crime scene experts, archaeologists from the University of Michigan have been digging up this 85-acre horse farm in Milford Township, Michigan, since Wednesday, led there by a tip. Special Agent Daniel Roberts leads the Detroit FBI office.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANIEL ROBERTS, FBI SPECIAL AGENT: This is the best lead I have seen come across on the Hoffa investigation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Hoffa disappeared from the parking lot of this restaurant not far from the Milford Township horse farm in 1975.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GENE ZAFFT, HOFFA FAMILY ATTORNEY: I think whatever happened was somebody he knew, he was supposed to meet somebody, I think they did him in very quickly, and then they got rid of the body very quickly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: But where? His disappearance quickly has become part of pop culture. His body rumored to have been dumped beneath an end zone at Giant Stadium, under a mound of refuse at New York‘s Fresh Kills landfill or under the asphalt and concrete of the New Jersey turnpike. But now the trail has led back to Michigan.
Philip Carlo‘s latest book is “The Ice Man: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer”, the story of hit man Richard Kuklinski, who reportedly described kidnapping and killing Hoffa and dumping his body. Celeste Headlee is a reporter for Detroit radio station WDET. Thanks to both of you for coming on the program. Appreciate it.
PHILIP CARLO, “ICEMAN: CONFESSIONS OF A MAFIA CONTRACT KILLER”:
ABRAMS: All right, Philip, let me ask you first, the person that you wrote this book about is one of the people who has claimed to have killed Hoffa. Would the location they are searching in now be consistent with his story?
CARLO: Well, actually, no, Dan. I should tell you that it wasn‘t really Richard that told me he did the murder. The cop who actually arrested Kuklinski who worked the case for six years told me that he suspected Kuklinski had something to do with the murder. And it was I that first started asking Kuklinski if in fact he had anything to do with the Hoffa hit.
And basically, he didn‘t want to tell me anything about it and after several weeks of me kind of badgering him—this is at Trenton State Prison where I interviewed him for over 200 hours—he eventually told me the story that I wrote about. He first said basically I‘ll tell you what happened and I don‘t give a flying “F” what anyone thinks about it, but this is what happened. And he told me about it and I wrote about it in the book just like he told me...
ABRAMS: Let‘s focus, though. Bottom line, is the place they are searching now consistent with what he says happened with Hoffa?
CARLO: Actually, the place they are searching now was—it was—several years ago it was suspected as the place where Hoffa was killed. The FBI went over it then. They did the same thing they are doing now.
They found a drop of blood at the doorway. It didn‘t prove to be Hoffa.
CARLO: Now I think they found another rat that got himself in trouble and he‘s saying you know get me out of trouble and I will tell you where Hoffa is buried. And they bought into it hook, line, and sinker.
ABRAMS: All right.
CARLO: I don‘t know for sure that he‘s not there, but...
ABRAMS: Well, if you knew for sure he wasn‘t there, then you would know probably for sure where he is.
ABRAMS: And no one—it seems no one knows that yet. Celeste, in terms of the tips that they got that led to this, they won‘t say because it‘s under seal, any sense of where they are getting their information.
ABRAMS: Hang on. Let me ask Celeste. Hang on. Go ahead, Celeste.
CELESTE HEADLEE, WDET-RADIO REPORTER: It‘s long been a local legend that Hoffa was killed and buried there, but if you live in Detroit, you know there are a lot of local legends about Jimmy Hoffa. And this one is taken about as seriously as the rest of them. But they are not saying any specifics about the tip other than to say that they consider it to be very strong.
ABRAMS: Yes, they say it‘s the best lead that they have gotten, right?
HEADLEE: Yes, at least since Daniel Roberts has been in charge of the Detroit FBI, which is about two years.
CARLO: Yes, two years. He was murdered 30 years ago. I think this is really—I hate to say it, and with all due respect to the FBI, I think they are a bunch of keystone cops chasing a ghost. I hope I don‘t seem like I‘m being disrespectful, but that‘s how I feel. I think Hoffa is not there. Hoffa is part of a car in Japan. According to Kuklinski, they put his body after...
ABRAMS: Wait. But Kuklinski is just one of the various people who claim to have killed him.
CARLO: I know and I—you know, Dan, it‘s interesting because I sat eyeball to eyeball with this guy and he told me this story and it looked like he was telling the truth. If they come up with Hoffa today, I will say well I‘m sorry, I owe you an apology, but if they don‘t, I believe the story that Kuklinski told me. Nobody was there. Nobody—there is no video of it, there‘s no footage of it. There is nothing that can definitively prove it one way or the other. But like I said, if I was a betting man, I would bet he is not there.
ABRAMS: But Celeste, you know I‘ve got to believe—look, you at least know this Detroit office of the FBI, right? I mean have you worked with them on stories before?
ABRAMS: You know, Philip Carlo is saying they are keystone cops. I‘m assuming that you know...
HEADLEE: I wouldn‘t quite go that far. I found them to be fairly efficient professionals in the past.
ABRAMS: Yes. I mean the bottom line...
CARLO: If I may, Dan, forgive me for interrupting, but if I may, I just want to say you know what happened here in New York, we‘re in New York right now, 9/11, the FBI had that, they bumbled it, they fumbled it. And the modern FBI has really been dropping the ball on a lot of major, major cases.
ABRAMS: All right. You know, look, you know...
ABRAMS: And therefore...
CARLO: Let the truth fall where it may.
ABRAMS: Yes, whatever. I mean you know...
ABRAMS: ... all law enforcement everywhere has problems with certain cases, but you know just to sort of say oh, you know that you know better than everyone in the FBI, you know, I mean, they know your story, too, right?
CARLO: I don‘t know. I haven‘t discussed it with anyone.
ABRAMS: Oh, come on. They never heard your story before about Kuklinski?
CARLO: No, it just—the book hasn‘t even come out yet.
ABRAMS: I know it hasn‘t come—so we‘re getting...
CARLO: I didn‘t even want to come here today to tell you the truth.
The book is not in the stores yet, but I...
ABRAMS: What did Kuklinski say to you exactly? What did he say to you exactly?
CARLO: He told me the specifics of how Hoffa was murdered and...
ABRAMS: And he did it?
ABRAMS: All right. And that‘s why you‘re convinced...
CARLO: No, no, I‘m convinced because basically Kuklinski knew Tony Provenzano when they were teenagers back in Jersey City. Tony Provenzano is the guy that got the contract to kill Hoffa. And he put together a hit team of people that didn‘t know one another so afterwards they couldn‘t rat out one other. And he tapped Kuklinski.
He made him part of a hit team that went from basically Union City, New Jersey, 12-hour car ride to Detroit, they snatched him from that parking lot, that‘s true, and they did what they did. I wrote about it in the book. You know (UNINTELLIGIBLE). This guy killed over 200 people, Dan.
And this is just another murder that he ordered. I didn‘t think there would be this big media thing going on, honestly. I didn‘t even give it a separate chapter in the book. I wrote it—it‘s only two pages in my book out of a 460-page book.
ABRAMS: Wait. Wait. Wait. Only two pages are devoted to the guy who claims he killed Jimmy Hoffa?
CARLO: I swear, it‘s a fact.
ABRAMS: Well come on, I mean either you have very bad judgment about what makes a good book or you didn‘t really buy it.
CARLO: It was just another murder. This guy...
ABRAMS: Come on. What do you mean it‘s just another murder...
ABRAMS: You‘re writing a book and this guy said he killed Jimmy Hoffa and you‘re saying (UNINTELLIGIBLE) gave it a couple of pages.
CARLO: That‘s the way I perceived it. I didn‘t even give it a chapter, the Jimmy Hoffa murder. It‘s just part—it came after another murder because I didn‘t think it was that big a deal. I...
ABRAMS: What were the other—what were the murders that got 40 pages?
CARLO: It‘s old news. It‘s old news, Dan. Well, this guy fed people to rats while they were still alive. He did the most heinous, barbaric medieval things you can imagine and...
ABRAMS: And you know, I guess Hoffa since you say he‘s in some sort of Japanese car, that‘s a little more antiseptic I guess...
CARLO: Well, I say well where do you think he is now? He said he‘s part of a fender in Japan, looking me dead in the eye.
ABRAMS: What does that mean?
ABRAMS: Part of a fender—I mean I don‘t even know what that means.
CARLO: What it means is that they put him in the trunk of a car—initially he was buried in a junkyard in Kearny, he says. Two years after he was buried—well first they burned the body. They put it in a 50-gallon drum, they covered it with gasoline, they lit it on fire. They buried what was left of him.
It was dug up two years later. They put it in the back of a trunk of a car. The car was squished down to a four-by-four foot square and sold as scrap metal with several thousand other cars, which is shipped over to Japan, and that‘s what he said happened to Jimmy.
ABRAMS: All right.
ABRAMS: Well, look, I know about a lot of things. I don‘t know what happened to Jimmy Hoffa.
CARLO: No, of course...
ABRAMS: But you know...
CARLO: Yes, yes...
ABRAMS: But Philip Carlo, I didn‘t realize that this was your first discussion about your book. So thank you very much for doing it here. I appreciate it.
CARLO: My pleasure. Thank you for inviting me.
ABRAMS: And Celeste Headlee, appreciate it.
HEADLEE: My pleasure.
ABRAMS: Coming up, once again they head to a house apparently expecting to meet up with an underage boy or girl. These men get the surprise of a lifetime when they are greeted by the friendly visage of NBC‘s Chris Hansen.
And he had big plans when he showed up to the decoy house naked. The plans quickly scotched when Chris met him at the door. Coming up.
ABRAMS: We‘ve got more of “Dateline NBC‘s” undercover investigation targeting potential online sex predators. You know they come to this Fort Myers, Florida, house after a sexually charged conversation online with what they think is an underage boy or girl, but instead they find “Dateline‘s” cameras rolling. “Dateline” partnered with the online watchdog group Perverted Justice, provided decoys posing as minors.
Once again, “Dateline‘s” Chris Hansen has the story.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A number of these individuals traveled quite a ways.
CHRIS HANSEN, “DATELINE NBC” (voice-over): Hilton Daniels is the chief of police in Fort Myers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe the furthest one drove 223 miles to Fort Myers to have sex with a child.
HANSEN: Chief Daniels says it‘s frightening to think what would have happened if there really had been a child home alone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anything could have happened in that house. The person would have cleaned up and drove away, and as law enforcement agencies, we would never have known who that person was.
HANSEN: But fortunately there are no real children in the house. Instead, there are decoys, members of an online watchdog group called Perverted Justice. “Dateline” hired them as consultants to do what they normally do, set up profiles of 12 to 15 year olds, and in this case go into Florida chat rooms and wait to be contacted by a grownup. Once an adult starts messaging, a decoy will often pretend to be home alone and willing to have sex.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has a case of perhaps Bud Light or something.
HANSEN: Over the course of three days, men come knocking on our door, and our 13 hidden cameras record their every move. From the minute they turn onto our street until they walk into our living room, cameras are rolling, but the potential predators have no idea.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There he goes, he heard you. He‘s coming. He‘s coming fast.
HANSEN: This man shows up to a house he has never been to before to keep a date with a girl he has never met. He walks into the back yard and knocks on the wrong door. No one answers, so he makes a call. No one answers the phone either. Finally he hears our decoy and heads inside.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, I just had to change my shirt real quick, but just come in and watch some TV. I will be right there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where are you at?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I‘m just going to change my shirt real quick.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
HANSEN: Although Perverted Justice members are actually the decoys who conduct the chats online, we hired this actress to pretend to be the girl alone in our house. She looks the part of a minor, but she is really 19.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sit down on the chair and eat some cookies. I just have to change real quick.
HANSEN: The man who has come into our house is 23-year-old Raul Antonio Brenez (ph), screen name antonio69_929, an assembly worker. He met a girl posing as a 14-year-old online and asks her if she has ever had anal sex. She says no. And then he types would you ever do it? He also asks her...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many rounds can you last?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don‘t know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you be able to have sex and take a break until you get tired or could it be an all-night thing?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I guess we‘ll see.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just want to make sure you can handle me.
HANSEN: To keep his date, he actually got on a bus and rode across the state of Florida, but instead of finding a minor alone, he meets me.
(on camera): Why don‘t you have a seat right over there, please?
(voice-over): Online, he told the girl he would bring alcohol and spend the night. And look, he has brought beer and an overnight bag.
(on camera): How was your bus ride?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good.
HANSEN: How long were you on the bus?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A while, sir.
HANSEN: How many hours about?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About four.
HANSEN (voice-over): And what else did antonio69_929 bring with him?
(on camera): Did you bring condoms with you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It‘s in my bag. I always bring them with me.
HANSEN: You always bring condoms?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir.
HANSEN: You show up with beer, you show up with condoms after a sexually charged online conversation at a home where you believe a 14-year-old girl is alone for the weekend. You say are you sure you can handle me? You ask her if she is cool about having sex with you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘m guilty of whatever is there, sir.
HANSEN: I‘m sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am guilty of whatever is there.
HANSEN (voice-over): And what could he be guilty of in the state of Florida? Using the Internet to attempt to solicit a minor for sex. A felony.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not appropriate at all, sir.
HANSEN (on camera): Why did you do it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just me being dumb.
HANSEN: What do you think should happen to you, Antonio?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think I should get the death penalty, sir...
HANSEN (voice-over): Well he won‘t be getting the death penalty, but he will find out shortly he does have a date before a judge.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I‘m printing out right now everything.
HANSEN: Perverted Justice has been sending the sexually explicit online chat logs between its decoys and the potential predators to the Fort Myers Police Department and state prosecutors. They are staked out in the guesthouse behind our house. In the case of antonio69_929, there is enough evidence for an arrest.
HANSEN (on camera): I‘m Chris Hansen with “Dateline NBC” and we‘re doing a story on adults who try to meet children on the Internet.
(voice-over): So after I tell him he‘s going to be on “Dateline”...
(on camera): ... you‘re free to leave.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get on the ground...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get on the ground.
HANSEN (voice-over): He gets arrested...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
HANSEN: ... and taken away in an unmarked police car. Then he‘s brought to this transfer station where he‘s searched.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have any I.D. on you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In my wallet, sir.
HANSEN: And he‘s taken to jail.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Watch your head when you get in.
HANSEN: The next morning, he appears before a judge and bail is set.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is probable cause as to all charges. There will be a $40,000 bond.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He‘s coming around.
HANSEN: The men walking through our door range in age from 20-61 and come from very different backgrounds, but most of them say almost the same thing when I confront them.
(on camera): So this is the first time you‘ve ever done something like this?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is my first time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is my first one.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She is the first person I ever considered meeting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I never done this (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
HANSEN (on camera): You know, I hear that from virtually every person who has walked into this house.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I never have.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Never have I met anyone underage. I will swear on my mother‘s grave, never.
HANSEN (voice-over): And there is something else I hear over and over.
(on camera): Did you bring condoms today?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I always carry them on me.
HANSEN: Did you bring condoms with you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I always take condoms with me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have them, yes. I always carry them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just carry everywhere with me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is some in the car.
HANSEN: Just happened to be some in the glove box.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I always have condoms anywhere I go. A person would have to be an idiot not to because of diseases.
HANSEN (voice-over): While most are willing to talk when they don‘t know they are being recorded on hidden camera...
(on camera): I‘m Chris Hansen with “Dateline NBC” and we‘re doing a story about adults meeting teens on the Internet.
(voice-over): And just like this man, a mental health counselor for teenagers, when the cameras come out, the potential predators often scurry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘m not going to be on TV.
HANSEN (on camera): You‘re obviously free to right walk out of the door that you came in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would like to walk out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just don‘t want my face being seen.
HANSEN (voice-over): As soon as the men leave our house, police work quickly and sometimes aggressively in taking the suspects down to the ground. That‘s because in Florida it‘s relatively easy to get a permit to carry a concealed weapon, so these officers aren‘t taking any chances.
HANSEN (on camera): Anybody get hurt in the takedowns?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. No, we had 24 people and no one was injured.
All the officers are safe.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me see your hand.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, lord.
HANSEN (voice-over): As a man is being arrested, an unmarked police vehicle moves into position. The suspect is put into a car and taken to a transfer station.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get on the ground! Get on the ground!
HANSEN: All of the 24 men who were arrested outside our house were charged with felonies, attempted lewd and lascivious behavior with a minor and attempting to solicit a child over the Internet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: David Schumacher (ph).
HANSEN: They all went before a judge and bail was set.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is probable cause on all the charges. There is a $50,000 bond.
HANSEN: Eleven of the men are still in custody. Many say they are innocent but they will have to wait to be arraigned before they can plead not guilty.
ABRAMS: I literally have to get the DVD of this stuff, like hours and hours and hours of it. I mean I can keep—I just—I find it fascinating and it is so useful.
But coming up, more of “Dateline” “To Catch A Predator”. Yesterday we saw a man who showed up at the house, took off all his clothes, well today we show you that that‘s not all he did when we come back.
And a lot of you agree with me that Mexico‘s threat to sue the American National Guard or the government over what the National Guard is going to be doing there is absurd. Your e-mails are coming up.
ABRAMS: Coming up, more of “Dateline” “To Catch A Predator”. One man shows up at the “Dateline” house. He—you‘ve got to see. He takes off his clothes - whatever—just—it‘s coming up.
ABRAMS: Back now with more of “Dateline‘s” undercover investigation into potential online predators. Yesterday we got our first look at a guy who showed up at the house apparently to have sex with what he thought was a girl he met online, thought she was underage. But there is more.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are you driving so I will know to look for you. A white pickup truck? OK. I‘ll see you soon then, OK?
HANSEN (voice-over): A Perverted Justice decoy is playing the part of a 14-year-old named Cindy. She is talking to this man, Marvin Lackhan (ph), screen name crazytrini85. They met in an online chat room. Cindy tells him she‘s a virgin and he sends her a picture of his genitals. Crazytrini85 asks her if she will try anal sex and adds it‘s better than regular sex. Then he asks her if she has a Jacuzzi.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘m going to (BEEP) you in there and on your mom‘s bed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why not my bed?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That, too.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘m going to (BEEP) you in every room so no matter where you go, you will remember me.
HANSEN: Next he asks her if she has any pets. Cindy says she has a male cat. And you won‘t believe what crazytrini85 asks next.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know what would be a huge turn on for me?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What?
HANSEN: He wants to watch her perform a sex act on a cat. He says people do it all the time. They discuss it further on the phone where he tells her they will need cool whip. The decoy says she will try it if he‘s willing to strip off all his clothes and walk into her house naked.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That‘s him right there. He‘s pulling in the driveway.
HANSEN: As we told you before, according to law enforcement, asking a suspect to bring or do something specific demonstrates intent.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is like a green thing under the back door.
HANSEN: The decoy keeps talking to him as he walks up the driveway.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) just strip in there, and I will be out with the cat, all right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He‘s coming around.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, yes, just (UNINTELLIGIBLE) whatever you want. I guess totally naked, because that was the deal, right?
HANSEN: This is a man who apparently sticks to a deal. He walks in the back door, takes off all his clothes in the laundry room and goes in search of the decoy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where are you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why don‘t you take a seat? Have a cookie. I made them because they‘ll go with the cool whip. It was kind of a little surprise.
HANSEN (on camera): Do you want to explain yourself? Grab that towel right there, please. Wrap it around yourself. And please sit on that stool. What are you doing?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Making a mistake.
HANSEN: Making a mistake. What is going on in your mind? You don‘t know? Now, what do you think would have happened, Marvin, had I not been here and had there actually been a 14-year-old girl in that next room? What would have happened after you walked in there naked?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Something probably would have happened.
HANSEN: Something like what?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Something along sexual lines.
HANSEN: Like you would have had sex with a 14-year-old girl.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘m not sure if I would have done that, but...
HANSEN: Marvin, you‘re naked.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wouldn‘t have gone all the way. I wasn‘t...
HANSEN: You went all the way when you took your clothes off, just about.
(voice-over): Then I asked him about the plans he talked about online for the cat.
(on camera): You know what would be a huge (BEEP) turn on for me? What? Watching you (BLANK) him, meaning the cat. She says I don‘t think I want to (BLANK) the cat. Would you for me? You‘re going to make this 14-year-old girl perform a sex act on a cat? Was that your plan?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, it wasn‘t.
HANSEN: Well, why did you say it then?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was just messing around...
HANSEN: You were just messing around?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I really wasn‘t serious about the cat.
HANSEN: You gave her instructions about using cool whip, very specific instructions. I mean, I can only imagine what would have been going on in this house had I not been here. Am I wrong to think that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, you‘re not.
HANSEN: So what‘s going to be happening if I‘m not here? You‘re naked, there is a 14-year-old girl, you‘re chasing a cat around, you‘ve got cool whip, and you want this girl to do some sex act with the cat and then you will have sex with her. Is that accurate? Yes?
(voice-over): Then crazytrini85 asks for some water.
(on camera): Some water?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, please.
HANSEN: Guess all that running around naked got you pretty dried out then (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Have you ever met any young girls online? First time?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, this is the first time, which it will never happen again. I can tell...
HANSEN (voice-over): The nearly naked man starts laughing.
(on camera): So it‘s funny?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, it isn‘t. I‘m just thinking to myself that this will never happen again. This is something, no, it‘s not right.
HANSEN: So you‘re promising me right now that you will never...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘m promising myself that...
HANSEN: ... hook up with a 14-year-old girl online, tell her to have sex with a cat, and walk into her house naked.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not even under 19. I‘m promising that to myself.
Not even to you. Just to—this is not good.
HANSEN (voice-over): Now he‘s about to find out that he just made that promise on national television.
(on camera): Well, there is something else you need to know. I‘m Chris Hansen with “Dateline NBC” and we‘re doing a story on adults who try to meet teens online.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir.
HANSEN: Now, if there is anything else you would like to say about this predicament you‘re now in, we would love to hear it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just trust me, it will never happen again.
HANSEN: And if there is nothing else you have to say, then you‘re free to walk out that door where you stripped naked and walked in. You can keep the towel.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘ll just leave it in the laundry room. That‘s all right.
HANSEN (voice-over): Once he gets his clothes back on, he walks outside and is arrested by that camouflaged officer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police, get on the ground.
HANSEN: He‘s taken to the transfer station and searched.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Spread your legs. Where do you live at?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you here on business or what?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, just being stupid.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just being stupid.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
HANSEN: He‘s photographed and then taken to jail.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the person who apparently walked into the room naked.
HANSEN: The next day he‘s brought before a judge and bail is set.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That does come out to $50,000. That‘s all for today.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Judge.
ABRAMS: He strips, he confesses, and he gets arrested by a tree.
ABRAMS: Bad day for that guy. Now an update. Most of the men caught in “Dateline‘s” undercover sting operation claim they are innocent and not there for sex. One of the 51 men arrested at the Riverside County, California, decoy house in January pleaded guilty last week to attempted child molestation.
Twenty-year-old Eric Paulison (ph) from Anaheim faces a maximum of four years in prison when he returns to court on June the 30th for sentencing. Two other men from that “Dateline” report pled guilty last week. Forty-eight other men arrested during the “Dateline” operation in California are due back in court this summer.
Coming up, your e-mails on “Dateline‘s” undercover operation. Some saying these guys are sick and we should feel sorry for them.
Our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to find missing offenders before they strike. Our search is in Tennessee.
Police are looking for James Burchett, 32, six-foot, 200. He was convicted of attempted rape, has not registered his address with the state. If you‘ve got any information on his whereabouts, please call—contact Tennessee. They want to hear from you, 800-824-3463. We‘ll be right back.
ABRAMS: I‘ve seen the last installment of “Dateline‘s” undercover sting to catch potential online sex predators. Some of you writing in saying you feel sorry for them.
From Long Beach, California, Gray George, “Chris Hansen and the producers at ‘Dateline NBC‘ would have us believe that the men on their shows are unequivocally instead of looking at them as the sick individuals who need help.”
Mike Pelepko, “These poor men and boys who are being held up for ridicule are addicts.” Mike, how do you know that they‘re addicts as opposed to evil?
Mexico threatens to sue in American courts if National Guard troops at the border start detaining illegal immigrants.
Matt in Springfield, Virginia, “Is Mexico going to threaten to invade the U.S. with the military as well?”
Finally Ian asks “If the Mexican government can sue the U.S. over the National Guard issue, can I then sue Mr. Fox and the Mexican government for driving his people into my country due to his failed policies?”
Be right back.
ABRAMS: That does it for us tonight. Coming up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews. I will see you tomorrow.
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