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'The Abrams Report' for May 21

Read the complete transcript to Friday's show

Guests: Aitan Goelman, David Berg, Jean Casarez, Denise Brown, Robin Wright, Rebecca Cosca, Gloria Allred, Scheana Jancan, Renee Short

JEANINE PIRRO, GUEST HOST:  Coming up, a new twist in the Martha Stewart case. 

Hi everyone. 

A witness for the prosecution charged with perjury in the Martha Stewart trial.  Could she get a second shot at an acquittal? 

Plus, almost 10 years after the O.J. Simpson murder trial, Nicole Brown Simpson‘s sister, Denise, talking tough about prosecutor Marcia Clark.  We‘ll talk with Denise.

The mother of the 3-year-old abandoned Baltimore girl comes forward to claim her child.  We‘ll speak to her attorney.

The program about justice starts right now. 

Hi everyone.  I‘m Jeanine Pirro.  Dan Abrams has the day off. 

First up tonight, new revelations in the Martha Stewart case.  Federal authorities say an ink expert who testified against Stewart lied on the witness stand during the trial. 

NBC‘s justice correspondent Pete Williams broke the story earlier today.  He joins me now—Pete. 

PETE WILLIAMS, NBC JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT:  Well, good afternoon to you.  Yes, this is an embarrassment for the government but they insist it does not undercut the integrity of the prosecution.  Now the person at the center of this case—of the perjury case is coincidentally Larry Stewart, no relation to Martha Stewart.  He is a document examiner for the U.S.  Secret Service. 

And he testified during her trial about a worksheet that, according to the defense, indicated there was an agreement between Martha Stewart and her stockbroker Peter Bacanovic to sell—this is it—to sell her shares when they reached $60.  There you see the thing at the side that says “at 60”.  See the circle ImClone and then over to the side it says “at 60”.  The question is, did the ink on that “at 60” match the ink for the rest of the notations that are on this worksheet? 

And the Secret Service agent testified for the government that it did not.  But today the government disclosed that when he testified at the trial he lied about saying that he personally conducted one of the tests.  Now the government says the underlying fact about the conclusion that the ink was different holds, that the other people who have done this test say that it was a different ink and that there is no reason to disbelieve them, but that the—Mr. Stewart gave misleading testimony about his personal involvement in that test.  Now nonetheless, the U.S. Attorney at the center of this case, Dave Kelley, says the conviction should stand. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We have uncovered nothing to raise questions about the accuracy or validity of the results of that examination.


WILLIAMS:  Now, even so, the defense, as you can well understand, is raising questions about this.  This is a case about lying they said and now it turns out that the one of the government‘s own witnesses was lying.  The lawyers for Peter Bacanovic say that this undermines the verdict, it taints the jury and they suggest that they may ask for a new trial.  The lawyers for Martha Stewart say this proves that her trial was—quote—“fatally flawed and unfair.”

So, they both give some suggestions they‘ll ask for a new trial.  But as you know it is a legally difficult standard to meet that a new trial would in fact be merited here.  You have to show that the evidence—the new evidence that has come to light since the conviction would have changed the jury‘s mind and led to a different outcome or potentially have led to a different outcome.  And legal experts tonight are also saying that even if the judge were to throw out the counts that Martha Stewart was convicted of, that even tangentially involved this document, the other counts of lying to federal investigators would still stand and she could get the same time on her sentence even if those other charges were thrown out.  So it‘s certainly a reason the lawyers will use to ask for a new trial, but tonight legal experts are saying that likelihood of that is pretty remote. 

PIRRO:  Pete Williams, thank you. 

WILLIAMS:  You bet. 

PIRRO:  So what does this indictment mean for Martha Stewart?  Joining me now to debate is former federal prosecutor Aitan Goelman, who worked in the very office that tried Martha Stewart and white-collar defense attorney David Berg, author of the book, “The Trial Lawyer: What It Takes To Win”.

OK, Aitan, I‘ll start with you.  Will Martha get a new trial? 

AITAN GOELMAN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR:  I don‘t think so.  But I don‘t want to minimize the impact of this complaint.  I mean this is a gift to the defense attorneys.  It‘s a godsend.  It‘s a far more substantial issue than the ones that they have raised in their new trial motions up to now.  However, I think ultimately on balance, the government is going to be able to resist any effort to show that this perjury, this alleged perjury, if it hadn‘t happened, there probably would have been an acquittal.  They will say a couple of things.  They‘ll say first of all, the acquittal of Bacanovic on the charge of tampering with evidence shows that the jury didn‘t totally buy this guy‘s testimony anyway...

PIRRO:  Well Aitan, isn‘t it true though that the essence of the perjury by this witness is that number one he said that he was present at the time of the examination, at the time of the original examination and that he was a part of it, but that he never lied about the results of it.  It almost sounds like there was more ego involved than anything else by this witness, which of course amounts to perjury, but not—doesn‘t really change the bottom line in terms of the decision regarding the ink question. 

GOELMAN:  That‘s definitely the other part of the government argument.  That the things he lied about were not the central impact of his testimony and that that central fact that the “at 60” notation was a different ink than the rest of the paper was not even contested by the defense expert.

PIRRO:  Right and since the defense lawyer and the defense expert didn‘t even contest it, I mean I can‘t imagine that anyone would say that this really had a significant impact since it seems that Bacanovic was actually acquitted of that count in any event.  So in terms of harm, I mean I can‘t hear or imagine that the defense would claim that there was a real impact on the ultimate verdict. 

But let‘s talk to white-collar defense attorney David Berg.  David, what does this mean for the defense? 

DAVID BERG, WHITE-COLLAR DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Well, if I were Judge Cedarbaum, the first thing I would do would be to call the prosecution and all of its clerks and anyone who worked on this case into my court, put them under oath and find out whether or not they knew at the time of the trial that this testimony was not true.  If even one of them knew that this expert—so-called expert was lying, then the whole case ought to be thrown out.  I know she would get a new trial.  That‘s the standard of the...

PIRRO:  But David, don‘t you draw a distinction between lying about the results of an examination as opposed to whether or not you were present there and basically inflating your own ego and blowing your own horn?  Isn‘t there a difference there? 

BERG:  Well look, put yourself in the shoe of the defendant.  It‘s the little bit pregnant rule.  How can you tell?  No court requires the defense to be able to discern and parse among the jurors.  You have to look at this from the juror‘s standpoint.  No court makes you try to figure out what did the jury—you know what part of it had an affect and what didn‘t.  If you‘ve got lying testimony that spills over into every count of the indictment, which it does, then she is entitled immediately to a new trial.  And I will tell you something else, I looked at this indictment today, on 42 -- out of 42 pages, either the words altered document, referring to the entry of the “$60 number”, the price at which Mrs. Stewart said she...

PIRRO:  Right, right, the agreement between Bacanovic and Stewart, allegedly. 

BERG:  Yes.  Either that—either altered document or $60 appears on 34 out of 42 pages.  It permeated the indictment.  It permeated the trial.  And you cannot say that this lying testimony didn‘t affect the jury and result in a guilty verdict.

PIRRO:  Well you know we have a statement from the defense attorney, Bob Morvillo, who says there is now good reason to believe that both the government witness and a juror perjured themselves, which further undermines the integrity of the prosecution of Martha Stewart and Peter Bacanovic. 

I imagine, David, you agree with that.

BERG:  Well, you know it puts the prosecution in the too many yes, but position. 

PIRRO:  But in terms of the prosecution‘s “yes, but” situation, David, don‘t you give the prosecution credit for bringing this indictment even before the sentencing, you know they heard about this, we haven‘t even heard the leaks of this thing and they actually indicted or filed charges against this individual immediately. 


PIRRO:  That does say something for the prosecution. 

BERG:  It does say something and the Southern District is a proud district. 


BERG:  I try cases all over the country, but if they‘ve got a bad apple in their bunch, they need to throw that apple out.  And if I were in the position of the prosecution, I wouldn‘t be trying to parse the affect of this lying...


BERG:  ... testimony and I‘d give them—I would agree to a new trial. 

PIRRO:  I think ultimately that‘s going to be up to the judge, but what impact do you think this is going to have on the sentencing of Martha Stewart and Peter Bacanovic?

BERG:  Well if that‘s addressed to me, I don‘t think the judge is going to impose a sentence until she decides this issue. 

PIRRO:  OK.  All right, Aitan Goelman, David Berg, thanks so much.

BERG:  My pleasure.

GOELMAN:  Thank you.

PIRRO:  Coming up, a new manslaughter trial for Jayson Williams. 

We‘ll get a live report from the courthouse.

Plus, Nicole Brown Simpson‘s sister, Denise, joins us coming forward for the first time with strong criticism for the way Marcia Clark prosecuted the O.J. Simpson murder trial.

And for the first time, video of the Iraqi prison abuse surfaces, along with more disturbing photos.

You can send your e-mails to the  Dan will respond on Monday. 


PIRRO:  Coming up, less than a month after the jury deadlock, former NBA star Jayson Williams finds out he will be retried for reckless manslaughter in the shotgun death of his driver. 


PIRRO:  Breaking news in the Jayson Williams trial.  Last month a jury acquitted the former NBA star of aggravated manslaughter for the death of limo driver Gus Christofi.  But they were not able to reach a decision on the charge of reckless manslaughter.  Today, prosecutors have decided to retry Williams on that charge, which carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. 

Court TV correspondent and attorney Jean Casarez has been covering this trial from day one.  She joins me now—Jean.  Jean...

JEAN CASAREZ, COURT TV CORRESPONDENT:  Hi.  Good evening.  How are you?

PIRRO:  We‘re good...

CASAREZ:  The prosecution spoke today and a tentative trial date has been set for January 10 of 2005 to retry Jayson Williams on that manslaughter count. 

PIRRO:  And Jean, why did the prosecutors make the decision to go ahead and retry this case again?

CASAREZ:  Well, I think they believe the community believes that justice has not been served.  Apparently their office has been flooded with cards and letters talking about that they believe they should go forward.  And I know they have consulted on this possibly even with the attorney general.  But I think they decided number one, they had nothing to lose, and number two, you‘ve got a victim in this case, Gus Christofi who was the limousine driver for the night, was dead. 

PIRRO:  Right.  Right.  And hasn‘t there been a request by the prosecution to actually get a change of venue and move this trial? 

CASAREZ:  Exactly.  They do not want to try this next trial in Somerset County.  Their first choice, they want to go back to Hunterdon County, which is the county in which the shooting took place.  It is a more conservative county.  I‘m sure the cards and the letters they‘re receiving at their office are probably primarily from that county.  Secondly, if that doesn‘t work, they still want it tried in Hunterdon County with foreign jurors bused in. 

PIRRO:  Well Jean, why was it that the trial wasn‘t—the case wasn‘t tried in the jurisdiction where the alleged crime occurred? 

CASAREZ:  Because the defense asked for a change of venue saying that there had been so much pretrial publicity that they couldn‘t get a fair trial in Hunterdon County.  Judge Edward Coleman agreed to that and that‘s why it ended up here in Somerset. 

PIRRO:  And Jean, it sounds like that would now work against the defense given the fact that it was in this county where all of the information where the trial was held, now it almost benefits the prosecution to say look, they tried the case, there was an acquittal.  There is too much information in this county, let‘s go back to where this case should have been tried in the first place. 

CASAREZ:  Exactly.  But you know, Jeanine, you know what the reality is?  The reality is any county you try it in at this point, they know about it, they have heard about it.  It‘s front-page news.  It has been for months.  And there‘s not a gag order right now so I think in the next few months, you are going to have a lot of publicity from the defense on the good things Jayson Williams does. 

PIRRO:  Well I don‘t think there is any question about that.  But, is he going to be sentenced on those counts that he was convicted of before the second trial? 

CASAREZ:  Well, prosecution pushed hard for that today.  They based it on New Jersey law and case precedent.  The judge said no.  The judge said that he believed if there was a sentencing before the next trial that they could not impanel a fair jury because there would be too much publicity about that sentencing and so the defense won on that count today.  That will wait until the end of the next trial. 

PIRRO:  And the defendant, does he face mandatory time on those original convictions from the first trial, Jean?

CASAREZ:  Well that‘s an issue because third and fourth degree crimes, which those are in New Jersey that he was convicted on, it‘s probation to 13 years.  The presumption is it‘s probation if he does not have a criminal record.  And the fact that he really doesn‘t have a criminal record, there was a municipal ordinance that he paid $300 for an altercation with a police officer, about three months before this shooting, some believe including the prosecutor today in court that that removes the presumption of no jail time.  But I think that‘s something that will be argued before the judge.

PIRRO:  So the issue now is whether the defendant, Jayson Williams will even go to prison on those crimes that he has already been convicted of. 

Jean Casarez thanks very much for joining us tonight. 


PIRRO:  Ahead, tough talk about the O.J. Simpson murder trial prosecution from Nicole Brown Simpson‘s sister Denise. 

And 14 women applying for a Hooters‘ waitress job secretly videotaped as they changed clothes.  We‘ll talk to two of them plus their attorney.


PIRRO:  It‘s been almost 10 years since the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.  In an interview last weekend, Denise Brown, Nicole‘s sister, spoke out against lead prosecutor Marcia Clark calling her insensitive and blaming her for botching the criminal trial.  We‘ll talk to Denise Brown in a moment. 

But first, NBC‘s Mark Mullen reports. 



MARK MULLEN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Denise Brown no longer feels compelled to hold back.  With the gag order now expired, Brown is lashing out at the prosecutors who tried her former brother in-law, O.J.  Simpson.  Brown says that she and her family were shocked at the insensitivity from then assistant D.A. Marcia Clark, recalling their very first meeting in Clark‘s office.

DENISE BROWN, NICOLE BROWN SIMPSON‘S SISTER:  I‘m standing there in the doorway and I see this poster and on it there were pictures about this big.  The one picture I was staring at was the picture of my sister‘s throat cut.  And I was, like, oh my God.  I don‘t need to see my sister lying in a pool of blood. 

MULLEN:  Brown insists that her beef with Clark is not sour grapes or O.J.‘s acquittal, but rather how Clark conducted herself during and after the trial.  Even Clark‘s book deal comes under fire. 

BROWN:  She gets $4.2 million to write a book and tell people how strange we are.  That we are the strangest family that she‘s ever met.  That Nicole never had a chance to get out of her abusive relationship. 

MULLEN:  Denise Brown says she is now focused on protecting other women through the educational foundation named for Nic. 

BROWN:  I have had hundreds of thousands of e-mails I think over the years of your sister‘s murder saved my life and that makes it rewarding.  That to me is, God, you know, great, we were able to save one life.  Nicole did not die in vain.  She saved somebody‘s life. 

MULLEN:  Mark Mullen, NBC News, Los Angeles.


PIRRO:  Joining me now is Nicole Brown‘s sister, Denise Brown who runs the Nicole Brown Charitable Foundation.  Welcome Denise.

BROWN:  Thank you. 

PIRRO:  Denise, why are you coming forward now to talk about Marcia Clark? 

BROWN:  Well, you know what?  I think it‘s just time.  The gag order actually has been off for probably about seven years now, but I just need to get it off my chest.  I need to just have that release off of my shoulders.  Just everything that went down.  It‘s not just even Marcia Clark.  It‘s just some horrific decisions that Ito made.  It‘s the way Gil Garcetti did the whole thing.  It‘s the child custody case.  You know so many things happened that people really don‘t realize and they don‘t know about.  And I just need to get it off my chest.  Make myself feel better. 

PIRRO:  Well, Denise, do you blame Marcia Clark for the verdict in this case? 

BROWN:  Well, you know what?  I think that there was just—it was just such a huge circus.  I kind of blame—there‘s a few people that I blame.  I mean one is Judge Ito.  When my father the other day, he told me a story on how after they had picked the jury, they were going down in an elevator and one of the jurors says to another juror, she said, it‘s payback time.  And the juror that overheard it, she was a telephone operator.  She went to Judge Ito.  They did their whole thing behind closed doors and Judge Ito let the girl go that went and told him, the telephone operator, and kept the woman that said it‘s payback time. 


BROWN:  So I blame him, too.  I think that is a horrific thing.  I mean how in the world can you do something like that?  Just because I guess Johnnie Cochran was in there saying no, no, no, it doesn‘t make a difference, you know the defense side.  But yes, it does make a difference.  It makes a huge difference. 

PIRRO:  One of the things that you mention is the fact that Chris Darden apologized to you, the other prosecutor working with Marcia Clark.  Do you think that it really was the prosecutors who should have apologized? 

BROWN:  Well, no.  I mean Chris Darden, he felt bad.  Chris Darden, he felt bad and you know he didn‘t need to apologize to us.  I‘m grateful that he did.  I think it just humanizes him a little bit more.  Like you saw that clip earlier of me walking up to my first visit with Marcia Clark with my sister‘s throat cut open and lying in a pool of blood, I mean I think that is so insensitive. 

PIRRO:  Well...

BROWN:  At least I know somebody has a heart. 

PIRRO:  Well you know I spoke with Marcia Clark this afternoon and she absolutely denies that there was any viewing by you of your sister‘s, I guess of crime scene photos in her office.  But I don‘t think that there is any prosecutor who wouldn‘t agree with you that the viewing of those photographs is extremely traumatic for crime victim‘s families. 

BROWN:  Well, you know what she did?  She did deny it because I just did another show and she denied that as well, except the only problem is, is that there were two of us that went up there and both of us saw it.  It was my sister Dominique and myself. 


BROWN:  So, I don‘t think that the two of us would even go and say something like that unless it was as horrific as it was. 

PIRRO:  Well tell us about the work that you are doing now with the Nicole Brown Charitable Foundation. 

BROWN:  Well what we‘re doing now is we are doing fundraisers.  We—the Nicole Brown Charitable Foundation is there to get the awareness out to communities on the dangers of family violence.  We are wanting to have a Nicole‘s House, which is an 18 to 24-month program, a transitional home for battered women and their children, which is an extension of the emergency shelters, so we‘d like to have that, which will give the women an opportunity for job training, parenting skills, life skills, their GEDs if necessary, ongoing domestic violence training for themselves and for their children.  So that is our goal between June 12, 2004 and June 12, 2005 that is what I would love to give to Nicole...

PIRRO:  Well you know there‘s no question, Denise, that there are shelters for battered women in this country, certainly not enough of them...

BROWN:  Right.

PIRRO:  But the issue of transitional housing, that you mentioned, is so important because many women are limited in the amount of time they can stay in a shelter...

BROWN:  Right.

PIRRO:  ... and then they‘ve got to reacclimate to their new lives, you know, and to try to move on, learn a job skill, have the ability to have a new place to live and this is so important.  If someone, Denise, wanted to get in touch with you or with the foundation, how would they do so? 

BROWN:  Well they can e-mail us at the foundation Web site is or they can call us at 949-283-5330. 

PIRRO:  Denise Brown, thanks so many so much for joining us. 

BROWN:  Thank you.

PIRRO:  Coming up, “The Washington Post” obtains video and more photos of the Iraqi prison abuse. 

And she caught the nation‘s attention when she was abandoned over two weeks ago in Baltimore.  Now the 3-year-old‘s mother has come forward.  We‘ll talk with her lawyer. 



PIRRO:  Welcome back to THE ABRAMS REPORT.  I‘m Jeanine Pirro sitting in tonight for Dan Abrams.

We were warned by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that the next wave of pictures showing Iraqi detainee abuse might be worse than those we had seen before.  Decide for yourself, but be warned, these pictures are very graphic.  Pictures and for the first time digital video obtained by “The Washington Post” illustrate more of the physical and psychological abuse performed by some American soldiers at the Abu Ghraib prison.

“The Post” says the visuals are part of a new—quote—“cache of documents, photographs and videos put together by Army investigators trying to build prosecutions in the case.”  And among the documents, even more claims of abuse from 13 Iraqi detainees, allegations that U.S. guards beat them—quote—“rode them like animals and made them take their meals from toilets”, among others.  We have also just learned from the Reuters News Service that the military is now investigating eight deaths of Iraqis detained by U.S. forces as homicides. 

For more we‘re joined by “Washington Post” Middle East correspondent Robin Wright.  Welcome Robin.


PIRRO:  Robin, talk to us about what has been happening with the prosecution of the—Jeremy Sivits.  Has that had any kind of impact on the Arab world? 

WRIGHT:  Well, I think both for the Islamic world and the United States there was a feeling over the past week that we were moving beyond the pictures to a period of justice, that these people were being dealt with and hoping to get on with it.  But as was inevitable, more and more of the pictures have begun to come out and “The Post” now has many pictures and this is obviously going to lead to ongoing problems with the way it‘s perceived in the international community. 

PIRRO:  Robin, it‘s my understand that there are as many as 1,600 images showing Iraqi detainees being abused by United States soldiers.  Do they all show the same seven soldiers who have already been charged or are new potential defendants being identified in these videos and images? 

WRIGHT:  Well, I‘m not sure that you can identify every single person in every single shot so I‘m not sure I have the answer to that.  But there are an enormous number of pictures and many of which will probably never be shown by any news organization because they are simply too graphic, too pornographic, too difficult to show.  It‘s just beyond the kind of humiliation that we‘ve seen of Iraqis who have been shackled or their heads covered.  Some of them are really extraordinarily horrendous. 

PIRRO:  And you know Robin, it‘s interesting, I mean last week we had the Nicholas Berg case and you know his being decapitated on video.  That seems to have taken a back burner now and we‘re now focused on the prisoner abuse issue.  I mean are we just letting this stuff come out drop by drop or should all of these images have been released at the time that we first heard about them so as to, you know, not drag this thing on with, I‘m sure, increasing anger in the Arab world. 

WRIGHT:  Well that‘s a question really that should be addressed to the administration.  I know it has wrestled with what to do about these pictures.  Do you let them all out at the same time or do you deal with some of the legal issues particularly involving fair trials for those who were involved in this, without incriminating the case before they came—the troops came before court-martials. 

PIRRO:  And Robin, is there anyone who is arguing that some of these abuses were appropriate in light of the fact, certainly not the rape, the physical abuse, but some of possibly the staged photographs, that they are appropriate because we‘re at war?  Is anybody saying that? 

WRIGHT:  I think if you saw all the pictures you would have no question that these activities were inappropriate. 

PIRRO:  Right.  And the activities, some of them that have been claimed by the 13 detainees, are they being corroborated by additional images and photographs? 

WRIGHT:  Well, the accounts that have come out in many ways are more damming than the pictures themselves because they show—they talk in great detail about the kind of treatment.  They give the human dimension to these cases and talk about things that were particularly inappropriate for the treatment of Muslims, such as being force fed pork and alcohol.  Being forced to renounce their religion and embrace Christianity or Jesus, and so this is, you know, all going to be very difficult I think both for Americans and the Islamic world to absorb. 

PIRRO:  And Robin, how is it possible for us to regain our credibility in the Middle East?  Is it? 

WRIGHT:  Well, that‘s a question that is going to be very hard and I suspect will have to be answered over years, not just over the next few weeks.  It‘s one of the great challenges the United States will face in restoring its credibility as a moral nation with moral values.  But it begins with the process of justice and that‘s unfortunately also going to take probably longer than anyone would like. 

PIRRO:  Well you know in terms of the process of justice, Robin, I mean, you know you don‘t hear of many prosecutions of prison guards for say American prisoners, for example, at the Hanoi Hilton.  I mean at least the United States government is taking the steps of prosecuting these guards and it sounds like they may very well move up the ladder based upon what Specialist Sivits is saying.  I mean I‘m not aware of too many other prosecutions by other countries of the abuse of prisoners during the course of a war. 

WRIGHT:  That‘s an excellent point, but the fact is the United States and Vietnam were not countries with the same kinds of values, constitutions and individual human rights principles.  So it‘s very difficult to compare the treatment of prison guards in the two countries. 

PIRRO:  Robin Wright thanks so much for joining us tonight.

WRIGHT:  Thank you.

PIRRO:  And a reunion is set for Tuesday after the mother of the 3-year-old abandoned Baltimore girl surfaces.  Why did it take so long for her to come forward?  We‘ll talk to the mother‘s attorney. 

Plus, they came to get jobs at Hooters, never expecting to be secretly taped changing into the restaurant‘s uniforms.  Now the Hooter‘s manager who interviewed them faces 57 criminal counts. 


PIRRO:  Mystery surrounding a 3-year-old Baltimore girl beginning to unravel tonight.  The girl‘s mother now coming forward.  She says the toddler was taken from her two years ago by the girl‘s father.  The little girl who identified herself as Courtney to police was abandoned on May 5 by her father.  The girl told police she was from Brooklyn, but she and her father were currently living in a Baltimore warehouse. 

Officials were confused and appealed to the public for help in identifying her.  And just yesterday the girl‘s mother, Patricia Harper came forward saying the 3-year-old known as Courtney is her daughter Akasha and that she was actually from the Brooklyn area south of Baltimore.  Today, Ms. Harper was in court asking a judge to grant her custody.  Instead, the judge allowed a supervised visit next week.  Akasha remains in foster care. 

Joining me now, Ms. Harper‘s attorney Rebecca Cosca.  Rebecca, thank you for joining us.  Where is Akasha now? 

REBECCA COSCA, ATTY FOR PATRICIA HARPER:  Thank you.  Right now, Akasha is in a foster home, safe with her new foster parents where she will remain during this transitional period while we work on reuniting her with her mother. 

PIRRO:  And how is she doing?  Everybody seemed to fall in love with this little girl.  She seems like a you know relatively happy child in spite of all that has happened to her. 

COSCA:  Yes, DSS has had lots of requests for people that would love to adopt her.  But unfortunately for them and fortunately for us, her mother would very much like to have her back. 

PIRRO:  And her spirits? 

COSCA:  From what we‘ve told them, we haven‘t had a chance to meet with the girl yet.  Our first meeting with her will be on Tuesday, but from what we have been told, she is healthy and happy and doing very well. 

PIRRO:  Why do you think she told police that her name was Courtney? 

COSCA:  Well, we believe that her father in an attempt to hide her from her mother, had changed her name when he took off with her, she had just turned 2 years old.  And so basically, her entire speaking life, he has been telling her that her name was Courtney and we don‘t know if he even told her what her last name was. 

PIRRO:  OK.  When you say since her father took off with her, was there a court or a family court determination that either the father or the mother was entitled to custody?  Was there a custody battle litigated in any court regarding these two parents and this child? 

COSCA:  No.  What had happened was the parents had not been married and up to that point had had a casual visitation policy.  Ms. Harper had custody of the child and she very liberally allowed visitation with the father.  And one time he came for visitation and he never returned.  He later went into district court and got a temporary ex parte order against Ms. Harper.  And then through two things, one the fact that Mr. Parsons (ph) gave the wrong address for Ms. Harper and two, an inadvertent mistake that showed that Ms. Harper had been served, she was never served notice of a hearing date and when she...


COSCA:  ... didn‘t appear, he was given temporary custody. 

PIRRO:  Let‘s try to explain this.

COSCA:  Sure.

PIRRO:  When you say that there was an ex parte order, in other words, the father of Akasha went to court to get an order? 

COSCA:  Yes...

PIRRO:  So he actually used legal process to get custody of his daughter. 

COSCA:  That‘s correct.

PIRRO:  But what you‘re saying is that somebody messed up here and it wasn‘t served on the mother? 

COSCA:  That‘s correct. 

PIRRO:  Did the mother report to the police that Akasha was missing? 

COSCA:  Yes.  As soon as we realized what had happened, we immediately went to court and appealed that finding.  The judge realized the mistake right away and vacated that order and granted custody back to Ms. Harper. 

PIRRO:  OK.  But at the time of the taking, it was not illegal for the father to take Akasha since he legally had visitation? 

COSCA:  That may be the case and Prince George‘s County is looking into that right now and some of the other state agencies are looking into that at that time.  But even in that protective order, Ms. Harper was granted visitation as well and he has not made her available to Ms. Harper for the better part of the last two years. 

PIRRO:  So that explains, Rebecca, why there wouldn‘t have been criminal charges filed on behalf of the mother since the father legally at the time of the taking had custody.  Interesting.  Kind of a complicated case. 

COSCA:  It‘s a very complicated case.  But we are just very happy that we have found Akasha and are now in the process of reuniting them.

PIRRO:  And not to mention, by the way, that the father has recently been arrested during the time that Akasha was in the custody of another woman. 

COSCA:  Yes, apparently that‘s how she was abandoned was that from what we understand, he left her with almost a complete stranger, perhaps an acquaintance and went, we believe to buy some drugs.  The house that he went to was raided, he was arrested and when he did not return for Akasha, the woman who he had left her with since she didn‘t really know this man or this girl called Social Services and turned in Akasha to Social Services. 

PIRRO:  And so, she—when she took the child, the three-and a half-year-old, she didn‘t know the name of the man who gave her the child? 

COSCA:  Apparently not because she did not give a name to Social Services at that time.  She just said that this man had left his daughter with her and that he had never come back and she didn‘t know what to do for her.

PIRRO:  And does Akasha appear to be in good physical health?

COSCA:  From what we have been told she apparently is in good physical health.  So we‘re very happy about that and feel very fortunate that at least we have that to start with. 

PIRRO:  OK.  Well it sounds like the Maryland Department of Human Resources has a very interesting case on its hands. 

COSCA:  Yes, they do. 

PIRRO:  Thank you for joining us Rebecca.

COSCA:  Thank you very much.

PIRRO:  When we come back, an audition at Hooters that a restaurant manager allegedly put on tape.  Now he is facing more criminal counts than Hooters has buffalo wings. 


PIRRO:  Coming up, applying for a job at Hooters shouldn‘t mean disrobing for the boss.  We‘ll talk to two would-be Hooters waitresses and their attorney. 


PIRRO:  Welcome back.  The Hooters Restaurant chain is known more for the waitress‘ skimpy uniforms than for their cuisine.  So when interviewing for a new Hooters restaurant in Los Angeles 14 prospective servers agreed to change into those uniforms during their job interviews.  But they did not agree to being watched and videotaped while doing so.  Well that‘s exactly what they say happened. 

More specifically, Hooters manager Juan Martin Aponte—quote—“Did unlawfully look through a hole or opening into or with a camera, motion picture camera, or camcorder the interior of a changing room, fitting room, or the interior of any other area.”

That coming from the 57 counts Los Angeles prosecutors charged Aponte with.  It includes 25 felony counts, among them using a minor for a sex act and eavesdropping.  He remains in jail in lieu of $500,000 bail.  And for their part, Hooters released a statement. 

It reads in part—quote—“Our company and its employees are outraged and shocked by these events.  It is unfortunate that the misconduct of one individual can violate the trust of so many individuals.  Hooters Restaurants go to great lengths to ensure that its employees have a safe environment in which to work.”

Now joining me, two of the alleged victims, Scheana Jancan and Renee Short, along with their attorney, Gloria Allred.  I‘ll start with Gloria.  In this case you are suing for monetary damage, Gloria, for what happened to how many of the young women involved here? 

GLORIA ALLRED, ALLEGED VICTIMS‘ ATTORNEY:  Well, we are representing approximately 55 young women, and we are suing the defendant, and in addition, Hooters, West Covina, Hoodwink (ph) and we are suing for an invasion of privacy employment discrimination, that‘s sex discrimination, sexual harassment.  We‘re also alleging negligent supervision and battery and a violation...

PIRRO:  How many...

ALLRED:  ... of California law. 

PIRRO:  How many plaintiffs, Gloria?

ALLRED:  Fifty-five and we‘re seeking general and compensatory and punitive damages according to proof at trial. 

PIRRO:  Fifty-five victims you represent in this case? 

ALLRED:  Yes.  And there are many more alleged to be victims.  But we do represent 55, and that is the majority of the known victims. 

PIRRO:  Let me go to Scheana and to Renee.  When you went to interview for a job at Hooters, did you, number one, even expect to be asked to change into a uniform? 


PIRRO:  Either one of you? 

SCHEANA JANCAN, ALLEGED VICTIM:  No.  I didn‘t plan on having that as part of an interview.  I thought it was just going to be basic.  You go turn in an application and they let you know right there.  And then I didn‘t think you were going to have to come back later on to have an actual audition and try on the uniform. 

PIRRO:  OK and Renee, when you went for the interview, what did they do?  Ask your dress size and then give you a uniform and direct you to a location where you were to change into that uniform? 

RENEE SHORT, ALLEGED VICTIM:  No.  There was just one uniform to try on for all the girls.  And there was no specific size.  We just had to try on one uniform and we were told to dress in a specific spot. 

PIRRO:  OK.  So you were directed to the location where you would change into the uniform.  Did either of you question the circumstances of going to a particular place?  I mean did you say I‘d rather go home and try this on or can I come back or you just did what they said? 

JANCAN:  Yes, I just listened to the manager.  I mean he was the one in authority.  So we figured that that was the policy, and we just did what he told us needed to be done. 

PIRRO:  OK.  And did either of you suspect that anything was going on here... 


PIRRO:  ... in terms of videotaping or anything like that?

JANCAN:  No, not at all. 

SHORT:  No, I couldn‘t imagine that. 

ALLRED:  And Jeanine, one of the things...

PIRRO:  Yes, go ahead, Gloria. 

ALLRED:  ... one of the things that is so disgusting about this matter is that a number of the young women were told that Hooters didn‘t want to see panty lines, thereby insinuating that they shouldn‘t wear underwear when they had their Hooters uniform on...

PIRRO:  And this was by...

ALLRED:  ... or should only wear a G-string. 

PIRRO:  This was by the defendant, Aponte, the manager?  This is what he specifically told them?  Is that right Scheana...

ALLRED:  The manager who instructed them to change into the uniform and who was doing the interviewing...

PIRRO:  And that is Aponte, Gloria...

ALLRED:  ... actually told them that. 

PIRRO:  ... the defendant who‘s charged here? 

ALLRED:  He is the defendant that is charged. 

PIRRO:  Right.  Right, with the indictment.  You know, Gloria, the defense attorney for the manager Aponte made a statement.  He says, “It appears obvious that this has turned into a media blitz and Gloria Allred is out there in order to curve public opinion.  The civil case is only about money.  Gloria is making it a lot more difficult to get a fair jury for my client.  We certainly hope she‘ll be more sensitive to the judicial process.  She‘s clouding the district attorney.”

Gloria, what do you say to that?

ALLRED:  Well, I‘m sure that he‘s not happy that we filed the civil lawsuit.  That we are attempting to vindicate the rights of the 55 young women.  However, he‘s just going to have to live with that.  We think that it‘s important that young women who may be victims who have not yet come forward to law enforcement do come forward.  And we‘re interested in making sure that other young women know that they should be on alert to make sure that this never happens again. 

PIRRO:  And Gloria, what I know obviously as a D.A. is that this video

voyeurism is something that seems to be on the increase.  That laws are

being changed across this country.  And I notice that in California there‘s

a law addressed to eavesdropping to cover the audio part.  And then the use

of a minor in a sex act to cover the actual videotaping, which I think is -

·         suggests that maybe some of the laws need to be changed to kind of keep up with what‘s happening in states all over this country. 


ALLRED:  I totally agree.  But in addition, there is a civil code section, which prohibits employers from causing the videotaping of employees in changing rooms or locker rooms. 

PIRRO:  Of course. 

ALLRED:  And I am...

PIRRO:  Of course.

ALLRED:  ... concerned, because there does appear to be...

PIRRO:  Last question, Scheana and Renee, would either one of you ever work at a Hooters after this? 


SHORT:  No, I wouldn‘t. 

PIRRO:  OK.  Gloria Allred, Scheana and Renee, thanks for joining us. 

JANCAN:  Thank you. 

SHORT:  Thank you.

PIRRO:  You‘re welcome. 

That‘s all the time we have for tonight.  Dan will be back on Monday. 

Have a great weekend. 

Up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews. 


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