Guests: Larry Pozner, Joe Episcopo, Dean Johnson, Lucy Dalglish, Dr. Robert Butterworth
GARY CASIMIR, GUEST HOST: Coming up, the court hearing the Kobe Bryant case. The defense is ordered to stop the media from reporting facts about the case.
CASIMIR (voice-over): The sealed transcripts are about Kobe‘s accuser. The court released them by accident and now the judge wants them destroyed.
Did the first detective assigned to the Peterson case lie on the stand? If he did, could this be grounds for a mistrial?
And he helped Michael Jackson beat the first child molestation case against him. But did this Hollywood private eye go too far to protect his high-profile client?
The program about justice starts right now.
CASIMIR: Hi everyone. Don‘t adjust your sets. I‘m Gary Casimir.
Dan is off today.
First on the docket, the Scott Peterson case. The trial is in a break for the July 4th holiday. The court will resume on Tuesday, but will there be a surprise witness on the stand? No, we are not talking about Amber Frey. But it could be Detective Al Brocchini. He spent five days testifying before the break. Why would they be calling him back?
The Associated Press is reporting Brocchini may have embellished his testimony regarding a tip that came in a day after Scott Peterson was arrested. An acquaintance of Peterson told Brocchini that in 1995 Peterson said if he ever killed somebody, he would dump the body in the ocean. Brocchini under oath recounting the call Tuesday—quote—“Said he would tie a big weight around the neck with duct tape, put weights on the hands, throw it in the sea, and the fish activity would eventually eat it all up and the body would float up.”
But the source who heard the audiotape on the phone call said the tipster never mentioned the duct tape. That Brocchini misstated the comments under oath. Remember, duct tape was found on Laci‘s body when she was recovered. So, will they call Brocchini back to the stand and if it‘s true, how will this influence the jury or will the defense ask for a mistrial?
Let‘s bring in our legal team—criminal defense attorney Larry Pozner out in Colorado, and former prosecutor Joe Episcopo out in Florida. And in the courtroom, maybe we can get—oh there you go—San Mateo County prosecutor Dean Johnson. It‘s good to have you. Thanks for helping me out.
All right, first question, I want to go to the defense attorney, Larry. Let me ask you a question. Is Geragos celebrating right now or you know, is the defense team, you know, having a party thinking they‘re going to go back in there and get the mistrial of the century, or what do you think is going to happen?
LARRY POZNER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I promise you, when you are trying a first-degree murder case, there is never a party and never a celebration. But the defense is saying, you know, reasonable doubt is created by question marks in the jurors‘ minds and cops who get the facts wrong give those question marks. This is another bad day that didn‘t need to happen to the prosecution. But I don‘t think the case turns on it, and I doubt very much he wins the mistrial.
CASIMIR: Well, all right, let me go to Esposito for a second. Is—why does this keep happening? What‘s going on here? This seems like an error that shouldn‘t happen. I mean you prosecuted a lot of cases, I‘ve done it. How could you not know what the transcripts said? Why do you think—why did this error happen?
JOE EPISCOPO, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Well, sometimes maybe they don‘t really prepare with the witness. You know you have to sit down with these guys and you have to go over everything. I used to have them bring all the evidence in. We practiced putting in evidence, even though it‘s been done 100 times. You write out the questions, you go over the questions, you prepare your witness so everything is A, B, C, bing, bang, bong, it looks like you know what you‘re doing.
CASIMIR: But do they know what they‘re doing? I mean—let me go to Dean for a second. Dean is in the courtroom. He‘s a former prosecutor. Do prosecutors out in San Mateo not go over the evidence? Do they just not go over the evidence before they put a witness on the stand? What‘s going on here with this detective?
DEAN JOHNSON, FMR. SAN MATEO COUNTY PROSECUTOR: Well, I can tell you prosecutors in San Mateo County go over the evidence. I certainly always did in any of my cases, and you prepare those witnesses very carefully. But the panelists are correct. One of the problems—one of the ongoing problems that these prosecutors from Stanislaus County have had is that they seem not to prepare their witness, not to go over the evidence thoroughly and they‘re often surprised by the answers they get.
Now this was a great piece of evidence they brought out about the 1995 conversation and it led very nicely into some evidence about how Detective Brocchini really wasn‘t trying to frame up Scott Peterson. And it was some of the most effective evidence they had. They don‘t need to have a mistake again with Detective Brocchini and have him called back.
But all of that being said, I think this ultimately is not going to be a huge deal. I think the prosecutors will probably stipulate that the original tip said tape, not duct tape. And this will go away, and it will be something that by Wednesday will be forgotten...
EPISCOPO: But you know Dean...
EPISCOPO: ... it seems to me with this particular...
EPISCOPO: ... detective there was a past mistrial that he caused. So, naturally you‘re going to know, you might have a problem with a loose cannon. So you definitely would sit down with him. You don‘t want a mistrial in this case. This is the biggest case of their lives...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes...
CASIMIR: Yes, I don‘t...
EPISCOPO: ... and they‘re not preparing...
JOHNSON: Yes, absolutely...
EPISCOPO: ... it like that.
JOHNSON: ... absolutely and that‘s been a serious problem. He—I wouldn‘t call him a loose cannon. I think he‘s more like an Inspector Clouseau...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well...
JOHNSON: ... than say a Mark Fuhrman. He‘s made a lot of mistakes on the stand. But you‘re right. You do need to tighten up those cannons...
CASIMIR: Hold on for one second...
CASIMIR: Let me ask the prosecution a question. Let me ask Joe a question for a second. Let‘s—one thing I want to get straight here. This—Geragos‘ whole theme of the case is that the prosecution was sloppy and this continues to be so. You have the biggest piece of evidence come in and all of a sudden it‘s been demolished. Is this what this—is Geragos going to use this to the jury or does he just want it stricken?
EPISCOPO: Listen, he‘s going to use whatever he can use...
EPISCOPO: You know, anything that shows the police make a mistake, well that makes the jury not have confidence in them. So if the jury doesn‘t have confidence in what they‘re hearing from the police, they‘re going to give an acquittal.
CASIMIR: I—you know, I think so much is being made of the circumstantial evidence case here. With that being the case, I‘m wondering if the prosecution is living up to what it said it was going to do, which is that they have overwhelming evidence of guilt. And it seems to me the defense is chopping at it, even little mistakes like this.
I wanted to go to Dean for a second. What would you suggest that the prosecution do when they go back, besides doing that? You know, would they offer that, the striking of the duct tape?
JOHNSON: Well, I think they would try to minimize that as much as possible and offer a stipulation. I think Geragos is stinging a little bit, because this is the worst week that the defense has had. The prosecution was fairly successful in regaining credibility for Brocchini. He wants a shot at getting Brocchini back on the stand and reopening cross-examination. I think he will do that.
But this is not the biggest problem that the prosecution has. They need to tie this case down. They need to prep their witnesses, but more than that, they need to focus on what they are going to put in and what they‘re not going to put in. Stop putting in a lot of irrelevant stuff, focus on the powerful evidence, and tighten this case up.
CASIMIR: OK. Thanks, Dean. Larry and Joe, stay with us.
Coming up, the Kobe Bryant case. The court releases documents about Kobe‘s accuser to the media by accident and then tells the media it must destroy them. Now the Colorado Supreme Court will decide what to do.
New photos of that teacher accused of having sex with her 14-year-old student and it turns out sexual misconduct in school may be more common than you think.
Later, he‘s a private eye to the stars and he‘s credited with helping Michael Jackson beat the first set of molestation charges against him. But, how far should a private eye go to protect their high-profile clients?
Send your e-mails to . Dan usually responds to them at the end of every show.
CASIMIR: Coming up, the fight over documents about Kobe Bryant‘s accuser. The court released them by accident. The judge wants them destroyed. But if they‘re already out there, can he do that?
CASIMIR: It‘s the most sensitive part of the Kobe Bryant case. Information about the sex life of the now 20-year-old woman who‘s accused the NBA star of rape. Last week a court clerk accidentally sent copies of a 206-page transcript from closed-door hearings on the victim‘s sexual history. Judge Terry Ruckriegel tried to fix the problem on the day the information was released by issuing the following court order.
Anyone who has received these transcripts is ordered to delete and destroy all copies and not reveal any contents thereof or be subjective to contempt of court.
But lawyers for several media outlets called the ruling unconstitutional and the Colorado Supreme Court ordered Ruckriegel to explain why reporters should not be allowed to report what they receive. The attorney general responded for the judge today. He says the documents were not lawfully obtained, since the court never ordered them to be released and the releasing could compromise the accuser‘s right to a fair trial.
So does the judge have the right to tell the media they can‘t report information they say they legally obtained? Joining me now, Lucy Dalglish, the executive director of The Reporters‘ Committee for Freedom of the Press, and still with us, criminal defense attorney Larry Pozner out in Colorado and former Florida prosecutor Joe Episcopo out in Florida.
Larry, what do you think the transcripts contain? How damaging do you think this information is going to be? Obviously, the prosecution wants to keep it out. What are they trying to keep out of the public eye?
POZNER: The transcripts, we believe, are explosive. They deal with evidence of sexual conduct around the time of Kobe Bryant and the belief is that they may establish that the accuser had sexual relations with someone in the hours after Kobe Bryant, something that the defense has been saying for months. But it appears that there is now solid evidence of that, and that may well be what‘s in the transcripts. If it were released, it will, as the judge points out, go around the world instantly. And so it is potentially prejudicial to everyone in the case.
CASIMIR: Joe, what do you think about all this? Does the prosecution have the right to keep this from going out?
EPISCOPO: Yes, I think that the court is trying to figure out who‘s going to be hurt by this. That‘s what the Supreme Court of Colorado has got to decide. Is the victim going to be hurt? Well, then, maybe they shouldn‘t release it. Who else is going to be hurt? Is the public going to be hurt if they don‘t get it? I doubt it. The public is not going to be hurt. This information is going to come out eventually. So I think they should keep it sealed until the trial has taken place.
CASIMIR: All right, so you‘re saying the court is going to have to do a balancing act, decide who‘s being unfairly prejudicial, whose rights have to be more protected here. I want to go to Lucy Dalglish and take a media perspective. Why do you guys think you‘re entitled to something just because you found it? I mean you got it—it was sealed information and so you accidentally got it. Does that now make it unsealed information?
LUCY DALGLISH, REPORTERS‘ CMTE. FOR FREEDOM OF THE PRESS: Yes, actually, it does make it unsealed information under the law. The fact that the court accidentally released this information is really unfortunate. But to issue an order saying that the media, which did absolutely nothing wrong in obtaining this information, to issue an order saying they cannot publish what they have would do grave harm to the First Amendment, and I shudder to think of the precedent it would set for further court cases around the country.
CASIMIR: But Lucy, I‘m going to argue with you a little bit. This was already sealed information. I don‘t know how it could harm anyone by keeping it sealed. The information—this was a closed—this is a product of a closed hearing on the victim‘s sexual history. You accidentally got it. How does—you know, why does that change the nature of the fact that this was not information to be released to the public? Why does that all of a sudden make it acceptable—receivable to you?
DALGLISH: Well, that‘s different from whether or not anybody‘s going to actually use the information. None of these news organizations has used the information or said that they are going to use the information. But, to have a court not only refuse to release it to the public, but to issue an order that did not follow the procedures that the First Amendment requires under the Richmond Newspapers case, the Press-Enterprise line of cases, there‘s a long-standing body of case law out there.
CASIMIR: Lucy, are you saying that the initial order sealing the hearing from the public and the news media was unconstitutional and therefore...
DALGLISH: No, absolutely...
CASIMIR: ... its extension is banned?
DALGLISH: ... I‘m not saying that at all.
CASIMIR: Then, why is the extension bad?
DALGLISH: Well, because you can issue an order on the court. You can tell the parties, you can tell the clerk of court, you can—the judge can issue an order saying do not release this information if he does it under the law. Once the information gets out, it is very clear under First Amendment precedent that you cannot tell the media what they can and cannot publish...
CASIMIR: Larry, I want to go to you for one second. Larry, what about that? What about the fact that you know the rape shield law here is being intimated? What about the fact that maybe the government does have a point, that this information should not be released?
POZNER: The best point the government made in their filing today on behalf of the judge was, look, this was information that the law of Colorado agreed should be confidential. The news media never challenged that it should be confidential, so the news media is not harmed if it stays confidential.
DALGLISH: I think any time you have an order out there that does not make specific findings of fact and allows—does not allow the media or any other interested parties to contest it at a hearing and does it as procedurally and ineptly as this one did, you cannot not challenge it.
CASIMIR: Joe, you got the last word here...
EPISCOPO: Lucy, are you trying to say that this woman doesn‘t have a right to have some sort of protection, just because you guys have information and you‘re trying to give it to the public? Don‘t you see a balancing test here where you have to look at the individual who‘s going to be harmed, as opposed to us? We‘re not going to be harmed.
EPISCOPO: So what?
CASIMIR: Joe—you know I think I‘m going to have to agree with Joe here. And I see the court extending the order and keeping this out of the public‘s eye.
Lucy Dalglish, Larry Pozner, and Joe Episcopo, thanks a lot. I really appreciate you guys helping me out.
Coming up, the latest on the teacher accused of having sex with a 14-year-old student and a new report on the sexual misconduct in schools show it may be far more widespread than you might believe.
And what a Hollywood detective to the stars might do to get clients like Michael Jackson out of trouble.
CASIMIR: Earlier this week we told you about the case in Florida of a middle school teacher who had sex with her 14-year-old student. The alleged incidents happened in the teacher‘s home, a classroom and once in the back of her SUV while the boy‘s 15-year-old cousin was driving. Well, now we have new pictures that have surfaced of that teacher from an old modeling shoot five years ago and a new study out this week claims sexual abuse in the schools is not uncommon and found out one in 10 students are victims of sexual misconduct by school employees.
NBC‘s Kerry Sanders has the details.
KERRY SANDERS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Debra Lafave in happier times.
SANDERS: Her wedding 11 months ago before the 23-year-old was arrested in two Florida counties for allegedly having repeated sexual encounters with a 14-year-old boy in her eighth grade reading class. Also surfacing, modeling pictures. These photos taken five years ago for “Makes and Models” magazine. The editor says he remembers Lafave looked so young he didn‘t believe she was 18, even though her license said so.
As Lafave has walked in and out of court and her images are flashed on TV screens, investigators say they‘ve heard a common refrain that, the 14-year-old is not a victim, he‘s lucky. But 40-year-old Valerie Reicheg says not so. She was 13 years old when she was sexually abused by a teacher.
VALERIE REICHEG, SEXUAL ABUSE VICTIM: It doesn‘t matter that he was a boy or I was a girl and my perpetrator was a male. The effects are there. The trauma is there. It still is abuse. It‘s rape. It‘s—there are major after-effects from that.
SANDERS: Charol Shakeshaft authored a study on school sexual abuse that was submitted to Congress this week. Among the findings...
CHAROL SHAKESHAFT, HOFSTRA UNIVERSITY: There are a lot more boys who report that they‘ve been targets of educators than we have thought in the past.
SANDERS: The report says more than 4.5 million students are subjected to sexual misconduct by a school employee sometime between kindergarten and 12th grade.
(on camera): And the study looked at false accusations. It says there are few statistics to go by, but concludes false accusations are rare.
(voice-over): If Debra Lafave is found guilty, she could face up to 30 years in prison.
Kerry Sanders, NBC News, Miami.
CASIMIR: So is there a double standard in these cases when the adult is a female and the child is a male? And would it be different if the roles were reversed? Joining me now, child psychologist Robert Butterworth.
Dr. Butterworth, I just want to say, we already know there is a double standard. I mean when I was preparing for this and even when the case first came out in the news, most people think is he really harmed. The question is are boys harmed? Is the harm the same? Is there a different degree of harm between boys and girls who are victims of sexual abuse by teachers or adults for that matter?
DR. ROBERT BUTTERWORTH, CHILD PSYCHOLOGIST: Well it‘s—well, Gary, it really is different because in a sense, first of all, let‘s talk about peers. When a girl is harmed, all her friends will gather and make her feel like sorry and they‘ll give her support and they‘ll also help her report it. But if it‘s a boy, what happens? The other boys sit around. They talk about it, and they all want—they all kind of envy the person.
BUTTERWORTH: So if a boy turns the person in, it‘s almost like, well, what‘s wrong with you?
BUTTERWORTH: But the long-term—go ahead Gary.
CASIMIR: No, I want to hear what the long-term effects are. Are there—what are the long-term effects?
BUTTERWORTH: Different effects. When a girl is abused by an older adult, there‘s a tendency not to trust men and to kind of tone down and maybe in most cases be mistrustful and wallow and close themselves in. When a boy does it, they tend to increase their sexuality. So for this case, for instance, with a 14-year-old, he may now start having more sex, and be psychologically distant from it, sex will become the act and relationships...
CASIMIR: I see...
BUTTERWORTH: ... in terms of long-term relationships could be a problem.
CASIMIR: OK, so when these statutory rape charges come out, when there‘s a woman involved, there‘s a chance they may get—become more introverted, and when there‘s a male involved, he may not—he may deal with sex at a different level, may become more abusive or think that this is the way it‘s supposed to happen? He‘s supposed to get lucky every time and maybe a little more aggressive here.
But I want to know, if we look at the stats and we look at how we treat different men and women when they are caught in these violations and abuses, like Mary Kay Letourneau, no one—she was given a six-month sentence after she had an affair with a 13-year-old student. But another teacher, Mark Blilie, a male, was convicted in the same county of the same rape charge and child—I‘m sorry - child molestation charge for having an affair with a 15-year-old student, he got four years. Does the legal system treat them differently—I mean treat the abusers differently?
BUTTERWORTH: Yes. And there‘s another—the other thing we tend not to look at, and that is a lot of times the male judges are sentencing them. And there is that down deep feeling in people that, well, gee, if a boy is having sex with a female, especially an attractive one, they‘re not being harmed in the same way as the girl is. But looking at the study with the numbers that have been reported, this may turn into education‘s dirty little secret being exposed.
CASIMIR: Well, let me ask you another question. Is there evidence that boys are harmed—let‘s say by the investigation itself, coming forward. For example, this story was brought forward by one of the boy‘s mother. And the boy was like please don‘t tell anybody, don‘t tell anybody, you‘re going to ruin this for me. Is there any more harm by coming out, I mean the idea that maybe by testifying and going through all this media attention, are they harmed additionally or is the harm worse? Is there any argument to the idea that exposing this when it comes to boys and girls may be worse?
BUTTERWORTH: Remember, teenage boys tend to want to brag about their sexuality. They tend to be, you know, having problems with self-esteem, and for them to admit they had sex and there was something wrong, all their friends are going to laugh at them. Well, gee, what‘s the matter with you? Why didn‘t you enjoy it? We‘re all supposed to be macho. Where females, they don‘t have that. So yes, there‘s harm in the act because they become superficial and there‘s harm in telling because their friends kind of pull away from them and look at them like well, gee, what‘s wrong with you.
CASIMIR: OK. Thank you so much Dr. Butterworth. I appreciate it.
BUTTERWORTH: Thank you.
CASIMIR: When we come back, a top Hollywood private eye accused of using wiretaps and intimidation to bail out his celebrity clients while his ex-wife threatens to take his private business public in a tell-all book.
And your e-mails, send them to . Dan tries to respond at the end of every show.
CASIMIR: Coming up, he‘s called the private eye to the stars. His clients (UNINTELLIGIBLE) settle a scandal or keep a secret. But how far will he go to keep those secrets? First, the headlines.
CASIMIR: Welcome back to THE ABRAMS REPORT. I‘m Gary Casimir sitting in today for Dan.
When Hollywood stars need a little help, they can call their agent, call their lawyer or call on the sort of characters you might think it‘s only in the movies. Real life private investigators who make it their business making “Tinsel Town” celebrities‘ problems disappear. But what happens when those private eyes to the stars cross a legal line or two in the cause of duty?
More on that from “Dateline” NBC‘s Josh Mankiewicz.
JOSH MANKIEWICZ, “DATELINE NBC” (voice-over): Movies like “Chinatown” made private eyes as much a part of L.A. life as the celebrity clients who sign their checks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let‘s face it Jake. You‘re practically a movie star.
MANKIEWICZ: On film...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get up angel. You look like a Pekinese.
MANKIEWICZ: ... their hard-boiled instructors from the school of hard knocks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let‘s see, where were we? Oh yes...
MANKIEWICZ: But that‘s all make believe, or is it? For years Los Angeles private investigator Anthony Pellicano cultivated an image as dramatic as any movie gumshoe. Tonight you‘ll hear some of his hardball tactics revealed on secretly recorded tapes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I probably can terrorize her, can‘t I?
MANKIEWICZ: Pellicano‘s clients included some of the biggest names in Hollywood. Stars like Kevin Costner, Roseanne, Liz Taylor and Michael Jackson. And Pellicano had always boasted that he would do whatever it took to protect them, as he explained in this 1994 interview with former NBC correspondent Maria Shriver.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I use whatever methods I can, unique investigative procedures. What I do, in effect, is solve problems.
MANKIEWICZ: Which meant he often dealt aggressively with the person causing the problem.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You try to intimidate them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do intimidate them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anthony Pellicano was bigger than life. He‘d drive up and down Sunset Boulevard with his dark sunglasses on and his fancy car and he would just intimidate by being there.
MANKIEWICZ: Reporter Diane Dimond first encountered Pellicano in 1993 when she broke the story that police were investigating child sex abuse allegations against Michael Jackson. Dimond‘s work drew some unwanted attention.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I started getting odd phone calls. And when I would cross the street to go to my car, I would be surrounded by these Michael Jackson fans.
MANKIEWICZ (on camera): And where in this do we find the hand of Anthony Pellicano?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, I find it all over it.
MANKIEWICZ (voice-over): At the time Pellicano was working as an investigator for Michael Jackson.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe that Michael Jackson is innocent.
MANKIEWICZ: Which meant he was actively spinning Jackson‘s side of the story. That the child sex allegations against the singer were motivated purely by greed. But Diane Dimond says Anthony Pellicano did more than just spin.
(on camera): Your home was vandalized.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
MANKIEWICZ: Your phones at work and at home were wiretapped.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right and my automobile was broken into as it sat at work full of Michael Jackson documents. And after the break-in, all those documents were gone.
MANKIEWICZ: Is there any proof that Anthony Pellicano was behind any of that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, no, there‘s never any proof. You can‘t prove it.
MANKIEWICZ: And, yet, you‘re sure it was him or someone working for him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, I‘m positive it was. Because there were other people within the Jackson organization that warned me you‘re on the list. Watch out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Michael Jackson...
MANKIEWICZ (voice-over): But Dimond stayed on the Jackson story. Ten years later she‘s still covering it, this time for Court TV and as an NBC news analyst.
(on camera): How big a difference did he make for Jackson 10 years ago?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, I think he made a tremendous difference. Because there were documents out about the child‘s statement to police. It was very graphic, very damaging. Yet, Pellicano et al, let‘s call it Jackson Inc., turned it completely around. It was all about extortion.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... Michael, unfortunately he has been the victim of this and other types of extortion attempts. A demand for $20 million was made.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, did Michael Jackson get his money‘s worth out of Anthony Pellicano? Whoa, you bet he did, in spades.
MANKIEWICZ (voice-over): But this time around Michael Jackson doesn‘t have Anthony Pellicano on his side.
(on camera): In fact, Anthony Pellicano is no longer on the streets of Los Angeles. He‘s in federal prison. FBI agents began an investigation of Pellicano after an anonymous threat was made against a newspaper reporter. When federal agents searched Pellicano‘s office, they found to their surprise illegal grenades and plastic explosives. Pellicano was found guilty of federal weapons violations. Today he‘s serving 30 months behind bars.
(voice-over): And while he‘s off the street, Pellicano‘s competitors are lining up to say that the way he worked isn‘t the way they work.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you‘re intimidated, that‘s your problem. I don‘t go out trying to scare people. I hate Halloween.
MANKIEWICZ: Meet John Nazarian (ph), former San Francisco cop, former embalmer. For the last nine years a successful Hollywood private eye.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This isn‘t the ‘20‘s and ‘30‘s. We don‘t break the law. We may get somebody‘s attention, but we‘re not going to break the law to do it.
MANKIEWICZ (on camera): Which means you‘re much more likely to deal in information than in strong-arming somebody.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we‘re having a problem with an individual, I want the individual to see me and talk to me. Then let him decide what his next step should be.
MANKIEWICZ: That would work for me, let me just say.
(voice-over): Pellicano, says Nazarian (ph), was simply a bully who finally got what was coming to him.
(on camera): I know we can‘t talk about your clients. But would I know their names?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You certainly would.
MANKIEWICZ: So they hire you to what, check somebody out or...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe check somebody out. Find out where their housekeeper took off with all the dishes or you know whether Bentley (ph) took off to that night when they weren‘t in it and stuff like that.
MANKIEWICZ (voice-over): Compared to fictional private eyes like Philip Marlow in “The Big Sleep”, it seems tame.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have no police powers. I can‘t go handcuffing people.
MANKIEWICZ (on camera): Can‘t break and enter?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There‘s definite laws against that in this country.
MANKIEWICZ: You‘re kind of shattering my image of private eyes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I surprise myself sometimes.
MANKIEWICZ (voice-over): Nazarian (ph) charges $400 an hour plus expenses. It‘s costly, but in a town where image is everything, it‘s money well spent.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You‘re talking about them who count their income in the millions, if not the tens of millions.
MANKIEWICZ: Kim Masters covers Hollywood for “Esquire” magazine and has written about Pellicano‘s unique status among the stars.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you‘re a leading man actor who has something to hide, you would feel enormous confidence if you thought you had a very discreet, capable, private investigator who could make sure that whatever secrets you had stayed secret.
MANKIEWICZ (on camera): Can a private investigator really make a case go away like that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I think they actually can.
MANKIEWICZ (voice-over): Anthony Pellicano certainly claimed that he could. He is said to have learned his trade in part from a legendary Hollywood private eye named Fred Otash.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Freddie was a big handsome Lebanese guy, Marine in World War II, on LAPD from ‘45 to ‘55.
MANKIEWICZ: Author James Ellroy wrote the novel “L.A. Confidential” that was made into the movie of the same name.
MANKIEWICZ: Bits of Fred Otash can be found in a number of Ellroy‘s characters.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hold it. Got it.
MANKIEWICZ: And the writer followed Otash‘s career with what sounds a lot like admiration.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He started doing favors for people in Hollywood in the early 1950‘s. He broke up occasional fruit squeezes. A fruit squeeze was an extortion attempt on a homosexual movie star. Freddie was the guy that you saw when early versions of the stalker started bothering movie stars, Freddie would come in, wamp (ph) on them and disappear quicksville.
MANKIEWICZ: Otash was the go-to guy for stars in trouble.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here is the classic Freddie Otash story. A woman named Phyllis Gates, was Rock Hudson‘s wife in the mid ‘50‘s. She was starting to come to believe that Rock really liked boys and she wanted out of the marriage. She went to Freddie Otash. Freddie said I‘ll hot wire the place, get Rock to say I‘m homosexual. I‘ll get you a nice divorce settlement.
MANKIEWICZ: Phyllis Gates, now 78, told “Dateline” she has no recollection of Otash bugging her home. In 1992, Otash passed away, a new breed of P.I.s replaced him.
(on camera): Sounds like he was a traditional image of a private eye, the guy with, you know, a hit (ph) flask in his you know right rear pocket and...
MANKIEWICZ: ... a .38 in his belt. Maybe more fiction than reality?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘ve never known a private eye who carried a gun.
MANKIEWICZ: Because in that business, information is more important than brute force?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, there‘s no call for it, yes. What‘s Rock Hudson going to do, shoot you?
CASIMIR: We‘ll continue our tour of the dark side of Hollywood‘s private eyes to the stars when we come back.
Plus, if Saddam Hussein can get a fair trial, shouldn‘t terror suspects in this country also get one? It‘s my “Closing Argument”.
CASIMIR: As we just saw in the first part of the story, Hollywood private eye Anthony Pellicano became a legend by helping to make problems go away for stars like Liz Taylor and Michael Jackson. That was before Pellicano went away himself to prison, where he‘s serving a 30-month term for violating federal weapons laws.
But as we learn in the second half of this report from “Dateline NBC‘s” Josh Mankiewicz, Pellicano left behind a reputation for using information and allegedly intimidation to make sure his client‘s secrets stayed that way, a policy his ex-wife may not go along with.
MANKIEWICZ (voice-over): Prosecutors haven‘t charged him with dealing in brute force, but there‘s no question Anthony Pellicano dealt in information.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I work for clients.
MANKIEWICZ: This is Pellicano again back in 1994.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don‘t work against people. I don‘t seek out information to be printed in a tabloid. I don‘t do that.
MANKIEWICZ: And yet, that‘s exactly what he seems to be doing on these secretly recorded tapes obtained by “Dateline.”
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anthony.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It‘s Jim.
MANKIEWICZ: They were made by a freelance reporter for “The National Enquirer” in 1993 and ‘94 and obtained by “Dateline” from a family friend after the reporter died.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh please, no.
MANKIEWICZ: Listen, as Pellicano first offers this reporter and another tabloid reporter money, if they can kill a minor story about one celebrity, Whoopi Goldberg.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, if you can kill the story, I probably can get some money—more money from her.
MANKIEWICZ: He then offers to help the reporters dig up information about a former Pellicano client, Liz Taylor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, let me ask you a question on Liz Taylor. You say that they‘re going after her?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, of course.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because I don‘t care what you do with her. As a matter of fact, if I can help you with her, I will.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you ever get anything, call us first, will you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... see what I can find out, all right...
MANKIEWICZ: On the tapes Pellicano also asks the tabloid reporters about one of their colleagues at “The Enquirer”, a woman who may have some information he needs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does she still work for “The Enquirer”?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, she‘s a stringer. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) a nobody.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just was a gopher.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, she‘s a gopher. She‘s an empty suit.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I probably can terrorize her, can‘t I?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You could probably terrorize her, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was a perception, certainly, of Anthony not following the rules.
MANKIEWICZ: Kat Pellicano was his fourth marriage. Today, a member of the ex-wives club.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was his best friend. He took me into confidence about—with everything.
MANKIEWICZ: To some people that will sound ominous, because Kat Pellicano is threatening to write an auction, a tell-all book about all the juicy tidbits her husband shared over their 18-year marriage.
(on camera): Your ex-husband has made it pretty clear over the years that whatever secrets he has he will take to the grave with him, that he‘s not the kind of guy who rolls over on his clients.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I didn‘t promise that.
MANKIEWICZ: But you seem willing to do that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
MANKIEWICZ: There are unquestionably a lot of important people who trusted your husband, and by extension, you, with a lot of secrets.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would say that‘s true.
MANKIEWICZ: Which for a price you‘re about to reveal.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I didn‘t say for a price I‘m about to reveal. Anthony may have respect and loyalty for a lot of people that I certainly don‘t have respect and loyalty for. They‘ve pretty much abandoned my husband, my ex-husband, and I need to do whatever I need to do to support my children.
MANKIEWICZ (voice-over): And if that sounds scary to some in Hollywood, consider this. Inside Pellicano‘s Sunset Boulevard office investigators found not only the explosives which sent Pellicano to prison, but also, enough evidence to launch a separate grand jury investigation into illegal wiretapping.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have spoken to the FBI.
MANKIEWICZ (on camera): And they told you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They told me that my name had come up in the investigation of Anthony Pellicano. I said really? How? Well, your name was on some transcripts. I said transcripts of what? They said wiretaps. What else? And I know the FBI is pursuing it vigorously.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There apparently has been a lot of wire tapping, and I think the town is incredibly nervous about it and none of us knows who‘s on those tapes.
MANKIEWICZ (voice-over): And so Hollywood waits and worries about what will come out next. But as long as there are stars, reporter Diane Dimond says there will be a need for the kind of services Anthony Pellicano provided.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anthony Pellicano‘s departure from the scene has created a vacuum, and there are others of his ilk waiting in the wings.
MANKIEWICZ (on camera): Guys who are out there willing to do whatever it takes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They‘ll do whatever it takes. They just won‘t tell the media about it this time.
CASIMIR: The celebrities we mentioned in our story would neither confirm nor deny their relationship to Anthony Pellicano. Pellicano himself would not talk to “Dateline NBC”. He‘s appealing his explosives conviction and his attorney, Victor Sherman, denied reporter Diane Dimond‘s charges that Pellicano harassed and wiretapped her. As to Pellicano‘s tape recorded comment that he could probably terrorize another reporter, his attorney said I‘m sure he was joking.
Coming up, my “Closing Argument” on why the Bush administration should give some criminal suspects in this country the same legal rights he was proud of protecting for Saddam Hussein.
CASIMIR: Coming up, my “Closing Argument” - was it hypocrisy for the White House to applaud legal rights for Saddam Hussein while it tried to deny those same rights to suspects in the USA?
CASIMIR: Yesterday, most of America and myself watched as a much cleaner Saddam Hussein was escorted under heavy guard into an Iraqi court. Saddam was charged with crimes against humanity and killing Iraqis. His access - he was given access to lawyers and was allowed to speak.
The Bush administration has declared that this is a prime example of why today‘s Iraq is a better place. Saddam was a brutal, murderous dictator and his regime was one of our primary reasons for going to war.
Yesterday he was given his day in court. A right he routinely denied to the Iraqi people. I ask that you compare that position of the administration‘s argument to the U.S. Supreme Court argument that they made that U.S. citizens who have been declared enemy combatants, a status that can place you behind bars indefinitely without access to a lawyer, do not have the right to challenge their status in a judicial court of law.
The hypocrisy of the two positions are obvious and not reconcilable. The Bush administration is 100 percent right when it declares that Saddam‘s public trial was his opportunity to hear the charges, get legal representation, and defend himself is a great example of Iraq moving forward in a positive way. This great nation, the U.S., the greatest nation in the world, should never take a step backwards. In my opinion, it‘s a downright shame that out of fear, pain, and all the sorrow brought upon us after 9/11 we were willing to stain our fundamental right to simply defend ourselves in a court of law.
As Independence Day approaches, I am proud to say that this blemish for now has been removed. In an 8-1 decision the U.S. Supreme Court overwhelmingly rejected the administration‘s arguments and so finding, I believe we can proudly celebrate the Fourth of July knowing that you and I have the same rights as Saddam Hussein.
I‘ve had my say, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”. Dan usually reads your e-mails, so I thought I should too.
Carol from Texas has this question about the jury in the Scott Peterson trial. “Are jurors told if there is a hung jury the defendant may be retried? I wonder if a juror felt very strongly that Peterson is guilty, but could not convince the others, would he or she know not to give in so they would be a hung jury and the possibility of another trial?”
Well, Carol, no, jurors are not told about the effects of the decision and that‘s exactly why. They are not told if it‘s a hung jury or guilt or innocence and there‘s a good reason. The case is to be decided based only on the evidence that was presented to them. Not on what might happen to the defendant if he‘s convicted or found innocent.
Many of our - many of you are curious about whether Scott Peterson should take the stand in his own defense.
Dan writes, “Mark Geragos better put Peterson on the stand. The prosecution has turned this case around.”
Dan, I don‘t see it the same. If I was Scott‘s attorney, based on what I‘ve seen so far, I would not recommend that he take the stand. The prosecution has not put together an overwhelming case of guilt. And if he did take the stand and was confronted with his multiple affairs, callousness, and conflicting alibis, the statements would only help the prosecution.
And finally, Jennifer from Illinois writes, “I catch Dan‘s show all the time a few nights a week and I love what you do. Your image doesn‘t match your attitude. I think you should bleach your hair and spike it all over, then trade in the shirt and tie for a hip t-shirt. People will still take you seriously and you have to stay—and you also stay sexy.”
Well, Jennifer, MSNBC takes their viewer‘s advice very hard and seriously and producers put Dan through the makeover you suggested and at the end of the process, they got me. This is as sexy as Dan gets.
Send your e-mails to abramsreport—one word -- @msnbc.com. Dan goes through all of them and reads them at the end of the show.
Up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews. Filling in tonight, Campbell Brown.
And don‘t forget, Dan will be back on Monday with a preview of all the summer‘s trials - Scott Peterson, Kobe Bryant and the upcoming Martha Stewart sentencing.
And before we go, I got a little surprise for mom and dad, family and friends. All this time you guys have been waiting and demanding, well Karen and I are pregnant and we‘re really happy about it.
Have a great Fourth of July. Happy Birthday America.
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