Guest: Geoffrey Fieger, Robert Ottinger, Mitch Morrissey, Martha Zoller
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Coming up, Bill Cosby will not face any criminal charges, but will he soon be slapped with a civil lawsuit?
ABRAMS (voice-over): A lawyer for the woman who says Cosby drugged and fondled her says she‘s likely to sue Cosby now that he won‘t be charged. But might he decide to sue as well?
And a convicted sex offender confesses to police he molested an 8-year-old. They let him go. Now he‘s suspected in five other assaults. Police are on a manhunt. How did this happen?
Plus, Harvard‘s president still under fire for what some say were sexist remarks about why there are not more women working in the sciences. Now his exact statements are out. Question—is this just another example of the P.C. police in action?
The program about justice starts now.
ABRAMS: Hi everyone. First up on the docket tonight, is Bill Cosby really off the hook, or is there a chance he could still end up in court? On the same day prosecutors announced there was not enough evidence to charge Cosby, his accuser‘s attorney announced a civil suit is likely.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOLORES TROIANI, COSBY ACCUSER‘S ATTORNEY: She‘s obviously not going to get justice in the criminal system, so the only other avenue open to her is the civil system, and hopefully we‘ll be able to get some justice for her there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Yesterday, Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor said he would not be able to win a conviction and in his press release Castor even addressed the possible lawsuit.
· Quote—“Because a civil action with a much lower standard of proof is possible, the district attorney renders no opinion concerning the credibility of any party involved, so as not to contribute to the publicity and taint prospective jurors.”
So, who‘s going to sue whom? The accuser might have a case, but does Cosby have one against the accuser? How about that other whom who came forward and said Cosby also tried to drug and abuse her?
“My Take”—I think there‘s no way Cosby wants to sue anyone over this, and if the accuser sues him, it is going to get ugly. Joining me now criminal defense attorney Geoffrey Fieger and plaintiff‘s attorney Robert Ottinger.
All right, Geoffrey, first let‘s take up the issue of this woman suing Cosby in civil court. Do you think it‘s going to happen?
GEOFFREY FIEGER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well according to the attorney, anybody with—Danny with enough money to pay the filing fee and a lawyer writes the complaint can sue, so it sounds like it will happen.
ABRAMS: Mr. Ottinger, what do you think?
ROBERT OTTINGER, PLAINTIFF‘S ATTORNEY: It sounds like she is going to bring a case, according to her lawyer.
ABRAMS: I don‘t know. I wonder if it‘s bluster. I guess that‘s what I‘m asking.
ABRAMS: I wonder if it‘s just oh the day that the D.A. announces no charges, what else is her attorney going to say except that we‘re going to continue to pursue this?
FIEGER: Let me just tell you this, though. They‘ll buy a suit by Bill Cosby, Danny. Cosby wouldn‘t correctly bring a suit against her, although he could for libel or slander alleging that she lied about him. But he‘s the type of guy that if pushed up against a wall, if she sues him, he‘ll counter sue. Remember when his alleged daughter, and he acknowledged the daughter, attempted to extort bribery money out of him, he had her prosecuted and she went to jail. So, he‘s the type of guy that if you back him up against the wall, he is likely to sue her, counter sue...
ABRAMS: But can he—but see, what can he sue? I mean she goes forward with her allegations...
FIEGER: Libel and slander.
ABRAMS: She hasn‘t made any public comments. All she said so far, the actual accuser, she‘s gone to the authorities and said here‘s what happened to me.
FIEGER: Well, he‘d have to show that she made those statements outside the authorities, but that‘s the only suit that he would have, a defamation suit. He could claim—he doesn‘t really have an abuse of process claim. He doesn‘t have—he‘s not been falsely arrested. So, the only real claim he would have would be defamation.
ABRAMS: Mr. Ottinger, how about comments her attorney has made?
ABRAMS: Want to get that?
OTTINGER: ... know who that is. Anyway, her lawyer said that the standard of proof in a criminal case is much higher than in a civil case and that‘s absolutely correct. I used to be a prosecutor in Los Angeles and I‘m a civil lawyer here in New York, and they‘re two entirely different cases. And just because a prosecutor doesn‘t choose to pursue a case, it doesn‘t really have any impact on the viability of the civil case. It‘s much easier to win a civil case. And if what this person is saying is true, if that really happened to her, she would have a civil case.
ABRAMS: What about him against her, though? If her lawyer has made comments, right, which basically say we‘re angry. We‘re upset. This is - you know we‘ve been mistreated if her family has made—I mean, can you go after, for example, her lawyer for...
FIEGER: Yes, absolutely, you can go after her lawyer, because it‘s not privileged. Only statements made within litigation are privileged. Statements made outside of court are not privileged.
ABRAMS: If that‘s the case, Geoffrey, you must have been sued by somebody.
FIEGER: Well, I have been, but of course it‘s the truth. You know I‘ve been sued, but it‘s—but when you speak the truth, you‘ve got a big shield in front of you.
ABRAMS: All right, let‘s talk about another issue, and that is about Cosby suing this other woman who came forward. I asked her if she expected to get sued when she was on this program on February the 10th. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Ms. Green, do you expect Bill Cosby to sue you?
TAMARA GREEN, SAYS BILL COSBY ASSAULTED HER: Well, I‘m sure he‘s going to be put in the position of saying if she‘s lying, why don‘t you sue her for defamation? I would suggest he proceed down that road very carefully.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: And Mr. Ottinger, you expect that she‘ll do that, proceed very carefully, right?
OTTINGER: I think she would proceed carefully and I don‘t think there‘s any reason for him to sue her. The best thing for him to do is, if this is really a case that has no merit to it, after it‘s over and he wins, he can bring a lawsuit against her for malicious prosecution if he wants to still the thing going...
FIEGER: No, no...
FIEGER: Green is the 30-year...
FIEGER: ... is the 30-year-old complaint. He‘s not going to sue her, Danny, independently because that would be her fondest dream. She‘d think, you know, she died and went to heaven, because she -- 30 years ago—she can bring everything in. She can depose Cosby and she‘s got nothing to collect anyway. He‘d be crazy to sue her.
ABRAMS: Here‘s what...
OTTINGER: I agree.
ABRAMS: ... Martin Singer, Bill Cosby‘s attorney, said on February the 9th.
Ms. Green is peddling a highly defamatory, that‘s a legal term, fictional story about something she claims occurred with Mr. Cosby three decades ago. Her claims are false, fabricated, and defamatory. Mr. Cosby denies her assertions.
FIEGER: That‘s right.
ABRAMS: You know, that sure sounds like...
FIEGER: That he doesn‘t want to do it because then he opens himself up for a deposition. See, she has nothing to lose. She‘s got—she‘s not insured, doubtfully, for defamation. What she claims happened 30 years ago, even though he might have a suit against her, he loses in that one because he gets—he may be able to sue her, but she gets to take his deposition and pry into things that he doesn‘t want pried into. So, when you‘re a star of that magnitude, you don‘t want to leave yourself open by filing a defamation suit, because they—the lawyers can do too much against you.
ABRAMS: Here‘s one of the reasons that the D.A. decided not to file and it was according to him, the fact that she took 11 months to report this. She reported it to Canadian authorities when she did report. Here‘s what the D.A., Bruce Castor, had to say about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CASTOR: The failure of a complainant to bring allegations of criminality to the attention of law enforcement in a timely fashion does tend to make—to suggest that the complainant did not think the conduct was as offensive as a person who immediately reports it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: And, again, we‘re talking here about the accuser in the case that was investigated by the authorities. And it sounds, Mr. Ottinger, like the D.A. took that into account. How important would that be in a civil case?
OTTINGER: It wouldn‘t have any bearing at all on the case. It‘s very common for a victim of sexual harassment to wait for a while to get over it and to heal emotionally before they want to step into the legal arena.
ABRAMS: What do you mean it wouldn‘t have any impact? Of course it would have an impact...
ABRAMS: You‘re saying it wouldn‘t matter at all that she waited 11 months?
OTTINGER: No because the statute of limitations...
ABRAMS: Yes, but that‘s the legal answer.
ABRAMS: I‘m asking you when it goes in front of a jury.
OTTINGER: She‘ll have a good answer. She‘ll say she was too upset and she wanted to get over it and then she focused on brining the legal action...
FIEGER: It would have—no, it will have the same effect deleterious and hurtful to her case as it would in the criminal case because the first question Cosby‘s lawyers say to her is why did you wait a year? A year, ma‘am, you waited a year. The man sexually molested you and it took a year?
ABRAMS: And then she had contact with him after that.
ABRAMS: We don‘t know how much contact, but it seems that, at least according to her attorney, they only met once, but regardless, they had contact afterwards, which is another factor.
OTTINGER: Some of the worst sexual harassment cases I‘ve ever seen have involved women...
ABRAMS: This is not sexual harassment, though...
OTTINGER: ... waiting a year or more.
ABRAMS: Wait. Wait. This is not sexual harassment. We‘re not talking about a sexual harassment lawsuit. We‘re talking about sexual abuse.
OTTINGER: Yes, sexual assault, sexual harassment, it‘s the same type of conduct. Somebody abusing somebody else sexually.
ABRAMS: Well it‘s not the same kind of conduct.
FIEGER: No, it‘s not...
ABRAMS: I mean there‘s big difference...
FIEGER: In real life, people using common sense, if you‘re raped, and that‘s essentially what she claimed she was, raped, believe that you should report that immediately if it happened. You certainly shouldn‘t wait a year, and you certainly shouldn‘t have contact with the rapist during that period...
ABRAMS: And we don‘t know that it was rape...
ABRAMS: I mean there‘s somewhere between...
ABRAMS: ... there‘s something between sexual harassment and rape.
FIEGER: Well wait a second...
FIEGER: This is sexual misconduct...
FIEGER: We call it criminal sexual conduct in various degrees here in Michigan...
FIEGER: ... but it‘s—she‘s alleging criminal sexual conduct.
OTTINGER: She‘s not alleging rape at all. If it was rape, that would be a completely different situation.
OTTINGER: This is just someone taking advantage of somebody while they‘re under the influence of some drug...
ABRAMS: Yes, all right...
ABRAMS: We shall see. Look...
ABRAMS: ... I don‘t know. The lawyer says she‘s going to move forward with this. We‘ll follow it if it does. I predict there will be no lawsuits as a result of this. I could be absolutely wrong on this, but I‘m going to predict that there will be no lawsuits that stem from this entire incident. We shall see. Robert Ottinger thanks a lot for joining us.
OTTINGER: Thank you.
ABRAMS: Geoffrey Fieger is going to stick around. Coming up, this man told police he molested a young boy, but they let him go. Now he‘s wanted for sexually assaulting five other people. What were the police thinking?
And Harvard‘s president taken to task for comments some say were sexist, now he comes clean about exactly what was said. Was it really that bad or is the P.C. police on the scene?
Plus, if you think Blockbuster‘s promise to get rid of late fees is too good to be true, turns out you may be right. Now one state is taking Blockbuster to court.
Your e-mails firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name and where you‘re writing from. I respond at the end of the show.
ABRAMS: Coming up, a convicted sex offender confesses to police he molested an 8-year-old. They let him go. Now he‘s wanted for five other assaults. Police are on a manhunt, coming up.
ABRAMS: A convicted serial rapist on the loose in Colorado, and get this, in November he confessed to police he molested a child but they let him go.
NBC‘s Michael Okwu has the story.
MICHAEL OKWU, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The FBI has joined an army of police in scouring the Denver area for Brent J. Brents, a 35-year-old sex offender. Brents was released from prison last summer. In the last week police say he‘s raped five people over a four-day period.
CHIEF GERRY WHITMAN, DENVER POLICE DEPARTMENT: We believe that he knows he‘s wanted, which makes him even more dangerous.
OKWU: Police surrounded and ran inside Denver‘s Saint Joseph‘s Hospital on Wednesday when someone said they saw Brents in the building. They came up empty after a floor-by-floor search.
(on camera): Crime lab technicians worked around the clock processing DNA evidence taken from crime scenes. Police say that evidence helped them identify Brents. Three of the victims were two young girls and their grandmother, raped by Brents after he allegedly broke into their home.
(voice-over): Residents in Denver and in neighboring Aurora are outraged that Brents was on the loose. Brents allegedly admitted to sexually assaulting an 8-year-old boy last November. But a warrant wasn‘t issued until January. The boy‘s mother, who was living with Brents at the time, reported the incident to the Aurora Police Department.
CHIEF RICKY BENNETT, AURORA, CO POLICE DEPT.: I don‘t know that.
It‘s a confession. Statements were made.
OKWU: Aurora‘s new D.A., Carol Chambers, says she will initiate new policies to prevent another case like this.
CAROL CHAMBERS, AURORA, CO DISTRICT ATTORNEY: We should be much more aggressive with getting those warrants issued and getting people in custody.
OKWU: Now the rush is on to capture Brents before another rape is reported.
Michael Okwu, NBC News, Los Angeles.
ABRAMS: How did this happen? When we come back—Denver‘s district attorney is here to give us the latest on the manhunt and help explain to us how this may have happened.
And if you want to work as a cocktail waitress at a popular Atlantic City casino, you better not having—plan on having that second piece of pie. If you gain too much weight, you‘re out of a job. Can they do that?
ABRAMS: We‘re back with a story that‘s making many people ask—how did that happen? In 1988, Brent J. Brents was sentenced to 20 years for raping two children. He was released last July after serving 16 years of his term. In November of last year, Brents apparently confessed to molesting another child to two Aurora, Colorado police officers. He was then sent home, not arrested. Convicted serial rapist is now a suspect in five more sexual assaults committed just last week, and he‘s on the loose. What happened?
Joining me now is the Denver District Attorney, Mitch Morrissey. Good to see you. Thanks for coming on the program. So give us a sense...
MITCH MORRISSEY, DENVER DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Good to see you Dan.
ABRAMS: ... of what happened here. I mean how do you explain this to people who come to you and say what happened?
MORRISSEY: Well, Dan, my involvement in this case has been since the offenses that have taken place in Denver. I don‘t know what happened before that time. All I know is that there were serious offenses in my jurisdiction. My office and the Denver Police Department started working on those 24 hours a day to do what we could to identify the person and try to get them into custody.
ABRAMS: Let me play this. This is number four here. This is from the Aurora police chief. And again, I think Mr. Morrissey is correct to point out the difference. We‘re talking about Aurora, one county, his county a separate one where there have been other offenses and that‘s why he‘s involved in this now. But here‘s the Aurora police chief talking about their handling of the case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENNETT: I‘m very comfortable with the way our detectives went about handling this case. They followed established protocols. They presented the information to the District Attorney‘s Office, asking for judicial review to determine if there was probable cause to arrest this individual. This is the way we handle all of our cases.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: That‘s not really, though, the sense in the community. I mean, look, you‘re a neighboring community. There‘s not a sense in the community that that‘s true, is it?
MORRISSEY: I didn‘t see the press release. I didn‘t see their news conference and I don‘t know their policies. So, I don‘t know what they do in regards to obtaining warrants, that type of thing. We do something different in Denver.
I‘ve been a Denver district attorney for the last 21 years, so I know what we do in Denver. I don‘t know what they do in Aurora, but I have worked with the Aurora Police Department, and I‘ve always found them to be one of the most outstanding and professional police departments in the state of Colorado.
ABRAMS: How would you do it differently in your jurisdiction?
MORRISSEY: Our jurisdiction is handled a little differently. And in fact, we‘ve been criticized recently for what we do. What we would do in a situation like this is arrest the individual and then we‘d have 72 hours where the detectives would present the case to us. We‘d make a determination if we had enough evidence to file the case or not. If we didn‘t, then the individual would be released, if we did, we‘d go ahead and file the case. A bond would be set and the case would go to court.
ABRAMS: How is it—I mean just to a layperson, when someone hears that there‘s a guy who said, you know, that the kid is not lying, I freaked out because I‘d done that and I was scared to death, explain to us even theoretically how the system can let someone go? I mean I guess the argument is, look, you‘ve got to build a case against the guy, but you still let him go?
MORRISSEY: Dan, I don‘t even know the nature of the alleged attack out there. Again, my focus has been since Friday of last week, to try to solve the cases that took place in my jurisdiction to do what I can to help the people in my jurisdiction. I don‘t know enough about that other case or the circumstances surrounding it to really give you any kind of a comment on it.
ABRAMS: Let me just put up the phone number because you know, that‘s the reason you‘re here is to get anyone to help out if they can help. So let‘s put up a picture. Let‘s put up his phone number. Let‘s put up the phone number. That‘s the guy that they‘re looking for -- 720-913-7867. And you hear Mr. Morrissey is saying that there have been other crimes that they believe—how confident are you that he was behind the crimes in your jurisdiction?
MORRISSEY: We have substantial evidence, certainly enough to file a case on him. We have a warrant out for him now that is a national warrant. We‘re doing everything to get him in custody and to tell people out there across the country that we need your help. That‘s why we‘re giving out this number. That‘s why there‘s a reward. We need information. If you have any, call us and give us that information. We‘re doing everything we can to get this man into custody and bring him to justice.
ABRAMS: Real quick. You know when—you‘re Denver D.A., but you were also a long time ago involved in the JonBenet Ramsey case—any news in that case? Anything to tell us about what‘s going on up there in Boulder? You were one of the D.A.s who was working on the case.
MORRISSEY: Well, Dan, just so you understand, I am, again, a Denver D.A. and was part of that team that did the grand jury on the Ramsey case. But I have not been involved in any of the investigations on that case or any updates on that case. I‘m not privy to any of that.
ABRAMS: All right. Fair enough.
MORRISSEY: So, I couldn‘t give you any more information than you probably already have.
ABRAMS: I had to ask you, though. You know...
MORRISSEY: Oh, I understand.
ABRAMS: I spent so much time covering that case and always Mitch Morrissey this, Michael Kane that. Michael Kane was on the show the other day as well. He was very good.
MORRISSEY: That‘s where we met.
ABRAMS: All right.
MORRISSEY: That‘s where you and I met.
ABRAMS: That‘s right. All right, Denver D.A. Mitch Morrissey, thanks a lot for coming on the program. And again if you have any information that can help authorities track down Brent Brents -- 720-913-7867. There he is.
Coming up—Harvard‘s president comes clean with a transcript of comments he made about why he thinks more women aren‘t involved in science. But now we‘ve got all the facts. Was it really that bad, or do the P.C. police have a new target?
And Michael Jackson‘s attorneys want to show jurors evidence of
another lawsuit his accuser‘s family members filed arguing their—quote -
· “perpetual plaintiffs”. Will the judge let it in?
Your e-mails email@example.com. Please include your name and where you‘re writing from. I respond at the end of the show.
ABRAMS: Harvard‘s president under fire for what some say were sexist remarks about why there are not more women in the sciences. Now his exact comments are out. The question: is this just another example of the P.C. Police in action? First the headlines.
ABRAMS: We‘re back. The question: Is it a case of the P.C. police run amok? Some official—unofficial remarks have got Harvard President, Lawrence Summers, in deep trouble with some of the school‘s faculty and many women around the country. At an academic conference Summers suggested three factors might explain why so few women get top academic positions in science and math.
In order of importance, Summers hypothesized that women with kids often don‘t want to work the 80-hour workweek required by those kinds of jobs. That their aptitude might be less than men for this particular type of study, which is the one that really got him in trouble. And that socialization and discrimination could be factors.
But he emphasized that more studies need to be conducted and that he could be wrong. Some professors walked out of that talk. Summers apologized shortly there after saying in part I did not say and do not believe that girls are intellectually less able than boys. I was wrong to have spoken in a way that has resulted in an unintended signal of discouragement to talented men and women.
And until now, we didn‘t know exactly what Summers had said because the conference was closed to the public. But Thursday, under pressure, Summers released the transcript of his remarks. One of the scientists who was at the conference doesn‘t seem satisfied.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. NANCY HOPKINS, MIT BIOLOGY PROFESSOR: That the president of this great university should say that in his opinion an explanation for why there are so few women at the top of any profession is aptitude differences between men and women, I was quite shocked.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: All right. Summers also has his defenders.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PROF. CLAUDIA GOLDIN, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: He was mainly trying to provoke thought. He never said that women cannot do math and science. He was trying to figure out why it is that there are fewer women who are mathematicians and scientists and engineers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: “My Take”—I agree there. I think Summers‘ critics are overreacting. He did not say that women are intellectually inferior to men. If he‘d suggested it, I‘d say OK, kick him out. What he did say was that he had some provocative thoughts that might help explain why there are so few women at the top levels of math and science studies. That‘s a fact.
In addition to socialization and the demands faced by women with children, Summers suggested that innate differences between women and men might be a factor. Now look, anyone denies there are innate differences between men and women in any way I think are fooling themselves. Do men and women‘s brains work differently? I don‘t know. All Larry Summers was suggesting that it might be worth studying.
Martha Zoller is a conservative radio talk-show host. She supports Larry Summers. And Flavia Colgan is an MSNBC analyst, Democratic consultant and Harvard alumnus. She‘s not so happy with what Larry Summers had to say. All right, let me put up number five here, Flavia, and I want to go to you with this because I want to know if you‘re going to disagree with the quote that we learned that Summers said at this event.
It does appear that on many, many different human attributes, height, weight, propensity for criminality, overall I.Q., mathematical ability, scientific ability, there is relatively clear evidence that whatever the difference in means, which can be debated, there is a difference in the standard deviation and variability of a male and female population. Disagree?
FLAVIA COLGAN, MSNBC ANALYST: Well, I think that‘s a pretty general comment. But the issue that I have is with the aptitude one, and with all due respect, let me say I‘m not really upset or concerned about what elite academics think and why or what they think and now they‘re upset about it. What I‘m upset about is I have a 14-year-old sister who is going to Harvard, for instance, next week for model Congress. Like me, she‘s the daughter of an immigrant mother who never went to college and Harvard is the American dream. And for her to hear the president of that university say to her and communicate to her that somehow she doesn‘t have what it takes maybe as much as a man...
ABRAMS: Where did you get that from...
COLGAN: ... in science and math is just wrong.
ABRAMS: Where did—where are you getting that from? Where are you getting...
COLGAN: All the...
ABRAMS: ... that he‘s telling...
COLGAN: All the...
ABRAMS: ... your 14-year-old sister that she‘s not up to it?
COLGAN: Well, all the gobblygook that you just presented, the way it came out to the public and the way it‘s perceived by a lot of people...
ABRAMS: Yes, maybe that‘s wrong...
COLGAN: ... is that they don‘t have the same...
ABRAMS: That‘s why we‘re doing this segment...
COLGAN: They don‘t have the same aptitude...
ABRAMS: ... is because we finally got the words as opposed to just what the reports were and so now it‘s time to determine is this just the P.C. police.
COLGAN: But listen, Larry Summers is not just some person standing on a corner. He has an obligation to really be more careful with his words. The man suffers from foot-and-mouth disease...
ABRAMS: Well that‘s true. That may be true...
COLGAN: This is not the first time. And, no, do I think it‘s a little bit of an overreaction, absolutely? Fourteen hundred people dead in Iraq is far more important than what someone said or didn‘t say about women in science. Yes, I think there‘s an overreaction, but we‘re talking about the future leaders of our country. We‘re talking about young people...
COLGAN: ... and when you‘re the head of an institution that is the flagship around the world, I think that you should be a little bit more diplomatic and take a little more pause before you start saying things that are not backed up in any way by scientific evidence.
ABRAMS: Ms. Zoller, go ahead.
MARTHA ZOLLER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well I‘ve got to tell you that, first of all, he did take a lot of pause in how he said it. He was not saying women couldn‘t do it. He said there were differences in studies. And there are many studies that show those differences. And it doesn‘t mean that there aren‘t women out there that are good at math and science.
It doesn‘t mean that there aren‘t men out there that are good in English because it says that men are not as good many times, slightly lower in English scores. You know, I have a 13-year-old daughter. You know, certainly, she‘s not going to believe what somebody she doesn‘t even know is going to say and she wants to go to Harvard someday too. That is what she aspires to...
ABRAMS: But you would agree, right...
ABRAMS: ... you would agree if the president of Harvard had come out and said, you know, what Flavia said, which is effectively that girls aren‘t up to it, you‘d want him...
ZOLLER: He didn‘t...
ABRAMS: Right, he didn‘t say that. But I‘m saying...
ZOLLER: He didn‘t say that.
ABRAMS: ... if he said that, you‘d say get rid of him.
ZOLLER: Well I would say I would like to know why you said that...
ABRAMS: Well, I‘d say...
ZOLLER: ... but it was in a private...
ABRAMS: ... I‘d say get rid of him.
ZOLLER: Well, but it was in a academic setting. You can‘t...
ABRAMS: Still, you...
ZOLLER: ... have open discussion...
ABRAMS: ... no, no, wait. You can‘t just say anything‘s fair game if you‘re the president of Harvard and you‘re in an academic...
ZOLLER: I‘m not saying anything is fair game...
ABRAMS: All right...
ZOLLER: ... but if you‘re saying we need to study it more or we—or I don‘t think women are doing as well in these courses, then we need to look more at it. That‘s not throw him out...
ABRAMS: What do you make of this...
ZOLLER: ... Now if he said flat—and said women can‘t do it, that‘s a different story.
ABRAMS: What do you make of this? And this is one of the quotes—this is I think the quote that‘s really gotten most people upset.
ABRAMS: In the special case of science and engineering, there are issues of intrinsic aptitude and particularly the variability...
ABRAMS: ... of aptitude.
ZOLLER: Well, aptitude, you know, that means a lot of different things. It doesn‘t mean that there are women that can‘t do this. But, yes, women are not as involved in that. And, you know, let me just address the first thing he said just real quickly. There are choices that women make about rearing children. As far as we have come, people...
ABRAMS: But he‘s not getting heat for that. He‘s not getting heat for that statement.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
ZOLLER: But he is going...
ABRAMS: He‘s not. He‘s not...
ZOLLER: ... to get some heat about that.
ABRAMS: He‘s not getting heat for that. He‘s not getting heat for the comment about women making a choice to stay home...
ZOLLER: There are studies that show there are slight differences in aptitude for men on the English side and literature side and for women on the math and science side and he said we need to look at it more. I think that‘s a fair statement.
ABRAMS: Flavia, why not study it more? I mean why is that so—such a horrible thing that he‘s saying?
COLGAN: I think we should study it more. But forgive me, Dan, for having a high bar for a brilliant man. To those who much is given, much is expected. He should watch his words more carefully and this is like the bell curve. I mean he did say that there was a difference in aptitude. I think there should be studies, but I think that he should put his money where his mouth is and he should be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.
Since his tenure at Harvard, women professors in science and math have gone down. We need more people recruiting and having—I mean look, my sister is going to a model Congress next week. Why aren‘t there model things for science and technology to get women more excited about it?
COLGAN: Listen, there are cultural constructs and we tell our women and our girls very often that math and science is not what they‘re into...
ZOLLER: Well but I think...
COLGAN: ... and we do it subliminally...
ZOLLER: ... the other part of it...
COLGAN: ... and we do it explicitly. And I think it‘s shameful and I‘m glad that he came out and apologized. It‘s what he should have done. I think that we should all move on from it from now and try to use it...
COLGAN: ... as Martha said as a jumping-off board for discussion.
ABRAMS: But wait. This is important, though, because what I fear has happened is that everyone drew conclusions about what he said and people overstated vastly what it is he said. They didn‘t put it into the context of how he was basically saying look, I could be wrong, I‘m throwing this out there to be provocative, et cetera and...
ZOLLER: And why didn‘t they have the discussion in the room? That was the purpose. Why did the people run out to tell the press that he had said these things...
ZOLLER: ... instead of challenging him there?
COLGAN: But Dan...
ZOLLER: Why would they walk out and not take him on? But why would they walk out and not take him on?
COLGAN: Martha, I agree with that, and that‘s why I started off the program saying I‘m not really concerned about what these professors...
COLGAN: ... thought and how it impacted them.
COLGAN: But let me say this, as a Harvard graduate who follows this more carefully, think one of the reasons...
ABRAMS: I don‘t want to discuss the Harvard...
COLGAN: ... people reacted is because this is part of an overall...
ABRAMS: Right, I know...
COLGAN: ... because it‘s part of an overall pattern.
ABRAMS: ... but I don‘t want to discuss the future of Harvard.
COLGAN: Larry Summers changed Cornel West...
ABRAMS: All right. That‘s—OK...
COLGAN: ... out of the institution...
ABRAMS: I don‘t want to get into all...
ABRAMS: I know. I know. I know...
COLGAN: ... he made remarks about that.
ABRAMS: I know and they‘re going to have a no-confidence vote on Tuesday and I don‘t want to get into—you know, the public at large is not that interested in whether he survives at Harvard based on other things that have happened in the past.
ABRAMS: I want to know whether this is an example of the P.C. police.
And here‘s one of the things that I don‘t think is being...
ABRAMS: What do you think of this statement Ms. Zoller? To take a set of diverse examples, Catholics are substantially under represented in investment banking, which is an enormously high-paying profession in our society. White men are very substantially under represented in the National Basketball Association, and Jews are very—substantially under represented in farming and agriculture.
I mean, the argument that the other side would make on that is that those don‘t relate to mental issues.
ZOLLER: Well, I think the fact of the matter is the biggest influence on children are their immediate family. You know, you‘re seeing—so that if you have families that are in certain kinds of businesses, then you tend to have their offspring in those kind of businesses, not that some people don‘t branch out...
ZOLLER: ... but you saw in my opponent on the other side. She went to Harvard, her sister‘s thinking about going to Harvard, it sort of works that way.
ABRAMS: All right. I got to wrap it up. Flavia Colgan and Martha, Zoller thanks a lot.
ZOLLER: Thank you. Thank you.
ABRAMS: Coming up, he‘s the victim in the Michael Jackson child molestation case motivated by money. That‘s what Jackson‘s lawyers want the jury to hear, coming up.
ABRAMS: Back with our “Just One Minute” segment where I lay out today‘s other legal stories. My guest has a minute to discus each issue with me. Back with us, famed attorney Geoffrey Fieger.
All right, Michael Jackson‘s attorneys want to use evidence in his child molestation case showing that the accuser‘s family members are—quote—“perpetual plaintiffs”. The family got nearly $150,000 in a settlement with J.C. Penney and Tower Records after claiming they were beaten up by security guards for the two stores.
Defense attorneys argued that the lawsuit demonstrate a—quote—
“history of making false allegations because after filing the lawsuit, the accuser‘s mother changed it to say she was sexually assaulted during the incident.” So question, is the judge going to admit this in Michael Jackson‘s trial?
FIEGER: Yep, he is...
FIEGER: Because I think this probably, Danny, only one of the only defenses Michael Jackson is going to be able to legitimately use, that these people are professional litigators and that they have made these accusations before. And I think it could be relevant. It‘s certainly relevant to credibility, don‘t you think?
ABRAMS: I think so to...
ABRAMS: ... you know what the argument is going to be on the other side.
ABRAMS: They‘re going to say look, what, so anytime someone settles a lawsuit in any other context that‘s going to come in when they have accused someone of a crime?
FIEGER: No, the issue won‘t be, Danny, the lawsuit itself, the bringing of the lawsuit. It will be the allegations within the lawsuit and specifically the allegations relating to sexual misconduct. That would be relevant in terms of the issues of credibility. The lawsuit itself I don‘t think will be that relevant.
ABRAMS: How about...
FIEGER: The judge may give a...
ABRAMS: How about the fact that it‘s the boy making the allegation here, though. Difference?
FIEGER: Yes, but there‘s going to be an allegation in the Jackson suit that the boy is being manipulated by his mother. So, I think that‘s going to be vitally important to Jackson‘s defense. I‘ll bet you apples to oranges the judge lets it in.
ABRAMS: I think he‘s going to let it in too. On Monday, cocktail waitresses at the Borgata Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City will be weighed in. Those who have gained more than seven percent of their body weight since being hired will lose their jobs unless they lose the weight. The waitresses union and women‘s groups are up in arms. The hotel spokesman says you know, we‘re just looking out for our customers. Quote—“They like being served by an attractive server.” Question—can the Borgata do it?
FIEGER: Well, they can‘t hire us as Borgata girls, can they, Danny?
We lack the mammary qualifications for that job. But they can do it...
ABRAMS: Really? I think the argument on the other side is going to be the bartenders don‘t get weighed in, the other people working there don‘t get weighed in.
FIEGER: Actually, they do. The bartenders—there are 50 men that are going to get weighed in too. But they are getting around any possible actions on discrimination by saying that these really are entertainers and they have to fit a certain criteria for their entertainment qualities. Just like when you go to Hooters, you don‘t see to many of the Hooters‘ waitresses as guys or very large women. I think they can get away with it.
ABRAMS: Blockbuster—switch topics—Blockbuster could be in trouble. New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey has filed a lawsuit against Blockbuster, accusing the movie rental company of deceiving people with its new no more late fees policy. Harvey says Blockbuster omitted key terms of the policy in its advertising and promoting its no more late fees policy.
Blockbuster failed to mention that if a customer doesn‘t return the movie or video game in eight days, he or she automatically will be charged the entire cost of the item. That‘s one heck of a late fee.
FIEGER: It is.
ABRAMS: By leaving out this detail, is Blockbuster in trouble with the law?
FIEGER: They sure are. They roll out that commercial, no more late fees, trumpeting it, heralding it, except in the small print says if you keep it more than a week, it‘s not only a late fee but you bought it. And if you want to return it later, after they made you buy it, they still are going to charge you $1.25. I think the attorney general‘s got a good suit. It is deceiving. They don‘t explain it, and they haven‘t removed late fees, Danny.
ABRAMS: What is the law with regard to false advertising? I mean what are they allowed to do, not allowed to do? I mean...
FIEGER: Well they can‘t deceive. Most states have separate rules and regulations regarding consumers‘ rights, Consumer Protection Act. There‘s no universal standard. But it‘s generally relating to deceit and being deceitful and misleading the public.
ABRAMS: Why isn‘t this though—why aren‘t they right, though, in the sense that a late fee is generally perceived as you keep it more than two days, you keep it more than three days, you‘re going to have to pay extra fees? They‘re saying look, if you want to keep it a week, it‘s yours.
FIEGER: It‘s still a late fee. Some places allow you to keep a book a week or two weeks without a late fee. This is a late fee. It‘s a disguised late fee. They should say we won‘t charge you for a week but after that, we‘re charging you more than we ever charged you before.
ABRAMS: Geoffrey Fieger, good to see you. Thanks for coming on.
FIEGER: Thanks Danny.
ABRAMS: Coming up, it‘s good to know that humans aren‘t the only species where men get lured in by the scent of a woman—cockroaches. It‘s my “Closing Argument”.
ABRAMS: Why men and cockroaches have a lot in common. It‘s my “Closing Argument”.
ABRAMS: The “Scent of a Woman” brought an Oscar to Al Pacino, but thanks to the groundbreaking work of a female scientist at Cornell University, the scent of a female, a female cockroach, may mean death to billions of the pesky species lurking behind sinks and under stoves and homes around the world. By identifying and isolating the mating scent of the female cockroach, the male bugs may now quite literally be lured to their deaths.
That scent of woman calling them irresistibly to a final tango of death in the bowels of a motel designed especially for roaches. It got me thinking. Even male cockroaches known for their fierce resistance to poisons and pesticides, can‘t avoid the ultimate trap. The most basic instinct of all. Like Paris of Troy falling for Helen, thousands of deaths later, Paris was history and so was Troy.
Romeo following Juliet into a suicide pact and Samson falling for the evil Delilah and giving up his life, even if he took some Philistines with him. It seems males, be they roaches or just roach-like, can‘t avoid allowing their antennas to lead them to their doom. Bill Clinton nearly suffered a political death at the hands of well more than one woman, Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, Monica Lewinsky.
Gary Hart, once a promising candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, not after pictures of Hart frolicking with Donna Rice popped up. And Hugh Grant, a British star, couldn‘t say no to the allure of streetwalker Divine Brown, and went from being the innocent sweetheart of the film industry to this. The examples go on and on. And so while I‘m pleased that exterminators and urban dwellers have reason to celebrate, it‘s hardly a scientific break-through to learn that when a female‘s pheromones perfume the air, even the ever-resilient cockroach is incapable of refusing such a sensory invitation.
Coming up in 60 seconds, making a stink about a smelly fourth grader.
It‘s tonight‘s “OH PLEAs!”.
ABRAMS: I‘ve had my say, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”. Last night we told about a Marine who refused to get in the swimming pool for a training exercise at boot camp and mysteriously died just a day after cameras caught the Marine and his drill instructor in a tense conversation. I spoke with the reporter who broke the story. She said the Marine died during a 25-meter swim qualification.
Many of you concerned, including Laura Byington, who is a Red Cross and EMT certified. “How someone dies in a 25-yard or even meter swim is to me unfathomable. Most lifeguards on guarding pools crowded with civilians playing, not swimming in a predictable pattern.”
Anthony Cole has a comment about the drill instructor or D.I. “Letting a recruit drown during training is totally unacceptable. The actions taken by the drill instructor seen on that video that was taped the day before were not excessive. Investigate the drowning, but let‘s not scapegoat the D.I.”
Former Marine Bob Thomas from New Smyrna Beach, Florida. “I was a Marine in the early ‘50‘s and that is nothing. If what we see on that video is bad, then many of us suffered severe torture during our training.”
An update to that story—today the drill instructor you saw in that video was suspended pending a Marine Corps investigation. The investigation will determine whether the drill instructor should face criminal charges or possibly disciplinary action.
And in my “Closing Argument” yesterday, I asked if the National Hockey League really had to call it quits and end the season. The big issue, salary caps. The negotiation finally came down to just a $6.5 million difference between the two sides in a multi-billion dollar business. But the deadline came and went with both sides refusing to call the other. I said negotiators for both sides here failed the fans.
From Canada, David Halkett, “I only went to law school in Canada, but even I know that if you‘re 6.5 million apart at the last minute, you split the difference and imagine that you have a deal.”
Finally John Havens. “As a diehard fan, I am left speechless at reading the transcripts of both camps remarks following the cancellation of the season. Each side is acting like a child and I have to suffer.”
“OH PLEAs!”—the stinky kid in the class fights back. March 2003, fourth grade Ohio boy arrives to class with more funk than George Clinton. Well apparently just smelled kind of funky. The teacher (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Stacko decided to be proactive and clear the air, so to speak.
According to the boy‘s parents, the boy was forced to spray himself with Lysol in front of the class. The student freshly perfumed with summer breeze was apparently incensed and the parents raised a stink. Nearly two years later decided to school the school district for 50,000 in damages, saying public humiliation and harassment by classmates. The attorney for the fourth grader says the boy still suffers from emotional distress.
Emotional distress at $50,000, gees, if that‘s the going rate, then I might be worth the millions what I had to go through. The boy should be thankful he got the hint before he started dating.
Got to go. See you tomorrow or next week. Next week. Have a great weekend...
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