Guest: Geoffrey Fieger, Jim Thomas, Susan Filan, Dolores Troiani, Mercedes Colwin
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Coming up, the accuser in the Michael Jackson case takes the stand.
ABRAMS (voice-over): The now 15-year-old cancer survivor tells jurors exactly what he says happened at the Neverland Ranch—this after his brother and sister get grilled by Jackson‘s attorney.
And another ABRAMS REPORT exclusive—the woman accusing Bill Cosby of drugging and molesting her now suing him in civil court for assault, emotional distress and defamation. We have the exclusive with her lawyer.
The program about justice starts now.
ABRAMS: Hi everyone. It‘s the moment we‘ve all been waiting for. Michael Jackson‘s accuser takes the witness stand. It is the first time Jackson and the boy have been face-to-face since the boy left Neverland in March of 2003. Some say the boy appeared to sneer when asked if he recognized the man sitting across from him, Michael Jackson.
NBC‘s Mike Taibbi was in the courtroom, joins us now with the latest on the boy‘s testimony. So Mike, what did he say?
MIKE TAIBBI, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well first of all, I don‘t say that he sneered, Dan. I was watching him very carefully, as was every pair of eyes in that courtroom. He walked in. He‘s nervous. He‘s tall, lean, still young, 15 years old. And when he was asked that question and he said yes, I think he had the first of several nervous smiles, nervous laughs of the day. I don‘t think it was that kind of a look at all, but some people did see it that way.
Now what he had to say to this point is just kind of setting up what will be the story that we‘ve all gotten to know in pretty close detail at this point. He will claim obviously that Michael Jackson provided him with alcohol. He will claim, and as he said in his grand jury testimony, that he was inappropriately touched by Michael Jackson on two occasions, and he will describe—he will talk about the allegation that his family felt imprisoned, not free to leave Neverland at a point after the showing of the Martin Bashir documentary.
I think that we‘re going to learn much more about the specifics of his direct testimony and we‘ll obviously see how he‘s going to be challenged, not necessarily tomorrow, maybe next Monday, Tuesday by Tom Mesereau. More important thing today—more important developments really involve the younger brother who finished his testimony and his cross-examination this morning. He was on the stand and withstood a withering cross-examination by Tom Mesereau, a couple inconsistencies to which he admitted.
In other words, at one point Mesereau said you said that you felt you weren‘t free to go and that you were threatened, how were you threatened? He said he was threatened by saying that—he was told that by an alleged co-conspirator that they could make his grandparents disappear. Mesereau pointed out that in a previous statement he‘d said that he and his brother and his grandparents and his sister and his mother could all be killed. The boy was forced to say well I guess I said something different then.
And then there was the question of the third alleged assault. If you want to go into that, we can go into that...
ABRAMS: Yes, let‘s talk about that in a minute.
ABRAMS: I want to stay on the key issue that happened just now, only moments ago and that is that the actual accuser in this case, the boy who Michael Jackson allegedly abused, is now on the witness stand. You know, Mike, before I go into sort of some of the substance, though, was it kind of—what did it feel like? I mean you have this boy who is sitting only yards away from the guy who allegedly molested him, the guy who allegedly changed his life forever. Was there—you know what did it feel like in that courtroom to have them sitting so close?
TAIBBI: Well, everybody was sitting on the edge of their seats obviously, Dan, but this was also a courtroom where everybody has seen this boy on video many times, where Jackson has had his reactions to prior testimony, which he felt was not credible. He‘d shake his head a couple of times. He‘d huddle for quick discussions with his attorney, Tom Mesereau, that sort of thing. So I don‘t think that it was as electric as it might have been. We‘ll see what happens when he comes out with sort of the money statements we know he‘s going to make under direct examination whether there‘s any reaction then, but here certainly was the boy and I think everybody in their mind was saying what did happen between the two of them?
ABRAMS: All right. “My Take”—look, I have said that I think this is a case in trouble for prosecutors. This boy is the only hope for them to win this case. He‘s going to have to come across as credible, as authentic as someone that these jurors believe.
Joining me now criminal defense attorney Geoffrey Fieger, prosecutor with the Connecticut State Attorney‘s Office Susan Filan, and MSNBC analyst, former Santa Barbara County Sheriff, Jim Thomas. Mike Taibbi is going to stick around with us as well.
All right. Geoffrey, based on what you‘ve read, you‘ve read all the transcripts in this case, as have I, based on what you‘ve seen, you know, do you think that this is a boy that‘s going to make or break the case?
GEOFFREY FIEGER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: No, and I think your analysis, although you and I agree a lot, Danny and you know I got a lot of respect for you, is off the wall...
FIEGER: ... in terms of the difficulty you see from the prosecutor. First of all, there‘s too much opportunity for Michael Jackson. This has been a case presented—I think in probably the correct fashion by Sneddon. He‘s doing it right. He‘s bringing the witnesses real quickly. He‘s not delaying, making it, you know, interminably long like the Peterson case. We‘ve established that there‘s plenty of opportunity for Jackson to have engaged in this activity.
Jackson himself out of his own mouth says he sleeps with boys. We know how he looks and you‘ve never also brought up what I think is an essential element to this case and that is the race card is being played but is being played in a different way. The victims are Hispanic. You‘re trying to discredit a Hispanic family with four Hispanics on the jury. And if there is another witness who comes on the stand and testifies, Michael Jackson can forget about it, Danny. Your analysis isn‘t correct.
ABRAMS: No, Geoffrey, how about this, all right? Listen to this and listen to it carefully, Geoffrey, because I‘m going to read it slowly. All right. All right, here we go. This is from the grand jury.
The prosecutor asked the accuser—this is it—this is the heart of the case. All right. You told us about two occasions now—where he says he was molested - a night and then the next night that Mr. Jackson masturbated you, correct?
Prosecutor: Did he do it again?
A second, I think so.
Prosecutor: How many times do you think that happened like that?
Accuser: Probably about five times.
Then the other three times?
It feels like, if I‘m trying to remember back to kindergarten, it kind of feels like dreamlike.
Jim Thomas, that is the accuser‘s testimony in this case that he was molested twice. I‘m not saying he‘s not telling the truth. I‘m talking about this from a legal point of view, jurors evaluating the evidence in this case. This is a kid who says yes, I was molested twice, you know, yes, I think I might have been molested another three times but you know I‘m just not really sure about it.
JIM THOMAS, MSNBC ANALYST: You know, I‘ve taken reports of a lot of rape cases over my 34 years in law enforcement and run into the same thing. This particular case, the issue also will be the alcohol. And I think the implication will be that during the three times that he may not remember, he may have been under the influence to the point that he can‘t remember...
ABRAMS: ... my problem, Jim.
ABRAMS: It sounds like he‘s trying to say the right thing, meaning he knows his brother is going to come out and say, yes, I saw my brother passed out on the bed and Michael Jackson molesting him.
THOMAS: No, Dan, that‘s not the three. Those are two other ones and I think you‘ll find that there‘s three in addition to the two that his brother saw and the two that he will testify...
ABRAMS: But three that they didn‘t charge him with, right, because it was a dreamlike state...
THOMAS: Well I think it‘s actually...
ABRAMS: ... as opposed to conscious.
THOMAS: ... I think it‘s actually four. I think there‘s another rubbing incident they may not have charged. But they‘re charging on the two that he‘ll testify to, the two that his brother says that he saw from the stairwell, and I think one attempt will also...
ABRAMS: Look I‘ve intentionally stacked this panel with people who tend to be pro-prosecution, because I do view this as a case in jeopardy. Susan Filan, again, you have—we‘ll get to the boy‘s the other family members‘ testimony and Michael will talk to us a little bit more about some inconsistencies with the brother‘s testimony and the girl, and again, don‘t get me wrong, I‘m not saying everyone is lying necessarily. I‘m saying that when it comes to a jury having to take away someone‘s freedom, proof beyond a reasonable doubt, you‘re going to tell me that a boy is going to take the witness stand and says that three times he thinks he might have been molested but he was in some sort of dream-like state is going to be enough with the family members‘ testimony as well that‘s had some contradictions to convict Michael Jackson.
ABRAMS: Hang on. Susan. Hang on. Hang on.
SUSAN FILAN, CONNECTICUT PROSECUTOR: Dan, I do. You‘ve got to remember that you‘re talking about the testimony and the recollection of a child...
ABRAMS: But wait, you either have to...
ABRAMS: Wait. Wait. Wait. Everyone keeps saying that...
ABRAMS: Wait, Susan, I‘ve got—I‘m sorry to interrupt, but everyone keeps saying that. Oh, it‘s the recollection of a child. Well you know what? Either the recollection of that child is going to convict Michael Jackson or it‘s not.
ABRAMS: He‘s still a child either way.
ABRAMS: Let me let Susan respond Geoffrey.
FILAN: But I think—what I think is missing in all of the analysis is that there‘s going to be some connection between the jury and the witness, some level of understanding that memory is definitely hazy at time, and it‘s really hard for kids to talk about sex. He‘s not going to have the language. He‘s not going to have the memory. He‘s not going to have any context that an adult would have...
ABRAMS: Except that this is a kid whose family has accused previously J.C. Penney, for example, of sexual abuse...
ABRAMS: ... right, the mother made the accusation. Go ahead Geoffrey...
FIEGER: Let me just tell you, I‘ve defended these cases. I‘ve won every case in which a child has accused an adult of acting improperly sexually. And the common thread in all the cases is there‘s no evidence, zero evidence...
FIEGER: ... except the child‘s claim...
FIEGER: ... very often made much later...
ABRAMS: I accept that.
FIEGER: In this case, there‘s a myriad of corroborative evidence in terms of the pornographic magazines, in terms of the alcohol and the way he conducts himself with alcohol, in terms of the other people who allegedly saw him including the brother and the key to this case, Danny, you might be right, is the possibility of the similar acts testimony. If that, for instance...
ABRAMS: All right.
FIEGER: ... 1993 victim gets on the stand and says when I was 14 or 10, he did the same thing to me, he can kiss it goodbye.
ABRAMS: That—I—look, I have long said that the ‘93 case really could change the fate of this case because I think the evidence there was stronger. Jim Thomas investigated that case. Very quickly, Jim, was the evidence pretty strong there in ‘93?
THOMAS: Yes it was. We‘re going to have one if not two actually testify to the fact that they were molested. In addition, you‘re going to have witnesses who will testify to the fact that they saw Michael Jackson inappropriately touch other children. The issue being is this case strong enough to bring in the ‘93 case?
THOMAS: The fact that Tom Mesereau did not move the brother off of those main charges that he made and I believe that this boy will be able to stick with I think will ensure ‘93 to come in.
ABRAMS: Look, I think ‘93 will come in, but the notion, again, that he didn‘t move the boy off, I think that some people in the prosecution camp are sort of phrasing this as if someone thought that the kid was going to suddenly break down and start crying and say no, no, no, it didn‘t happen. Yes, he‘s telling the same story. The question is, is he credible or not?
All right, we‘re going to continue. This is a big day in the Michael Jackson case. The accuser is on the witness stand. His brother has taken the stand. His sister has taken the stand. We‘re going to continue talking about it.
Plus, the woman accusing Bill Cosby of abuse now files a civil case against him. We‘ll talk exclusively with her attorney.
Your e-mails email@example.com. Please include your name and where you‘re writing from. I respond at the end of the show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: E! Entertainment is doing daily reenactments of the Michael Jackson trial and now so is Nickelodeon Jay...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Take a look.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Order. Order.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you ready Mr. Jackson?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes Your Honor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Coming up, more of the accuser in the Michael Jackson case on the witness stand. We are live at the courthouse coming up.
ABRAMS: We‘re back. Michael Jackson, trial day eight—in addition to being dominated by some cross-examination of the accuser‘s brother, the accuser himself was on the witness stand today. Mike Taibbi is at the courthouse.
Mike, before I ask you about the brother, real quick, how long are we expecting the accuser to be on the stand?
TAIBBI: Well I think he‘s going to take most of tomorrow, which is the last court day this week, Dan, for the direct examination by Mr. Sneddon. Sneddon is going to have to walk him through the entire incident and then get very specific on the two alleged incidents of molestation to which this boy is going to testify.
ABRAMS: And the cross-examination will probably happen next week, all right. So Mike, in terms of the...
ABRAMS: ... brother‘s testimony, key testimony. He‘s the witness to...
ABRAMS: ... at least a couple of the counts here. What do you think the most important—quote—“contradictions”—you heard Jim Thomas a minute ago basically say that he believes this boy escaped relatively unscathed in terms of the heart of his testimony.
TAIBBI: Yes, I disagree with Jim on that. You made the point before, Dan, there was not going to be a Perry Mason moment like OK, I lied, I made it up. That‘s not going to happen. This is the sole corroborating witness and he‘s going to say at the end, as Mr. Sneddon had him say (UNINTELLIGIBLE) did you tell the truth? Yes, I did. Did you see what you said you saw? Yes I did. And that‘s how Mr. Sneddon finished his redirect, but here are a couple of discrepancies and contradictions.
Number one: The boy told different stories in different forms about the allegedly $75,000 watch that Michael Jackson supposedly gave his brother where he gave it to him on the plane or at Neverland. He said in answer to the question about did you ever see Michael Jackson give your sister liquor. He said yes, one time. He gave her vodka in the kitchen. Well the jury knows because they heard it three days ago the sister said that, yes, Michael Jackson gave her liquor one time. He poured her a glass of wine in the wine cellar. Not a huge point, but it‘s there.
I think the big thing that‘s going to happen is that Mr. Mesereau will set him up as—to be impeached later on with other witnesses and evidence. How many times did he ask him about the alarm system? How many times did he say were you and your brother ever drinking, caught drinking alone, caught doing other things? And it‘s interesting that he finished his cross-examination by saying and you and your mother never asked Jay Leno for money and the boy said no. And Mr. Mesereau said I‘m finished with this witness.
ABRAMS: And another key element that they‘re going to get, the boy and his brother on in a contradiction is did they have access to Michael Jackson‘s bedroom when Michael Jackson wasn‘t there. One of them saying...
ABRAMS: ... yes, we used to go there. The other one saying, no, no, the accuser saying, no, we would never go there. So I think that...
ABRAMS: ... I think that is going to be another key one. All right, let me go back to the panel. I want to read this. This is from the cross-examination of the brother.
Do you recall telling Santa Barbara sheriffs you caught Mr. Jackson inappropriately touching your brother on two occasions?
Brother: Actually, it was three times. I was nervous when I did the interview.
So because you‘re nervous, you didn‘t get the facts right?
ABRAMS: Geoffrey, it doesn‘t trouble you and again, I‘m not asking you to determine whether they‘re telling the truth or not, but from a jury‘s point of view, the fact that you have got the accuser uncertain about how many times he was abused, saying it might have been five, it might have been two, I was in a dream-like state. The brother saying it was two, wait a second, it was actually three. This is abuse. We‘re talking about molesting—either getting molested or watching molestation and they don‘t remember?
FIEGER: You have to understand this bigger picture and let me communicate this to you. Jurors see everything through their own perspective and their own biases and prejudices. Now, lawyers think that every time you catch somebody in an inconsistency...
ABRAMS: These are big, though, Geoffrey...
ABRAMS: These are not little things...
FIEGER: ... excuse me, they may be big to you and they may be little to somebody else...
ABRAMS: Well it‘s little how many times the boys were molested, that‘s not a big issue?
FIEGER: Listen. Listen. If you‘re 11 years old, you don‘t know that much. And that‘s when—how old he was allegedly when this occurred. The brother was 11, 12 years old. But more to the point, if the jury overall, if individuals on the jury overall believe that he is telling the truth and that Mesereau is playing lawyer and trying to catch him up, because I‘ll tell you, a good lawyer with an adult can trip up anybody. I can trip up anybody, let alone with a kid. If a jury is sitting back there says you know overall, I believe him...
FIEGER: ... he may not have everything right, he may not remember everything, that‘s bad, it doesn‘t necessarily absolutely work.
ABRAMS: That‘s true and look, if they believe this boy on the whole, Geoffrey is absolutely right...
ABRAMS: ... and again—Jim, very quickly, Jim, then I‘ve got to take a break. Go ahead.
THOMAS: OK. This particular issue is cleared up during redirect by the D.A. The boy actually testified to three events. The two he saw through the stairwell and another one that was a rubbing event. He testified to that to the sheriff‘s, it‘s in the report. He also testified that to the grand jury. So that‘s already documented, those three. So there is not the inconsistency that everybody thought there was yesterday.
ABRAMS: All right. We‘re going to take a quick break. Everyone is going to stick around. Mike Taibbi thanks a lot. Appreciate it.
Also, coming up later, in addition to more coverage of this big stuff in Jackson, our exclusive interview, the attorney for the woman who says Bill Cosby drugged her and assaulted her, the D.A. wouldn‘t press charges so the question that some have asked is, is she just out for money? Her attorney says no way. We‘re going to ask (UNINTELLIGIBLE) tough questions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Believing that children are the true example of God‘s beauty, innocence and purity, Michael has devoted as much of his life to helping the world‘s children. He has donated millions of dollars to healing children with disease, helping children with Aids, and traveling the world to emphasize the importance and welfare of our children. Michael Jackson would never harm a child.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: I don‘t know if the Mother Teresa business is really going to help Michael Jackson. I think they basically got to go for, you know, they didn‘t prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, but that‘s just a press conference, not in court, that happened months ago.
All right, Susan Filan, the accuser is on the witness stand. He‘s going to be on for days now. He is the central witness. If you‘re the defense attorney, I‘m going to ask you to switch hats for a minute, in this case and you‘ve got to cross examine the boy, this is the boy who could put your client away. This is the one who is sitting only yards away from him saying that man right there, your client, molested me. And yet he‘s still a boy. How do you go about cross-examining him? How tough are you?
FILAN: Well I wouldn‘t be that tough to start certainly. I would treat this boy with dignity, respect, kindness and compassion to start. I would think that would give the prosecutor and the defense some validity before the jury. What I see Mesereau doing in reading the transcripts is he‘s beating up on this witness so badly and picking him apart, he starts to look like something in “The Exorcist” with his head spinning around and he doesn‘t know which way is up and which way is down. I think the jury is not going to like that.
FILAN: In reading the transcript, I started to come to this boy‘s defense and started to believe him extra just because I was trying—I felt sorry for him. So...
ABRAMS: And there‘s no question they have to be careful not—and I
· Geoffrey made this point before, about not focusing on minutia. Because yes, so what?
ABRAMS: You prove that a 12-year-old says one thing one time, he says something else a little bit different another time. If it‘s not on the crucial issues in the case...
FILAN: Right. So here‘s what I think is key, Dan. I think the things that really, really matter are could you see what you say that you could see?
ABRAMS: But I‘m talking about the accuser, now the accuser himself...
ABRAMS: ... cross-examination.
FILAN: I would focus on the facts, what actually happened, what did you feel...
FIEGER: No way.
FILAN: ... what—excuse me...
ABRAMS: That‘s Geoffrey saying no way...
FIEGER: You can‘t ask the victim as a defense counsel to tell the story again. You kill yourself.
FILAN: No, I disagree. You focus on trying to lock him in and find the inconsistencies on things that actually matter.
FILAN: Not stupid minutia, not...
FILAN: ... extra terrestrial stuff.
ABRAMS: Geoffrey, how hard are you if you‘re the defense attorney on the accuser himself?
FIEGER: Not at all. You pick one thing that you know you can beat him at. You never let the child repeat the story because it will become more engrained and more engrained. You are very short. You are very channeled. And you find one or two things that you know absolutely you can prove that child is saying the wrong thing, it could have never happened, and you amplify that no matter how small it is or how big it is.
One or two things, because that‘s all Mesereau will really be able to do. He‘ll never be able to prove, for instance, that the child wasn‘t in the bed. Jackson said he was in the bed. He‘ll never be able to prove he wasn‘t there at Neverland, so he‘s got to pick something that makes it so the jury gets the idea that that child would say something that absolutely nobody believes could be true.
ABRAMS: And they have got to tie him back to mom. They‘ve got to make this—look the question that has to be answered is why is everyone lying here? Why is everyone lying?
ABRAMS: And the answer is, it‘s got to be, well, you know what?
Family wanted to make some money...
FIEGER: But you lose that if the 20-year-old from ‘93 gets on the stand. That‘s a real hard defense if another guy gets on the stand.
ABRAMS: Except that guy got $25 million.
FIEGER: Yes, he did. Yes, he did.
ABRAMS: And this family has got nothing.
FIEGER: Oh, well. They‘re about to get in line.
ABRAMS: All right. Oh, we‘ll see. You know, this is one of those few—this is one of those cases where it really could go either way.
All right, Susan Filan, Jim Thomas, thanks a lot. Geoffrey Fieger is going to stick around.
Coming up, charges in the Michael Jackson case may be graphic, so are what a Canadian woman says Bill Cosby did to her. Up next, we have the exclusive with her attorney. They couldn‘t convince the D.A. to press charges, now they‘re taking Cosby to court themselves.
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, my exclusive interview with the lawyer representing a woman who accused Bill Cosby of assault. She‘s just filed a civil lawsuit. She‘s live in just a minute answering the tough questions, but first the headlines.
ABRAMS: We‘re back. Now to the Bill Cosby case, the woman who told police that Cosby drugged and then sexually assaulted a year ago is now taking her case to civil court. She‘s got some pretty graphic claims about what she says happened. Remember, authorities in Philadelphia decided not to press any criminal charges against Cosby last month. But yesterday, his accuser filed a federal lawsuit claiming assault, battery, emotional distress. She says Cosby and his associates defamed her, that her reputation was damaged according to the suit when news organizations reported her name, not this one. And by the interview Cosby cave to “The National Enquirer” earlier this month the suit also claims after the woman went to police, Cosby and his lawyers called her five times and offered money.
Joining me now exclusively is Dolores Troiani who represents the woman suing Bill Cosby. Thanks very much for coming on the program. We appreciate it.
DOLORES TROIANI, REPRESENTS BILL COSBY‘S ACCUSER: You‘re welcome.
ABRAMS: All right. I want to give you an opportunity to respond to some of the concerns I‘ve had about the allegations in this case and I know you want to clear up the record, so I‘m going to give you that opportunity. So let‘s focus on the first issue, and that is the timing of when she made this report. It‘s almost a year after it allegedly happened and she goes to the Canadian authorities and says here‘s what happened to me. Why didn‘t she just go and complain about it right away?
TROIANI: A delay in a case like this is really not unusual. There are many reasons why a woman who are put in this situation do not come forward immediately. You have to understand something. Although I myself have not personally experienced this as a prosecutor, I dealt with many women who were sexually assaulted and they feel like they died that night.
They feel that they‘re vulnerable, which they didn‘t feel before. They feel they can no longer trust anyone. They feel shame. They feel fear, and this case was certainly compounded by the fact that the person who she has accused is Bill Cosby, an icon in this area and certainly an icon at Temple where she worked. Her delay was very understandable and very usual.
ABRAMS: But then why did she ultimately come forward? I mean it sounds like what you‘re saying is there was shame. There was this. There was that, but then she did come forward.
TROIANI: Because she had to deal with this. She had to find some closure. And it was haunting her, as it does haunt every victim of a sexual assault. This is permanent injury to anyone who has suffered something such as this and you can‘t do it alone. You need to have therapy; you need to talk about it. And what happened was that she was having nightmares. She was experiencing many difficulties in trying to—in her mental focus and she finally came forward to her mother and immediately went to the police, not weeks later...
ABRAMS: All right.
TROIANI: ... immediately went to the police.
ABRAMS: But still, it was months after the incident. But I—let me refer now to “Toronto Sun” article that talks about the delay and I know you wanted to talk about this. So asked why their daughter has only now gone to police one year later, her dad said he believes it has to do with her massage training. They teach about a code of ethics. She‘s starting to understand that when you violate a person, it‘s not right. You can understand why people would read that and say what, she only realizes it‘s not right after going to massage training?
TROIANI: Well obviously anyone who would think that the father meant that was misreading what was—what he said. He was taken out on context and that‘s why it‘s important not to believe everything that you read in the newspaper or here on the media. What her father meant and what happened was that she had tried to deal with this on her own. Her father is a massage therapist and she decided to choose his profession. She was in school. There was constant talk about consent and touching. And all of that triggered in her, her understanding that she had to come forward and she had to seek help.
ABRAMS: But so—but you know then it‘s not out of context. And the bottom line is it sounds like massage training is what led her to say OK, what Bill Cosby did to me allegedly was wrong.
TROIANI: But—no, she always knew what he did to her was wrong, that‘s what‘s taken out of context.
ABRAMS: Let me read this number five here. This is—we asked Cosby‘s attorneys for a statement. This is what they gave us today.
“Mr. Cosby will address this matter through the judicial process and not through the media.”
Let me read you a quote—a couple of quotes—I want to do number eight and number 10 -- of Bill Cosby in an interview with “The National Enquirer” that he did recently.
He said looking back on it I realize that words and actions can be misinterpreted by another person. Unless you‘re a supreme being, you can‘t predict what another individual will do, but that‘s all behind me now and I‘m looking only toward a bright future. I‘m not going to give in to people who try to exploit me because of my celebrity status.
You know, it sure sounds like what he‘s saying is that this woman is trying to exploit him and effectively get money from him because he‘s a celebrity.
TROIANI: Well that was the basis of our defamation count, that there
· his representatives had said to “Celebrity Justice” that she was trying to extort money from him and then he added to that by saying that she was exploiting him. And that‘s the basis of our defamation claim.
In the complaint, we allege that he knew at the time that those statements were made that after this incident happened and he was confronted by her mother, he apologized to both our client and to her mother and then he and his representatives called and offered financial gain.
ABRAMS: But couldn‘t it be...
TROIANI: She didn‘t accept it.
ABRAMS: Couldn‘t it be because of what he says was a misinterpretation. I mean he‘s saying that, you know, again looking back on it that words and actions can be misinterpreted.
TROIANI: I don‘t understand that at all, because the allegations here are that he gave her drugs and she was unconscious.
ABRAMS: Lay out for us exactly what your client is saying happened.
TROIANI: Our client is saying that this was a man who she felt was a grandfather figure in her life. He was a mentor towards her. He was a friend. And she went to his home on this occasion. She felt stressed because she was thinking of changing her job. He gave her some pills, which he told her were an herbal remedy. That she became semiconscious, that she was immobile, she couldn‘t move her arms and her legs and he sexually assaulted her.
ABRAMS: But she doesn‘t remember much of what happened, right, according...
TROIANI: No, she remembers everything that happened up until a point and our complaint I think was pretty graphic about what occurred...
ABRAMS: Yes, it was.
TROIANI: ... that she remembers.
ABRAMS: Yes, it was and we‘re intentionally, you know, not going to put in the details. They‘re pretty gnarly.
TROIANI: Nor am I.
ABRAMS: All right, if you could just stick around for a moment. You had agreed to come on with a couple of other lawyers to talk about this case. So we are going to take a break. When we come back, Mercedes Colwin defends a lot of these cases and she thinks that there are some real problems here. And Geoffrey Fieger is back with us and Ms. Troiani is going to stick around. So stay with us—more of our exclusive interview on the civil lawsuit being filed against Bill Cosby coming up.
ABRAMS: We are talking about the Bill Cosby case and the accusations being made by a woman who the authorities decided not to file charges against Cosby in connection with, but she is now filing a civil lawsuit against Cosby.
Let me go to number four here. This is part of the lawsuit that was filed. Let me give everyone a minute to get there. As a direct and proximate result of Cosby‘s acts, plaintiff has suffered serious and debilitating injuries, mental anguish, humiliation, embarrassment, physical and emotional upset, depression, sleeplessness, isolation, flashbacks, anxiety, serious pain, mental anguish, emotional upset. It goes on, and a loss of earnings and earning capacity.
Dolores Troiani is the woman who represents the woman accusing Bill Cosby. And I‘m joined now by criminal defense attorneys Mercedes Colwin and Geoffrey Fieger. All right, Mercedes, you‘ve heard Ms. Troiani respond to what I think are some of the toughest questions for her to answer. Why did it take so long for her to report this? Why did she report it to the Canadian authorities? Why is she saying that the massage therapy courses sort of triggered this in her mind—tough case to defend or not?
MERCEDES COLWIN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Oh I don‘t think so at all. I think this—actually it gave me fodder for cross-examination. It‘s fantastic that it took a year—I mean and then to have to go to massage school to understand that this type of behavior is unlawful. I mean I think that‘s the biggest liability she has here. And the second liability that the accuser has is the fact that the prosecutor did not go forward with the charges. I mean...
ABRAMS: But you know there‘s a different standard, right...
ABRAMS: ... I mean the standard—the criminal standard they have to prove it...
ABRAMS: ... beyond a reasonable doubt...
COLWIN: Yes. Sure. Sure Dan.
ABRAMS: In a civil court it‘s just one person versus another.
COLWIN: But the issue is they didn‘t find her credible. I mean when prosecutors make the determination whether to bring forth charges or not, they‘re evaluating these individuals especially an accuser with a one-on-one encounter...
ABRAMS: So you don‘t believe...
COLWIN: ... with the defendant.
ABRAMS: ... you don‘t believe the D.A.‘s statement when they say 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...
COLWIN: I think that‘s company speak. That‘s what it is, Dan. It really is. The prosecutor is not going to go out on a limb and say I don‘t find this woman credible, therefore I‘m not going to...
ABRAMS: All right. Ms. Troiani, your response.
TROIANI: I don‘t think your guest was listening when I said that my client did not have to go to massage school to realize what happened to her was wrong. It was one of the triggers that caused her to realize that she needed to seek help and could not get over this by herself. The district attorney in this case in our state are elected. In this particular case, before there was any investigation whatsoever, he came out and said that this was a weak case. He shot himself in the foot. I‘m a former prosecutor. My partner, Bebe Kivitz is a former prosecutor. We would have had no problems with this case.
ABRAMS: It wasn‘t before...
COLWIN: But Counsel...
ABRAMS: ... to be fair...
COLWIN: Can I respond...
ABRAMS: To be fair, it wasn‘t before...
TROIANI: Oh no it was.
ABRAMS: They had spoken to Bill Cosby before they held that press conference. That I know.
TROIANI: No, before that.
TROIANI: Before that...
ABRAMS: We‘re talking about before the press conference.
COLWIN: Can I respond...
TROIANI: The first time that our client met with them, they said it was a weak case.
ABRAMS: Go ahead, Mercedes.
COLWIN: Counsel, it‘s a credibility finding by the prosecutor. I understand that you work in a prosecutor‘s office, but this prosecutor evaluated your client and decided for us to go forward and use taxpayer‘s resources this is not the type of case we want to go forward because it is a credibility issue. And we‘re not entirely sure about this credibility and I think the biggest issue was the year that it took for her to go to authorities.
TROIANI: Well as I said before, you know, I was a prosecutor for 14 years, my partner was chief of the Child Abuse Unit in Philadelphia. I tried homicides in Philadelphia and I tried rape cases in Chester County. And it is not unusual for a woman to delay in a situation such as this. And this prosecutor knows that. That is what is so offensive about his conduct.
ABRAMS: Geoffrey Fieger, what do you make of this?
FIEGER: You can (UNINTELLIGIBLE) you can kiss this case goodbye. It‘s a triple whammy. It‘s not only the length of time. It‘s not only that the prosecutor refused to prosecute. It‘s also the fact that there is zero, zero physical evidence. And you better hope that your client has gone to a psychiatrist before the year in which she made the complaint so you have evidence of her pain and suffering and her humiliation and the impact upon her, because without that, a jury is going to sit there and say, how in the world are you going to prove this and on top of this, a 30-year-old woman didn‘t make any complaint to anybody?
No jury—the jury, although they are going to be instructed on a lower standard of proof, they‘re not going to apply it to a guy who has a spotless record, who is Bill Cosby, and you picked the wrong guy, because this guy will fight you. This guy put his own daughter in prison.
ABRAMS: All right, I got to wrap it up. Ms. Troiani gets the final word.
TROIANI: Well, we have recently had a prosecution in Montgomery County of a state trooper with very similar facts where the woman delayed for more than one year and there was a conviction.
FIEGER: With zero physical evidence?
TROIANI: You don‘t know what we have...
FIEGER: I know you don‘t have any physical evidence or you would have shared it with the prosecutor.
TROIANI: We have shared what we have with the prosecutor.
ABRAMS: All right. Ms. Troiani, thanks a lot for...
TROIANI: You‘re welcome.
ABRAMS: ... coming on the program and taking the questions and battling it out with Geoffrey and Mercedes. I know you wanted to clear the record and I hope that everyone feels that they‘ve been treated fairly now.
Mercedes, thanks a lot as well.
TROIANI: Thank you.
COLWIN: Thank you Dan.
ABRAMS: Coming up, why we should all be able to see what‘s going on inside the Michael Jackson courtroom. I‘ve got a beef and it‘s my “Closing Argument”.
ABRAMS: Coming up, why the Michael Jackson courtroom I say should be open for everyone to see. It‘s my “Closing Argument”.
ABRAMS: My “Closing Argument.” As I listen to different reporters coming in and out of the Jackson courtroom, I‘m struck by how much their accounts differ.
Quote, “The accuser‘s brother was credible and did not stray on the key issues” some say, while others sitting in the same courtroom report the prosecution really seemed to have lost ground with this witness. Just channel surf, you can‘t miss it. And I can‘t help but think that we would all be better served if you all could decide for yourselves.
Judge Rodney Melville has made that impossible, imposing a sweeping gag order and banning any cameras or taping in the courtroom. And as I‘ve said before, Judge Melville‘s attempts at secrecy have backfired, with just about all of the pertinent information in this case leaking out before trial, but that it also should have been a camera in the courtroom. In the past few days, the accuser‘s brother and sister have been testifying and now the accuser himself.
Their testimony will likely determine the outcome of the case, a case that the world is watching. This is one of those cases where the proceedings and the outcome will affect the public‘s perception of the legal system one way or another. It would be better to see it without a filter, no reporter bias, allowing you to decide for yourself whether justice was served. Now with the accuser and his brother, they‘re both kids so we likely wouldn‘t be able to see their faces anyway on TV and—but you might be able to listen to them tell their stories and to see Michael Jackson tell his story, when and if he takes the stand.
Many seem to think that a camera adds to a circus-like atmosphere and in the O.J. Simpson case it did just that. I agree. But sometimes it‘s the price we have to pay and most of the time it has little or no impact on the proceedings. I‘ve covered many televised trials with tough judges where the camera ended up being forgotten. Some like Jesse Jackson bemoaning the fact that there are no African Americans on the jury. If Jackson is convicted, there may be allegations of racism, and since few will have actually seen the proceedings, it will be based on hunches probably rather than facts. Whatever the outcome, in a case with this notoriety, seeing is believing and not seeing may mean not believing.
Coming up in 60 seconds, it looks like we may have one feline viewer out there so upset by one of our stories last night that the cat may have taken matters into his own paws.
ABRAMS: Before we go to your letters, just want to make one correction. Geoffrey Fieger just a moment ago talking about the Bill Cosby case made a comment about Bill Cosby having put his own daughter in jail, there‘s no evidence that the woman who ended up serving time for extortion was actually Cosby‘s daughter. The DNA test never happened, so you know Geoffrey was wrong on that one.
All right—I‘ve had my say, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”. Last night in our “Just A Minute” segment, we told you about a firefighter in Wisconsin who wants the law changed so he can shoot stray cats who meander onto his property.
Karl in New York agrees. “Picture this. You have a classic car in your driveway, a custom paint job, and you wake up one morning to take it for a cruise, lo and behold, all over the hood and roof are sandy, dirty cat prints. If the unlucky critter keeps finding its way to my car and my property, it might just meet the same fate as the guy who‘s proposing strays should not be—able to be shot.”
Karl, man you know ease up.
From Georgetown, Texas, Jane Thompson. “Cats don‘t bother me. Men, now men bother me. They break my heart. They take my money. They lie to me and they stand me up. They make promises and disappear. I‘d like to see the law changed to where I could shoot men who bother me. Why not?”
Bob Reiss in Penndel, Pennsylvania, “It takes a hard man to want to shoot an animal that will walk right up to you, rub up against your leg, and purr. I fear for this guy‘s wife.”
Also last night, some transgender groups want to establish a third category of public restrooms that are gender-neutral, serve transsexuals, cross dressers and other people whose sexual identity may be at issue. I said it was ridiculous.
Don Petersen in Spearfish, South Dakota with a reference to last night‘s “OH PLEAs!” where the state of New Jersey named the tomato as the state vegetable, not fruit. “Dan, isn‘t it hypocritical to dismiss the need for a third restroom for cross dressers, but embrace the idea of the tomato cross dressing as a vegetable?”
My guest, Rikki Klieman, supported the idea of a gender-neutral bathroom, so she wouldn‘t have to wait in as long a line. R. Arend in Altoona, Pennsylvania. “Rikki Klieman would quickly change her position on multi-sexual restrooms should she ever enter one that I‘ve just departed.”
But Eliza Mitchell who claims to be a transgender was offended. “If I were to use the restroom designated for my biological gender dressed as a female, I‘d put my physical safety at risk. Should I use the women‘s bathroom, I run the risk of being called a perverted, strange, or being greatly misunderstood. Please try to see the other side of every issue before dismissing it as a trivial matter.”
Sorry, I still see it as trivial.
And Bob Kleamovich in East Greenbush, New York, “So now any transvestite, she-male or tans-something will not have to divulge their sex and have a bathroom all to themselves. Come on people.”
Finally Kathi Keeney with a more general thought about me. “I used to watch you on Court TV a long time ago. I thought you were an interesting and very intelligent television personality attorney. Why do you end your MSNBC show reading letters, insulting your viewers? It‘s scary and what‘s wrong with just being yourself?”
You want to hear something really scary, Kathi? This is me being myself. I don‘t insult my viewers. I respond to them. A lot of them write aggressive notes. I try and respond back.
Your e-mails—I love my viewers—come on - everyone—you guys know I love you - abramsreport—one word-- @msnbc.com. We go through them at the end of the show.
“OH PLEAs!”—apparently a cat in Upper Pennsylvania Michigan got wind of our show last night, causing the cat to become a sour puss. Remember yesterday‘s story, Wisconsin firefighter looking to legalize shooting the stray cats. It seems Joseph Stanton‘s cat is aiming to end the initiative. Stanton was cooking dinner in his kitchen, presumably watching the program; his beloved cat was roaming the countertops.
After hearing the proposed stray cat genocide in Wisconsin, Stanton‘s cat may have wanted to make sure Joseph wasn‘t a supporter. Here‘s what happened. The cat knocked a loaded 9-milimeter handgun off the counter. The gun discharged, hitting Stanton in the torso, state troopers found him wounded at his home, took him to the hospital. He‘s fine. The cat‘s going to be arrested—no, just kidding.
That does it for us tonight. Coming up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews. Thanks for watching.
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