Guest: B.J. Bernstein, Susan Filan, Jonna Spilbor, John Manly, Don Bosch
LISA DANIELS, GUEST HOST: Coming up, new details about what the runaway bride told police about her fake abduction.
DANIELS (voice-over): Jennifer Wilbanks tells a graphic tale of sexual assault, claiming both a man and a woman who allegedly abducted her, abused her, all before finally admitting the truth.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I tended to be attracted to the genital area, and it was a part of me that would want to be in touch with that or to discover that.
DANIELS: The chilling words of a priest convicted of sexual abuse, detailing his life as a pedophile.
And a woman falls 60 feet to her death from an amusement park ride.
Now the manager of the park is on trial for murder.
The program about justice starts right now.
DANIELS: Hi everyone. I‘m Lisa Daniels. Dan is off today.
First up on the docket, new information on exactly what runaway bride Jennifer Wilbanks told Albuquerque police when she was found. Now, police reports reveal just how big her lies were before she finally admitted she just had cold feet.
NBC‘s Martin Savidge has the details.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jennifer Wilbanks‘ story of kidnapping and sexual assault, according to Albuquerque police, was precise and graphic. It was also fake. A summary of her interview released Wednesday reveals where it began to unravel.
Wilbanks first told police she was abducted by a Hispanic male and white female and thrown into the back of a van with her hands tied behind her back. The individuals placed her on her right side on the floor of the van, and made her face the back door, Wilbanks told police.
The only time she was allowed to sit up was when she was allowed to use the rest room on the side of the road. She then went on to graphically detail the sexual assault, she suffered first from the female, and then from the male abductor, who she said smoke no English and had rotten teeth. Police say none of it happened.
The more she spoke, the more police doubted her story. A police sergeant asked if it was dark or lit during the sexual assault. Jennifer replied it was dark. The sergeant then asked if it was dark, how she was able to see the female and male remove their clothing.
JOHN WALSH, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER, ALBUQUERQUE P.D.: When she was questioned about those, it was shortly thereafter that they—that she made the statement that it all had been false.
SAVIDGE: It wasn‘t the first time Wilbanks faced questioning from police. Court records show she was arrested in 1996 and 1998 for shoplifting. On Monday, she voluntarily entered an inpatient treatment program, according to her church pastor, to address the physical and mental issues, which she believes played a major role in her running from herself. Authorities in Georgia are still considering if and when they will file charges against her.
Martin Savidge, NBC News, Atlanta.
DANIELS: OK. So here‘s “My Take”—it‘s bad enough Jennifer Wilbanks had to lie about her supposed abduction, but the sheer number of details she made up shows how deliberate her scheme actually was, then to allege that her rapist was Hispanic, to me, that‘s sinking to an all-time low, by tapping into stereotypes. Any sympathy I might have had for this woman is completely gone.
Joining me now to talk about this former Gwinnett County, Georgia prosecutor B.J. Bernstein, also former Connecticut state prosecutor and MSNBC legal analyst Susan Final. Good to have you both on board. So...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi.
DANIELS: ... B.J. let me begin with you, because I have heard you a number of times on the show say that prosecutors really should not bring any charges against Jennifer Wilbanks. You just heard all those very precise details in our story. What do you think now?
B.J. BERNSTEIN, FORMER GWINNETT CTY GA PROSECUTOR: I‘m still not going to budge, and I‘ll tell you why. Those precise details that she gave all come in the context of the hysteria that happened when she left here. She clearly left here voluntarily, realizes what‘s happened, and doesn‘t know how to get herself out of something that‘s so large.
DANIELS: All right, but...
BERNSTEIN: And when someone makes up a lie, you know you‘re going to make an elaborate lie, and that‘s what law enforcement does every day is ask the questions to try to undo it and see whether someone is telling the truth.
DANIELS: OK, Susan, just be patient for one more second, because I‘ve got to ask you, B.J., what would it have taken, what do you want to hear that would have make you bring charges, anything?
BERNSTEIN: Well, I mean I think in the overall—remember that we‘re talking about whether she should be prosecuted in Georgia. If you wanted to prosecute her, the appropriate place would be New Mexico, because that‘s where the depths of this statement came you know, in terms of causing—but the bottom line is, nothing happened—everything had already happened in terms of spending money, looking for her, going through all of the police action that occurred here in Duluth.
DANIELS: All right...
BERNSTEIN: So what she did on the tail end isn‘t affecting you know monetarily, and the things that had people upset here in Georgia.
DANIELS: Got you. Susan, let‘s get your take on all this, what do the details do for you?
SUSAN FILAN, FORMER CONNECTICUT STATE PROSECUTOR: Well, I have been saying all along arrest this woman and prosecute her, and whatever excuse she may have had, hysteria, cold feet, I don‘t care. That goes to sentencing, but it doesn‘t go to the decision as to whether to arrest and prosecute. She committed a misdemeanor and a felony in Georgia.
The prosecutor has already said he has the discretion to bring those charges. I don‘t understand the debate. Charge her. Arrest her. It‘s unbelievable what she did. And now that I know the details, for me it just gets all that much worse, and it makes whatever her problem is less important at sentencing.
FILAN: ... now to me, the crime is more serious.
DANIELS: OK, Susan, I‘m going to play devil‘s advocate for a second, because isn‘t it the job of police to find out who is lying, who is missing? Why should she be prosecuted?
FILAN: Because she committed a crime. She lied to authorities. That‘s the crime that she committed. She is allowed to run away from her wedding, she‘s allowed to have a nervous breakdown, she‘s allowed to abscond with bus ticket to the Greyhound bus, but she is not allowed to tell police, when the country has been searching for her, that she was abducted by a Hispanic man and a Caucasian woman who sexually assaulted her, tied her, bound her to a van, made her go to the bathroom on the side of the road.
That‘s where you cross the line. That‘s where you break the law.
When you do something that egregious, you have to pay the price. Otherwise, we are sending a message to the American people that if you are pretty and you are a bride, it doesn‘t matter, but if you are Joe Schmoe and you pull a stunt like that, you are going to get it.
DANIELS: B.J., should she have to pay? Should her family have to pay the police, investigators back?
BERNSTEIN: I think it‘s a good idea that they do and to try to make some restitution. Everybody really went to bat for this family in Duluth. People—they spent a lot of money and...
DANIELS: But I‘m sensing a hedge on that one...
BERNSTEIN: ... connected to the community.
DANIELS: Should she or should she just voluntarily do it? Should she be compelled to do it? What is your stand?
BERNSTEIN: Well I think she should voluntarily do it from the get-go, and I think that had I been her counsel, I may have already been over there with a partial check already, and in terms of compelling her to, certainly the city could pursue some sort of civil pursuit of her for the money, but I don‘t think they are going to have to. I think they are going to work that part out.
DANIELS: Susan, I want to play a 911 tape for you for a second. I am going to ask a question on the other side. Just listen.
DISPATCHER: And the person that did this to you, was it a he or a she?
WILBANKS: It was a Hispanic man and a Caucasian woman.
WILBANKS: It happened in Duluth.
DANIELS: Susan, I assume you heard my take about even digging into the stereotypes. Be honest, does that make it worse, that she lied, using the fact that there was supposedly this Hispanic man, that he raped her? Does that make it almost worse?
FILAN: Well, to me lying to the police is bad enough, and then to pick a minority is bad, but I don‘t want to single any one group out as any more special (INAUDIBLE). Whoever you falsely blame, Caucasian, Hispanic, African American, to me, that doesn‘t really matter. It‘s the fact of lying to the police, going after somebody who is innocent, making the police begin to think in their minds that they have to organize a manhunt along these lines, that‘s the problem, and I don‘t understand what—why we are debating it.
Why aren‘t we just charging her? And if I could ask a question, I am just so intrigued that her lawyer used to prosecute her, and I am not quite certain, and maybe B.J. knows how that is permissible in Georgia.
DANIELS: B.J. you know?
BERNSTEIN: Yes I mean if you—that case is over, and you can switch sides, and there‘s no conflict necessarily there, and if there is a conflict, it would be waiveable (ph) by Jennifer.
BERNSTEIN: It would be her choice and since she chose this lawyer, any sort of type of potential conflict is waived by her.
DANIELS: Let‘s move to the Georgia law. I‘m going to put that up on the screen because B.J. I want to ask you, why is this law even on the books, if someone like Jennifer Wilbanks isn‘t going to be charged.
DANIELS: There you see, falsely reporting a crime. Can you see the screen?
BERNSTEIN: I can‘t see the screen, but I know the statute really well, but you have two statutes that are in play here. The misdemeanor, false report of a crime...
BERNSTEIN: ... and certainly it, you know, that is something that causes—the idea is I have falsely reported a crime, and it caused unnecessary police action and damaged the community because we were out money. Now, the situation here is, had this young woman said zero, other than come pick me up, I am in Albuquerque, we would have spent all this money. We would have done all the things that what—is what the statute was meant to protect for, and there would be no remedy.
So it‘s not really what that statute was passed for. Then the felony statute, that false statement statute that everybody is all excited about, yes, it uses the language in that statute, about scheme or fraud, but it‘s in the context, and every prosecution in the state of Georgia, I have looked at a number of cases on this, and it‘s an extensive scheme such as filing false documents with the clerk of court, filing false records with the state, real estate board. Not just a spontaneous statement that was wrong but a scheme in the sense of, you know, filing documents, filing papers...
DANIELS: All right.
BERNSTEIN: ... that contain false statements.
DANIELS: All right. Let‘s leave it there. As I said, I don‘t agree with you, but I thank you very much for coming on the show. B.J. Bernstein, thank you and Susan, you‘re going to stick around, so thanks for that.
Up next, Michael Jackson‘s legal team turns the tables on prosecutors trying to convince jurors Jackson was the victim of a conspiracy. And late word that Jackson‘s original lawyer, Mark Geragos, remember him, he‘s taking the stand tomorrow.
And a little bit later confessions of a pedophile priest, chilling testimony about what type of kids he is attracted to and how he lured them in.
Plus, a 240-pound woman falls out of an amusement park ride to her death, after saying her safety harness isn‘t working. The manager of that park is now charged with murder, his trial beginning today.
And of course your e-mails, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember to include your name and where you are writing from. I‘m going to respond at the end of the show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that right Michael?
MICHAEL JACKSON, ACCUSED OF MOLESTATION: It‘s very right. It‘s very loving. That‘s what the world needs now, more love...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The world needs...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The world needs a man who is 44, sleeping in bed...
JACKSON: No, you‘re making it...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... with children.
JACKSON: No, no, you are making it all wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DANIELS: Well over the last two days, jurors in the Michael Jackson trial viewed what the Jackson camp would probably called the footage you weren‘t meant to see, clips from the cutting room floor of the documentary where Jackson defends his practice of sharing his bed with boys. They heard Jackson talk about everything, from how his chimps helped him clean his room to his lonely childhood, even his view of the ‘93 allegations. And echoing the testimony of his good friend Macaulay Culkin yesterday, here‘s what he had to say about why he likes kids so very much.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACKSON: I feel totally at home with them. I can talk to them one on one, because they don‘t judge you. They‘re not looking for anything. They just want to have some fun, you know, and that‘s the same with myself. And I can connect to that, you know. I can understand that. And the fact that I missed out on so much as a child, as soon as they come in the room, for me, the room lights up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DANIELS: So many say that video might be exactly what the defense needed to keep Jackson off the stand. We‘re going to get to that and show you some more clips from the video, but first, NBC‘s Mike Taibbi is in Santa Maria, and Mike, I hear the judge ordered Jackson former attorney Mark Geragos to appear in court tomorrow morning. It‘s been a while since we‘ve heard that name outside of the Scott Peterson case. Bring us up to speed.
MIKE TAIBBI, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it was a surprise announcement at the end of the day, Lisa. Early this morning, we had heard from a defense source that Geragos would not appear until next week, but the judge was not having any of it. One of Geragos‘ former law partners, a junior partner, came into court and said Mr. Geragos has other matters. He‘s involved in (INAUDIBLE), might be available tomorrow, certainly would be available Monday. Judge Melville, extremely impatient, said, listen, you are saying because he is a busy lawyer, he deserves special consideration. That‘s not going to work here.
You know, whether it‘s a mechanic or a deputy sheriff or even a child victim, the judge said if he is supposed to be here in court at 8:30 tomorrow, he will be in court or else, use the time to energize the process, assuming he needs a warrant, to compel his appearance on Monday. So tomorrow, Mark Geragos, who, as you say, represented Scott Peterson, Winona Ryder before that, and Michael Jackson briefly in this case from the very beginning, will be in court tomorrow as a defense witness, basically attacking the conspiracy charge by the prosecution.
DANIELS: All right. Mike, can you sort of lay that out for us?
Because what exactly can Mark Geragos give to the defense?
TAIBBI: I think he can give a little bit more than the lawyer, the other former Jackson attorney who was on the stand today, David LeGrand of Las Vegas. Both of those attorneys were involved from the very beginning, which is to say just before the infamous Martin Bashir documentary aired in this country, and even before frankly it aired in Great Britain, that was February 4 of 2003. These attorneys were on board, realizing that it was going to be a negative impact for Jackson, trying to figure out how best to counter that.
They will argue, as LeGrand did today, that it was really about finding the outtakes that were shown in court the last couple of days to prove that the documentary was a setup job, a hatchet job, that was misrepresented to Jackson, to sort of make the point that Bashir wanted to make in his documentary. That‘s what they were concerned about, and as David LeGrand testified today, there really wasn‘t much discussion about the accuser in this case and his family.
In fact, he said that what we needed was to wean the accuser and his family away from Michael Jackson and Neverland, and that Michael Jackson himself never discussed the family with a need to compel them or imprison them or force them to do a video, et cetera, the heart of the prosecution‘s contention on the conspiracy count. Now, LeGrand also did talk about how broke Jackson was calling his financial situation highly illiquid at the time the documentary and the crisis had ensued—that happened in 2003. That‘s a help for the prosecution, so a little help for the prosecution, a little bit more for the defense from LeGrand. Tomorrow, Geragos will say, there was no conspiracy; it was damage control, pure and simple and understandable.
DANIELS: You know I can hear viewers here at home perhaps being worried that these attorneys can actually take the stand. What about attorney-client privilege here?
TAIBBI: Well in the case of LeGrand, it was waived. In the case of Mark Geragos, it will also have been waived from a certain point, in the professional relationship with Michael Jackson, so that he can testify to conversations that he had with the client, to memos and other communication, exchange with the client, et cetera, from a certain point. And once that privilege is waived, the attorney can testify. And it‘s made very clear in court and before the jury that the privilege has been waived.
DANIELS: OK, so Mike stick around and you‘ll be on our panel. Thank you.
“My Take” right now, though, we know Michael Jackson is weird, we know it, but this trial isn‘t about why he is weird. It‘s about did he molest a child? I just hope that the jury doesn‘t lose sight of the real question here.
OK. Back with us MSNBC legal analyst and former prosecutor Susan Filan, and let‘s bring in criminal defense attorney Jonna Spilbor. Thank you both for being here, along with Mike.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi.
DANIELS: So were any of you surprised that Mark Geragos, the name that we often associate with the Scott Peterson trial, is back again with Michael Jackson? Susan, let‘s begin with you.
FILAN: Not at all. What this defense is doing, and I have to say, they are gathering momentum and they are starting to really make their case. They started off, I think, on shaky footing, but, boy, they are going great guns now. I am not surprised that Geragos is coming because they are going to pull in everything they possibly can to vindicate their client. Remember, they have a very cohesive theory of their case or a very cohesive defense, which is that he is actually the victim.
He was duped. He was taken advantage of. It‘s all the people that he surrounded himself with that got him to be in this vulnerable position, and their theory is actually being played out through the testimony of the witnesses. Now, the prosecution‘s theory is that he is the mastermind of a conspiracy that is spearheaded by the unindicted coconspirators in order to make a rebuttal video that would clean up the damage that the Bashir documentary did, so Bashir documentary sets into motion this panic mode, this frenzy. That‘s where they then—they falsely imprisoned the accuser and...
DANIELS: OK and we go on from there.
FILAN: What‘s going to happen is...
FILAN: Yes. Right.
DANIELS: OK, Susan, hold on for a second because, Jonna, let‘s not mince words. Is it true that the defense really has a strategy here of Michael Jackson is so weird, not only does he like children, but he is child-like. There was a conspiracy going around him. He didn‘t even realize it. He is a victim, as Susan alleges. Is that what the defense is going for?
JONNA SPILBOR, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Absolutely, and it makes sense. I love the way the defense is now turning this whole conspiracy theory on the prosecution‘s ear, because at first, it looks like there‘s no conspiracy. This was exactly what Susan said and what Mark Geragos is going to say. This was about damage control. Now the defense is saying, wait a minute, you know what, prosecutor, this is about a conspiracy, but Michael Jackson is the victim. That is genius and I think it has legs. So the defense, like Susan said, is really taking off.
DANIELS: OK, Susan and Mike were actually in the courtroom. Mike, let me ask you, when you are hearing David LeGrand testify, what is the jury‘s response to sort of putting out this argument that Michael Jackson really is a victim here? He had a very strange childhood, and there are issues associated with that. Does that seem to be playing out?
TAIBBI: Well it‘s hard to say. You know when that tape was running yesterday, and it was two hours and 50 minutes in total, it finished today, the jurors were transfixed, really watching with great, great focus and listening with great focus, even taking so much as getting everything they can, because this is the defendant himself, but you know Susan was talking about the defense getting off on shaky ground. It‘s shaky ground, because the jury is shaken up by what they have learned or by what everybody has learned, frankly, about the story Jackson‘s defense team is now letting everybody hear, that it wasn‘t just a few nights with current accuser, or even 50 nights with the ‘93 accuser.
It was hundreds of nights with dozens of boys sharing the bed alone with Michael Jackson. And the story that the defense is selling now, trying to get the jury to accept, if not embrace themselves, as being something they can really understand, is that this is who Michael Jackson is. His alternate reality, as strange and improbable as it is, is one that does not include molestation. And that‘s a stretch for a lot of people, I gather, and the jury listened very carefully to that, how they have reacted. David LeGrand‘s testimony, Mark Geragos it‘s a different story. That central premise is the one that‘s shaken this jury up in this whole trial.
DANIELS: Susan, let me ask you, then. I‘m trying to think like the prosecutors. How do you come back from this argument? Do you say, yes, he is very strange, yes, he may even have been a victim of his parents, who are sitting in the front row but he still molested a boy. Is that the response?
FILAN: Well, what you say is that what you heard on that video, the outtakes, which gave you a sympathetic view of him, and at times, he was charming and endeared himself to the jury and made them laugh at times, but he also lied. I mean he clearly lied about his use of alcohol, about his plastic surgeries, and so what you tell the jury is you say, this is a professional entertainer who is at the top of his game or was years ago, and mesmerizes crowds. Well he mesmerized you ladies and gentlemen.
Don‘t be fooled. He is selling you something. He is a performer. He is marketing himself. Don‘t buy it. Because what you need to buy is the testimony of the victim in this case, and focus them back on that. The problem is, if they find credibility difficulties with the victim and with his mother, where do we go? They are going to have to parse that apart in the jury room and see where they come out.
DANIELS: All right. Mike, last question...
FILAN: Hung jury.
DANIELS: All right. You heard it there. Mike, last question for you. What are you hearing from all of your sources? Is Michael Jackson going to take the stand? What is the latest?
TAIBBI: Well, three separate defense sources have said there‘s been serious consideration to Jackson taking the stand, not just usual defense attorney talk, my client wants to tell his story or the usual legal analyst talk, the jury wants to hear from this defendant. There‘s been serious consideration on two scores.
Number one, the defense believes, that is to say, Tom Mesereau believes, according to our sources, that Jackson is fit enough to tell his story on the stand and withstand a rigorous cross examination, and that Tom Mesereau, according to our sources, is not afraid of Michael Jackson‘s story or of Jackson‘s ability to tell that story, as odd and peculiar and unbelievable as it certainly is. So that‘s the consideration right now. We‘ll see what the thinking is as we get closer to the end of the defense case. We are not there, not by weeks.
DANIELS: No, I‘m sure...
DANIELS: ... it‘s going to change a lot...
DANIELS: Susan Filan, Jonna Spilbor, a big thanks to you. And Mike Taibbi, I‘m going to ask you to pay attention to our e-mails, where one of the viewers really seems to have a crush on you. We‘re going to read that later.
DANIELS: All right. Coming up...
TAIBBI: I‘ll pass on that...
DANIELS: Coming up, chilling testimony from a pedophile priest, as he describes his sexual taste and how he lured young boys and girls in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I got comfortable doing that, and they got comfortable and (INAUDIBLE) he was comfortable with me (INAUDIBLE) him and I had thoughts (INAUDIBLE) that I wanted to go further, I might at that time explore that possibility.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DANIELS: And a little bit later, the manager of an amusement park is on trial for murder after a woman falls from one of the rides to her death.
DANIELS: Coming up, a disturbing view inside the mind of a pedophile, a priest testifies how he groomed young boys and young girls for molestation, but first the headlines.
DANIELS: A rare look inside the mind of a pedophile priest.
Defrocked Roman Catholic priest Oliver O‘Grady recently gave a deposition
describing his years as a pedophile, going into a lot of detail about his
taste in children and how he lured them in. Now the deposition was tied to
lawsuits brought against California‘s Stockton Diocese over alleged abuse
by clergy members.
O‘Grady actually served seven years in a California prison for molesting two boys. He was later removed from the priesthood and deported to Ireland, where he has been living since 2001. He admits to molesting as many as 30 children. Here he explains how he draws his victims in—and a big warning, what you are about to see is extremely disturbing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OLIVER O‘GRADY, DEFROCKED PRIEST: I would see him as somebody that I could hold, OK. What was initiated—maybe his behavior and his openness, that I would interpret as being open to me, and I would also interpret as me being inviting for me to be hugging with him. And I‘d say hi and he‘d say hi, father, how are you? I said, fine, how are you doing? And those words, you know, I might go over and just give him a hug, and if he responded by allowing me to hug him, and like offered to hug me in return, that sort of gave me a kind of permission to continue at that point.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
O‘GRADY: And that‘s what I kind of looked for. And I was getting satisfaction out of that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sexually?
O‘GRADY: (INAUDIBLE) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Or emotionally?
O‘GRADY: Emotionally, I would say first.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
O‘GRADY: There was an emotional need met in me to do that. If I got comfortable doing that, and they got comfortable and felt he was comfortable with me hugging him and I had thoughts and feelings that I wanted to go further, I might at that time explore that possibility. Those would be something that I might have to do a little planning on, you know, to be sure that the boy was there, to be sure the boy was alone and that there wasn‘t any kind of hurry on him leaving and maybe again just hugging. Hugging starts off, and then I might just drop my hands and start fondling the genital area, and all the time sort of looking for an OK or a permission, and if I wasn‘t getting a resistance, that was allowing me to go further and further.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DANIELS: “My Take”—not only does it disgust me to watch this priest talk so calmly and scientifically about his disgusting exploits, but what audacity to blame church officials for not stopping his own abuse? He is the main problem. In my opinion, he doesn‘t have the right to point fingers at anybody.
Joining me now, John Manly, the attorney suing Oliver O‘Grady‘s former diocese on behalf of plaintiffs, who claim O‘Grady molested them. He conducted the deposition that you just heard in Ireland. And we should mention that we also asked the attorney for the Stockton diocese to join us tonight, but he declined. He offered only this comment.
Thank you for the invitation, but I don‘t believe that it‘s proper to comment on an ongoing lawsuit in a public forum.
So, John, what was your reaction as you hear this man so calmly and sort of smirkingly talk about his exploits?
JOHN MANLY, PLAINTIFFS‘ ATTORNEY SUING CHURCH: Well, he is a criminal and he is a pedophile. And he has a compulsion that he will never be able to overcome for the rest of his life, and—but I have to take issue with your take. The diocese of Stockton knew before he was ordained, they knew in 1976, when he wrote a letter to a little girl with the bishop‘s knowledge, apologizing for molesting her. They knew in 1983, and they knew in 1984, when O‘Grady‘s therapist, who was employed by Catholic charities, reported him to the police under California law, he was a mandated reporter, and they did nothing, except Cardinal Mahoney had the distinction of promoting him to be a pastor, where he went on to molest other children.
DANIELS: OK, here‘s the Stockton diocese response. Let‘s put that up.
We do not comment on ongoing lawsuits. We continue to be very sorry for the pain and the suffering that has been caused by the sexual abuse. The church has changed in some important ways because of the abuse. We have programs in place to ensure the safety of children. We are looking at even more ways for the church to be a safe environment for children. We are not the same church that we were when that happened. Until these cases are solved, which will hopefully be soon, we are not going to comment.
Now, as a good attorney, I understand why you just took issue with my take. But as a person, and also as an attorney, how can you expect people to buy the argument that the church has more fault than the perpetrator? Explain that to me.
MANLY: Sure. Child molesters are predators, and like any predator, once you learn that person or animal is a predator, you keep—and they are going to be around people, you keep them in a cage so they can‘t hurt anybody. And just like a lion tamer, if a lion tamer lets a lion out, and the lion eats somebody, nobody is surprised because that‘s what lions do. In the case of Oliver O‘Grady, once they knew he was a pedophile, once they knew he consumed children, there was no excuse for any bishop to let him loose on children. And that‘s why I hold them responsible.
They are not responsible necessarily for him being a pedophile, although he was himself molested by a priest at age 10, age 14, and age 16. But morally, are they more culpable than he is? Yes, once you know, any right thinking person, any parent, any decent person would say this man shouldn‘t be around children. And instead of taking him in the hand and taking him out and reporting him to the police, they concealed him, they promoted him, and until 1993, when he was arrested, allowed him to have unfettered access to kids.
That is despicable. And I will tell you, it‘s not Catholic. And I want...
DANIELS: All right.
MANLY: ... to be clear. It‘s not the church. It‘s the hierarchy.
DANIELS: Well there are a lot of things that are despicable that we just talked about, but I disagree with you who you‘re attributing the most blame with, but John Manly, thanks for coming on the show. I appreciate your defending...
MANLY: Thanks for having me.
DANIELS: The manager of an amusement park, on trial next for murder, after a woman falls out of the ride and plunges to her death. We‘re going to be talking to a courtroom insider. It‘s next.
DANIELS: Coming up, an amusement park manager faces 25 years in prison after a woman falls out of a ride 60 feet to her death. The latest on that trial next.
DANIELS: Here‘s the question, was it a fatal accident or was it second-degree murder? Last March 14, 51-year-old June Carol Alexander fell 60 feet to her death from the Rocking Robin (ph) ride at a Tennessee fun park. Alexander was at the park with her daughter Regina, also her son Cody, to celebrate his 15th birthday. Both kids say they warned the 17-year-old ride operator that the harness was loose and they said they wanted to get off, but they also say they were told he couldn‘t stop the ride, and then they watched as their mom plunged to her death. Cody described the scene in court today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CODY ALEXANDER, VICTIM‘S SON: When we were coming down, her harness moved, and we went back over the platform. We came up. And at the height of the ride, about 60 foot in the air, her harness opened and she fell.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DANIELS: And as you can see, a Tennessee prosecutor thinks it‘s a criminal case. He is charging Charles Stan Martin, the parks manager, with reckless homicide and second-degree murder. Martin‘s attorney says—quote—“he wasn‘t there when this happened. He wasn‘t there when any incident related to this happened.”
But prosecutor Al Schumtzer says—quote—“we don‘t have any evidence nor do we allege that he intended to kill anyone, but the proof for second-degree murder is knowing, the knowing of circumstances that could reasonably cause death.”
Now with Martin‘s trial underway today, the key question may be whether or not he knew that the jumper cables installed in the ride‘s control box could have short-circuited its safety system.
Here‘s “My Take”. When you first look at this case, it may seem a little bit unfair that this guy is being prosecuted, maybe a lot unfair, but do me a favor. Think about this case. This summer, when your child is on a roller coaster, and you are looking up, and the only thing separating that little girl or boy from the ground is a harness. Then I want you to think about this case and then I want you to tell me what you think.
Let‘s find out what our guest thinks. Don Bosch, criminal defense attorney who spent a lot of time in the Tennessee courtroom where this case began unfolding today. Let‘s start off by talking about why is this case a criminal case?
DON BOSCH, TENNESSEE DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, it is unusual as a criminal case. It‘s my understanding that it‘s also been brought for civil damages, money damages. This is a very rare prosecution. It is absolutely unique by way of the second-degree murder charge, which is unprecedented in America law. The criminally negligent homicide case, there have been similar cases, very few brought across the United States, but it arguably, if the state can make out their case to include putting this defendant as the responsible party for the changes to the ride, could arguably be criminally negligent homicide, the lowest grade of homicide in Tennessee.
DANIELS: OK, Don, take a look at this. In 1999 -- let‘s put it up - there was an accident on a ride at a Texas livestock show. It killed one rider, injured two more. The ride owner and private inspector pled guilty to manslaughter. Then if we have the 2004 Ohio case, that‘s when a fair worker was convicted of involuntary manslaughter.
An Ohio jury convicted him of involuntary manslaughter and reckless homicide after improperly wired bumper car electrocutes an 8-year-old boy and that ride owner also pled guilty to attempted involuntary manslaughter. Here‘s my question Don. Is the right person being prosecuted here?
BOSCH: Well, that‘s a great question because I do not believe the state has any proof, they don‘t have any statements from the defendant nor any witnesses that can testify that the defendant on trial for the criminal offenses alleged had anything to do with the actual changes made to the ride. You have to remember that the manufacturer, other people that service this ride, other employees very well could be responsible for it, and it‘s simply saying, since you are the owner, we are going to prosecute you criminally. That‘s a solid theory civilly, but one that is virtually unheard of criminally.
DANIELS: But even if it was the owner who was being prosecuted, there I could say, hey, if you are thinking of saving a couple of bucks, think again, because if something should be proven to show that you knew that you weren‘t taking the highest safety precautions, you can go to jail for second-degree murder, but why the manager of a ride? I mean we are talking about, you know, a kid sometimes at these roller coaster parks. Does that make sense at all?
BOSCH: Well, it doesn‘t make much sense. This case doesn‘t make much sense, period. I know what you are suggesting, but what I am saying is there‘s simply, as I understand this case, is not any proof that this defendant, the owner of this ride knew that there was a defect or an alteration to this machine, and accordingly, he is being prosecuted for an act that he may not even have been aware of.
DANIELS: Right. Well that is a crucial, crucial question. Don Bosch, thanks so much for coming on the show. We appreciate it.
BOSCH: Thank you.
DANIELS: Well, you haven‘t been hearing as much about these brave American service men and women as you probably should be. That‘s my “Closing Argument”.
DANIELS: My “Closing Argument” now. In a recent conversation with my brother, a Marine just back from Iraq, he pointed out to me that there‘s a glaring omission in most national news coverage these days. Now, you‘d have to be living under a rock not to notice that. For the most part, the most part here, coverage seem to be focused on stories like the saga of the runaway bride, Jennifer Wilbanks, or whether or not actor Macaulay Culkin would testify in the Jackson trial.
Maybe it‘s me, but it seems to me that people are forgetting that there‘s still a war going on in Iraq. There‘s been very little acknowledgment that in the past two weeks, there have been nearly 400 deaths in Iraq due to insurgent attacks. Now I‘m not claiming that there isn‘t a place for news of a lighter nature like the Wilbanks story. In fact, I like to report, I like to watch it myself. But we need to make sure that there‘s a proper balance. Men and women are dying. They‘re being injured in Iraq. We‘re just not discussing it.
You at home, us in the media—I‘m including me. Nobody seems to be talking about it around the water cooler anymore. Now since Saturday alone, 16 American service members have died in Iraq. Two more in Afghanistan. Here are some of their photos. Look at how things have changed. Do you remember just two years ago at the start of the war, we covered American casualties in Iraq intensely. We displayed photos of each soldier killed. We learned their names. We told their stories with reports from their hometowns.
That seems to all have changed and it really couldn‘t come at a worse time. Violence in Iraq has actually been on the rise over recent months. And if you didn‘t know that, don‘t blame yourself. It‘s hardly been on TV, but here are the numbers. A new study from a Washington think tank found that the total number of major attacks per day in Iraq rose from 30 to 40 in February and March, then all the way to 70 in April and this month.
Now maybe the reason we don‘t talk about it anymore is the American public seems happy to have finally something else to focus on. Maybe we needed a break. But the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, they‘re continuing. In total, over 16 American service members have been killed in Iraq. I just think we need to be discussing it.
What‘s my point? The old soldiers who died in May of 2005, the same amount of recognition that we gave to those who died back in 2003. I‘m not lecturing. I hate a lecture. I‘m reminding people, including myself.
Coming up, your e-mails. Stay with us.
DANIELS: And welcome back. I‘ve had my say, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”. Yesterday prosecutors released gruesome details of how 8-year-old Laura Hobbs and 9-year-old Krystal Tobias were murdered, allegedly by Laura‘s father, Jerry Hobbs. Many people were calling for the death penalty but former Illinois Governor Jim Ryan declared a moratorium on all executions in the state in 2000.
So from Illinois, Ms. Crose writes—quote—“If there is ever a crime that would be a case to lift the moratorium on the death penalty in our state, the murder of those two precious girls should be it. I say lift the moratorium and fry the man.” Well said Ms. Crose.
Next topic: Red alert at the White House as a Cessna plane flew into restricted air space. Remember, police evacuated the White House, the Capitol building as Black Hawk helicopters and those fighter jets scrambled to protect the air space, the pilots of the Cessna taken into custody and later released. An overwhelming number of you—I was really surprised at this—you were outraged that they weren‘t charged.
Thomas Kavany writes, “What‘s the excuse for not charging the two airheads who caused the problems with security at the White House and the Capitol for the cost of deploying the choppers and jets? How about the cost of the police? Apparently, personal responsibility is out the window.”
As for Macaulay Culkin on the stand in Michael Jackson‘s child molestation trial yesterday, Edward Mason (ph) not impressed. Quote—
“When did Macaulay Culkin become this big celebrity that all of you court reporters are salivating over? Please, one obnoxious movie, a teenage marriage and a DWI do not make celebrity. Of course he would not say he was molested by Michael Jackson if he wants any sort of career in Hollywood.”
Now to Michael Jackson‘s publicist. A lot of e-mails on this. Raymone Bain on the program last night, defending the accusations against Jackson. Here‘s what Pat in Newton, New Jersey writes. “If there is a gag order on the Michael Jackson case, why is Raymone Bain able to speak about the case and proclaim Michael‘s innocence? Every common John Doe in the United States who might be on trial does not have a spokesperson and is not able to give televised statements.”
Come on, Pat! How many John Does are vilified on TV every day? Don‘t make me defend Michael Jackson, but it‘s only fair that somebody is on to defend Jackson. Be fair.
From San Francisco, Shannon Craine. “It is quite frustrating that you give airtime to Raymone Bain, thus enabling Michael Jackson to essentially proclaim his innocence through a third party. Wouldn‘t it be nice if all defendants in criminal cases were given that opportunity?” Whatever.
Finally, Joanna Maria in Charles Town, West Virginian on NBC News correspondent Mike Taibbi who is covering the Jackson trial. “Dan, you‘re the best but I really watch the program every evening to catch a glimpse of Mike Taibbi. Talk about looks and class.” Both guys are very classy. Look at them. Not shabby.
That does it for us tonight. Thanks so much for watching. Dan is back tomorrow.
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