Guests: Tim Susanin, Edward Bray, Jake Goldenflame, Susan Filan, Vince Villalvazo, Shari Weber, Mary Carey
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Coming up, the heat is on in Washington. The grand jury investigating the leak of that CIA officer‘s name has gone home for the day. Friday is the final day.
ABRAMS (voice-over): The special prosecutor had lunch with the judge in charge of the court and was reportedly seen meeting with Karl Rove‘s lawyer as well. Does this mean a legal D-Day is just around the corner?
And several states telling convicted sexual offenders stay at home. Don‘t answer the door for trick-or-treaters. But is Halloween really that spooky a holiday, a day when convicted sex offenders take off those suburban masks and attack children. We talk to one of them.
Plus a few states trying to put a tax on legal porn. Is that a little stiff? Our debate. A Kansas legislator goes at it with adult entertainer Mary Carey.
The program about justice starts now.
ABRAMS: Hi, everyone. First up on the doctor tonight: It could come any day. Maybe it‘s already come. Indictments against senior administration officials‘ letters may be eminent from the special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to lawyers. You know again, maybe they have already been delivered.
But Karl Rove, the president‘s top political aide and strategist, “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Cheney‘s chief of staff, notifying them of any indictment in connection with a leak of an undercover CIA officer‘s name to the press.
Now remember, this—there could be others as well. It could be that there are no indictments. The president‘s press secretary, Scott McClellan, tried again to quiet the speculation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There are a lot of facts that simply are not known at this point. It remains an ongoing investigation and we‘ll let the special prosecutor continue to do his work. And I‘m sure he will have more to say in due course.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Special counsel, Fitzgerald didn‘t say much when he left the courthouse. Maybe he was too busy. Here‘s what we know.
Fitzgerald met for three hours today with the grand jury reviewing the case and for about an hour with other federal prosecutors. He also had lunch with U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan, who‘s overseeing the grand jury, and reportedly met Tuesday with Robert Luskin, the attorney representing Karl Rove.
So what does it mean? Well according to “The Washington Post”, Fitzgerald is preparing to outline possible charges and has dispatched FBI agents to interview witnesses for one last round of fact checking.
Tim Susanin, a former federal prosecutor, was an associate independent counsel on Whitewater investigation joins us. All right. Tim thanks for joining us. Bottom line, could they have already been charged?
TIM SUSANIN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: They could have. I don‘t think so, though, Dan. In a case like this, what you are asking about really means the indictment was returned and voted on by the grand jury and was sealed, which means it‘s kept in an envelope at the courthouse and nobody knows about this...
ABRAMS: And what I‘m asking is exactly what you just said, plus the possibility that Fitzgerald then walks into the office of the lawyers for Rove or Libby or whoever else and he says, you know what, I got these indictments already. I could go back Friday and get more. Let‘s talk a deal.
SUSANIN: Right. He still is operating under grand jury secrecy rules, Dan, and once the grand jurors vote an indictment, they have to stand up and swear it in front of the federal magistrate. If it‘s not sealed, then it‘s on the public record and copies and a press release or release at the courthouse.
I don‘t think that‘s happening here. The typical way this works, although special counsel Fitzgerald has held his cards very closely and I would say he‘s not concerned with really doing what conventional wisdom says. But if it‘s following the normal path here, he would have negotiated with Rove‘s lawyer, with Libby‘s lawyer and said, look, the investigation is ending Friday, if we‘re going to work something out, it‘s got to be by then.
That‘s a signal to the lawyers, your fellows are going to be indicted, I‘m going to present the grand jury with the indictment Friday if we don‘t reach a deal. He would then, if the negotiations didn‘t get anywhere, he‘d indict and at that point (UNINTELLIGIBLE) negotiate (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
ABRAMS: And that‘s one of the questions I was going to ask you, is that if it‘s true that Fitzgerald was meeting with Rove‘s lawyer yesterday, is there any way to explain that and for it to mean that Rove is not getting indicted?
SUSANIN: Well, I don‘t think so. What you read from that that tealeaf, Dan, is that they are in some kind of negotiation. And I don‘t know what the negotiation could be...
ABRAMS: Rove could be a witness, right, I guess.
SUSANIN: He could be a witness and they still could be negotiating his cooperation in one way or another as a witness. I think the tealeaf to really look at is what went on at the grand jury today as opposed to the meeting with Rove‘s lawyer. Special counsel Fitzgerald is there reportedly by himself. That means without putting witnesses on and spend several hours with the grand jurors.
And as you know that normally means one of two things is going on. One, he‘s presenting a summary of all of the evidence they have heard as a predicate to saying, and maybe he comes back Friday and hands them a proposed indictment and says, now that you have heard my summary, we‘re asking you to vote on these charges. Or it could also mean, as is the case, in these types of investigations where there is not going to be an indictment, he still is debriefing the grand jury. You‘ve heard all this evidence for a couple of years, here‘s why we‘re not asking you to return an indictment.
ABRAMS: Yes and that was the other question I was going to ask you. I mean yes, we hear that everyone repeats that cliche, about the ham sandwich business. But any chance that Fitzgerald could go in there and say, you know what, I want an indictment. And the grand jury could, you know, could know about this case and could say you know what, we think it‘s political or we think it‘s whatever and not indict?
SUSANIN: It‘s rare, Dan, but it does happen. I think you all reported on one of the DeLay indictments a couple of weeks ago. And I guess it was the last day of the term. And the prosecutor, I forget his name now down there in Texas, sought an indictment and the grand jury said no. It‘s rare but it does happen.
ABRAMS: What do you need for a vote on the grand jury in Washington?
SUSANIN: It depends on how many are sitting on the grand jury. But it‘s if you‘ve got a grand—you usually need a quorum if you‘ve got a grand jury usually of 21, 22 people. I think it‘s 16 or 18 votes you need. You‘re catching me on the math here.
ABRAMS: All right.
SUSANIN: But can have a few dissenters and as long as you have the block, the indictment is still returned.
ABRAMS: Bottom line, Tim, you think indictments are coming?
SUSANIN: I‘ve said all along it‘s tough to see the under—the unauthorized disclosure case and it‘s tough to see perjury and obstruction. For the latter, there have to be facts there that we don‘t know yet.
ABRAMS: But based on—but you were just telling us, based on what you‘re seeing from what the grand jury has been doing, et cetera, the meeting with Rove‘s lawyer, that it sure looks and smells like an indictment from somebody on something?
SUSANIN: Well no, I think what I‘m saying is you have to look to what went on at the grand jury and that could be a debriefing as to no, we‘re not bringing charges or we are. I think what‘s really key to predicting this, Dan, is looking at the reports that came out late last week and early this week, sourced reports from lawyers close to the investigation that seem to indicate an indictment is forthcoming.
Fitzgerald is not leaking. There‘s nothing coming out of there.
SUSANIN: I think you look to those lawyers who really represent targets or witnesses and they are best to know and they are talking about what Fitzgerald is zeroing in on.
ABRAMS: Tim thanks for coming back on the program. You‘ve been great on this.
SUSANIN: Thanks Dan.
ABRAMS: Appreciate it.
SUSANIN: Thank you.
ABRAMS: All right. Now for the political side of this, Tucker is with us, host of “THE SITUATION” here on MSNBC. All right, Tucker, so they -- are they bunkering down there in Washington, getting ready for indictments? Are they assuming that somebody is going to get indicted?
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, “THE SITUATION”: Well, they have been. I mean they being you know people you run into at lunch here and talk to on the phone. I mean you know Washington is like it‘s incredibly small and the political and media world...
ABRAMS: Well, you are a very famous guy in Washington, Tucker. You walk around with Tucker Carlson in Washington...
ABRAMS: ... and everyone stops you...
ABRAMS: ... what are the people who know in Washington saying about the preparations? I mean let‘s put the legal side...
ABRAMS: ... what are they doing in terms of the preparations for a possible indictment?
CARLSON: Well both sides are trying to figure out what they are going to say. The Democratic strategy obviously to this point has been not to say much. The idea of course is when your friend is—when your enemy rather is setting himself on fire, you don‘t want to throw gas on for fear someone is going to splash back on you. So, you just kind of you know let himself emulate.
And the Republicans are trying to figure out what their rhetorical options are and there really aren‘t many because from the very beginning, as you know, the White House has said many nice things about Patrick Fitzgerald, which kind of forecloses the attack the prosecution tact, which was so popular during the Clinton years. It‘s kind of hard for the White House or even its allies to come and say, he‘s out of control...
ABRAMS: Really? But Tucker, that‘s what everyone has been saying.
Everyone has been saying...
ABRAMS: ... you know look, the president said he‘s handling this in a dignified fashion.
ABRAMS: Why can‘t the president say, yes, he was handling it in a dignified fashion and then Scott McClellan could stand up and say yes, but you know what, we still think indicting on petty charges in connection with this case is a big mistake. And it‘s clear that he went about this the wrong way.
CARLSON: It‘s—you know it‘s possible. I personally think when it‘s justified, that is the tact that works politically. But here‘s the other thing the White House has done that I think was not wise. And that is it publicly displayed its unhappiness with Karl Rove‘s conversations with reporters. The White House let it be known the president was mad at Karl Rove—they leaked this—the president is mad at Karl Rove because he found out Karl had told reporters about Joe Wilson‘s wife.
So, that kind of prevents the White House from defending it. There is a defense to be made. You could possibly see the White House come out and say look, the fact that this guy‘s wife worked at CIA was integral to the story. Joe Wilson wouldn‘t have been sent to West Africa if his wife hadn‘t worked there. We were interested in why a guy this unqualified was sent on a fact-finding mission. Now we know the answer. It‘s nepotism.
That‘s a real reason to leak her name. It is, but they can‘t say that now because the president has already made it known that he was irritated that Karl Rove and possibly “Scooter” Libby leaked her name. So what do they say? I don‘t know at this point.
One other thing, last night we reported that Fitzgerald—Patrick Fitzgerald was interviewing or his FBI agent in charge was interviewing the neighbors of...
CARLSON: ... the Wilsons and that was taken, at least last night, as an indication that he was building a case for indictment against Karl Rove. Today, the rumor is and again it‘s just a rumor, that that was an attempt to gather evidence for a trial—trial evidence—that any indictments are essentially written if not presented to the grand jury at this point. But he‘s already made his decision and that was just an effort to bolster the case for the next phase.
ABRAMS: You mean just to sort of tie up lose ends, et cetera?
CARLSON: Well that‘s exactly right. You know if there are indictments, there will presumably be a trial, most likely be a trial. And at that point, it will be useful for him to have those interviews with the neighbors. But you know this has been going on for two years. It‘s sort of hard to believe, at least according to people here, it‘s kind of hard to believe that he‘s still making up his mind about whether to indict. I mean please.
CARLSON: He probably has already decided. They may have...
ABRAMS: Oh yes. Oh yes, yes. I mean...
ABRAMS: ... no question that he probably decided at least a week ago, if not a month ago...
ABRAMS: ... as to what to do here. I didn‘t mean to suggest that Tucker was just famous in Washington, by the way either.
ABRAMS: He‘s famous everywhere. You know why? Because you can watch his show, “THE SITUATION” with Tucker Carlson...
CARLSON: Thank you Dan.
ABRAMS: ... 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time tonight and every night right here...
ABRAMS: ... on MSNBC.
Coming up, sex offenders beware. If you live in certain states, you better not open your doors to trick-or-treaters on Halloween. We‘re going to talk to a sex offender about whether Halloween is really that spooky a day when it comes to kids and sex offenders.
And from stopping convicted sex offenders to trying to stop it from happening in the first place by taxing porn, does that work? We‘re going to talk to a legislator who is behind the idea.
And there‘s someone very much opposed to it, porn star, Mary Carey.
Plus, the California mother charged with pushing her 2-year-old son in front of, not just one, but two trains?
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: The ghouls, ghosts and goblins will be out for Halloween but not the scary monster sex offenders, at least in New Jersey. They‘ll have a curfew and will not be able to give out candy to trick-or-treaters. The parole board there last week sent letters to about 2,200 sex offenders under its supervision telling them they have a 7:00 curfew on Halloween night.
Meaning, they have to be inside and remain inside their homes at the time. If their work or counseling schedule keeps them out past 7:00, they have to return directly home right after that. They‘re not allowed to go to Halloween parties with children. They‘re not allowed to go out trick-or-treating with children, and they‘re not allowed to answer their door for trick-or-treaters.
But New Jersey isn‘t alone. A handful of other states have requirements for sex offenders on Halloween. Westchester County, New York, about 45 high level sex offenders there are getting special invitations to a four-hour educational program on Halloween night. Those who don‘t show will get a personal visit from probation officers and police.
And Virginia has Operation Trick, No Treat. Supervised offenders in urban areas gathered up for mandatory meetings at peak trick-or-treating times in rural areas. It‘s porch lights out. Sex offenders have to turn the lights off, can‘t answer the door for trick-or-treaters.
All right. “My Take”—I‘m not particularly offended by this. I‘m not really troubled by it, but what is this really going to accomplish? Is it just a political feel-good measure? That‘s what I want to know. I don‘t know. It just doesn‘t make any sense. Any day, any month, any time of the year it‘s dangerous business, knocking on stranger‘s doors, particularly for a kid.
But snatching a kid who‘s standing at your door dressed as Cinderella or Elmo asking for candy, just isn‘t the way most sex offenders work. If parents are concerned, they should be going trick-or-treating with their kids and they should check the local sex offender registry before going out, to make sure they don‘t ring a sex offender‘s doorbell. That‘s why we have the registries.
Joining me now is Edward Bray of the New Jersey State Parole Board and recovering sex offender Jake Goldenflame, who is also the author of “Overcoming Sexual Terrorism: 40 Ways To Protect Your Child From Sexual Predators”, and former prosecutor, Susan Filan.
All right. Mr. Bray, let me start with you. I mean what is it about Halloween that is so much different than Girl Scout cookies or any other reason that kids may be knocking on people‘s doors?
EDWARD BRAY, NEW JERSEY STATE PAROLE BOARD: Well Halloween is unique in that. This is the one day during the year where you‘re going to have lots of children, in many cases, without adult supervision, knocking on doors. And while you referenced the local registries of sex offenders, in New Jersey if someone is a tier one sex offender, they would not be a part of that registry, so neighbors wouldn‘t don‘t know about them...
ABRAMS: But tier one sex offenders, and correct me if I‘m wrong, means that they are the least dangerous, right? Meaning it could be like a 19-year-old...
BRAY: No, that‘s based on their past criminal conviction is what their level of tiering is. Based on the most recent studies, those individuals can be just as likely to commit more serious offenses in the future, so that tiering is based on that past conviction, not their current risk to society.
ABRAMS: But we‘re also talking about people who are 19-year-old—let‘s say a 19-year-old guy who had sex with his 15-year-old girl and then that person is considered a sex offender under New Jersey law, correct?
BRAY: That situation, I‘m sorry, what were the years again?
ABRAMS: I‘m just saying you know statutory rape, 19, 15 -- a 19-year-old man, 15-year-old girl, whatever, 20, 21-year-old man, 15, 16-year-old...
BRAY: Right, those—but that‘s the vast minority of cases. In the overwhelming majority of cases, the individuals have been people who have been convicted of more serious crimes against individuals under the age of 13. And the statistics simply show that these are truly risks to society and that this supervision and this restriction for Halloween is absolutely necessary.
ABRAMS: So you think you are actually going to prevent someone from committing a sex offense as a result of this?
BRAY: Absolutely. This is sending a message to those supervised offenders that we‘re taking the supervision very seriously...
ABRAMS: Well that‘s different. Sending a message is different from actually preventing a crime.
BRAY: Well, I would say that by sending that message and showing them that we are going to be vigilant in our pursuit of this supervision, they know that their moves are going to be monitored. And these evenings where you‘re going to have children meeting these people potentially or at least prior to these restrictions, you would have the risk of an offense occurring, so I think over the state of New Jersey we will be doing that.
ABRAMS: I don‘t mean to give you—look, I know you mean well in this and I‘m not suggesting that what you are doing here isn‘t being done for the right reasons and as I‘ve said before, it‘s not that I have a problem with this.
Jake Goldenflame, look, you know I usually go after you on the show about the various positions you take on this. Although, you know look, your book is basically on how to prevent—protect people from people like you. That is what your book is about. What do you make of this?
JAKE GOLDENFLAME, AUTHOR AND RECOVERING SEX OFFENDER: Well I go back to its origins. According to “USA Today”, this began a couple of years ago when a politician who was running for office was looking for an issue and they were out on Halloween night. They saw the kids out there and they said to themselves, what if something were to happen to one of these kids. That‘s when this issue was born and their legislature turned down the bill the first time it was offered.
ABRAMS: But Jake, you‘ve been on this show many times and you‘ve said...
ABRAMS: ... that you still have that urge, you‘ve said...
GOLDENFLAME: Sure. Yes.
ABRAMS: You‘ve said sex offenders, it doesn‘t go away. And for you...
ABRAMS: ... you put up that firewall, you said...
ABRAMS: ... every time and that allows you to continue in society and warn people...
ABRAMS: ... away from people like you. So why then doesn‘t this make sense in terms of someone who doesn‘t have a firewall. You might have the temptation. Oh, I didn‘t know this little girl lived right down the block from me. You are adding to the temptation, could be the argument.
GOLDENFLAME: Well, it‘s a standard condition of parole and probation almost throughout the United States that if you are a convicted sex offender, you are not supposed to be alone with a child. So, to me, the message that I would send to the community, people who are convicted sex offenders is regardless of what anybody says, on Halloween night, don‘t open your door to anybody. It‘s not worth it.
ABRAMS: That‘s actually a good point, Susan. What about the fact...
ABRAMS: ... that convicted sex offenders aren‘t supposed to be alone with children anyway, so this is basically just sort of restating it, it sounds like for political reasons?
SUSAN FILAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Oh I don‘t think it‘s for political reasons, Dan, but that‘s exactly right. They are just saying here you are under a rule, you are not allowed to be with children. Tonight is a night when children are going to be tempting you like never before, so we‘re reminding you under this rule you cannot go anywhere near these children.
Don‘t forget that sex offenders very often groom their victims over a long period of time. So this is like an alcoholic going into a bar and seeing every kind of bottle...
ABRAMS: What about Girl Scout cookies? I mean how are you going to prevent this? And what about the guys who have beaten up kids and haven‘t sexually assaulted them?
FILAN: Just because you can‘t prevent every single kind of crime from occurring doesn‘t mean that you don‘t take productive measures from preventing the ones that you can...
ABRAMS: But is this productive? I mean look, again, I don‘t mind it. I really don‘t. I‘m not offending by it. Some people are offended by this as a sort of a matter of civil liberties, et cetera. I‘m not troubled by it that way. I‘m just—I just don‘t think it‘s going to do anything.
FILAN: But again Dan, the grooming argument, what you‘re doing is you‘re preventing these people from getting a look at somebody that they would salivate over, that as you said, they didn‘t realize lived down the road. So what you are doing is you‘re removing the temptation. You‘re removing the danger.
And just to say that the parents can look up on the registry and not ring that doorbell, well what if the girlfriend has got her boyfriend over and he doesn‘t live there. He‘s not registered as someone who lives there. He shouldn‘t be answering that door either.
So I don‘t see this as inane. I don‘t see this as pure politics. I see this that it‘s about time people looked at the risk and did something when they know that the risks are higher...
ABRAMS: But why aren‘t we putting this—I mean why aren‘t we putting the responsibility on parents here to say you know what? If there‘s a concern, and it‘s a legitimate concern, if you don‘t know the people where your kids are going to be trick-or-treating, I‘m going to go with you.
FILAN: Well, parents should go with their children. But that‘s still not to say that when the mom and dad are standing at the door behind the 12-year-old girl and the sex offender answers the door...
ABRAMS: How is that any different than being at the grocery store?
FILAN: How is it different, because at the grocery store it‘s everyday. Halloween is when children are paraded into people‘s home.
FILAN: It‘s a multitude. It‘s the same thing as on New Year‘s Eve, are there going to be more drunks on the road? So, is that the time to have sobriety checkpoints? Absolutely!
ABRAMS: Mr. Bray, one of my concerns was I saw a police chief from a neighboring community say basically look, we don‘t want to waste our money on this, on these regular checks to make sure that the sex offenders are complying with this particular provision on Halloween. We‘ve got other crimes that we have to deal with, which are more serious. What‘s your response to that?
BRAY: Our parole officers are going to be doing those routine curfew checks that evening and what we did was notify the local police department so that as part of their regular patrols that they‘re doing that evening, they know who the sex offenders are because they get notice of all of them. If they see anything that‘s untoward, anything, which is inviolative of this order, they can either respond or contact us. We‘re not expecting them to do our job, but we‘re going to have our officers on the streets doing these curfew checks.
ABRAMS: Hey Jake, when you were at your worst, all right...
ABRAMS: You know when you were out there you know molesting your kid...
ABRAMS: ... and doing this and that...
ABRAMS: ... was Halloween sort of a special day for you?
GOLDENFLAME: No. And I must tell you in my entire history I have never been attracted to anybody who looks like a monster or Frankenstein or some kind of...
ABRAMS: But on a more serious note, though, it‘s really done more covertly, isn‘t it?
GOLDENFLAME: Of course.
ABRAMS: Susan correctly talked about this grooming issue and I think it‘s very important.
GOLDENFLAME: Yes. That‘s what you are talking about. You are talking about building a relationship of trust with a child that you intend to seduce. On an evening like Halloween where they‘re coming to your door for two minutes to get a piece of candy and go, I don‘t think you‘re going to be able to do very much grooming. I notice, by the way, that police last year, when this was tried, police in several municipalities said we‘ve never had a problem on Halloween before with sex offenders.
FILAN: But Dan...
GOLDENFLAME: I think that‘s important to note.
FILAN: Dan, it‘s not going that it‘s going to occur that night. They‘re going to grab them and snatch them into the house and molest them right then and there...
FILAN: ... the sex offender is going to see this beautiful little girl dressed up as a princess, make eye contact with her and start the grooming process from there. That‘s the temptation and that‘s the danger that they‘re seeking to prevent.
ABRAMS: Yes. I don‘t—and look, I understand that. It just seems to me the notion that because a child is in a costume that that is somehow going to make the child more appealing than the child would be at the grocery store, at the toy store, wherever else in society, when you are knocking on stranger‘s doors, people should be careful, should be more careful. Anyway, I‘m going to give Mr. Bray the final word on this. Go ahead.
BRAY: Well, Dan, I appreciate the attention to this issue. We think that this is an issue that‘s actually going to assist in increasing public safety for the children.
ABRAMS: All right.
BRAY: You have the issues of both the grooming and the fact that we simply, though we have not had an offense on Halloween, we don‘t want to take the risk.
ABRAMS: All right.
BRAY: We want to get ahead of this.
ABRAMS: Look, as I say, I don‘t blame your motivations here. Edward Bray, Jake Goldenflame, Susan Filan, thanks a lot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
ABRAMS: Coming up, another state trying to stop a different tactic. This one is to stop sex crimes. They want to tax porn. They say it will stop people from offending in the first place. Really? We‘re going to debate it with a politician behind it and a woman who has made her living from porn, adult film star, there she is—I was going to make it—Mary Carey.
And a California woman under arrest for pushing her 2-year-old son, first in front of a train, then in front of a trolley, but she may not be charged with attempted murder.
And our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to try and help find missing sex offenders before they strike again. We continue our search today in Connecticut.
Police have a warrant and are looking for Dale Coombs, 26, 5‘11”, 160, was convicted of sexual assault in ‘98, hasn‘t confirmed his address with the state.
If you‘ve got any information on his whereabouts, please call the Connecticut Public Safety, 860-685-8060.
We‘re back in a minute.
ABRAMS: Coming up, a mother arrested for pushing her 2-year-old son in front of, not one, but two trains. And she could get away without being charged with attempted murder. We‘re going to talk to a police officer working the case, first the headlines.
ABRAMS: This one is a little hard to believe, a San Diego mother allegedly left her 2-year-old son in the path of an oncoming train and after the train was able to come to an emergency stop, 25 feet from the boy, she allegedly left him in the path of a slower moving trolley 15 minutes later. Again, the conductor was able to stop before hitting the boy.
Twenty-two-year-old Rachel Gaeta was arrested last night immediately after police were called to the scene. Police charged her with attempted murder and child endangerment. Gaeta was—remains in jail and will be arraigned on Friday.
Joining me now from San Diego is Lieutenant Vince Villalvazo with the San Diego Police Department. The lieutenant heads the department‘s child abuse unit. Lieutenant, thanks for taking time. We appreciate it.
All right. So there seems to be confusion here about exactly what happened, about whether it was intentional. Did she leave the child there? Did the child run away from her? What has your investigation turned up so far?
LT. VINCE VILLALVAZO, SAN DIEGO POLICE DEPT.: Right now it appears that it‘s not an intentional act. That was initially reported where it was alleged that she pushed the child and it appears more of a situation where she was probably grossly negligent and not properly caring for her child.
ABRAMS: How is one so grossly negligent that a child ends up in front of one train and then another trolley within 15 minutes?
VILLALVAZO: What it appears is that she was disoriented for some, at this point, unknown reason. She was contacted initially by trolley security. After the first incident she was warned to keep a closer eye on her child. She was questioned about what direction trolley she was going to be boarding.
She had indicated she was going to be heading on an eastbound trolley. However, few minutes later, a westbound trolley was approaching and she attempted to board that trolley from the wrong side of the trolley.
ABRAMS: This is—let me play this piece of sound from one of the officers from last night talking about what witnesses saw.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LT. SHELLEY ZIMMERMAN, SAN DIEGO POLICE DEPT.: Witnesses reported that the woman had walked the 2-year-old out on to the tracks when a train was approaching. The train engineer actually had to make an emergency stop in order not to hit the child. And when another trolley came, they did the same thing, is that they walked on to the tracks again and actually another witness reported that they saw her push the child on to the tracks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: So, Lieutenant, you are not buying those witnesses accounts now?
VILLALVAZO: No, after we‘ve been investigating this throughout the day, the part about her attempting or appearing that she pushed the child is not an accurate statement. The other facts do appear to be accurate. She was there initially and had attempted to board a westbound trolley, even after she indicated she was going eastbound.
ABRAMS: So the attempted murder charge...
ABRAMS: I‘m sorry, Lieutenant. The attempted murder charge is probably going to be dropped then?
VILLALVAZO: It will be up to the District Attorney‘s Office. But right now it doesn‘t appear that there‘s enough evidence to charge that. However, it‘s definitely a very gross negligence case.
ABRAMS: Yes, well that‘s for sure. I mean you know any child who ends up in front of two—a train and a trolley within 15 minutes, you got to have some real questions about the safety of that child and that parent‘s care.
All right, Lieutenant, thanks a lot for coming on the show.
VILLALVAZO: You‘re welcome.
ABRAMS: Coming up, taxing porn to curb sex crimes. Is there really a link? Mary Carey joins us next with her thoughts.
And remember the Spokane mayor who was reportedly caught on a gay Web site offering a young man an internship at City Hall. Not only has he refused to resign, now he‘s saying he‘s going to sue because his privacy has been violated. Oh boy.
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, would taxing porn cut down on sex crimes? We debate with a politician who says it will versus adult film star Mary Carey.
ABRAMS: We‘re back. Many of us are used to paying added taxes on so-called vice products like cigarettes and alcohol. But now it seems there‘s a new target for taxation, porn. Everything from magazines to books to videos, maybe even strip clubs could cost consumers more if some have their way. It‘s a fight gaining steam in states across the country.
Most recently in Kansas, where legislators are leading the charge to add a 10 percent tax to the sale of sexually explicitly materials. They say the adult entertainment industry has a negative effect on society. Some even connecting the sale of pornography to sex crimes like rape and pedophilia.
“My Take”—first of all, I haven‘t really seen a convincing study that suggest a direct correlation between watching smut and committing sex crimes. And secondly, where do you draw the line when it comes to what do you tax?
Should we put on a tax on anything that‘s morally offensive? What about a racist or sexist film or movies deemed to be too violent? Who gets to decide where to draw the line? After all, it‘s legal. I don‘t quite understand why they are singling out the smut industry. Doesn‘t really make sense to me.
Joining me now to debate is Kansas State Representative Sheri Weber, who believes there is a connection between pornography and sex crimes. And adult film star and former California gubernatorial candidate Mary Carey.
All right, Representative Weber, first of all, thank you for coming on. What am I getting wrong here? I mean is there really a convincing link between smut and sex crimes?
REP. SHARI WEBER ®, KANSAS STATE LEGISLATURE: There is a convincing link in Kansas. We have tracking records from our sex offenders for about the last decade and definitely law enforcement tells us that they find those type of merchandise products at the scenes of these crimes.
ABRAMS: At the scenes of the crimes, meaning the same people who happen to be sex offenders often are people who have watched pornography, et cetera. But what makes you think that it was the pornography that caused them to be sex offenders as opposed to the fact that they‘re just a little you know crazy people or they have something really wrong with them is a better way to put it. And OK, so this is part of the way they act out.
WEBER: And it‘s indicative of a very deviant cycle. It isn‘t true that everyone who uses merchandise or visits sexually oriented businesses commits a sex crime. But it is true that most sex crimes have that kind of fuel in that fire at the scene or in the paraphernalia found when someone is arrested for a crime like that.
ABRAMS: Mary, the representative says people should have to pay more for your movies.
MARY CAREY, ADULT FILM STAR: You know what? I don‘t think they should really have to pay more for certain types of adult material. I do a show for “Playboy” TV I think “Playboy” actually you know definitely does not, you know, make people want to commit sex crimes. I think “Playboy” is more glorifying women.
I also don‘t think that porn relates to sex crimes. I think that the sex offenders probably would have, you know, done the same crime whether they not—whether they had the porn or not because it is a behavior that they obviously have. And they are going to find a way to satisfy that deviant behavior with or without the adult movies.
ABRAMS: But how do you feel about the fact and Representative Weber will correct me if I am wrong when I ask you this question, but it sounds like what Representative Weber is saying, is that what you do for a living is really quite disgusting and repulsive.
CAREY: You know what? I don‘t think what I do for a living is disgusting and I don‘t think my “Playboy” show or magazines are, you know, even some of the adult movies I‘ve done are disgusting. Now I do agree that there is some pornography that is pushing the limit and is you know disgusting.
ABRAMS: And some of it‘s illegal.
ABRAMS: I mean some of...
ABRAMS: Well, sorry, why don‘t you finish...
CAREY: ... is legal.
ABRAMS: Maybe I‘m not clear on what type of pornography you are talking about, but without getting to detailed, you just mean that there can be stuff that crosses the line?
CAREY: Well, exactly. I mean even that stuff technically you know is legal. I mean you know if the girl is over 18, we check all I.D.s, you know they have two forms of I.D. in testing and it‘s a consenting adult that is shooting the movie. I mean all the porn that‘s shot pretty much out here in California, I‘m sure there are you know—there is you know illegal porn shot.
But I know the porn that I you know taken part in or what I see shot in L.A. is all legal, consenting adults, agreeing to the movie, and they know what they are getting themselves into when they go into the movie. And I think that porn also provides an outlet for people who without it might seek another—you know another way to act it out.
ABRAMS: Representative Weber, what I think by singling out smut as opposed to you know racist, sexist, violent films, et cetera, it just says to me that politically, you all are just trying to make a statement that says we don‘t like the porn industry?
WEBER: That‘s not true. And in the case of excise taxes, in particular, they usually follow a specific piece of, probably a compelling interest that the state has because it incurs a cost. It‘s very similar to, in our state, an excise tax that we have on dry cleaners, the chemicals that they use pollute the ground, so we have an excise tax to take care of the harm it‘s caused.
The same thing is true of scrap rubber in our state. People don‘t quick using tires or patronizing those businesses, but we do have an avenue of revenue that we can utilize to clean up and properly dispose of that. Now in the human factor here, I think we‘re dealing with something that has a far more damaging effect because it is a human. Sex crimes are just horrible perpetrated against women and children. They are very violent...
ABRAMS: No one is defending...
ABRAMS: Right. No one is defending sex crimes. I mean no one—I‘m not...
WEBER: That‘s a very good thing that no one is defending them. But what we‘re saying is that there is a direct connection and the state has a compelling interest...
ABRAMS: But what are you basing that...
ABRAMS: You are basing that on a few anecdotes of cops coming in and saying, yes, you know what, we found some porn at this guy‘s house as well.
WEBER: We‘re basing it on some of what law enforcement tells us, and yes, that would be anecdotal except it becomes part of the public record or the record used in cases. But what it‘s based on are the tracking mechanisms that our own Department of Corrections has.
They have been tracking these sex offenders that we have in our custody incarcerated for the last decade. And it absolutely does show that the people that we contract with to take these therapeutic treatments and place them on sex offenders so that we can put them back into society, tell us that.
ABRAMS: Yes, I just haven‘t seen any study convincing in any way that there‘s a link here. Mary, why don‘t get—take the final word on this one?
CAREY: You know, I just have to agree with you. I have never seen any studies that say that porn is leading to sex crimes. And like I said, I think it probably decreases it because you are able to watch a video or people are acting out and portraying, you know actors and actresses playing maybe the little girl with the guy when really it‘s a girl over 18. so I think porn is definitely helping to lower crime and everything. But if they want to have a tax, then go for it, that‘s cool.
ABRAMS: All right. I just say to Representative Weber...
ABRAMS: ... thank you for being a good sport and coming on the program, Representative. I‘m sure that you‘re not accustomed to debating Mary Carey on various issues. So, I appreciate you doing that. Thanks a lot. And Mary, thank you.
WEBER: Thank you, Dan.
CAREY: Thank you.
ABRAMS: Coming up, a newspaper catches a Washington state mayor offering a City Hall internship to what he thought was a gay man he met online. That mayor now facing both a state and federal criminal investigation, not to mention a recall election, but he seems more interested in what he says was his privacy being violated.
And our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to find missing sex offenders before they strike again. The search is in Connecticut.
Authorities are searching for Daniel Cutler. He‘s 24, 5‘11”, 210, convicted of first-degree sexual assault, hasn‘t confirmed his address with authorities.
If you‘ve got any information, please call 860-685-8060.
ABRAMS: My “Closing Argument”—what is a poor mayor to do if he‘s busted trolling gay Web sites on city time, even accused of promising a City Hall job to an ambitious young man he met while surfing the net. He resigned. Do you try to lay low? Not if you are Spokane, Washington Mayor Jim West.
No, Mayor West is adding to the litigation glut by announcing a lawsuit against the paper that caught him red-handed, so to speak. Back in May, “The Spokesman-Review” newspaper reported that West offered a man he believed to be an 18-year-old, gifts, favors, and even a City Hall internship. Turned out that sweet young thing was actually a computer forensic expert retained by the newspaper, hired after its own reporting revealed that West had a relationship with another 18-year-old he met through a gay Web site.
West eventually acknowledged publicly that he had relationships with several adult men he met through gay Web sites. OK, but now local authorities are investigating whether he violated state laws by viewing sexually explicated sites on a state-owned computer and the FBI is investigating whether he used his office to coerce young men and violated federal law.
West has refused to step down pronouncing that the people of Spokane elected him to finish his term. Now he‘s facing a recall election in December and so while he prepares, there‘s a new report that while traveling in his official capacity as mayor, he used the City Hall laptop to search Internet profiles of gay men in cities across the U.S.
Oh, oh, no, don‘t feel sorry for the embattled mayor. No, in the time honored political tradition of passing the buck, the mayor announced he‘s suing the Spokane paper for invasion of privacy. The legal standard in the state of Washington—quote—“the interference with a plaintiff‘s seclusion must be a substantial one resulting from conduct of a kind that would be offensive and objectionable to the ordinary person.”
That‘s right. Mayor West needs to prove that what the paper did to him was offensive and objectionable. You want to talk about offensive and objectionable? How about that while being investigated by both his own state and the feds, he‘s threatening a frivolous lawsuit that will almost certainly get thrown out of court. But the voters of Spokane can rest easy. West has said he won‘t file the case until after the recall election.
He doesn‘t want the lawsuit and the entire episode to that matter to become a campaign issue, a campaign issue. Why does he think he‘s being forced to campaign again in the middle of his term?
Coming up, last night I took on one of our regular defense attorneys who wrote an article that suggest the way to defend the 16-year-old accused of murdering Pamela Vitale by trying to blame the husband, Daniel Horowitz. Many of you angry at me again.
ABRAMS: We‘re back. I‘ve had my say, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”. Last night I was outraged at criminal defense attorney Jonna Spilbor, who wrote an article suggesting the way to defend the 16-year-old accused of murdering Pamela Vitale was by trying to place the blame on the husband, Daniel Horowitz, even though there is no evidence to suggest he was in any way responsible.
Lots of response. From Houston, Texas, Nancy Roberts. “This attorney was merely coming up with strategies exactly like those that Mr. Horowitz has used in cases where he was the defense attorney.”
That‘s right, Nancy, and I used to criticize Daniel for it and I will continue to criticize anyone who treats the legal system like a game and crime victims like they‘re just pieces in that game.
Wendy Ampolsk in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, “I cannot thank you enough for your strong, no-nonsense reactions to the defense lawyer who suggested that the best defense for the accused murder of Pamela Vitale is to blame Daniel Horowitz. I‘m simply enraged at the blame game that some people employ.”
Chris Kneltz in California, “I had the same argument and question for you about Joran van der Sloot, Deepak and Satish Kalpoe that you had for Spilbor about Dan Horowitz. There‘s no evidence, not one shred, to suggest that Joran, Deepak, and/or Satish kidnapped, drugged, gang raped, or killed Natalee Holloway, right?”
Well no, not right, Chris. I should say I don‘t know if they had anything to do with it. I haven‘t seen enough evidence, but they were arrested. They were the last ones to see Natalee alive and according to the police, they repeatedly lied about their whereabouts that night and have made other inconsistent statements. That does not mean that they are guilty or should be charged, but it does mean that case is very different from this one where he was not arrested and there‘s nothing to suggest Horowitz will be or should be, or that he made any incriminating statements.
From Cape Girardeau, Missouri, Anita Moore, “We aren‘t even talking about innocent until proven guilty here. The man has lost his wife to murder and someone else was arrested.” Right.
Jen in Maryland, “Jonna Spilbor reflects the exact reason so many criminal defense attorneys are looked upon with such loathing.”
And John Byrne, “Considering you‘ve had your friend Daniel Horowitz on as a defense attorney who was speculating about criminal cases, I find your tongue lashing against speculation and speculators completely hypercritical.” Hypocritical I think is what you meant to say or maybe you wrote that and we typed it wrong.
Either way, John, I‘m not—sorry, it said hypercritical—John, I‘m not lashing out at any one for speculating. I love speculation. But I love speculation based on facts, not reckless speculation based on nothing. I think this was perfectly legitimate to have questions about Daniel‘s guilt at the outset. But now that someone else has been arrested reportedly with loads of physical evidence and no evidence against Daniel, it is just reckless.
From Coos Bay, Oregon, Shannon Brent. “A defense attorney should be trying to insure his client receives a fair trial and his rights are not violated, abridged, or denied. But that doesn‘t mean if the client is guilty, his counsel should get him off scot-free.” I agree Shannon.
But Pam Yost doesn‘t buy the police theory here. “You‘re supposed to be an educated intellectual. Do you honestly believe that a 5‘5”, 110 pound 16-year-old boy went to Pam‘s house donned in rubber gloves with a knife in one hand and a piece of wood in the other because he thought she had his package?”
Well first, it is not my theory. It is the police theory. We don‘t know if he necessarily went there with all those items. But once you hear all the physical evidence, I‘m guessing your answer to your own question will be yes.
Barry Hughes in Seattle responds to my comment about Harriet Miers‘ testimony. I was saying it‘s not as if the Senate‘s questioning is going to be that tough. I said even a bottom feeder talk show host lawyer like me can probably answer the questions.
“Dan, stop it. An attorney who is also a talk show host is not the ultimate bottom feeder. I‘m afraid the fact that you have a conscience disqualifies you from that category. The ultimate bottom feeder would be someone like a defense attorney who comes on a talk show to make ridiculous arguments against a completely innocent man like Daniel Horowitz in an attempt to draw attention away from the real killer.”
Thanks Barry. I didn‘t mean to be hypercritical about all of this stuff. (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
Abramsreport@msnbc.com. Chris Matthews, “HARDBALL” up next.
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