Guests: Seth Hammett, Michael Cardoza, Susan Filan, Tim McEvoy, “Del Harvey”, Matthew Yarbrough, Kathleen Peratis, Mike Delikat
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Coming up: Today Alabama‘s governor calls for a boycott of Aruba until Aruban officials do more to help find missing teen Natalee Holloway.
ABRAMS (voice-over): The governor says he hopes the 49 other governors join in the boycott as well. But is this really going to get Aruban authorities to do more? Or could it backfire?
And, “Dateline NBC” went undercover confronting potential sexual predators when they showed up to meet what they thought were sexually available teens they‘d met online. They‘re caught on tape, so why is it so hard to charge them with a crime?
Plus, Fox News channel under attack from an arm of the federal government. The allegation, said Fox didn‘t do enough to stop sexual harassment of female employees.
The program about justice starts now.
ABRAMS: Hi everyone. First up on the docket tonight, the Natalee Holloway case has officially gotten political. The governor of Alabama now calling for a boycott of Aruba. Five months after Alabama teen Natalee Holloway disappeared from Aruba, Governor Bob Riley with Natalee‘s mother and stepfather at his side made this plea to all Americans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. BOB RILEY ®, ALABAMA: Natalee‘s family believes, I agree, that we‘ve reached the point where there are no other viable options to get Aruban officials to take this matter as seriously as they should. So today Beth and Jug are here to endorse a travel boycott to Aruba, and as governor I am joining them in this effort. I will be contacting the governors of the other 49 states and urging them to join Alabama in this boycott. We can and we will use whatever moral persuasion we have to encourage all the citizens of Alabama and the United States to help put pressure on the Aruban authorities to finally do what is right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: But is this about the investigation or is this just political? I mean is this really going to achieve its goals? Can this really get the Aruban authorities to do anything differently?
Joining me now Alabama Speaker of the House Democrat Seth Hammett, MSNBC analyst and former prosecutor Susan Filan, criminal defense attorney Michael Cardoza and Tucker Carlson, host of MSNBC‘s “THE SITUATION” with Tucker Carlson.
All right, Tucker, we bring you in because it really has turned political for the first time.
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, “THE SITUATION”: Yes.
ABRAMS: What do you make of this?
CARLSON: Well you hate to see it. I mean you know it‘s another example of the power of cable news, something I generally support. I mean this is a case—I‘m not in any way belittling the facts of the case. This girl has disappeared and that‘s a tragedy. But it is something that‘s been sort of developed into a frenzy thanks to us for good or bad and politicians are now attempting to sort of benefit from it and that‘s a shame.
But on the merits, it‘s weird. The government of Aruba didn‘t kill Natalee Holloway, is not accused of that. Aruba is hardly the most dangerous place in the world to go. Mexico is a lot more dangerous. Florida is more dangerous statistically. And you know so the—rather the prosecutors in this case may have screwed up, well so did the prosecution in the O.J. Simpson case and nobody suggests boycotting California. I hate to stick up for a foreign government, I don‘t typically do that and I like Governor Riley, but this seems insane to me.
ABRAMS: Speaker Hammett, what about that?
STATE REP. SETH HAMMETT (D), ALABAMA HOUSE SPEAKER: Well, I clearly think that‘s the wrong approach to this situation. Earlier this year as a matter of fact back on July the 22nd, the Alabama House of Representatives passed unanimously a resolution calling upon Alabama citizens to boycott Aruba until and unless a clearer investigation were to occur and a more thorough investigation were to occur into the disappearance of Natalee.
And after passing that resolution in the House of Representatives, the parents asked us not to pursue that resolution in the State Senate until such time as they could give additional time to the Aruban authorities to more clearly show that they intend to solve this case. I think that‘s—the time has run. I agree with the governor, I was glad to stand with the governor today.
This is not a political matter as far as we are concerned in Alabama. This is an Alabama family and we‘re concerned about this Alabama family and we are concerned about the disappearance of their daughter and we want justice to be served in this case.
ABRAMS: I think everyone wants justice to be served and the question is, what is the best way to achieve that goal. You say it‘s not political. But you have to wonder why we don‘t boycott towns and cities in this country all the time where investigations are blown. I mean we cover blown investigations all...
ABRAMS: ... the time on this program.
HAMMETT: ... not talking about what is occurring here in the United States of America. We‘re talking about a foreign country. We‘re talking about Aruba, which of course is a part of the Dutch government and so we‘re calling upon the Dutch as well to engage in a meaningful way into this investigation.
Look, I have a daughter myself and I can only imagine what this family is going through. And what‘s—what are we supposed to do here, as Alabama citizens, as representatives of the people of Alabama I think we have to stand up for our people and we intend to do that.
ABRAMS: Michael Cardoza, look, as people know who‘ve watch this program there has been...
MICHAEL CARDOZA, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes.
ABRAMS: ... there have been few people who have felt for Beth Holloway Twitty as much as I have on this program. I continue to feel that way. We‘ve gotten a lot of harsh e-mails. I am always the one defending her. I just—I don‘t know how this particular maneuver as a political matter is going to do anything.
CARDOZA: You know, Dan, I couldn‘t agree with you more. It is political, number one. And I can‘t help but think, let‘s reverse roles. Let‘s say that down in Alabama they were doing an investigation of an Aruban citizen and Aruba came in, I can just imagine the response that they would give back to Aruba. What do we think we‘re doing here?
What we‘re sending as a message is, we want to you investigate this, we want to you prosecute van der Sloot and the Kalpoe brothers. Not only that, we wanted to you convict them. Then we‘re going to be happy. Remember, they don‘t have enough...
CARDOZA: ... evidence to do that...
ABRAMS: I don‘t know...
CARDOZA: ... not enough evidence...
ABRAMS: I don‘t know that Alabama would be particularly afraid of the lack of Aruban visitors...
CARDOZA: Well you‘re right...
ABRAMS: ... coming to Alabama. But nevertheless...
CARDOZA: You‘re right...
ABRAMS: ... I understand...
CARDOZA: ... look at the reverse of it.
ABRAMS: I understand...
CARDOZA: Look at the reverse, Dan...
ABRAMS: Susan Filan, what do you make of it?
CARDOZA: So and think of the innocent people. Think of the innocent people down there that we‘re going to affect economically. You know your heart, my heart goes out to the Holloway family. But not withstanding that, look—let‘s look at the broader picture. Don‘t tell me this is not political. This is exactly what it is.
ABRAMS: Susan, what is it exactly...
ABRAMS: Wait. Hang on...
CARDOZA: It‘s a political statement.
ABRAMS: Susan, exactly what is it that they‘re hoping to achieve. I mean let‘s accept the fact that the Aruban authorities didn‘t do everything that they could have and should have at the beginning of this investigation. Let‘s assume that as a given. And now the relationship has deteriorated between Natalee Holloway‘s family and the Aruban authorities. Is this going to improve that situation?
SUSAN FILAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: The message has to be sent that an American in Aruba who disappeared, whose investigation is botched, whose case is not being properly addressed is not going to tolerate it. The message has to be sent. If something happens to an American citizen in a foreign jurisdiction and it isn‘t...
ABRAMS: Let me ask you this...
FILAN: ... care of appropriately...
ABRAMS: ... why are we not going after France for harboring Roman Polanski? He‘s a wanted fugitive in this country.
ABRAMS: Why are we not...
FILAN: Because we can‘t address every single wrong in the world but the ones that you can address should be addressed. And the Holloways have made their case; they have gotten the attention of the Alabama government. This isn‘t political. This is moral. Just because you can‘t right every wrong doesn‘t mean that you right the ones that you can.
This botched investigation if you believe the allegations that Beth Holloway Twitty made in her letter, she makes at least...
FILAN: ... nine criticisms which if true are extremely serious. The message has to be sent. We will not tolerate this kind of treatment at the hands...
FILAN: ... of the Aruban government of poor innocent young American girls.
ABRAMS: See Tucker, some people are going to say that Natalee‘s family is using the government. I don‘t view it that way. I don‘t blame Natalee‘s family at all.
ABRAMS: I‘m blaming the officials for effectively using this as a political tool.
CARLSON: Well if they were using—well first of all, if I disappear you know I hope my family‘s as effective as Natalee Holloway‘s family has been. But if they‘re using the government, they‘re using the wrong government. This is a federal question.
If the government of Aruba has done something wrong, been negligent in this case, mistreated an American, we ought to send warships or we ought to have official sanctions set by the executive branch, the State Department, against Aruba. Teddy Roosevelt sent warships to Morocco when he thought an American was mistreated by the Moroccan government.
Let‘s do that. But short of that, I mean it‘s hard to see what the state of Alabama is going to do. You know you hate to...
CARLSON: ... laugh at something this serious, but it is kind of laughable.
ABRAMS: Go ahead, Speaker...
HAMMETT: Let me tell you this, our choice is to say that we‘re going to forget about this situation or that we‘re not. Now the truth of the matter is most of the economy of Aruba is based upon tourism. I‘m told that about 70 percent of their tourism dollars come from the United States of America citizens visiting there. I think it‘s not—as far as I‘m personally concerned I can tell you for sure it‘s not political.
I‘m concerned about this Alabama family. And whatever we can do to try to affect a conclusion, an acceptable conclusion to this investigation is what we intend to do.
ABRAMS: But see Michael, I guess that‘s the point that I‘m making, is that I‘m concerned about this family, too. I‘ve come to care about this...
CARDOZA: We all are...
ABRAMS: ... I‘ve come to care about this family because I‘ve dealt with them so much and I guess I‘m questioning whether this is going to be effective. Whether the Arubans—I mean look, the Arubans have gotten very angry and defensive as a result of this. Now it‘s true, as the Speaker points out, that tourism is extremely important. But with that said, let me put up these numbers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
ABRAMS: This is a comparison, I mean so far the Aruban tourism has only gone up since this happened. It seems that Americans aren‘t afraid of going to Aruba. January to March you see there the comparison, 20,000 more people went there in 2005 and 2004. April to June, you‘ve got something like 25,000 more going there. And yet here‘s the governor today basically saying that he‘d be afraid to send his daughter there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RILEY: I‘m not going to speak for all the parents in Alabama but I‘ll tell you for a fact, I would not allow my daughter to go to Aruba today and even have the possibility of the same thing happening there that has happened to Natalee.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: And see, I have no problem with people making that kind of statement, Michael. I have no problem with you or someone else saying as a personal matter, I wouldn‘t send my kids to Aruba. The question I have is as a political matter, is this smart and is this the right way to get the investigation going?
CARDOZA: No. Like I said, think if they were doing it to us. Any country bigger than Aruba, pick any country...
ABRAMS: But we‘re more important...
ABRAMS: Look, we are more powerful than Aruba. The bottom line is...
CARDOZA: There‘s no question...
ABRAMS: ... we can‘t make the comparison...
CARDOZA: There‘s no question. Pick any country...
ABRAMS: ... because we don‘t care what they—look...
CARDOZA: Pick any country.
ABRAMS: ... but as practical matter we don‘t really care economically what they do to us...
CARDOZA: And maybe that‘s the problem.
ABRAMS: ... and they care what we do to them.
CARDOZA: Maybe that‘s the problem. Maybe we should care. Maybe we should spend money sending investigators down. Doing a little more than something that I consider very political in saying well, we‘re not going to socioeconomically or economically...
CARDOZA: ... support your country, wrong. Let‘s solve this crime...
ABRAMS: Yes, what about...
CARDOZA: ... some other way.
ABRAMS: That‘s a good idea...
CARDOZA: Let‘s not threaten them that way...
ABRAMS: What about that, Susan? Why not say...
ABRAMS: ... rather than a...
ABRAMS: Right. Why not say rather than a boycott, why don‘t we spend money, why doesn‘t Alabama use taxpayer money from Alabama to send down a team of investigators, work out a deal with the Aruban authorities and say hey, these investigators from Alabama will work with the Aruban authorities to help solve the crime. That seems to be for more productive than saying we‘re going to boycott them.
FILAN: Dan, my understanding is that the Americans involvement in this investigation was hardly welcome and the FBI were essentially frozen out. Things that should have been done were not done. Investigative techniques that should have been undertaken weren‘t. Interrogations were botched. Collection of forensic evidence was botched.
So sure, if after the economic sanction goes in place and Aruba feels the pinch of being boycotted, now they want to say we‘ll take your help. I think it‘s entirely appropriate for Alabama to help. But I think the point that‘s being made is, you shut us out, you didn‘t do your job, and now we‘re going to fight back.
CARDOZA: Do we know they didn‘t do their job? No, we don‘t know that. Everybody‘s assuming that. There‘s not enough...
FILAN: Michael, if you read the letter...
CARDOZA: ... evidence to prosecute them, Susan...
FILAN: ... from...
ABRAMS: Tucker, is it going to work? I mean do you think Americans are not going to go to Aruba as a result of this?
CARLSON: No, I don‘t think so. I mean you know as a practical matter it probably gives free publicity to Aruba. I think its political affect could be unhelpful to the politicians getting involved. I mean you never know with these things. You know you saw it in the Terri Schiavo case. I thought they were within bounds to take the stands they did, a lot of them, Jeb Bush, for instance, but it hurt them in the end. You know you never know where this is going to end up.
ABRAMS: All right. We shall see. And again let me just—you know I said it before and I‘ll say it again, I don‘t blame at all the family here for doing what they‘re doing for getting the government involved and for doing everything that they can. And I understand why they‘re frustrated and angry. In particular, I understand why they‘re angry at some of the officials in Aruba.
The question that I‘m talking about here is whether this is going to work, whether this should be political and we shall see. Speaker Hammett, Susan Filan, Michael Cardoza, and Tucker Carlson, thanks a lot.
Don‘t forget, you can see Tucker on “THE SITUATION” tonight at 11:00 Eastern on MSNBC.
More on the undercover operation we told you about last week coming up. “Dateline NBC‘s” hidden cameras catch potential pedophiles in action. People who posed as sexually available teens lead to these guys getting caught. We ask why aren‘t local police charging anyone with any crimes?
And a arm of the federal government going after Fox News, that‘s coming up.
Plus, Philadelphia Eagles Terrell Owens tries to apologize for dissing his team in public. I say he seems to still be missing the point.
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: We‘re back with more, an incredible story we first brought you last week. On Friday we showed you a part of a “Dateline NBC” hidden camera investigation, Chris Hansen teamed up with an online vigilante group that caught some potential child predators. They rented a house, created a virtual control room upstairs, wired the rest of the house with hidden cameras and computers and got to work with volunteers posing as 12, 13 and 14-year-old children in chat rooms waiting to be solicited for sex.
Nineteen men showed up at the house for what they thought would be an encounter with a sexually available child. But so far police in that jurisdiction have not charged anyone, why? Last year “Dateline” conducted a similar investigation. Only one of the 18 men who showed up then was arrested and prosecuted.
We‘re going to find out why these cases are so hard to prosecute in a minute, but first here is more of what we couldn‘t show you, we didn‘t show you when Chris Hansen went undercover.
CHRIS HANSEN, “DATELINE NBC” (voice-over): Most of the online conversations were so explicit we can‘t even begin to show you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, come on in! Sit at the counter. I‘ve got some water and some chips there for you if you want.
HANSEN: Like many other men you‘ll meet, he‘s in for a big surprise when I walk out. Some think I‘m the child‘s father. Others apparently believe I‘m with law enforcement. One thing is certain, none of them knows our hidden cameras are recording their every move and they will be appearing on “Dateline.”
HANSEN (on camera): How‘s it going?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good.
HANSEN: Why don‘t you have a seat?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, sir. (INAUDIBLE)
HANSEN: What are you doing here?
(voice-over): His name is Aladdin (ph); he lied online about his age, saying he was 35. He‘s really 46 and instead of admitting he came here for date with a 12-year-old girl, he says he‘s here to look at real estate. Later he decides to come clean.
HANSEN (on camera): Why did you really come here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To see what‘s her name, Sarah.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
HANSEN: So all that other stuff on the house and all that that was all a big fat lie?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
HANSEN: OK. Do you know how old Sarah is?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
HANSEN (voice-over): He tries to convince me that the girl, Sarah, is 18, even though his own words tell a different story.
(on camera): You say, you‘re 35, male and you say where you‘re from.
She says she‘s 12. You say, oh, you‘re real young, you like older men. You ask her about her former boyfriends, did she ever give them oral sex, she says, yes. She tells you here that she‘s 12 years old. What is that number right there? What does that say?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twelve.
HANSEN: Twelve, yes. So, that 18 thing was a lie as well.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I guess.
HANSEN (voice-over): Then Aladdin (ph) apparently begins to feel faint.
(on camera): What are you doing?
(voice-over): And lies down on the kitchen floor.
(on camera): Are you OK?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Yes...
HANSEN: Do you want your water?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
HANSEN: Why is it appropriate to come to a home where a 12-year-old girl...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She said we can meet with them (INAUDIBLE) and then spend time together...
HANSEN: But that—does that make it right for you to do it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I feel guilty (INAUDIBLE).
HANSEN (voice-over): But this man once he sees me and not a teen realizes he‘s made a big mistake and runs for the door.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey. How are you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) whoa, whoa, whoa. You‘re not going to want to do that I don‘t think.
HANSEN: Here‘s another guy who doesn‘t stay long.
(on camera): Hey. How are you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
HANSEN: Good. Why don‘t you have a seat right over here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No thank you.
HANSEN: I‘d like to ask you some questions...
(voice-over): He makes a beeline out to the garage, barely touches the stairs and with his arms flailing runs down the driveway and down the street. Clearly this man knows he‘s done something wrong. Perhaps more shocking than the number of men is who they are.
Our background checks uncover men leading double lives, men you would never suspect involved in this potentially illegal activity. This man letting himself in to our house makes his living working with children. He‘s a special education teacher. Del is now posing as a boy the man‘s expecting to meet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just sit at the kitchen counter for a minute.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where are you? Oh, OK.
HANSEN: The teacher, Steven Bennof, believes he‘s been chatting online about sex with a boy named Brandon who says he‘s 13. And how old do you think the teacher is? He‘s 54 and married. When I confront him, at first he says, he thought Brandon was an adult.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well he said he was 23. What‘s the problem?
HANSEN (on camera): I have the transcript. That‘s what the problem is. Brandon said he was 13.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thirteen?
(voice-over): And the teacher knows this because Brandon told him online he was 13.
HANSEN (on camera): You talk about oral sex, anal sex, and all the different things that you would like to do with him. What are you doing here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought I would come see him.
HANSEN: Come see him for what?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wanted to meet him.
HANSEN (voice-over): While online our 13-year-old decoy asked the teacher to bring condoms. Did he?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
HANSEN (on camera): You did? You have them in your pocket?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
HANSEN: What does that say about your intent?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) have them with me, but...
HANSEN: What is a 54-year-old man doing coming to this home to see a 13-year-old boy?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I obviously made a big mistake.
HANSEN (voice-over): What about this guy? A man in his position is just about the last person you‘d expect to be showing up at our house. It‘s 4:00 in the morning in an AOL chat room. This 54-year-old man screen-named redbd messages a 13-year-old boy named Conrad saying, I‘m prowling for young men.
What he goes on to say and the pictures he sends are so graphic we had to carefully edit them before putting them on television. While the two are chatting online, we conduct a background check and are absolutely shocked by what this man does for a living. And now he‘s in our kitchen, after making a date for sex with a boy he thinks is 13.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey. Hold on a second I‘ve got to change my shirt...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I spilled (INAUDIBLE) coke on it. I got to ask you, so are you (INAUDIBLE) tonight?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We‘ll see.
HANSEN (on camera): So how can I help you? What are you doing here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not something good. This isn‘t good.
HANSEN: Not good? I think that‘s kind of an understatement, isn‘t it? What do you do for a living?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘m a rabbi.
HANSEN (voice-over): That‘s right, a rabbi. The man who sent naked pictures of himself is a man of God. He‘s a staff member at a Jewish youth educational organization.
(on camera): Now presumably you counsel families and children in your position as a rabbi.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: True.
HANSEN: What are you doing as a man of God, as a rabbi in this house trying to meet a 13-year-old boy?
HANSEN (voice-over): Instead of answering, the rabbi asks to know who I am. But before I tell him, I want to ask him about those pictures he sent.
(on camera): And you sent pornographic pictures, that‘s a federal offense right there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look, you know I‘m in trouble. And I know I‘m in trouble. I am not interested in getting any further in trouble.
HANSEN (voice-over): Then we heard that familiar excuse.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not something that I have done ever.
HANSEN (on camera): You‘ve never done this before?
ABRAMS: It‘s important to note that virtually all of the men denied being there for sex with an underage child. But remember people deny allegations all the time. That doesn‘t stop police from in some cases arresting them. So why are authorities finding it so hard to charge any of the people caught in an undercover operation like this one?
And coming up, Fox News under fire from an arm of the federal government, says Fox didn‘t do enough to protected female employees from sexual harassment.
And our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to help find missing sex offenders before they strike again. Today we are in Florida, authorities would like your help finding James Butler.
He‘s 25, 5‘11”, 160, convicted of lewd and lascivious molestation and sexual battery of a minor under of the age of 12. Butler hasn‘t properly registered with the state, if you‘ve got any information please call the number, 888-357-7332.
Be right back.
ABRAMS: Coming up, why is it so hard to arrest and prosecute potential sexual predators who may be preying on children online? First the headlines.
ABRAMS: We‘re back now with more on “Dateline NBC‘s” hidden camera investigation, caught 19 men going to a suburban home where they thought they‘d be meeting with sexually available teens. Some made a run for it when they went into the kitchen and saw the friendly Chris Hansen of NBC waiting.
One came into the house completely naked and sat down in the kitchen, where Hansen met him and kindly handed him a towel to cover himself up. Another rabbi was so upset at being caught that he even sort of went—seemingly went after Hansen. But we ask, why aren‘t any of these guys being prosecuted? Fairfax, Virginia, police say no crimes were committed.
Joining me now is Del Harvey from perverted-justice.com. She acted as a decoy in this operation. And former Virginia State prosecutor, Tim McEvoy and former federal prosecutor Matthew Yarbrough.
Thank you very much for joining us. We appreciate it.
All right. Tim, first let me start with you. I mean it seems pretty clear that there are laws against even sending some of this material that they sent to the decoys, why is no one being charged?
TIM MCEVOY, FORMER VIRGINIA PROSECUTOR: Dan, I think the question is extremely legitimate. And I think issue here is not whether the authorities are outraged or upset. But the initial disgust that we all feel as members of the public has got to be tempered by the prosecutor because these cases often rise or fall as you know on intent, you know as seen through the filter of reasonable doubt. And the prosecutors got to weigh all of the evidence, the jury is going to parse every little movement. You‘re going to see professionals, as the piece showed, who are otherwise trying to show that they‘re good people, trying to throw substantial doubt...
ABRAMS: But wait. Tim, the law is pretty clear. I mean let me just read from the law, all right. It is unlawful for a person 18 or older to use a computer for the purposes of soliciting someone he knows or has reason to believe is a child under 18 years old for certain activities.
Now, sure, we can parse the different words in the statute, et cetera, but the bottom line is that in most of these cases they‘re talking about sex. And they make it very clear that they are either 12, 13 or 14 years old.
MCEVOY: Dan, I don‘t want to take issue with the idea that it looks like some crimes were committed. When a nude man walks into my living room or my garage with a 12-pack of beer, I‘ve got real problem with that and that looks like a crime to me. Now I‘m not sure why the Fairfax County Police Department has indicated apparently to you or to your program that crimes have not been committed. But if that‘s the case, I‘d be quite surprised, and I‘d also be surprised if the top prosecutor in Fairfax shared that point of view...
ABRAMS: All right.
MCEVOY: ... after parsing through the evidence.
ABRAMS: Here‘s Mary Ann Jennings from the Fairfax Police Department on “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY” talking about this issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARY ANN JENNINGS, FAIRFAX POLICE DEPT.: Although the house was physically in Fairfax County, from what we‘ve been able to determine from what we‘ve gotten from Perverted-Justice, the crime did not occur in Fairfax County.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Del Harvey with Perverted-Justice, what do you make of this?
What is going on here?
“DEL HARVEY”, PERVERTED-JUSTICE: Well it‘s kinds of an interesting situation in that we aren‘t really seeing the connection because the conversations over the computer would place the jurisdiction in either the subject‘s location or our location at the house. We actually had a pass media bus in Waukesha, Michigan in which four people have been charged from that jurisdiction with showing up to the house. So...
ABRAMS: So look, you‘ve been involved with “Dateline” and these undercover things, you helped out last year when 18 people showed up, only one of them was prosecuted. And I know that the first thing that you all do when you get this information when you‘re not working with “Dateline” is you hand it over to the authorities and you say, here, look, here is what we‘ve got, you guys do with it what you will. Are you getting the sense that they‘re hitting a lot of road blocks?
“HARVEY”: To some extent, yes. Interestingly enough actually since September 17 alone we‘ve had two convictions in Virginia. One of which was military based upon a conversation that was started during our work with “Dateline” and the other which was a civilian bust done by state law or local law enforcement actually. So it seems as though given that we had six convictions or seven convictions...
“HARVEY”: ... (INAUDIBLE) last year and so far this year we‘ve had 31, we‘re definitely gaining momentum...
“HARVEY”: ... and we‘re finding more and more agencies willing to work with us.
ABRAMS: But Matthew Yarbrough, I mean it still—we watch these guys. I mean Chris Hansen has laid out on television exactly what these guys said, some of them talking about bestiality, committing bestial acts with the children, what they think are children. They then come over to the house with the intent it seems, and again, we don‘t know what‘s going on in their heads. And they‘ve all denied that they came over there for sex.
But if you look at what they say on the computer, it seems you‘d be able to make a case. I mean here is the federal law—we‘ve been talking about state law—what about federal law? Whoever knowingly transfers obscene matter to another individual who has not attained the age of 16 years, knowing that such other individual has not attained the age of 16 years or attempts to do so shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both. So what‘s the problem?
MATTHEW YARBROUGH, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well Dan, one of the hardest things to do in any cyber crime is to really put the individual at the computer. So that‘s the element that the prosecutor is going to be thinking about most when trying to decide how to charge, where to charge jurisdiction wise. But this for me is a slam dunk as a federal prosecutor.
When you‘re able to go in front of a jury, and put the sort of tapes in front of the jury, talk about the conversations, you‘ll be able to get in the computer logs from the chat room sessions, this is a slam dunk. Going in front of a jury about an issue about a child is going to be something that‘s going to raise—enrage that jury.
ABRAMS: But Matthew, hasn‘t there been a problem...
YARBROUGH: (INAUDIBLE) end of the day.
ABRAMS: Hasn‘t there been a problem in cases where cases have been thrown out because the courts have ruled that because the person on the other end of the computer wasn‘t actually under the age of 16 when the decoy is actually older that here have been cases that have been thrown out as a result?
YARBROUGH: That is true. But remember in this case depending upon the facts here, is that if you had the transmission of the depiction or the intent for the individual showing up that was going to take a picture of the child, that‘s going to get you in another federal statute. And that‘s pretty much where most prosecutors are going to try to use when they do not have the intent for the sexual act with a child.
ABRAMS: All right. Del Harvey, Tim McEvoy and Matthew Yarbrough, thanks a lot. Appreciate it.
MCEVOY: Sure. Thank you.
YARBROUGH: Thank you.
ABRAMS: Coming up, Fox News channel under attack from an arm of the federal government. The allegation, Fox didn‘t do enough to stop sexual harassment of female employees. A—quote—“fair and balanced discussion is next.”
ABRAMS: Coming up, Fox News under fire from the government. They say they didn‘t do enough to stop sexual harassment against female employees. The story is up next.
ABRAMS: Fox News under fire, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a sexual harassment suit against them. The suit accuses Fox of discriminating against a production assistant named Kim Weiler, then retaliating against her when she and other women complained.
Weiler and the other women ultimately left their jobs. The suit names the
head of the Fox Promotion Department, Vice President Joe Chillemi saying he
quote—“routinely used gross obscenities and vulgarities when describing women and their body parts, declaring that something was as useless as blank on a bull.”
Quote—“Routinely used obscenities and vulgarities with women employees that he did not use with male employees, such as telling women that they had put his blank on the chopping block, routinely cursed at and otherwise denigrated women employees and treated them in a demeaning way including telling women not to be a bland, but to be a man, made a number of derogatory comments about pregnant women and quoted him saying that in choosing who to hire if it came down between a man or a woman, of course I‘d pick the man. The woman would most likely get pregnant and leave.”
The suit also claims Fox has signed other women to mostly freelance jobs which had fewer benefits and less job security. Now Steven Mintz, an outside counsel hired by Fox has given us a lengthy statement in response to the suit. To be fair to my colleagues over there, I‘ll read it in full.
It is unfortunate that the EEOC has decided to bring a legally baseless claim against Fox News. The network fully investigated these charges and found them to be without merit. While Fox News does not condone or encourage the use of foul language and curse words, they accept that in reality it does occur in the workplace including in news organizations and probably even at the EEOC. This is neither newsworthy nor actionable as a lawsuit. The complainant never told anyone at Fox News that she believed the actions of her supervisor were harassing or discriminating in any manner. It was only after she quit that she decided she was being harassed.
Kathleen Peratis is an attorney who‘s represented hundreds of claimants and complaints similar to this one and Mike Delikat is an employment law attorney who has defended numerous high profile sexual harassment cases. Thanks a lot for coming on the program.
All right. Kathleen...
KATHLEEN PERATIS, EMPLOYMENT LAW PLAINTIFF‘S ATTORNEY: Yes.
ABRAMS: ... explain to us why the EEOC, first of all, is getting involved in this or how the EEOC decides whether to get involved in cases.
PERATIS: Well you‘d have to ask the EEOC to have them tell you why they chose this case, but I know that they are very selective; they only bring a few dozen cases a year. It must be that they thought that the evidence in this was extremely strong. The claim does push the envelope, there was no touching alleged, I assume there was no touching. And there are some dots that aren‘t connected in the complaint. So my assumption is that they mean to push the envelope and they have very good evidence.
ABRAMS: Well but Mike, even if you assume everything that they say in there is true, this doesn‘t seem like the most important sexual harassment/discrimination case that I‘ve ever seen.
MIKE DELIKAT, EMPLOYMENT LAW DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think that‘s right. There‘s another reason why the EEOC has probably brought this case, and that is it‘s high profile, it gives them a chance to take on Fox, that‘s already been on the discrimination radar because of the Bill O‘Reilly case.
ABRAMS: Do you think that had something to do with it?
DELIKAT: Well I think the fact that it‘s high profile and people will may more attention to it than if they bring a lawsuit against Joe‘s corner drugstore has a lot to do with it. The EEOC has limited resources and they‘re trying to get as much publicity as they can as they pursue their mission in the workplace.
ABRAMS: I mean, but don‘t you see it generally, Kathleen, that when the EEOC gets involved it should be sort of a systemic problem. I mean this kind of sounds like it‘s one guy who is alleged to have made crude, disgusting comments but as—and this is number five here—this is Steve Mintz, the Fox News attorney, makes the point we don‘t view any of the assertions and the action as either harassment or discrimination. This is a case involving bad language.
PERATIS: Well only bad language is alleged. And I think that Mike is exactly right that they choose cases for among other reasons the profile and the publicity they‘re going to get. They can‘t bring a lot of cases so they want to get public attention. If they bring a case that‘s buried on page 27 of the “B” section...
PERATIS: ... they‘re not going to be doing much to educate the...
ABRAMS: But that‘s problematic. Wait, Kathleen, I certainly hope that‘s not why they‘re doing this. I hope that they are not picking a somewhat weak case to just make a point because you know what it‘s going to backfire...
PERATIS: I don‘t think the case is weak. I think the case is in fact quite strong. As I said initially, they seem to have good evidence, they have got a lot of plaintiffs. This is the kind of thing that does happen all over the place. It happens at the corner grocery store and it happens at Fox News. I don‘t think it happens at the EEOC.
I think they‘re much more careful. But because it does happen everywhere, and it‘s the kind of thing that women, professionals and women in even blue collar jobs have to deal with. The EEOC wants to make a statement that this must not continue. This kind of behavior is illegal. It limits women‘s opportunities to deal with the workplace. These women apparently quit. That‘s what the complaint means when it says they were constructively discharged...
PERATIS: They quit. They just couldn‘t take it any more.
ABRAMS: Mike—well, Mike, do you see this as—look, I don‘t know if this is a strong case or not, but it seems to me that it‘s not an important case, comparatively to many of the other cases that I‘ve seen and I wonder why the EEOC is choosing this one.
DELIKAT: I would agree. I think it‘s a very thin case. They alleged retaliation against Miss Weiler, but they don‘t actually explain what the retaliation was in the case. And it looks like Fox has the right defense in this that the language was not offensive to the women in question and it was not unwelcome and that this kind of talk generally goes on in the workplace...
ABRAMS: Yes, but bottom line, Mike, let‘s just—put the EEOC aside for a minute. What happens if someone is using sexually suggestive language in the workplace, not hitting on someone...
ABRAMS: ... but using language that makes women feel uncomfortable?
Can you sue and win over that?
DELIKAT: You can sue, but you don‘t necessarily win. You have to show that it was severe and pervasive. It can‘t just be a couple of comments...
PERATIS: No, you have to show it was severe or...
DELIKAT: ... and you have to show that it was unwelcome.
PERATIS: ... pervasive.
PERATIS: You have to show it was severe or pervasive, not severe and pervasive...
PERATIS: ... and that makes a big difference.
DELIKAT: ... I‘ll accept that correction. But you also have to show that it was unwelcome...
ABRAMS: All right.
DELIKAT: ... and it looks likes Fox is forming the defense that this kind of talk generally went on in the workplace...
DELIKAT: ... and it wasn‘t unwelcome.
PERATIS: You know, to accept...
ABRAMS: ... my guess is they‘re not going to...
ABRAMS: My guess is they‘re going to...
PERATIS: To accept the idea that...
ABRAMS: Yes. My guess is they‘re going to attack the—they‘re going to say—as they said in their statement, they‘re going to say look, we don‘t condone this kind of language...
PERATIS: Well you know, we should not say because this is in the air we breathe it‘s OK. The whole point...
PERATIS: ... is to change the air that we breathe.
ABRAMS: Right. Right. I understand. No one is talking about it being OK. The question is whether the EEOC should be involved in a case like this because that‘s the reason we did this—if this had just been someone suing Fox News, I don‘t know that we would have done the segment.
ABRAMS: When we hear the EEOC is getting involved, you know, it brings it to another level. All right, Kathleen Peratis and Michael Delikat, thanks a lot. Appreciate it.
PERATIS: Thank you.
DELIKAT: Thank you.
ABRAMS: Coming up, star wide receiver Terrell Owens finally apologizing for trashing his teammates. I say he still doesn‘t seem to get it.
And our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to find missing sex offenders before they strike again. This week we‘re working in Florida.
William Cook, Jr., 53, 5‘5”, 145, convicted of sexual battery of a minor, hasn‘t registered with the authorities. If you‘ve got any information on his whereabouts, please contact the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Sexual Offender Predator Unit, 888-357-7332.
Be right back.
ABRAMS: My “Closing Argument”—it seems Philadelphia Eagle star wide receiver Terrell Owens and his agent missed the point today at their press conference on Owens‘ front lawn. Owens was sort of apologizing for negative comments he made about his team and teammates. Apologized to the head coach, saying he realized they didn‘t always see eye to eye. Apologized to veteran Eagles‘ quarterback Donovan McNabb for any comments that may have been negative and he apologized to the fans who supported him, but said he was only fighting for what he thought was right.
Might be a little bit too little too late. It‘s not the first time he‘s had this sort of issue with teammates. The most recent slams, accusing the Eagles of—quote—“lacking class for failing to celebrate him more” and telling a sports reporter that the Eagles would be winning more games if they had a different quarterback other than McNabb.
Look, it‘s Owens‘ right to speak freely, but the Eagles are not the government. They have every right to punish Owens as well. You see what he does not seem to get—what he doesn‘t seem to get is that it‘s just about—it‘s not about him. It is about the team. There‘s a reason that great coaches have been able to turn decent teams into Super Bowl champions. And on the other side, why talented players sometimes just don‘t create a great team.
Sure, some of his teammates have told him that what he does or says off the field shouldn‘t matter. But again, the team needs to make decisions as a unit. Look, Owens is a guy with a $48.97-million contract. Whether he gets suspended with or without pay, whether he plays for the Eagles again, those are contractual issues they can fight about. What matters here is that Owens does not seem to get it.
The official term for what Owens has been suspended for is—quote—
“conduct detrimental to the team.” Unlike some legal jargon, I think that tells it all. He accused the team of lacking class. That is something that he should know a lot about.
Coming up, last night, I read an e-mail—no—coming up now, last night I read an e-mail talking about someone who said that children are at least partly to blame for sexual predators. Now he says I was not fair in what I said. More of his e-mail and now my new response coming up.
ABRAMS: We‘re back. I‘ve had my say, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”. Last night in my “Closing Argument” I said the Bush administration‘s dogmatic efforts to keep the morning after pill from going over-the-counter seemed to have turned against them with prescriptions doubling in the same time period the administration has been fighting to keep it off the shelves. But I also said, I don‘t really understand why they should be treated differently from the birth control pill, which is prescription.
Norma LeRoux explains, “Birth control pills need a doctor‘s follow-up care to make sure they‘re not causing blood clots, strokes, excessive bleeding, leading to anemia, et cetera. Over the counter pills to help stop pregnancy are a one pill deal. It works or it doesn‘t.”
Well Norma, there are still medical issues associated with it. It‘s a far higher dose than any one birth control, but I hear you.
Now to a surrebuttal from Robert Heiman. I read his e-mail last night about the “Dateline NBC” undercover segment that went on the trail of potential pedophiles. Robert‘s e-mail suggested that kids are at least partially responsible. I said he couldn‘t be serious and probably doesn‘t have kids. Well, I was wrong about one thing.
Robert writes, “Clearly, my e-mail states here I have children and if you are going to put me on television, then you should use the whole e-mail, not part of it.”
Look Robert, we don‘t have time to read your entire e-mail, but I will read more of it because you can‘t possibly be suggesting that I misstated the essence of what you said.
Here‘s a larger portion of your e-mail, what you said last night is in the darker letters. What we read last night.
This part is new. “I know that these people need to be caught. It is sick and wrong. But, to look at the other side of this, we are blaming these people for doing this sort of thing when if you really look a bit further, what the hell are 13-year-olds doing giving away their address and accepting these photos from them. Aren‘t they liable too?”
You added, “I am a 30-year-old male and have five children, three boys and two girls. I teach them to watch for people like this. But if you are going to go along with it and give out number and address, then you deserve what you get. Like I was always taught, you play with fire, you‘ll get burned.”
All right, Robert look, I left the “deserve what you get” part because I thought it made you look horrible. To suggest that children are deserving of abuse because they behave, well, like children, but you wanted more, you got it. But I apologize for saying that you probably do not have children because I should have seen that in fact that you say you do.
Your e-mails abramsreport—one word -- @msnbc.com. We go through them at the end of the show.
That does it for us tonight. Tomorrow, oh we‘ve got a good—how can I tease the story tomorrow night? All right. Well, I‘ll just say we got a really good story tomorrow night, an exclusive.
Up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews. See you then.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Copy: Content and programming copyright 2005 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2005 Voxant, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.