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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Interview With Patty Hearst

Aired January 22, 2002 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, Patty Hearst exclusive. New charges brought in a notorious murder, could put her back on the witness stand, we'll find out why, next on LARRY KING LIVE.

It's a great pleasure to welcome Patricia Hearst to LARRY KING LIVE tonight. The former kidnapped newspaper heiress, presidentially pardoned ex-convict, served 21 months in prison. She was commuted by Jimmy Carter and pardoned by president Clinton, just about a year ago and she's a potential star witness in a first degree murder case stemming from a 1975 bank robbery she took part in.

Let me just give you a little brief details. Last week on Wednesday five former members of the Symbionese Liberation Army were charged with first degree murder in an April 1975 bank heist. During that robbery at the Crocker National Bank in Carmichael, California, 42-year-old Myrna Opsahl, a customer who was depositing a weekend collection was shot and killed. Four of those charged, including Sara Jane Olson were arrested, the fifth suspect remains a fugitive. Kidnapped newspaper heiress Patty Hearst has long since admitted to driving the getaway car for that heist. She was granted immunity in the case years ago. Those charged are Sara Jane Olson, also known as Kathy Soliah, Bill Harris, Bill's former wife Emily, Michael Bortin and James William Kilgore. And James William Kilgore has yet to be apprehended.

First, what did you make, Patty, of these arrests?

PATRICIA HEARST, KIDNAPPED BY SLA FEB. 4, 1974: Well, you know, it's been so long, Larry, and I feel that now there can be closure to this case. This has gone on far too long. When I was on trial in San Francisco for the SLA bank robbery there, I was talking to the investigators. I was talking to everyone I could and telling them, you know, of all the different crimes that the SLA had committed and there were numerous. And there seemed to be no interest, no interest in anything but the Hibernia Bank robbery, and no interest in prosecuting anyone but me for it. I told them about the Sacramento case. In 1990 I went before a grand jury and, you know, testified before the grand jury. But even before that, in 1980 I went so far as to write a book about what had happened. And I wrote all about the bank robbery, I went ahead and printed it even though I had no use immunity for it. And, quite frankly, I fully expected to be charged with murder, because they weren't charging anybody. I did it in terms of, I felt like I was throwing down the gauntlet saying look, this is what happened. There's a family out there that needed to know what happened. And I --

KING: So what do you make of it now? You say it's closure, are you surprised that they found -- there was DNA that led to this and the like. It took 27 years.

HEARST: I know, I just can't believe it. You know, I sat there and, you know, it's kind of -- and I told you so moment for me, but more than that, it's finally a moment where there's going to be a trial. There will be adjudication of this case. And it's been too long.

KING: Did you have any inkling the arrests were coming?

HEARST: I was told that they would probably be coming. But you know --

KING: And we're you told you'll also be a witness?

HEARST: Well, of course I would be a witness. I was going to be a witness in Los Angeles. I don't think there's any surprise in that.

KING: What did you make of the sentence given Sara Jane Olson?

HEARST: Well, California has kind of a peculiar sentencing arrangement. Publicly she's give an sentence of the two 10 to life consecutive sentences, and that will be reworked by the parole board. You know, I just feel like that's not in my hands at all.

KING: But how do you feel? Do you feel the sentence was fair, not fair? Should she have been forgiven 20 years leading a pretty good life?

HEARST: Well, you know, that's always -- people ask me things like why do you think they brought it now? What took them so long? Oh, she's been so quiet. What's the point in charging her? And -- oh, the sentence seems too long. I have heard a lot of things but you know what, Larry? She plead guilty because she was guilty. She plead guilty because there was a preponderance of evidence that she would have to face, including my testimony, not only my testimony. And the plea bargain that she made with that sentence was a brass ring for her. And she reached out and grabbed it. And all the back and forth and all of that nonsense, you know, I don't know what that was all about.

KING: What are your memories of her?

HEARST: She's a very forceful personality, a very determined person. You know, this is a woman who was able to drag her brother and her sister and as many friends as she could into the SLA with her. It's hard to know what to say about somebody like that, except there are people who look for trouble. And trouble is very easy to find when you go looking for it.

KING: All right, Patty, let's go back to that day at the Crocker National Bank in Carmichael, California, and in your own words, what happened? HEARST: You know, Larry, this is really going to go to court and as I said, there's so much physical evidence. There is -- you know, there's receipts for rented cars and license plates and guns and hand prints and palm prints and fingerprints. You know, I want to wait until I'm in a court.

KING: Leaving that aside, what was the purpose of robbing that bank? Was it just for money? Was it to make a political statement? What was the reason that bank, that day? Forget fingerprints and that and the rest, that will come out in court.

HEARST: Well, you know, they were -- they were a terrorist group. They -- when I was kidnapped they published all of their statements about their war that they declared on the United States. And what they wanted to accomplish, and their purpose, this was considered a revolutionary action. It was an ex-appropriation of funds. Everything they said was in rhetoric and they wanted to include everyone on what this was considered a combat operation.

KING: Not to them a robbery?

HEARST: Well, nothing was ever that simple, Larry. They were revolutionaries. This was not a robbery. It was an ex-appropriation, it was a combat operation.

KING: And what was going through your head sitting in the car?

HEARST: You know, sitting in the car when they got back in and -- first of all, it was relief. I was not -- there were two get away cars or switch cars they were called. And, you know, the group tended to include everyone. I do remember that I was very relieved that I did not have to go into a bank with them. I had, as you recall, I had already been brought into a bank before and it was better to be sitting outside.

KING: What did you think of the fact -- when did you learn that someone had been killed?

HEARST: Oh, almost immediately upon their entering the car.

KING: One of them said it?

HEARST: Yes. And, you know, I just --

KING: How did you react to that? Well, you were so brain washed and everything, we know the kind of life you were living. But you...

HEARST: It's unspeakable.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: ... heard you just participated in what amounted to a capital crime.

HEARST: It's unspeakable. Well, Larry, for them capital crimes, everything they did was considered a capital crime because they had declared war against the United States. So, you know, if -- for them -- if they had, you know, stolen a wallet that would have been a capital crime in their minds. It's a mindset that's kind of difficult to understand. But it's so unspeakable and --

KING: What went through your mind?

HEARST: Through my mind, is just the horror of these people. I had been held by them, I knew how violent they were. I don't want to say I was surprised. I mean, there's a difference between being horrified by what they do and being surprised by what someone will do. And their blood thirstiness and none of that surprises me. I was horrified, I'm still horrified.

KING: As we go to break, Patricia Hearst is our guest for the hour. We will be including your phone calls. Here's part of the testimony regarding the sentencing given by Sara Jane Olson's sister (sic). Watch -- by daughter.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEILA OLSON, SARA JANE OLSON'S DAUGHTER: She's one of the best mothers anyone would ever want. I'm sure if you met her, you would agree. My mother is such (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Be all you can be no matter what happens. I love you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with one of the classic victims of domestic terrorism, Patty Hearst. She's at our bureau in New York. That scene we just played going out of Sarah Jane Olson's daughter, how does that make you feel?

HEARST: Well, you know, on the one hand it's heartbreaking, of course, to see these children. It's terrible. But, you know, the crime that she has been convicted of and the other crimes were equally terrible. You know, I watch her daughter there and I -- my heart breaks. I have daughters very close in age. My daughters have grown up knowing all about my kidnapping and the case and what happened. You know, my daughters have been through their entire lives and knowing about my case. And, you know, I see this girl who just knew nothing until two years ago. And in a way, part of me feels like, God, what a lucky kid. And the other part of me feels, you know, disgust, quite frankly.

KING: And there's also, of course, the son of the victim.

HEARST: The son of the victim. The son of the victim, you know, has been virtually forgotten until recently. It's -- when Mrs. Opsahl was murdered, the response was, well, she was just a pig, you know, she didn't matter anyway. And from that moment on, it's really seems like that was true. Even to me, as I was trying to tell the government what had happened, it just didn't seem to matter. And I finally walked away thinking, well, what is this? I mean, does she really not matter? Is it because she doesn't have a famous newsworthy name? Is that what this is all about? There's no excuse for why this has taken so long that I can fathom. If there is, maybe we'll hear it.

KING: Patty, did these arrests last week and charges renew your faith in a government you questioned?

HEARST: Well, you know, it's really been, you know, quite a trip for me. And then, you know, it started, or began to end, I guess, when Kathleen Soliah was arrested. And, at the time, I really didn't think anything would come of it. I thought some police had been overzealous and they had made a most unfortunate arrest and that Los Angeles would just not care.

And as it's gone on, you know, I started to realize that maybe they did care. And you know, now I can see they clearly did care, that they were very serious about this and they're very serious about seeing justice served. And, you know, like I said, I'm not looking forward to a trial. It's nothing to look forward to. This is a very, very unhappy situation all the way around. And, you know, it's the result of a hideous crime. But this has to happen. You just can't let people go because they stayed hidden for 25 or 27 or 37, whatever years. It's ridiculous.

KING: Are you prepared for the onslaught of defense lawyers who are already saying that you're their only witness, that you're not credible and the like? Are you prepared to go through that again?

HEARST: Well, you know, one lawyer says I'm the only witness and I'm not credible. Another lawyer says this witness -- there's tons of evidence that's been available for years. Why didn't they bring the case years ago? I must point out their clients and that they were not, you know, campaigning to have this case brought years ago. I'm not worried about the lawyers. I -- in Los Angeles, when the Harrises were charged with the Mel Sporting Goods incident, I was going to be brought in as a witness then. And they settled their case without having any witnesses for the defense, and that did away with my testimony there.

And then for my kidnapping, I was supposed to be a witness there. They plead guilty, so I never made a witness stand. And here in Los Angeles, once again, I'm going to go down and be a witness. There's a guilty plea. I don't mind being on the witness stand, but I think they mind it a lot.

KING: Will it be hard for you to look at them?

HEARST: No. I actually did face the Harrises in court before. And I have to say it was a really liberating experience. And for any victim of a violent crime, when you actually get to go in and realize and see their faces and know that they can't hurt you any more, there is no feeling like that. It finally frees you from a lot of demons.

KING: First of all, your thought that day going to the bank, just your own thoughts. Can you describe, what you, as a human being, are going through in this incredible situation? Here you are with these people. They're going to do something dastardly. You're a prisoner of their mind, in a sense. Your mind is a prisoner of theirs. What are you going through?

HEARST: Larry, most of the time I was with them, my mind was going through doing exactly what I was supposed to do.

KING: What you were told?

HEARST: Yes. I mean -- even if I weren't told, I had been educated very well in what to do. I had been, you know, held in the closet for two months and, you know, abused in all manner of ways. I was very good at doing what I was told. And as far as thinking...

KING: Was that Stockholm Syndrome part of the thinking or not?

HEARST: I'm sure it was. Of course it was. I mean, they call it Stockholm Syndrome and post traumatic stress disorder. And, you know, I had no free will. I had virtually no free will until I was separated from them for about two weeks. And then it suddenly, you know, slowly began to dawn that they just weren't there any more. I could actually think my own thoughts. It was considered wrong for me to think about my family. And when Cinque was around, he didn't want me thinking about rescue because he thought that brain waves could be read or that, you know, they'd get a psychic in to find me. And I was even afraid of that.

KING: Let's discuss each of these. What was Bill Harris like?

HEARST: Oh, jeez, he was the leader, or at least mostly considered himself to be the leader. There were a lot of leadership problems toward the end. But he was considered to be the leader after Donald DeFreeze was killed.

KING: And how did you regard him? Was he your leader? Did you look upon him with awe, respect, fear, what?

HEARST: You know, he was the leader. You did what he was told. I mean, Emily Harris was his wife. And she seemed to resent his leadership, but on the other hand, she felt like a good soldier, that he had to be the leader. They, you know, had fights and, you know, some of them coming to blows. It was a very strange group of people bound by, you know, the SLA codes of war. And they followed them very religiously.

KING: We'll be right back with Patricia Hearst on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. We certainly thank her for agreeing to this appearance tonight. We'll be taking some phone calls and we'll continue the questioning right after this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm obviously alive and well. As for being brainwashed, the idea is ridiculous to the point of being beyond belief.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Our guest is Patty Hearst. You, of course, know that her opinions of these people are gathered from her own adventure, so to speak, with them. And they're from her own experiences with them and what she testifies to, it will of course be the truth as she knows it.

You were not inside the bank, right?

HEARST: I was not inside the bank. But I am still not the only witness. There are two other SLA members who have been granted immunity and then also, one of the SLA members had confessed to two other people, and those people, I'm sure, will be called as witnesses, as they were at the grand jury.

KING: Also there seems to be am awful lot of other kinds of evidence: Palm prints and letters with rental cars, right? I mean, you are not the only witness.

HEARST: Off the bat I can think of five witnesses who will walk in, and then I'm sure there are more. This was not the most closed- mouthed group. And then there's all the physical evidence. And if you go on the Myrna Opsahl dot-com site that her son has set up, he does a pretty good brief rundown of what's there. It's really shocking.

I had not seen that until -- and when it first came out I was told. I had not seen or been aware of all of that physical evidence. And when I saw it, I was horrified. It was so astounding to me to see that there was that much evidence. And you know, on the one hand I was, of course, really glad that there was that much evidence. On the other hand my first thought was, how long has this been there? How has it taken so long?

KING: Off the top, what are your impressions of Emily?

HEARST: This is another person, very forceful, very much wanting to be in command and in control. Very dedicated. You know, they -- the entire -- particularly the original SLA members that kidnapped me and Bill and Emily Harris were two of those, were extremely dedicated revolutionaries.

KING: Absolutely believed in what they were doing?

HEARST: Absolutely believed it. And you probably remember all of those papers and documents that they had published in the newspapers. And, you know, when you look at that, it really was their own little jihad that they had going. It just wasn't taken very seriously then.

KING: Do you think September 11 has affected our thinking with regard to this?

HEARST: I think it's definitely affected every American's thinking in regard to terrorism, you know, not just this case, but terrorism all over the world. For me, my awakening came when I was kidnapped. And so, you know, I have been afraid in U.S. airports for years, quite frankly, because I have felt that there was no security. But now Americans, they felt a sense of peace and protection because they've been separated by so many thousands of miles of ocean. And you know, the fact that it's come to the U.S. like this is so sad, and yet you know, what can you do? It's here. It has to be gotten rid of. I frankly don't think it's going to be a successful war on terrorism until law enforcement agencies like the FBI are willing to share with other law enforcement agencies. If they can't share information, there's no way this war can be won.

KING: What's the memories of Michael Bortin? Who is in Portland, they are trying to extradite him now, I guess they will.

HEARST: Yes. He was a tough talking -- he had been in prison before. He was a member of another revolutionary group, the same one that Wendy Yoshimura had been a member of, with her boyfriend. And he had gone to prison for those crimes. He -- was a tough guy.

KING: To the young in our viewing audience, what was the aim of the SAL? What did they want?

HEARST: They wanted to overthrow the government of the United States and...

KING: With eight people?

HEARST: Well, yes. They called themselves an army. They were planning on recruiting more armies. They were planning on splitting up and forming smaller cells and going into different areas, recruiting more members and just growing until they had started a full scale war in this country.

KING: Do you think there's anything like them around now?

HEARST: Well, I'm assuming -- we know that there is.

KING: Do you think there are domestic groups around that think like this, that -- obviously we know about the wackos out in the west and other parts, and the crazies -- do you think there are other groups like the SLA close at hand?

HEARST: I'm not seeing that much difference between the SLA and the people who did the Oklahoma City bombing, and that mind set, or even the Manson family. I think Charles Manson was a hair's breath away from just being a terrorist. He wanted to start a war, too. If you remember, that was the whole purpose of writing all that stuff on the walls, was to blame black people because he wanted to start a race war and a revolution and he would be the leader of everything when it was over.

KING: And what makes this appealing?

HEARST: Well, you have a charismatic leader and you have people with a similar type of mindset who aren't maybe finding like-thinking people where they are and they travel across the country as did the Harrises, looking for someone to lead them. I mean, I think a lot of it is as much leadership as they were able to show after Donald DeFreeze had died. They were basically followers from the beginning.

KING: We'll take a break and come back with more of Patricia Hearst.

Tomorrow night, Saira Shah will be with us, the young lady who did the amazing documentaries on the condition of the women in Afghanistan. She'll be joined by Jay Leno's wife, Mavis, who has been carrying on a campaign domestically for a long time. They will both be in studio with us tomorrow night.

Friday night, Sir Elton John will be aboard. We'll be right back with Patty Hearst. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've been given the choice of one, being released in a safe area, or two, joining forces with the Symbionese Liberation Army and fighting for my freedom and the freedom of all oppressed people. I have chosen to stay and fight.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We are back with Patricia Hearst. One other defendant to ask about, and he is at large, and that is James William Kilgore. What are your memories of him?

HEARST: You know, they really all wanted to be leaders, but looking at those photos is pretty amazing. This is part of the reason that I thought the government really had no seriousness about ever catching these people.

KING: Because?

HEARST: This is a man who always wore glasses. Every photograph he ever had taken of himself was taken without glasses so that if you were to go underground there would be no photograph of himself with glasses on. And I have repeatedly told authorities this. It's been totally ignored. I'm confused by it. But, you know, this is not my problem any more.

KING: Were any of these people, to you, likable?

HEARST: You know, yes, sure. It gets to degrees of who's likable when you're with people who are causing mayhem and placing bombs and doing robberies. There are always some people that are more likable than others. It's hard to say. You know how when people have been held hostage, one of the first questions they get asked is, how were you treated? And the answer is almost always I was treated, you know, pretty well. And by that, they usually mean they weren't killed. So, yes, you know, some people were likable than others. You know, Wendy Yoshimura was certainly a nicer person on balance than I would say Emily Harris was. But, you know, considering the circumstances and what they were all up to, it's just not a way that I would characterize any of them is who's the nicest.

KING: The FBI has provided a drawing of how James William Kilgore might look now. What do you think of that?

HEARST: Put some glasses on him. When have you seen a man that age who doesn't wear glasses on top of everything else that I have said? I'm mystified by this one. And, you know, like I said, this is really why -- this is one of the reasons why the kind of lack of searching for all of these fugitives and also the lack of prosecution that took place. I just never felt before this and these charges that there was any, you know, seriousness about bringing the murderers of Mrs. Opsahl to justice.

KING: Before we talk in more issues that comes to mind that -- those of you may know Patty Hearst and not realize a little of the timeline, so just let me run through a little of the highlights. This all started February 4, 1974. My God.

HEARST: I know.

KING: That's two years away from 30 years.

HEARST: It's, you know, 500 in dog years, I think.

KING: The SLA kidnapped Patty Hearst on February 4 of '74. On April 15, after weeks of being locked in a closet, she joins the SLA using the revolutionary name Tanya, is photographed holding a rifle during the robbery of the Hibernia Bank at San Francisco. In May of that year, six heavily-armed members of the SLA die in a shootout, in a fire that consumes their L.A. hideout. April '75, Myrna Opsahl is killed during the robbery of the Crocker Bank. In September of '75, Hearst is captured by the FBI in San Francisco. In March of '76, she's convicted of robbing the bank. In January of '79, President Carter commutes Patty's seven-year sentence. She's released from prison after serving about 21 months. And in January of 2001, she is give a presidential pardon by President Clinton, gives most of the credit to President Carter for carrying this out.

Let's take a call. Vancouver, British Columbia for Patty Hearst, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Patty. I'd like to know if you're afraid or scared to testify due to the fact that Kilgore is actually still at large?

HEARST: Well, you know, for me, this is really a point where I feel that it's time. It's past time. I'm not afraid of them. I was afraid of them when they had guns that they could shoot me with When I was in a closet and they were threatening to kill me, I was terrified of them at one time. They just don't have any power over me any more. They haven't had for years.

KING: Not even Kilgore, who is on the loose now, knowing he's charged with this?

HEARST: Well, you know, he's been on the loose for years. I don't know what -- I don't know. He could be dead. He could be out of the country. I'm just not really -- maybe I'm foolish. Maybe I should be.

KING: Have you met with anyone concerned with the prosecution yet?

HEARST: No, not yet.

KING: But they will sit down -- how long do you expect this will take out of your life, this testimony and cross-examination?

HEARST: Well, when it comes to court, I really don't know. I can't even guess. There's going to be a lot of motions beforehand. There's going to be probably firings of lawyers. I mean, last year -- by January of last year, with the Kathy Soliah case -- I was calling it Kathy's comedy courthouse because she had switched lawyers and gotten so many delays and it had gotten all so ludicrous.

Now, for this, I'm sure, you know, multiply the defendants and multiply the goings on and that won't be anything to do with me, though. That will all sit there. When it finally comes to court and when I'm called as a witness, it will take however many days or weeks it takes. I'm sure it will take as long as possible.

KING: You're prepared. In Kathy's case, also known as Sara Olson, isn't it possible, as a question, for someone to change, for someone to rehabilitate or habilitate themselves, get on with their lives, lead a good life, be a good parent, and just by the nature -- it doesn't forgive the act they did -- but they may not be the same person they were 24 years ago.

HEARST: Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, I believe that prisoners can be rehabilitated. I believe people can change. And you know, I believe there's -- I was going to say I believe there's good in everyone. I don't really believe that. But most people...

KING: Well, obviously there's some good in her now, right? She led a pretty good life for 20 years.

HEARST: Well, she led a life that was a complete falsehood. And, you know, for her to go in at her sentencing and still say that she, you know, wasn't there and all she did was maybe get some fake IDs for them. And, you know, -- no. You know, she's got some other honesty issues to deal with.

KING: You would have felt better if she was were more honest, better about her?

HEARST: Absolutely. I mean, I really -- of course I would have felt better about her if she were completely honest about her involvement. I think that that's what has to happen. And I feel really badly, too, for her family and not just her. You know, William Harris has a family. And Michael Bortin has a family. And they all have young children. You know, this is a very difficult thing for those children to have to deal with. But I just -- I keep going back. The main person and the main family that's had the hardest thing to deal with has been the Opsahl family.

KING: No winners here, but they're the big loser.

HEARST: You know, there are no winners in this. This is a very, very sad situation brought about by a violent, senseless, evil act. And there are just no winners in this, none.

KING: Right back with more of Patricia Hearst on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mom, dad, I'm OK.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We love you, Patty, and we're all praying for you. I'm sorry I'm crying, but I'm happy you're safe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: One would imagine, Patty, that you have been ultra careful since February 4, 1974. Have you?

HEARST: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: I mean, for example, the mind boggles. How were you taken? How did they kidnap you?

HEARST: I was in my apartment and there was just a knock on the door. And armed gunmen broke in and kidnapped me. It was -- I was just a college student. I wasn't really thinking that there could possibly be any problem like this, I was just attending classes at UC Berkeley and studying hard, and hoping to go ahead on there and get a degree.

KING: Being a Hearst, you didn't have security?

HEARST: No. We didn't, none, nothing. It just never, ever crossed my parents' mind that this would ever happen.

KING: Now, does that, therefore, cause you pause when there's a knock at the door?

HEARST: Well, yes. My life is not the same as my parents' life. And my life is not the same since I was 19 years-old. My life was changed from my last days as a teenager until the present. I have lived my entire adult life in many ways haunted by what happened. But, you know, I had to get on with my life from that point and still remembering that there are bad people out there and you have to be careful. So we do live differently than other people do in terms of security. Although, you know, frankly, a lot of things aren't very safe since 1974. I think when I was growing up you could leave the door unlocked in 1974, and no one would consider such a thing today.

KING: How have you -- you have how many children?

HEARST: I have two children.

KING: How old are they?

HEARST: They are 20 and 17.

KING: How have they dealt with all of this and your explaining it to them? All of this happened before they were born.

HEARST: Well, they've grown up with it. Like I said, all their lives, they've known about what happened. They've gone to school where teachers have had to call home and say, is it okay if we show them the newspaper we're doing a report on something? It's been awkward, but they've known everything, so in many ways that's been easier, because I can even imagine what it would be like to have lied to them and then have to tell them now, by the way, this happened.

It would just be way too difficult for them. And, you know, they're upset, they're worried for me. They have been told and they do understand, of course, that when someone does something wrong, that you have to go to trial. They wish things were different, they certainly wish that I didn't have to go testify, because they know it will be hard for me. But I just tell them, you have to. Aside from the fact that, you know, it's your civic duty to do something like that, it's more than that. You have to be honest, that was -- that has been the way I have lived. That was why I published the book, I have never wavered from it. I don't have any skeletons in my closet, I'm not afraid to go in front of a jury.

KING: What was it like in your heart knowing you and your heart knew you didn't do anything wrong, to be in prison?

HEARST: Well, that was very difficult but on the other hand, some things were easier. When -- at the prison when they wanted me to sign for good time, you know, especially work time to accept it. I refused to accept it, I said that was the same thing as saying I was guilty to accept time off for any of this. Then I told them flatly I would serve every day of my sentence. That I was happy to do it, in fact, if the alternative would be to say I was guilty, and my children know this. They've grown up with hearing about President Carter and about the commutation of the sentence. And they were thrilled when President Clinton pardoned me.

KING: Comes to mind, Patty, most of us, most viewers watching don't know any evil people. Maybe there's some people they don't like, the boss, somebody's (UNINTELLIGIBLE). But evil, most people don't know evil people. You have spent a lot of time with evil people.

HEARST: Yes.

KING: What was that like?

HEARST: It's something that affects you so deeply that in a way you can never really trust people again. You know that you have to and you know that not everybody is like this, but it changes your perception of people for the rest of your life. And in a way it's sad to lose that kind of innocence, but on another way, you get a strength from it. And you can help other people.

KING: But the other side says, evil people don't think they're evil.

HEARST: No, they don't. Absolutely.

KING: They don't look in the mirror and say, I am an evil person.

HEARST: No. They think they're fabulous. No, they don't think they're evil. They know that they're right, everyone else is wrong. I think they don't even care about whether everybody else is wrong. They care only about themselves.

KING: We'll be right back with more of Patty Hearst on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with our remaining moments with Patty Hearst. We talked about John Opsahl, the victim's son. He was 15 at the time his mother was killed. Have you ever spoken with him?

HEARST: No, I haven't. I -- I haven't spoken to him.

KING: Really? I would gather that he would be interested in talking to you.

HEARST: You know, I actually had my attorney contact him, and I felt that it was kind of time to do that. And so we've made a gesture, but I think it's just way too hard for him. And I totally understand and I'm -- I'm sure one day we will, but --

KING: You'll probably meet at the trial.

HEARST: They have a lot to work through. This has been something that has sat there and I'm sure, you know, festered. And haunted their family for all of these years. And now they're having to readjust and, you know, finally feel some hope and realize that justice is being done. There will be a trial.

KING: Woodbridge, Virginia, hello.

CALLER: Hey, Ms. Hearst, I would like to know, have you ever felt guilty being a part of the SLA and how do you handle the fact that so many others think you are just as guilty?

HEARST: You know, when I first was arrested and first going through the therapy with the psychiatrist because I did feel really horrible. And I -- it was the kind of guilt that was -- a lot of it stemmed from feeling so horrible that my mind could be controlled by anybody, that I was so fragile that this could happen to me.

And because really we all think we're pretty strong and that nobody can make us do something if we don't want to do it. That's true until somebody locks you up in a closet and tortures you and finally makes you so weak that you completely break and will do anything they say. And there was the feeling of guilt and self- loathing and despair and pain that was just overwhelming.

And in terms of people still thinking that I'm guilty, you know, the government spent an awful lot of time trying to convince people of that. So how can I blame them? I mean, I was the only one prosecuted for that bank robbery. They just ignored everything except me. I understand. On the other hand, once this case is tried, a lot of evidence will come out too -- a lot of it hasn't been able to come to the public until now.

KING: A brain-washed person doesn't know from time element when they're being brainwashed, do they? They don't wake up one day and say, I have been brainwashed?

HEARST: No. No, they don't. They -- I know for me, I thought that I was kind of fooling them for awhile, and the point when I knew that I was completely gone, I'm quite convinced, was at the Mel Sporting Goods Store when I reflectively did exactly what I had been trained to do that day instead of what any sensible person would have done or person still in control of their senses and their responses, which would be the minute the Harrises had left the van to have just run off and called the police.

At that point, you know, looking back, I can say that I was gone. I was so far gone I had no clue how bad it was.

KING: Fredericksburg, Virginia, hello.

CALLER: I read your book as a teenager in the '80s and the one question I have always had is, were any of the SLA members were charged with your kidnapping and if not, why not?

HEARST: They were two members that were left alive, Bill and Emily Harris were charged with my kidnapping. They were charged after I was convicted of their bank robbery. And that was the other case where I was going to go to trial to testify against them, but they plead guilty.

KING: Do you have some sympathy for John Walker?

HEARST: I had to think for a second. The...

KING: The American Taliban.

HEARST: OK, well, frankly, I mean, I think you have another case of someone who went looking for trouble, who politicized themselves, wasn't finding enough trouble where they were and went looking for it. I have heard people say it reminds me of the Patty Hearst case and I think it reminds me of my kidnappers. That's what it reminds me of.

That's another case where I feel so badly for his parents. There's no way that they could have done anything, or known anything. On the other hand, you know, I think of how I raised my kids. I don't let a 16-year-old or even a 17-year-old have the keys to the car after midnight -- you know, can I go to Yemen to learn to speak Arabic would be a big no.

But you know, that's -- they just thought that they were doing a good thing and they had a curious son who wanted to do something that would be very admirable, which would be to learn an extraordinarily difficult second language.

KING: The train -- we have no idea when this trial will take place. We still have a suspect at large right? So this probably a year off, do you think?

HEARST: Two, three, Larry. Your guess is as good as mine. I couldn't even begin to guess.

KING: But you are prepared for it all, prepared to go out and meet with the prosecutor, spend all the time it takes, do what you have to do? HEARST: Well, of course, yes. That's what you do. I'm totally prepared to do it. I think the reason I feel prepared and, like -- I feel prepared because something's going to come of it this time. I really honestly didn't believe that the prosecution of Kathy Soliah was going to be taken seriously, and I was completely wrong.

And, you know, there's a hopefulness that I feel now to see this, you know, coming to a conclusion and a feeling that there really is closure to my kidnapping and to everything that happened to me.

KING: Will this case close it? Is this it?

HEARST: I would think so.

KING: No future things on the docket, right? Assuming Mr. Kilgore is apprehended and the verdicts come down, this will end it?

HEARST: You're asking me? I'm not a prosecutor. I really don't know. I don't know.

KING: I assume this will bring closure to you, at least.

HEARST: It brings closure to me. This is not a happy situation, but you know, it is -- there is a feeling of relief. This is -- something is finally happening where these people are going to, at least stand trial for their acts.

KING: We have a minute left. What are you doing in your life? Are you still doing some acting?

HEARST: Absolutely. I did the "Vagina Monologues" a couple months ago in New Haven and, you know... KING: You hosted that wonderful special about the Hearst Castle.

HEARST: I did. I did that. And you know, things are nice. I mean, it's hard to even say that because it is in turmoil right now. But, you know, at this point, it just isn't my problem. This whole legal situation is something that other people are facing. I'm a witness. I will go and testify. But you know, this is for them to have to deal with after all these years.

KING: Thank you, Patty. Thanks for sharing this hour with us. Always good seeing you.

HEARST: Thank you.

KING: Patricia Hearst, former kidnapped newspaper heiress. She was pardoned a year ago by President Clinton and her sentence was commuted after 21 months by then-president Jimmy Carter. We'll tell you about tomorrow night and what's ahead on LARRY KING LIVE right after these words.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Tomorrow night on LARRY KING LIVE, Saira Shah, not in London, not in Afghanistan, but here in our studios, the woman who produced those incredible documentaries on the plight of the women in Afghanistan.

She will be joined by Mavis Leno, the wife of Jay Leno, who has long carried on that cause.

Speaking of carrying on the cause, we must carry on into the evening. And next on the docket, is NEWSNIGHT. The host is Aaron Brown, and he is in New York, and he is raring to go -- Aaron.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com


 
 
 
 


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