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PAULA ZAHN NOW
Terrorism Concerns Cause Airline Delays; College Quarterback Facing Sexual Assault Allegations
Aired January 2, 2004 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: "In Focus" tonight: F-16s trailing airliners. Terror watch lists and misspelled names cause cancellations, passengers stuck on the tarmac because of paperwork foul-ups. Is this real progress in the war on terror?
Also, a star college quarterback faces sexual assault accusations going into a big bowl game. We'll look at whether athletes get special treatment in sex cases. The numbers may surprise you.
And freedom for the woman convicted of manslaughter after her dogs mauled a neighbor to death. Why is she getting out of prison early?
Good evening and welcome.
I'm Fredricka Whitfield at the CNN Center in Atlanta. Paula Zahn is off tonight.
Those stories and more straight ahead, but, first, here's what you need to know right now.
Sunni Muslim religious leaders in Baghdad are furious with coalition forces today in the aftermath of a raid on one of their largest mosques and the detention of 32 clerics. But the U.S. Army exhibited pictures of weapons they say were confiscated from the building and they rejected charges that the U.S. troops had been anything but respectful of Islam.
CNN's Satinder Bindra is with us live from Baghdad now with the very latest -- Satinder.
SATINDER BINDRA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Fredricka.
A very angry protest by Sunni Muslims at one of Baghdad's main mosques today. They said, on Thursday, U.S. forces raided this mosque and took 32 religious leaders into custody. Now, the story from the U.S. side is very different. They're saying this mosque was a -- quote -- "hotbed of terrorists and terrorist activity." They say, from the mosque, they recovered a lot of ammunition, bomb-making equipment.
And there was even more stuff there. So the U.S. was quite justified, they say, in going there. However, I was invited inside the mosque by religious leaders. They showed me doors that had been kicked open. They showed me offices that had been turned upside down. And, most significantly, they showed me a Koran which they claimed had been torn by U.S. soldiers. U.S. soldiers are denying these charges tonight -- back to you.
WHITFIELD: Satinder, meantime, there was a second incident, an attack on U.S. soldiers. It is alleged that, apparently, those attackers were wearing press badges and appearing to be journalists. What happened?
BINDRA: That's right.
What happened was, a helicopter went down just west of Baghdad here in a place called Fallujah. And when the helicopter went down, one U.S. pilot was killed, another injured. U.S. forces moved in to secure the area. That's when they say they came under fire from some people who were wearing clothes that resembled some press outfits. So, U.S. soldiers say they chased these people. They caught them. And then they questioned them -- back to you.
WHITFIELD: Satinder Bindra, thank you very much for that report from Iraq.
"In Focus" tonight, the caution in the skies. In just two days, several international flight have been delayed or canceled, causing a domino effect on returning flights. Other airliners have even been tailed by jet fighters because of terrorist concerns. Still, no arrests have been announced, no weapons or explosives found aboard any of the flights.
Is heightened security working or are safety officials overreacting?
Kelli Arena begins with this latest report.
KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, counterterrorism officials don't they're overreacting. They say they have very specific information regarding those flight and that, in any scenario, they'd rather be safe than sorry.
I spoke earlier with Homeland Security Undersecretary Asa Hutchinson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ASA HUTCHINSON, UNDERSECRETARY FOR HOMELAND SECURITY: What you have seen in this last timeframe of going to an orange level has been unique, because our intelligence has been better. It has been more specific. We have received intelligence that we can tailor-make a response.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ARENA: Officials tell CNN, the information regarding British Airways Flight No. 223, which was canceled twice, had nothing to do with the passenger list, but instead focused on the flight number and the airline.
The intelligence regarding other flights hasn't been as nearly as specific, though. And government officials say they remain concerned that al Qaeda may be in the operational stages of an attack. Now, while much of the focus has been on aviation, they're not ruling out other methods -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: All right, Kelli Arena, thank you very much.
Now let's continue this discussion about security in the air.
In Washington, Admiral James Loy joins us. He's deputy secretary for the Department of Homeland Security. Good to see you.
A half-dozen cancellations since the start of the Christmas season. Do you see that these kinds of precautions are going to continue, take us throughout the month of January?
ADM. JAMES LOY, DEPUTY SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: I think the timeline is always going to be dependent on the quality of the intelligence stream that is going by.
We always look for credibility and specificity in that intelligence stream. And our obligation, of course, is to act when we see that package materialize in such a fashion that we feel people on airlines or in an airport or on a flight by number are in danger.
WHITFIELD: So, we're saying that there were specific threats and this was not general precaution, that the cancellations were the last resort?
LOY: I think cancellations tend to be a last resort. It's the notion that you have a series of tools that we can use in this process.
And, as they are used, to the degree we still remain concerned, the ultimate tool in the process is cancellation, because, if that aircraft is not in the air, it does not become either a target or a weapon. And, of course, we're concerned about either of those eventualities.
WHITFIELD: Now, with the cancellations, with the delays, with the worldwide publicity, there are some critics that are saying that these potential terrorists have actually escaped.
LOY: I think we always don't know what we don't know, but, at the other end of the day, our challenge has to be to make good judgments as that intelligence stream goes by.
And as an operator for most of my life, I have been yearning for what I've always called tactically actionable intelligence. And in this instance, over the course of these holidays, that's precisely what we've had. We've had enormous opportunities to share that with several countries involved, with airlines involved. And we are deeply appreciative of the cooperation that we have received back in the other direction.
WHITFIELD: Well, without any arrests taking place, how do you tell travelers, encourage them to continue to travel, because, of course, if they don't, there goes the global economy, the international aviation economy?
LOY: Well, I think, as you might have heard the secretary and many of us saying over the course of these last days and weeks, we do encourage the normal paths of running our daily lives.
And the last thing we want to be doing is appearing to be walking away in fear from just pieces of information. Our challenge, as we watch that stream go by, is to make certain that, where we can, we separate disinformation from real information and always make judgments that come down to the bottom line, which is to protect both those aircraft and the passengers on board from anything that we can keep them from being harmed.
WHITFIELD: And, quickly, how do you know that international airliners such as Air France, Mexicana, even British Airways, will continue to have this kind of level of cooperation with the U.S., given that they're going to be continuing to lose money if there are more cancellations?
LOY: It has just been a remarkably cooperative environment.
Over the course of these last several days, many of our actionable pieces have been with very little notice. And, as a result, we have been asking some extraordinary elements of cooperation from both airlines and from foreign countries. And to their great credit, as I have said just a moment ago, they have invariably come through. That is a great statement about international cooperation and cooperation between governments in the private sector, as we attempt to keep the skies safe.
WHITFIELD: Admiral James Loy, thank you very much for joining us this evening.
LOY: Thank you. And happy new year.
WHITFIELD: Happy new year to you.
So are the latest delays and cancellations overkill or are they preventing terrorism?
Let's get opinions from both two aviation experts both inside and outside the cockpit. Joining me is aviation security analyst Charles Slepian; and, in Fort Lauderdale, commercial airline pilot Rob Sproc of the Airline Pilots Security Alliance.
Good to see both of you, gentlemen.
ROB SPROC, AIRLINE PILOTS SECURITY ALLIANCE: Good evening.
All right, Charles, let me begin with you.
For the second day in a row, British airlines have canceled flights congressman between London, as well as Washington. No arrests have taken place. Do you see this as overkill or is the war on terrorism working? CHARLES SLEPIAN, AVIATION SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I think what we're trying to do now is respond to a specific threat, when all of these security risks that were referred to earlier by Admiral Loy are probably risks that have existed since 9/11, if not since before 9/11.
And these are risks for which we should have prepared reasonable security. If they are mistakes in people's names, we should have had an opportunity to screen names before planes were in the air.
WHITFIELD: Well, Rob, that's indeed the case that we have seen so far. There is a case, several cases so far, that have been documented of misspellings in names. And that has held up certain flights, causing massive delays and costing a lot of money.
We see this handling of the intelligence here as probably a two- edged sword. The Airline Pilots Security Alliance has been advocating the arming of real pilots. And we know that, today, we had a British airplane escorted in by a fighter aircraft. And it's interesting that Admiral Loy is in charge of this as well. We're concerned that this intelligence is being handled with the same level of incompetence that we've seen the federal flight deck officer program administered to date.
This is the stuff that we have to get right the first time. The airlines are going to cooperate for now. But if the flight cancellations continue to move on, pretty soon, the airline executives are going to say, hey, this is costing us too much money. And they are going to want to start to pressure Congress and the politicians to move away from this type of screening.
WHITFIELD: So, then, Charles, what is the answer? Does this mean that having more reinforced cockpit , more marshals on flight will help avert some of this confusion?
SLEPIAN: Well, it certainly wouldn't hurt, Fredricka.
I think what we need to do, first of all, is take into consideration why we have F-16s up there. They're up there because we're concerned about airplanes being hijacked. If we reinforce those cockpit doors, so that they can't be opened, well, then we kind of reduce almost to nothing the possibility of a hijacking.
And that way, we can eliminate some of that F-16 traffic that is up there as well. We need to improve screening on the ground in Europe. I just came back from a trip to Paris. I went through Charles de Gaulle Airport in record-breaking time going through security. When we landed in New York, however, every passenger was asked to show a passport. Well, it seemed to me that we're now looking for people who we have already transported across the ocean to the United States. We seem to have it backwards.
WHITFIELD: So what was the general consensus that you got from a number of the passengers there who were flying? Are they feeling rather secure, or are they feeling that it's a little too late to be checked once you already arrive at your destination?
SLEPIAN: I think everybody was bewildered by why we were looking at passports on the American end of the trip, when Air France had been grounded, six of their flights grounded, just a few days before this departure.
WHITFIELD: All right, well, Rob, as a commercial airline pilot, let's talk about the psyche of the pilot. What does this do for the pilot, adding more pressure, more fatigue, knowing that there are so many uncertainties in the security measures?
SPROC: Well, certainly having an F-16 show up on your wing is not something which necessarily builds confidence.
Let's face it. The F-16 is there in case the doors are breached, in case the aircraft does get commandeered. We know that the doors are one layer of protection. Obviously, arming your pilots, we would prefer to see as a last line of defense, instead of a shootdown by a fighter aircraft.
Most professional airline pilots seem to be handling the enhanced security procedures in a very methodical way. We realize this is the world that we live in today. We do have tens of thousands of pilots that would like to participate in the federal flight deck officer program. But because of the poor implementation by the TSA, they're staying away by the tens of thousands. And, unfortunately, that layer of security is not really in place the way it should be today.
WHITFIELD: All right, thanks very much, gentlemen. Rob Sproc and Charles Slepian, thanks for joining us this evening.
SLEPIAN: Thank you.
SPROC: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: A new year, a new poll puts Howard Dean well out in front of the race for the Democratic nomination.
And as a star college quarterback faces a sexual assault accusation, we look at athletes, rape, and whether there's special treatment.
And it was a case that shocked the nation. Now one of the owners of the dogs that mauled a San Francisco woman to death is now set free.
WHITFIELD: Well, January is the month things really get hot -- on the campaign trail, that is. The Iowa caucuses take place on the January 13, but the first secret ballots will be cast in New Hampshire on January 27.
The latest CNN/"TIME" poll shows former Vermont Governor Howard Dean still has a substantial lead there. But with a bit over three weeks to go to the primary, the battle for undecided voters is intensifying.
Dan Lothian reports.
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN BOSTON BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): As the second half of the presidential campaign got under way, Senator John Kerry faced off against a different kind of opponent in New Hampshire, taking shots not from Democratic contenders, but from supporters on ice. Kerry focused on winning the game and the race.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're rolling. We've got great energy.
SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hi. How are you?
LOTHIAN: Senator John Edwards took his campaign to the streets as part of a statewide tour. He called for a change from the -- quote -- "negative tone" of the race.
EDWARDS: I think this daily sniping that goes on between one candidate and another is below the level of what this discussion should be.
LOTHIAN: Some voters fear unusually harsh negative attacks may weaken the candidacy of the eventual Democratic nominee. Howard Dean heard that from one of his supporters.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your opponents are taking a scorched-earth thank? Do you think there will be much left of the Democratic Party by the time they're finished?
HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There will if I win.
LOTHIAN: Joe Lieberman, who began his day at a diner hoping for the luck of the seat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Four years ago, George W. sat in here with me.
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D-CT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No kidding?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And he got to be president.
LIEBERMAN: This is a good -- I didn't even know that.
LOTHIAN: Says Democrats, we'll survive this campaign battle.
LIEBERMAN: In the end, we're going to unite, because we have a common gold. LOTHIAN (on camera): Political strategists say, the Democratic candidates also have something else to contend with, seemingly endless good news for the Bush administration, like the improving economy or the capture of Saddam.
(voice-over): But the Democrats say, voters won't be fooled. At a town hall meeting, retired General Wesley Clark made his case for the White House.
WESLEY CLARK (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm not running to bash George Bush. I'm running to replace him.
LOTHIAN: Clark is about to unveil a new TV ad here. Kerry just released another one. The all-out push is under way in an attempt to catch Dean, who, according to the most recent poll in New Hampshire, leads 41 percent to Kerry's 17, Clark's 13, and the rest of the pack in single digits.
Dan Lothian, CNN, Nashua, New Hampshire.
WHITFIELD: The latest CNN poll shows less than half the voters are paying close or fairly close attention to the campaign. That means there are plenty of undecided votes. That could mean Senator John Kerry or General Wesley Clark will benefit most from that.
Senior political analyst Joe Klein joins us now.
Good to see you, Joe.
JOE KLEIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Hi, Fredricka.
KLEIN: Can I make one correction?
WHITFIELD: Yes, go ahead. Yes.
KLEIN: We had January 13 as the night of the Iowa caucuses. It's actually Monday, January 19.
WHITFIELD: Oh, good.
KLEIN: Which gives me six more days to suffer out there in the cold.
WHITFIELD: You're right about that. January 19 for Iowa caucuses, January 27 for the New Hampshire primary.
Let's talk about Dean, already the front-runner. He's the favorite in both places. What does he need to do perhaps to maintain that, or, likely, what do the other candidates need to do to try to get a few more votes?
KLEIN: Well, Fredricka, we're in a position where about one third of the Democratic Party, maybe as much as 40 percent in New Hampshire, are solid Dean voters, which leaves the other two-thirds of the Democratic Party. And that is what the contest is for.
At this point, you have to expect that most of those undecided voters in those first two states know who Howard Dean is and have reservations about him. So, the contest is really among Dick Gephardt, who's running a strong campaign in Iowa, John Kerry, who is very close in Iowa and running that weak second in New Hampshire, Wes Clark, who is coming on strong. Those are the guys who may or may not become the one other person who will challenge Howard Dean down the road.
WHITFIELD: And Howard Dean is trying to say to the other Democratic candidates, you know, it's not about infighting here. It's not about you against me. It's about unseating the president.
But when it boils down to it, there are an awful lot of critics who are saying he doesn't have what it takes in order to do that.
KLEIN: Well, good luck to Howard Dean, but politics, as they say, ain't beanbag.
This is a rough contact sport. And I think that this is a really good tussle that the Democratic Party needs. Howard Dean has run against the Washington insiders in the Democratic Party, specifically against people like John Kerry and Dick Gephardt, who voted for the war. Now, this is a real policy difference. It isn't a made-up fight. And that's what politics is all about.
WHITFIELD: All right, now, let's talk about the anti-Dean candidate, and that being Wesley Clark. Most recently, yesterday, he said, quote -- "It's now clear that I'm one of only two candidates in a position to win the nomination."
Is he right or did he just shoot himself in the foot?
KLEIN: Well, neither. It's kind of wishful thinking.
Clark's coming on. He raised a lot of money in the fourth quarter. It's $11 million, estimated. And he's moving up in New Hampshire. He's also very strong in the South. So he does have an argument. He may be the one who eventually emerges to challenge Dean. But then, all bets are off in Dick Gephardt or John Kerry beats Dean in Iowa and if Kerry comes on again in New Hampshire.
I was just up there the last week, both in New Hampshire and Iowa. And Kerry, it seems to me, is doing a lot better than he has in the past. He really has his stump speech down. He's very sharp, not as sharp as Dean, who remains the most compelling Democratic candidate out there.
WHITFIELD: And real quick, Joseph Lieberman is skipping the Iowa caucuses. He says he's concentrating on New Hampshire and the South. A mistake or a good formula?
KLEIN: Well, Wes Clark is doing the same thing. Conventional wisdom is split on this. Four years ago, John McCain skipped Iowa, spent all of his time in New Hampshire and just whomped George W. Bush there. So this might be a strategy that has some promise for people like Lieberman and Clark, who couldn't put together the kind of ground forces, the campaign to draw those people out on a snowy night on January 19, as we've established, in Iowa.
And Iowa, the important thing is, it's not just pulling a lever, like in any other election. You've got to go to a meeting and sit there and confront your neighbors.
WHITFIELD: OK, all right.
"TIME" magazine's Joe Klein, always good to see you. Thanks very much.
KLEIN: Good to see you.
WHITFIELD: Well, CNN will carry Sunday's Democratic debate in Iowa live at 3:00 p.m. Eastern time.
And on Monday, join Paula Zahn for an exclusive interview with John Kerry and his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, their first interview together since he joined the race.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My son was sentenced today for life in prison. However, it is not over. It is not over. The fight has just begun.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Lionel Tate's mother when he was sentenced, the youngest American ever given life in prison. Today, she knows that her son will soon be free, thanks to a plea deal. We'll talk to the boy's attorney.
And two days into the new year, have you already broken that resolution to eat less and get in shape? We'll have some help on following through.
WHITFIELD: When Lionel Tate was convicted of killing 6-year-old Tiffany Eunick in 1999, he was 13 years old. When the judge sentenced him, he was the youngest American ever to get life in prison.
Now Lionel Tate's life is about to change again. An appeals court has thrown out his conviction. And the prosecutor's office has offered his family the same plea bargain deal they turned down during his first trial. This time, it appears the family will take the deal.
With me now from Davie, Florida, is Richard Rosenbaum. He is Lionel Tate's attorney.
Good to see you.
RICHARD ROSENBAUM, ATTORNEY FOR LIONEL TATE: Good evening, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: Why was it that Lionel Tate's mother changed her mind and now accepted the same kind of deal that was offered before the first trial?
ROSENBAUM: Well, I wasn't the initial trial lawyer. I got involved after the conviction had already occurred.
This time around, I think everyone is very cognizant of the fact that, if a child goes to trial and, God forbid, loses, then they're getting life in prison without the possibility of parole. It's an awful huge risk to take.
WHITFIELD: You weren't her attorney, but many legal analysts were aghast that she turned down the deal initially. You had been following this case all throughout. What changed her mind, do you suppose? What was she thinking at the time?
ROSENBAUM: Well, back then, she didn't think that her child was guilty. She didn't think that a reasonable jury could ever convict a child as a result of an unintentional act that occurred when he was 12 years old.
Now, years later, you fast-forward, and it can happen. And if it does happen, it's life. And life is just insurmountable. To think that Lionel was going to have to spend the rest of his life in a jail cell makes one really want to rethink your position. And this plea would be in his best interest. So I think that's why it's been agreed to now, not only by the state, but by the victim's mother, as well as by Lionel Tate. So we're looking forward to moving this to the next stage.
WHITFIELD: And let's talk about the terms of this deal. He's about to be 17, by the end of this month, correct me if I'm wrong. Second-degree murder is now the conviction or the downgraded conviction, one year house arrest, 10 years probation, community service. All of these very reasonable by your account?
ROSENBAUM: Well, it's tough on a child to be on house arrest. It's tough on anybody; 10 years probation is a long time. I'm not looking forward to sending Lionel off to school and finish off his teens and possibly go to college while being on probation.
But it's something that -- he's looking forward to getting out of jail. He sits in jail by himself every single day. And he's been in a one-man cell for three years now. He's gone from a child to a teenager, and he wants his freedom.
WHITFIELD: Well, let's talk about what this experience has done to him. Based on your interaction with him, at first, at the time of the trial, there were many people who recall seeing that his behavior was quite cavalier. He was making faces at the camera, etcetera, that perhaps he didn't understand the gravity of the situation. How has his attitude changed?
ROSENBAUM: Well, I've seen Lionel mature.
When I first met him, he was 13. He was in jail. He had been in jail about a week. He wasn't able to comprehend the legal theories that we were talking about. There were complicated legal issues, such as waiving attorney-client privilege, putting people on the witness stand, his right against self-incrimination.
He knows a lot more about that now. Unfortunately, growing up basically in a jail these last few years, he's learned a lot. He knows the difference between a guilty plea, a guilty best interest plea, which is what's contemplated here, where he says, I'm guilty, but I'm saying that because it's in my best interest. I can still proclaim my innocence. It's a guilty best interest plea.
WHITFIELD: All right, and, quickly, his release?
ROSENBAUM: He will have his three years in the Department of Juvenile Justice at the end of January, so we're looking forward to bringing this to a conclusion.
WHITFIELD: OK, all right, Richard Rosenbaum, thanks very much for joining us from Davie, Florida.
ROSENBAUM: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: A college football star under a cloud of suspicion, just the latest athlete facing trouble over sexual assault accusations. We'll look at whether sports stars get special treatment.
And freedom for the woman sent to prison after her dogs mauled and killed a neighbor. We'll find out what she's being released early.
And New Year's resolutions. How can you follow through on that vow to lose weight this year?
WHITFIELD: Here's what you need to know right now. In Albany, New York, prosecutors are looking into why police chasing an erratic driver shot and killed a man crossing the street on New Year's Eve. A second bystander was also wounded. National correspondent Gary Tuchman joins us from Albany with more -- Gary?
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a terribly tragic story. The district attorney here in Albany county is deciding whether criminal charges should be filed against one or two police officers who fired gunshots at a fleeing suspect only to hit an innocent bystander, killing him.
The incident happened on this very busy street in Albany, New York, downtown Albany, right in the middle of the afternoon on New Year's Eve. Police pulled over a man who was driving erratically. After they pulled him over, he then took off. They started chasing him. They chased him down the street here. They chased him back here. Police say they feared there was grave risk to life. They fired a total of eight gunshots, they say at this man. They missed him, though, and they hit somebody who was standing right across the street.
You can see the candlelight memorial across the street. That's where David Scaringe, 24 years old. He only lived 50 feet away. He was watching this happen. A bullet hit him. They took him to the hospital where he died.
Now, the suspect in the car got away. They later arrested him at his mother's house, charged him with reckless endangerment. We are being told right now that two officers involved in this, they don't know who fired the fatal shot. They have been taken off the street but they have desk jobs with pay, as an investigation begins.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM MILLER, ALBANY/NY, POLICE DEPARTMENT: You know, it's difficult to stomach. There's no winners here at all. Everybody feels horrible, our hearts go out to his family, but you're talking about somebody who's 24 years old who had his life ahead of him, and that's difficult to think about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUCHMAN: A grand jury will likely get this case to decide if there is evidence if a crime was committed. A second man was also hit, it appears, by a ricocheting bullet. He is OK. Fredricka, back to you.
WHITFIELD: Gary Tuchman, thanks very much. From Albany, New York. Another star athlete has been accused of sexual assault. This time it's Kansas State football player Ell Roberson. A 22-year-old woman accused him of assaulting her early in the morning on New Year's Day. Roberson says the sex was consensual and no charges have been filed. With me now is CNN's sports correspondent Josie Burke who is joining us from New Orleans where the Sugar Bowl is being played -- Josie?
JOSIE BURKE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Fredricka. We can tell you this, the accusations of sexual assault have not kept Ell Roberson off of the football field. He is playing as we speak in the Fiesta bowl, that game kicked off about 25 minutes ago and he was in the starting lineup.
A lot of that probably has to do with the fact that earlier today Kansas State released a statement, saying that it had completed its own thorough investigation of the incident and found that Roberson had not committed any criminal act. In that statement, the athletic director for Kansas State, Tim Weiser, went on to say, "The university views this situation very seriously and has been working closely with law enforcement throughout this investigation. We appreciate the manner in which this investigation is being handled and look forward to its expeditious resolution."
Again, it appears as though Kansas State is satisfied with the results that it got after conducting its own investigation, but it should be noted that a police investigation is ongoing -- Fredricka?
WHITFIELD: Josie Burke, thanks very much. From New Orleans.
The Roberson story and others raise the question of whether star athletes get special treatment in the legal system. A recent investigation by "USA Today" indicates they fare far better at trial than other defendants.
Joining us now, Robert Becker, an attorney and sports analyst. He's joining us from New York and Kathy Redmond is in Denver, Colorado. She's the founder of the National Coalition Against Violent Athletes.
Good to see both of you. So Ell Roberson's in the starting lineup, playing in the bowl. Rob, is that fair enough?
ROB BECKER, ATTORNEY: Absolutely, particularly with the facts that emerged today. The police, not just the college, but the police have concluded there's not enough evidence to bring a case against this guy, although they have, nevertheless, turned it over to the district attorney.
Also, the attorney for this accused player, Roberson, says he's already seen an affidavit submitted to the police from a close acquaintance of the accuser, who says that this woman has had a lifelong obsession with Ell Roberson. So I think particularly you see that this is not likely to turn into anything, and it definitely makes sense for him to be playing.
WHITFIELD: Kathy, the investigation is not over, however they feel that there's no reason why he can't be playing right now. Your thoughts?
KATHY REDMOND, COALITION AGAINST VIOLENT ATHLETES: Well, that's an obvious statement coming from Kansas State University, that's a line that universities usually state. I am very much embedded in the athletic department at Kansas State and in the police department at Kansas State, and I can assure you that in many times, especially in a game like this, where Kansas State, this is their star quarterback, they are not going to do anything about him.
BECKER: This is the police in Arizona.
WHITFIELD: You see this -- Kathy, in your point of view, you're seeing this as a clear case of preferential treatment. It has nothing to do with whether or not there's enough evidence?
REDMOND: Well, for me the preferential treatment from this. You have a man who has violated curfew, nobody is debating that. Now what does that say for the players? That this guy can violate curfew, rules don't apply to him because of his stature. Now if any of you do, that's a totally different story. BECKER: This is a totally different point you're getting on. This isn't talking about the criminal justice system favoring athletes.
REDMOND: We're not talking about the criminal justice system. What we are talking about is if he should play or not, and that's the difference. That is the -- the question is, should he be playing? Whether or not innocent until proven guilty even kicks in, the fact that he violated curfew, the fact that there's a possibility he violated the student code of conduct, those key factors play in.
WHITFIELD: Let me just jump in right now on this one. Kathy, there have been always been accusations that many athletes on campus, perhaps they have a more propensity for aggression, so there are excuses made on the campus for them, and in this case, your point of view is that an excuse is being made for this gentleman, whether he's guilty or not. You're saying guilty until proven innocent?
REDMOND: No, I'm not necessarily saying that. What I am saying right now is, based on team rules, based on what the team has set as their standard, he has violated by violating the curfew. We have incidents where teachers who are accused of anything, are suspended pending the outcome. We have cases where police officers are. The teachers is interesting, because there is case law that states that because the teachers are role models, that that makes the difference to whether they are suspended pending the outcome or not.
WHITFIELD: Rob, let me just ask you, is it of your thinking that perhaps because athletes on campus might be targeted more or perhaps they might be accused of various acts that perhaps there needs to be special protection taken for these students, maybe in the form of consent forms?
There have been some who've said that consent forms are something that need to be brought into the equation here?
BECKER: There are a couple people that put forth these consent forms. One owns a condom company and one's a sex therapist. I don't think they're going to get very far, besides the practical problems of getting someone to sign them, there's no way that any consent signed by a woman would mean that a D.A. shouldn't prosecute a case.
I don't even think that in a civil case, consent forms signed by a woman would hold up. I think most judges would say this is void, against public policy. Because supposing a woman signed a consent form and then the athlete or whoever it was went nuts. You can have a situation where the woman can't win there.
WHITFIELD: All right. Rob Becker in New York, Kathy Redmond in Denver, thanks to both of you for joining us.
The infamous dog-mauling case in San Francisco, we'll find out why one of the dogs' owners could get out of prison early.
And some help keeping that New Year's resolution to lose weight?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM HAMMER, DEPUTY D.A., SAN FRANCISCO: (UNINTELLIGIBLE), and that's why I'm going to ask you to reconsider it, that you will forever have robbed Sharon Smith and Diane Whipple, and everyone who knew the woman, and 12 jurors in Los Angeles and 19 grand jurors in San Francisco and everyone in California of a sense of justice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: An emotional courtroom moment last summer. Perhaps you remember Deputy District Attorney Jim Hammer's objections when a San Francisco judge reduced the jury's verdict from second degree murder to involuntary manslaughter in a fatal dog mauling trial. The woman whose dogs killed a neighbor in a vicious hallway attack in San Francisco has been paroled after serving about one year in prison. Her husband has already been freed on parole as well.
Deputy D.A. Jim Hammer joins us now. Well, good to see you this evening.
HAMMER: Good to see you. Happy new year's.
WHITFIELD: Happy new year to you. OK, she has already been released correct? And is in an undisclosed location? This after serving about 14 months of a four-year sentence. How did this happen?
HAMMER: Well, she got out yesterday, she has been paroled to Ventura County, I'm not sure precisely where, but in California, as in most states, you serve about half of your time in prison if you do what's called work time and good time. Until recently, Marjorie Knoller has refused to work in prison, which was kind of true to form for her. It was all about Marjorie Knoller, but sometimes in September or so, she did take a prison assignment, and that's why she got out now, in January.
WHITFIELD: OK. And usually those are some of the conditions in which to get early release.
WHITFIELD: What do you suppose some of the other factors were?
HAMMER: Well, actually, you have a right to it in California. If you do the jobs you are assigned in prison, which most prisoners do -- Marjorie Knoller refused to for a time -- and you don't violate any rules, you get 50 percent off time.
You know, just the fact that she wouldn't work really reminds me of -- these people were some of the strangest, strangest people, and not just strange, but mean and really self-absorbed. They created this whole secret world, and from that created this dog-breeding ring, called Dog of War. They adopted a prisoner from the Aryan Brotherhood named Paul Schneider (ph), was one of the most notorious Aryan Brotherhood members, and they really created this secret world within San Francisco and in their apartment building, and it was out of that that these dogs continually lunged and lunged and lunged and attacked people, and finally killed Diane Whipple. So the same Marjorie Knoller that we saw walk out of prison is the one we watched during the trial.
WHITFIELD: Now, Marjorie Knoller also has certain terms in which she needs to respect. She's not allowed to have any dogs...
WHITFIELD: ... while she's on parole.
WHITFIELD: She's not even allowed to interact with her husband, who also is a convicted felon for the same kind of offense.
HAMMER: That's right, and that will last for three years. Apparently, they're still married. And in fact, they're trying to have some contact I think still with this prisoner whom they adopted as their son, before Diane Whipple was killed.
WHITFIELD: So because there's an undisclosed location in which you know loosely which county she's in...
WHITFIELD: Is it -- should it, you know, behoove the county to allow residents in that community to know about her presence, given that there still are some restrictions in place in terms of her behavior, and the limits of her lifestyle?
HAMMER: Yeah, I think it will be pretty quickly well-known where she's living. She's a pretty recognizable person. She's going to be looking for work. And whether or not she's a danger, the community should know it. I think she is really one of the most sociopathic people I have ever seen, who really had absolutely no care whatsoever of people around her. So if I were her neighbor, I'd certainly want to know where she's living and I'd want to stay away from her.
WHITFIELD: Now, have you heard from Diane Whipple's longtime partner, Sharon Smith, or any other loved ones?
HAMMER: I have. I talked to Sharon two nights ago. Actually, we heard a rumor that Marjorie was getting out early, and I hoped it was false, but it was true. And I talked to Sharon just yesterday and told her about it.
She's moved on with her life and she is actually doing well, but it was a terrible, terrible just a shock to the system, and a flashback really to hear that Marjorie was out after only two years. These people were so careless and so reckless with what they did, and the death of Diane Whipple was so preventable, that I think it brought it all back to mind for Sharon, and it was frankly painful to talk with her about it.
WHITFIELD: San Francisco Deputy District Attorney Jim Hammer, thanks very much for joining us this evening.
HAMMER: Nice talking with you.
WHITFIELD: Well, it's always a favorite resolution, losing weight. We'll get some expert advice on how to make it happen.
And we'll turn to our Richard Quest in London for some help on sticking to those new year's resolutions.
WHITFIELD: It's the new year, and what's more traditional than a few resolutions to get the year off to a good start? And if you're like a lot of Americans, at least one of those resolutions will have something to do with weight lost. A new poll by Maris (ph) said losing weight is the third most common resolution. With me from Los Angeles is our frequent contributor, Dr. Drew Pinsky. Good to see you.
DR. DREW PINSKY, ADDICTION SPECIALIST: Thank you, Fredricka. Happy new year.
WHITFIELD: You say -- happy new year. You say just about every diet plan out there works, you just have to stick to it down to the letter. Are you sure about that?
PINSKY: No, my point is that there's tons of good information, whether you pick the South Beach diet or go to e-diets, wherever you go, there's tons of great diets. The Atkins diet, these diets have now been shown to work.
The problem is that in spite of all these great diets out there, we're getting fatter as a country. The one thing I always tell my patients is the thing that differentiates people that keep weight off, feel well, live longer, is exercise. That's the one thing we clearly know.
WHITFIELD: Well, isn't part of the problem, perhaps, that a lot of these fad diets, they're great for a little while, for a few months, a few weeks, et cetera, but you need a diet that can complement your lifestyle and perhaps the fad diets you just can't do for a long time?
PINSKY: And that is very much to the point also. The point is so there are good diets, but people aren't staying with them. Now why is that? You have people like Phil getting on the air and saying, "I have the solution, all you have to do is follow my rules." And when you follow those rules and you stay fat, you're flawed, there's something wrong with you, and that's a horrible message to people that are struggling with their weight.
WHITFIELD: Especially since that means that a lot of people will turn to food again, because they feel so terrible it's not working, they may start to eat again.
PINSKY: You're moving me to the next topic, which is the fact that so much of what the problem is with people's dietary habits these days is the fact that they eat for emotional reasons. As an addictionologist, I see the correlation between food and substances. It really is quite a correlation that people now are trying to regulate their emotions with substances. One of those substances is food.
It's a very complex issue that a vast array of fine clinicians and scientists are studying. And there's no simple answer for this so, yes, exercise. That's the one thing everybody agrees on. Eat genuine foods, perhaps meet with a dietitian, pick a diet and stick with it, but beyond that, people may need a formal evaluation. There are very complex reasons why people cannot lose weight or may be obese. There are things now like surgical interventions that sometimes are appropriate for medically relevant obesity.
WHITFIELD: So you're seeing a real parallel between those who are overweight and someone who perhaps has a chemical dependency and they need to be treated as such.
PINSKY: I absolutely do. For people to get up and say, hey, just don't eat, to me, it's the same thing as telling my heroin addicts, hey, just don't do heroin. It's, like, OK, now what? It's a much more complex issue than that.
I can come up with a ton of platitudes myself. Things like, again, exercise, which is a very very serious recommendation, spending more time with self-care, creating time for yourself, spending more intimate time with important relationships, to fill that void with things like other substances, and the substance we're talking about tonight is food.
WHITFIELD: OK, so bottom line. A lot of us want to, you know, tighten up our midsection, we want to diet, et cetera. What's your best recommendation on how to pick the best diet to take care of all these needs that you're talking about?
PINSKY: It's very simple and may sound ridiculous, but for diet and exercise, pick the exercises and the diets that you will do, and you will stay with.
Don't try to do something you don't like to do or won't do. Pick the things that work for you, and stick with it. If it's running, if it's playing tennis, whatever it is, pick the one you'll do and stay with it. The same thing applies to the diet. Find something that works for you. If you find you're still having difficulty, that is the time for an evaluation.
WHITFIELD: All right. Dr. Drew Pinsky, thank you very much. We'll all be tightening up throughout the year.
PINSKY: I hope so.
WHITFIELD: Happy New Year. As we've seen, dieting is one thing. But what about keeping those other New Year's resolutions? Richard Quest is dealing with that problem.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Am I a wimp? Am I weak- willed? So why am I having so much difficulty keeping my New Year's resolutions? I'll tell you when PAULA ZAHN NOW continues.
WHITFIELD: We've talked a bit about dieting, but what about those other New Year's resolutions? A lot of us won't make it through one week of the new year before giving up on them so we turn to our Richard Quest in London for some help -- Richard?
QUEST: Fredricka, it's not surprising. You see, we make these ridiculous promises to ourselves. You know the sort of thing -- learn two languages by Easter, clean every closet in the house by next week. So it's not surprising that by January the 2nd, I'm in deep trouble.
QUEST (voice-over): Give up smoking. Eat less fat. Go regularly to the gym. The three most popular resolutions we make at the start of the year, and once again, I made them to myself, even though usually 20 percent of us have broken our resolutions by the end of the first week. In London, it's not hard to find those who've already bailed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To eat less, on a diet.
QUEST: How are you doing with it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not too good.
QUEST: How are you doing keep your New Year's resolutions? It's January the 2nd.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No problem at all. I didn't make any. So I'm doing bloody well.
QUEST: The experts say we only succeed if we keep our resolutions reasonable. What is possible, not desirable. But I am determined, dedicated, and driven. I'm going to do it this year, even though the odds are against me. The problem is it's only January the 2nd, and there's temptation every where.
All I can see is the naughty and the nice. Get thee behind me, Satan. Hmm, a carrot would probably be better. As for the smokes, I'm going to need help here.
Hello, me regulars.
And in the end, success will be mine.
(END VIDEOTAPE) QUEST: And there you see it, Fredricka. The patch at full strength. It may be January the 2nd, but by jingo, this time, I'm determined to do it. Don't get too excited at all that bare flesh.
WHITFIELD: Well, I've got my fingers crossed for you there but what if you do happen to have a weak moment, Richard? I mean, after all, you said it best for us, everyone gets a weak moment every now and then. What are your options?
QUEST: Well, your last guest really put it very well. It's almost like these addictions, particularly with smoking and eating. The key is, one day at a time. Fredricka, if you say to yourself, I'm never going to smoke again, I'm never going to have a cream cake, I'm never going to do this or the other, you will overwhelm yourself. So if you fail, get back on the G.G. and ride it again.
WHITFIELD: And perhaps even come up with more realistic expectations of one's self then?
QUEST: Yes, there really is a key to it. Say I'm going to give more time to myself, I'm going to have one day at the movies each week, all those sorts of things. Instead you become an idiot like me, you decide to give up smoking, go to the gym and all these other things, which frankly I guarantee you, by month's end, something will have given. I'm almost certain.
It's a feeling of failure and that just makes it worse, so I smoke more and then do worse, you know the sort of thing. It's very disheartening.
WHITFIELD: I understand. Richard Quest, thanks very much from London. Always a treat.
Sounds to me that we all just have to have backup.
Well, thanks for joining us tonight.
Join CNN for the Democratic debate in Iowa on Sunday at 3 p.m. Eastern and Paula Zahn returns Monday with an interview with Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry and his wife Teresa Heinz Kerry. Their first interview together since he declared his candidacy for presidency.
"LARRY KING LIVE" is next.
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