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Interview With Dru Sjodin's Family; Michael Jackson Accuser's Father Speaks Out

Aired February 13, 2004 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, John Walsh of "America's Most Wanted," and the family of missing college student Dru Sjodin. Two and a half months into her heart wrenching search, where is she? Joining us, along with John Walsh and Dru's family, Chris Lang, Dru Sjodin's boyfriend, believed to be the last person to speak with her before she vanished.

Then later, Erin Runnion, the kidnap and murderer of her 5 year- old daughter Samantha in 2002 made national headlines.

And Ed Smart, his daughter Elizabeth was rescued from abduction.

And Court TV's Nancy Grace. The former prosecutor.

Then, later in the show, Michael Jackson's accuser's father speaks out on his own son's claims that he was molested by Jackson.

It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.


KING: Welcome to another edition of LARRY KING LIVE. We're going to spend a lot of time talking about tragedy. A missing person, Dru Sjodin. We believe the last person who spoke to her was Chris Lang. You're her boyfriend, right Chris? For how long? I mean, how long have you known Dru?

CHRIS LANG, DRU'S BOYFRIEND: We dated eachother for about 6 months. I met her a year ago. And we kind of reunited 6 months ago.

KING: And this is where? In North Dakota?

LANG: Grand Forks, North Dakota.

KING: And she attended the university. What do you do?

LANG: Correct. I was working in Cross Lake (ph) at a restaurant that my friend co-owns. That's where I met Dru. She grew up in the Pequot Lakes (ph), which is the town...

KING: Where you serious?

LANG: Yes, we were serious. We were serious and just a really good, fun relationship. And very serious, yes.

KING: Now she was where -- she worked at Victoria Secret part- time, is that it, while going to school?

LANG: She did, yes. She had 2 jobs and a full load of school.

KING: Anything strange about the phone call?

LANG: There really wasn't inflection in her voice or a sense of urgency. When we cut off, it was just a -- one of our conversations where we talk to eachother about our day.

KING: And it cut off?

LANG: It cut off...

KING: Was it a cellphone?

LANG: Yes, it was a cellphone conversation. And you know, I never dreamt that this was going on in my wildest dreams, nor would I. But as things started to unfold, the day just progressed into a nightmare.

KING: Let's go around. Linda, how did you hear about your daughter gone missing?

LINDA WALKER, DRU SJODIN'S MOTHER: Chris called me approximately 8:30 in the evening and said that he felt that something had gone awry.

KING: He was supposed to meet her or something, Chris?

L. WALKER: They were speaking on the telephone at the time.

KING: You felt it from the phone conversation.

LANG: Yes, I was in Minneapolis and our phone conversation cut off, but I just thought, you know, anything random was happening or cell phone cut out. There was no sense of urgency to it. So, I waited for her to call me back.

KING: When she didn't call back is when you called her mother. Were you very concerned?

L. WALKER: I was. I knew that she was late for her second job. She had left the Columbia Mall to go to her second job and had no ride there, and at that time, Dru's roommate had contacted the campus police . And I then in turn called Dru's father, and things proceeded from there.

KING: Sid, you're the stepfather, right?

ALAN SJODIN, DRU'S FATHER: I'm Alan. I'm the father.

KING: Oh, you're the father. Sorry.

And how long have you been divorced?

A. SJODIN: Since about 1988, so a long time.

KING: But you remain friendly. Obviously you're friendly with her new husband?

A. SJODIN: Absolutely.

KING: Are you remarried too?


KING: Were you close with Dru?

A. SJODIN: Yes, very close.

KING: Saw her a lot?


KING: And did you learn -- you learned from Linda?

A. SJODIN: Yes. Linda called me shortly after -- it was around 9:30 I believe, probably a little bit in between 9:30 and 10:00.

KING: And Alan, who is the stepfather?


KING: You're Sid. OK, I'll get my cards, I got them mixed up the wrong way. Sid, how did you learn?

S. WALKER: I was in the house that night when Linda got the call and she was the one that told me.

KING: And you were very close with your stepdaughter?

S. WALKER: I was very close. I helped Linda raise her since she was 5 years old. So she was like my daughter.

KING: Or is, we don't want to say...

S. WALKER: Is my daughter.

KING: Sven, you're her older or younger brother?


KING: What do you do?

S. SJODIN: I live here in L.A. And work...

KING: You're the one with the two little kids outside?

S. SJODIN: Absolutely.

KING: Two adorable kids. So that's her nephews, right?


KING: How did you find out about it?

S. SJODIN: I got a call Sunday morning here on the west coast about 8:00 in the morning. My dad told me that he'd been in Grand Forks all night and believed that my little sister, that Dru was missing. And you know, there was panic in his voice, so I knew it was serious.

KING: John Walsh in south Florida. The puzzling aspect of this is, a suspect is arrested in December 1, nine days later, Alfonso Rodriguez, an ex-convict, a registered sex offender. He's charged with abducting her. However, he remains in custody, they're going to give him psychiatric tests and he continues to deny it. What do you make of that, John?

JOHN WALSH, "AMERICA'S MOST WANTED": Well it's an ongoing nightmare, Larry. First I've got to thank you, last week when I was on and we were talking about little Carlie Brucia. Off the air I mentioned to you that the case of Dru Sjodin had wound down to nothing. And asked to you do this and I want to thank you, because keeping this case alive means everything to this family, because the not knowing is killing them. But to answer your question...

KING: John, how long have you been involved in this case?

WALSH: From the beginning. We were asked from the beginning to do it on "America's Most Wanted," but they arrested this Rodriguez guy right off the bat because there's all kinds of incriminating evidence that was found in his car. And the frustrating thing, why I was talking to you and asking to you keep this case alive was that Rodriguez served 23 years for kidnapping. He was only out a few months before he allegedly took Dru.

And I believe that he was going to talk to police, until he got this lawyer, David Dusek (ph). And he was going to tell police what he had done with Dru, and now we're suffering the same frustration that Carlie Brucia's family suffered when smith wouldn't tell anybody. When he was in jail, he said absolutely, I'm not going to tell because he knew the system, Larry.

Smith had been arrested 13 times. He knew he shouldn't tell and do the right thing. He wasn't going to tell. Now, this Rodriguez and his daughter, I don't know how he can sleep at night, are not cooperating with authorities. It's really got to be so frustrating and heartbreaking for this family.

KING: You're presuming then right, John, that the lawyer has suggested he not tell what happened to her. That's your assumption?

WALSH: Well, I had been talking to police, and yes, it is my assumption. We had been talking to police about doing the case. They said the evidence is pretty strong, almost overwhelming that this guy is the logical suspect. And we have to say for the protection of this program and this litigious society that we live in, that he's the alleged killer. But they felt that he was very close to cooperating with them until he lawyered up. And you and I have talked about this term, lawyered up, and now he's not saying anything. He's sitting in this cell and that family is desperate.

And this wonderful family that you have on tonight has spent so much time themselves searching, going through icy riverbanks with bloodhounds, searching themselves, hoping to find her. We all would wish that she was alive. I think they know that the odds of that are very slim. This family just needs some answers. And this guy is sitting in jail. My assumption, Larry, he knows what he did to Dru and he's not saying anything.

KING: Alan, what keeps your hopes going? It doesn't look good, right?

A. SJODIN: It doesn't look good, but there's that slimmest hope and that's the hope I'm going to draw my power off of.

KING: Linda?

L. WALKER: The same. There's certainly always miracles that do happen.

KING: So your hope is that it isn't Rodriguez, right?

L. WALKER: Or the fact that, you know, there's an accomplice, somebody alongside...

KING: That's still with her or something?

L. WALKER: Correct.

KING: Let me go to break. And we'll come right back. You're watching LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.


SGT. MICHAEL HEDLUND, GRAND FORKS, N.D.: Alphonso Rodriguez Jr., a 50 year-old male from Crookston, Minnesota, was taken into custody on the evening of December 1, 2003. And he is being charged with kidnapped, a class A felony in the state of North Dakota. Rodriquez is a level three registered sex offender in the state of Minnesota. He appeared in Polk County district court in Crookston, Minnesota this morning. He waived his right to an extradition hearing and will be transferred to the custody of North Dakota officials at some point in time today.



KING: We're back with our discussion about the missing Dru Sjodin missing since November 22, the case gained a lot of attention and what did you make of, Alan, when the attention dropped off? A. SJODIN: Well, I know the national attention dropped off but we've had fantastic support group in the Grand Forks area throughout Minnesota, and you know, with everything that was going on, I guess, personally, I didn't feel that we were losing anything, you know, in the support end. I thought we were getting it.

KING: Are people still looking, Chris?

LANG: We've been going up there on searches. It's a lot to do with the weather up there.

KING: When you search what do they do?

LANG: We've been working with bloodhounds to pick up a scent of a trail that she possibly was at. We've dug holes in the river, which is an area that, you know, was possibly traveled but it's cold. There's a lot of snow there, a lot of wind. It's pretty harsh conditions. You have to factor that in there too.

KING: John Walsh, a little futile when attention drops off, isn't it?

WALSH: It very much so, and especially in the case of an adult. It's very difficult to keep missing children in the public eye. I always say after about a month when a child is missing and the child has not been found alive or dead, the attention drops off. It's even more difficult in the case of a woman. You know, there's about 5,000 missing women in the FBI computer, and you probably, the only name you could mention would be Chandra Levy. After her case went six months, that attention dropped off until they found her body.

This family should never give up hope. I know. Ed Smart is on here tonight. He'll tell you how some of the search for Elizabeth dropped off but we never gave up and that was a miracle and she came back alive, but it's very, very hard to keep national attention, national focus on a missing woman, a missing young lady, and I still commend you for doing this tonight, because it will give this family hope. It will reenergize the search for Dru.

KING: Based on the Smart case, wouldn't you say, John, it's a possibility that there was an accomplice, there was another person, she is somewhere? After all, there were two people in the Smart case.

WALSH: Well, let's look at the harsh reality, and I know this family has had to face this on many occasions. The odds against finding her alive are very slim, but I never say it's over until it really is over. So we would hope and wish that there was an accomplice, and something happened like in the case of Elizabeth. So I say you can't give up hope but the frustrating thing that bothers me so much about our criminal justice system, Larry, is, and I don't know if I have the answer but I know the not knowing is what kills families, the not knowing is what really destroys you and there's a guy in jail that I really believe knows exactly what happened to Dru Sjodin.

There was a knife found in his car. There was a knife sheath by her car that was abandoned. This guy knows exactly. Whether he has an accomplice, I wish that would be the answer. I wish that they have kept her alive all these months but this creep sitting in jail with this lawyer who is telling him purposely, don't say anything. How about the criminal justice system doing the right thing once in a while? How about this lawyer saying, you know what? Talk to police, cooperate with them, and we'll get the best deal we can for you. That's the right thing to do.

KING: Because, John, in the Smart case, there was a suspect. He was in jail, a lot of people pointed to him. He wasn't the person.

WALSH: Well, that turned out -- he was a logical suspect. Ed Smart will tell you that. This guy, Richard Ricci, had spent 10 years in jail, tried to kill a cop, had a rap sheet, worked at the house a couple of months, admitted stealing stuff. He always professed his innocence. He died in jail of an aneurysm and everybody in Salt Lake City, including a lot of the police, believed that he died with a secret of where Elizabeth was, except for Ed Smart. Ed Smart called me repeatedly and said, John, I'm not giving up. We need to reenergize this case. I don't believe he had anything to do with it.

KING: So those people pointing to Ricci were all wrong. Maybe you're wrong. Maybe Rodriguez didn't do it. Maybe there is someone. Why not go that route?

WALSH: I know a lot about this case from talking to law enforcement that I can't discuss on the air because he's alleged. Richard Ricci, there was never any hard evidence he took Elizabeth and Ed Smart never gave up. My gut feeling is that this guy having had a history, spending 23 years spending for kidnapping a woman and all of the evidence I can't talk about, this guy knows exactly what happened to Dru Sjodin.

KING: Chris, have you come to sort of accept this?

LANG: Well, we don't have any answers. I hope and pray for the best, because we don't know anything for certain.

KING: Sid's going to be leaving us and so will Sven. So let me ask them. How have you accepted in your mind?

S. WALKER: Well, I've pretty much accepted the fact that it's a slim chance that she's alive, but it's that slim chance that I'm going to hold onto, until she's found, I'm still going to...

KING: I absolutely agree. Sven?

S. SJODIN: I said this once before, that you know, the evidence that points towards her not being alive is so minute, that again, like we've all said, that slim chance is what we're grasping ahold of. There's spatters of blood in the car. That could be, you know, a paper cut that got flicked.

KING: As long as there's no body, there's hope, right?

S. SJODIN: Exactly. KING: We thank Sid and Sven for being with us. They'll be leaving us shortly and we'll be joined by Ed Smart, Erin Runnion, you remember the death of her daughter, that tragedy, and Nancy Grace will be with us from New York. We'll stay on this matter. Don't go away.


CHIEF JOHN PACKETT, GRAND FORKS PD: Law enforcement officials continue to be resolute in our commitment to find Dru Sjodin and bring her home. Dru, we will find you.



KING: Joining us now here in Los Angeles is Erin Runnion. Her 5-year-old daughter Samantha was kidnapped and murdered in July of 2002 in Southern California. The crime drew national attention. In memory of little Samantha, her mother, Erin, has just launched a community awareness and child watch program called Samantha's Pride. It will go national later this year. In Salt Lake City is Ed Smart, the father of Elizabeth Smart who at 14 was abducted back in June of 2002, and Elizabeth was found alive in suburban Salt Lake City in March of 2003. In New York is Nancy Grace, the former prosecutor and Court TV host.

Remaining with us in Southern Florida is John Walsh of "America's Most Wanted," and staying with us here in Los Angeles is Chris Lang, Dru Sjodin's boyfriend, the last person to speak with her.

By the way, we should establish that you did call Dru back or Dru called you back sometime later and then the phone went dead. Right?

LANG: Her phone calls me back at 7:42...


KING: Oh, her phone called you and you heard static.

LANG: Her phone calls me.

KING: And that's what caused to you panic, or to be concerned.

LANG: This is hours later, her phone calls me back. I was concerned before then. You know, I was asking her roommate, Meg, if you know, she had come home, and then it developed from there. The police were involved right away.

KING: Also with us -- staying with is Linda Walker, Dru's mother, and Dru's father, Alan Sjodin. Ed Smart, what would you say to these folks?

ED SMART, ELIZABETH SMART'S FATHER: I would say, keep up hope until you find otherwise. You just never know. And I mean, to hear about this Rodriguez is horrendous, but we don't know. So I mean, I think that's what you have to keep going forward with, is that somehow she is out there, and as hard as it may be you just have to keep on plugging forward.

KING: And Erin Runnion, what would you say? Your daughter died.

ERIN RUNNION, SAMANTHA RUNNION'S MOTHER: I would say you have to, though, you have to -- you have to stay hopeful and you have to keep Dru's picture in the news, and somebody find her. And my goodness, if this man has a shred of human decency, he will let them know.

KING: Because you got to have finality, right?

RUNNION: I think so. I think -- I can't imagine going two months not knowing.

KING: When you expected the worst, did that help at all, if there could be such a thing as help, when you learned the worst? In other words, these people are clinging to hope, but it doesn't look good.

RUNNION: Right, yeah.

KING: Same with you, right, didn't look good. Did that ease it at all?

RUNNION: You know, Samantha was found in 24 hours, so it's hard to compare. You know, I was still in the midst of shock and anxiety over her -- what she might be experiencing before even really being able to start thinking that she might be dead.

KING: Nancy Grace, I'm sure you heard what John Walsh had to say about this. What can the law do if the guy won't say a word, you can't strangle him, grab him. What do you do?

NANCY GRACE, COURT TV: Well, right now, authorities are really over a barrel when it comes to Alfonso Rodriguez, in the sense that they have made it very clear, Larry, that they will not offer him lesser charges or a reduced sentence in exchange for information, information such as where is Dru or where is she buried. So they're not going to cut him any slack.

The only thing that they've got to use as a bargaining chip is, one of Dru's shoes was found in Minnesota, we believe, and if that is true, that means this is now cross state lines. It could be handed over to the feds and they could seek the death penalty. But I guarantee you what went down is Alfonso Rodriguez's lawyer said, "don't say a word," and we'll see what we can get out of authorities to bargain for you. That's what's going on right now.

KING: Alan, is there a death penalty in North Dakota?

A. SJODIN: No, there is not.

KING: There is not. So he can't get the death in North Dakota.

A. SJODIN: Correct. KING: If the authorities were to make a deal to give him 50 years instead of life to find out where your daughter is, would you take that it if you were asked?

A. SJODIN: Certainly.

KING: Wouldn't you take it?

L. WALKER: Absolutely.

KING: What's wrong with that, John Walsh? If he did get a less -- if that's your only way out and you want finality. So you sentence him for less years. What's wrong with that?

WALSH: There's nothing wrong with that, Larry. There's nothing wrong with it, because the pain of not knowing -- and I went through it looking for Adam for two weeks -- I know thousands of parents of missing children and missing young women, cases we've done on "America's Most Wanted." The not knowing is the worst.

There's no -- no problem with that. You heard these parents say, we just need to know. Every parent wants to know, if my child is dead I want to be able to bury that child, honor that child, go on with my life. I don't want to spend the rest of my life wondering where they are.

But the real frustrating thing is even if they went in and offered him a deal, which is OK, which is all right. I'd like to see him get the worst, like Smith is probably going to get for the murder of Carlie Brucia. They didn't make a deal with him. He never told. They found her body, so he got -- he is going to get what he deserves, the ultimate.

But the frustrating thing that Nancy and I keep talking about here is our criminal justice system -- and everybody says well, the accused has rights. It's lawyer/client privilege, et cetera...

KING: Well, I mean, what would be your answer if he doesn't want to talk? I mean, I'm trying find out what would do you?

GRACE: There is no answer. That's the problem, Larry.

KING: Right. In other words, you make them...

GRACE: There is no answer.

KING: Right. There's no answer.

WALSH: You know what my answer is? When people say the system is there. You know what I say? It's time to change the system.

KING: Into what?

WALSH: There's something...

KING: What would you rule? What would you -- if you could change the system in this case, what would you say?

WALSH: I would say that if a lawyer knew that his client had knowledge of where it was, he would have to do the right thing and go in and say, "I'm willing to make a deal." Now, I'm so frustrated I'd say, you know what I'd like to do, Larry? Let me in that cell with him for five minutes. But I'm not a vigilante. OK? I'm not a vigilante. All right? I'm not...

KING: Nancy, would you make the deal if they said we'll give you information for a lesser time in jail, if the parents and the brother and the boyfriend asked you to?

GRACE: Well, in that jurisdiction, since there is no death penalty, of course. I would make the deal. But the problem here is, Larry, that I consider it to be an ethical violation of the attorney's duties, because in my mind when a lawyer knows about an ongoing crime, and in this case, the continued either kidnapping or the hiding of Dru's remains, in my mind, is an ongoing crime, when you use the attorney/client privilege as a way to cover up an ongoing crime, I think that is wrong and there are ways around that.

KING: Are you sure the lawyer knows, Nancy?

GRACE: Well, if he or she hasn't had the guts to ask their own client what happened, then to me, that speaks a lot. To me, that says the lawyer knows darned well that Rodriguez is responsible. Larry, please. Dru's blood is in his car. He was in that mall that day, at that time. There were receipts taken from his phone to prove it.

KING: Has he been charged, Linda?

L. WALKER: He has not yet.

KING: Not been charged. What about the psychiatric examination they're going to do?

L. WALKER: That is ongoing, and he's to be arraigned March 5. It's been pushed.

KING: Arraigned on charges?

L. WALKER: Correct.

KING: We'll be right back with more on this incredible story. Don't go away.


GOV. JOHN HOEVEN, NORTH DAKOTA: I met with the family. I met with the task force. I believe that they've done everything they can, and the volunteers up here have done an incredible job. This is something that has touched every North Dakotan. As a father of two teenagers, I can empathize with them, every one of us has a link to the Sjodin family in a time like this.


KING: We're back. Erin Runnion, what do you make of this, the law here and its quirks?

RUNNION: In terms of the law, my first feeling is that we need truth in sentencing. You know, most sexual predators only serve half their term, and that is disgusting. And then you add to that the fact that they're let out when they are evaluated to be continued high risk offenders, and most of them are recommitting those crimes in three to five years. We need them to be civilly committed. They need to be committed.

KING: In other words, you're saying Rodriguez should not have been...

RUNNION: He should never have been out. They knew -- they knew that he was still a high risk. After three women, how could you question it?

KING: Ed Smart, what do you think?

SMART: I just think that there's a problem with the system when these repeat offenders are our biggest problem. I mean, it's horrible. I couldn't agree more with Erin, and John, and to have any attorney holding back if he does know is an outrage. I mean, what kind of justice is that?

KING: Do you know the lawyer, Linda? Is he a lawyer in North Dakota?

L. WALKER: He is, yes.

KING: Do you know him?

L. WALKER: I don't. I know of him. I do not know...

KING: Do you know him, Alan?

A. SJODIN: I do not.

KING: Do you ever think of calling him and making a case?


L. WALKER: We have discussed it.

KING: No law against you calling him.

A. SJODIN: Right.


KING: Why not?

L. WALKER: We actually have discussed that. A. SJODIN: We haven't pursued it, but we have discussed it.

KING: Chris?


KING: You don't want to talk to him?

LANG: I'd love to talk to him and just say please, help us, you know, help us out.

KING: Nancy, how would you write the law, how would you change law, how would it read?

GRACE: Larry, I know this is a big burden to put on defense attorneys, but frankly, I believe that it is your ethical duty and it should be a law, not just an ethical canon, that when you believe your client is concealing either a human life or human remains and hiding them, that you can't hide behind the privilege. And every day torture families like Dru Sjodin's family. Right now...

KING: So the law would read how? How would you write it?

GRACE: I would -- this is me, as a crime victim speaking, I would write it so it would be an actual criminal violation. To me, it makes the lawyer an accomplice. The lawyer's duty, under the ethical canon, is to protect their client. That is their own job. But in so doing they are torturing this family, and the law has done everything it can at this point, Larry. The National Guard was out on the frozen Red River drilling holes with something called an envirosite (ph) quick view camera and trying to take pictures underwater. They can't do anything anymore until the snow goes away there.

KING: John Walsh, is that what you'd do? In other words, if a lawyer has information, he must come forward or he can be prosecuted?

WALSH: I can't agree more with Nancy Grace, because she's saying, if a lawyer has knowledge, and in this case, this lawyer knows that blood and DNA of Dru, and possibly a weapon, were found in this lawyer's car...

KING: You mean the suspect's car.

WALSH: He is an ongoing accessory to this. Why can't he come forward and say, I'll do the best I can to represent my client, I will make the best deal that I can for my client, but I have to tell you this that I have knowledge.

Now, a couple of weeks ago on "Law and Order," Dick Wolf, had a fictitious case on there where a guy represented a serial killer of young girls and he knew that the guy was dirty, that he did it, and he knew where 11 bodies were. In the world of fictional TV, Sam Waterson, they charged this guy with an accessory, just like Nancy Grace just said, and in this show, this guy was convicted and went to jail, this public defender, this defense attorney. And at the end of it, the lawyers in the prosecutor's office said, haven't we violated the criminal -- haven't we violated the client privilege? Haven't we violated the lawyer/client privilege?

You know what Sam Waterson said in that -- and I believe exactly, even though this was a fictional drama, he said "the system is broke. The system has provided for change in the United States, we have that ability. It's time to change the system."

I've been involved in hundreds of these cases, where lawyers have known everything about the case. This lawyer's got to know Rodriguez has the history, shouldn't have been out, shouldn't have been on the streets. He is the main suspect. They're never going to bail him out. All the DNA points to him. He should be in there saying to his client, let's make a deal. Let's do the right thing. I don't know how he sleeps with himself at night.

KING: Brilliant book was written sometime ago, a major best- seller, by Gavin de Becker, who's been a guest on this show, called "The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us From Violence," and whew, Linda gave this book to her daughter on her, what, 16th birthday when she got her car, right?

L. WALKER: On her 16th birthday, yes.

KING: And she wrote in the beginning of the book, "Dear Dru, as you travel down life's highway, please always be aware of your natural instincts to keep you safe. With all my love, mom."

We'll be right back. Don't go away.


KING: We'll take a few calls. In a little while, we'll be talking with the father of the young boy accusing Michael Jackson in that matter, which is -- we'll have another continuance in court, by the way, on March the 5th.

Let's take some calls here. By the way, let me tell you that there are a couple of Web sites, there is, right? Any information...

L. WALKER: Correct.

KING: And I know, Chris, you were really broken up there during the break. Are you OK?

LANG: Oh, I'm OK.

KING: It's very hard for you.

LANG: Yeah, it's tough to see my favorite picture of Dru and I on there.

KING: You really loved her?

LANG: Yeah.

KING: And what is RUNNION: The Joyful Child is the foundation that I formed in Samantha's memory, and we just launched our first program. It's called Samantha's Pride, a community awareness and child watch program. And it's a lot like Neighborhood Watch, but we give people an extra step up and give them actual guidelines so that families can organize within communities so that children are always being watched when they're outside.

KING: Ed Smart, you got your thing going, right, it's now a national law, isn't it?

SMART: Well, I'm still pushing the Amber Alert, trying to get everyone so that they're cohesive in a net.

KING: Tampa, Florida, hello.

CALLER: Yes, Larry first, my...

KING: Tampa, I can't hear you.

CALLER: Yes, Larry. First my thoughts and prayers go out to Dru's family and I wish for the best. My question for Mr. Walsh is, regarding the amber alert system

KING: Do you hear him? OK, I don't hear him, but ago ahead. If you hear him, go ahead.

CALLER: Yes, Larry. With regards to the Amber Alert system, when it comes to the actual 24 hours it's crucial when it comes to law enforcement officials. Carlie Brucia's alert system wasn't turned on for 24 hours. What do you think, sir, can be done to hasten that and actually get the cohesion that we need to get this alert system effective.

KING: I guess that's for John.

WALSH: What a great question, what an unbelievable question. The Amber Alert was designed, and Ed Smart and I were there in the rose garden when it was signed after six years that is goes out immediately on a regional basis. The Justice Department says in the stranger abduction of a child the first four hours is crucial, and most children are murdered within the first four hours.

The police are admitting that they made a mistake in the Carlie Brucia case. That they thought she might be possibly a runaway, and then they didn't release the Amber Alert until they got the video at the car wash when the guy came in a day later. It was a crucial mistake. It was nobody's fault.

But that Amber Alert, when it did go out is the reason that that guy was turned in by someone who saw the Amber Alert. But you're absolutely right, time is of the essence. The Amber Alert was designed to go out immediately, and 104 kids have been recovered alive since that Amber Alert was passed into national law.

No more 24-hour -- you know, we tried to abolish that 22 years ago after Adam was murdered. It's an urban myth for police to say we have to wait 24 hours to look for a missing person. They always do it with missing women but for kids -- I say no, cop has the arbitrary right to sign the death warrant of a kid to determine if that kid is a runaway. Yes, a million kids run away a year, but the Amber Alert should go out immediately once police decide that the child is -- may be a victim of foul play. Time is crucial.

KING: Nancy, we don't know why predators are predators, do we?

GRACE: No, we really don't. But Larry, one thing I do know, and you and I have argued about this a million times about rehabilitation, and education, and I'm all for it. But anecdotally, Larry, I can tell you sexual predators are not rehabilitatable. For instance, this guy Alfonso Rodriguez, raped two women went to jail, got out, attempted to rape another. Went back to jail. He had only been out only about six months when he ran into Dru Sjodin. So there you have it. All the rehab you can get in jail did nothing to rehab this guy.

KING: This particular crime, apparently...

L. WALKER: And he did refuse.

KING: And he refuses to ever admit guilt, right?

L. WALKER: And to take -- accept any sort of rehabilitation.

KING: Ocean, New Jersey, hello.

CALLER: My question is -- it's so sad that a situation like this happens. Why is it that they have to -- it's a repeat offender? Why can't you keep the person in jail forever?

KING: Chris?

LANG: It's tough to -- like the old tag line of most likely to reoffend and then yet these people get out.

KING: Do we know how often, Nancy, they reoffend?

GRACE: Well, there are a lot of statistical surveys, but it's hard to tell when somebody has been in jail. This guy was in jail for 23 years, Larry. He was 50 when he got out. So it's very hard to track people for that many years, but we do know that sexual predators, sexual offenders are one of the highest level of repeat offenders that exist.

RUNNION: I believe it's two-thirds repeat within three to five years.

KING: Boston hello, quickly.

CALLER: Hi. How are you?

KING: I'm fine.

CALLER: My sympathy goes out to Dru's family. My question is for Nancy Grace, I love you. What is -- my question --

KING: We only have 30 seconds, ma'am. You're running me out of time. What's the question?

CALLER: If there's sound evidence on this guy why can't they charge him?

GRACE: Right now, I really that they're trying to either find Dru or find her remains. And they are holding out hope for that, I think until the weather clears.

Right now, the family has nothing, no Dru, and...

KING: Also, you wanted to go to Minnesota so it's federal right, if he won't admit something, wouldn't you like it to be federal?

L. WALKER: Well, we'd like to have some sort of power over some sort of trump card.

KING: Let's all pray. Thank you very much. We've shown the picture. We hope something comes. Thanks, nice seeing you. Thanks, Ed.

SMART: You bet.

KING: And thanks, of course, always to Nancy. And to John, thanks for keeping us alert on this.

WALSH: God bless you for doing this again. You've given this family hope, Larry.

KING: We'll take a break. And when we come back, the father of Michael Jackson's accuser. Don't go away.


KING: It's a great pleasure to welcome to LARRY KING LIVE, David. He's the father of the boy now accusing Michael Jackson of sexual molestation. We are not using, David's last name, because doing so could identify his son and CNN does not identify alleged victims of sexual abuse. Also with us is Russell Halpern, he's David's attorney on child visitation and custody issues.

Now, David, what you want is to have a restraining order against you dropped, right? You cannot see your kids, is that it?

DAVID, FATHER OF BOY ACCUSING OF MICHAEL JACKSON: That's it. I haven't seen them at all since 2001.

KING: Three years.


KING: Why?

RUSSELL HALPERN, ATTY. FOR DAVID: Actually, what happened was that he was originally charged with spousal abuse and child abuse, and the court issued a restraining order. It was temporary, but his wife went to court and got another restraining order during a divorce proceedings. Unfortunately, he wasn't represented during the divorce proceedings and it went uncontested so that restraining order is still in effect and will in effect for at least another year unless we get it lifted.

KING: So, David, you did not, then, plead no contest to charges of child cruelty and spousal abuse.

HALPERN: I'm sorry, he's here to talk about how he feels about his child and...

KING: I want to find out why he doesn't see his child.

HALPERN: Well, he did enter a plea -- no contest pleas as you know in California is allowing the court to find him guilty in order to avoid going to trial, and the risks that go along with trials. So my advice, he did enter a plea of no contest to those on separate occasions with a plea bargain that he would not spend a day in jail. Otherwise if he had gone to trial it might have been a year in jail.

KING: What is your hope of seeing your kids, David?

DAVID: Just waiting to see if I could -- everything hasn't went my way so far.

KING: What has to happen?

HALPERN: Well, first, in March, we're going to have a hearing called an order to show cause, and that hearing we're going to present evidence that David is a good father. Part of the evidence we're going to present is a deposition that his wife had given during a JCPenney's lawsuit and in that deposition she was asked what his propensity for violence was and she said that she specifically asked, did he ever hit you? And she said no and then she elaborated by saying he was a wonderful husband, he had never touched her, he didn't have it in him to touch a woman and he had never touched the children, never as far as even spanking the kids.

KING: What is the reaction you have, David, to your son's accusations? What's your reaction?

DAVID: I can't have any reaction. I'm not there yet. I haven't spoke to my son.

KING: How did you feel when you heard? You had to have a feeling when you heard that your son is making an accusation.

HALPERN: That's a difficult question for him to ask a difficult question for him to answer, because there is a gag order to David because he may be a witness in that case and he is not to comment on anything to do with the Santa Barbara case. He can comment on how he feels about his children and about his own matter, but as how he reacts to the news of what happened in Santa Barbara, he can't.

KING: Was that because he would have knowledge of what happened in Santa Barbara? Why would he be a witness?

HALPERN: Well, I think he would probably be a witness, if anybody, he'd be a witness because he had knowledge as to the background concerning his ex-wife. He had knowledge concerning the background of this child, and that could be used by either side.

KING: Do you expect him to be a witness?

HALPERN: I actually believe that he will be called as a witness.

KING: I see. Do you know Michael Jackson?


KING: Do you like him?

DAVID: He's always been a real good friend, yes.

KING: So you're kind of tormented here.

DAVID: I don't know which way to go. I'm not there yet. I haven't spoke to my son. So I don't know if I have any feelings one way or the other.

KING: You have a son who has made the accusation who you love and miss.

DAVID: I don't even know that much.

KING: But you know he's made the accusation there wouldn't be a Santa Barbara case.

HALPERN: I'm sorry.

KING: Well, he's got to know that. That's like saying I don't know the earth is round.

HALPERN: That's true but you're putting him in a difficult position. He's been told by me and by other people not to talk about the Mr. Jackson or about the accusations at all. He came on the program today because he wanted to talk about how he feels towards his sons and other children and how he wants to see them again, but it's really difficult for him...

KING: So Jackson is off boards?

HALPERN: Definitely off boards.

KING: How many children do have, David?

DAVID: Three. Two boys and a girl. My boys are a year apart. David is the oldest. My boys are December 11 and 2nd, and that would be 13 and 14.

KING: You haven't seen any of them in three years?


KING: Do they contact you at all?

DAVID: No, they were told they couldn't contact me either.

KING: Do you ever go by and try to look for them?

DAVID: As a father that's pretty much what I do in my head all the time.

KING: Do you drive by the school?

DAVID: No, even though I've never been in trouble on this, I've never been accused of this before the accusations that she didn't make up, even something she didn't pick up in the case was so terrible, you know, I mean it was unheard of a father ever, you know, wanting to do things like this to their family that the court, which are designed to protect women that are going through these things and it's understandable what they're doing but if I went by or tried to find out any information on them, they give me an automatic year in jail.

HALPERN: During the time his case was pending his wife did make some accusations that he tried to contact one of the children and he almost went to jail that time.

KING: Just for contacting?

HALPERN: Yes, so he's leery of that and been following their orders to the letter of the law.

KING: Do you expect, Russell, to get this changed at the hearing?

HALPERN: Definitely so. I think it will be changed. What we're going to ask the judge to do in the beginning is to just allow supervised visits. We'll explain to the judge that we don't believe any of the accusations ever were true but even assuming that they were, it's not good for the child not, for all the children not to see their father. We're going to ask there be supervised visits and let that grow into a better relationship.

KING: You're not under a gag order, are you?

HALPERN: Well, that is a good question. I was...

KING: How would you be called?

HALPERN: That's a very good question. I received a letter from Mr. Sneddon claiming that I was a potential witness. I called Mr. Sneddon, and asked him how he thought that, and he said, well, maybe you could be an impeaching witness, discrediting other witnesses. I said well which witnesses would I discredit? He named his own witnesses. I said so are you telling me you're going to call me as a witness to discredit your own witnesses? Of course he didn't have a real answer for that. I also called Mr. Geragos' office so ask them if they thought I was a witness. They agreed with me, thank you, that there was not anything that I could say that would be legally admissible. I'm not a potential witness. I think it was an attempt by the prosecution not to defend my client any further in the press.

KING: But you have in the past indicated that you think the son may have invented these allegations at the behest of the mother.

HALPERN: No, I don't believe I ever said that. I was asked if that were a probability. I don't want to comment on that at this time because I'm sitting next to my client and Mr. Sneddon can interpret that as being authorized from him and I don't want to cause him any trouble.

KING: I understand. David, to have you been to Neverland?


KING: What do you want to say to your kids that might be watching.

DAVID: I want to say that I love them and I'm trying hard to see them and I've been trying since they've been taken away from me, and I just want them to know that I'm going to keep trying.

KING: You still love them and miss them?

DAVID: Yes, very much.

KING: How bad is this case going to get?

HALPERN: I don't think it's going to get that bad.


HALPERN: No, because the real issue is what's good for the children. In family court that's the central issue so the court is going to decide is it good for the children to keep the father permanently away from the children? I'm sure any reasonable court would say no.

KING: Do you expect the mother to complain a lot?

HALPERN: I do expect that very much so.

DAVID: The reason why I didn't plead in this case was because of my insurance.

KING: How bad is the Jackson case going to get?

HALPERN: Pardon me?

KING: How bad is the Jackson case going to get.

HALPERN: I'd like to comment on that more now but for the sake of my client...

KING: OK, let's make this agreement. When this is over you both come back. Thank you David, thank you Russell. David, we don't identify the last name because as we said, CNN will never identify alleged victims of sexual abuse and David's attorney, Russell Halpern. You're watching LARRY KING LIVE. Be right back.


KING: Tomorrow night we'll repeat one of the last interviews done by the late Dr. Robert Atkins who still remains in the news. His wife, by the way, will be with us live on Monday night. Sunday night, a major Oscar preview show with many of the nominees. Right now a man deserving of an Oscar in the world of news -- on this Valentine's eve, on the eve of St. Valentine's day. The lovable Aaron Brown of "NEWSNIGHT."


Accuser's Father Speaks Out>

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