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PAULA ZAHN NOW

What's Next For Martha Stewart's Company?; Mother Charged With Murder

Aired March 12, 2004 - 20:00   ET

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

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. I'm Soledad O'Brien, in for Paula Zahn.
It's Friday, March 12, 2004.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MELISSA ANN ROWLAND, CHARGED WITH MURDER: I don't feel think I did anything wrong.

O'BRIEN: A pregnant woman allegedly refuses a C-section. Her baby dies. Now she's charged with murder. Is this justice?

With Martha Stewart poised to step down from her company, what will happen to the brand and who to be the next Martha Stewart?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not a child molester.

O'BRIEN: This man was sent to prison for 20 years for molesting children. Now four of his six victims say it never happened. Were they brainwashed by investigators? Does he deserve a new trial?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN: All that's ahead tonight, but first here's what you need to know right now.

Startling new details are emerging from the Madrid terror bombings, among them a terrifying phone message left by one woman who was on board a train as the bombs were exploding. Listen carefully.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Montse, listen, I'm -- I'm in Atocha. There's been a bomb in the train and we've had...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Word is that woman survived the explosions.

Also today, mass mourning and defiant demonstrations under a cold steady rain in Madrid. We've got team coverage tonight, the latest on the aftershock and the investigations from chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour in Madrid, also Guy Raz in London.

Let's start with Christiane. Good evening, Christiane Amanpour.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Soledad, it's been an incredible evening.

Today, the prime minister of Spain had called for mass rallies and mass rallies is what he got. Millions of people all over Spain, anywhere between eight million people and 11 million people according to state television and at least one newspaper turned out in Madrid under a constant downpour. People were drenched, but they still carried their banners aloft.

They said no to the assassins, as they call them. They said no to terrorism. And they called for freedom and unity to survive this terrible attack. In Bilbao, in northern Spain, which is the capital of the Basque region, again, hundreds of thousands of people turned out to say, no, that this kind of terrorism was not being done in their name. And on and on it went in most of the major cities across this country, the biggest ever outpouring of such a demonstration and a show of defiance and support of the victims.

And also this, the biggest ever terrorist attack here in Spain, has now claimed 199 lives. The latest to die, according to reports, a 7-month-old infant who succumbed to its injuries. In the meantime, the Basque terrorist group, the separatist armed struggle group ETA has denied taking responsibility, has denied responsibility for those attacks in anonymous calls to radio and television and newspapers in the Basque region.

But still, the Spanish government holds ETA primarily responsible, at least as their prime suspect, even though they continue to pursue other lines of investigation.

And we go Guy Raz in London for that part of the story.

GUY RAZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes.

And tonight, investigators in Spain are working around the clock to try and determine who may have been behind these attacks. As we've just heard from Christiane, the Basque separatist group ETA denying any responsibility. Initially, Spanish investigators were pointing the finger at ETA. But two key pieces of intelligence have emerged from the investigation, one, a backpack found on one of the trains with unexploded bomb material inside, also, a mobile telephone in side that backpack, perhaps intended to be used as some kind of timing, and a detonator as well, also a van packed with detonators found near the scene of one of the explosions, inside that van, also, Koranic writings in Arabic.

There's no question that this has forced investigators to pursue new theories behind who may have been behind the attacks, whether it was simply a homegrown attack or whether it was perpetrated by a group like al Qaeda outside the country -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Guy Baz, with the investigation from London this morning, also Christiane Amanpour for us in Madrid. Thank to both of you.

Turning now to what's "In Focus" tonight, the rights of a mother vs. the rights of an unborn baby. A Utah woman is facing criminal homicide charges after she allegedly refused a C-section, saying it would ruin her life. One of the twins she was carrying was stillborn.

We've got details now from Brian Todd.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Melissa Ann Rowland made the rounds in Salt Lake City. At four different hospitals, prosecutors say, the 28-year-old expectant mother got consistent advice. Twins she carried were in distress. She had to get a C- section or babies might suffer brain damage or death.

KENT MORGAN, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, SALT LAKE CO. , UTAH: Doctor after doctor, hospital after hospital, nurse after nurse told her this is the only way you're going to save this child.

TODD: And time after time, prosecutors say, Rowland declined for only one reason, she didn't want scars.

January 13, one twin is born with complications, the other is stillborn. The medical examiner says the baby died two days before delivery but had no birth defects.

ROWLAND: I'm pretty scared. I don't feel that I did anything wrong.

TODD: That's Melissa Rowland from jail, charged with murder. In documents, Rowland told one doctor a C-section would ruin her life, that she'd rather lose one of the babies than be cut like that. Rowland was asked about the charges.

ROWLAND: No, I never refused a C-section, I've already had two prior C-sections. Why would I say something like that? I already have a pretty nasty scar, it doesn't matter at all now.

TODD: We tried to reach Rowland's public defender. He didn't return our calls.

Medical ethicists seem to speak on her behalf and for other mothers who decline recommend treatments. .

ART CAPLAN, BIOETHICIST: She just doesn't have an intent to kill the child. She just says I don't want this surgery done for whatever reason on me.

So they're not going to be able to prove that she wanted her child dead.

DR. KIRTLY PARKER JONES, MEDICAL ETHICIST: Taking it to the courts and prosecuting the mother doesn't help future women and future physicians and future babies. TODD: Prosecutor Kent Morgan tells us this murder charge is based on Utah's statute against depraved indifference, knowingly neglecting one duties when there is a high risk of death.

MORGAN: She omitted her duty to take care of the child and get affirmative treatment. That's what makes this case so egregious.

TODD: Misunderstood mother or murderer? A case sure to be closely watched by other prosecutors and those engaged in all engaged in the rights and protection of their unborn children.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN: Joining us this evening, two peoples on the opposite sides of this debate, from Salt Lake City, Marguerite Driessen. She's a professor of law at Brigham Young University. She says prosecutors have gone too far in this case. From Washington, D.C., is attorney Jack Burkman. He says prosecutors in fact are doing the right thing.

Good evening to both of you. Thanks for being with us.

JACK BURKMAN, ATTORNEY: Hi, Soledad.

Ms. Driessen, let's begin with you. Doctors say that both babies would have been born healthy and survived their birth had Melissa Rowland had a C-section. So why not charge her with murder?

MARGUERITE DRIESSEN, LAW PROFESSOR, BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY: Well, part of that is the intent. Obviously, murder requires deliberate intent to kill or, as in this case, deliberate indifference to a high risk of death.

But when you're talking about someone who is trying to analyze risks and benefits in a medical context when they, themselves, are at risk in the surgery, the most I would get to is some sort of negligent homicide case or manslaughter. First-degree murder requires, in my opinion, a whole lot more determination to kill or a whole lot more reckless disregard for the safety of someone else that you have a duty to protect.

O'BRIEN: When you're talking about, though, the health of a child, why is it not deliberate indifference when doctors say she was warned numerous times?

DRIESSEN: Well, I think part of that is because it's not just the life of the child.

If the child were already born, hey, I'd be with the prosecutors on this. You neglect to do something that puts that child at risk, then you're responsible for what happens. In this case, you're talking about a woman who was pregnant. You have two lives here. They are both equally valuable, both to be equally respected. And she had fears and concerns about undergoing a major medical procedure, invasive medical procedure. And I don't know that we've gotten to the point in this country where we will allow the rights of the unborn child to trump her ability to make those decisions.

O'BRIEN: Let me interrupt and get to Mr. Burkman.

The woman was given a medical option, which she obviously declined. And, as we just heard from Ms. Driessen, it was a medical option that had what doctors would fairly say a large risk to herself. So why do you think that qualifies for a murder charge?

BURKMAN: Well, it qualifies because the Utah statute says it does. It's not an issue of intent. It's an issue, as has been quoted, of indifference. And I think that standard has been met.

Soledad, this is the case of a woman who, for the sake of a cosmetic issue...

O'BRIEN: Allegedly. Allegedly.

BURKMAN: ... allowed a child to die.

But if those facts are true -- and I realize they have to be tried. But if they're true, certainly, you want to charge this woman with murder because you don't want this kind of thing to happen again. What the state of Utah is doing, I think, is very good. The legislature is concerned. There are broad trends in this society for neglect and abuse of children. This is part of that. They want laws that will safeguard the rights of the fetus, safeguard the rights of the child.

And I think this will cut down on child neglect. The other thing is, if you look -- there's all kinds of nonsense coming out. This woman has changed her story several times. I have heard her speak twice. I have heard conflicting statements. Her lawyer is coming out with this nonsense about -- they're trying now the insanity defense. He's pointing to some sort of mental history that has absolutely nothing to do with this. This could rise to the level of an insanity case.

O'BRIEN: We don't know because it hasn't gone to court yet. So I'm not sure that's fair to say.

But my big question for you is, isn't this essentially the slippery slope question? If you can say that this woman, by declining to have a cesarean section, which any doctor would tell you is a risky procedure from the mother, at what point do you draw the line? Do you blame a mother if a child has a problem or dies in utero, if the mother has a drink or two, if the mother can't quit smoking, if the mother says, I don't want to take my prenatal vitamins? Do you then blame the mother for what happens to the fetus?

BURKMAN: You pose exactly the right question. But, you see, it's not for you and I to draw lines. It's for state legislatures and elected officials.

(CROSSTALK)

DRIESSEN: I would disagree.

(CROSSTALK)

BURKMAN: The Utah legislature has drawn a very clear line in the sand. Yes, it is the case that a person can refuse treatment. But a person cannot refuse treatment if that action conflicts with the state murder statute. That's what happened here.

DRIESSEN: But that's not what this says. The statute in Utah, the fetal homicide law is used to prosecute someone else.

Like, for example, we had a case just affirmed in the Utah Supreme Court in January where a man killed his pregnant ex-wife. And I applauded that decision as in saying this man murdered two people instead of one. But I want to read to you a quote from Christopher Ballard, who was the assistant Utah attorney general at the time that decision came down.

He said: "In Utah, we believe that it is a crime to kill an unborn child unless you are the mother of that child with a constitutional right to make that choice." And then he said, but no one else has the right to make that choice for the mother.

(CROSSTALK)

BURKMAN: You can argue that the statute conflicts with the state constitution. And that ultimately will be an issue for the state Supreme Court. I say it doesn't conflict. You say it does.

The point is, though, when you look at these facts, these facts are highly egregious. It is probably the case, if you listen to all of the medical experts who have spoken on this, if you consider all of the doctors and nurses who talked to this woman, she could probably have saved the life of this fetus for the sake of a cosmetic injury.

(CROSSTALK)

DRIESSEN: But you don't know that's the case.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Ms. Driessen and Mr. Burkman, I have got to tell you, obviously, it's a fierce debate and it's not one we're going to resolve tonight. But I thank you for raising the issues on both sides.

Thanks for being with us. Appreciate it.

DRIESSEN: Thank you.

BURKMAN: Thank you, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Martha Stewart the company, but without Martha, will a merchandising empire survive her legal problems? "In God we trust" is on our money and "under God' is in the Pledge of Allegiance. But now a godless lobby says it's time to get religion out of government.

And coming home in sorrow. A couple serves proudly in Iraq, but only one of them returns. Paula Zahn with a soldier's story of sacrifice and incredible strength.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: A source tells CNN Martha Stewart will resign from the board of the company she founded, but she'll still have some kind of creative role. And "the Wall Street Journal" reports that even though she's been convicted, Stewart's name and face will be on more merchandise than ever.

We're giving this the "High Five" treatment, five quick questions, five direct answers straight and to the point.

Joining us this evening, Charles Gasparino. He's a senior special writer for "The Wall Street Journal."

Nice to see you. Thanks for being with us.

CHARLES GASPARINO, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": Thanks for having me.

O'BRIEN: Let's get right to it.

No. 1 question, is the Martha Stewart brand still popular with consumers?

GASPARINO: Yes.

Obviously, she has a cult following with some consumers. She has kind of a lukewarm following with many others. The problem is that it's hard to sell stuff if you're a convicted felon. And that's the real question. She will always have a core audience. Will she have it with the broader audience is the question that we're going figure out in the next month.

O'BRIEN: Question No. 2, will it be a good thing for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia to have Martha Stewart herself stay on in a creative capacity?

GASPARINO: Right. Right.

I think so. That company is her. Why else would you buy a sheet, you know, that's monogrammed by Martha Stewart unless Martha Stewart monogrammed it? So people that buy those products, that listen to her advice, buy it because of her, not anybody else.

O'BRIEN: Question No. 3, would it be smart for Martha Stewart to hand the reins over, though, to her daughter Alexis?

GASPARINO: Yes, this is a great question. There were two questions that came out after she was convicted.

No. 1, why did Robert Morvillo, her lawyer, do such a bad job? No. 2, what was going happen to the company and would Alexis Stewart run it? And I think this is a pretty good move, because she can actually control the company still. Martha could still control the company through her daughter.

O'BRIEN: Question No. 4, should Martha Stewart take the company, which is public, private?

GASPARINO: That's a great question. I think so, I mean, because I don't think many people, broad-based, aside from the cult following, is going to buy the Martha Stewart product. So it has to operate on a smaller scale. And that's what you do when you're private.

O'BRIEN: Question No. 5, and our final question, look out for me in the future. Is there anyone who's poised to take over for Martha Stewart, do you think?

GASPARINO: No, it's a brand. Suppose I took it over. Would anybody buy those sheets?

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Charles Gasparino. It has a wonderful ring to it.

GASPARINO: Charles Gasparino Living. It's not going to work. And I don't think anybody else, it will work.

Martha Stewart is the brand. It should be a smaller company and it will probably be a good small private company.

O'BRIEN: Charles Gasparino of "The Wall Street Journal," nice to see you. Thanks so much, as always.

GASPARINO: Thanks for having me.

O'BRIEN: Chicago firefighters, they risk their lives together side by side. Now race threatens to divide them, as someone uses emergency radios to broadcast racist insults.

And he spent 20 years in prison for being part of a child sex ring. Now most of his accusers say he never touched them. Why did they change their stories and does it mean he deserves a new trial?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: There's a special bond among firefighters, heroes who actually walk through fire to save a life, especially that of a brother firefighter. But, in Chicago, charges of racism within the fire department have led to serious morale problems, even death threats. The most blatant display, racist insults broadcast on emergency radios.

Keith Oppenheim reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KEITH OPPENHEIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a city formed by a great fire the people who fight fires are valued and admired. And so many were taken aback when in February a Chicago firefighter got foul mouthed and was caught using racist language on a two-way radio.

That firefighter was suspended. But in weeks following, five more similar incidents were reported. This time, the culprits weren't identified.

RICHARD DALEY, MAYOR OF CHICAGO: We ask firemen to join us and their families to identify these cowards.

JIM MCNALLY, CHICAGO FIREFIGHTERS UNION: We don't condone any, you know, racial or ethnic slurs.

OPPENHEIM: The firefighters' union has been reacting to critics who suggest racism in the ranks is widespread.

MCNALLY: I think it's unfortunate that you're trying to use firefighters and paramedics who do a great job every single day and to misrepresent who we are and what we do.

OPPENHEIM: But there have been problems in the past, including a 1997 video of Chicago firefighters using racist language at a party.

Still, even many of those criticizing radio language have taken time to praise the city's firefighters for their skill and bravery. Yet, as long as ugly words continue to reach the airwaves, the Chicago Fire Department may find itself on the defensive.

Keith Oppenheim, CNN, Chicago.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN: Meanwhile, one local lawmaker who, after criticizing the radio behavior a few days ago, received an anonymous and threatening piece of mail.

Alderman Ed Smith joins us from Chicago.

Nice to see you, sir. Thanks for being with us.

ED SMITH, CHICAGO ALDERMAN: It's good to be here.

O'BRIEN: Thank you very much.

You got that mail after you predicted a racial uprising. What did you specifically mean by that comment?

SMITH: What I said, if there is a continuation of the racist slurs that have been taking place coming from the fire department, that there's a possibility that we might have an uprising in the city of Chicago. It's very easy to get people worked up, especially when you're talking race. And I just indicated to them that this is something that we really need to try and stop because it could cause serious problems in the city of Chicago.

O'BRIEN: Here's what the postcard said. It said: "When the riot you are trying to start begins you better make sure all the firefighters around your house are black, so you get the flames out."

Do you think that's an exaggeration? Do you think, given all the circumstances over the last couple days, that white firefighters would not help you if there were to be a fire at your house?

SMITH: I don't believe that. The city of Chicago has a very fine fire department. There's some bad apples in the fire department, but this is a very fine fire department that has been doing great work for many, many years. There's a fine commissioner who heads the fire department, Commissioner Joyce.

And I think, no matter where the fire is, the fire department is going to go out and going to fight those fires. I suspect that this is one of those guys who are dissatisfied. And, of course, I have no way of predicting that this came directly from the fire department. It could have came from anyone. But it should not have been said. But I don't believe that the fire department would refuse to fight a fire in any community.

O'BRIEN: Are you fearful for your safety?

SMITH: No, I'm not. If it's going to happen, it's going to happen. I have a responsibility to go out and try to do my job and try to make this city a better city.

And I'm going to be indefatigable in my efforts to try to get that done. I'm not going home to stay and refuse to come out. I'm going to continue to go the every single day the same way that I have gone for many years. I'm not going to stop.

O'BRIEN: The fire chief this morning said that he believes it's a very small percentage of firefighters who are the problem. A moment ago, you called them a few bad apples. How big, how pervasive do you think this problem is?

SMITH: I don't think it's pervasive at all. I just think it's the attitude of minuscule number of people. And we have to find out who they are.

And that's going to depend on a must be of people. Of course, the people who work in the fire department are going to have to step up and they're going to have to point these people out. And when they see that these kinds of things are going on, they're going to have to indicate to the people who run the fire department that it's going on and point them out and be a part of trying to alleviate this problem.

O'BRIEN: So you don't think it's a big problem in spite of some previous incident, previous slurs that we talked about, incidences where black firefighters said that someone has urinated and defecated on their boots, things like that, that have happened in the recent and not-so-recent past?

SMITH: That has happened in the past. But, still, I believe that it is a small number of people who continue to do these kinds of things. And we have to fight it.

O'BRIEN: When you look at the numbers, 70 percent of the firefighters are white; 30 percent of the city population is white. Do you think that those figures themselves indicate a big problem?

SMITH: Well, that is a problem. That is a problem that we've been working on for years. And that's a problem that's going to have to change. When the fire commissioner came on, Commissioner Joyce came on and took over, he indicated that he was going to be vigilant in trying to change those numbers. Those numbers have got to change, because we can't continue to work in this city without great diversity in the fire department.

O'BRIEN: Chicago Alderman Ed Smith joining us this evening. Thanks for being with us, sir. Appreciate it.

SMITH: You're quite welcome.

O'BRIEN: In God we trust. Many do, but some don't. Now some nonbelievers want to take religion out of government. We've got the debate.

A husband and wife both serve in Iraq, but only one returns home, the sad, proud homecoming of Captain Kate Blaise.

And Monday on PAULA ZAHN NOW, the U.N. former chief weapons inspector Hans Blix one year after the war began in Iraq.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Here's what you need to know right now. There is late word tonight on the effort to find Osama bin Laden. Jamie McIntyre joins us live from Washington with details on what the Pentagon is now calling Operation Mountain Storm -- Jamie.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Soledad. Mountain Storm is the latest iteration of a series of operations in Afghanistan along the border that all begin with Mountain. Mountain Blizzard was the last one. But Mountain Storm is attracting particular interest because there's some hope here at the Pentagon, anyway, that this may be the operation that catches Osama bin Laden, or perhaps his top deputy, Ayman Zawahiri.

The U.S. has intelligence indicating bin Laden is in this border region, and they've mounted a pretty serious effort in this so-called spring offensive to try to locate bin Laden using a lot of intelligence assets, including overhead imagery from spy planes, both remote and piloted spy planes, as well as satellites, and also intelligence that they've gathered by increased contact on the ground with locals in the area, including both on the Afghan and Pakistan side of the border.

So this operation is just getting under way, Operation Mountain Storm, and the U.S. is hopeful that sometime in the spring they, may be able to capture bin Laden -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon for us this evening. Jamie, thanks.

Here are some other stories that you need to know. Ten same-sex couples and the mayor of Nyack, New York, are suing New York state to allow gays to marry. The mayor is among several in the country who've taken the lead in the revolt. New York's attorney general says gay marriages are illegal under state law.

Baltimore officials say sonar has detected the roof of a water taxi that capsized in the harbor last week. They're hoping the bodies of three missing passengers, including an 8-year-old girl, will be found nearby.

And according to the Associated Press, a Justice Department investigation found Defense Secretary Rumsfeld is among some high- ranking officials who took souvenirs from the rubble of 9/11 disasters. A department report says Secretary Rumsfeld has a piece of the airplane that flew into the Pentagon. No response yet from the Pentagon on that.

Americans are often said to be among the most religious people in the world, but a new political lobby says there's too much God in government these days, so much that even the Founding Fathers would have disapproved. Do they have a point? It's "Pro Versus Con" on this question tonight. David Silverman of GAMPAC, the Godless Americans Political Action Committee. In Chicago, Bill Thomson is the national field director of the Christian Coalition. And Dr. Randy Brinson of Redeem the Vote, a nonpartisan group which encourages young people of faith to go to the polls.

To all of you this evening, thanks so much for being with us.

DAVID SILVERMAN, GODLESS AMERICANS PAC: Always a pleasure.

O'BRIEN: Thank you very much. Mr. Silverman, let's begin with you. Why exactly do you need a lobbying group for this?

SILVERMAN: Well, we've got about 30 million people, according to "Usa Today," that don't believe in God or don't have religion seriously in our lives, and we've got almost no representation. In fact, we have exactly no representation in Congress of anybody who is either non-religious, atheistic or even willing to stand up for the rights of non-religious people. We've got a tremendous amount of number of people, we've got 30 million people, but we don't have an organization. And as a result, we don't have power, and as a result, we don't have a voice. GAMPAC has formed gampac.org, which is being used to build our base and prepare for political action on behalf of non-religious Americans nationwide.

O'BRIEN: Mr. Thomson, Mr. Silverman, we hear, says the number 30 million people who share his values and also his non-religious beliefs. Don't you think those folks have a right to be represented?

BILL THOMSON, NATIONAL FIELD DIR., CHRISTIAN COALITION: Those folks have a right to be represented, and they are represented and by the people that are in Congress right now. The people in Congress represent people of all religious faith or no religious faith in their votes that they make in Congress.

SILVERMAN: Yes, they represent us, but they represent us poorly. They don't think about the fact that we're non-religious. For instance, there are lots of pieces of legislation out there that are built and maintained and intended to push religion on non-religious people -- school prayer bills, faith-based initiatives, voucher schemes. But nobody is taking the initiative to defend non-religious people.

O'BRIEN: But if you're 30 million people strong, Mr. Silverman, why not just get those people together and have them vote and be represented, like everyone else is represented, without a lobby?

SILVERMAN: Why not? Because we can't do it without a lobby. We can't do it without gampac.org. That's the exactly reason that GAMPAC is formed. You see, the problem is that non-religious people and moderately religious people don't join organizations, and as a result, we have no power.

O'BRIEN: Dr. Brinson, let me have you jump in right here. What we hear from Mr. Silverman almost sounds like he's essentially proposing the separation of church and state, which has been a part of the 1st Amendment to the Constitution for many, many centuries now. Why do you think this is any different? Do you?

DR. RANDY BRINSON, EXECUTIVE DIR., REDEEM THE VOTE: Well, I think it's different because their organization sounds like they're wanting to mobilize just groups that are atheist. And that's perfectly fine with most people. Our organization is totally different. Our organization is not about trying to endorse a candidate, not trying endorse specific issues. We feel like the big problem is that young people are just not registered to vote. It's estimated there's 25 million young Americans that aren't registered to vote. And so our organization, our nationwide effort is just strictly to get them registered to vote and reach into the faith-based community to get them registered to vote.

O'BRIEN: Do you think there is a value, though, to the lobby? I mean, you're a person of faith, but for those who completely disagree with your position, is there a value to the lobby in this day and age?

BRINSON: Oh, absolutely. In fact, what I've read about Godless Americans, they're using tactics to try to mobilize their base, to try to get their voice heard and try to register voters. And I think that's how democracy works. I don't see a problem with that. But what is important, what is really important is what we're doing. And what we're doing is something -- we're not telling our constituents how to vote. We're not telling them what candidates to list (ph) for. We're just going out then and encouraging, using faith-based artists, such as musicians, to have concerts, to have events, host events so we can get people registered to vote. And that's what's exciting. We don't have to tell them how to vote. We believe that young Americans 18 to 35 are intelligent enough to make their own decisions on these issues.

O'BRIEN: It certainly has been a tradition for the president, members of Congress to ask for God's blessing before they do some event or something like that. Let's listen to a little bit of what we often see.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: May God bless America.

WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And God bless America.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: May God hold you in the palm of his hand.

GEORGE HERBERT WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And may God bless the United States of America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Certainly, Mr. Thomson...

THOMSON: Soledad...

O'BRIEN: Before I let you -- I was going to ask you, Mr. Thomson, certainly, some people could say, you know, Isn't that going against separation of church and state, which is pretty clearly spelled out in the 1st Amendment?

THOMSON: Well, it's not cleared out -- it's not clear at all because of the fact that that phrase is not in the 1st Amendment, "separation of church and state." You cannot find those words in the Constitution at all. Now, let me just...

SILVERMAN: Neither is freedom of religion. Freedom of religion...

THOMSON: All right, let me -- let me...

SILVERMAN: ... the phrase is not in the Constitution.

THOMSON: ... just go on because these people have had their side for some 40 years and taking prayer out of school. They have...

SILVERMAN: Now, tell the truth!

THOMSON: ... removed...

(CROSSTALK)

SILVERMAN: We haven't taken prayer out of school at all, now, have we.

THOMSON: Your organization...

SILVERMAN: Yes?

THOMSON: ... took prayer out of school back in 1964.

SILVERMAN: We took forced prayer out of schools. You can't force a child...

THOMSON: You also removed...

SILVERMAN: ... to pray anymore.

THOMSON: You also removed...

SILVERMAN: And that's the right thing do.

BRINSON: Soledad...

THOMSON: You also removed Christian symbols from government properties.

SILVERMAN: Damn straight!

THOMSON: You also have removed -- you also have removed the 10 Commandments. So I mean, I think your side is well represented. I think that...

SILVERMAN: How can you say we're well represented...

THOMSON: ... your lobbyists...

(CROSSTALK)

SILVERMAN: ... when we don't have a single representative in Congress? We don't have...

THOMSON: Give me a break!

SILVERMAN: ... a single representative, even at the state level...

THOMSON: If there's anybody that can be...

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Dr. Brinson, I'm going to let you jump in and have the final word...

BRINSON: Yes, I appreciate...

O'BRIEN: ... tonight. We only have a few seconds left.

BRINSON: I -- I appreciate...

O'BRIEN: Anything useful, you think, about this debate?

BRINSON: Well, I think the main thing is, is that we need to have everybody engaged in democracy and we need to reach out to all people of faith. Let them -- let their faith be part of what they believe.

SILVERMAN: Or their lack of faith.

BRINSON: President -- President Bush and the other people that are talking about faith or their faith in God, that's part of what they are and that defines who they are. I would encourage all of you to go to our Web site, www.redeemthevote.com, to find out more about it and what we're about and join our effort to get more people registered to vote.

O'BRIEN: Lots of Web site addresses flying this evening. Dr. Randy Brinson joining us. Thank you very much.

BRINSON: Thank you very much.

O'BRIEN: David Silverman, as well.

SILVERMAN: My pleasure.

O'BRIEN: And also Bill Thomson. Thank you very much.

THOMSON: Thank you.

SILVERMAN: Take care now.

O'BRIEN: Well, it's an alarming fact that when thousands of children disappear from their homes every year, the police can do very little about it. That's the case when a child is abducted by one of his or her parents. Frank Buckley has this report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When a stranger abducts a child...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It has now been five days since Danielle disappeared from...

BUCKLEY: ... entire communities wait and worry with the parents. But when Sherri Trujillo's three children were abducted, it was a lonely wait because when police asked Sherri if she recognized the man who took her children...

SHERRI TRUJILLO, MOTHER: I said, I know who did it. It was my husband. And then the attitude completely changed.

BUCKLEY: Because the father of the children hadn't broken a law. The parents were still married and they shared custody. But for Sherri, the pain of not knowing where her children were, was unbearable. TRUJILLO: I knew they weren't being tucked in. And I knew nobody was telling them they loved them at night when they went to bed.

BUCKLEY (on camera): A study by the Department of Justice says an estimated 200,000 children are caught up in family abductions every year. Many of those kids are returned within a week or are not even considered missing because their whereabouts are known. But for those kids who do disappear, the lasting effects can be devastating.

REBECCA FORD, ABDUCTED AS A CHILD: I love it here.

BUCKLEY (voice-over): Rebecca ford was 3 when she was abducted by her mother.

REBECCA FORD: It's hard for me sometimes to open myself up to other people because my reality for so long was based on lies.

BUCKLEY: Her father finally found her after eight years of separation. Bruce Ford believes parental abduction should be treated as seriously as stranger abduction.

BRUCE FORD, REBECCA'S FATHER: If you're going to jail third parties that grab kids, you got to jail moms and dads. You need to deter people from doing this.

BUCKLEY: The Polly Klaas Foundation hopes new federal legislation will provide better police training and help to change public attitudes on parental abductions.

JENNI THOMPSON, POLLY KLAAS FOUNDATION: Some child psychologists are calling this child abuse. We definitely call it child endangerment.

BUCKLEY: There is good news for Sherri Trujillo. After three- and-a-half years of searching for her children, a phone call.

TRUJILLO: I just leaned forward in my chair. I said, Yes, I'm sitting down. We have them. We found them. I have all three of the children. They're safe. And I just -- I screamed. I screamed.

BUCKLEY: She was reunited with her children. And tonight, they'll be tucked into bed by their mother, who will tell them how much she loves them. Frank Buckley, CNN, Santa Cruz, California.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN: The accusations and the trials made headlines, children sexually abused, their tormenters on trial. But after 20 years, some of the victims say it never happened. Does a convicted molester deserve another trial?

And the strength and courage of one military couple who served together, but only one returned from Iraq. We'll tell you their story.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: On Monday a California judge will hear arguments on whether a convicted child molester should get a new trial. After nearly 20 years in prison, four of John Stoll's six accusers say they were never abused and that police manipulated them into testifying against him. Students at California's Western School of Law, as part of the state's Innocence Project, have spearheaded the drive to get a new trial for Stoll. Rusty Dornin has this report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Chris Diuri was 8 years old when he testified he was molested by his mother's boyfriend. Now he claims he was badgered into lying.

CHRIS DIURI, RECANTING WITNESS: I told them, you know, numerous times, No, it didn't happen to me. No, no, no, no, no.

JOHN STOLL, CONVICTED CHILD MOLESTER: Still can't believe it.

DORNIN: John Stoll was convicted in 1985 of molesting Diuri and five other boys, including his own son.

STOLL: I'm not a child molester. Absolutely, I'm not a child molester.

DORNIN: That's what three other victims are now saying, along with Diuri. All four claim they were threatened by investigators into making up the stories of sexual abuse.

DIURI: Well, eventually, I just told them what they were repeating to me. I just started singing it back to them. The same things they said to me, I said right back to them.

DORNIN: Kern (ph) County prosecutors won't comment, but Kathleen Ridolfi believes it. She and the members of the California Innocence Project are fighting to get Stoll exonerated. Ridolfi says it's unfortunate medical exams were never conducted on the alleged victims.

KATHLEEN RIDOLFI, CALIFORNIA INNOCENCE PROJECT: Of course, without medical examinations being done, it's impossible for us to bring forth evidence to show that it didn't happen. But certainly, it should raise a lot of suspicion.

DORNIN: Diuri claims every time he tried to say this didn't happen, he'd get the same reaction.

DIURI: They didn't believe me now, just like they didn't believe me when I was a kid.

DORNIN: Of the remaining accusers, one says he doesn't remember being molested, but Stoll's son, who was 6 at the time, still claims he was molested by his father.

(on camera): A judge will hear closing arguments on whether to grant Stoll a new trial on March 15. Rusty Dornin, CNN, San Francisco.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN: The question of the reliability of child witnesses is a difficult one. And joining us this evening from San Francisco is Richard Ofshe. He's a social psychologist at the University of California in Berkeley.

Nice to see you, sir. Thanks for being with us.

RICHARD OFSHE, SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGIST, UNIV. OF CALIF. BERKELEY: My pleasure.

O'BRIEN: Stoll's accusers at the time ranged from the ages of 6 to 9. Just how suggestible are children in those ages?

OFSHE: During those ages, they're suggestible, but they're also easily coerced, easily pressured and easily made to say things that authority figures want them to say.

O'BRIEN: At the same time, there was a theory, I think especially back then, that said children don't lie, especially about things that are so graphic and horrible in so many ways. Has that been proven not to be true?

OFSHE: No one takes that seriously. It was nonsense at the time. It's obviously not the case. Children can be pressured and badgered and coerced into saying the most awful and horrible things.

O'BRIEN: It has been 20 years since the original trial took place. Why would these young men, many of them, come forward now?

OFSHE: Because maybe they finally feel the burden of what they were made to do and have matured to the point at which they are willing to step forward and speak the truth.

O'BRIEN: One of the alleged victims said that he tried to tell the truth over and over again and the investigators wouldn't listen to him. They just wouldn't believe him. How unusual is that kind of scenario, in your experience?

OFSHE: It's not that unusual. It's a sign of very bad investigation, very bad interviewing and very bad use of interrogation methods applied to children. Unfortunately, police only know one way to overcome resistance. I see essentially the same tactics used against people who are suspects, people who are witnesses, people who are victims, if they are not agreeing with what the police have a preconceived notion happened.

O'BRIEN: So then has anything changed in cases like these, and some of the others that you've just named there, to make sure that you're not getting coercion of the person who is supposed to be a witness in the case?

OFSHE: The only thing that's changed is the standard now is that these sessions should be, and usually are now, recorded. O'BRIEN: Ironically, of course, the young men, who are now in their mid-20s, who are coming forward now are also not believed by prosecutors, they say, this time around, as well. Do you think John Stoll deserves a new trial?

OFSHE: I think if there is credible evidence given by people who say that they were manipulated by the police. It's not in the least surprising that prosecutors will not admit that police officers screwed up and that they prosecuted and convicted someone who in all likelihood is innocent, and they will not easily give that person a new trial. Take a look at the Central Park jogger case. That's an exception. Clearly there, the New York city DA's office rose to the occasion and agreed that they had made a horrible mistake.

O'BRIEN: Richard Ofshe of UC Berkeley, thanks for being with us, sir. Interesting insight. We appreciate it.

OFSHE: Thank you very much for having me.

O'BRIEN: They served side by side in Iraq. He was on a dangerous helicopter assignment. She'll tell us about the night he didn't come back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAPT. KATE BLAISE, U.S. ARMY: I just knew that something wasn't right because I knew that there was very few birds in the air that night and that Mike was one of them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: The image of the grieving war widow is probably as old as human civilization, but it's different for at least one American woman whose husband died in Iraq. Kate and Mike Blaise had been high school sweethearts, and they were serving alongside each other in the war. Paula Zahn recently spoke with her.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAULA ZAHN, HOST: Kate, welcome. Great to have you with us tonight.

CAPT. KATE BLAISE, U.S. ARMY: Thank you.

ZAHN: Welcome home.

BLAISE: Thank you. It's good to be home.

ZAHN: It's a bittersweet homecoming for you, isn't it.

BLAISE: Absolutely.

ZAHN: What's been the hardest part of the transition for you? BLAISE: Definitely, just coming home to myself and having to go through my own -- my husband and I's stuff and household goods and -- my family so ready to welcome us home with a big party and having to transition to something different. That's been pretty hard.

ZAHN: Your husband was supposed to come home, and he died in a helicopter crash just two days before he was going to be dispatched home.

BLAISE: Yes.

ZAHN: Take us back to the horror of your learning what had happened to him.

BLAISE: Myself and my battalion senior staff were playing cards, our last big hoorah in Iraq before we headed south. And I knew that Mike was flying that night. I had seen him that afternoon, spent the afternoon with him. And we were playing cards, and we heard our medevac bird take off. And shortly after that, somebody from Mike's unit came and said that he needed to see me, my battalion commander, because they'd had a 58 go down. And I just knew that something wasn't right because I knew that there was very few birds in the air that night and that Mike was one of them. And so I went with my battalion commander straight to my husband's area, and they told us right away what had happened, so...

ZAHN: I imagine you just can't get that out of your mind.

BLAISE: It was difficult. I had a strong family support network over there that was a big help.

ZAHN: The unusual part of your being stationed in Iraq -- this was one of the few times in your joint military careers where you actually got to spend time with Mike.

BLAISE: Right.

ZAHN: In Iraq.

ZAHN: Exactly. We knew we were very blessed because throughout most of our military career, we'd always been separated. So we were pretty excited that this time, it took going to war to actually work out being together.

ZAHN: What did you actually get to do together in Iraq?

BLAISE: Usually, I would come over, like, in the afternoon, before I went to bed, and just sit and talk, make dinner, watch a movie, something like that, sit around talk about the war and what we were going to do when we got home, what we missed about home, stuff like that.

ZAHN: You actually had a big future planned, didn't you.

BLAISE: Oh, absolutely.

ZAHN: You talked about having a family when you came home.

BLAISE: That was our next step, actually.

ZAHN: Thank God you have a support group of people...

BLAISE: Yes, I do.

ZAHN: ... to help you through this. And I know the extreme training both of you had to go through to be in Iraq and to do the jobs that you did. How much did fear enter into your life there?

BLAISE: Not as much as it probably should have. In the beginning, I remember Mike telling me a story about, he was flying in one of the cities and it was pretty early on there, and he flied a small helicopter that flied low and fast. And he said that he got shot at by, like, an RPG or something and it came pretty close to him. And he said, at that point, it stopped being fun. And he said up until then, it had just kind of seemed surreal, like, OK, you know, we're be-bopping along and -- he said, at that point, it stops being fun and he started to realize, OK, this is pretty serious.

ZAHN: How much did you worry about him?

BLAISE: I knew what he did was dangerous, what I did was dangerous. If you really spend a lot of time worrying about it, then you wouldn't be taking care of what -- I knew I wouldn't be taking care of what I needed to take care of, so I just kind of pushed that to my back and said lot of prayers.

ZAHN: I'm just curious, with everything you've been through, whether you feel any differently about this war and whether it was worth waging?

BLAISE: For the rest of my life, I will miss him, but it's what we both -- we believed very strongly in. And being over there and seeing the country and experiencing that, we should absolutely, in my opinion, be there.

ZAHN: I am absolutely amazed by your personal strength. Did you know you had it in you?

BLAISE: Probably not. No. I think everybody gets tested at some point in life. And hopefully, this is my only one!

ZAHN: Well, I salute you...

BLAISE: Thank you.

ZAHN: ... your strength...

BLAISE: Thank you.

ZAHN: ... your courage and the commitment you have to this great country of ours.

BLAISE: Thank you very much. ZAHN: Good luck to you.

BLAISE: Thank you.

ZAHN: I hope some good things around the corner for you.

BLAISE: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN: You can read more about Captain Blaise in the March and April issue of "Golf for Women." And we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Thanks for joining us this evening. "LARRY KING LIVE" is up next. Have a great night.

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



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