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Murder-Suicide Leads to Secretive Cult; Rice Under Fire

Aired January 18, 2005 - 19:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, HOST: Good evening from New York. I'm Anderson Cooper.
Were the seeds of a violent crime planted years ago in a religious sect based on love?

360 starts now.

A murder-suicide leads to a secretive cult accused of shocking crimes, adults routinely having sex with children. Tonight, 360 investigates. What really happened to the so-called Children of God? And what led this one-time child prophet to kill?

Have you seen these children? Foster kids, allegedly stolen at gunpoint by their biological parents. A massive manhunt is under way. Tonight, the foster parents who saw the children being kidnapped speak out for the first time.

Condoleezza Rice under fire from top Democrats. A long day of testimony, but what did she really say? Tonight, we bring you her talking points.

The nightmare scenario, a nuclear bomb in a box. Tonight, how much harm could a small device do? And how can we defend against it?

And Oprah's designer, Nate Berkus, he survived the tsunami and talks about the wave that swept his partner away and nearly cost him his life.

ANNOUNCER: Live from the CNN Broadcast Center in New York, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360.

COOPER: And good evening again.

It was a day of promises and pushback today on Capitol Hill, as one of the best-known women in the world, Condoleezza Rice, under oath, told senators what she would do, what her core convictions would be, if she is America's next secretary of state.

Quote, "I will support our alliances, support our friends," she said, "and make the world safer and better."

Reassuring words, perhaps, but the testimony did at times did get testy. There were some tough questions on Rice's role in the president's war on terror and the war in Iraq.

CNN's State Department correspondent Andrea Koppel has been listening.


SEN. RICHARD LUGAR (R), CHAIR: Do you swear to tell the truth...

ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Condoleezza Rice sought to highlight her new role as presidential adviser turned top U.S. diplomat.


KOPPEL: But Democrats quickly took her to task.

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: And the time for diplomacy, in my view, is long overdue.

KOPPEL: Former Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry grilled Rice on Iraq.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: The current policy is growing the insurgency, not diminishing it.

KOPPEL: And Kerry warned the January 30 elections could make things worse.

KERRY: The dynamics of the election could actually, without the proper actions, provide a greater capacity for civil war.

KOPPEL: Rice urged patience.

RICE: The political process, as you well know, and you all know better than I, is one of coming to terms with the vision...

KOPPEL: California Democrat Barbara Boxer took the gloves off, suggesting Rice deliberately hyped the Iraq threat, and used the image of a nuclear mushroom cloud to scare the American people.

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: This is my personal view, that your loyalty to the mission you were given to sell this war overwhelmed your respect for the truth. And I don't say it lightly...

RICE: I have to say that I have never, ever lost respect for the truth in the service of anything. It is not my nature. It is not my character...

KOPPEL: Known by some as the velvet hammer for her steely composure, Rice grew up in the segregated South. Now poised to become the first African-American woman secretary of state, history was clearly on her mind.

RICE: I personally am indebted to those who fought and sacrificed in the civil rights movement so that I could be here today.

KOPPEL (on camera): And nine hours and counting, believe it or not, Anderson, her testimony still continues at this hour. Whenever it wraps up tonight, it's expected to resume tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m., but that doesn't mean that her confirmation is in jeopardy. She is still expected to be confirmed later this week, Anderson.

COOPER: It's a done deal. Andrea Koppel, thanks for that.

Condoleezza Rice spent hours in the witness chair, as Andrea said, today, but unless you work for C-SPAN or CNN, you probably didn't watch the whole thing. Never fear, we got your back. We asked Henry the intern to listen to the day's testimony and focus his laserlike attention on Condoleezza Rice's key talking points, because the number one rule for politics is, no matter what they ask you, stay on message, and stick to your talking points.


COOPER (voice-over): Talking point number one, Things are not going all that badly. After all, we're making progress.

RICE: ... on the progress, our nation has made...

... hard-won progress for democracy...

... and to choose a path of progress...

We believe that we've made some progress. We have more progress to make.

... progress...

... progress...

COOPER: Talking point number two, what isn't going all that well, well, they're working on it.

RICE: I will work...

... we will work...

... we are working...

... to work with the Iraqis...

... we will be working...

So I look forward to working...

COOPER: Talking point number three, even if we can't actually work on something, we will at least pay attention to it.

RICE: We do pay attention.

We pay attention...

... enough attention to...

... in the past. We need to pay attention to... ... really have to pay attention to...

COOPER: And that will allow the United States to do what it does best, talking point number four.

RICE: ... and free markets to spread prosperity to every corner of the globe.

We will spread freedom and democracy...

... to spread democracy and freedom...

... active in spreading democracy...

... and spread freedom and prosperity...

COOPER: And prosperity leads to talking point number five.

RICE: ... good things...

... good things...

... good things...

... good...

... good...

... good...

... good...

... good...


COOPER: Good times.

Condoleezza Rice talks a little bit about the nuclear threat facing our country, saying the U.S. must continue pressuring Iran and North Korea to abandon their nuclear weapons ambitions.

Tonight, as we examine national threats as part of our special report Defending America, CNN's David Mattingly tells us how nuclear material could arrive here in the U.S.


DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the port of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the nation's biggest container port. Forty-three percent of all the goods that come into the U.S. by water in shipping containers come through here.

STEPHEN E. FLYNN, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: The Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach is arguably not only America's most critical port, but potentially the most important port in the world. MATTINGLY (on camera): It is one of the single biggest engines driving the U.S. economy, a gateway to more than $200 billion in annual trade, with more than 5,000 ships unloading over 9 million cargo containers a year.

If the numbers don't impress you, consider this. Without this port, store shelves would empty, factories would close, and untold thousands would find themselves out of a job.

(voice-over): If terrorists inserted one of their agents somewhere into the long chain of companies involved in sending a product from a factory in south China to the United States, they would be in a position to get a nuclear device into a box, then on to a container, into the frenzy of commerce heading West, and onto a ship headed for California.

And the device would not have to detonate to the blow a hole in the U.S. economy. If authorities got a tip about a nuclear device in one of these boxes, they might well shut down the port to find it.

FLYNN: And so if you shut down this port you're talking about -- these are the warehouses for the entire national economy. We don't have big warehouses anymore. It's in this transportation system.

MATTINGLY: Steve Flynn has been banging the drum, raising awareness about maritime security he says is deeply vulnerable.

FLYNN: Most Americans I meet are simply flummoxed by the fact that, well, we can track -- FAA can track airplanes, it turns out we can't track ships.

FLYNN: It's a fool's game to be playing this way if there are things that we could be doing at reasonable costs to rein in this risk, not to eliminate it, but to rein it in.

MATTINGLY: Here, the federal government is testing how its agencies would react if a dirty bomb shipped to the U.S. in a container exploded in the Port of Los Angeles.

The exercise mobilized the FBI, Department of Energy, FEMA, the Coast Guard, Customs, the EPA, and Defense Departments, and an army of local authorities. Similar exercises were held across the country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our goal here is to take the lessons of 9/11, where we've seen failings in coordination, command, communication, and try and stress those and fix them.

MATTINGLY: In the post-exercise analysis, authorities concluded some things work well. Some things, like communications between the 50 agencies involved, did not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, chief, we got five critical need to be transported. I can't get EMS six to answer.

CHIEF NOEL CUNNINGHAM, PORT OF LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT: Well, we know we're vulnerable, and are there gaps, but we're trying to make sure it doesn't happen here. But we believe it will happen.

MATTINGLY: A dirty bomb blowing up in the port, threatening surrounding neighborhoods, is one terrible possibility.

But there's one much worse. In this scenario, a bomb similar in size to those used on Japan in World War II comes into the L.A. Port in a container and is loaded onto a truck. The truck drives into downtown Los Angeles, and the bomb is detonated by remote control.

MATTHEW MCKINZIE, PHYSICIST, NRDC: Thirty-two thousand people would die. These people would die as a result of intense blast, high winds, intense heat radiation from the fireball. A further 160,000 people, though, could die as a result of exposure to fallout.

MATTINGLY: Matthew McKinzie is a physicist working for the Natural Resources Defense Council. Using the same special software that helps the federal government gauge the impact of a nuclear war, he can create a model for a catastrophe. Just enter the city, the date, and the size of the bomb, a simple point and click for the ultimate terrorist attack.

MCKINZIE: What the code shows is a hole basically, burned and blasted out of the center of Los Angeles.

MATTINGLY (on camera): What about the radiation?

MCKINZIE: The radiation, the fallout plume, impacts a much larger area of Los Angeles.

MATTHEW BUNN, HARVARD KENNEDY SCHOOL OF GOVERNMENT: A nuclear bomb is what happened to Hiroshima, where an entire city was obliterated in an instant by a single bomb. That's what we're talking about here. And unfortunately, it does not take a Manhattan Project to make a nuclear bomb. Potentially, even a relatively modest cell of reasonably skilled people could put together at least a crude nuclear bomb that would be capable of incinerating the heart of any major city in the world.

MATTINGLY: Any city, like Los Angeles, or maybe New York, or Washington, D.C., the cities attacked on September 11.

BUNN: No one, of course, can reliably calculate the probability of a nuclear terrorist attack in the United States, but I believe it's likely enough that it significantly reduces the life expectancy of everyone who lives and works in downtown Washington, D.C., or New York.

MATTINGLY: David Mattingly, CNN, Los Angeles.


COOPER: Certainly ominous words there.

Join Paula Zahn and me tomorrow night for a two-hour Defending America special. We'll examine the major threats for our national security. Begins 7:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow night. And, as always, stay tuned to CNN day and night for the most reliable news about your security.

360 next, Nate Berkus, an interior designer on "Oprah." He was caught in the tsunami, his partner swept away. He speaks out for the first time since returning home on his horrifying ordeal. We'll bring you parts of that interview.

And a little later, a murder-suicide shines a light on a secretive religious sect, accused of condoning and promoting child sexual abuse. Tonight, we talk to former members and the group's spokesperson. Are they a misunderstood Christian group, or a cult who've damaged dozens of kids? Tonight you can make up your own mind. We're covering all the angles.

Also ahead, have you seen these children? They were allegedly kidnaped from foster care by their own parents, alleged drug addicts still on the run. You're going to hear from the family who was held at gunpoint while the kids were taken away, an interview you'll see only here on CNN.

First, let's take a look at your picks, the most popular stories right now on


COOPER: The FBI is joining the search for a couple who allegedly kidnapped their two very young children in North Carolina over the weekend. Police say the 11-month-old girl and her 2-year-old brother were taken at gunpoint from their foster parents, who tonight are speaking out for the very first time.

CNN's Randi Kaye has the exclusive interview.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You were the last person to see Breanna and Paul. You've asked us not to show your face tonight, because of fear for your own safety and community backlash.

Take us back to that morning, Saturday morning, 9:15. How did this occur?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were having a slow Saturday morning. I had just finished dressing Paul for the day. My husband was in the shower. My biological daughter was downstairs, playing in her room. I had just sat down for a cup of coffee. I heard the car come up, and I got up to look out the window. I heard the footsteps and saw people coming up.

I went to the door and opened it, and said, Hey, what are you up to? What do you need? Not really thinking anything was wrong.

KAYE: And this was James Canter and Alishia Chambers at the door.


KAYE: And what were they doing? Did they try and come inside (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well in answering my question, they said, We're here for the kids. We want the kids. And I started to say no and to push them back, because they were pushing forward. And James pulled out a gun. They're part of our family.

They're -- she -- they're my babies. I mean, Breanna was just 3 months old when she came to us, and she's all -- I'm all she knows as a mom. I've been there for her new teeth and her learning to stand up.

KAYE: So how do you go to bed at night wondering where they are? Today is day three of the manhunt.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't want to go to bed, and I don't want to wake up. I just want them home safely. They came out of a meth lab situation...

KAYE: When you see a baby bottle in the sink and a sippy cup next to the remains of meth that was made, what does that say to you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's scary to think about what those children have been exposed to.

KAYE: What would you want to say tonight to their biological parents?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That what they're offering those children is not adequate for anybody to grow up, to live a normal, healthy life. They might love those children, but they're not giving them what they need. And if they can't make the choice for the children, then let somebody else who will love them and support them have them to love and to be a part of their family, to...

KAYE: Thank you for talking with us tonight.


KAYE: Back here live now in Boone, North Carolina, I wanted to get back to that meth lab where the children were found. Meth has a way of getting on your clothing. It seeps into the carpet, it seeps into the wallpaper, it seeps into children's teddy bears. No doubt, those children in that meth lab were exposed to meth.

We were able to confirm tonight, the sheriff has confirmed for us, that Paul, the 2 1/2-year-old boy, did have meth in his system. He tested positive for it. The foster parents also telling us tonight that they had been prepared for that as well.

Meanwhile, tonight, the tips continue to roll in for the biological parents of these two children and the kids themselves. Police are still looking for, along with the FBI, James Lee Canter, 29 years old. Also looking for Alishia Chambers, 18 years old. Seventy tips in all so far, Anderson.

COOPER: Police saying they may be armed and dangerous. Randi Kaye, thanks for that.

A killer has less than eight hours to live tonight. Tops our look at what's happening right now cross-country.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will not stop tonight's execution of Donald Beardsley. U.S. Supreme Court also rejected the final (UNINTELLIGIBLE) appeal for Beardsley, who murdered two women back in 1981. He is scheduled to die by lethal injection at one minute past midnight.

In Upland, California, the body of a 35-year-old woman was found today in the raging San Antonio Creek. She was swept away yesterday while trying to save her 7-year-old son. Police continue to search for him and another boy. Both fell into the rain-swollen waters.

Marietta, Georgia, now, evolution, a sticky subject. School board says it has the right to put stickers calling evolution a theory -- that's one of them there -- not a fact in science textbooks. A judge disagrees. The board is appealing.

Denver, Colorado, now. Now comes the real pain for the construction worker, the guy who got a nail removed from his head. We told you about him last night. Well, the hospital that relieved him of one headache just gave him another, a $100,000 bill. We are told he does not have insurance. That has got to hurt.

And Providence, Rhode Island, reality is biting back for Richard Hatch. Remember him, the star of the first "Survivor" series? He's going to plead guilty to a tax evasion as part of a plea deal. Hatch apparently never reported his $1 million TV jackpot and $321,000 paid to him by a radio station. Facing up to five years in prison. Maybe time for a refresher on some of those survivor skills.

That's a quick look at stories right now cross-country.

360 next, a young man once called a prophet of God. This is him. He makes a startling taped confession hours before killing a woman and himself. We're going to show you this tape in a moment. We investigate. Did a religion sect's bizarre sexual practices lead this young man to murder and suicide? We're covering all the angles.


COOPER: Let's look at some stories around the world tonight in the uplink.

Iraq's government plans to close its borders for the election. That's just one of the stories we're following.

In Baghdad, Iraq's minister, ministry of interior will seal the country's borders from January 29 to the 31st as a security precaution. Iraq's elections are scheduled for January 30. The country is also under a state of emergency that's similar to martial law.

Osnabruck (ph), Germany, three British soldiers are charged with prisoner abuse. During the soldier's court-martial today, a jury viewed these photos of alleged abuse against Iraqi detainees. This was allegedly done outside of Basra, not Abu Ghraib, although the images seem very similar, naked Iraqis simulating sex acts, and soldiers, British, looking on as if they are punching and kicking bound men. It is Britain's first case to go to court.

Toulouse, France, a flying Goliath. Today four European leaders helped unveil the massive Airbus A-380, destined to become the world's largest jetliner. Take a look inside. You've got to see it to believe it. Double-decker superjumbo jet has more than 550 seats. Room for a bar, gyms, beds, even a casino. Apparently there's even a -- could be a little store for duty-free. Scheduled to be in service next year. As for now, well, we hope you enjoy your middle seat.

Manila, Philippines, follow the rules or get a wet smack. The city's traffic enforcers are getting serious about jaywalking. They're using trucks armed with blankets soaked in water to slap violators. Frankly, I'm still not clear on how this whole thing works, but I am told they are trying it out.

And Colin Farrell still has legs. His movie "Alexander," turns out it's doing great overseas. The Oliver Stone film, a dud here in the U.S., is tops in the foreign box office. It's taken in $88 million since its debut. That has more than doubled the $34 million it made here.

That's a quick look at stories around the world in the uplink.

Coming up next on 360, murder-suicide. Did the sexual practices of a secretive religious sect drive this young man over the edge? We're going to hear from former members of a group known as Children of God, and the family, plus the spokeswoman, shared their side of the story. We're covering all the angles, but you make up your own mind.

360 next.



RICKY RODRIGUEZ: The main reason is that I want there to be some record of the way I feel, my ideas, just who I was, really.


COOPER: A young man calmly loading cartridges into a clip for a pistol.

What you are watching here is a videotape made by a young man named Ricky Rodriguez, in which he talks about the murder he intends to commit, and then after the murder, his own suicide.

In case you are wondering what he's doing while he talks, he is taking those cartridges off the desktop, loading them into the gun that must be in his lap. This is a story about a group that once called itself the Children of God. The name sounds peaceful, idyllic. It conjures up the innocence of harmony and of the Garden of Eden.

But this same group, currently known as The Family, is now in the news because the young man you just saw, the young man who was at one point being groomed to be the family's leader, took violent, deadly revenge for what he claims was sexual abuse at the hands of those who raised him. And there are charges that there were many other victims as well.

We're going to look at all of this in depth tonight, a tale of God and love, sex and murder. In a moment, you'll hear from former members of the sect, who tell of routine sexual abuse of children. You'll also hear from a spokesperson for The Family, who says they are a Christian group doing good work.

Tonight, you can make up your own minds.

We begin with the story of Ricky Rodriguez. CNN's Rusty Dornin has that.


RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They called him the Prince. His mother is the leader of the religious group The Family, also known as the Children of God. He was the heir apparent. But according to his own final words on this video, Ricky Rodriguez became the avenger.

RICKY RODRIGUEZ: I don't want it to go on. I want it to just be over.

DORNIN: Last week, Ricky Rodriguez allegedly stabbed to death Angela Smith, another former member in Arizona. Rodriguez, police believe, then drove to California, shot and killed himself. A man family and former members say was enraged over what he claimed was sexual and emotional abuse against him starting in the '70s. His estranged wife told CNN affiliate KVLA Rodriguez called her after he murdered Smith. Elixcia Munumel refused to appear on camera, but talked about the tape he left behind.

ELIXCIA MUNUMEL, RODRIGUEZ'S WIFE: He talks about killing himself and the gun that he was going to use for it. Talks about a lot of the pain that he experienced in life.

DORNIN: That pain, says Munumel, was what drove her husband to kill Angela Smith.

Clair Borowik, a spokesman for the group, told CNN, that's not true. She says to set the record straight, Angela Smith was never Ricky Rodriguez's nanny. Borowik maintains Rodriguez was never abused by Smith, although he was raised in a sexually permissive environment, which was encouraged by parents who were leaders of The Family.

In the '60s, flower children and so-called Jesus freaks flocked to David Berg and his message of free love. The subject of this documentary called "The Love Prophet." Berg encouraged women from the group to lure new recruits with sex. It was called flirty fishing, or f-fing.

They also just plain preached.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Help me have a born again experience.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How is that for the first time?

DORNIN: Then Berg, calling himself Mo, short for Moses, began predicting the end of the world. The group began wearing sack cloths. Parents of many members began angry, and began protesting the group, calling it a cult.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, when I talked to her all by myself...

DORNIN: In 1986, the group admitted minors were subjected to inappropriate advances and banned sexual contact with children.

By the early '90s, the group was worldwide and still controversial. Hundreds of children of members in France, Spain, Australia and Argentina were taken from their homes. Some members charged with child abuse. But none were ever convicted.

The group says it has since apologized to former members for any sexual misconduct that may have taken place.


COOPER: Well, we don't take sides on this show, as you probably know. We like to look at all the angles on a story. In a few minutes, you're going to hear from a member of The Family. But first, two former members. Yesterday, I talked with a longtime member of The Family's inner circle. James Penn -- it's not his real name; it's the one he asked us to use. He also asked that we show him in shadow. He was associated with the group for 27 years, but hasn't been now since 1998. And as I said, he asked to be interviewed in shadow.


COOPER: Did The Family promote and then cover up the sexual abuse of children?

JAMES PENN, FORMER FAMILY MEMBER: Yes, the sexual abuse of children in the group came from the top down. It's evident in their writings. David Berg promoted it. He thought that was godly, and they, in their published writings, encouraged Family members to have sexual contact with children.

COOPER: And how would this -- I mean, was this done in groups? Was this done in private? Did everybody know about it? PENN: Anybody who read the literature had to know about it. There was no way you could avoid it. And it certainly went on. It was widespread.

COOPER: A spokeswoman for The Family told "The Los Angeles Times" that the group, and I quote -- "Came out of the '60s with a high degree of liberality on the sexual side. When we began to have children, the degree of liberality continued in some cases in homes in which Ricky Rodriguez lived. This was banned in 1986." They say The Family has changed its guidelines in '86 and they would excommunicate anyone who had sexual contact with children. Do you think this abuse is still going on?

PENN: No, there's no evidence that they're promoting it now, and I think that's the point that needs to be made clearly, because we don't need a witch-hunt here and further endangering young children. But to get back to your original point, they try to cast their defense in the fact that this happened in certain homes, and when they found out about it, they put a lid on it. But that's not the case. It was promoted by David Berg. It was promoted by Karen Zerby and Chris Smith, her husband...

COOPER: When you say promoted, what do you mean?

PENN: They told people do it. It went on in their house. They said that...

COOPER: What did they say? They said what?

PENN: They said that it is part of their law of love, which was some kind of doctrine they had. That it was perfectly OK to have sex with children. And as long as it didn't hurt anybody.

COOPER: So, an adult would have sex with the child, how old was the child?

PENN: It could range from 4 or 5, anywhere further up. I mean, once they let the genie out of the bottle, there was no control, and nobody really knows how much went on, except that it was widespread.

COOPER: Do you know for a fact that adults were having sex with 4, 5-year-old children or fondling them?

PENN: Yes, it's documented in a book, the Davinito (ph) book. There is documentation there of adults having sexual contact with Rick Rodriguez.

COOPER: You say you don't think it's happening now, but do they -- have they acknowledged in your opinion, enough of what went on in the past?

PENN: No. They've simply said that, well, we knew some of it happened and when we found out, we have put a lid on it. They have never acknowledged how widespread it was, and they've never acknowledged that they promoted it. And long after they officially sort of put a lid on it, they were promoting it privately, and it was going on in Zerby's house until the early '90s.

COOPER: You recently posted an apology to the second generation of Family members. In it, you wrote -- "As a first-generation member of the Family, I am guilty of building and maintaining a system that terrorized you. I created material that among other things, covered up the abuse of minors in the group and demonized many detractors. I was one of the oppressors." You stand by this?

PENN: Absolutely.

COOPER: You feel guilty about this?

PENN: Yes. I have great remorse.

COOPER: You knew Ricky Rodriguez. When he left the family, I understand he actually spent time with you. He lived with you for a short amount of time. What happened to him? What was going through his mind, do you think?

PENN: Well, he did come and stay with me. And he had nowhere to go, because no one could really understand him. He was sort of a freak show, because he'd been raised as this poster boy all his life and nobody really understood. And I'd been there. And so he asked me if he could come and stay. And he was -- he was going through a great deal of change in trying to sort things out. But he said himself in a letter he wrote to me, that his emotions, he had them on ice for so many years, and now he's getting in touch with them, and he was feeling great rage and great anger at what had happened to him and what had happened to thousands of other children in the group.

COOPER: Why do you not want your face shown?

PENN: I'm not terribly proud of my time in the group. And I am trying to build a new life.

COOPER: Did you ever abuse children when you were in the group?

PENN: That's a pretty invasive question, wouldn't you say?

COOPER: Well, you don't have to answer it. Just -- you were talking about the group. Is there anything about your own activities in the group that you regret?

PENN: Yes. A great deal. I regret my time in the group. I regret all of what I did. It's the sense of regretting much of what you did for your adult life.

COOPER: Is there anything else you want people to know, James?

PENN: I'd like people to know that there's thousands of young people who grew up in the group who have left, and have many, many problems. And there's a sense of rage there. And I think until there's open and honest acknowledgement of the widespread abuse that happened in the group on the behalf of the leaders, that nothing is really going to -- no healing is going to take place.

COOPER: James Penn, I appreciate you being with us. Thank you.

PENN: Thank you.

COOPER: Well, 360 next, we continue on this story, the so-called avenger. More of Ricky Rodriguez's last words on videotape. This tape was made just hours before he killed a former member and then killed himself. His dark message before the murder-suicide.


COOPER: As you've seen already, the young man whose strange, short life that we're talking about this evening, or talking around perhaps, left behind a chilling videotape. You can't call it a confession, really, because he'd not yet killed a woman who he knew from childhood and then himself, but he would. He would do that within hours.


RODRIGUEZ: The main reason is that I want there to be some record of the way I feel, my ideas, just who I was, really. I've met, got to know some ex-members here and there. Some more than others. I wanted to explain some of the things that I've been doing and thinking, and some of the frustrations that I've had. And anyway, I don't know. I'm just -- I guess it's my -- sort of my last grasp at immortality. I know that I'm not immortal and I know that this video is not going to make me so.


COOPER: All the while, he's loading cartridges, bullets into a clip. Ricky Rodriguez -- excuse me, Ricky Rodriguez was the heir apparent to the religious group known as The Family, also known as the Children of God before that.

A few minutes ago, we heard from one of the former members of the first generation of that group. Now let's hear from one of the younger generation about what happened to him, what he says happened to him. Here is my conversation earlier with Daniel Roselle, another former member of the group.


COOPER: In terms of abuse that you personally saw, that actually happened to you, what can you tell us? What can you describe?

DANIEL ROSELLE, FORMER FAMILY MEMBER: Well, I personally was abused at 7 years of age in Panama City, although The Family has certainly released statements denying that I was abused. This will happen, I suppose, if you come up and speak about the abuses that happened, especially if the people you are pointing to are the ones who consider themselves in a position to either confirm or deny whether you were abused.

COOPER: And in what context did this abuse happen? I mean, are you talking sexual abuse? ROSELLE: I'm referring specifically to an instance where I was abused during an orgy, a Family orgy in Panama City.

COOPER: So this is hard, I think, for myself, for a lot of people to understand. I mean, without going into sort of too graphic detail, I mean, why were you present at an orgy? You know, what was the situation?

ROSELLE: Well, briefly the history of The Family is that they started experimenting with sexual freedoms. First amongst themselves, and then using religious prostitution to appeal to outsiders and to gain converts to their cause. And then they extended this abuse to children.

It may seem (UNINTELLIGIBLE), and this maybe the difficulty that we've had over the last few years convincing people to listen to our story, but the fact of the matter is, that there are writings from The Family that describe just such abuses. They extended this sexual freedom to their very own children. And not only did they extend it to them, but they exchanged photographs of sex between children and adults. They filmed the videos of 3-year-olds and 6-year-olds and 13- year-olds dancing nude before the camera, and then they brought us into their sexual lives.

COOPER: Daniel, I want to read you a statement, you alluded to it before.


COOPER: This is a statement from The Family. I'm sure you probably heard it before.


COOPER: "The allegations forwarded by Daniel Roselle have no basis in fact. According to his parents, he never suffered any abuse during his time in The Family, and he had declared this openly prior to his engagement in his actions against The Family. We have a policy of investigating claims of abuse from our members and former members. Daniel never lodged a complaint or requested investigation."

Is that true? Did you ever lodge a complaint?

ROSELLE: Well, first of all, I would say that I've been speaking about the abuses for a long time. And let's address their claim that they have a system for addressing these abuses. And I would challenge whoever their spokesperson is, I would challenge them to present to whoever the media that they're speaking to, I would challenge them to present this system. We've been begging them. And when I say we, I say the victims that were abused. We have been begging them to come and show us, to talk to us about the abuses. I would challenge them to present to the media their system for dealing with this. There is no system that we've seen to date. There is no apology that we've seen to date.

COOPER: To your knowledge, has anyone been punished for any of the abuse?

ROSELLE: No. If punishment means to be excommunicated from their group, then this has happened, yes. But no one has been referred to the authorities. In fact, they seem to take efforts to hide these people, or if anything, to just try to pacify the victims one at a time, or to tell them to give it to God or turn it over to Jesus. But there has been no effort to reach out to us. In fact, we've been the ones reaching out to them for the last years.

COOPER: I know this is really tough for you, and I know this is not something you want to do. I know you don't want to be on TV, and I know you're doing it because of what happened to Ricky...


COOPER: ... and what you believe could happen to others who have grown up in (UNINTELLIGIBLE) there.


COOPER: And I know you still have family members in this, so it's a tough thing for you to talk about it. We really do appreciate you coming on tonight and talking about it. Thank you very much.

ROSELLE: Thank you, Anderson. I appreciate your time.

COOPER: As always, want to look at all sides, all the angles. Coming up next on 360, you're going to hear from a spokeswoman for The Family, speaking out about all these allegations and about what she says the group really is all about. What's fact? What's fiction? Covering all the angles, next.



ROSELLE: I would challenge them to present to the media their system for dealing with this. There is no system that we've seen to date. There is no apology that we've seen to date.


COOPER: That was Daniel Roselle, issuing a challenge to the group he left some years ago.

We've heard a lot about this religious group, The Family, this evening, but nothing much directly from them, until now. We are joined in Washington, D.C. by Clair Borowik, who is a spokesperson for the group. Appreciate you being with us, Ms. Borowik. Thanks very much.


COOPER: I want you to respond first to Daniel Roselle's challenge. What system do you have in place to make sure that sexual abuse doesn't continue to happen and to have accounting for what did happen?

BOROWIK: Well, it's very clear that we have a concrete system in place. Our communities came under investigation from 1989 to '93 by courts on three continents, who examined over 600 of our children and never found a single case of abuse.

COOPER: Actually, I mean...

BOROWIK: They were acquitted...

COOPER: I don't want to -- I know there was never a court case, but I mean, forensic officials, apparently, according to Reuters in Argentina, which did throw out the case, did say there were signs of anal and vaginal injuries in children.

BOROWIK: That was the first reports that came out in the media, but after that, those were denied and there was no indication at all. Basically...

COOPER: But do you say no abuse ever happened?

BOROWIK: No, I never said that. Actually, we have explained very clearly that prior to 1986, we did not have policies in place that would disable that kind of contact. We've had a liberal environment. And there were no stringent policies that had been laid down.

COOPER: Wait, I don't understand, though. I was alive in 1986 and even the '70s and late '60s. Why did you need a policy? I mean, most people don't need a policy saying don't have sex with 4-year- olds. That's, I mean, why do you need a stringent policy? Isn't that just kind of common sense?

BOROWIK: Well, the way our group operated, we have a belief that God created sexuality, and he created as something pure if it's done in a loving fashion. However, when this -- when the group first grew and evolved, there was not any rule system down for just a lot of things. So as the group evolved and grew, we put down stringent policies in 1986...

COOPER: Right. But I mean...

BOROWIK: ... forbidding any kind of contact between adults and minors.

COOPER: ... there wasn't a policy probably saying don't shoot yourself in the head, but people weren't shooting themselves in the head. Why -- I don't understand why you needed to write a policy if there wasn't rampant sexual abuse? Why do you need suddenly a policy in 1986?

BOROWIK: Well, there wasn't rampant sexual abuse, but some cases did come to light where there was contact going on or sexual improprieties that young people were uncomfortable with. When these cases surfaced, it became clear that there had to be a very stringent policies. Now, mainstream churches are just addressing this issue over the last five years. We addressed it two decades ago.

COOPER: Well, let me address that, because first of all, James Penn, the former member we talked to, former inner circle member, said that this was part of -- this was something promoted by David Berg, the founder, and all these people who have come forward say, you say you've addressed it, but you haven't named any names of people who had sex with children. And you haven't turned anyone over to the authorities, have you?

BOROWIK: You'd have to go on a case-by-case basis.

COOPER: Well, tell me any case...

BOROWIK: How could we do that...

COOPER: Tell me any case of the 10,000 or more members you have that you've turned over to the authorities for having sex with children.

BOROWIK: If there is an issue that needs to be turned over to the authorities, it's in the right of the parents, which we have clearly articulated.

COOPER: You just compared yourself to a religious group, so I am assuming you're talking about the Catholic Church, which has -- has, you know, whether they've done it rightly or wrongly or slowly, they have turned over names, and they have made apologizes, and they have revealed names. Have you?

BOROWIK: We have made apologizes actually. We've published official apologizes. One of those was made very public through a court case. We've published apologies on five (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

COOPER: Have you turned over anybody to the police? Have you named any names publicly?

BOROWIK: It would be up to the individuals involved. If they want to report somebody, if they feel that they were abused, it's in their court. We wouldn't be able to do that, because it would be a personal allegation by a person against an individual. And for example, Daniel Roselle, he was perfectly in his rights to go to court, if he felt the abuse took place, which his parents say did not occur.

COOPER: Right, he would say you're putting the emphasis on the alleged victim. You know, you as a religious order, perhaps would bear some responsibility to try to purge...

BOROWIK: Perhaps, Anderson, you have to understand how our fellowship is organized. We are small communities of people that live together. Each community is autonomous.

COOPER: Right.

BOROWIK: So when you talk about The Family, for example, Daniel lived with his family and maybe another family. So... COOPER: OK, so...

BOROWIK: It would be in his court to tell his parents, I was abused, which he never did until he began this campaign to bring harm to The Family.

COOPER: Clair Borowik...

BOROWIK: He had never said that before.

COOPER: OK. Well, we appreciate you being honest, being with us and talking frankly about this. Thank you very much, representative of The Family.

Let's get a quick preview of what is ahead on "PAULA ZAHN NOW" at the top of the hour -- Paula.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Anderson. Today, President Bush sat down with our own John King and talked about the need to improve U.S. intelligence, mainly human intelligence. And America's image in the Muslim world. We'll have that interview coming up. And our "Defending America" series looks at how some average Americans are protecting the nation from terrorists. And there's more than that, too, so I hope you stay tuned -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Paula, we'll see you in about five minutes. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Tonight, taking two little letters to "The Nth Degree."

Americans like to snicker at the British and their honorary titles. Sir Paul McCartney, Dame Judi Dench, Lord Archer. They do love their silly prefixes over there in England, don't they?

Luckily, we don't here in this country go for that sort of thing, except one. Here you have Dr. Condoleezza Rice, currently in the process of being confirmed as secretary of state. Dr. Rice cannot write prescriptions, of course, or read X-rays or take your blood pressure. She's called doctor, by some anyway, because she has a Ph.D., which is why he's called doctor too. After you've consulted Dr. Henry Kissinger here, if you want a second opinion, you might try Dr. Chaka Khan. Yes, thanks to an honorary degree from the Berkeley College of Music she too is entitled to be called doctor, if she insists.

Dr. Khan, meet Dr. Dylan, doctor of music, University of St. Andrew, Scotland, 2004. Dr. Bob, shake hands with Dr. Tyson, doctorate in human letters, Central Ohio State University, 1989. And Dr. Mike, we'd like to present Dr. Schwarzenegger, doctor of humane letters, University of Wisconsin, 1986.

As for Dr. Dre, well, he just calls himself that. Unless maybe on the sly he's a neurosurgeon or something.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's up, doc?


COOPER: In particular case, as in so many others, Bugs Bunny was far ahead of his time. Nowadays, you pretty much can call everyone doc.

I'm Anderson Cooper, bachelor of arts.

Prime-time coverage continues now with Paula Zahn -- Paula.

ZAHN: What, you haven't gotten your honorary doctorate yet?

COOPER: Not yet.

ZAHN: I'm going to get you one. I went home with one from Panopia (ph) College, and my children laughed -- not because of the institution, but they thought it was a pretty funny thing.

COOPER: Dr. Zahn, take it away.

ZAHN: Thank you, Anderson.


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