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BTK Killer Surfaces Again; Negroponte Nominated to Be Director of National Intelligence

Aired February 17, 2005 - 19:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, HOST: Good evening from New York. I'm Anderson Cooper.
A notorious serial killer surfaces again.

360 starts now.

The BTK killer continues to taunt police with new tantalizing clues. Tonight, do the killer's first victims hold a clue to his identity?


CHARLIE OTERO, FAMILY MEMBERS KILLED BY BTK: I think he's a rogue assassin.


COOPER: President Bush's surprise pick for the first national intelligence czar.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Pleased to announce my decision to nominate Ambassador John Negroponte as director of national intelligence.


COOPER: Tonight, presidential talking points on a historic nomination.

The mystery of Jeff Gannon. Why won't the White House answer the questions? How did this man, using a fake name, get to ask questions of the president?

A popular band teacher accused of molesting his students. Tonight, the school knew of previous allegations of sexual misconduct, so why did they allow him to continue teaching?

And our favorite Web crooner. Is this guy on the brink of stardom?

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

We begin tonight with a killer on the loose, a madman still out there, taunting police and reporters. He's known as the BTK killer because he binds, tortures, and kills his victims.

For more than 30 years, Wichita has lived in fear of those initials, and tonight it seems he has surfaced yet again, sending new clues about who he is and the lives he's taken.

CNN's Chris Lawrence has the latest.


CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): FBI investigators will be looking over every inch of this envelope, trying to confirm whether it's the latest message from the serial killer BTK.

LT. KEN LANDWEHR, BTK INVESTIGATOR: I still contend that this is our most challenging case, but I'm very pleased with the ongoing dialogue through these letters.

LAWRENCE: BTK's identity has challenged authorities and left people in Wichita, Kansas, concerned and confused.

MARSEE BATES, WICHITA RESIDENT: A teacher, a professor, could be a store owner, could be the guy next door. I, you know, I have no clue.

LAWRENCE: BTK has made contact nine times in the last year, sometimes through letters to police and media, in which he writes chapters to his life story. Other times, he leaves packages in public places, and police confirmed Thursday the most recent one contained a driver's license of one of his victims.

BTK stands for the tactics he used on the victims -- bind, torture, and kill. Police blame him for at least eight murders. starting in 1974 and ending about 12 years later. No one heard anything from BTK for 25 years, until he started communicating again last March.

The most recent package was delivered to a Wichita TV station Wednesday. It hasn't been positively linked to BTK yet, but did contain a picture, letter, and jewelry.

LANDWEHR: We are in the process of determining whether or not any of this jewelry belonged to the victims.

LAWRENCE: Police still don't know exactly who is sending these letters, but are encouraged by the communication and expect one day to question the writer face to face.

Chris Lawrence, CNN, Wichita.


COOPER: Well, they've been hoping that for a long time.

The BTK's killer's crime wave began on a winter day back in 1974. His first victim wasn't just one person, it was a family, the Otero family, a mother, a father, a sister, and a brother. Charlie Otero was just 15 years old back then. He'd been at school all day and returned home to find his family dead.

I spoke to Charlie Otero earlier, and I began by asking him what he saw when he first entered his house on that terrible day 31 years ago.

CHARLIE OTERO, FAMILY MEMBERS KILLED BY BTK: Well, when I stepped inside the house, I just got this feeling, you know, probably -- I probably smelled the death before I realized what I was smelling.

And then I saw my mom's stove in disarray. Her purse, belongings were spilled on it. My mom's kept a very clean kitchen. And I knew that was wrong.

At that point, I yelled, Is anybody home? And I heard yelling from my parents' room, and it was my younger brother and sister crying out to me, yelling and screaming, Charlie, come quick, Mom and Dad are playing a bad trick on us.

COOPER: And when you ran into the room...


COOPER: ... what did you see?

OTERO: Oh, when I went back in there, I saw a horrible sight. It was, like, out of some horror movie. My brother and my sister were there holding my parents, crying. The room smelled of death and fear. And my parents were laying -- well, one was on the bed, the other was on the floor. They were tied up. My father's tongue was half bit off. His eyes were bulging. Man, it was rough.

COOPER: And I mean, when you saw this, I, I, I mean, you're 15 years old, what did you do?

OTERO: I grabbed my brother and sister, and thought right away to get them out of the house for nothing else, for their sanity. When I -- and then I ran for the kitchen and grabbed a knife and started to go through the house at first, and then realized that it was more important to get my brother and sister out of the house. I got my little brother to run next door to call the police while I comforted my sister...

COOPER: Why do you think...


COOPER: ... I mean, why do you think this happened to your parents, to your brother and sister?

OTERO: I believe that it had to do with my father's activities while we were living in South America. And I believe that the torture and the deaths of my family were implemented to make my father talk, it was a torture-for-information death.

COOPER: What, to talk about what? I mean, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) had, what had he, what had he done in South (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

OTERO: What my father had been doing, whatever it was he had been doing in South America, that's what I believe. I don't...

COOPER: Was your father...


COOPER: ... in the military, or...

OTERO: ... believe -- My father was a, yes, my father was an air commando, then he was an instructor the Interamerican Air Force Academy. He was always gone. But there were several instances leading up to their murder that had -- that give you reason to believe all this.

COOPER: What sort of incidences?

OTERO: He had tried to give me his ring that had been given to him by his father when he had joined the military. My father had that ring all his adult life. And he told me, he took it off his finger, and he handed it to me, and he says, I want you to have this in case something happens to me.

COOPER: Do you feel like you know what happened inside your home when they were killed? I mean, I know in the years since, you've, you've looked into the case, you've read files.

OTERO: I have a feeling that I kind of know how it went down. And believe me, it's tormented me for 30 years. I go to bed at night and I can hear the screams, I can sense the fear and the terror that they've had. And I wish I knew exactly what went on, so that I wouldn't create these situations in my head. Because, man, it gets heavy. You know, and I can't stop living it.

COOPER: What do you think? I mean, when you hear news reports about, you know, the BTK killer, and there have been other victims, how do you see it now? What do you think? Who do you think this guy is?

OTERO: I think he's a rogue assassin. I think what happened was, is, he was brought up here to get the information from my father and kill him, and that he liked what went down. And he got off on it and decided he was going to make it his career.

COOPER: Why, 25 years later, do you think this guy is back, suddenly sending, you know, communications to media, to police, sending clues?

OTERO: I think he's trying to relive his old fling that he had with his -- with the serial killing and with the murder of my family. And that he -- I think he's in -- (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- seeking attention. You know, I think he gets off on that.

COOPER: Do you think he's -- he'll kill again?

OTERO: I pray to God that something inside him will see that he doesn't need to to make his point, that he is a, you know, a killer, and, that he has his -- the ability to, but, you know, I hope he doesn't. And, if he does try, I hope to God that somebody gets ahold of him instead.

COOPER: Well, Charlie, I'm sorry for what you've been through, and I appreciate you being with us.

OTERO: Thank you very much.

COOPER: And the investigations continue.

Arnold Schwarzenegger goes to Washington. That tops our look at news right now cross-country.

On Capitol Hill, California's Governor Schwarzenegger, who called himself the Collectinator during the campaign, in Washington today looking for help with his state's $8 billion budget gap.

Take you to Baltimore, Maryland, now, a guilty verdict against a defrocked priest in an unusual sex abuse case. Maurice Blackwell could go to prison for 45 years. You may remember that back in May of 2002, the abuse victim, Dante Stokes (ph), shot Blackwell. Stokes was tried but acquitted on charges of attempted murder.

Santa Maria, California, now, Michael Jackson pulled a fast one last night. His doctor said he would stay in the hospital another night, recovering from the flulike symptoms. Not long after the doctor said that, Jackson left the hospital in this black SUV.

And Orlando, Florida, police say, well, police say that was a bomb made and set off by a high school student who learned how to do it from his chemistry teacher. The teacher has now been arrested.

And we take you to Atlanta, Georgia. Some lawmakers are worried that kids are getting too fat, and they want a student's body mass index on report cards as a wakeup call to parents. New York and Texas are considering similar plans. Arkansas already does it.

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

360 next, unanswered questions at the White House about Jeff Gannon. Actually his real name is James Guckert. How could, how could he get a White House credential? And did the president know he was using an alias when the guy was asking him a question? Covering all the angles.

Plus, Exorcism 101. The Vatican sending their priests to learn how to chase demons away. We'll take you inside the classroom.

And later, a band teacher accused of sexually molesting students, and a small town torn apart by the allegations, some people sticking with him.

All that ahead. First, your picks, the most popular stories right now on


COOPER: These days in Washington politics, it's rare for one of President Bush's nominees to get lots of praise from both sides of the aisle. But today, even top Democratic leaders applauded his choice for the new position of director of national intelligence. The president has tapped John Negroponte, a man who's no stranger to difficult situations. He's currently the U.S. ambassador to Iraq. Before that, he was the ambassador to the U.N. during the rocky months leading to the war in Iraq.

Negroponte has indicated the new job will not be easy.


JOHN NEGROPONTE, NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE DIRECTOR NOMINEE: I appreciate your confidence in choosing me for what will no doubt be the most challenging assignment I have undertaken.


COOPER: Well, if confirmed by the Senate, Negroponte will oversee the nation's 15 intelligence agencies.

Now, during today's news conference to introduce Negroponte, President Bush opened the floor to all types of questions. But watching the press conference, we kept noticing the president sure does know how to stick to his talking points.


COOPER (voice-over): Talking point number one, the White House is working.

BUSH: We work with friends like we're doing.

We will work with the Europeans...

... continue to work with the world...

We want to walk with you on it.

COOPER: Talking point number two, the White House is making progress.

BUSH: I'd like to see more progress...

... because progress is being made.

There needs to be progress for democracy...

... and so there's a lot of progress that can be made. Well, people didn't think there could be progress.

I think there can be progress and we'll continue to work that progress...

COOPER: Talking point number three, it's progress to democracy.

BUSH: ... to develop the institutions necessary for democracy.

How can we help you develop a democracy?

Every speech I've given on democracy is...

I fully recognize that democracy will advance at a...

... in which democracy is moving.

COOPER: And finally, make sure the press plays nicely.

BUSH: Let's see, have I gone through all the TV personalities yet?

... face made for radio, I might add.


BUSH: If you don't raise your hand, does that mean you don't have a question?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not necessarily.

BUSH: OK, good. Because you didn't raise your hand.

COOPER: After all, you got to make sure the press is jotting down all those talking points.


COOPER: Well, the Bush White House is famous for sticking to its talking points. They're the ones who perfected the practice of printing a point of the president's message behind him, you know, when he makes visits around the country.

They're also the ones who paid radio talk show hosts and columnists to shill for their message.

And now they're the ones being asked to answer some questions about how a man using a phony name could repeatedly be allowed into the White House press room and even be called on to ask a question by the president.


COOPER (voice-over): Here's what's known about the man who called himself Jeff Gannon. His real name isn't Gannon. In fact, it's not even Jeff. It's James Guckert. The news organization he works for is an online conservative Web site called Talon News, owned by a Republican activist. It claims to be, well, fair and balanced, but as you can tell by the question Gannon -- we mean, Guckert -- asked the president, their point of view is pretty clear.

JEFF GANNON: Hillary Clinton was talking about the economy being on the verge of collapse. Yet in the same breath, they say that Social Security is rock-solid and there's no crisis there. How are you going to work -- you've said you're going to reach out to these people. How are you going to work with people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality?

COOPER: After he got the rare chance to ask the president that question, liberal bloggers began to ask, Who is this guy? They discovered that he's been active online in some surprising ways.

Several gay-porn Web sites were registered to him to what he calls a private client, and a man who looks an awful lot like him seems to have advertised online as an escort, $200 an hour.

So how did a guy with a phony name, who wasn't a real reporter, repeatedly get into the White House and talk with the president?

The White House hasn't really explained. White House spokesman Scott McClellan's response was, quote, "When you have changing media, it's not an easy issue to decide or try to pick and choose who is a journalist. It gets into the issue of advocacy journalism. Where do you draw the line?"

Gannon quit Talon News and denies he's done anything wrong.

GANNON: Talon News is a legitimate conservative online news service. And my questions are things that my readers, 700,000 daily subscribed readers, want the answer to.

COOPER: Democrats on Capitol Hill have some questions they want answered as well. Was Gannon a plant, a reliable source of softball questions at briefings and press conferences?

And perhaps even more seriously, was he fed inside information in the case of a CIA officer whose identity was revealed? An angle the blogosphere has only just begun to dig into.


COOPER: Howard Kurtz, "The Washington Post" and CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES" has been covering the Gannon story. I talked to him earlier.

Howard, where does this story go from here? I mean, what questions still remain unanswered?

HOWARD KURTZ, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, we probably already know a lot more than any of us expected to know about Jeff Gannon's personal life. I didn't go into journalism, frankly, to be looking at Web sites like

But leaving that aside, there are lots of questions, which the White House hasn't fully answered, about how this guy got the credentials to get into the White House on a daily basis for almost two years, whether he used his legal name, James Guckert, as opposed to his stage name, so to speak, who in the White House knew about this, and whether they viewed him as somebody who was a -- not just a sympathetic conservative reporter, there are liberal reporters at the White House as well, but somebody who was a reliable ally in the Bush administration's effort to get out its message?

COOPER: You know, there are some who will see this, no doubt, as just, you know, liberal bloggers attacking this guy because he's conservative.

A conservative columnist wrote, Bruce Bartlett, wrote this, quote, "Having worked in the White House, I can assure everyone that not only would it be impossible to get a White House pass using an alias, it is impossible even to get past the gate for an appointment using an alias. Thorough FBI background checks are required for the former and a picture ID is necessary for the latter. Therefore, if Gannon was using an alias, White House staff had to be involved in maintaining his cover."

Do you believe that? I mean, what I don't get is how this guy entered the White House using one name, using, you know, James Guckert on his pass, and then switched to Jeff Gannon to ask questions of the president.

KURTZ: Well, the White House says, and Jeff Gannon told me, that he did not have a permanent White House pass, what's just called a hard pass. That requires several months of a full-blown FBI background check. As far as getting cleared in on a daily basis, I mean, I've been cleared into the White House a hundred times. He just did it every single day. That doesn't require the level of investigation.

But the question you raise is still the one hanging out there, which is, were the rules somehow bent for Jeff Gannon because he was obviously very sympathetic to President Bush in his coverage? And how much did the White House know about his background? And if he did use his legal name for the pass, why did everybody kind of play along with the pseudonym that he had preferred to use when he worked Talon News and for GOPUSA, these two Web sites that are owned by a Republican activist?

COOPER: How much of his personal life do you think should come into play in this story? I mean, bloggers have been delving into this guy's personal life. Is that fair game?

KURTZ: Well, I think it's certainly fair to say that liberal bloggers have declared cyberwar on Jeff Gannon because they don't like his politics, and they don't like his writing about gay issues, although he denied to me that he was antigay. He's written articles that say things like, John Kerry will be the first gay president because of his high rating from gay advocacy groups.

On the other hand, you know, once he didn't use his real name, and once liberal bloggers discovered that it was, in fact, a fake name that he was using professionally, I suppose it was inevitable in the age of where we can click on anything and find out about anything that anybody's put online, that we would learn about these racy sites where Jeff Gannon put up pictures of himself not always wearing clothes. We didn't...

COOPER: I guess also...

KURTZ: ... publish any of these, but we wrote about it.

COOPER: ... there are some question about whether he was working as an escort as well, or there are certainly been a made allegations about that. And, I guess, that would come into play as well if he...

KURTZ: The guy who designed-...


KURTZ: ... the original Web site for Jeff Gannon airs and told me that it was designed, at the client's request, as a gay escort site.

But, on the other hand, if this is now fair game in the increasingly partisan warfare that envelops Washington, does that mean that other journalists who have had extramarital affairs or anything in their personal background that they wouldn't necessarily want to see splashed across the media, is that now going to be dug into by people who don't like their politics?

So I wonder a little bit whether we've entered slippery-slope territory.

COOPER: A good question to end it on. Howard Kurtz, thanks very much.

KURTZ: Thank you.

COOPER: 360 next, fighting evil spirits, Exorcism 101, a new class for priests.

Plus, a town's school sex scandal. Beloved teacher accused of sexually abusing students. His supporters call it a witch hunt. Police call it justice.

And later, a newborn baby with a life-threatening heart defect. Doctor with a big heart comes to the rescue and makes medical history.



MAX VON SYDOW, ACTOR: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, by this sign of the Holy Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit.



COOPER: Uhhh, I don't want to see that. A creepy scene there from the movie "The Exorcist."

Now, to be honest, we thought exorcism kind of went out with Linda Blair and fondue and key parties and all that '70s stuff. But turns out they didn't. In fact, the Roman Catholic Church is concerned that a growing number of young people are participating in Satanic practices. So a university linked with the Vatican has opened a new course, a class, to help priests expel demons.

Here's CNN's Rome bureau chief, Alessio Vinci.


ALESSIO VINCI, CNN ROME BUREAU CHIEF: If you took comfort in telling yourself, Well, it was just a movie, beware. The Vatican says people really do become possessed by evil spirits.

And experts say there's a growing interest in Satanic practices. In some cases in Italy, they have included sacrificial killings.

Worried about what some call do-it-yourself Satanism, the Vatican is sending priests like Father Christopher Barack back to school to learn how to deal with demons.

REV. CHRISTOPHER BARACK, STUDENT: You do see some strange things, facial expressions that are very bizarre, and noises coming out of their mouth that are very unnatural, contortions of their body. You can see that happening in exorcisms. And I've seen some of that myself.

VINCI: Father Christopher, from Lincoln, Nebraska, is attending the Vatican's first course on exorcism and Satanism, held by experienced exorcists eager to share their knowledge with fellow priests.

BARACK: Hopefully a deeper insight into the demonic, into what people knew if -- you know, how they get involved with this, how it bothers them, what are the experiences of exorcists that have been doing this for many years? What do they see?

VINCI: At the end of this first day in class, Father Christopher is coming away with a first lesson learned.

BARACK: He was talking about when the devil shows himself through these prayers for deliverance or through exorcism -- through manifestation, noises, faces -- that as he shows himself, it's a sign that he's losing power and he's being driven away, basically.

VINCI: Father Christopher will not become an exorcist with just a two-month course. It takes a lot longer than that, and, say the teachers, a special closeness to God. Yet, even that, at times, appears to be not enough.

(on camera): The pope himself is reported to have performed a few exorcisms, his last, on a 19-year-old woman here in St. Peter's Square five years ago during a papal mass. She's said to have started writhing uncontrollably and swearing loudly. The pope then reportedly prayed on her for half an hour, but failed to chase away the demon.

Alessio Vinci, CNN, Rome.


COOPER: Well, staying overseas, Iraq election's results are certified. Tops our look at global stories in the uplink.

The Shi'ite Alliance won 140 seats in last month's elections, giving it a slim majority in the new assembly. The Alliance will need the help of other parties to select a new president as well as two vice presidents.

On Mars, life, perhaps. reports that two NASA scientists say they have found strong evidence that there may be life tucked away in caves on the red planet in the form of tiny microbes. Not exactly little green men. The Web site says the scientists will publish their findings in May.

Northwestern England, fox trot, hunters on horseback with their dogs by their side spent their last day tracking down their favorite game. Beginning tomorrow, the centuries-old sport of fox huntering with dogs will be banned. Hunters are challenging the new law, however.

And that's tonight's uplink.

A popular band teacher accused of molesting his students. Tonight, the school knew of previous allegations of sexual misconduct. So why did they allow him to continue teaching?

And our favorite Web crooner. Is this guy on the brink of stardom?

360 continues.


COOPER: BEA, Illinois is a proud blue collar community. A growing Chicago suburb where life is generally peaceful. But these days the community is stunned by allegations of sexual abuse. A popular band teacher is under arrest, accused of turning young students into virtual prisoners and then molesting them. And as CNN's Randi Kaye reports, some say the school district knew for years this teacher was trouble.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Burlington Northern Railroad cuts right through the heart of Berwyn, Illinois. The tracks aren't the only thing cutting the town in two, in the last few weeks, Berwyn has been turn apart by searing allegations. The headlines tell the story: Sex photos, elementary school students bound and gagged, a teacher accused. Parents want answers.

BRANKO BOJOVIC, ANGRY PARENT: And to have my own daughter in that class really struck me. It was a really dark, sinking feeling inside that I had as a parent.

KAYE: And at the school board, anger.

TAMMY ORTIZ, ANGRY PARENT: Your role as a mandated reporter is to inform a department when you determine there is reason to believe that a child is being harmed, or in danger or being harmed physically, sexually or through neglect. That was not done.


KAYE: What is alleged to have happened in Berwyn is a parent's worst fear, an elementary school band teacher, beloved and respected in the community, suddenly accused of heinous crimes. His name is Robert Sperlick. He grew up in Berwyn and has been teaching band here for 18 years.

(on camera): Sperlick worked at 6 of the 7 schools in district 100, including this one, Pershing Elementary. He taught both full classes and one on one. The district also allowed him to hold private sessions in his own basement.

(voice-over): Sperlick is accused of using duct tape to tie down young girls, some as young as 10, then sexually molesting him. Police say he touched their bra straps and rubbed himself against them as they sat pinned and helpless.

FRANK MARZULLO, BERWYN PUBLIC SAFETY DIRECTOR: It's alleged that students were duct-taped and tied with a rope to chairs during class, their mouths were duct-taped. You know, they were locked in closets as they were duct-taped during sessions with the teacher, and that some of the times, there was some inappropriate touching done by -- allegedly done by the band instructor.

KAYE: Public safety instructor Frank Marzullo says a search of Sperlick's home turn up dozens of bondage tapes, also computer images of adults bound with duct-tape believed to have been downloaded by Sperlick.

JOHN LOEVY, PLAINTIFF'S LAWYER: He tried to make it like a game. I mean, I don't know how you sell to an 11-year-old girl that duct- taping is part of band practice.

KAYE: Lawyer John Loevy is representing 3 of Sperlick's alleged victims in a civil lawsuit. In all, more than a dozen have contacted police, though none have chosen to speak publicly. All, according to Loevy, have similar stories.

LOEVY: He used duct-tape to bind their hands, both in front of them and behind them. Bind their mouths, bind their bodies. By all indications, he got sexual gratification from restraining young girls.

KAYE: Even as the accusations rock this suburban community another disturbing allegation school officials may have been alerted to Sperlick as early as 1999 and done little or nothing to stop him, according to investigators. Police say that after arresting Sperlick, they found two letters of reprimand in his personnel file, disciplining him for inappropriate touching.

LOEVY: What they did was they reprimanded the teacher. They told the teacher you have to find a way to learn to teach without touching students. You have to leave your door open if you're going to be alone with students. You got to be alone with just one girl, you have to have at least two or three girls.

KAYE: One of Loevy's clients was the first girl to make accusations against Sperlick. Loevy says she spoke up years ago hen she wrote a letter to the school. According to Loevy, the girl's parents were led to believe it was benign touching. Case closed.

LOEVY: But it shouldn't have had to wait 5 years so that so many students could be victimized.

KAYE: How is it that a teacher reprimanded for inappropriate touching was allowed to continue teaching without a word to police?

(on camera): If you look back, and there was the slightest possibility, slightest possibility that a young girl had been assaulted in any way in a room in that school, should something have been done?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most definitely.

KAYE: Besides a letter of reprimand?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know that now. We certainly do know that now.

KAYE (voice-over): In Illinois, the law requires that anyone aware of inappropriate conduct, report it.

(on camera): But it is clear in this state that the school never notified the Berwyn police and never notified the Department of Children and Family Services.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's correct.

KAYE (voice-over): School officials have said previously circumstances did not require notification. We wanted to know more about the first complaint, but no one with the school district would discuss the matter with CNN.

JOANNE ZENDOL, SCHOOL BOARD PRESIDENT: We are not hiding anything. We are cooperating with local police and Cook County state attorneys.

LOEVY: But to not take it then to the next step and report it the appropriate authorities leads to the conclusion that something went very, very wrong at that school.

KAYE: But that's also what Sperlick's defenders say.

WILLIAM HEDRICK, SPERLICK'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: He did not commit any of the crimes charged. Period.

PATRICIA PAOLICCHI, BERWYN PARENT: There's just no way that he's capable of the type of behavior that people are alleging.

KAYE: A surprising number of parents are convinced accused child molester Robert Sperlick is being railroaded.


COOPER: And when we come back, we are going to hear from those parents. Part two of Randi Kaye's report. Hear from some parents and students who believe that the accusations against their teacher are more frenzy than fact.

Later also, the story of a tiny baby at first, given no chance of survival. That's a baby right there, very small. All that has changed, thanks to one brave doctor willing to take a life changing risk.

And a much lighter story, our favorite Internet crooner. Remember him? Well, he's hitting the big time. We're going to take that to the Nth Degree.


COOPER: We take you back -- back now to Berwyn, Illinois, the Chicago suburb which is reeling from alleges that a band teacher, Robert Sperlick, was secretly molesting students at six different schools. In part two of her report, CNN's Randi Kaye found a large number of parents and students who are standing behind Sperlik. Nothing they have heard so far, and they have heard a lot, resembles the man they say they've know for years.


KAYE: Robert Sperlik, beloved band teacher, long-time friend of the community of Berwyn, Illinois, now being painted as a child molester.

LOEVY: It's not one girl in isolation accusing the teacher, there are a number of different girls making these accusations over a period of years. Girls who, you know, aren't friends and have no particular connection to each other are telling a similar account of this kind of abuse..

KAYE: Sperlik, is accused of preying on his own elementary school students. He's been teaching band here for nearly two decades. Now he's facing more than 100 allegations of abuse, including molesting girls a young as 10, tying them down with duct tape, gagging them, and rubbing himself against him.

KAYE (on camera): Who here has serious doubts about the charges that are now facing Robert Sperlik. OK.

(voice-over): Some of Sperlik's greatest supporters, Berwyn parents, even some of his students describe him as a gentle soul, nurturing. They invited us to hear their side of the story.

DEB LYNCH, BERWYN PARENT: But I do know my heart harbors no suspicion of wrong doing whatsoever based on the interactions, the encounters I have had with him for many years in the school district, and my three children have through their musical careers.

KAYE: Listened to who they think the real Robert Sperlik is and who thy say he doesn't belong in jail.

PATRICIA PAOLICCHI, BERWYN PARENTS: He's a wonderful man. He's a great teacher, and, when I first heard this, I couldn't believe it.

FRANK MASTNY, BERWYN PARENT: I think the community has a wonderful asset in Bob Sperlik. Someone who's -- who's able to take young kids who don't know anything about instruments and find ways to encourage them. He can make them believe that they are doing -- doing well and improving.

ELENA LYNCH, SPERLIK'S STUDENT: It's just like he's a regular guy. I mean, he might ask you how your day went like any other normal teacher would.

KAYE: Was there ever any strange behavior in your opinion?

E. LNYCH: No. All regular, you know. He was just another human being.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hope he has a really good lawyer.

KAYE: He may need one. In a matter of weeks, since the first allegation surfaces, this peaceful suburban Chicago community has been turned upside down. Police on one side of the microphone.

FRANK MARZULLO, BERWYN PUBLIC SAFETY DIRECTOR: He has admitted to us, in writing, that he -- the things that he did with his students, he did for his own sexual gratification.

KAYE: Sperlik's defense attorney on the other side, questioning the legitimacy of any confession.

WILLIAM HENDRICK, SPERLIK'S DEFENSE LAWYER: He did not commit any of the crimes charges, period. They walked him clear across on open parking lot in front of a host of film cameras and photographers, solely for the purpose of maximizing their leak that day of their tidbit of evidence to maximize their charges that day. They used my client as a prop in a dog and pony show.

KAYE: The media, the school district, and the community all caught in the middle. At times, turning a small working class community into a circus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What kind of teacher was he? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is insane. Am I the only person you guys can talk to.

KAYE: Sperlik's lawyer calls what's happening here the mob mentality. His other defenders call it a witch hunt. Police and prosecutors call it justice.

SANDRA BLAKE, PROSECUTOR: At least, on one occasion, he put a rag in her mouth and then taped over her mouth. He also touched her breasts, her thighs, and shoulders with his hands. All of the acts of binding the victim and touching her were performed by him for his own sexual arousal.

KAYE (on camera): Here in Pershing Elementary is where the case begins. Back in 1999, a 10-year-old girl wrote a letter, which was given to her school principal. In that letter, according to the lawsuit, the girl stated that her band teacher, Mr. Sperlik, had bound her with duct tape during a private clarinet lesson and molested her.

(voice-over): As with other cases involving similar allegations, a larger question looms here. Are these girls telling the truth, do they remember clearly what happened? Could they have been coached or led by investigators? Experts say it's happened before.

(on camera): Are you every at all concerned that investigators or therapists or whoever might be talking to these kids, lead them to say what they're saying?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These aren't young children anymore. These are teenagers now. They are in high school, who in fact, just didn't know what inappropriate conduct meant back then.

KAYE: So, you're not worried at all about leading children?


KAYE (voice-over): So, where does Berwyn go from here. If the crimes did occur, it's a tragedy, far worst if it's found nothing was done about it.

And what about Robert Sperlik?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think his spirit is broken. No matter what comes out of this, he will not view himself doing music with students in the same way every again. A broken spirit is a hard thing, you can't recover from that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's his life. His whole life is at stake right now.

KAYE: And what if he is innocent. Is there any risk that this might be pile on, in your opinion, and possibly even a witch hunt as some parents might refer to it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, there's always a fear, whenever anybody's accuse, that you want to make sure the person is guilty. In this case, from what we've seen, the evidence is powerful.

KAYE: Whatever the evidence, Berwyn has lost its innocence. It is now a town divided and will likely never been the same.

Randi Kaye, CNN, Berwyn, Illinois.


COOPER: And we'll continue to follow the story and bring you some updates.

Coming up next on 360, a premature baby with a damaged heart, the size of a grape, and a doctor with a big heart who saved his life. A remarkable story.

Also, tonight, he's back. That's right. And now he's everywhere. We're going to take our favorite lip-syncer to "The Nth Degree."


COOPER: We try not to use the term "medical miracle" very often. On TV, people throw that term around far too much, we think. But the story you're about to hear, well, miracle seems pretty accurate. Dr. Sanjay Gupta reports on the surgery that saved the life of Maria Lourdes' baby son, a life that began much, much too soon.


MARIA LOURDES, JERRICK'S MOTHER: What if I just pray hard that my baby reaches two pounds?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Baby Jerrick was born weighing around just a pound, and he also had a life- threatening heart defect. Doctors told his mother Maria, who is also a pediatrician, to abandon hope.

LOURDES: I told them, you know, like, so, you're not giving me any options here, you know, what is it that you want to do -- what's the plan for the baby? It was very difficult. I was blocking a lot. And I was just saying, you know, like -- I was just surrendering whatever comes.

GUPTA: But there was one option left, and his name -- Dr. Mohan Reddy, a pediatric heart surgeon at Stanford and the only one willing to do the operation. In a last-ditch effort, Jerrick was airlifted up the California coast. He was just a week old. Jerrick suffered from what the surgeons call transposition of the great arteries -- simply, the large blood vessel that is supposed to take oxygenated blood to the body was switched with the blood vessel that takes blood to the lungs. And the body was literally starving for air. Fixing it would be risky, but the alternative was almost certain death.

DR. V. MOHAN REDDY, LUCILE PACKARD CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: Just to give you an idea, we just took a picture of the baby with a finger next to the chest, and the whole baby's chest is pretty much the size of my finger. And the incision is probably the tip of my finger. That's how big the chest, the whole chest, is.

GUPTA: And the heart?

REDDY: I would say probably the size of, you know, moderate- sized grape, maybe even smaller.

GUPTA: Still, after six hours, Dr. Reddy and his team completed a medical first. They switched the arteries back on what they believe is the smallest baby ever to survive this procedure, and at the same time pushed back even further the boundaries of life and death.

REDDY: When you do cardiac surgery in children, you are always living on the edge. And unless you take risks, you are not going to advance the field in order to make progress.

GUPTA: In this case, progress is measured in a healthy baby and a happy mother.

REDDY: It's very joyous, in the sense that it's very satisfying that we can help this little tiny baby.

LOURDES: I'm a mother. I think I was always looking for the good side of it.


GUPTA: Really incredible stuff there. And I should point out, as well, at Stanford, they do a lot of fetal surgeries; they do a lot of cardiac surgery, heart surgery while babies are actually still in the womb.

Give you a sense how difficult this is, I brought some props here, but this grapefruit is about the size of what the baby is, and the doctor mentioned that a grape, one grape, that's the size of the heart, actually doing surgery on something this small. Really challenging, but really looks like the baby is doing really well.

COOPER: That is amazing. All right. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks.

GUPTA: Thank you.

COOPER: Coming up next, let's find out what's happening on "PAULA ZAHN NOW" -- Paula.

PAULA ZAHN, HOST, "PAULA ZAHN NOW": Oh, a lot, Anderson tonight, thanks. How is it that you can get your hands on a gun so powerful it can punch a hole in steel plate one inch thick from a half a mile away? And almost anyone can buy one, no questions asked, no paperwork, no registration, no background check. We'll look at the fearsome .50 caliber rifle and find out why it is so easy to buy these days.

And, I'll also be talking with a man who has been talking to the BTK serial killer. As you know, Anderson, this is a case that went cold for many, many years. Well, the guy's talking, and he's using the media in a big time way, and we'll find out more about that tonight.

COOPER: Such a scary case.

ZAHN: Yeah, it really is.

COOPER: All right, Paula, thanks very much. All that in about five minutes from now.

Still to come tonight on 360, well, maybe you saw him here first. Now, you can see him all over the dial. That's right. This guy's going big. We predict big things for him. We'll take him to "The Nth Degree."


COOPER: Finally tonight, taking a little lip synching to "The Nth Degree."

Leave it to a bespectacled young man to introduce us to Rumanian techno. We first showed you him last Friday. We didn't know his name, but we knew he had some pretty sweet dance moves.

Almost a week later, he's now a cyber star, turning his unique groove into fame.


COOPER (voice-over): It all started so simply. This guy, sitting in front of his webcam, lip synching a little tune. He's a 19-year-old from New Jersey. And the sing he is sort of singing is "Love in the Linden Trees," a Rumanian rock song. It has a nice beat, and you can definitely dance to it, but it's Gary's enthusiasm that has attracted so much attention.

He put it up on his Internet site, where more than a million people have seen it. It was discovered by blogger after blogger after blogger, and suddenly Gary is a cyber super star, mixing it up on the morning shows with a profile piece on "Today."

MATT LAUER, HOST, TODAY SHOW: But a video made by a teenager from New Jersey is finding itself in the e-mail boxes everywhere.

COOPER: He also had a live appearance on "Good Morning America."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My uncle actually got an e-mail from one of his friends, and my uncle opened it up, and he didn't even realize it was me at first.

COOPER: And a couple of airings right here on 360.

(on camera): Now, we love this guy's exuberance, but he's definitely not ready for prime-time. Watch and enjoy.

(voice-over): So, now, Gary, the lip synching cyber guy is doing his Numa Numa dance and riding his 15 minutes of fame from the Net to the networks. A perfect example of how sometimes story just takes on a life of its own "Inside the Box."


COOPER: And that's 360 for tonight. Thanks for watching. I'm Anderson Cooper. CNN's prime-time live continues now with "PAULA ZAHN NOW" -- Paula.

ZAHN: He's got nothing on you, Anderson, when it comes to dancing. Thank you so much.


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