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Interview with Carolyn Jessop; Floods Continue To Cause Trouble In Atlantic States

Aired September 2, 2006 - 12:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: "Now in the News," fierce winds, storm surges and rain, lots of it, along both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts as Hurricane John roars through Mexico's Baja Peninsula. Tourists miss a direct hit, but there are still warnings of flash floods and mudslides. We've got the latest details in about seven minutes.
And along the Eastern seaboard, remnants of Ernesto slowing down, but the systems is still dumping plenty of rain from North Carolina to New York. At least six deaths are blamed on the storm. We're watching floods an evacuation along its path. Reports from Virginia and Maryland coming up in one minute.

British troops have been killed in the crash of a NATO aircraft in Southern Afghanistan, that according to the British Defense Ministry, the incident so far is being blame on the a technical problem rather than hostile action.

And 16 men are in custody on terror charges in Britain this morning. Most of them were picked up at this Chinese restaurant in South London. Police say 14 of the arrests stem from an investigation into terror training and recruitment. None of the arrests are connected to the alleged plot to blow up passenger planes over the Atlantic Ocean.

In Tehran, U.N. Chief Kofi Annan met this morning with Iran's foreign minister. Annan says he spent most of the time trying to get Iran's support for resolution ending the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah. Reuters is reporting that the foreign minister offered full cooperation in supporting the resolution.

We update the top stories every 15 minutes on CNN LIVE Saturday, your next update is coming up at 12:15 Eastern.

Straight ahead this hour, flood warnings along the East Coast and a hurricane roaring along Mexico's Pacific Coast. We'll have the latest, live.

Inside the mind of a cult leader. How did Warren Jeffs get his followers to give him everything they had?

Also, Tom Cruise apologizes to Brooke Shields. Is it sincere or a publicity stunt?

From the CNN Center in Atlanta, I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Welcome to CNN LIVE SATURDAY. It is a soggy Labor Day weekend along the East Coast. Even in decline, Ernesto is leaving its mark. Flash floods, wind damage, and at least six deaths. We begin our storm coverage with meteorologist Rob Marciano in Poquoson, Virginia.


ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Conditions here in Eastern Virginia slowly improving now that the rain for the most part has stopped as what's left of Ernesto heads pretty far to the north. But what a drenching rain we had here in Eastern Virgiania with rainfall tallies up and over 10 inches in some spots and the ground being saturated from thunder storms earlier in the week it did not take much for trees to come down and power lines to come down, as well. At one point during the height of the storm, 600,000 people without power. That number down to 200,000 as of Saturday morning. And hopefully the power company gets that down to zero by the end of the weekend.

Also with those trees coming down there were fatalities up the road in Gloucester with two people dying from a tree coming down on their home. As far as flooding is concerned, that was a big issue. We were at sea level, so it does not take much for this area, Poquoson's where we are, right near the Chesapeake Bay -- for this area to flood. Three and four feet of water above normal, and some folks were forced to leave their homes, not only here, but around the Hampton roads area.

Good news in this area, as opposed to New Orleans, is once the water -- once the winds shift an the rain stops, because we are at sea level, most of the that water quickly recedes back into the tributaries that lead into the Chesapeake Bay, which eventually will lead into the Atlantic Ocean. So conditions will continue to improve here throughout the weekend in Eastern Virginia.

In Poquoson, Virginia, I'm Rob Marciano.


WHITFIELD: Well, damage assessment is underway further up the Chesapeake Bay in Annapolis, Maryland. The talk there is all about flooding and football. Our Ines Ferre is there.


INES FERRE, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: We still have a coastal flood warning for the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay area where we're located, and you can see the flooding right behind me. We're right in the middle, between low tide and high tide, but authorities wish the water would be receding more rapidly. The city's been preparing for Ernesto for days with hundreds of sandbags. You can see some of those sandbags right in front of those store entrance across the docks. People here remember when Hurricane Isabel passed by in 2003 where the water levels were up to your waist.

Now 45,000 people are without power in the Annapolis area and scattered showers are expected throughout the day, but despite the weather, hard-core Navy fans who are going to be watching the Navy football game tonight are still expecting to go to their game.

Innes Ferre, CNN, Annapolis, Maryland.


WHITFIELD: And on the other side of the continent, Hurricane John is storming through Mexico's Baja Peninsula. Our Harris Whitbeck rode out the fury in the resort town of Cabo San Lucas and joins us now where the wind is still kicking up.

HARRIS WHITBECK, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hi Fredricka, yes the wind is still kicking up, but situation is a lot different than what it was just a few hours ago. Here in Cabo San Lucas, which is the main tourist destination in the Baja peninsula, things are improving, in fact the airport here, the international airport in San Jose, Los Cabos, will reopen shortly. So flights will start, we understand there are lot of people at that airport trying to bet back home. Many of the tourists here are from the United States.

Further north of here, northeast of the state capital of La Paz which bore the brunt of Hurricane John as it passed through, it hit there in the early morning hours of today, civil defense officials there tell us they don't think major damage was experienced. They say they have no reports of injuries or loss of life. They say some roads have been washed out, but they are not cut off from the rest of the region. However, they do want to maintain a period of state of alert. They say that the rains will continue for the next several hours so they, of course, want to keep an eye on what might happen to the roads.

Because of the terrain here, because of the type of earth here, which is desert, the ground here is not very appropriate for absorbing large amounts of water. So that would cause some of the mudslides that could cut off road transportation in this area -- Fredericka.

WHITFIELD: And so Harris, you know, you talk about it being desert-like condition but it's also very mountainous, so if you are talking about mudslides, is there anything in that area that emergency officials can do to try to keep those roads passable?

WHITBECK: Well, they say they already have crews out on those roads and as they come upon parts of the roads that are blocked, they're going ahead and reopening them and that's why La Paz, which is the largest city in the region has about 150,000 people, has not been cut off. They say they've been out working ever since the storm actually came close to shore they were able it do that because its intensity decreased somewhat.

So you're right, the combination of mountains and desert-like conditions does call for mudslides, but again, the civil defense authorities in La Paz are confident that they will be able to keep those roads open and keep that city communicating with the rest of the region.

WHITFIELD: And so Harris, about you and your crew, how did you all ride out this storm? Very similar to how a lot of tourists in that area had to do it?

WHITBECK: Well, a lot of the tourists were holed up inside ballrooms, we were outside trying to keep an eye on things. And it really wasn't that bad. We've been through hurricanes before and to be very honest, at times it really didn't seem like one. Remember the storm initially was heading straight for Cabo San Lucas, right at the last moment it veered to the right, to the east, so we caught the tail end of some of the wind and rain, but no, it could have been a lot worse for a lot of people here in this area.

WHITFIELD: All right, well, glad it wasn't. Thanks so much, Harris Whitbeck joing us live from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Our Reynolds Wolf is in the Weather Center, still keeping a close watch on two storms on either coast. Even thought we're still calling Ernesto, it's a tropical depression, but still it's wreaking a lot of havoc just like Hurricane John.

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Oh now question about it. We got a full plate this weekend, don't we?

WHITFIELD: Yeah, we do. You do.

WOLF: We're all do. We're a team here. Hey, let's start off with what you left off with Ernesto. You're absolutely right. It is still a bit of a handful, certainly not as potent as earlier. It is in its dying stages, but bits dying will involve some rain.

Right now, some scattered showers in Allen Town over to Fredericksburg and even into Hazelton, we're going to see flash flood watches in effect for parts of Pennsylvania as well as New York, not just through the afternoon and evening but also into tomorrow. So that is certainly something you need to be aware of in the northeast.

Meanwhile we're going head out to the West, and we're talking Hurricane John. It is Category 1 storm, moving along the Baja, losing strength, it'll be downgraded to a tropical storm, at least it's forecast to do that, by 2:00 in the morning, Sunday, if not before. Then the storm will continue it's path along the Baja of California, then zoom out into the Pacific where it's going to interact with cooler air -- cooler water, rather, the California current that runs from north to south, don't you know, is really going to take quite a bit of the steam out of this system.


WHITFIELD: All right Reynolds, that's that explains why I've seen so many Fighting Irish in Atlanta.

WOLF: Yeah, makes you wonder, doesn't it?

WHITFIELD: All ready for that game.

WOLF: You betcha.

WHITFIELD: All right, thanks a lot. WOLF: No problem.

WHITFIELD: New York, the hunt is on, we'll have the latest on the search for an escaped inmate suspected in the shootings of two state troopers.

Also, we'll have the latest from London on another wave of terror related arrests.

And he's accused of running a polygamist cult. How did Warren Jeffs apparently manage to manipulate so many and apparently so easily?


WHITFIELD: A quarter past the hour right now, here's what's happening right "Now in the News." A NATO aircraft crashed today in near Southern Afghan city of Kandahar. British defense officials say 14 British troops onboard were killed.

British police today arrested 16 terror suspects in two separate raids. Officials say 14 were nabbed in London for allegedly training and reciting for terror attacks. Two others arrested in Manchester in connection with a police operation last month.

No longer a tropical depression, but Ernesto, the remnants of, do seem to be dumping a lot of rain from North Carolina all the way to New York. The big problems right now, flooding and power outages, more than 400,000 customers are without power along the East Coast. The same area is being warned of possible flooding.

And on the celeb front, you'll recall the spat between Tom Cruise and Brooke Shields. Well, blasted her last year for using anti- depressants after the birth of her first child. Well Shields appearing on the "Tonight Show," last night, says Cruise, on Thursday, offered her what she says was a heartfelt apology.

We update the top stories every 15 minutes on CNN LIVE SATURDAY, your next update is coming up at 12:30 Eastern.

The dragnet widens in New York for an escaped inmate suspected in two shootings of two state troopers. The officers were ambushed on Thursday by a sniper hiding in the woods in Western New York, both are in critical condition. Police believe the shooter was Ralph "Bucky" Phillips. Phillips escaped from jail in April, and officials held a news conference a short while ago.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And at this point, we believe, too, it's quite possible Ralph Phillips is stealing vehicles, he might be moving around from vehicle to vehicle. People are helping him, we have already seen that. It's possible people are helping him right now.


WHITFIELD: Phillips is also suspected in wounding another state trooper and numerous burglaries being carried out.

Family and friends of suspect in the New York police shootings, Ralph "Bucky" Phillips, are blasting authorities for the way they're conducting the manhunt. Melissa Holmes of our affiliate, WIVB reports.


MELISSA HOLMES, WIVB REPORTER: Are you surprised that it came to this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, not at all. Not at all. Because you mess with the family, you're messing with family.

HOLMES (voice-over): Some of Ralph "Bucky" Phillip's friends and family members continue to defend him, even now that the fugitive is suspected of shooting two state troopers in Chautauqua County.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bucky's not a bad guy. And they're -- I don't understand why they're going after him like -- why aren't they going after him like bad people. He's not a bad person.

HOLMES: Some believe in if Phillips did pull the trigger on the troopers last night, it may have been because his grandchildren were taken away from their mother this week. They believe police went too far using Phillip's family to try and lure him in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And it came down to using the grandchildren as a tool because they can't do it themselves.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For someone that has been hunted these many months with this amount of manpower, to purposefully antagonize an individual by stripping away family members, what did they expect the response would be? You know? Is he just going to walk out and surrender and say here I am?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've all been through a lot and we're tired and we want it to end, but I don't want him to end like this. I don't want him to die.

HOLMES: Phillips' sister is making a plea to her brother, hoping this manhunt and violence will come to an end.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just want to say that I love you and I wish this wasn't happening and I wish you wouldn't have done this. If they get him in sight, they're going to shoot him, I know they're going to kill him.


WHITFIELD: That report from Melissa Holmes from our affiliate WIVB.

More terror raids in Great Britain. Straight head, find out what police say this latest group of suspects were planning.


WHITFIELD: Another terror bust in Britain. Scotland Yard today rounded up 16 suspects in London and Manchester. CNN's Robin Oakley is in London covering this developing story.


ROBIN OAKLEY, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Following an intensive surveillance operation by security authorities, British police have arrested a further 16 suspects in relation to terrorist offenses.

(voice-over): Fourteen of the men were arrested in South London, the bulk of them at a Chinese restaurant, the Bridge to Chinatown where other diners talked of as many as 40 armed police coming in to take the men.

Two others were arrested elsewhere in London and two have been arrested in greater Manchester, where police investigators took away a number of cars.

(on camera): There's also investigation going on at a school in East Sussex where there is suspect of being a connection with terrorist training and recruitment.

(voice-over): Police are stressing that the new arrests are not related to the alleged plot to blow up airliners en route from Britain to the United States disclosed on August the 10th. Nor are they relate to the July 7 bombings last year in London in which 52 people died at the hands of four suicide bombers on the London subway system.

(on camera): Meanwhile Peter Clark, the head of anti-terrorist operations at Scotland yard, has warned that thousands of British Muslims are under surveillance as possible sympathizers with terrorism, the kind of people who might be helping to finance terrorist operations, to help with recruitment and training or to help with the travel of those involved in terrorist offenses.

Robin Oakley, CNN, London.


WHITFIELD: A scary moment for passengers and crew early this morning an AirTran flight. Flight 47 was en route from Atlanta to San Francisco when the pilot made an emergency landing in Denver. AirTran says the action was taken after a passenger began acting in a bizarre manner with air sickness bags. The passenger was arrested and the plane resumed its flight.

The remnants of Ernesto are making for a wet weekend all up and down the East Coast. We'll have the latest on the storm's impact straight ahead.

And there's little question polygamist cult leader Warren Jeffs had a lot of control over his pollers. How does such a thing happen?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WHITFIELD: Half past the hour, here's what's happening "Now in the News." Britain's Defense Ministry confirms that 15 British troops were killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. Authorities say it appears the crash was caused by a technical problem rather than hostile action. This comes as NATO and Afghan troops begin an offensive against Taliban fighters in Kandahar Province.

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan has been meeting today with top officials in Tehran. "Reuters" report that Annan got assurances from Iran's foreign minister that the government would support the Israel- Hezbollah truce. Annan plans to meet tomorrow with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

British authorities have round up more terror suspects, this time 16 men were arrested in London and Manchester. Police say some of the suspects may have helped set up terrorist training camps.

Getting back on track, six astronauts return to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. They're getting ready for their new launch date, Wednesday. Earlier plans to launch the shuttle "Atlantes" got scrubbed because of Ernesto.

We update the top stories every 15 minutes on CNN LIVE SATURDAY, your next update is at 12:45 Eastern.


ANNOUNCER: CNN your Hurricane Headquarters.


WHITFIELD: Two storms leaving their mark. Here's "What We Know." Remnants of Hurricane and Tropical Depression Ernesto are posing a flooding threat from North Carolina to New York. Thousands are without power. The storm system has been downgraded; it's no longer tropical depression.

In the Pacific, a weakened Hurricane John lashed Mexico's Baja, California peninsula and has slipped to a Category 1 status. Let's check in with Reynolds Wolf, we know that can still mean a lot of water, a lot of damage potentially.

WOLF: Oh, there's no question about it, I mean remember with Ernesto, I know a different storm, but even Ernesto as a tropical storm brought 10 inches of rainfall to parts of Virginia, so you're absolutely right, Fredricka, this -- these tropical systems whether they are tropical storms or hurricanes or even depression, for heavens sakes, they can provide a great deal of rainfall.

And that's exactly what, what is left of Ernesto is doing. Bringing plenty of showers now into Buffalo, Rochester right along the I-80 corridor over in State College and Penn State, they got a game there today. Penn State's playing the Akron Zips and they've a wet tailgate time to say the very least in Happily Valley.

Meantime, there's scattered shower are going to continue not just through the rest of the day and evening, but also thought tomorrow. I'd say by midday tomorrow, it should be gone and conditions will improve there, but it's still very damp, nonetheless.

Let's also take a look at what's happening out to the West. When I mean out to the West, We're going to way, way, way to the West and Southwest with Hurricane John where the storm is at this hour a Category 1 storm moving along the Baja expected by 2:00 a.m. Sunday, if not sooner, the storm should become a tropical storm and continue to weaken as it moves over the Baja eventually moving out into the Pacific but will not be going over warm water, it's going to be interact with that cold California current and that's to take a lot of the energy out of that storm.


WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much, Reynolds.

Well, it's hard to believe the power that Warren Jeffs has over his followers. The polygamist cult leader who was arrested this week in Nevada has control over thousands of people who regard him as a prophet. As Anderson Cooper reports, those follow will do whatever Jeffs said even leave their families.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): It's easy to see the isolation of this community along the Utah/Arizona border, what's harder to grasp is the total domination that one man, Warren Jeffs, has over the 10,000 people who here.

They're part of a Mormon sect of polygamists who call them is themselves the FLDS, the Fundamentalist Church of Later Day Saints.

They call Warren Jeffs the prophet. The mainstream Mormon Church banned polygamy in 1890 and doesn't associate with this sect.

PAUL MUSSER, FORMER FLDS MEMBER: I had to sit down with my children and say the prophet told me that I can no longer by your father. And that was the toughest day of my life.

ISAAC WYLER, FORMER FLDS MEMBER: If this young man or something like that were called to stand in front of bullets for Warren, they wouldn't even hesitate.

COOPER: This is one of the few photographs of Warren Jeffs, a seemingly ordinary man, but one with extraordinary power.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If There were a Taliban of America, I would say this is it.

COOPER: Sam Icke is no longer part of the FLDS community, he was expelled by the prophet when he was 18.

SAM ICKE, FORMER FLDS MEMBER: The thing that actually got me kicked out was you know I kissed this girl and then she told you know told everybody what was going on. I got a call from the leader, Warren Jeffs, and he told me to, you know, that to come and talk to him about it. I left, went home and within the next day or so, you know, he called my dad and told him that I had to leave.

COOPER: Sam is one of several hundred young men asked to leave the community. They're called the lost boys. What happened to them is to some a question of math. Too many boys are competing in a polygamist world where some men have 10, 20 or even 30 wives.

ICKE: When I turned 18 I was kicked out, dumped on my head.

COOPER: Sam Icke livers under the protective wing of Dan Fisher who actively supports about 60 lost boys, some with jobs, housing and schooling. Fisher was once part of the FLDS and had two wives. But he divorced one and left the sect 12 years ago. He's known Jeffs for years.

DAN FISHER, FORMER FLDS MEMBER: In the last few years where this society has become apocalyptic at a fanatical level, it has set the stage for crazy things to happen and people accept it believing that their salvation is on the line if they don't do as they're told.

COOPER: The absolute power Jeffs wields destroyed the life Paul Musser loved. He was married for 23 years and had 13 children. Jeffs told him suddenly five years ago, that he was unfit to get his wife into heaven.

MUSSER: He just said that she needed somebody to exalt her into the celestial kingdom and that I couldn't. And I kept asking him, I asked him at least three times if I could repent or make it right with him and he just said well, you don't have time to repent. And so that was it. He told me to move out and my wife and family would be given to somebody else.

ISAAC WYLER, FORMER FLDS MEMBER: This is a fanatical religion. I mean, you go back and look in Mormon history and see some of the things that's been done in the name of religion, it's no different now.

COOPER: Isaac Wyler was in a group of 21 men told to leave their families by Jeffs at a routine church meeting.

WYLER: That's the kind of control that is here. So being kicked out and losing your wife and children, it's a big thing but it's not like throwing your life away. To die for the prophet, to die for God, yes, that would be an honor.

COOPER: We wanted to talk to people with a positive view of their lives inside the FLDS community. But David Zitting, mayor of Hilldale, Utah and a member of the FLDS for more than 20 years said that's not likely to happen.

"The citizen's of this community have gone through many years of dealing with the media in various forms," he told us, "and what they have experienced in this has caused them to not want to make statements to the media or be interviewed by the media because it has in the past tended to be more fabricated and nonfactual."

Jeffs' absolute control seems lead his followers belief in a divine power. In a country founded on the separation of church and state, it's hard to fathom a community where the church is the state.

Anderson Cooper, CNN.


WHITFIELD: This week I talked to a woman who had been in Warren Jeffs' religious group. Carolyn Yessup was forced to marry a man more than 30 years her senior and had eight children. I asked her what Jeffs did to her mind and what she had to do to get out.


WHITFIELD: Since you left that group, how worried or fearful were you about, you know, going on and trying to raise your eight children? Did you fear for your life all this time?

CAROLYN JESSOP, FORMER FLDS MEMBER: I was terrified when I left. I had no way of knowing how I was going to survive in a world that was so foreign to everything I knew. And it's been challenging. It hasn't been easy, especially as a single parent with eight children and then I also have a son who is severely handicapped.

My ex-husband Merrill Jessop has completly refused to pay anything for child support. He has had several thousands of dollars go through his hands -- in fact, upwards of a $1 million, and he has given all that money to Warren and refused to pay me anything for child support.

So, a lot of the hardships that I've experienced and my children has experienced is a direct cause of things that Warren had my husband do to us.

WHITFIELD: And now you have, I understand, 35 brothers and sisters. How might any of them be helping you with your eight children?

JESSOP: Well, a lot of my brothers an sisters that have left have been an enormous support in many ways, multiple ways. It's one of the reasons why I've been able to survive. And then I've also had just a lot of kind heart people from society at large come forward and offer help.

And just between that and just the courage to stay with it and know that I deserve something better than what I was born to.

WHITFIELD: So, do you think your children have a clear understanding about what's taken place with Warren Jeffs now in custody, facing extradition, do they understand that a trial may come and it may mean the testimony of other young people to talk about what they were subjected to? How much of this information are you willing to share with your kids? JESSOP: Right now, my children are actually quite confused as far as what is going on. They understand that Warren has hurt people. And they understand that there's things that he's done that even they will admit is wrong. I don't think they entirely understand the justice system and that he could go to prison for the things he's done.

WHITFIELD: When he was on the most wanted list, he was also considered to be armed and dangerous. Did that sound like the Warren Jeffs that you knew, that he might be arm and dangerous?

JESSOP: Oh, absolutely. Before I left, I never saw Warren in a public setting without men surrounding him and they always carried guns.

He did have armed protection. And I was very concerned at what could occur when they captured him that innocent people may be killed.

And so it was such a relief when I learned had it will gone so smoothly. My stepdaughter Naomi was with him and it was such a relief to know she was safe and there was no resisting arrest and that it just went very smoothly.


WHITFIELD: So what makes people give up control over their own lives and let a religious -- extreme religious leader like Warren Jeffs dictate essentially everything they do? And what does go through the minds of such leaders?

For some answers, we turn to Richard Ofshe, a professor emeritus of sociology at the University of California Berkeley. Good to see you professor.


WHITFIELD: so, what is at the route of this power? How is it one man can convince not one but thousands of people that they have divine power?

OFSHE: Well first of all, you have to recognize he didn't build this group, he inherited this group.

WHITFIELD: From his father.

OFSHE: From his father but also from the tradition of Mormonism. I mean, you have to go back and look at the fact that they think of themselves as the true Mormons, essentially, the fundamentalist Mormons.

WHITFIELD: So he didn't have to do the job of convincing anyone. He just maintain a belief that was already there?

OFSHE: That gives him an enormous edge over someone who starts a cult group and has to get people to adopt a new ideology. He's already got a big chunk of it in place. And then what he does is build a community, build an organization that maximizes his power and he's done that as well.

WHITFIELD: So that explains why in this community, there are followers not just within the household but outside. We saw the mayor of Hilldale, Utah is a member of this group. Police force, all of them support exactly what Warren Jeffs has been doing.

OFSHE: Well it's not so much the local regulation that really matters. It's the fact that if I'm correct in my assumption that he has control over the cash flow, that as not infrequently happens, people take their wages, donate it to church thereby avoid paying tax on it or just work for the church and the church gets the money, the church doesn't pay tax on it and then that money is used to strengthen the power of the leader because the leader now controls everything and that creates a huge problem, or potential problem, with the fact that if it's organized as a 501-c3 charitable organization, in other words, a church, by IRS rules much of what goes on is probably impermissible.

WHITFIELD: So explain why it becomes so difficult for a follower who suddenly has an epiphany and says I want out of this, why is it so difficult for them to navigate their way out?

OFSHE: Well, imagine someone who grows up in the group. Their whole lives are going to be in the group. It's typical to try to isolate people, minimize contact with people on the outside. So as to put them in a community in which it appears that everyone agrees with what community sentiment is.

If an individual take answer opposing position, they are liable to be shunned by their family, shunned by their friends, lose whatever job they have, perhaps even be told to literally get out. It's like exiling someone to another country with little or no support. It's a very powerful threat.

WHITFIELD: So in the case of Carolyn Jessop who I spoke with earlier in the week and we just saw some of her interview, she talked about the only way that she and her eight children were able to get out was because she did end up reaching out to one of her 35 brothers and sisters, namely a brother who was on the outside of this group who is no longer member of this group to help try and negotiate, you know, how do I plan this great escape?

The brother essentially was able to kind of come to her rescue by, you know, having a van pull up outside the community, she was able to get all of her family members out. If you are a member and you don't have a family member outside of the group, then this kind of an escape is futile. It's not likely to happen, is it?

OFSHE: It's not likely to happen. And it gives the group, the leader and the people who support the leader, your peers, enormous power over you, because they know and you know that you can be isolated. It's not a matter of -- she escaped with her children. She could have been thrown out without her children. She could have been ordered to leave.

WHITFIELD: Like we saw in the earlier piece, many men are ordered to leave. OFSHE: Sure. If the church owns the property, you can be ordered off the property.

I've studied groups in which this kind of threat was so powerful people would accept sterilization, they would accept all sorts of things in order not to lose their peer group and their community.

WHITFIELD: Well it is a powerful topic all the way around. And we would love to talk with you again at some other time because we are out of time right now, professor, but we enjoy the conversation.

Professor Emeritus of sociology at the University of California Berkeley, Richard Ofshe, thanks so much for your time.

OFSHE: Thank you.

WHITIFELD: Remember when back to school meant new notebooks, pens, easy stuff. Well, forget about all that. Now it's time to get wired. And an if your kids do need computers, we've got some tips straight ahead on our dollars and deals segment.



WHITFIELD: Remember way back in the olden days were all you needed at the start of the school year were pens, notebooks, erasers? Well, nowadays, you may also have to make a trip to the computer store before classes begin.

Bob Frick of Kiplinger's Personal Finance is here with some tips on buying a laptop or a desktop computer for schoolwork. Good to see you, Bob.


WHITFIELD: Well, either kids want a computer or they need it, where as a parent do you begin to try shopping for a computer or laptop to make sure it's everything the kids want or need?

FRICK: Right. Well, one place you can start actually -- I hate to plug our web site, but we have a slide show up there that takes you from soup to nuts, the lowest desk top which is $450 up to some of these superlaptops which are $4,000 which you don't want to buy your kid, you'll immediately turn them into a geek and you'll never see him again.

What you need to do really is find out what the school recommends, but you can be pretty safe right now in buying a laptop which is really what you should buy for your child, costs about $1,000.

Now, if you have younger kids...

WHITFIELD: It's more practical than getting a desktop at home?

FRICK: It is.

WHITFIELD: Because of the fact it's that more space saving.

FRICK: Right, right. For $1,000 now, you can get a laptop which can do anything. It can play and burn DVDs. It's fast. It has a good wireless set up. You can watch virtually anything on it. But the great thing about it is, you can move it around your house. So, again, especially if you have younger kids, it's nice to have that in your den, in your kitchen while you're around so you can see what they're doing.

WHITFIELD: Well, OK. Well, everyone knows that shopping for a computer can be so overwhelming. You walk into a computer store and you're like holy molly, where do I begin?

So perhaps can you give kind of process of elimination questions that parents should entertain when trying to figure out what's the best thing? Because you know, you look at the keyboard and you see the screen and then you look at the little advertisements that have like a host of all the these to-do lists on these computers but you don't really know what it all means.

FRICK: Right. Well, that's true. One of the things I like to do is I don't start my shopping in a computer store. I go online to a Gateway or a Dell. And there everything is laid out in front of you, tells you what you can get, how much it's going to cost and also why you need it. If you start there, you're not going to be kind of pulled into buying more computer than you need. Also, there's places you can design your computer so you're only buying what you want.

Once you do that, it's not a bad idea to go to a computer store once you've oriented yourself. Then one of the good things is bring your kid along and have them look at the computers because...

WHITFIELD: They probably already have it figured out anyway.

FRICK: Right. Exactly.

But also depending on the size of your child, they might need a certain kind of keyboard or they might have a preference for a kind of screen. If you let them customize it a little bit within your budget they're going to be a lot happier.

WHITFIELD: All right. And the countdown is on, back to school already. Bob Frick of Kiplinger's Personal Finance, thanks so much.

FRICK: You're welcome.

WHITFIELD: Well, how about this? Have you ever dreamed of perhaps living in a treehouse? Gerri Willis will show us how to follow that dream straight ahead on CNN LIVE SATURDAY.


WHITFIELD: Practically every kid or kid at heart wants a treehouse. So CNN's Gerri Willis has some tips for you in today's modern living.


GERRI WILLIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Most houses are found on the ground, unless you're building a different kind of house, a treehouse.

(on camera): I guess the first step is finding a tree to build it in. How do you do that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we look. Here are trees. Red oaks, good choices, good sturdy trees, good healthy trees in a relatively open area here. We look at the foundation, you can see the tree has wonderful root flares.

WILLIS: Once the foundation is checked. It's time to snap in and check the branches. Strength is key and pounding nails into a tree is a big no no.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, the number of bolts or nails in one place, that creates wounds, the wounds tend to coalesce and then you have a dead section of the tree that's supporting your tree house.

WILLIS: Choosing the right tools is important. For a light- weight tree house, all thread rods are fine. But for heavier projects invest in what's called an artificial limb like this one.

And here's our No. 1 rule, if you're building a treehouse, have fun.

(on camera): Make sure you join us for "Open House" every Saturday morning, 9:30 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN.


WHITFIELD: Well, celebrity news coming up. Has Tom Cruise accomplished mission impossible? Coming up, you'll hear what former verbal victim Brooke Shields is saying about the film star now.


WHITFIELD: So, you'd know more perhaps? A celebrity apology. Brooke Shields calls the I'm sorry from Tom Cruise heartfelt.

Cruise publicly criticized Shields for taking anti-depressants. Shields set the scene for the "Tonight Show Host" Jay Leno.


BROOKE SHIELDS, ACTRESS: He had called me and he came over to my house. And he gave me a heartfelt apology. And he apologized for bringing my into the whole thing and for everything that had happened.

And through it all, I was so impressed with how heartfelt it was. And I didn't feel at any time that I had to defend myself, or did I feel that he was trying to convince me of anything other than the fact that he was deeply sorry.


WHITFIELD: As a Scientologist, Cruise claims depression can be treated with exercise and vitamins.



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