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Michael Jackson Reaches Settlement With Ex-Wife
Aired October 17, 2006 - 20:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NANCY GRACE, HOST: Tonight, music icon Michael Jackson allegedly buys his kids back. Is that even legal? Reportedly, Jackson cut a secret deal to do just that, buy back his own children. Price tag? Rumored up to $5 million. Since when do U.S. courts allow even exchange, children for cash?
And tonight, a Connecticut man caught red-handed with child porn, including videos of sex acts with children, walks free, thanks to a local trial judge. His name, Thomas Miano (ph). And grieving parents have to beg for Georgia judge Dorothy Robinson (ph) to do something, anything, in the brutal murder of their daughter, now that murder three years old. To both of you, Miano and Robinson, judges, you are in contempt!
But first, children for sale? Here? In the U.S.?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His children were taken out of this country, perhaps with their passports not in order. Their passports were actually in the hands of a family court judge and that they really should not have left the country, so how do you bring them back? The custody issue, all the lawsuits that are pending -- I think he`s made some really monumentally bad decisions in the past, and now he`s got to pay the piper.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Good evening, everybody. I`m Nancy Grace. I want to thank you for being with us tonight. Children for sale here in the U.S.?
Straight out to investigative reporter Jane Velez-Mitchell. What is this all about?
JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Well, Nancy, this, of course, is the custody battle we thought would never end. We`ve discussed it so many times on this show. A deal has finally been reached between Michael Jackson and Debbie Rowe. It gives Michael Jackson full legal and physical custody of Prince Michael, now aged 9, and Paris, now aged 8, the children Debbie Rowe had for him. In return, Debbie Rowe gets lots and lots and lots of money, my sources tell me $900,000 a year for the next several years, plus $2.7 million that Michael Jackson supposedly owes her, for a grand total of $5.4 million by 2009!
VELEZ-MITCHELL: On top of that, she seems to have negotiated a fabulous deal. She retains parental rights. If there`s another scandal, she can come after him again for custody. She also reportedly has visitation. If she wants to visit them, she calls and says, Hey, I`m going to take a flight to this castle in Ireland, which is where they now live.
GRACE: Take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLORIA ALLRED, ATTORNEY: Combined with his behavior in November of 2002 of dangling his baby over a fourth floor balcony, gives rise, in my legal judgment, to a substantial risk that his children may suffer serious physical harm as a result of Mr. Jackson`s failure to adequately supervise or protect the children.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Joining us also tonight, the managing editor of TMZ.com, Harvey Levin. He`s been on the Jackson case from the very beginning. Welcome, Harvey. Harvey, I thought I had seen it all, but now this sounds like a cold, hard cash deal to sever parental rights, to buy the children. What do you know?
HARVEY LEVIN, TMZ.COM: Oh, I agree with you, Nancy. I mean, I hate to be cynical, but I saw this coming from the get-go. I mean, this whole thing started when Debbie Rowe went on TV, Michael Jackson felt that she violated the confidentiality agreement and cut her off. She was getting 900 grand after the divorce. And she had nothing to do with these kids.
And then suddenly, she mounts this custody fight and acts as if she is just gravely concerned about these children. But it always felt that it was too coincidental this all came on the heels of Jackson cutting her off financially. You know, she flip-flopped in the criminal trial. She made it sound like she was going to testify for the prosecution and then she gave Jackson the parent of the year award on the stand.
So this always felt like what she wanted here was some cold, hard cash. She got it. And my guess is she`s not going to see those kids much, or at least any time soon.
GRACE: Harvey, what`s the number? I have read everything from $750,000 to $1 million to $5 million over a period of years.
LEVIN: Well, I think that two of those figures are probably consistent. But I`m hearing around what Jane is saying, which is consistent with what she was getting before. She was getting around 900,000 grand a year from Jackson. And I`m hearing it`s going to total around $5 million over the next five or six years.
The bottom line, she is getting that money back. He is becoming her cash cow again. And you know, as for her grave concern that the children have converted to Islam and the people around her are not savory and there might be an anti-Semitic thing going on, and all of that stuff, it doesn`t seem to be an issue any more.
GRACE: You know, to Jane Velez-Mitchell. Jane, I`m just sick because if this happened out on the street or in one of our local neighborhoods, where your neighbor sells their kid to somebody, they would be hauled into jail and those children would be put in a proper home, a home with loving parents to take care of them. But because it`s a star, a celebrity, and there`s millions of dollars on the table, everybody`s looking the other way, Jane!
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, what`s that saying? The rich are not like you and me. And in this case, it`s been absolute proof of that. These people have actually been allowed to have a private trial for much of this. I was one of the journalists who actually visited the trial center in Century City, a glamorous area of sleek conference rooms with antiques, where pastries and coffee were served. Of course, most of us have to go to the smelly courthouse downtown when we have a custody battle.
GRACE: Well, Harvey Levin with TMZ.com is with us, and he just described Debbie Rowe`s Oscar-winning performance in a video for trial, basically naming Michael Jackson -- repeat, Michael Jackson, that guy that dangled the baby over the balcony -- as the father of the year. Let`s take a listen to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEBBIE ROWE, MICHAEL JACKSON`S EX-WIFE: My kids don`t call me Mom because I don`t want them to. They`re not -- they`re Michael`s children. It`s not that they`re not my children, but I had them because I wanted him to be a father. I believe that there are people who should be parents, and he`s one of them.
We are a family unit. Michael and I will always be connected with the kids. I will always be there for him. I will always be there for the children. And people make remarks, I can`t believe she left her children. Left them? I left my children? I did not leave my children. My children are with their father, where they`re supposed to be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: That is Miss Debbie Rowe speaking to Fox, year 2003. No, nobody`s saying you left the children, Miss Rowe. I`m not saying that. I`m saying it sounds more like you sold the children. You sold the two children you gave birth to. That`s what it sounds like tonight. And Miss Rowe, if we`re wrong, please, you`ll get a warm welcome here on the show if you can explain this.
It`s simple Trial 101, severance of parental rights. It`s a very difficult maneuver under the law. Let`s go out to the lawyers. Joining us tonight, two veteran trial lawyers, Anne Bremner, high-profile Seattle lawyer, and Midwin Charles out of the New York jurisdiction.
To you, Anne Bremner. What does it take to sever parental rights? Because I tried so many child molestation cases...
ANNE BREMNER, TRIAL ATTORNEY: Oh, I know.
GRACE: ... and negligence, brutality on children, and basically, a mom has got to be laying in front of the courthouse in a G-string...
GRACE: ... shooting up heroin, all right, and then she still gets to go back and take the kids away from the nice adoptive parents that are crying in the front yard.
GRACE: How do you sever parental rights? I`d like to know that.
BREMNER: Well, you know how you do it? You sell them. And you know, Debbie Rowe liked selling her kids so much, she thought it was so nice, she did it twice, Nancy. And you know, she -- even after selling them the first time, she was able to come back and say, I want my rights restored. And then here she is again. OK, they`re for sale. They`re for sale again. And she sold them. And you know what? Lightning doesn`t strike twice. It could be three times in this case because she can go out probably and do it again.
GRACE: Also with us, Midwin Charles, also a veteran trial lawyer. Midwin, explain the process of severing parental rights. It`s actually very difficult to do.
MIDWIN CHARLES, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It is very difficult. What the parent must do is go to court and ask the court that they no longer want to be, you know, the parental person in charge of those children. And here, what Debbie Rowe has done is essentially bartered her children as though they were pawns in a chess game.
GRACE: No one will be able to forget when various children`s rights groups screamed to high heaven over this video. This was overseas. And there is baby blanket, we know to be his name, being dangled over -- there we go. Let`s get it from a different angle. Not only that, various bouts, allegedly, with painkillers, coming to court in his pajamas, so high on painkillers, he didn`t even know to put on his pants, for Pete`s sakes!
GRACE: And you know, it is laughable, in a way, but I`m thinking about it from the perspective of a child, Anne Bremner.
GRACE: When you`re there in the home and this is the only parent figure you`ve got -- no offense, maybe he`s cleaned up his act, but there`s that. There is the stint in rehab...
GRACE: ... when his first child molestation charges came up. Instead of going to jail, Johnnie Cochran, my former colleague, cut him a deal to go to rehab.
BREMNER: That`s right.
GRACE: I mean, how is this happening? How is this happening under the auspices of the American court system?
BREMNER: Well, you know, Nancy, you and I and Jane covered the trial. And Michael Jackson, remember, he said to his own victims, Call me Daddy. He`s somebody that`s very suspect, but he still has those kids. O.J. Simpson has his kids. You know, the thing is, is you`ve got a parent and they`re and they`re going to have the children. but there has to be some scrutiny about what he`s doing with these children because right now, between the mother and the father, I don`t know, Nancy, it`s a toss-up as to which one you would have raise the kids.
GRACE: Allegations right now that Michael Jackson successfully has managed to buy his children. There was no court hearing, no special independent review of who should get parental rights.
Joining us right now, Brian Oxman, the Jackson family attorney. Take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m not going to stick my neck out there on this. We`re just -- I`m going to base it again on the testimony that was presented to us and...
GRACE: Well, what do you mean, stick your neck out?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... there was too much reasonable doubt...
GRACE: What do you mean, stick your neck out?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well...
GRACE: You don`t want to say what you thought Jackson was doing with those little boys every night?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because it`s our -- it`s our own personal beliefs and our own thoughts, and that`s not what we have to work with. We had to work with the testimony of the witnesses and the credibility of the witnesses. And that`s all we can base it on, this whole thing.
GRACE: So what you believe -- you`re telling me what you believe doesn`t matter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it does matter, but I`m not going to go any further with that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Joining us, as I mentioned, Brian Oxman. He`s the Jackson family attorney. Welcome, Brian. And I want to thank you for being on the show tonight to take the side of the Jackson family. Has there been a deal cut? Is Michael Jackson getting full parental rights from Debbie Rowe?
BRIAN OXMAN, JACKSON FAMILY ATTORNEY: Nancy, there was an agreement reached with all of the parties involving Debbie Rowe and the children. The terms of that agreement have been kept confidential. But what you haven`t seen in this court proceeding is you have not seen any kind of investigation by child services which would result in a termination of parental rights, and you have not seen the appointment of attorneys for the children.
So what you have to have in LA County and all the state of California to terminate parental rights are those two things. They were not done. Therefore, this is just an ordinary settlement of an ordinary child custody case. It is the same as thousands and thousands that take place in the courts each day.
GRACE: Somehow, I don`t think so. In fact, it`s more basic Trial 101. A guardian ad litem is typically appointed by the judge whenever there is any wrongdoing alleged in connection with raising children. So I am hearing from you in this case, that here`s a guy that beat charges on child molestation, that has admitted addiction to painkillers, that is caught on video dangling a baby high up off a cement sidewalk, and is so high on painkillers, he comes to court in his pajamas. The court didn`t bother to appoint a guardian ad litem, someone specifically interested in the welfare of the child, Brian?
OXMAN: Nancy, I have to tell you, if I thought for one second, for one instant that Michael Jackson was a child molester or if he had done something wrong with any of these allegations which have ever come against him, I would walk and I would be the first one to point the finger of disappointment to that man. I have never thought for one minute that any of these allegations are true. And I have investigated them, I think, more than any other human being on the planet.
GRACE: Joining us is psychotherapist Dr. Leslie Austin. Now, we`re on the outside looking in. That`s true, Leslie. But we`ve got a pretty good bird`s eye view of what`s been going on.
LESLIE AUSTIN, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: Yes, we sure do. And the problem is, these children are being raised behind veils in public. And the parents` behavior is very bizarre on both sides. So I question how normal these kids can be, in any event. I don`t think they`re going to be raised as normal healthy children.
GRACE: In addition to always traveling with their faces covered in veils, going from one location -- from Bahrain to Ireland to the Far East, back to the U.S., obviously, no structure -- they will forever have to deal with the fact their dad went on trial for child molestation. Take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: How do you explain this guy sleeping with a 13-year-old boy 365 nights? In their underwear?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The thing is, we didn`t have the evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that he did anything with these children. And when some of these children came in to testify, none of them said that anything happened. So it was really hard to go in the direction that he was molesting them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALLRED: Today, I`ve taken the legal step of filing an application with the LA County juvenile court, asking that the court commence proceedings against entertainer Michael Jackson to make his children dependents of the court. I have taken this step because, in my opinion, his children are at substantial risk and the court needs to be involved to protect them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Believe it or not, music icon Michael Jackson allegedly has cut a multi-million dollar deal to buy his children. Buying children? I thought that was illegal in the U.S. And also, we know now the deal may not go through. And if it doesn`t, what happens? Does Debbie Rowe demand a return, like at Kmart, just hand over the merchandise?
Take a listen to these secretly recorded phone calls with Michael Jackson.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MICHAEL JACKSON: Marc, I really need you to get from (INAUDIBLE) $7 million for me as soon as possible. I agreed to do this thing, but there`s something here that I really want to get. You can do this for me. I know the deal is bigger than $7 million, but I just want $7 million up front. If you could get that for me, it would be, you know, perfect -- $7 million, $7.5 million as an advance. Can you please try to get that for me? There`s something here I really want. Thanks. Bye.
Marc, It`s Michael Jackson. Call me tomorrow. We got to get this film in Europe, but I want to get some fries. You know, I`m -- I`m approving the tape, you know, the European version, to be sent out everywhere, but you got to give me some fries. There`s big money overseas. I know there is. And call me through (INAUDIBLE). Thanks. Bye.
Marc, we must -- Marlon Brando has been pushing. And he`s a wonderful man. He`s a god. We have to get this done. We want it done before Christmas. Put together a business plan. The whole thing is line for TV. He just wants to make a big deal. He wants a lot of money, and we would own it together. We`ll form our own company. Start putting that together, so when we see him -- when I see him, I can give him a presentation that we have been busy working. He really wants it. I mean, I think that he`s not going to be living too much longer. That`s what it is, I think.
Please, Marc, get this done. Let`s get the jive thing done. I need that money for the house. Let`s move mountains. The album is going to be turned in soon. He`s going crazy. So things are looking good. I hope to talk to you soon. I`ll see you today at the studio at 3:30. I love you very much. Thank you. Bye.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
GRACE: Mr. Jackson, I think it`s a little late to do that special with Marlon Brando.
Back out to Brian Oxman, Jackson family attorney. Fries equals money. This guy`s still trying to make tons and tons of money. It`s not happening. So how can he pay Debbie Rowe? And when he doesn`t, what happens, the return of the kids, like returning at Kmart?
OXMAN: Nancy, every time I hear that recording where Michael Jackson is asking Marc Schaffel for fries, I think of ordering at Jack-in-the-Box and that Marc Schaffel is the clown behind the window. The thing with Debbie Rowe has been resolved amicably. They like one another, and they`re going to raise their kids as they see fit. And I don`t think anyone should second-guess them.
GRACE: Does she have the money, Brian, or is it still in the works?
OXMAN: There has been an agreement reached between the parties and it is being finalized.
GRACE: So no money.
OXMAN: I don`t know the status of the money at the moment, but I do know that there is an agreement reached and it is being finalized.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROWE: Michael is a brilliant person. He`s a wonderful person. And I think, most of all, he is a fabulous father. He`s a wonderful, loving father.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Has music icon Michael Jackson effectively cut a deal to buy his children? And is that even legal in the U.S.?
Straight out to investigative reporter Jane Velez-Mitchell. What can you tell me about any visitation Debbie Rowe has agreed to?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, apparently, if she wants, there`s some kind of gentlemen`s agreement she can pick up the phone and say, Hey, I`m going to take a flight over Ireland, I`m going to go to that castle outside Dublin that you`re renting for $20,000 a month, reportedly, and visit these two kids. We don`t even know if these kids know that she is their mother. According to my sources, she`s been told -- these kids have been told that she is someone very special, but that`s about it.
But imagine how destabilizing it is for these kids to go from Neverland to Bahrain to a castle in Ireland, and now they`re being introduced to this woman who`s very special but they don`t know exactly who she is. It`s a mess! All I can is that children can be incredibly resilient, and some bodyguards who have seen these kids up close and personal have told me that, astoundingly, they are remarkably well balanced and very articulate kids. So I`m happy for that.
GRACE: Jane, why has this been such a secretive process?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Michael Jackson, in the midst of all his problems and his criminal trial, has really tried to fiercely protect this asset above all others, these kids. And he wants to keep the media away. That`s why they had the private trial in that fancy-dancey center in Century City. And all of this has come about because he was able to refinance, and that`s why he got the extra money, walked away with $41 million in cash, that is allowing him to pay off Debbie Rowe.
GRACE: Well, Jane, is this a final sale, all sales final, or when a few years pass, can Rowe ask for more money? Is she going to try to get the kids back, like an exchange at Macy`s or something?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, with Michael Jackson, it`s never final. Let`s say there`s another scandal. I mean, there have been several in the past. Let`s say another one crops up. She could go back to court because she still has retained her parental rights. And she can once again seek custody. That`s why I say this is an absolutely amazing deal for Debbie Rowe. She seems to have gotten it all.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Removal of the children from Mr. Jackson need not and should not await the outcome of the criminal case pending against him. Authorities have the right and responsibility to protect children who are at substantial risk of harm even before a conviction or acquittal in a criminal case. Protection of children is paramount; child welfare should err, if at all, on the side of children who are vulnerable and unable to protect themselves.
GRACE: How do you explain this guy sleeping with a 13-year-old boy 365 nights in their underwear?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But the thing is that we didn`t have the evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that he did anything with these children. And when some of these children came in to testify, none of them said that anything happened. So it was really hard to go in the direction that he was molesting them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: But even after music icon Michael Jackson managed to beat the rap on felony child molestation charges, his ex-wife, the mother of two of his three children, Debbie Rowe, thought it was a great idea to sell her children back to Michael Jackson, reportedly for up to $5 million. Here is what Debbie Rowe has to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEBBIE ROWE, MOTHER OF MICHAEL JACKSON`S CHILDREN: My kids don`t call me mom, because I don`t want them to. They`re Michael`s children. It`s not that they`re not my children, but I had them because I wanted him to be a father. I believe that there are people who should be parents, and he`s one of them.
And I said, "So be a dad." And he looked at me puzzled. And I said, "Let me do this. I want to do this. You`ve been so good to me. You`re such a great friend. Please let me do this."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: That is Debbie Rowe speaking to FOX back in 2003. And the "this" she is referring to is being inseminated with Jackson`s sperm and giving birth to not one but two children. Now, even though he went to trial on charges of child molestation, even though he cut a $20 million deal with another boy that claimed molestation several years ago, some people claim it never happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MACAULAY CULKIN, ACTOR: I talked to him like he was a normal human being, and that`s what -- and kids do that to him, because -- I mean, he`s Michael Jackson the pop singer, but he`s not the god of -- you know, the king of pop or anything like that. He`s just, you know, a guy who`s actually very kid-like himself and wants to go out there and he wants to play video games.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Michael has maintained the fact that he has never acted inappropriately with a child. And there have been witnesses to come in to indicate that he has not acted inappropriately with them, and they have not seen him act inappropriately with any children.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: While we can hear what they`re all saying -- deny, deny, deny -- how are we supposed to avoid what we can see with our own eyes? I`m sure you all recall this incident, Michael Jackson overseas dangling his baby, Blanket, at a high-rise hotel over a cement sidewalk. After that, calls were made all across the U.S. for his parental supervision to be reviewed by a court.
Let`s go out to the lawyers. Joining us, Seattle lawyer Anne Bremner and New York lawyer Midwin Charles.
You know, Anne Bremner, charges of parental neglect and abuse have been leveled on a lot less than this.
BREMNER: Absolutely. And you know, Nancy, in a situation like this, you know, if a judge were to decide this case right now, do you give the children to the one that bought the kids or do you give the children to the one that sold the kids? And you know, in any situation that`s normal, we would sure see reports about his fitness to be a parent and hers, and, of course, as you mentioned before, guardians ad litem, et cetera. But this is not your usual case. And this is a buy-and-sell...
GRACE: Why? Why isn`t this your usual case? Why is this different, except for the money?
BREMNER: Right, exactly. It is all about the money. And it is illegal to sell children, to sell anybody, adult or child. But the fact is, he`s Michael Jackson. He bought, she sold, and it`s done.
GRACE: And back to Jane Velez-Mitchell, investigative reporter. This was all supervised earlier with a private judge, remember that, a private judge?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, how could I forget? Again, I was there in Century City, and I almost keeled over when I saw these rooms filled with antiques, each with a different theme from a different country. And I said to myself, "This is like something out of a movie. I can`t believe this actually exists in America."
Most people didn`t know that there were such things as private trials and, in fact, in the wake of the controversial decision to strip Debbie Rowe of her parental rights, which were later reinstated because that was a mistaken decision, because the kids were never given attorneys to represent their interests, there was a huge controversy over the issue of private trials. And there was a crackdown, saying, hey, you`ve got to abide by the rules, just like the regular trials. You`ve got to keep all the documents in the case file. You`ve got to let people in to see what`s going on. There shouldn`t be a separate world for celebrities and rich people.
GRACE: Back to Brian Oxman, Jackson family lawyer, kind enough to be with us today. Brian, we`ve already seen the flip-flop happen once -- I guess once, maybe more -- but if Jackson doesn`t cut the check, all right - - now, I know you said the deal has been finalized, but I couldn`t get to you say the money has been transferred into Rowe`s account. Even though it`s very cut and dried, it`s all about money, if that check bounce or if that check never happens, what then? Will Rowe then demand the kids back as some sort of financial or pecuniary leverage to get money back again?
OXMAN: Judges are not very happy when people make demands for custody based upon somebody not paying them their spousal support or a community property division. They are very attentive when people have legitimate reasons why there should be a change of custody.
Debbie retains her rights to request custody at any time. There has been no selling of children here. And if she has grounds to do that, which we call "changed circumstances," she`s free to do it.
GRACE: Tonight, to two judges, you are in contempt. A Connecticut man caught red-handed with over 100 pictures of child pornography, including actual videos of little children, some as young as toddlers, being sexually offended. That is sick.
Also, a judge in Florida -- excuse me, a judge in Georgia, the parents actually begging the judge to do something about their murdered daughter. It`s been three years now since she was murdered. The case still no jury in the box. Let`s go out to the reporters. Joining us tonight from "The Journal Inquirer," Heather Nann Collins is with us. From the "Marietta Daily Journal," Katie Fallon.
First to you, Heather, what happened?
HEATHER NANN COLLINS, "JOURNAL INQUIRER": Well, Nancy, Edward Burke apparently was depressed over some failed businesses and slid into pornography on the Internet, and that interest segued into child porn. And he tried to transmit two images over his AOL account, "PleaseMeForeva," and AOL notified the cyber-tip line.
GRACE: Whoa, whoa, whoa, did you just say his AOL account is "PleaseMeForever"?
COLLINS: "PleaseMeForEva," e-v-a, eva.
GRACE: Good to know. Go ahead.
COLLINS: And so that was -- so AOL notified the cyber-tip line. And the police launched an investigation. And when he was found, he had several thousand pornographic images on his computer, and about 1,100 of those contained young people, and 141 of those were confirmed child sex victims as young as toddlers, and also 52 videos. So he had quite a collection.
GRACE: Is it true -- yes, no -- Heather Nann Collins with us from the "Journal Inquirer," that these videos included children as young as toddlers screaming and crying, being molested?
COLLINS: There was -- I know that on one of the videos was showed a girl under the age of 6 who was being sodomized, and she was screaming. And the judge made note of that, that the children in many of the videos were crying. These children were being -- they weren`t just furtive pictures of kids at a beach. These children were being raped.
GRACE: OK. So, Ms. Collins, let me get this straight. Judge Miano, after making a verbal note in the record that this is video of young children being molested, crying and screaming, that was before or after he gave the guy straight probation?
COLLINS: That was before. He noted that he did sit down with the prosecutor and -- not the public defender, but the defense attorney, to look at some of the images. He didn`t want to, he said, but the state`s attorney, John Fahey, said he that needed to, to see what he was going to be sentencing on. And so he...
GRACE: So the judge didn`t want to see the evidence? They had to talk him into it, and he still gave the guy probation?
COLLINS: Yes, he felt -- he knew that they were dastardly. And the judge did say these were terrible things that he saw, and they were dastardly. Those are the judge`s own words.
GRACE: Well, I`ve got a problem with some of his reasoning. In the judge`s reasoning, he states one of the reasons he gave probation -- straight probation, people -- is that the guy didn`t disseminate anything, but in fact you`re telling me he tried to send two of these child pornography images across his AOL...
KATIE FALLON, "MARIETTA DAILY JOURNAL": The monitor isn`t up for me.
COLLINS: Yes, he did.
GRACE: Actually, we can see you and hear you, Katie.
Go ahead, Heather.
COLLINS: Yes, he did. That is precisely how he was caught. I talked to John Fahey again this morning just to confirm it, and that`s how he was caught, AOL, by doing it through his AOL account.
GRACE: So this thing, this judge`s statement, Judge Thomas P. Miano`s statement, given October 17, 2006 -- and P.S., we asked for his picture, so you all can know who he is -- but he said, "No thanks." Doesn`t want you to see his face, all right? Miano doesn`t want you to see his face.
But he did give a statement. And in his statement, he says this guy was not charged with distribution. But you`re telling me, Heather, that the judge knew the whole way he was caught was by disseminating this over AOL.
COLLINS: Yes, the judge did know that. And I have to say, in fairness to the judge, the judge did seem -- he said, you know, this is the first time he`s had this kind of case before him, so -- and attorney Fahey, Prosecutor John Fahey, had to make very clear to the judge it wasn`t only simple possession, although that is what he was convicted of, possession of child porn, two counts.
GRACE: And on simple possession of child pornography, it`s my understanding he could have gotten a substantial jail sentence.
COLLINS: Yes, I believe it`s a B felony, which is up to 20 years. He got 10 completely suspended, 5 years probation, 10 years registration as a sex offender. So he is a registered sex offender.
GRACE: Well, I have something for Judge Miano. I`d like to get it to him. Ellie, let`s FedEx this.
Here, you can use this for all the tears you`re shedding in court for this child pornographer, but at least sentence him to some jail time.
Let`s go out now to our other reporter joining us from the "Marietta Daily Journal," Katie Fallon. This is all about Judge Dorothy Robinson. I understand three years have passed, and she has done absolutely nothing on a very heinous murder case. I also understand it`s not one lady victim, but two realtors murdered brutally in a model home. It`s been three years, and the judge won`t even hold a hearing? What`s her problem?
FALLON: Well, you`ve got the time line correct. It`s been three years since the murders. The gentleman being held in the case, Stacey Humphreys, was indicted back in February of `04, and motions in the case started the following year in January.
GRACE: What`s the holdup? Why are the parents in the newspaper begging for the judge, Judge Dorothy Robinson, to do something?
FALLON: Because it has, indeed, been three years since their daughter and her co-worker was murdered. And it has been over one year since there was even a court proceeding in the case. It was a motion hearing back in September of last year.
GRACE: This is a shot of one of the victims, Lori Brown, in the prime of her life.
Let`s take a look at some other judges we`ve highlighted here, before we go to our star chamber. Remember Judge Cecava? She let a guy go to straight probation. She said he was too short to go to the penitentiary. He was charged with child molestation.
There was Judge Delvecchio, straight probation to Gregory Pathiakis. He was a substitute teacher who raped a 15-year-old male student. Way to go, Judge Delvecchio.
There`s Cashman. He should be the real winner: 60-day sentence to a guy who confessed to raping a 4-year-old girl over a period of years.
Judge Bates sentenced a choir instructor probation. That was assault on a boy.
Judge Cooper, he blocked Georgia from targeting individuals that wanted to live near school bus stops. They were registered sex offenders.
Here`s Judge Gallagher. She threw out a charge against a man accused of raping a girl six years ago when the prosecutor was 45 minutes late to court.
Judge Carr, he had a case, six counts of child molestation. And in this case, the perpetrator was released on bail.
Judge Brandt Downey, accused of improper conduct with female employees, also surfing porn sites on his judicial computer.
Judge Dana Fortinberry charged with misconduct against a judicial opponent, accused the other judge basically of murder.
And Judge Palumbo, we can`t ever forget about him, accused of making horrible comments to a burn victim, Yvette Cade. Take a listen to Judge Palumbo in action.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
YVETTE CADE, ATTACKED BY BOYFRIEND: He`s contacted my family. He`s still contacting me. He`s intimidating my daughter, and he`s vandalizing other people`s property. I want an immediate, absolute divorce.
JUDGE RICHARD PALUMBO, MARYLAND: I`d like to be six foot five, but that`s not what we do here. You have to go to divorce court for that.
CADE: He was trying to force me to go to marriage counseling.
PALUMBO: Well, it might not be a bad idea, if you want to save your marriage.
CADE: I don`t want to, because...
PALUMBO: Well, then you`re in the wrong place. Get a lawyer and go to divorce court. This petition is denied. You`re dismissed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He doesn`t known heartbreaks and the fact that I`ve been on the phone with the verbal abuse. I`ve seen the verbal abuse almost erupt into violence. And he should have heeded my sister`s pleas and ignored an abuser.
He had a sensitivity level of minus 10, as far as I`m concerned. The way he was talking to my sister is inexcusable. You know, you`re a public official. You`re here to serve the public, and he did not serve my sister.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Joining us now, our star chamber, all three very well- respected trial judges when they left the bench on their own volition. None of these guys thrown off the bench.
First of all, to Judge Margaret Finerty, former criminal court judge in New York, Judge, it`s great to have you back on the show. What is your response to these two judges?
JUDGE MARGARET FINERTY, FORMER CRIMINAL COURT JUDGE: Well, Nancy, I`m very surprised. I mean, one might make the argument, "Well, he wasn`t hurting anyone. He was merely looking at pictures in his home."
It`s not a victimless crime. By reading and possessing child pornography, you`re encouraging it. If there were no market for it, if there were no demand for it, then you wouldn`t have child pornography. So I`m very surprised that there was no jail time in that case.
With respect to the three-year delay in a homicide case, sometimes it happens, Nancy, but there`s got to be a good reason. And to have not had a court hearing in over a year is very, very surprising.
GRACE: And to Judge Charles Rubin out of L.A. County, Judge, three years is a long time. I find that very difficult to accept, when the parents are crying to the newspaper for action?
JUDGE CHARLES RUBIN, SUPERIOR COURT, LOS ANGELES: Well, I can understand the parents` concern, but there -- as the previous judge just said, sometimes there are reasons for the delays. And it depends on which side is seeking it. Maybe the prosecution needs time to get its case together. We don`t know the reason for the delay, so I don`t think the judge can be criticized in that regard.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALUMBO: I can`t read lips.
STRANGULATION VICTIM: He broke my voice box.
PALUMBO: Didn`t I have the same problem with you last week? Did you see me last week?
STRANGULATION VICTIM: Yes.
PALUMBO: You couldn`t talk then. You`re getting worse instead of better? Do I make you nervous?
STRANGULATION VICTIM: No.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Two judges in contempt, one allowing a child pornographer to walk free, another turning a deaf ear to the parents of a murdered girl. They had to go to the local paper to try to get a trial date. It`s been three years since she was murdered.
Out to our star chamber, three well-respected judges who have left the bench. Now let`s go to Paul Kerson, former judge in Ardsley, New York. Sir, thank you for being with us. I`m very concerned with a child pornographer walking free, when there is now mandatory sentences of at least five years behind bars under the new Child Protection Act of 2005. What was this judge thinking?
JUDGE PAUL KERSON, FORMER JUSTICE, ARDSLEY, NY: Well, without us seeing the pre-sentence report, it`s very difficult to criticize the judge in question. Before you sentence anybody as a judge, you`ve got an extensive pre-sentence report about this individual`s entire background, what his doctors say, what his neighbors say, what his former employers say, what kind of criminal record he has.
Sentencing someone is a very heavy responsibility. And without reading the pre-sentence report, you cannot say really one way or the other whether the judge was right or wrong. The pre-sentence report often has material which is not made public, and so you can`t really see it, and you can`t really prejudge the judge.
If you just look at the crime, of course, it looks like a terrible thing.
GRACE: Well, yes, you know, videos of children being raped is pretty disturbing to me. To you, Dr. Leslie Austin, after seeing and hearing about these videos and these photos, I don`t see any way but hard jail time.
AUSTIN: Well, I would advocate required treatment for an extended period of time. This doctor did say he was very low risk.
GRACE: No, I`m talking about jail time.
AUSTIN: Well, I`m talking about treatment, if the judge wasn`t going to do jail time. At least he needs to be treated. You said before he`s sick. It is very sick, but it`s a legal argument whether he committed a crime. But, man, does this man need treatment.
GRACE: It`s not a legal argument. It was a guilty plea.
AUSTIN: Well, in any case...
GRACE: There`s no argument that he possessed the child porn.
AUSTIN: ... there`s no argument that he`s very, very sick and he needs serious treatment.
GRACE: Let`s stop our discussion of judges in contempt to remember Army Specialist Harley Andrews, 22, Yuba City. He loved hunting, skateboarding and dreamed of starting his own company. He leaves behind a widow and a 15-month-old son. Harley Andrews, American hero.
Thank you to our guests and to you for being with us. NANCY GRACE signing off until tomorrow night. Good night, friend.