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Runaway 14-Year-Old Found Safe After Internet Escapade
Aired January 8, 2007 - 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: Breaking news tonight, APB, all points bulletin, a 14-year-old girl gone from her parents` own upscale home, Escondido, California. Tonight, police investigating a 34-year-old adult male they believe targeted the girl on the Internet.
And tonight: Infant twins kidnapped, hidden outside the U.S., far away from the long arm of U.S. law. Tonight, the kidnapper gives up the fight to remain abroad, heading back to the U.S., possibly facing life behind bars. PS, the alleged kidnapper, the twins` own mother.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At this time, we believe that Mr. Crowell and Ms. Smith (ph) are still together, and we`re looking for any information that might tell us where they`re at in the San Diego area, if they`re in the San Diego area. The phone number that was on her father`s cell phone, as well as another cell phone, who I can`t (INAUDIBLE) that information to you at this time, comes back associated with Mr. Crowell.
We found out that Mr. Crowell was checked into a hotel in the San Diego area, where the taxi cab was scheduled to drop off Ms. Smith when she was picked up in a Motel 6 on Embarcadero.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Good evening, everybody. I`m Nancy Grace. I want to thank you for being with us tonight. A 14-year-old girl targeted by a cyber- predator? Those are the questions that we want answers to tonight.
Jean Casarez from Court TV, what happened?
JEAN CASAREZ, COURT TV: Well, this 14-year-old girl has been found. She`s been found in South Dakota, but she lived in San Diego. So how did she get from San Diego to South Dakota? Well, police are saying that she corresponded with a man over the Internet that actually flew to San Diego. He arranged for a cab to pick her up in the middle of the night from her home. Her parents didn`t find her at 9:30 yesterday morning, but she was just found hours ago in South Dakota.
GRACE: Wait a minute, a cab picks her up at night?
CASAREZ: That is...
GRACE: At the home?
CASAREZ: That is possibly what is believed happened because the father said that on Thursday night, a cab company called and said, We are arranging a pick-up at your home in the middle of the night for your daughter to go to the Motel 6. And that`s when the father realized that something possibly was going to happen.
GRACE: The Motel 6? Well, it`s classy all the way. Out to KUSI reporter Leonard Villarreal. Leonard, welcome. Explain to us how this went down.
LEONARD VILLARREAL, KUSI: Well, you have a very good handle on it right now. What we do understand is that -- we first heard of this yesterday afternoon, after the family reported the 14-year-old, Kristin Smith, missing. And in fact, she was found about two hours ago in the custody of Charles Crowell...
GRACE: OK. Can`t hear Leonard Villarreal. Could you pick it back up again, Leonard, please? OK. Jean, pick it up from there.
CASAREZ: I think what Leonard was just saying, that she is now in protective custody. We`re talking about the 14-year-old. And here`s what happened. Once she went missing yesterday morning at 9:30, the father of the 14-year-old told police that he`d received a phone call he believed was from a cell phone to someone that is now known as Charles Crowell. That`s when police traced to where this person lived. And they were waiting at the apartment complex, and when his car pulled in today with the young 14- year-old girl, that`s when police surrounded them. She was found, he was found.
GRACE: How do we know or what makes us believe, Jean, that he was a cyberspace predator?
CASAREZ: Because her parents said that she was corresponding on the Internet. It was wrong what she was doing, and talking with someone, or trying to find men. They told her not to do it...
GRACE: Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a minute~! Wait a minute!~ Wait. Thirty-four, 5-7, 300 pounds, bald? OK. Whoa! Certainly, he did not bill himself as 300 pounds, bald, 34, to a 14-year-old girl, Jean.
CASAREZ: And he is saying that she told him that she was 18 years old. So different stories were going probably about both of them.
GRACE: Well, here`s what police have to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They stopped (ph) her on the 5th and apparently were unable to -- or discovered her missing on the 7th. You know, this morning at 9:30 is when they reported it. So it`s unknown that -- how she left the home. But they noticed her missing about 9:30 this morning.
Checking the address that was provided to the cab driver on the 5th, our investigators were able to determine that that address does come back to the Motel 6 on Pacific Highway in San Diego. Further in talking to the parents, they identified a Charles Leroy (ph) Crowell, spelled C-R-O-W-E-L- L, with a date of birth of 7/22 of `72 as the person that they believe that she was chatting with on the Internet. Our investigators were able to determine that Mr. Crowell, who lives outside the San Diego area, was renting a motel room at the Motel 6. But by the time they went down to interview him, he had checked out of the hotel.
We`re all aware of the stories that we hear on the media, both locally and nationally, about how the Internet is being misused by certain people to lure children into meetings or relationships, sometimes under false pretenses. So it`s very critical for parents and children to be aware of the fact that just because the person who you`re chatting with on line says they are a certain person or age or description, it doesn`t necessarily mean that`s so until you verify it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Jean, exactly how long had the 14-year-old been gone? And how did she get out of the house? That`s what I don`t understand.
CASAREZ: Well, it was Sunday morning, just yesterday morning, 9:30, parents went into her bedroom. She wasn`t in her bed. So that`s when they realized that she was gone and that`s when they contacted authorities. And her father had received that call, believed from a mobile number that was traced to Charles Crowell, who allegedly took her from the state of California, San Diego, to South Dakota.
GRACE: Joining us right now, Lieutenant David Mankin. He is the investigations commander there at the Escondido Police Department. Lieutenant Mankin, it`s wonderful and breaking news that the girl, we believe, has been found. How long was she missing?
LT. DAVID MANKIN, INVESTIGATIONS COMMANDER, ESCONDIDO POLICE DEPARTMENT: She was missing from 9:30 Sunday morning until 2:30 today, San Diego time.
GRACE: How far did this guy, allegedly, this 34-year-old guy, get with the girl?
MANKIN: She`s alleging that nothing happened, is what Sioux Falls is telling us at this time, though there will have to be follow-up on that.
GRACE: I meant how many miles away?
MANKIN: How many miles? Yes, I`m not sure of the distance between San Diego and Sioux Falls. We do know that they left San Diego, traveled through Denver to Omaha, and then drove from Omaha to Sioux Falls.
GRACE: Lieutenant, was there an Amber Alert?
MANKIN: There was not An Amber alert. She wasn`t believed to be abducted. She was a runaway juvenile at the time. The local media was notified, as well as an assistant (INAUDIBLE) called Track (ph), that notifies other law enforcement agencies.
GRACE: Out to Mike Brooks, former D.C. cop and fed with the FBI. I`ve got a problem with the structure of the Amber Alert as it stands right now, Mike Brooks, because it`s a miracle. We believe the girl is back with her parents tonight. We believe she`s back home. But had an Amber Alert gone out -- these guys traveled 1,800 miles, Mike.
MIKE BROOKS, FORMER D.C. POLICE, SERVED ON FBI TERRORISM TASK FORCE: They traveled a long way, Nancy, and -- but with the Amber Alert, if she was reported -- she was reported by her parents as a runaway, not as an abduction. So that`s -- that`s one of the main things. And then the police have to decide, OK, is this girl a runaway or is it abduction? And from the information, it was kind of hard to tell.
But I tell you what, you`ve got a 34-year-old, 300-pound bald guy, and then you`ve got a 14-year-old girl who`s claiming she`s 18. I`m sorry, Nancy. They traveled a long way on an airliner. And usually, most airlines, you`re considered to be a minor unless you are up to 16 years of age. Then you have to have some form of ID. So I`m telling you, I think this guy had to know that she wasn`t 18 years old. Let`s give him a polygraph. Let`s find out what his real story is.
GRACE: Joining us right now, Officer Loren McManus, the public information officer with the Sioux Falls Police Department. Officer, thank you for being with us. What can you tell us tonight?
OFC. LOREN MCMANUS, SIOUX FALLS POLICE DEPARTMENT: Well, we can tell you that the 14-year-old is safe in our custody right now, and Mr. Crowell is also here at our police department. And at this hour, they are still in the process of being interviewed.
GRACE: When you say he is at the police department, is he under arrest?
MCMANUS: He is not under arrest. There have not been formal charges leveled against him yet from our jurisdiction.
GRACE: And question. Why is that?
MCMANUS: The information that we have from Escondido will be compiled and put together with the information that our detectives are able to glean from the interviews here. And then once all that is put together, then our state`s attorney`s office will make a determination of what charges, if any, will be filed.
GRACE: Let`s unleash the lawyers. Joining us tonight, child advocate Gloria Allred out of the California jurisdiction. From Seattle, Anne Bremner, and Kathleen Mullin out of the New York jurisdiction. Welcome to all of you.
GLORIA ALLRED, CHILD ADVOCATE AND ATTORNEY: Well, I mean, I think we need to know what all the facts are. But I`d be interested in knowing why, in fact, the parents thought that she was a runaway rather than a missing child. I`d be interested in knowing from the child herself, after she is thoroughly interviewed, alone and not in the presence of that man, what the child says really happened and what she says she represented in terms of her age and what she expected to happen, what did happen en route. Only after we know all of that...
GRACE: OK, wa-wa-wa-wa-wa-wait! Gloria, Gloria, you think this guy came all the way to San Diego to go to the zoo? I don`t think so. Apparently, they had some type of a courtship on line.
ALLRED: Well, Nancy, it certainly raises my suspicion when I hear that they`re both meeting at a Motel 6. What good can come of that?
GRACE: Yes, let`s think about that for a moment.
GRACE: You`ve got a 34-year-old guy with a 14-year-old girl meeting at the Motel 6. To Anne Bremner, go ahead, give me your best defense.
ANNE BREMNER, TRIAL ATTORNEY: Well, that`s criminal right there, Nancy. But he`s, you know, Mr. Lonelyhearts, 300 pounds, bald, 5-foot-7. And (INAUDIBLE) his best defense, Nothing criminal happened. Nothing. There`s no solicitation. The age of consent is 18 in California. There`s no sex talk and there`s no sex, and there`s no, finally, abduction.
GRACE: Anne -- Anne...
BREMNER: That`s why there was no Amber Alert.
GRACE: ... Anne -- Anne...
BREMNER: So that`s my best defense. It`s all defensible right now, Nancy.
GRACE: He took her. He took her!
BREMNER: No, she went willingly.
GRACE: That`s a really interesting point. Out to Kathleen Mullin. Are you telling me that because a child gets into a car and the adult drives away, that that is willing?
KATHLEEN MULLIN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Nancy, if she goes ahead and tells him on line, I`m 18, I`m 19, I`m of the legal age of consent, come and get me, I`m ready to go, that`s not a crime.
GRACE: So you`re buying into the, "She looked like she was 18" defense?
MULLIN: No, I`m not buying into what she looked like...
MULLIN: I`m not buying into what she looked like, I`m buying into what she said. Remember...
GRACE: That`s the same thing!
MULLIN: ... every word that comes across the Internet that he says to her is going to be part of the prosecution. And by the way, every word that she says to him is going to be part of the defense. So if she presents herself on line as somebody who is of the legal age of consent, then this man has a viable defense.
If she turns up, Nancy, and she does not look to be what it is that she has sold herself to be on the Internet, 18, 19, and this guy says, Who, how old are you? And now we start to get into some sort of an inquiry, which gives him knowledge, now you`re in a different ball game.
GRACE: OK, Kathleen, while I appreciate the sermon...
GRACE: ... I think the law is very well settled. And you all can laugh if you want to, but the law is, a minor cannot enter into any agreement and cannot consent. That`s why...
GRACE: Excuse me! That is why 16-year-olds don`t go down to the used car lot.
MULLIN: He`s got to know, Nancy.
GRACE: I`d like to finish! I`d like to finish!
MULLIN: He`s got to know.
GRACE: No~!~ No~! That is not the law! The law is not that the juvenile has to be the responsible one and give their age. That is why a juvenile can`t get married, why a juvenile can`t enter a work contract, why a juvenile can`t buy a house or a car.
MULLIN: But Nancy...
GRACE: They are not held responsible for their representations. All the responsibility, Gloria Allred, is on the adult.
ALLRED: Well, yes, but the question is, What did she say?
ALLRED: And also, What did he perceive her age to be? And that is going to be a defense. Was it reasonable for him to think...
ALLRED: ... that she was 18 or not? This is not to excuse or justify...
ALLRED: ... his conduct...
ALLRED: ... but simply to talk about the reality.
GRACE: Let me see these defense attorneys just one moment, please.
GRACE: Every guy in the history of time that has been charged with statutory rape says, I thought she was 18. I didn`t -- look at her! That`s -- I don`t know what`s happened to you three. You`ve gone crazy just for a moment. This girl is 14 years old.
Let`s go to the lines. Maybe they`ll throw me a bone here. Out to Kathy in Florida. Hi, Kathy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, Nancy, it`s no laughing matter.
GRACE: I agree.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And believe me, Nancy, I blame the parents. I think you said that the parents knew she was on line with a 34-year-old bald man? Why didn`t she call -- why didn`t the parents call the police and take the computer?
GRACE: You know, interesting point. Let`s go out to -- do we have Lieutenant David Mankin with us? Lieutenant, has the computer been taken as evidence?
MANKIN: Actually, she was restricted from the computer approximately two months ago, when the parents had determined that she was using the Internet inappropriately.
GRACE: And Lieutenant, after the parents somehow discovered, probably by walking into the room, not any high-tech spectre (ph) software or anything like that -- they find out she`s -- what was it, Ellie, was she on Myspace? What was she...
GRACE: We think Myspace, although there`s a host of on-line dating sites to pick from. They take the computer away from her, right, Lieutenant Mankin?
MANKIN: They take her computer privileges away. Yes, that`s true.
GRACE: And she figures out how to do dial-up. Is that the way it worked, Lieutenant?
MANKIN: There`s some indication she`s also used text messaging via phones.
GRACE: Oh. OK. So we`ve got it laid out, Gloria. And it`s my understanding, Mike Brooks, that text messages by phone can be retrieved. Those aren`t just lost out into cyberspace.
BROOKS: It depends on the carrier. And there`s also another thing, technology, that apparently, she was using, which is another platform that can be used with phones and then PDAs and those kind of thing, Nancy. But I would be interested in finding out whether or not they`re going to go ahead and seize his computer, take a look at -- there`s other girls out there that he`s been trying to pick up, also. I mean, they should -- the detectives at Sioux Falls, if they haven`t already, get a search warrant for his house, go in and pick up his computer, get the records for his cell phones and find out exactly who else he`s been communicating with.
GRACE: To Officer McManus, has there been any search warrants conducted in his home?
MCMANUS: It hasn`t been conducted yet. It`s in the process of being reviewed by the judge for the final approval.
GRACE: Well, no pressure on the judge, Officer McManus, but I, from 2,000 miles away, think that it would be pretty wise to conduct that search before he could get home and possibly target some of the evidence, like bash his computer to death out in the driveway.
MCMANUS: (INAUDIBLE) of him getting home before that search warrant is executed.
GRACE: You were cut off. What did you say, Officer?
MCMANUS: The fact that he is still in our custody and being interviewed, the likelihood of him getting home before the execution of the search warrant is pretty improbable.
GRACE: OK, McManus, you`re one step ahead of me. I will give you that much.
Let`s go out to Cheryl in Massachusetts. Hi, Cheryl.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Nancy. Love your show.
GRACE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wanted to ask you, if they met at a Motel 6, how did they get from the Motel 6 to an airport and to South Dakota and back so fast?
GRACE: You know, that`s an excellent question. Back out to Kathleen Mullin, who says if she looks 18, then she is 18. Go ahead, Kathleen.
GRACE: ... on that airplane.
MULLIN: I didn`t say that she looked 18 and she was 18. But hello? Has anyone ever heard of fake ID? I mean, I`m not saying that this girl presented herself in this way. All I`m saying to you, Nancy, is that if this girl is on the Internet, over the advice of her parents and over their restriction, presenting herself in that way...
GRACE: Well, you know what? You`re right, Kathleen. Maybe she should be the one to go to jail.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We found out that Mr. Crowell was checked into a hotel in the San Diego area, where the taxicab was actually scheduled to drop off Ms. -- when she was picked up from Motel 6 (INAUDIBLE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: A 14-year-old girl goes missing from her home in upscale Escondido, California. Tonight, police wondering if a cyberspace predator had not been targeting this girl on line. Our defense team tonight is insisting that it all depends on whether the girl misled the predator as to her age. But what is the law, Jean Casarez?
CASAREZ: Well, there`s a law in South Dakota about solicitation of a minor over the Internet for a sexual activity. And it does say that the person has to reasonably believe that he is talking with a minor.
GRACE: Let`s go out to the lines. Nikki in Indiana. Hi, Nikki.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. Nancy, I wanted to know, was there any way for sure for the police to find out if she represented herself as an 18- year-old or as a 19-year-old, to this person, or is that just a lie he`s telling?
GRACE: Well, I can tell you this much. If you`re looking at 20 years behind bars on statutory rape or kidnapping, you`ll probably say anything. But Nikki, I think that it`s going to be a simple matter of proof. If they can capture those text messages, and if she posted herself on a dating site, or on Myspace, those are easily capturable, Mike Brooks. Explain how.
BROOKS: Absolutely. As we heard from the police official in Sioux Falls, they are obtaining a warrant right now, and that will allow them to do that. Now, also, on the telephone messages, the text messages, they will have to get a subpoena for the carrier, which she has the cell phone service, and go back and take a look at those messages also, hopefully.
GRACE: But Mike, Mike, from my point of view, under the law, having tried statutory rape cases and kidnap of juveniles, what the juvenile says doesn`t matter.
BROOKS: No, it doesn`t, Nancy.
GRACE: The onus is on the adult. That is why we don`t place this responsibility on children, like a 16-year-old kid can`t go to the liquor store. Why? They don`t have capacity under the law.
BROOKS: Exactly. And if he thought this woman was 18, then...
GRACE: She`s not a woman!
BROOKS: I know that. Exactly. And that`s my point exactly...
GRACE: She`s a 14-year-old girl! Let`s see, 14, what is that, the 7th grade?
Out to Mia in Michigan. Hi, Mia.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Nancy. Love the show.
GRACE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I really believe that this gentleman -- it takes time to generate a ticket, and since it`s been so fast in happening, I believe that they`ve been speaking, and this guy knows damn well she is not 18, just by the verbiage alone. When you speak to a 14-year-old, there`s just no way. He`s the adult...
GRACE: And Nikki, what about her having to sneak out of the house? Clearly, if you`re an 18 or 21-year-old person, you`re not having to speak out of the top window and hop in the car to get away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They stopped (ph) her on the 5th and apparently were unable to -- or discovered her missing on the 7th. You know, this morning at 9:30 is when they reported it. So it`s unknown how she left the home, but they noticed her missing about 9:30 this morning.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: The breaking news tonight is a 14-year-old girl we believe targeted by a cyber-predator is safe.
Out to Robi Ludwig, psychotherapist and author. Robi, what you`re hearing from the defense attorneys is, basically, yes, we`re all about protecting children, but we`re only going to protect the girls that don`t have breasts yet because once you develop...
GRACE: It`s not funny to me! Once you develop and go through puberty, since you look older, you`re not worth protecting.
ROBI LUDWIG, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: No, but it does underscore some of the new things that we`re learning about these sexual Internet crimes, is that the girls who get abducted very often have a relationship with the person that they are responding to, that there`s sexuality out there in the air, and that there`s there`s the sense they know what`s going to happen.
GRACE: When we come back, a biological mom facing life behind bars for international kidnap of her twins.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... we`re talking about a woman, a professional, 48 years old, master`s in computer science (INAUDIBLE) went through a lengthy and painful and expensive process of artificial insemination, a horrific pregnancy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Tonight, infant twins kidnapped, hidden outside the U.S., far away from the long arm of the U.S. law. Tonight, the kidnapper gives up the fight to remain abroad, heading back to the U.S., possibly facing life behind bars. The kidnapper? The twins` biological mother.
Jean Casarez, what`s the latest?
JEAN CASAREZ, COURT TV: Allison Quets is in the United States. She`s actually in upstate New York, bound for North Carolina, because that is where she allegedly abducted and kidnapped the children, taking them to Canada. Not known when she will reach Durham, North Carolina, but she does face international kidnapping charges, as well as state charges.
GRACE: Joining us, Gail Quets. This is Allison Quets` sister. Thank you so much for being with us, Ms. Quets. Right now, if she is charged under a federal kidnapping charge, non-parental, she could be facing life behind bars. What is her defense?
GAIL QUETS, ALLISON QUETS` SISTER: Her defense is simply that she was a mother who wanted to raise her children and was being prevented from doing so by a court system, which was apparently corrupt and not looking at the evidence in her case.
GRACE: Why do you say it`s corrupt? Because I`m looking at court documents -- and I want you to correct me if I`m wrong, Gail Quets -- this is the defendant`s sister -- that, in August, August 12, Allison and the Needhams meet to sign an adoption agreement. At that time, she says she wants to sleep on it.
The next day, they meet again. Allison takes the twins back home to Florida. On the 14th, she says to the Needhams she will finalize the papers. The 16th, she signs the adoption papers. That`s August 12th, 13, 14, 15, 16. She calls right back the next day, asking them to tear up the documents. Finally, everything is completed. The Needhams have the children for about 16 months of their short lives.
QUETS: I`m sorry, if I might interrupt you right there.
GRACE: Please, go ahead.
QUETS: Nothing was ever completed. My sister entered into the first stages of an adoption process. She signed a consent to adopt. This was the first stage of the process. Twelve hours after her first signature, she revoked consent. She signed the papers late one evening.
The very next morning, she called the prospective adoptive parents, pleaded with them to return her children. And they absolutely refused.
This adoption has not been finalized. The Needhams are not the parents of these children. They were prospective adoptive parents. Today they are merely people who have custody of the children. And I am hoping - - as many, many Canadians and Americans are hoping -- that those children are returned to their mother, who loves them and wants to raise them.
GRACE: I have a question for you. Is it true that, at some juncture, when she realized that she was having twins, one of her plans was to only adopt out the boy and keep the girl?
QUETS: I find it hard to believe that is true. My sister was suffering from a severely debilitating disease called hyperemesis in the last months of her pregnancy, where she was nauseous and vomiting 24 hours a day, seven days a week. She might have said things that she probably can`t remember today.
She was absolutely physically and emotionally debilitated by the IVF process, by the hyperemesis. She delivered her twins by c-section, received blood transfusions in the hospital, almost died. Four weeks later, she was barely recovered.
And at that point, the prospective adoptive parents apparently found nothing wrong with taking advantage of a single signature on a piece of paper to keep her children from her.
QUETS: And I want to emphasize that this is not a question of an adoptive parent versus a birth mother. This is a question of the rights of children and their right to be with the parent who loves them and wants to raise them.
GRACE: Gail, how long did the Needhams take care of the twins?
QUETS: They have been in the Needhams` custody for almost a year and a half. But during that time, my sister has had visitation. She has bonded with those children. They are certainly no stranger to her.
GRACE: And Gail, my question was, how long had the Needhams had them? And you answered, "About a year and a half." How many other adoptive couples did your sister meet with to give up the children?
QUETS: I don`t believe she ever met with any adoptive parents. She made inquiries to other adoption agencies, again, during the last months of her pregnancy, when she was terrified that she would not be able to physically care for her children. She did not want to give these babies up.
GRACE: Then why did she sign the papers?
QUETS: She wanted to do what was best for them. Why? Because she felt at that point that she had no alternative.
GRACE: Well, wasn`t she in the office of an impartial party, a lawyer`s office, that the judge had appointed?
QUETS: No, she was in the office of a lawyer for the prospective adoptive parents and a whole group of people who pressured her into signing that paperwork. Unfortunately, she was not in the state of mind which would have allowed her to protect herself by having her own legal counsel or other family members pregnant -- present, excuse me.
GRACE: Jean Casarez, where is she tonight?
CASAREZ: Well, tonight she is in custody in Syracuse, New York. She voluntarily did not participate extradition hearings, just voluntarily came to the United States. She`s in the custody of the U.S. marshal.
And, Nancy, we cannot forget about the opinion of the judge in Florida in terminating her parental rights, saying that she voluntarily consented and intended to adopt the children for four long months.
GRACE: Explain to me what the judge`s findings were, Jean Casarez, and are they based on sworn testimony under oath?
CASAREZ: That`s right. Facts from sworn testimony, coupled with the applicable law. And what the judge found was that, from the beginning, when she found out that she was pregnant with twins, she immediately called up the Needhams and she also...
QUETS: That is absolutely incorrect.
CASAREZ: That is according to the judge`s order right here, and that`s what I rely on.
GRACE: Ms. Quets, we gave you your opportunity to be heard, and we would appreciate it if you would allow others with a different opinion to be heard. Continue, Jean.
CASAREZ: And, you know, Nancy, this isn`t even my opinion; this is a judge`s order. I am reading from a legal document, a judge, in terminating the parental rights of this mother.
And what he says happened was that she contacted the Needhams. She also wanted $33,000 of expenses for her pregnancy compensated for. They said they weren`t going to pay it and couldn`t pay it, so then she contacted some other people for an adoption of the children.
They agreed to pay the money, but they did not agree to all the special considerations that she wanted, in visitation rights and other things, in regards to birthdays and presents. So after the baby was born, according to the judge, in his order, she went back to the Needhams, saying, "Look, if you can just pay me some of the money, then I can have an open adoption with a lot of visitation."
GRACE: Back to Allison Quets` sister, Gail Quets, did your sister ask for the $30,000?
QUETS: Excuse me. The implication that my sister, who is an experienced and financially successful professional, was selling her children is disgusting and baseless.
GRACE: So could you answer the question?
QUETS: Adoption expenses -- I`m sorry, but, you know, but in any ordinary adoption, the expenses of the birth mother are paid for.
GRACE: No, did she ask for her in vitro expenses, to the tune of $30,000? Did she ask for them to be paid by the Needhams?
QUETS: I imagine that that was part of the standard adoption agreement.
GRACE: Well, no, paid for in vitro is not part of a standard adoption agreement, and you just called Jean Casarez a liar. So I`m asking you: Did she ask for the money?
QUETS: I guess you`d have to ask her that or refer to the court documents.
GRACE: Well, then why did you call Casarez a liar?
QUETS: I said that the implication that my sister was selling her children was baseless and disgusting. And it is.
GRACE: Nobody implied that. We`re reading straight from the court documents by the judge.
QUETS: I think that`s the obvious implication. I think that is the obvious...
GRACE: You`re saying your sister asked for the $30,000.
CASAREZ: The whole issue here -- the judge relied upon this to show the intent of this woman. That`s what the judge is looking at. What was her intent? Not the money. The money`s not the issue; it was what her state of mind was at the time.
GRACE: And there is no suggestion -- all right, to be very clear about this -- that these children were ever put up for sale under any condition.
Out to Teresa in Pennsylvania. Hi, Teresa.
CALLER: Hi, Nancy. My question is, with parents doing this, why do they have an open adoption and putting the adoptive parents through this and the children through this chaos?
GRACE: Gloria Allred, that`s an excellent question, because apparently they were all meeting up at a mall. The next thing you know, the two kids were in Canada.
GLORIA ALLRED, ATTORNEY: Well...
GRACE: I`m glad they weren`t Al Qaeda.
ALLRED: Well, of course, it was important to the biological mother. And apparently, at least according to the court`s decision, it was a condition of the biological mother that there be an open adoption, that she be allowed to have visitation.
And she was granted unsupervised visitation for a short period of time. And that`s why she had it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Jean Scott (ph) was silent as he packed his son, Evan`s, belongings into the car, preparing him for a trip Evan thinks is only a visit. No matter what the Scotts tell him, Jean says the 3-year-old does not understand he`s never coming back.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How can they do this to a little boy?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s a reason.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How can they do this to him?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s a reason.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nobody will listen to me!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): When Evan left, she fell to her knees and cried.
This is the home Jessica (ph) left in tears Monday, the home she shared with Roberta and Juan Divor (ph) on Fair Street (ph) in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She will now share this home on Cedar Street (ph) with biological parents, Dan and Kara Schmidt (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s just kind of a sad situation, for a girl who`s always going to suffer through the whole thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Welcome back. The biological mom of two infant twins tonight facing life behind bars under certain federal charges. She picked up the kids for a visitation and took off to Canada.
We`re taking your calls. Out to Bobbi Jo in New Hampshire. Hi, Bobbi Jo.
GRACE: What`s your question, dear?
CALLER: Well, Nancy, I watched your previous show, and I guess my question is, how is it that a woman is facing life in prison for changing her mind on having her children adopted, and a pedophile only faces up to 20 years?
GRACE: You know what? That is a darn good question. Now, hold on about the -- are you talking about the guy that we just highlighted that took the 14-year-old? Do I have Bobbi Jo?
CALLER: ... facing to 20 years.
GRACE: OK, are you talking about the case we just showed you?
GRACE: All right. If there`s any sexual conduct in that case, he could be facing life, as well. But you`re right: It`s entirely unfair. His sentence, if he is guilty, should be the same as this one, life behind bars. So we`ll see what charges unfold in that case.
In this case, I want to make something clear. Right now, she is charged with parental kidnap, under federal law. That`s only three years. If the feds indict her with regular kidnap, Bobbi Jo, because she was no longer the legal parent, she could be facing life behind bars.
Let`s go back out to the lawyers. Ann Bremner, Kathleen Mullin, and Gloria Allred. Gloria, what`s your position?
ALLRED: Well, I`ve been involved in an international parental kidnapping case, not this one -- I talk about it in my book, "Fight Back and Win" -- and I will say this, that if she took those children in violation of a court order -- now, it appears that she had those children for visitation, but only for a very short period of time.
If she took them for a longer period of time and took them out of the jurisdiction -- in other words, took them to Canada -- then it`s possible that she could be convicted of international parental kidnapping, and she would have to possibly serve some time, because that is a crime, even if she is the biological mother, if she has violated a court order.
GRACE: Anne, what about it, Anne Bremner?
ANNE BREMNER, TRIAL ATTORNEY: You know, I see this, Nancy, as almost contractual interference. I mean, here`s somebody that contracted with another couple about her own children, and you`re looking at kidnapping charges, life in prison, and she`s waived extradition, has come back to the jurisdiction. I think enough is enough in this case.
GRACE: So you think this is all just a contract matter, right? So taking the twins away from their adoptive parents -- this was the judge had severed her parental rights. Did she just decide like a toaster you take back to Macy`s, I decide I want it back?
BREMNER: No, but the thing is -- this is not the Lindbergh kidnapping, either. This is somebody that had a contract that has had contractual interference, that`s what I`m saying, at best.
A kidnapping case, Nancy, international with extradition laws and everything else, when she simply wants to be with her children -- they`re 18 months old. This case has had a lot of twists and turns.
GRACE: OK, you know what?
GRACE: Kathleen Mullin, couldn`t she be with her children during the arranged visits?
KATHLEEN MULLIN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Nancy, I hope you`re not looking to me to help you out with this one. I`m with Anne Bremner. This is a case where Allison Quets is not guilty every day of the week.
I understand the problems. I understand the idea that the adoptive parents were prospective adoptive parents, whatever you want to call them, have some rights here. But I`ve got to tell you: One day after she signs the contract for the adoption, she calls and says, "Oh, no, no, no, I changed my mind. I don`t want to do this."
If her consent for that adoption was not voluntarily obtained, Allison Quets wins this case every day of the week.
GRACE: Wait a minute, Kathleen. Hold on, Kathleen. Hold on. Her consent totally voluntary. This lady has more degrees than the four of us put together.
MULLIN: I don`t care how many degrees she has, Nancy.
GRACE: I`m not done, Kathleen. I let you finish.
GRACE: I`d like to finish.
MULLIN: I understand.
GRACE: The judge looked at all the facts, and took sworn testimony, and decided she had given up her rights voluntarily. In fact, according to documents, at one point, when she found out she was going to have twins, she said, "OK, well, I`ll just get rid of one of them, and I`ll keep the other."
So, long story short, the Needhams had adopted the children. So this is where it`s not just about a contract, Robi Ludwig. This is about, in Florida, once you sign the papers for an adoption, it`s over, and everybody knows that.
So when do you get to go back to the adoptive parents and say, "I`ve changed my mind. I know you`ve had them for 16 months, and you`ve been taking care of them, and you`ve been feeding them and giving them shelter, but I`ve changed my mind"?
DR. ROBI LUDWIG, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: I mean, this is a tough situation. And maybe biological mothers who give up their children for adoption are not completely understood. Maybe the legal system needs to re-look at these women.
Are they getting counseling ahead of time, before they make this decision? What impact did her illness during the pregnancy have on her or her life situation?
GRACE: OK. OK. So, Jean Casarez, what is the law, and how will it play out here?
CASAREZ: Well, the law is an intent to kidnap. Once again, you`re looking at her state of mind and her intent. And if you look at what the prosecution office has delineated here, in that, early on in December, she contact the bed and breakfast, saying she was going to bring children. She took the children to a doctor, trying to get medical records switched so they could have a new doctor.
She got birth certificates, passports made on the children. She took one child to Canada the beginning of December. She wrote a written letter saying, "I`m going to have the children for 48 hours, December 22nd through 24th." And then there was a call, and she hung up on it the night of the 24th. And she was in Canada by that point in time.
GRACE: Mike Brooks, response?
MIKE BROOKS, FORMER D.C. POLICE: This was something she had been planning for quite some time. She got the kids` passports back in August, Nancy. This is something she had been working on for quite some time. And if she took the kids out of the country back in December, again, or one of the children, she could face further charges.
GRACE: A biological mom puts her kids up for adoption, then changes her mind and takes them out of the country. To Dr. Maureen Moomjy, NYU, a New York Presbyterian fertility specialist, these children were born of donor sperm through the in vitro process. That is a very elaborate process, Doctor.
DR. MAUREEN MOOMJY, NYU FERTILITY SPECIALIST: In fact, it is. And the court documents relate that the pregnancy was actually conception of donor egg and donor sperm, which is a rare situation. So it is understandable that she certainly did have psychological consultation to move in that direction; that`s really standard of care in this time.
GRACE: And to Kimber MacGibbon, founder of Her Foundation, Kimber, the illness that she suffered, would that have continued on after giving birth?
KIMBER MACGIBBON, FOUNDER, HER FOUNDATION: Yes, it absolutely would.
GRACE: What are the symptoms?
MACGIBBON: Well, during pregnancy, she would have severe nausea and vomiting.
GRACE: I`m sorry, after?
MACGIBBON: Well, the aftereffects are dependent upon what happened during pregnancy. And because she was so malnourished, and dehydrated, and had so much difficulty sleeping, and extreme fatigue, and muscle atrophy during pregnancy, it makes it very difficult for her to function postpartum.
GRACE: With us, Kimber MacGibbon and Dr. Maureen Moomjy.
Let`s stop our legal discussion for a moment to remember John Priestner, 42, Stanford, North Carolina, killed, Iraq. A Gulf War veteran, he served in Afghanistan before Iraq. An Apache pilot with the 82nd Airborne Division, he is remembered for his sense of humor, loyalty and love of family. Leaving behind a grieving family, a widow, Theresa, and two little girls, Breanna and Megan, John Priestner, American hero.
Thank you to our guests, but especially to you, for being with us. NANCY GRACE, signing off. See you tomorrow night, 8:00 sharp Eastern. Until then, good night, friend.