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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Iran-British Captive Crisis Escalates; Man Ordered to Pay Alimony to Ex Despite Sex Change
Aired March 30, 2007 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NATHAN THOMAS SUMMERS, BRITISH SAILOR: Again, I deeply apologize for entering your waters.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: A new videotaped confession on the eighth day in captivity for 15 British sailors held somewhere in Iran. And a new letter from the lone female captive saying she's been sacrificed to United States and British policy and urging both nations to pull their troops out of Iraq.
Britain is furious. But a nervous world wonders what can anyone do without this tense standoff exploding?
And while the captives say they're being treated well, are they just doing whatever they must to stay alive?
We'll ask the Black Hawk Down copter pilot held 11 days by Somali rebels, a Navy SEAL trained in hostage rescue and a former POW in Iraq.
And then, the woman he married and divorced has undergone sexual reassignment surgery and now he has to pay alimony to a man. He says it's not fair when same-sex marriage is illegal.
Plus, Halle Berry's suicide attempt is making headlines more than four years after she discussed it on this program. You'll see what she told me drove her to the brink and her heart stopping revelation of what kept her from taking her own life.
It's next on LARRY KING LIVE.
The crisis over Iran's capture of 15 British sailors and marines has ended its second week. And earlier today, Teheran released new video of its detainees.
Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SUMMERS: Since we've been arrested in Iran, our treatment has been very friendly. We have not been harmed at all. They've looked after us really well. Basically the food they've been serving us has been good and I'm grateful no harm has come to us.
Just, I'd like to apologize for entering your waters without any permission. I know it happened back in 2004 and our government promised that that wouldn't happen again. And again, I deeply apologize for entering your waters.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Let's meet our guests. In the first segment, on assignment is Christiane Amanpour, CNN's chief international correspondent. Her CNN investigation unit special, "The War Within," will air this Saturday and Sunday at 8:00 Eastern.
In London is Matthew Chance, CNN's senior international correspondent.
And in Washington, our buddy, Major General James "Spider" Marks, United States Army, CNN military analyst.
Matthew, what's the latest from London?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Larry, we've had a couple of dramatic developments, I suppose, in this escalating stand-off between Iran and Britain over these captured 15 service personnel.
One of them has appeared on Iranian state television broadcasting what amounts to some kind of confession, saying that, you know, he apologizes. We just heard that on your show a few minutes ago, seconds ago -- he apologizes to the Iranians for trespassing in their waters.
We've also had another letter which has been made public written by the only female serviceperson in captivity in Iran at the moment, Faye Turney. In that letter she says that, you know, she wants the government to stop -- of Britain and the government of the United States, as well -- to stop its oppression of other people's, or words to that effect.
And so these are, quite obviously, examples by which the Iranian government is using this situation that has developed in the Persian Gulf, the capture of these British personnel, to the best propaganda effect.
And here's the latest of what British Prime Minister Tony Blair had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I really don't know why the Iranian regime keep doing this. I mean all it does is it hardens people's sense of disgust that captured personnel are being paraded and manipulated in this way. It doesn't fool anyone. And what the Iranians have to realize is that if they continue in this way, they will face increasing isolation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Before we check in with "Spider" Marks, Christiane Amanpour, what's your read on where this crisis stands right now?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Larry, I think Tony Blair is exactly right. This parading of these personnel with these alleged confessions are not kidding anybody and it's clearly going to backfire against Iran. I think the only discernible movement, if you like, on the diplomatic front, is a note quoted by the Iranian news agency, the Mehr News Agency, saying that the Iranian president, Ahmadinejad, would look into the situation of the female detainee, Faye Turney, saying that after conversations by phone, a conference call with the Turkish foreign minister -- rather, the Turkish prime minister -- Ahmadinejad would look into the possibility of issuing the orders to release her.
Remember, that was the first thing the Iranians said that they might do a couple of days ago and then suspended that. And then also Ahmadinejad is quoted by the Iranian news agency as saying that he would issue the necessary orders to perhaps comply with a demand or a request by Turkey to send its consular -- its diplomatic officials to have access to the detained...
AMANPOUR: ... British personnel in Iran.
So that's the only discernible movement I can tell.
And in Washington now is Major General James "Spider" Marks, United States Army, CNN military analyst -- United States Army retired.
Walk us through it again -- "Spider," where the capture took place and where you might think they are now.
MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, U.S. ARMY (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST:
KING: Larry, absolutely.
Let me bring you to the graphic, if I can, please.
Iran here and Iraq here. The location is right here, a place called the Shat-al-Arab, which is where Iran and Iraq co-join. And these waters are very clearly marked, lots of operations have been there for years and years. And the U.S. has a routine presence. The Brits, as well. And the Brits were in Iraqi territorial waters. the HMS Cornwall was down here in the lower section down here. And then there was a merchant ship that was located up here which was offloading cargo.
The Cornwall took two boats, offloaded those two boats, went to the merchant ship to do their inspection, which is exactly what they are authorized and required to do. And once the two boats had completed their mission up here at the merchant ship, they then were returning to the Cornwall when an Iranian vessel appeared right about here in Iraqi waters and took one of the two boats.
Now, that's what happened about eight days ago.
Now, let me pull out of this thing, if I can, Larry, and show you what we're looking at, at this point.
We have to make a couple of assumptions. Number one is Iran will export many things, not their problems, and they've got 15 hostages right now. So we have to assume that they're in Iran.
We also have to assume that they're in multiple locations. They've learned that lesson many times. So the sailors and the marines are probably in multiple locations out here in Iran. But the Brits clearly have some operations in the bag and prepared to execute, but that is dependent on some very good intelligence.
KING: And Christiane and also "Spider" Marks will be back with us.
And when we come back, some -- a pair of military veterans who know firsthand what it's like to be captured and held hostage will share their experiences with us, when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FAYE TURNEY, CAPTURED BRITISH SAILOR: I was arrested on Friday, the 23rd of March. And obviously we trespassed into their waters. They were very friendly and very hospitable, very thoughtful, nice people. They explained to us why we had been arrested. There was no aggression, no hurt, no harm. They were very, very compassionate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE FROM "LARRY KING LIVE" NOVEMBER 13, 1993)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL DURANT, BLACK HAWK HELICOPTER PILOT: I'm a Black Hawk pilot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: You looked scared. Was this the time you thought that maybe they wouldn't let you go?
DURANT: Well, that was about 30 hours after the capture when they filmed that. And I still really didn't feel like I was going to get out of there alive. I knew that the people in the neighborhood, if they discovered that I was there, I had been told they would come in and kill me. And, again, I really didn't feel like I would make it out of there at that point.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
KING: Joining us from Huntsville, Alabama, Michael Durant, former POW in Somalia, captured on October 3, 1993 when the Black Hawk helicopter he was piloting crashed during the battle of Mogadishu.
He was held prisoner for 11 days. He told his story of what he saw and how he survived in the "New York Times" best-seller "In The Company of Heroes." And he was -- he joined us on this program when he got back to the States.
And here in Los Angeles is Harry Humphries, the highly decorated former U.S. Navy SEAL with extensive combat experience. He, by the way, is the owner and operator of Global Studies Group, Inc. That's GSGI, a security and training organization.
Michael Durant, what might you imagine these Britishers are going through?
DURANT: Well, it's certainly something they didn't anticipate. I don't think any of us ever expects that we're going to be thrust into this sort of a situation. You know, by the videos, it's very difficult to determine whether or not they're being treated well. It appears as though they are, but it's pretty obvious that the Iranians want to make sure that their best foot is forward and make us believe that.
So it's really hard to tell. You know, there's no signs of any physical abuse from what I saw, but it could be going on behind the scenes.
KING: Your captors released pictures of you, Michael.
How did you feel about that?
DURANT: Well, initially, I resisted it. I wasn't sure how I really ought to handle it at the time. You know, we tend to shy away from publicity in general in the military and I didn't think it was a good thing.
But and it turned out, it really created some accountability for my well being. The world now knew that they had me as a prisoner. So it almost became a sort of life insurance policy for me.
KING: What do you make of all of this, Harry? HARRY HUMPHRIES, FORMER NAVY SEAL, ADVANCED HOSTAGE RESCUE INSTRUCTOR: Well, I remember Mike's situation very well. As a matter of fact, I was involved with Mike when we did the "Black Hawk Down" TV show -- or, rather, main feature for jerry Bruckheimer.
KING: You were both involved with that movie?
HUMPHRIES: Mike was an adviser for that end of it, as well.
But Mike is absolutely correct. The situation is very clear, especially in the present warfare that we're seeing in the Middle East today. They're really out there to try to capture and get as much advantage out of the captured soldiers that they can get. And, really, it's about a P.R. in a world where TV reaches every person in the entire world.
They utilize -- intimidate and utilize the testimony that is really false testimony...
KING: So you don't buy anything they...
HUMPHRIES: I don't buy any of this, no. I mean Mike had the same situation happen to him. I mean you're in a situation, you have no idea what's going to happen to you. You're separated from your -- from your colleagues, which is the first move that they would make, so you cannot talk amongst one another and get comfort amongst one another. You've got to have confidence in the other folks, know that they're not going to turn against you and they know that you're not going to turn against them.
KING: Frankly, Michael, would you say anything they told you to say?
DURANT: Well, you know, again, it's hard to say what their situation is specifically, but it is very easy to manipulate people. I mean you can, you know, deprive them of sleep. You can threaten them. You can make them believe that situations exist that don't really exist and make them do things that they ordinarily wouldn't do.
I wouldn't say that I would do anything or say anything under those circumstances personally. But at some point I believe everyone can be broken and it's very, you know, it's different for each individual. So, you know, I try not to be critical of people who do things in captivity and try to give them the benefit of the doubt. You know, they're confused, clearly.
And the other thing that I wanted to add about this particular case is we're not at war here. So they may not even be real sure about how they're supposed to act. I know I felt that way. We weren't technically at war in Somalia and I didn't know whether the Geneva Convention applied. I didn't know if I was a POW. I didn't know -- so I basically took the most conservative approach I could, and I suspect that some of that is true here, as well.
KING: Harry is the SEAL or any Army, Navy, Marine, trained about what to do...
KING: ... if you get taken?
HUMPHRIES: ... in 1955, President Eisenhower, through executive order, issued a code of conduct for all prisoners of war as a result of what we went through during the Korean conflict. That code of conduct is taught to every entry level military person that comes into the U.S. service, number one.
Number two, once you get the code, then you have to learn how to implement those skill sets required to -- to abide by the code of conduct. And that's where the SEAR training program comes in. There are varying levels of SEAR training -- entry level and advanced level and levels that are specific to areas of operation.
KING: Do the British, do you imagine, do the same thing?
HUMPHRIES: Yes. The British have a SEAR program. Our acronym stands for Survival, Evade, Resist and Escape. Their final E is extract. So there's a difference in philosophy.
KING: Do you think there would be any attempt to rescue on the part of the Brits?
HUMPHRIES: There are certainly such forces as 22-SAS or SBS folks are...
KING: Are they like Rangers?
HUMPHRIES: They're -- they're equivalent to our -- SBS folks are equivalent to our underwent demolition teams or...
KING: Navy SEALS?
HUMPHRIES: Navy SEALS. And the 22-SAS is really the origin of the Army's special unit that we don't talk about.
KING: We'll be back with more.
Michael and Harry will remain with us.
Just ahead, we'll be joined by the former CIA operative whose intriguing career inspired George Clooney's Oscar winning "Syriana" performance.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHANCE: The very act of putting this young captive on television with claims his confession was coerced has provoked outrage in Britain. Prime Minister Tony Blair has spoken of his disgust. The British Foreign Office says it's disgraceful. It's also illegal, say lawyers. Parading detainees on TV would seem to violate the 1949 Geneva Convention, which Iran has signed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Welcome back.
Michael Durant remains with us.
So does Harry Humphries.
Christiane Amanpour is with us, as well.
And joining us now in Silverton, Colorado is Robert Baer, the former CIA field officer assigned to the Middle East, intelligence columnist for time.com and the best-selling author of books, including "See No Evil."
Robert, what do you make of all of this?
ROBERT BAER, FORMER CIA MIDEAST CASE OFFICER, PLAYED BY GEORGE CLOONEY IN "SYRIANA": I think it's a bad sign. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps takes orders from Teheran, from Khamenei, the spiritual leader. I don't think this was an accident. I think the Iranians are reacting to the situation in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Gulf.
I think we're in for a long haul.
KING: Could that long haul mean war?
BAER: I think we're a lot closer than we've been in a long time with Iran, since the '80s, at least. The Iranians are accusing the United States of running Iranian opposition groups in Iraq, running them across the border. That would include the Kurds. That would included Salifis in Baluchistan.
And this regime in Iran is paranoid and dangerous.
KING: Are you saying that this clash between the United States and Iran, Britain and Iran, is inevitable?
BAER: With the Iranians, it's difficult to predict. But I do not think this taking of hostages was an accident. The Iranians know the risk they're running. They know they could get hit.
On the other hand, they know we don't have enough troops in the Gulf to actually invade. And they may -- they may welcome some sort of confrontation which would bolster support for the regime. KING: Let's get what our panelists think of this.
Christiane, what do you make of what Mr. Baer says?
AMANPOUR: Well, it's clear that this has ratcheted up the level of tension and the level of danger. Whatever the -- the origin of this capture of these sailors, the fact of the matter is that it comes at an extremely tense time, as he delineated with the whole issue of pressure against Iran's nuclear situation, its nuclear program, which Iran claims is peaceful. The West doesn't think so.
With the issue of blaming Iran for what's going on -- some of what's going on in Iraq. And vice versa. Iran, as Mr. Baer pointed out, knowing that the West is intent, particularly the United States and Britain, on regime change, allocating millions of dollars to opposition groups and all sorts of other things.
And I think that this situation is very tense.
I think, also, it's simply not clear right now who is in charge. Perhaps it is more clear that Revolutionary Guards are in charge rather than the diplomats at the Foreign Ministry. I think it's interesting or noteworthy that the claims and demands in those so- called letters from Faye Turney keep sort of shifting.
First it was about the territorial integrity of Iran's waters. Then, in the latest one, it appears to be about "oppressive British behavior in Iraq."
Clearly, none of this bodes well. And as others have said, even if neither side intends conflict, a mistake could -- could be costly.
Michael Durant, what do you think of Robert Baer's assessment?
DURANT: Well, there's no question. I mean it's extremely volatile and I agree it's as volatile as it's been in 20, 30 years. And there's no question that this has to be handled delicately. I think that it's going to be difficult to make the right decisions and move this in a positive direction because it is -- it is hard to determine how they will react to certain moves.
And at a certain point, I believe the folks in the U.K. are going to lose their patience and decide it's time to execute some sort of a rescue. I mean that's typically been how things have progressed in the past. And that is likely to cause, again, some additional fallout in the aftermath.
KING: Before we talk with a former POW in Iraq, what do you make -- Harry, how do you assess what Baer says?
HUMPHRIES: Well, I think Mr. Baer is absolutely correct with respect to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard being in control. Thus, we're dealing with an irrational decision process.
KING: How do you deal with that?
HUMPHRIES: You -- you've got to be very soft with it. You've got to show strength. We've got to stop showing our weaknesses over here with the political environment. We must be together with the Brits, as they have been together with us, and show strength.
KING: In Ozark, Alabama, Ron Young, Jr.
We've had some satellite problems, but he's with us now. A U.S. Army chief warrant officer, a former POW in Iraq. He and Chief Warrant Officer David Williams were captured when their helicopter crashed in March of 2003. They were recovered, along with five other POWs on April 13th of 2003.
What do you make of this situation over there, Ron?
RON YOUNG, JR. PRISONER OF WAR IN IRAQ IN 2003: I think the same thing that basically everyone has been saying. This is a very delicate situation. There is going to have to be a lot of thought, a lot of diplomacy going through in this process.
The real problem is, is there's not really a lot of leverage at this point that we can use with these guys. You know, the POWs, they're pretty much scared for their lives and I think that you're seeing that they're willing to do anything that they have to to keep theirselves alive. And that's basically what you're trained to do in this situation, through SEAR, you know, Survival, Evasion training, things like that, is, you know, to keep yourself alive at this point.
KING: Do you ever go into that Stockholm Syndrome idea, Ron, of doing what the enemy wants and then suddenly voicing their thoughts?
YOUNG: I think it's kind of a -- a narrow line that you have to walk when you're in one of these situations. Of course, the Iraqis, you know, set us up in front of a camera and were trying to get us to say certain things. And that kind of comes down to the individual soldier and how they -- how you personally want to deal with it.
I wasn't personally willing to take those chances and for people to see me on camera like that. But this is a completely different circumstance. They've watched other people be beheaded, things like that, and they're truly in fear for their lives.
And I think that the one thing that people learned from Vietnam was, you know, if you just give your name, rank and Social Security number, they're going to kill you. But there's a lot of things that you can do to try to keep yourself -- keep yourself alive, because you're no use to the government or the military or anyone else if you come back in a body bag.
KING: We'll have more on the British troops being held against their will when we come back.
A little later, Halle Berry's suicide confession.
Stick around. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLAIR: I think that the sooner the Iranian regime realize they're not gaining anything from this, they can't gain anything from it, it's perfectly obvious that these people were in Iraqi waters under a United Nations mandate. There's absolutely no question about the unlawful nature of their capture. And, therefore, they've got to be released.
KING: We're back.
And we're joined by Ambassador Wendy Sherman.
She's in Washington, former adviser to President Clinton and to Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and Warren Christopher.
She's now a principal of The Albright Group, an international advisory group.
How dangerous is this situation, Madam Sherman?
AMB. WENDY SHERMAN, FORMER SPECIAL ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT CLINTON: Thank you, Larry. I think the situation is very dangerous. I think this weekend will be very telling if diplomacy does not get to success here. Over the weekend, I think we're in a pretty long haul.
Tony Blair must be very resolute in public and privately, trying to find the incentive that is going to convince the Iranians that everybody has to step away from this potential crisis otherwise we're going to have either intentionally or accidentally a very, very dangerous situation.
KING: What role does the United States play?
SHERMAN: The United States has to very careful here because we don't want to escalate the situation.
At the same time, President Bush understands that as the price of gasoline goes up for the American consumer, his polling numbers are going to go down and they're already pretty low. So he is watching this situation. He doesn't want to set a precedent. He doesn't want to make it more difficult for the Brits and anything we can do behind the scenes to help without publicly escalation is what we need to be doing.
KING: General Spider Marks, is there anything to be confident about?
BRIG. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, U.S. ARMY (RET.) & CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, sure, Larry, you can be confident that the Brits have a plan, that they're working on a plan and they are prepared to execute.
The challenge is, is what is the level of intelligence that they have right now. We have to assume that the hostages, as we were discussing earlier, are in multiple locations in Iran. So it becomes very, very difficult for the Brits to gather good intelligence. And that's the key before they would execute any operation.
Also, bear in mind the U.S. has a couple carrier battle groups that are in the Gulf. And routinely, there's a naval presence there to ensure that the Straits of Hormuz stays open. Forty percent of the world's oil, as Ambassador Sherman indicated, flows through this part of this world, so it's very, very critical that the U.S. remain very resolute as well and help as necessary. But it's going to be from behind.
KING: Harry Humphries, could someone, here's a danger point, get trigger-happy?
HARRY HUMPHRIES, FORMER NAVY SEAL, ADVANCED HOSTAGE-RESCUE INSTRUCTOR: That's always a possibility in heated situations. For instance, if the Iranians were foolish enough to start mining the Straits of Hormuz, that would put U.S. in a very difficult position in terms of countering that effort.
KING: Christiane, are you optimistic about the weekend?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean it's interesting that Ambassador Sherman puts the weekend as a critical point. I'm not sure. I think it is going on much longer than anybody expected. I think it will obviously be interesting and key to see whether any sort of formulas start being broached either behind the scenes or public, whether any kind of attempt is going on to step back from this brink and to try to figure out a way that Iran could do something and Britain can do something, and whether there will be any third party mediation if the Turkish diplomats, for instance, go in and are able to see the captives, whether they are able to use their good offices with Iran and with the west to try to do something or any other third party.
KING: Ron Young, when you're a detainee or hostage, are you always thinking that your country is trying to get you out?
RON YOUNG JR., PRISONER OF WAR IN IRAQ IN 2003: That's exactly what you're thinking and really that's the thing that kind of drives you every single day is that you know that people are working for you out there. These guys know that they have been put on TV and that the world has seen them so there will be some level of accountability. And I think that they are fairly optimistic, you know, as long as they play along with the game, that they have a good possibility of coming out alive in this situation.
KING: Ambassador Sherman, I was talking with Harry Humphries during the break. Isn't it true that most Iranians like Americans? And if so, how did this get to this?
SHERMAN: Well, I think the Iranian people like Americans and the Americans like the Iranian people. It got to this because we have a lot going on with the Iranian government. And as some of the your other guests have said, exactly who is in charge at the moment, whether it's the Revolutionary Guards, the foreign ministry, Ahmadinejad, Khamenei probably. In the final announcement, most people think the Republican Guard.
We're really talking about the government and the layers of that government. And I think one of the things that's very important for the listeners to understand is there isn't going to be, I think, a precipitous rescue attempt. In the past, whether that was President Carter with our Iranian hostages in '79, or Entebbe, the famous Israeli commandoes that went in to get the Air France passengers that resulted in 50 deaths; one doesn't go in with a commander raid easily or always very successfully.
And so, diplomacy, a third party here trying to mediate behind the scenes quietly finding a way that everybody can save face here and these young people and their families know that they have a future ahead of them.
KING: So Harry, the people don't rule in Iran?
HUMPHRIES: No, the people don't rule, the Moolas rule Iran. The government that's in place, albeit a government read by a radical individual, doesn't really run that country, the Moolas have and always will until there's a regime change.
KING: Spider, what's your regard for the British military?
MARKS: I hold them in very high regard. They are extremely capable. I have served with them several times. These sailors, these Royal Marines, and certainly the SAS, the special ops capabilities that they have are unmatched in the world. And they certainly have some incredible capabilities that can be used.
Ambassador Sherman is absolutely correct, that's not a trigger that will be pulled very easily.
KING: Ambassador, are you optimistic?
SHERMAN: I think it's hard to know. I'm optimistic at the end of the day that there are a lot of people out there who can mediate in this situation and help people get to the right answer. It's very important for the young lives of sailors. It's very important for the world's economy because, as General Marks pointed out, the Straits of Hormuz really are where oil flows. And it's very important for the future of our diplomacy around the world, both us and the Brits and the west, that we work with others and try to solve this situation.
KING: And Ron Young, how are you doing now?
YOUNG: Not bad, sir. I'm down here on flight training in Ft. Rutger. I'm going back through a transition and just kind of living my life, picking up where I left off.
KING: You look great. It's great to see you.
YOUNG: Happy 50th, by the way, also. Thank you.
KING: Thank you.
When we come back, she changed her gender but a judge refused to change her alimony payments. Find out why Julio's ex-husband is crying foul, that's next.
KING: Welcome back. Joining us now here in Los Angeles, this is a strange case, Lawrence Roach, we'll call him Larry, he and his wife, Julia, divorced in 2004. He was ordered to pay her alimony, natural. His ex underwent sex reassignment surgery and legally became Julio. Nonetheless, a Florida judge says that Lawrence or Larry, as we'll call him, must keep paying alimony, an usual case to say the least.
What was your -- how long were you married to Julia?
LAWRENCE ROACH, ORDERED TO PAY ALIMONY TO EX-WIFE THOUGH SHE IS NOW A MAN: It was 18 years.
KING: What happened?
ROACH: One day I was relaxing in bed, getting ready to go to work. She came in the room and had a knife and came close to my penis. And I jerked back, like what is this, what's the matter with you? So I got out of the way. And then she stood there and looked at me and asked me if I knew what a transgender was. And I said, "Yes, I know what it is." And I continued to get ready to work after that and I was trying to figure out where she was coming from. And I tried to get her some help to see what was going on and what she was thinking.
KING: And then you then got divorced?
KING: OK, do you have children?
ROACH: No, no children.
KING: Are you ordered to pay alimony?
KING: Part of this divorce. She had the operation. Isn't it harder, as I understand it, for a woman to become a man than for a man to become a woman?
ROACH: Yes, definitely.
KING: You asked to have your alimony payments stopped because she was now no longer a woman, right, and therefore you didn't have to support her?
KING: What did the judge rule? John McGuire is the attorney for Lawrence Roach.
JOHN MCGUIRE, LAWRENCE ROACH'S ATTORNEY: What the judge ruled, Larry, is he said under the current law in Florida that there's no law for gender reassignment so what you're born is what you'll always be. So Julio spent a fortune in having surgeries done trying to become a man and the judge said, "It doesn't matter, you are what you're born." He specifically said the Florida legislature needs to step up and get with the modern times and create some law so that people can actually change their gender legally.
KING: Isn't the alimony almost up, Larry, anyway?
ROACH: It's lifetime. I got ordered life.
ROACH: She didn't work the whole time, the whole marriage. I took care of her, did everything I could to make her happy.
KING: Did you have any idea this was coming?
ROACH: No idea whatsoever.
KING: Did she ever give signs of wanting to be a man? There we see her as a man now. That's with the "National Enquirer". No sign?
ROACH: It was a normal marriage all the way up until -- towards the end.
KING: Sexual relations normal?
ROACH: Pretty much normal until toward the end.
KING: The knife was to just show you what she was going to do.
KING: She wasn't threatening you, was she?
ROACH: She asked me if -- she says, "If you didn't have this then you would be feeling exactly what I'm feeling, nothing."
KING: So there's a sadness to this, isn't there, John? I mean all her life she wants to be a man.
MCGUIRE: Yes, I think it's sad, really in that I don't think this case is about being cruel or unkind to her. And Larry wants her to live a happy life or him, but he doesn't want to pay alimony to a man. That's not what he agreed to and...
KING: Are you appealing?
MCGUIRE: Yes, we're going to appeal. We just got the order on Wednesday and so we're in the process of drafting the appeal.
KING: And the grounds of the appeal will state? MCGUIRE: They'll state that Julio stated that he was a man, her lawyers -- his lawyers stated that he was a man and so did we, and therefore, the judge should have found that he is, in fact, a man.
KING: If she/he is a man, is he going to get a job?
ROACH: I have no idea. I have no contact whatsoever since the divorce.
KING: Have you seen him? Have you been with him since he's a him?
KING: He wasn't in court?
ROACH: No, he was not required to show up.
KING: So you have not been in his presence as a man?
ROACH: No, no.
KING: What do you think when you look at him?
ROACH: I was devastated. I was shocked. And it was just unreal. I was researching for two years to get to the point where I am now, once I found out about the name change and what else was going on. And I just took it from one step to another and got to where I am now.
KING: What have you learned? What do we know about him as a transgender? Usually, I have heard it from man to woman.
KING: That's more common.
ROACH: Right. It's not anything I really researched on to see all of the details on what was involved. What I see as far as getting married in Florida, you can be set for -- you can be soaked for life if you marry someone and you do not know all of the possible consequences because I was the breadwinner. She did not work the whole time, that person can just leave you and you have to be forced to pay for the rest of your life.
KING: Who filed for divorce?
ROACH: I did. I felt like I had to. A couple of weeks after she left the household, charge cards started coming in with high...
ROACH: She was still Julia then. But the charge card bills started coming in with thousands of dollars worth of purchases on there. I had to file for divorce to not be responsible for those payments. KING: Larry, did you ever -- I'm sorry, go ahead.
MCGUIRE: And she left the house. She left him.
KING: Did you ever think, Larry, of calling her up and saying, "Hey, listen, this is ridiculous. You're now a man. I wish you the best of luck, get a job, spare me the alimony." Do you ever think of just doing that?
ROACH: No, I didn't think of calling her.
KING: Why not? Save all this.
ROACH: It would be hard to talk to. It's -- I agreed to the alimony initially because I wish the best of luck to that person, to be happy. I still cared for her, so I agreed to that so that she could get on with her life. She was a nice looking woman. She was getting married again someday and she would be happy.
KING: And there's nothing you can think of? You can say, "Yes, I remember that time she did this. I should have known."
ROACH: Yes, there was a couple of things but I was blinded by it when there were some charge card bills came in.
KING: No, I mean when she acted -- might have acted like a man in some way, where you thought she really could be a man. No?
ROACH: Not really. There's just a couple of possibilities that I had seen.
KING: Keep us posted on the appeal.
MCGUIRE: Oh, certainly.
KING: Thanks, John.
Larry, hang tough.
It's a curious world and it's curiouser and curiouser.
And when we come back, the flip side of this gender bending court case. We'll talk to the attorney for Julia turned Julio next.
KING: Joining us now from Atlanta is Greg Nevins, the attorney for Lawrence's transgendered ex-wife in this alimony dispute. He's a senior staff attorney in the southern regional office of Lamda Legal. Lamda's legal aim is the full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people, and those with HIV.
What's your reaction to what Larry Roach and his attorney had to say, Greg? GREG NEVINS, ATTORNEY FOR ROACH'S EX-WIFE, JULIO SILVERWOLF, FORMERLY JULIA: Well, a lot of it was accurate. It is true my client was a stay-at-home spouse per Mr. Roach's wishes, built a home for them for 18 years, gave up professional licenses as a phlebotomy tech and a medical assistant to be a state-at-home spouse. And that is what the purposes of alimony is about.
So the alimony is in recognition of that and all the sacrifices that were made there. And that doesn't change. Alimony is not based on gender. It's not based on your spouse's continued approval of how you're proceeding going forward. It's based on recognition of what happened during the marriage.
KING: But finally to become a man after having a man inside of all of those years, wouldn't Julio want to go out and get a job and lead a life by himself?
NEVINS: And he has been. He is currently looking for a job. He was working last year but got laid off from that. He's one of many. There are a lot of problems, a lot of barriers facing transgender people seeking employment and he's been a victim of that. But he is looking for a job, even as we speak.
KING: Did the Florida courts say they hope the legislature changes things?
NEVINS: Well, they did. And this is one thing where I definitely agree with Mr. McGuire. I mean Julio's gender should be respected. He should be respected as a male now. That is his gender identity now. That doesn't affect the validity of the marriage back in is the 1986 when Julio was living as a woman full-time.
Everyone agrees this clearly was a marriage between a man and woman in 1986. But now Julio is a man and he should be respected as such. And Mr. McGuire and I both agree on that point.
KING: There are some legal inconsistencies though, right? The driver's license people say he is a male. The Florida courts say he is not a male. You're a woman all your life if you were born a woman. Can we straighten it out some way legislatively?
NEVINS: Larry, you're right on point there. We really should. This is a predicament facing a lot of transgender people where different documentation is inconsistent. And we really need to come to a point where their gender identity is respected and they're treated as they're living full time in all respects.
KING: Because if Florida says Julio is still a woman, he could marry a man, couldn't he?
NEVINS: That is correct. And, you know, obviously, I don't necessarily agree with the same-sex marriage ban but it does create a very odd result here, which is that -- you know you've seen the pictures of Julio and yes, according to the Florida courts, he could be married to a man now. And you know that's just a small example of the way of not showing respect for a person's post-transition gender is a problem.
KING: Does your client's birth certificate now say male?
NEVINS: It does, yes. Now, it does.
KING: All right. Then therefore, if the client's birth certificate now says male, couldn't the marriage be invalid...
NEVINS: Well, no...
KING: ...based on Florida law?
NEVINS: Well, everybody agreed. I was in court. The judge was very clear. He said that this was a valid marriage between a man and a woman as the time it was entered into. Everybody agreed that it was. Everyone agrees that my client was living full-time as a woman in 1986 and many years thereof. So that part is not in dispute here.
KING: It was reported that your client is living as a gay man, is that true?
NEVINS: Actually, we haven't had any conversations about any relationships. So I really don't know.
KING: We only have about 30 seconds. Greg, does he plan to go public, give interviews?
NEVINS: You know, no. I mean, with due respect to Mr. Roach, who has been on a lot of media, I mean my client has been thrust into this, you know, had to go through a difficult divorce, and there's an alimony agreement and just really wants to keep things private. And I mean you can understand how being dragged through all of this is difficult.
KING: What's his last name now?
KING: Thank you very much, Greg. Thanks for joining us.
NEVINS: You're welcome, Larry. Thank you.
KING: What a strange case.
Up next, everybody's talking about Halle Berry's suicide confession, but you can hear about it from Halle herself because it happened right here. Stick around.
KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE.
Halle Berry is back in the news telling the new issue of "Parade "magazine about how close she came to suicide after her 1997 worse from baseball star David Justice. But she told me all about that way back in November 2002 when her interview about her role as "Jinx" in the James Bond movie "Die Another Day" suddenly got very serious. Watch.
KING: Was it true you once thought of taking your own life, was that ever true?
HALLE BERRY, ACTRESS: Yes, yes, sad but true.
KING: What was the situation?
BERRY: Divorce and being...
KING: You had never faced that before?
BERRY: Divorce, no. Well, in my family, my mother and my father.
KING: In other words, you had seen it.
BERRY: Yes, but the heartbreak of that was devastating to me because I was a woman who grew up with that fantasy that was, you know, pushed down my throat since I was knee high to a bullfrog. You have to find your prince and he will take care of you and that will be happiness.
So, when that prince decided to go away my sense of self and my self worth was totally connected to him. So when he left, I felt like nothing, basically. And so I felt, you know, a lot...
KING: It's hard to believe you feeling like nothing.
But you did marry a prince. You married a major league ballplayer...
KING: Of high repute.
KING: Who is very good at what he does.
BERRY: Yes. And, I must say, and a really great guy, you know. A lot of the...
KING: You do feel that way?
BERRY: I really do. You know, in the heat of it when you're angry and mad you can say a lot of things, but truly he's a good guy, just not the right guy for me.
KING: To defend, he's a gentle kind of guy. I mean, he appears very gentle, you know what I mean?
KING: I mean, he has -- he's low-keyed BERRY: Yes. Yes.
KING: Very confident in himself.
BERRY: He's very confident, yes.
KING: But that really hurt you that bad?
BERRY: It did.
KING: What snapped you out of it?
BERRY: The thought of my mother when I was in that moment in -- sitting in the car. I was going to asphyxiate myself in a garage. When I was sitting there, really -- with all my heart, wanting to end my life, I thought of my mother and I thought, Wow. How unfair. I would break her heart. My heart's broken and I'm going to kill myself. I would break her heart. I would break her heart and I...
KING: Some one once said suicide is a selfish act.
BERRY: It is. And it's cowardly. It was harder for me to get out of that car and deal with my pain than to end it. You're right.
KING: So when you read it in "Parade," it happened here long ago.
One more thing before we go, our text vote results from last night. We asked, "Do you think the president has a career as a comedian?" Fifty-one percent of you said "yes."
On Monday, Star Jones Reynolds will be here and she's going to be the guest host. So be sure to tune in for that. This weekend on LARRY KING LIVE, we'll repeat our program on autism and also the one with Suzanne Somers and Chris Rock. And again, Star Jones will host this show on Monday night as she returns to national television in a hosting role. It will be nice to see her back.
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