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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Britney Spears' Kids; Not Right Enough?; Star Witness; Justice Thomas: Speaking Out
Aired October 1, 2007 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: She escaped Warren Jeffs' polygamist cult. Her testimony sealed his conviction. Now Elissa Wall, the woman once known as Jane Doe, is finally speaking out.
And later, it is not his wife calling, it is Christian conservatives sending Rudy Giuliani a message. Are they planning on launching a third-party candidate for president if he wins the nomination? A three-time married pro-choice New York mayor -- what could a social conservative possibly object to? We'll find out.
We begin, though, with what is certainly not the most important event that happened today, but it sure has much of the country talking. Britney Spears. Normally we ignore her -- the head shaving, the paparazzi loving, growing, flashing, boozing, rehab -- we haven't reported on it, but tonight she's been forced to give up two young children.
According to a family court judge in Los Angeles, they've been subjected to negligent and unsafe parenting and today that judge said enough is enough.
We'll talk with Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin about what lies ahead in the courts for Britney and with a psychiatrist about what's happening to her now.
We begin though with the latest information. Here's CNN's Randi Kaye.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Swarmed by the paparazzi in this footage from Hollywood.TV, we see Britney Spears leaving a Malibu restaurant with her two young children.
Less than 24 hours later, the pop princess learned that they would be taken away from her.
LISA BLOOM, COURT TV ANCHOR: I'm not surprised by the ruling. Britney has been given so many opportunities to prove herself a worthy parent, and it's another "oops I did it again" moment.
KAYE: This is the order from the Los Angeles County Court, granting Spears' ex-husband, Kevin Federline, physical custody of 2- year-old Sean and 1-year-old Jayden until further order of the court. It is a stunning decision, but not a surprise in what has become a sad and very public cautionary tale. HARVEY LEVIN, TMZ.COM: The day the judge issued the ruling saying that she had to go to parenting classes, take random drug tests, she chose to go out to two nightclubs that night. And it was pretty apparent then that it was not registering with her how serious a problem this is.
KAYE: Britney Spears is only 25 years old, yet she has been famous for almost her entire life.
As a child, the Louisiana native was on Broadway, a member of Disney's Mickey Mouse Club. By 17, Spears was a superstar. Her debut album and accompanying racy videos made the blonde-haired teenager a household name.
There would be more albums, more memorable moments, like this kiss with Madonna on MTV. There would also be signs of trouble. Spears wed a childhood friend in Las Vegas. She annulled the marriage days later. Then she married a dancer, an aspiring rapper, Kevin Federline. The union lasted two years. Soon, Spears was in the headlines again for all the wrong reasons.
There were photographs of her driving with her baby boy in her lap. There were also rumors of drug and alcohol use. In February, another shocking turn. Spears walks into a Los Angeles salon and shaves her head. Spears would enter a rehabilitation center later that month.
Incredibly, her life spun more out of control when she emerged. In July, reports she broke down and appeared disoriented at a photo shoot. Then Kevin Federline sued her for custody of their children.
Weeks later her hopes for a comeback fizzled in a lazy lip-synced performance at the MTV music awards. Some say she couldn't even remember the words to her own song.
The news kept getting worse. Spears was charged in an alleged hit-and-run incident in Los Angeles that carries a maximum jail sentence of one year. And now she has lost physical custody of her kids.
In the end, it wasn't really about Spears anymore. It was about them.
BLOOM: This has got to be devastating for Britney. She clearly loves those children. I don't think anybody disputes that. The good news is, this is hitting bottom, Britney, and you can turn it around. You can come back. No custody order is ever final. Prove yourself a worthy parent, and that judge is going to want to give you your kids back.
KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN.
COOPER: Well, what happens now for Britney Spears? In a few moments we'll talk to a psychiatrist about what should happen. But first the legal battle Britney Spears now faces.
I spoke earlier with CNN Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
COOPER: Jeffrey, what are the biggest factors that judges normally take into consideration in these child custody battles?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: The biggest factor, by far, is simply the best interests of the child. Is the child in danger with one parent or the other?
Judge Scott Gordon, who was one of the O.J. Simpson prosecutors, oddly enough -- either that -- the order has not been released because minors are involved, but obviously, he thought there was an immediate issue with the safety of the children with Britney Spears, so he awarded it to Kevin Federline.
COOPER: And he -- Federline's going to retain custody of the two sons, quote, "until further order of the court." What does that really mean? Could there be a different ruling down the road?
TOOBIN: Well, it could be. And it basically means that Britney Spears will be allowed to reapply for custody if she gets her act together. But it's important to remember, this is really unusual, what Gordon has done here. You know, the judges don't just sort of yank custody all the time.
Obviously, he is very concerned about something that's going on immediately right now. And, you know, he's not messing around because he feels like the safety of the children is -- are at stake.
COOPER: And he ordered twice weekly drug tests for her and ordered her to spend eight hours every week working with a parenting coach. Is that unusual?
TOOBIN: Well, it's not unusual when you have a parent who is proved to be a drug addict and an unfit parent. I mean, this is how people are treated when they are a danger to their children. So unfortunately there are a lot of people who are a danger to their children, but only those kind of people are forced to endure these kind of really humiliating and owner onerous requirements.
COOPER: Does the law tend to favor mothers in a proceeding like this?
TOOBIN: Well, the law has changed in recent years to be more equitable, but the shift has been much more towards the children rather than the parents. I mean, earlier, you know, parents were sort of almost presumed to be fit to take care of their children. But unfortunately, as we know, most of the violence that children suffer comes not from strangers but from their parents.
So the law has responded to that and said, look, we're simply going to take kids away from parents when we think there's a possibility that they're going to be a danger to their children. COOPER: Can she -- can Britney Spears appeal this ruling?
TOOBIN: She can, but these -- appeals courts rarely get involved in these sorts of controversies. Her best chance is simply to get her act together, you know, pass her drug tests, participate in the parenting classes and go back to Scott Gordon and say look, I've cleaned up my act. Let me have my children again. That's her best chance, not an appeals court.
COOPER: I mean, how does celebrity factor into this? Does it -- I mean, does it impact the court? Does it impact a judge?
TOOBIN: You know, it's very hard to know what's going on in Scott Gordon's head. I happen to know Scott Gordon. I got to know him during the O.J. Simpson case. He was the prosecutor who was most responsible for the domestic violence part of the case. So he's someone who really knows a lot about, you know, dangers in the home. So, you know, I think Scott is a very level-headed guy and is not going to have his head swayed by the fact that Britney Spears is a celebrity. I think he just wants to make sure these kids are out of danger.
COOPER: All right.
Jeffrey Toobin, thanks.
COOPER: Well, now Dr. Gail Saltz, professor of psychiatry at the Wile (ph) Cornell School of Medicine, here in Manhattan. We want to ask her if Britney Spears is hitting bottom and if she is, what she can be done to help her. We'll do that in just 60 seconds.
COOPER: That was Britney Spears perhaps hitting MTV rock bottom right there. Not quite able to lip-sync the way she once did nor hit her marks nor do much beyond really embarrassing herself.
But even all that was a step up from what happened today -- losing custody of her kids. Now it looks like she is really hitting bottom.
For some perspective on what that means and where she might go from here, we're joined by Dr. Gail Saltz of the Wile (ph) Cornell School of Medicine in New York Presbyterian Hospital.
Thanks for being with us.
DR. GAIL SALTZ, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF PSYCHIATRY: Pleasure.
COOPER: Is this bottom?
SALTZ: Well, that's up to her. I mean, certainly many women would consider this bottom in the sense she has lost her career. She has lost her marriage. And you know, when you think about a whole person, you think about what are their identities? Who do they think of themselves as? And you know, she was a performer. Now she's not. She was a wife. Now she's not. And the last thing kind of left on the list was mother, which is a vitally important part of any woman's identity who is a mother, and now that's being taken away from her. She's being told basically very publicly in a humiliating way, you failed at that task.
COOPER: And the only thing that's left is just being a tabloid train wreck.
SALTZ: It is, and hopefully that will not be the choice to some degree that she will make. But when there's alcohol and drugs involved, one's judgment may be so impaired that the question is, will she look at this and say there's nothing left and, you know, I would be concerned, frankly, about her being suicidal or incredibly self- destructive. Unless she says this is unacceptable and is really able to look in the mirror and say no, I brought this on myself, I have to change. I have to do something.
COOPER: But when drugs and alcohol are involved, that's particularly difficult. I want to read something that her former bodyguard said. This guy is out now in the media talking all around.
COOPER: But he testified in this grand jury, he said I gave evidence because Britney is out of control and needs help. I've done this for her children. She's not a good mother. She has mental problems. With her drug and booze issues, her home is no place for kids to be raised.
I mean, when drugs and alcohol are involved, there's not telling what the reaction's going to be.
SALTZ: You know, unfortunately that's true because drugs and alcohol really impair judgment so that piece of you, that part of you that would say, you know, what's going on here and what am I doing? Is this really making sense? Is really greatly impaired. So whether you're high or you're in a state of withdrawal, either way, judgment is really off. And that's why, frankly, it is dangerous to have kids be with a mother who's using.
COOPER: It's also -- I mean, I don't know what her life must be like constantly surrounded by these photographers and stuff. Part of it she plays into. I mean, she doesn't have to live in Los Angeles. She doesn't have to go out to nightclubs every night or every other night, whatever it is that she's doing. You kind of just want -- isn't her family around? I mean, isn't there somebody on her staff who just has control? I mean, there needs to be somebody in her life who can actually talk to her.
SALTZ: There does need to be, but here's the problem for a lot of these young women celebrities. Over the years they've surrounded themselves by people who say everything you do is wonderful and terrific and feed into the narcissism, and frankly, it's more comfortable for them to have those people around than someone that's going to say what are you doing? This is a disaster. You've got to change. So unfortunately, there may be layers and layers of people before there's anybody who would step up to the plate and not be concerned about being fired or, you know, in some way losing out on their own personal gain and say hey, wake up. You're ruining your life.
COOPER: It's got to be bad if the most responsible person in the scene is Kevin Federline who, you know, I don't know much about, but everything I do know doesn't seem all that great.
SALTZ: You know, but the tragic losers in all this, of course, are the children.
SALTZ: Because no matter how impaired a mother is, even mothers who abuse their children, children love their mothers. So even though this may be the right thing to do from a health perspective for the kids, it's going to be very sad for them.
COOPER: True. It's just terrible. Dr. Gail Saltz, appreciate your perspective. Thanks a lot.
From custody battles to court fights over insurance, imagine getting into a car accident and then having to file a lawsuit just to get your own insurance company to pay your medical bills. It can easily happen to you as it has for a lot of people.
CNN's Drew Griffin has been investigating. He tells us about one state that is trying to change things. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Steve Kirby and his fellow Washington state lawmakers heard so many complaints from policyholders, they wrote a law to force insurance companies to pay rightful claims.
Under the new Washington state law, if an insurance company refuses to pay an honest claim and loses in court, it could be forced to pay three times the value of the claim plus attorneys' fees.
(on camera): It was a simple bill, the Fair Conduct Act, requiring insurance companies to just treat their customers fairly. It got a full hearing here in Olympia, passed the House, passed the Senate and was signed by the governor.
But before the ink was even dry, the very next day, insurance companies made sure they filed a referendum trying to get it off the books.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, just wait until you hear how far the insurance companies went to overturn that law. Drew Griffin "Keeping them Honest." That's tomorrow on the program.
Turning now to politics and the tight race for the Republican presidential nomination. Right now, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani is leading the pack. But if he wins, a good number of Republicans are now threatening to defect and run a third-party candidate. We'll have details in 60 seconds.
COOPER: Well, it's still a tight race, of course. But right now Rudy Giuliani is looking good to take the Republican nomination for the presidency. He leads in the major national polls, including the latest CNN Opinion Research Poll which puts him ahead of Fred Thompson -- well, by a hair -- 28 percent and 27 percent.
The polls are unsettling for a sizable number of conservatives, however, who believe that Giuliani does not deserve their party's nomination basically because of one issue, which is abortion. And if Giuliani wins, they may bolt, possibly giving the White House to the Democrats.
CNN's John King reports.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Conservative Icon Richard Viguerie calls it a warning short not only to Rudy Giuliani, but the entire Republican Party.
RICHARD VIGUERIE, CONSERVATIVE STRATEGIST: If they go third party, this will, I guarantee you, not be a one-time effort. It will be that we have determined that the Republican Party is beyond salvation, that they have lied and betrayed the conservative voters one time too many.
KING: The tough talk follows a weekend meeting that included Focus on the Family's James Dobson, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Viguerie, and others.
Social conservatives for months have complained about what they call lip service from the Bush White House, Congressional Republicans and the leading GOP presidential hopefuls.
TONY PERKINS, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: To the degree that the party moves away from those principal issues, social conservatives, evangelicals will move away from the party.
KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Giuliani is of most urgent concern. He supports abortion rights, including taxpayer-funded abortions as New York mayor. Giuliani also marched in gay rights parades and called the city's domestic partners benefits a model for the nation.
PERKINS: These are fundamental issues. These are black and white issues. These are issues that there's just no room for negotiation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gift of God is eternal life.
KING: The Giuliani camp plays down the threat, noting polls showing strong support among church-going evangelicals and Catholics. Asked Monday about the conservative opposition, the former mayor played what he views as a trump card.
RUDY GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I run the most competitive against Hillary Clinton by a big, big margin. And I take some Democratic states from her. Nobody else does that.
KING: There are huge hurdles to third-party candidacies, but one born of social conservative frustration would be a huge threat to Republican chances.
ANDREW KOHUT, PEW RESEARCH CENTER: Somewhere between a big problem and a nightmare, Christian conservatives, both white evangelicals and Catholics represent 40 percent, 50 percent of the Republican base. Now, they're not all going to defect to a third party, but if a significant number of them do, it just adds to the troubles that the GOP can look forward to in November.
KING: The goal of the conservative leaders is to derail Giuliani's candidacy now. But if they fail and he wins the nomination, they insist they are not bluffing.
VIGUERIE: The train has left the station in terms of conservatives feeling that we have to have a strategy for conservatives to govern America. We've not locked into one strategy or another strategy, but high on that list is the consideration for a third party.
KING (on camera): The social conservative leaders acknowledge the third-party route would likely help the Democrats next year, but they say it is a price they are willing to pay if the alternative is to quietly allow a social moderate like Giuliani to take control of the Republican Party they have dominated since the rise of Ronald Reagan.
John King, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: So do these conservatives really plan to go through with it and do they think it's going to work? Giuliani says he's the most electable of all the Republicans. You just heard from conservative Tony Perkins.
I'm going to talk to him in depth after this quick break. Stay right there.
COOPER: He hates it, but he's not against it. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani's decision to defend abortion rights makes him a unique Republican candidate and one that may cost him Christian conservatives who are thinking of backing a third-party candidate if Giuliani is the GOP's choice for president. We learned that this weekend.
Now, earlier, I spoke with one of the top conservatives behind the threat, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council.
COOPER: Mr. Perkins, if you go through with a plan to back a third-party candidate, couldn't that backfire and essentially hand the election over to a Democrat, someone far more liberal than Giuliani?
PERKINS: Well, Anderson, first, let me make it very clear. This was more of a proclamation of principle rather than a declaration of intent. There is no desire to create a third party.
But I think as we look down the road, what we've said is there's a line which we won't cross. We will not support a candidate who is pro-abortion.
Now, there are other options on the table. There are other candidates that are in this race that have pro-life credentials -- Governor Romney, Senator Thompson, Governor Huckabee, Senator Brownback and others that are in the race. So we're just saying if it comes to that, if the party decides to leave the pro-life issue, then they've decided to leave us.
COOPER: A recent Pew poll of evangelical voters found that domestic issues are more important to their vote than social issues -- 72 percent cited the economy and other domestic issues, 66 percent rated the war in Iraq as very important, only some 56 percent said the social issues like abortion are going to determine who they vote for. A, do you think that's accurate and does that concern you?
PERKINS: Well, I think it's partially accurate. I mean, we do care about those issues. My background, I'm a veteran of the military. I'm a former police officer. I actually worked in the field antiterrorism. I understand the threat that's there, and it is a very real threat.
But I also came to the political arena, ran for office and held public office based on the life issue. And there are many, many evangelicals that came to this process and eventually to the Republican Party over the issue of life. And if the party decides it's going to change its stance on that by advancing a candidate who is not pro-life but pro-abortion, they will have left many evangelicals behind.
And I think the point we were saying is we're not going to go chasing after the party. We'll look for other options.
COOPER: I mean, Giuliani right now is saying that he is the most electable and the most able to beat Hillary Clinton. Gary Bower (ph) was quoted as saying, "I can't think of a bigger disaster for social conservatives, defense conservatives and economic conservatives than Hillary Clinton in the White House." Do you believe Giuliani is the best one to beat Hillary Clinton? PERKINS: Anderson, actually, I believe that Rudy Giuliani is Hillary's ticket to the White House. I think if we just look back at what happened in November, with a very depressed base within the Republican Party, because of scandal, because of spending issues, that they did not work for candidates. Yes, they did show up and vote, but they did not work. There was no enthusiasm.
I cannot, under any circumstance, see the conservative base of the Republican Party being excited and working for a president that is -- presidential candidate that's pro-abortion.
I think turnout will be depressed, and I think Hillary's base will be motivated. I think he is her ticket to the White House.
COOPER: Mr. Perkins, we'll leave it there. Appreciate your time, thank you.
PERKINS: All right.
COOPER: Well, a conservative threat isn't the only problem dogging the GOP candidates. We're going to talk about the surprising money factor in "Raw Politics." That's ahead.
Plus, schoolteachers putting nooses around a student's neck? What were they thinking? We're going to ask that after the short break.
COOPER: Well, today began the final quarter of 2007, the last three months until election year. And today we learned more about how the candidates are faring money-wise.
According to a campaign source, Republican latecomer Fred Thompson raised $8 million last quarter, while the McCain camp reportedly raised more than $5 million. Well, that's a lot of money for most of us, of course. It's not much when compared to the $20 million raised by Democrat Barack Obama.
CNN's Tom Foreman is on the money trail in tonight's "Raw Politics."
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Republican Candidate Mike Huckabee is picking and grinning on the campaign trail. Well, at least he's picking. And while he's at it, he might want to put down a hat.
(on camera): The latest numbers for third quarter fundraising are in, and the Republicans are struggling.
(voice-over): In the cash dash, the latest tally showed Democrats with a substantial lead. While Republicans have been spending much more than the Dems to get their message across.
This is a big deal, because Republicans usually win the money run easily. And it suggests a profound weakness in GOP support.
Down with the king and the queen. That's what Barack Obama is saying as he hacks at Hillary Clinton's lead. It now appears he is bringing in as much or more money than she is, and he's attacking her pedigree, saying America has had enough of political dynasties, meaning the Clintons and the Bushes. The Hill and husband are fighting back, but new polls show the Obamarama and the Hill are effectively tied in Iowa, with John Edwards not terribly far behind.
And, in the land of the great bear, arguably the best chess player in the history of the Garry Kasparov, is running for president of Russia. He's an opponent of Putin and a proponent of democracy.
(on camera): And as a chess champion, he might have a natural talent for government, since he's already got a lot of experience sitting around with old guys for a long time while nothing happens -- Anderson.
COOPER: Tom, thanks.
We're following several other stories tonight. Joe Johns joins us with a "360 Bulletin" -- Joe?
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi Anderson.
At the University of Memphis, a plea for help. Police are trying to figure out who shot to death Taylor Bradford, a university football player. Investigators say the 300-pound defensive lineman was shot on campus last night, then apparently got in his car and drove a short distance before crashing into a tree.
In Las Vegas and beyond, the manhunt continues for Chester Stiles. He is the suspect in the videotaped rape of a 3-year-old girl four years ago. Stiles' ex-girlfriend says she believes she put him in contact with the girl when they visited an apartment. The videotape was handed over to police last week by another man who now faces child porn charges. The girl now 7 was found safe on Friday.
And next time you fly with the kids, pack the remote control toys in the checked in baggage. If you don't, you'll have to go through a second screening. That's because officials are concerned the toys could be used to set off a bomb -- Anderson.
COOPER: Yikes. That's no good. No good at all.
JOHNS: Oh, next, now, we have to look at the whole -- the whole story here, "What are They Thinking?" There are shocking photos of children getting a lesson on lynching at the elementary school and by Grambling State University in Louisiana. At least one student was put in a noose. We're talking about a show and tell for kindergarten and first graders. School officials say the goal was to teach the students about racism. It came on the same day that thousands rallied for the so-called Jena 6 in another town in Louisiana.
That case, of course, focuses on six African-American students accused of beating a white student months after nooses were hung from a school tree.
COOPER: Not a great lesson. Bizarre lesson plan there.
Joe, appreciate it. Thanks.
Up next, the young woman who brought down a polygamist prophet. Just last week we learned who she was. Tonight she is speaking out in her first primetime interview.
COOPER: The girl in that photo, just 14 years old. And the photo was taken seven years ago on the day she became a child bride. That girl is now a young woman, and last month in a courtroom in Utah, her testimony helped convict the man she once considered a prophet. The man who arranged her marriage -- that man, polygamist leader Warren Jeffs is now awaiting sentencing.
His conviction is a huge blow for his thousands of followers and a major victory for the prosecution and its star witness.
I talked to her today about what it was like to bring down the man who claims to speak for God, a man her parents and siblings still worship.
My interview is just ahead, but first CNN's Gary Tuchman has the back story.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In court, she was known as Jane Doe. Just 14 years old, when she was forced to marry her adult first cousin.
VOICE OF JANE DOE, RAPE VICTIM: He just laid me on the bed. And then had sex.
TUCHMAN: And now, after the polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs was convicted on charges that he was an accomplice to the rapes that occurred, Jane Doe has come forward to tell her story. Her name is Elissa Wall.
ELISSA WALL, RAPE VICTIM: So yes, there was immense amounts of pressure.
TUCHMAN: Elissa has now married a man she truly loves, who also used to be a member of the FLDS church. They watched together, as the man who married Elissa when she was a young teen testified in support of his prophet, Warren Jeffs.
ALLEN STEED, FLDS FOLLOWER: I don't believe that Warren Jeffs has ever done anything wrong. TUCHMAN: It was the first time Elissa Wall had seen her ex- husband since the marriage ended more than three years ago.
WALL: It was scary. Revolting. And it was hard, it was really hard -- it was really hard to see him for the first time.
TUCHMAN: In the Utah, Arizona border towns where the church is headquartered, there was an uneasy quiet with their prophet now a convicted felon.
(on camera): Can I ask you a quick question? That's -- that's good balancing on your head.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't point that thing at me.
TUCHMAN: I just wanted to know what you think about the Warren Jeffs verdict.
Most people don't want to talk to us. But this church member, Chris, says he remains devoted to the prophet.
How do you feel that he's in jail maybe for the rest of his life?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel really bad. I love him. I know that he loves me.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): What do authorities think will now happen in this polygamous community?
(on camera): One to ten scale, how much cooperation have you had from members of the church since you've been working inside their community?
GARY ENGELS, MOHAVE COUNTY, ARIZONA, INVESTIGATOR: Well, I'd put it about a minus ten.
TUCHMAN: And what do you expect it to be now?
TUCHMAN: We can't be sure if marriages of children under the age of 18 are still being performed here. We can't be positive that families are still being arbitrarily split up. But what we do know is that this is pivotal time for the FLDS because never in the history of this controversial sect has it had a prophet facing a long prison sentence.
(voice-over): Elissa and her husband both hope their parents, other family members and friends still in the church know this isn't a vendetta against a religion. It's a vendetta, they say, against child abuse.
LAMONT BARLOW, ELISSA WALL'S HUSBAND: I was happy to see the justice system work. It restored my faith in the system.
WALL: And it's been a very soul searching journey to look inside and find what I believe in, not what I've been told to believe in.
TUCHMAN: Elissa Wall is only 21, but has grown up very fast.
Gary Tuchman, CNN, New York.
COOPER: My interview with Elissa is just ahead. We talked about her difficult road to recovery, and why she chose to come forward even though it meant testifying about incredibly personal and painful details from her past.
We're back after a short break.
COOPER: Throughout the trial of Warren Jeffs, the prosecution's star witness was known as simply as Jane Doe. Her real name is Elissa Wall, and now as Jeffs awaits sentencing for rape as an accomplice, she is speaking out.
Today, I sat down with Wall and her husband, Lamont Barlow. They met after breaking free from the polygamist sect that Jeffs leads, the FLDS.
I began by asking Wall why she decided to testify against the man she once considered a prophet and who forced her to become a child bride when she was just 14.
COOPER: Why has it been so important for you to come forward?
WALL: I've wanted to help anyone in a position, no matter what religious sect, no matter where, to realize that child abuse cannot happen. Even under the umbrella of religion. And, so, that's been one of my driving forces is to just give girls and anyone in a bad position a chance.
COOPER: What is the power that Warren Jeffs has? In the community? I mean, what is it like growing up in that community?
WALL: He has almost ultimate power. Everything in your life revolves around teachings, and all those teachings point to him as the prophet. So, in every aspect of your life, he does have control, if not complete control.
COOPER: So, everything he said was, what, the direct word of God?
BARLOW: Oh, it was absolute. It was absolute. Imagine that you had a daughter, and that you loved this daughter. And you loved her with all your heart. Imagine that she had done something wrong. And you got a phone call that told you that she was no longer worthy to be in your home, she was not to be a part of your family. And that compelled you so much, you believed in it so much, that you took this daughter, and you drove her, 50 miles, to a parking lot, you pulled $100 bill out as she's sobbing in your car and you give it to her and you let her get out. And as she's crying and watching you drive off, you put your car in drive and you leave. That's the kind of power we're talking about here. That's the kind of control he had.
COOPER: So, for you to, you know, press charges, for you to enter a courtroom, and see Warren Jeffs sitting there, what was that like?
WALL: Overwhelming. And, so much of you, you still have an inner battle inside, trying to adjust to the real world, and adjust to how things really are. And realize -- the hardest thing is to realize that he isn't what you thought he was.
COOPER: When we return, Elissa talks about how the man that she thought she could trust forced her to marry her cousin, at 14. The difficult road to recovery. What she hopes for kids still trapped in the FLDS. All that after this short break.
COOPER: Before the break, Elissa Wall, the woman who helped prosecutors convict Warren Jeffs, described confronting the polygamist leader in court. It was not easy for her, but she says she wanted to make sure other girls don't go through what she did.
Nearly seven years ago, when she was just 14, Jeffs ordered her to marry her 19-year-old cousin. That's where our interview picks up.
COOPER: When you were 14 years old, when was the first time you heard that you were going to be given to the man who would become your husband?
WALL: It was a little while before the marriage.
COOPER: And what did you think?
WALL: It was overwhelming. A very deep sense of shock.
COOPER: When you see those pictures of yourself, you know, 14 years old, I mean, you were, -- I mean, it boggles the mind. You were 14 years old. Did you know anything about the world, about married life, about, you know, relations between people? Did you -- had you experienced much beyond just your family?
WALL: Absolutely not. In the society that I grew up in, the FLDS community, boys and girls are very -- they're taught to keep a good distance between each other. So, for me to find out that I was to be married, it was very difficult to understand what came with that kind of a responsibility.
COOPER: And at what point did you realize that this is a crime? That this is wrong?
WALL: It was -- it took a lot of time and maturing in myself to realize -- and even having my own children, to realize that it was, it was -- it was wrong. And as sad as it may be, it had -- we had to stand up for what was right. And, child abuse is child abuse, no matter where it takes place.
COOPER: I want to read something that you wrote. During your testimony, you know, we saw pictures of you with Allen Steed, the man who you were forced to marry. And you were asked to read from a journal entry that you wrote when you found out about being placed in this marriage.
You said, many things have happened to make my world go upside down. There are many things that are very weighty on my mind. If it wasn't for the Lord, I would be feeling quite overwhelmed.
What was that first week of married life like?
WALL: The first week of married life or the week before?
COOPER: The week before.
WALL: Oh, it was -- I don't know if I could put it into words, all the emotions that were going through me. Very extreme amounts of pressure. Lots of emotions. Many, many things had -- so much was happening in that week, and even the week following after.
COOPER: Were you scared?
WALL: Yes, I was. Very scared.
COOPER: Scared of what?
WALL: I was walking into something that I knew nothing about. And I was scared of the unknown.
COOPER: You have a civil suit, as well. I know you are hoping for a million dollars. You want to use that to help others who leave the community. Is that right?
WALL: I would like to create a way for girls and mothers to have options that I didn't have as a 14-year-old girl, being forced into a situation that I had no control over.
COOPER: Well, good luck to you. It's been a long process, I know it continues.
WALL: Yes, it has.
COOPER: Thank you.
WALL: Thank you.
COOPER: Thanks so much.
COOPER: Elissa and her husband, Lamont. They have been shunned by their family members, can't even talk to their family members who are still in the sect. A lot of courage for them to stand up.
Coming up next, a man who rarely gives interviews is speaking out and he's not holding back. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas -- well, like we have rarely seen him before after this short break.
COOPER: The first Monday in October, new term for the court, but something utterly and totally new for one of the members, Justice Clarence Thomas. For the first time, the only time since his bitter confirmation hearings, Justice Thomas has granted the media unprecedented access to his personal life.
He's got a new book out, of course, detailing his rise from grinding poverty, and his conversion from black campus radical to staunch conservative.
That evolution has garnered some criticism, of course, from African-Americans, especially for his rulings on Affirmative Action.
But In an interview yesterday with CBS's "60 MINUTES," Thomas explained why he doesn't respond to the attacks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUSTICE CLARENCE THOMAS, SUPREME COURT: My job is to write opinions. I decide cases and write opinions. It is not to respond to idiocy and critics who make statements that are unfounded. That doesn't mean that the people shouldn't have constructive criticisms, but it should be constructive. And whether or not I'm black or not, that's just silliness. That is not worth responding to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: CNN's Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin writes about Justice Thomas in his new book, "The Nine." It's a remarkable book. I spoke to him earlier.
COOPER: We just heard Clarence Thomas talking about race. He really has not responded to criticism of him over the years, and there seems to be a lot of anger built up.
TOOBIN: The thread that goes through Thomas's life is rage. He -- by his own admission. He's furious his entire life. At first, he was furious at the racial discrimination. And, you know, he was, he wore overalls, and he says, you know, I named my son Jamal. That tells you where my head was at in those days.
Yet, now, the rage is at white liberals. He is furious all the time at the people he believes tormented him during the Anita Hill hearings and criticized him on the court. I have never seen, frankly, anyone, much less a supreme court justice, whose life is defined by anger as much as Thomas's.
COOPER: And it's interesting, though, I mean, in his law school days, in his college days, it was -- I don't think he said he was liberal, he said he was much more militant than that.
TOOBIN: No, he was a black separatist. I mean, he -- he was -- I don't know if he was formally a member of the Black Panther party, but it was in that general idea of black nationalism, where he found himself. So, you know, he's done a 180, ideologically, but not temperamentally.
COOPER: Let's hear a little bit of what he said about the Anita Hill hearings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE KROFT, CBS CORRESPONDENT: Was the Anita Hill that testified on the Hill the Anita Hill that you knew at EEOC?
THOMAS: She was not the -- the demure, religious, conservative person that they portrayed. That's not the person I knew.
KROFT: Who is the person you knew?
THOMAS: She could defend herself. Let's just put it that way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: He doesn't really address any of the details of the accusations that came up during those hearings.
TOOBIN: No. Nor was he asked by Steve Kroft. I mean, he wasn't asked about corroborating witnesses who said that Thomas had engaged in this behavior before. He wasn't asked about, well, what was the nature of his relationship with her? How often was he alone with her, were they ever together outside the office? You know, the things that "60 MINUTES" usually does to cross-examine people, Thomas was not asked those questions.
COOPER: Do we know if he wasn't asked or it just didn't make it into the...
TOOBIN: Well, they didn't -- they didn't broadcast it. I -- I don't know. But I mean, I think the point is, that -- I don't draw -- the subsequent evidence that has come out, you know, whether it's Jane Mayer and Jill Abramson's book called "Strange Justice" or elsewhere generally favors Anita Hill, not him, in what really happened between them.
COOPER: And the hatred of the media, of liberal Democrats, did that start with the Anita Hill hearings?
TOOBIN: Well, I think he felt like he was badly treated when he worked in the Reagan administration, and the Department of Education, at the EEOC. He felt like, you know, the liberals made him not feel like he was defending the interests of African-Americans. But certainly, it was the hearings that sent the conflict into the stratosphere and along with it, his rage.
COOPER: All right, Jeffrey Toobin, thanks.
COOPER: His new book, "The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court" is already a hit. It's number five on the "New York Times" best seller list. It's a remarkable read. I read it last weekend. You should check it out.
Just ahead on 360, a mother of three, arrested at the airport. She dies in police custody. Police say she strangled herself. Her family, though, is not buying it. The story after the short break.
COOPER: Oh, the "Shot of the Day" is coming up. It's a boat rice unlike anything else. You see the pumpkins in the video? Well, we'll explain ahead.
But first Joe Johns joins with a "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Joe.
JOHNS: Anderson, an autopsy could determine tomorrow just how a 45-year-old mother of three died while in police custody at Phoenix's Sky Harbor International Airport. Carol Ann Gotbaum's family says she was on her way to an alcohol treatment center when she was apprehended Friday. Police say they arrested Gotbaum for disorderly conduct, handcuffed her behind her back and took her to a holding cell where she was left alone, further restrained by a 16-inch chain. Police say there she apparently strangled herself, though the family's attorney is questioning their report.
Guards working in Iraq for a private military contractor have apparently inflicted significant casualties there. A Congressional staff report out today says Blackwater employees use deadly force on a weekly basis, and not always defensively. Blackwater has yet to respond to the report.
A sharp decline in civilian and troop deaths in Iraq. At least 63 soldiers were killed last month, the lowest monthly toll since the summer of last year. Iraqi officials say the number of civilian deaths dropped by more than 50 percent from August to September.
And blue chips hit record highs today despite a profit warning from Citigroup. Investors hoping that the Fed will continue cutting interest rates sent the Dow up 191 points to a record close of 14087. The NASDAQ rose 39 points and the S&P finished the day up 20 -- Anderson. COOPER: All right, Joe.
Time for the "Shot of the Day." It's a cross really between the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown and David Letterman's Will it Float?
Take a look at this. These people are riding in boats made out of giant pumpkins -- oh yes, it's true. A half dozen racers took part in the great pumpkin regatta in New Bremen, Ohio. It happened this weekend. As you can see, the pumpkins were souped up for the event with battery operated boat motors. And yet with all of that, and a person inside, they still floated. Who knew that a pumpkin could float like that?
Anyway, a reminder, we want you to send us your shot ideas. If you see some floating pumpkins or some other videos, tell us about it at CNN.com/360.
Let's check in with Kiran Chetry with what's coming up tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR, "AMERICAN MORNING": Thanks, Anderson.
Tomorrow we bring you the most news in the morning, including a new crime of opportunity. Police across the country are saying they are getting calls from newlyweds who say that wedding crashers are ripping off their guests. In fact, one couple caught it on tape. One of the alleged crashers even brought their kid to help in the crime. We're going to show you how they fought back, tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING." It all begins at 6:00 a.m., Eastern.
Anderson, back to you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Up next, the latest on Britney Spears' custody battle. A judge ruling K-Fed gets the kids. It's "On the Radar" when 360 continues.
Time to check the 360 e-mail, "On the Radar," Jenny in Orland Park, Illinois, writes: Someone in Britney Spears' immediate circle of family and friends needs to step up to the plate and help her. I feel bad that she's losing custody of her children. She's only 25 years old. She needs some guidance.
On to another story we've been following. Monica, in Toronto, Ontario, says: Thank you for your coverage of the struggle in Burma. In a world colored by wars of hatred, conquest, and greed, can we not all see the eloquence of this struggle, this plea for peace and non- violence. We owe it to ourselves to shine the light of our attention on this part of the world to the seemingly low in voice willing to stand up before the gun and say, enough. And Anne in Akron, Ohio, says: I was very pleased to see you cover the situation in Burma. I had begun to despair for actual news after weeks of O.J. and bathroom scandals. Please continue to cover these stories that really matter as you've done throughout your career.
Well, sorry about the Britney story tonight, then.
Fear not, we will continue reporting on Burma. Share your thoughts, though, by going to CNN.com/360 and follow the links. We'd love to hear from you.
For our international viewers, "CNN TODAY" is coming up next. Here in America, "LARRY KING" is coming up.
I'll see you tomorrow night.
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