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NANCY GRACE

Woman Dies on ER Waiting Room Floor Ignored by Hospital Staff

Aired July 1, 2008 - 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. The desperate search for a beautiful 12-year-old Vermont girl who vanishes into thin air after reportedly being dropped off at a local convenience store to meet up with a little friend, 12-year-old Brooke Bennett captured on grainy surveillance video just moments before she vanishes. Bombshell. The investigation leading police and now the FBI straight to Bennett`s own stepfather, along with the girl`s uncle, on unrelated charges of sex assault on a minor.
And tonight, a stunning twist. Are both arrests now connected to a child sex ring, luring underage girls by Internet? Are there more victims? Tonight, where is 12-year-old Brooke Bennett?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love you, Brooke. I`m not mad. I just want you home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Brooke Bennett`s uncle a convicted sex offender. He`s already a person of interest in her disappearance. And now today we learn Brooke`s stepfather, Ray Gagnon -- he`s been arrested.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Vermont State Police have arrested Ray Gagnon of San Antonio, Texas, for aggravated sexual assault, which is in conjunction with the Jacques arrest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The FBI is in the process of bringing Mr. Gagnon over to the federal side on charges of obstruction of justice related to the destruction of evidence related to this investigation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRACE: Also tonight: Dying in plain sight. A young woman in intense pain collapses face down in the hospital waiting room, writhing in pain, the patient waiting in the emergency room untreated for a full 24 hours, the ER staff refusing to treat her. Highly disturbing video now released. It even catches at least three hospital staffers -- repeat, three staffers -- walking just steps away from the woman on the floor as she lay dying. They do nothing! To top it all off, did hospital staff actually doctor records to cover up? When will prosecutors take action?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: According to the New York Civil Liberties Union, 49-year-old Esmin Green was already sitting in the ER for almost 24 hours when she collapses onto the floor at 5:32 AM, Green falling face down right in front of a security guard`s window, writhing on the floor, completely unnoticed, that window taped up with paper so security guards don`t have to look out.

Twenty minutes later, a guard strolls up, possibly to catch what`s on an overhead TV, but does nothing. The patient, trapped under plastic benches just can`t get up, having multiple spasms. 6:07 AM, Green is dead. Other patients approach the nurses` station, but nothing is done. And minutes later, another security guard rolls his chair into the room, sees Green on the floor but still does not help her, that guard not even standing up, just wheeling himself away.

6:35 AM, two hospital staff members finally show up and find Green unresponsive. The security guard, still on wheels, rolls back in to check it out, finally lifting himself from the chair and checking for a pulse. The crash cart and a gurney rolled out, but it`s one full hour after Green collapses, left to die.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRACE: After seeing that video again, I can hardly speak, the woman dead on the floor, all the people coming out and looking at her, one of them rolling out on a chair and rolling back to his guard house.

Good evening. I`m Nancy Grace. I want to thank you for being with us.

Breaking news tonight: The investigation of a 12-year-old Vermont girl who vanishes now leading police and FBI straight to Brooke Bennett`s own stepfather, along with her uncle, on unrelated charges of sex assault on a minor. Are both arrests connected to a child sex ring, luring underage girls by Internet?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This most recent arrest of Ray Gagnon, who we learned is Bennett`s former stepfather, is in connection to her uncle`s arrest. Now, police say Gagnon was arrested for aggravated sexual assault on a minor. They said that minor was not Brooke Bennett. But Gagnon was not arraigned in court this afternoon, as we expected. In fact, those charges never formally entered the court system, but he`s now facing other charges, and those charges are, indeed, federal charges. Vermont State Police said this afternoon they still consider Brooke Bennett`s uncle to be a person of interest in her disappearance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Surveillance video showed Jacques with his niece in a convenience store last Wednesday. She`s not been seen since. She told family members she was going to meet a friend, visit a relative of the friend in the hospital.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just want you home, Brooke. And if you can hear me, if you`re watching, just call me and let us know you`re safe!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRACE: But right now: A tragedy unfolds on a waiting room floor at a highly respected hospital, a woman lies there, writhing, dying. Security cameras catch not one, not two, but three -- who knows if there are more -- staffers come by, one of them actually rolling around on his chair. He doesn`t even have the energy to get up and go check on the woman. Look at this. The woman already waiting there 24 hours. She is in the throes of death right now as you are watching on the video. Look at the other patients sitting there. And the staffer comes out, takes a look, walks away, her body spasming. She is dying as people stand by and do nothing.

That`s not the end of it. Keep looking. There you see a security guard roll out at the bottom right of the screen on his chair, not even bothering to get up. Here come two staffers. Hey, look at her, she`s dying on the floor. What do they do? Take a look. They finally check to see if she`s dead or alive. Incredible. Keep watching this video. Finally, they come out with a gurney. It`s an hour -- or should I say 24 hours too late.

Straight out to CNN`s Mary Snow. Mary, explain to me what happened.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Nancy, a lot of outrage. New York`s mayor was asked about this, Mike Bloomberg saying that "horrified" might be too nice of a word to describe this, saying, rather, he was disgusted by it.

What happened was, about two weeks ago, a woman was brought here to this hospital at Kings County in Brooklyn, and she had to wait for nearly 24 hours until she got a bed at this hospital. She was taken to the psychiatric unit. And at 5:30 on the morning of June 19, nearly 24 hours after she had been waiting in the waiting room, in the emergency unit at the psychiatric unit, we saw what happened on that tape.

And the New York Civil Liberties Union today released the tape to the public, saying we may never have known the details of what happened to her unless this tape had come to light. This hospital had been cited in a federal lawsuit in 2007 for the conditions at this psychiatric unit. They have now been made public. There was a motion today to go before a judge to order some improvements here.

GRACE: Incredible.

SNOW: The city -- yes?

GRACE: I`m glad they`re doing that today. And what I heard you say a couple of sentences ago, Mary Snow, is that they just released this video. The reality is, weren`t the records doctored? We wouldn`t even know about this happening because the records indicate nothing was amiss. She just suddenly died.

SNOW: Yes. You know, the tape shows that two security guards at two different points had gone into the room and done nothing. And what it turns out to be is that there is discrepancy. The medical records show at around 6:00 AM that morning, the woman was said to be up and awake, even going to the bathroom.

Now, she had collapsed, according to that videotape, at 5:30, so she`d been on that floor for nearly a half hour. And later on, she was reported to be in good health, when she was -- she may have already been dead at the point where that medical record said that she was OK. So yes, there was a discrepancy. The city has acknowledged that. An investigation is under way and...

(CROSSTALK)

GRACE: Mary, I appreciate you calling it a discrepancy. I understand that. But there is no way that this lady lying face down, dying on the floor, is up and about. They even went so far as to put on the records what her blood pressure was, that her heartbeat was normal, that she was resting quietly, that she had gotten up on her own, ambulatory, and gone to the restroom. That is simply not true. So discrepancies, I believe, Mary Snow, is like putting perfume on the pig. It stinks.

We are taking your calls. Donna in Maryland. Hi, Donna.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Nancy. I love your show.

GRACE: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am a major in social work here in Maryland, and I am appalled at what I`m seeing. Are these workers at this hospital going to be liable for this woman`s death?

GRACE: Excellent question, Donna in Maryland. Back to Mary Snow, CNN correspondent joining us there on the scene. What has happened to these various employees, Mary?

SNOW: Six employees. Two have already been fired, including an administrator and a doctor. There are two security guards, two nurses suspended and in the process of being terminated. And we asked the lawyers today what happens to these employees, and they`re saying they don`t want to target these employees specifically. They want to make certain that the culture at this hospital is totally changed. They want to get to the root of the problem, saying that there are many other patients here who can face abuse, and that is what their main concern is right now.

GRACE: Mary, who said that?

SNOW: This is the lawyers working with the New York Civil Liberties Union that filed this lawsuit...

GRACE: OK...

SNOW: ... last year, the federal lawsuit.

GRACE: You know what?

SNOW: It was a separate lawsuit...

GRACE: I appreciate them working on the culture. But this, to me, is negligent homicide.

With me right now is Donna Lieberman. She`s the executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, suing Kings County Medical Center. Donna Lieberman, thank you for being with us.

DONNA LIEBERMAN, NEW YORK CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION: Thanks for having me.

GRACE: You have such a long history of fighting for others. Have you ever seen anything like this?

LIEBERMAN: Quite frankly, Nancy, I have never seen anything quite as shocking as this terrible, terrible travesty.

GRACE: I wonder how long, Donna, had the woman apparently been waiting in the waiting room?

LIEBERMAN: She was there for practically 24 hours before she keeled over off her chair and fell on the floor. And it was nearly another hour before anybody came to her aid. And not one, not just two, three people came over and saw her, two security guard and a doctor saw her lying on the floor, and not one of them did a thing to help her. They could have saved her life, but they left her there on the floor.

GRACE: Donna...

LIEBERMAN: And you were talking about the individual employees. You know, individual employees have to be held accountable, but when so many employees have abdicated their responsibilities and will let somebody lie dying on the floor, we have to worry about a system that is profoundly flawed. And that`s why we say we have to change the culture of abuse and neglect in this hospital.

GRACE: You`re right because if you don`t, how many more victims will there be? We keep talking about the lady, the lady. She has a name. She is 49-year-old Esmin Green. And we believe she has six to eight children that she is most likely supporting. And now she`s dead.

Take a look at this video, one of the hospital workers to lazy to even get up off his chair and go check on her. He rolls out to the corner, doesn`t even get out of his chair, and just rolls back, rolls out of sight.

And I appreciate you working on the culture -- and you`re right, Donna Lieberman -- but in my mind, these three at least need criminal charges.

Out to the lines. Kiisha in New Jersey. Hi, Kiisha.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Nancy. I love what you do for the victims.

GRACE: Thank you. What`s your question, dear?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My question was, it appeared to me that she fell asleep in the chair and fell and hit her head, so I wonder if the cause of death was a head injury.

GRACE: Let`s take a -- wind it back up, Liz, because when she starts falling -- look. Take a look. Take a look. She falls straight between a chair and another item, all right?

And I want to go straight out to Dr. Marty Makary, physician and professor of public health joining us from Johns Hopkins. Dr. Makary, the little table, the chairside table -- look at everybody just wandering around, the woman is lying face down on the linoleum! The little table -- she falls apparently between the table and the chair -- is no more than about two feet off the ground. That could hardly cause an impact that leads to death.

DR. MARTY MAKARY, PHYSICIAN, PROF. OF PUBLIC HEALTH, JOHNS HOPKINS: She was probably in excruciating pain and then had a head injury or a convulsion, Nancy. But remember, hospital emergency rooms are not designed for urgent care like this. This is a problem with the broken American health care system.

GRACE: Marty Makary...

MAKARY: The average wait time is 12 hours.

GRACE: Marty Makary, please. You know, I appreciate the sermon about the culture and the system. I`m talking about this lady, this lady, a mother of eight, a mother of eight, in the hospital where she should be, here in our country, lying face down on the floor. Look at everybody just walking around her!

Out to the lines. Jana in Kansas. Hi, Jana.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Nancy. I love your show, and I love seeing your two babies.

GRACE: Thank you. Can you imagine? I had to take my mom to the hospital recently. She broke her arm. Long story short, instinctively, I would never leave her. Now I know why! Look at this!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wonder, do they have like a freeze, where they can`t admit any more patients or anything right now until they get this investigated about abuse and all that?

GRACE: Excellent question. Let`s go to Rob Cohen, attorney with Kirkland and Ellis, suing Kings County Medical Center. What about that theory, Rob?

ROB COHEN, ATTORNEY, KIRKLAND & ELLIS, SUING HOSPITAL: Well, Nancy, first of all, thank you for having me on, and thank you for your intense interest in this. The fact of the matter is that Kings County serves a very critical need in the Brooklyn area, so that the hospital cannot be shut down. What we`re aiming to do and what our goal is, is to make sure that that hospital provides responsible, professional, caring, compassionate care for the people who need it. Obviously -- obviously, as this tape shows -- that`s not happening.

GRACE: So bottom line -- no offense, Rob, but you`re kind of talking like a lawyer. I think what you just said was, they serve so many people - - so many people need them that it would be inconceivable to just shut them down because of this incident.

COHEN: We can`t shut it down and we don`t want to shut it down. What we want to do is change the place so that when people walk through those doors...

GRACE: Hey, Rob...

COHEN: ... they`re given the treatment they need.

GRACE: Rob, take a look at what we`re about to show you. Remember Edith Rodriguez, May 2007? She was already in a hospital room -- a hospital waiting area. She was on the floor dying, and the cleaning crew actually comes and cleans around her while she`s dead on the floor, and then they leave. That particular hospital had so many incidents of neglect ending in death and serious bodily injury, they were actually shut down for a period of time. Is that what this hospital is looking at, Rob?

COHEN: I don`t think that`s what this hospital is looking at right now. Again, we believe we can make the necessary changes so that the hospital will provide responsible professional care.

GRACE: Well, you know what?

COHEN: That`s the goal of our lawsuit.

GRACE: I hope you`re right, Rob, because there`s not enough time now for Esmin Green and her eight children.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The first thing you see is the woman falling off her chair and landing face down on the floor of the psychiatric emergency ward inside Kings County hospital. What happens next, or rather, what doesn`t happen, is now the center of a massive lawsuit against the hospital. Those familiar with the case say the 49-year-old woman dies right in front of the surveillance camera as the medical staff walk by her and ignore her, apparently, not one angel of mercy concerned that she is convulsing on the floor. Almost an hour later, when workers finally do respond, it is too late for the Brooklyn woman.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRACE: I guarantee you this much, if she had been rich, college- educated, I guarantee you she wouldn`t be laying face down on the floor. Right here in America, this lady waits over 24 hours at a hospital emergency room, then dies on the floor. Keep watching the video. You`ll see an employee, a hospital employee, roll out from around the corner in his chair, not even bother to get up -- forget the other patients wandering around like she`s not even there -- and then just roll away.

We are taking your calls. To Dr. Lillian Glass, psychologist and author. Lillian, how can people just sit there over there? What are they having chips and a Diet Coke while she`s dying 10 feet away?

LILLIAN GLASS, PSYCHOLOGIST: It is horrible! Where is the humanity? That is so disgusting to see!

GRACE: I mean, how do you do it?

GLASS: What has happened here?

GRACE: How do you sit there and watch somebody die and not even get up and go call?

GLASS: You don`t. You don`t. You don`t unless you dehumanize them. And that`s what`s happened here. When you look at what the policeman did or the security guards, it`s so disgusting. I mean, the man puts his hand on his waist and looks like he`s looking at a bad car accident. This is so disgusting!

GRACE: Like she...

GLASS: He needs to be penalized for that big-time.

GRACE: ... is inconvenient to him. But you know what? They`re just going to fire them or reprimand them. I want jail time.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The scene played out on June 19 of this year. The patient had been admitted to the psych ward for agitation and psychosis just the day before and was here waiting for a bed when she died all alone on the floor. It has been 11 days now, and the medical examiner has yet to determine a cause of death, but whatever claimed her life, even city officials admit no one tended to her for an hour.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRACE: We are taking your calls live. I don`t know if you`ve spotted it yet, but at the bottom right of your screen, you will see a security guard roll out on a chair, not even bother to get up, and then roll back to his little office as she lay dying on the floor.

Let`s unleash the lawyers, Raymond Giudice out of Atlanta, Pamela Hayes out of New York. To Ray Giudice. To me, this is negligent homicide on the parts of all three of those hospital staffers.

RAY GIUDICE, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Nancy, I think the medical negligence is so severe that I think you would have a charge, a justifiable charge of voluntary or involuntary manslaughter, I think also probably a pretty good civil rights case. The lawsuit that was filed a year and a quarter ago to fix the holistic (ph) system here has not worked.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: My wife is dying. And the nurses don`t want to help her out.

UNIDENTIFIED 911 OPERATOR: OK. What does he mean "she`s dying? What`s wrong with her?

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: She`s vomiting blood.

UNIDENTIFIED 911 OPERATOR: OK. And why aren`t they helping her?

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: OK. They`re watching her and they`re not doing anything. They`re just watching her.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRACE: Mrs. Rodriguez died in 2007 in the hospital. Her husband calling from a pay phone just outside the waiting room where she died. That was 2007.

Now 2008, nearly the same circumstances at Kings County Hospital Center. Another woman dying on the floor, waiting for attention. She had been there over 24 hours. We know that certain staff members have been fired.

Hopefully the one that wheels out on a chair and wheels himself back into his office. But why is it stopping there? Why no criminal charges?

Out to you, Pam Hayes. Why?

PAM HAYES, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I don`t know why. They should be at the D.A.`s office. They should be considering filing charges of criminally negligent homicide, you know, misconduct, misfeasance. There are a whole list of things that they can really do.

But the most important thing is, you know, the attorney general of the state of New York should be looking into this, because there are also state civil rights charges that could be filed against this and they might be able to do it in a criminal way.

GRACE: Let`s go out to the lines, Meredith in Atlanta. Hi, Meredith.

MEREDITH, ATLANTA RESIDENT: Hi, Nancy.

GRACE: What`s your question, dear?

MEREDITH: I`m really just disgusted by this. But I`m curious -- you`re saying that they`re actually in the psych ward. And you know, it`s a little bit different to me than the emergency room area. And I`m just wondering, are those also psych patients? Maybe they`re not of the.

GRACE: They are. They are psych patients, Meredith. But as you can see, they are fully ambulatory going in and out. And I`m a little more concerned with the hospital staff, whose duty it is to take care of the patients.

To CNN correspondent Mary Snow standing there at the scene -- Mary, it`s my understanding she is in a waiting room area where she had been waiting about 24 hours. What difference does it make if she`s in a psych waiting room or another emergency room waiting room? She is in the E.R. waiting room.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. And, you know, Nancy, I wanted to point out -- and Donna can speak more to this -- but there were a number of cameras in that hospital. And what officials said earlier today is that another camera showed some people going up to a nursing station, but there was no audio on the tape. So we can`t hear what was said. That`s part of the investigation.

But you`re right, I mean, this was an emergency unit for the psychiatric ward. The law says that 24 hours is the maximum time anyone can be in that. That is the maximum. They shouldn`t be in there. But as lawyers will tell you, there were previous cases from years -- in the past few years that some people had been up there -- in that unit for maybe three to five days, according to attorneys today.

GRACE: Out to John Lucich, former investigator and author. John Lucich, what I`m gleaning from what Mary Snow is telling us is there`s a good chance if this were not caught on video, those records were falsified to make it look like nobody did anything wrong. We wouldn`t even have a case.

What other evidence should they be looking for?

JOHN LUCICH, INVESTIGATOR, AUTHOR OF "CYBER LIES": They`re going to interview people. They`re going to go through records and they`re going to compare it. That`s a big part of their case, what they have right there is that video.

And you know, this needs to be a three-pronged approach. They need to have -- continue on with the civil litigation. They need to have someone come in and oversee the hospital immediately so this doesn`t go on, and they need to have a criminal investigation.

But they`re going to conduct a thorough investigation and they`re going to have to match it all up and that`s going to show the intent to cover this up which is going to be devastating for these people.

GRACE: Out to the lines, Jane in Canada. Hi, Jane.

JANE, CANADIAN RESIDENT: Hi, Nancy. Could you tell me, please, if the doctor and the nurse that was fired have had their medical licenses suspended so that they can`t.

GRACE: Jane in Canada, that is an excellent question.

To Donna Lieberman -- Donna Lieberman is the executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union and suing Kings County Medical Center along with Rob Cohen.

Donna, what about it?

DONNA LIEBERMAN, EXEC. DIRECTOR, NYCLU, SUING KINGS CO. MEDICAL CENTER: Now, we don`t know what proceedings are pending against the doctor and the nurses involved in this. They are -- they will be investigated, clearly, and they`re entitled to their day in court.

I don`t want to lose sight of one thing. This is a terrible, terrible travesty that happened here, and it`s our responsibility as the community to ensure that this doesn`t happen again.

And the way that we`re going to ensure that this doesn`t happen again is to make sure that there is reform, that there is oversight, that patients are required to be checked regularly, that there is a limit on the number of people in the emergency room, and that New York City provides this in this hospital the care and treatment that is compassionate, that is professional, and that respects the dignity of every patient who walks in there.

And that`s what the New York Civil Liberties Union, along with Kirkland and Ellis and Mental Hygiene Legal Services is determined to achieve as a result of this terrible, terrible tragedy.

GRACE: Speaking of Kirkland & Ellis, to Rob Cohen, any idea what must be done to bring the nurses and doctors up before a board of review?

ROB COHEN, ATTY. KIRKLAND & ELLIS, SUING KINGS CO. MEDICAL CENTER: Nancy, that`s not my area. And I want to echo what Donna said.

Listen, we fully support and encourage any investigation, whether it`s by the United States Department of Justice, the New York A.G.`s office, the D.A.`s office. We`ll cooperate in any way we can with any sort of criminal investigation.

Our job here, though, is on the civil side. And in that regard tomorrow we expect a United States district court in Brooklyn to enter an order that will require the city, require the hospital to take measures so that this type of tragedy won`t happen.

That`s what we`re doing. That`s just the beginning. It`s not the end. It`s the first step in getting reformation.

GRACE: Well, Rob Cohen, I`m glad to hear it.

Rob Cohen joining us from Kirkland & Ellis, Donna Lieberman from the New York Civil Liberties Union.

Now I`d like to hear from the prosecutors on this matter.

When we come back, the investigation of 12-year-old Vermont girl who vanishes, leading police and the FBI straight to Bennett`s own stepfather and uncle. Are the two arrests connected to a child sex ring using the Internet?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Police are calling the uncle of a missing 12- year-old Brooke Bennett a person of interest in her disappearance.

Michael Jacques was in court yesterday on unrelated charge of aggravated sexual assault on another underage girl. The 42-year-old Jacques is a registered sex offender. He pleaded not guilty.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GRACE: Incredible! Still no sign of 12-year-old Brooke Bennett. Take a look. The tip line in this case, 802-234-9933. The FBI now in on the case. The uncle has now been arrested on unrelated sex on a minor charges. Now her stepfather arrested as well.

Straight out to Sam Hemingway with the "Burlington Free Press." Sam, bring me up to date.

SAM HEMINGWAY, REPORTER, BURLINGTON FREE PRESS: Today we had the second arrest in two days. We had the uncle yesterday, the stepfather today. Same charge in both cases, aggravated sexual assault on a minor.

In neither case are they saying that the victim was Brooke Bennett, the girl that`s missing. But there is clearly other victims around. There`s -- at least two we know of. The -- what`s strange was that after Mr. Gagnon was arrested, he was brought into custody and arrested last night on the sexual assault charge by state police.

This morning, they charged -- decided not to bring that charge to court. We were all set to see him at the arraignment. They called off the arraignment. In the afternoon we learned that the fed -- FBI has stepped in. He is now going to get charged with obstruction of justice charges for apparently destroying evidence that was critical to the search for his stepdaughter.

GRACE: And as of right now, we don`t know what the father allegedly did to obstruct justice or what evidence.

HEMINGWAY: That`s right.

GRACE: . he tried to destroy. It could be anything from getting rid of some of her clothes to deleting e-mails. We don`t know yet, Sam Hemingway with "The Burlington Free Press" with us.

Also with us tonight, two very special guests. Jim Bennett is Brooke Bennett`s father -- not her stepfather, her biological father. He is an Iraqi war hero and with him his wife, Janet Bennett. Janet has known little Brooke since she was just 16 months old.

To both of you, thank you for being with us.

JANET BENNETT, STEPMOTHER OF MISSING BROOKE BENNETT: Thank you.

JIM BENNETT, FATHER OF MISSING BROOKE BENNETT: Thank you for having us.

GRACE: Mr. Bennett, it just -- the scenario -- you spoke with us last night after the uncle had been arrested.

That uncle, by the way, everyone, is Mr. Bennett`s ex-wife, the girl`s mother, brother by marriage. That is how they are related. And now tonight her stepfather.

When you hear charges that these two may be part of an Internet child sex ring, Mr. Bennett, what was your response?

JIM BENNETT: It`s just unbelievable. I don`t know what to think. I just -- my only hope is that she`s not involved in it.

GRACE: Well, I tell you, Mr. Bennett, I read the article about when you came home from Iraq and surprised your children and that warm and happy homecoming you had. And now this. You make it through Iraq, you get home, only to have your daughter snatched away from a convenience store.

Also with us, Janet Bennett. She`s known Brooke since she was a tiny baby.

Janet, I just don`t understand how anybody in their right mind could let a little girl go get in a car with a convicted child sex predator. I don`t understand that.

JANET BENNETT: Yes, that`s a good question. I don`t understand it either. I would never.

GRACE: Well, what would -- no, never! What is the mother saying tonight, Janet? I mean how does she explain herself?

JANET BENNETT: I don`t know. I don`t know how she explains herself.

GRACE: Are police telling you guys anything, Janet? Are they making any headway in the search for little Brooke?

JANET BENNETT: They`re not telling us anything that they`re not telling the media.

GRACE: You are seeing shots.

JANET BENNETT: We know when you know.

GRACE: You`re seeing shots right now of Brooke with her father. He is with us right now, Jim Bennett, along with his wife, Janet Bennett.

Also with us, Marc Klaas, president of Beyondmissing.com, also a crime victim. His daughter Polly taken from a sleepover. She was abducted and then later murdered. And he has been a crusader ever since.

Marc Klaas, what do you think?

MARC KLAAS, BEYONDMISSING.COM, FATHER OF MURDER VICTIM POLLY KLAAS: Well, I`m surprised this girl ever had a chance given the fact that she seemed to be surrounded by these sex perverts.

But here`s something we do know now. While they have to continue to investigate this Internet connection we know that, number one, Uncle Mike is the guy that dropped her off at the convenience store. And then we know that inexplicably, some period of time later, Uncle Mike is also the guy that located the piece of clothing that belonged to the girl, but it was 10 miles away in a remote rural location.

Here`s what I can tell you. He put that piece of clothing there to misdirect law enforcement. That little girl is nowhere near that location at all. What they have to do, Nancy, is they have to find out where this guy takes these girls that he rapes, because he`s got a location that he`s very, very comfortable with.

Find that location, interview those kids, and then begin again at ground zero from that location.

I think another thing that really is interesting is the fact that this guy was given a 6 to 20 year sentence for raping a child in 1993. He only served three years. He also went through a sex offender treatment program and was deemed compliant.

Now we find that this guy is up to his neck in this kind of activity again, yet he`s eligible for parole. What I`d like to know is who in the world is in charge of public safety in the state of Vermont, because this is out of control.

GRACE: Absolutely unacceptable.

Let`s unleash the lawyers. We are taking your calls live.

To Ray Giudice, three years on a 20-year sentence?

RAY GIUDICE, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Boy.

GRACE: Compliant?

GIUDICE: Yes.

GRACE: And he`s online and writing letters allegedly to a 9-year-old girl?

GIUDICE: Right.

GRACE: And performing every single sex act I can think of on a 9- year-old girl.

GIUDICE: Well, it`s unbelievable, I mean, on so many aspects. How little of the sentence he actually wound up serving. And obviously there were no restrictions on him that allowed him to either to get into this net that we`re talking about, this alleged sex ring, or have contact with 12-, 11-year-old girls.

GRACE: And to Pam Hayes, I don`t understand the mother allowing -- the biological mother allowing the little girl to go off with a convicted child sex predator.

But what restrictions could have been placed on him by the Vermont government?

HAYES: Well, obviously, he shouldn`t have been any place where he could be around children, including family members. This is something they could have had an order of protection. He should have been out. He should have been out.

GRACE: You are taking a look at the little girl`s biological mom. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CASSANDRA BENNETT, MOTHER OF MISSING BROOKE BENNETT: I just hope that -- she likes doing somersaults and cart wheels. I love you, Brooke. I`m not mad. I just want you home. I`m very concerned. I just hope that her well-being is still fine.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Cassandra, authorities say there may be some involvement with the Internet here, something about a stranger she might have been speaking with on the Internet.

Do you know anything about that or what might have transpired?

C. BENNETT: I don`t know a whole lot about that. I am hoping and praying that she was not talking to anybody regularly. I`m hoping that this was something that just came up, that somebody out there thought that my daughter would be of interest in some really awful thing. And I just hope that they bring her home safe.

She likes doing somersaults and cart wheels. I love you, Brooke. I`m not mad. Just want you home.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRACE: You`re not mad? What do you have to be mad about? I`m mad at you for letting your daughter be alone with a convicted child sex predator. You`re not mad?

You`re seeing video from the "CBS Early Show," that`s Brooke Bennett`s mom seemingly in shock pleading for the return of her little girl.

I`m stunned, Lillian Glass. I`m stunned.

LILLIAN GLASS, PSYCHOLOGIST, AUTHOR OF "I KNOW WHAT YOU`RE THINKING": Yes. Something that`s very interesting, if you watch the video, look at the girl`s arms. She`s crossed her arms. She`s self-protecting. And then when she leaves the convenience store, she goes in the opposite direction. Maybe she was frightened. Maybe she ran away.

Let`s hope that is the case, and she`s OK.

GRACE: Back to the Bennetts -- Jim Bennett and his wife, Janet Bennett. This is Brooke`s biological father and his wife. She has known the little girl since she was just a tiny baby.

Jim Bennett, is Brooke the kind of little girl that would disappear? Has she ever disappeared before? Did she tell you about any fears or concerns at home?

J. BENNETT: No. She`s not that type of little girl that would just take off.

GRACE: What about it, Janet?

J. BENNETT: Not at all.

JANET BENNETT: No. No. She`s -- she would never just take off. She never told us anything about any concerns she had. And we`ve always told her that she could come to us with anything. And I feel that she really knew that, that she could come to us with anything. And she never did.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m really happy. Like all the time, always had a smile on her face like almost nothing got her down. She was a really nice girl. We liked to play a lot of sports. And she was just, like, all- around good girl to hang out with. She made friends really easily.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRACE: Where is 12-year-old Vermont girl Brooke Bennett? In the last hours, not only her uncle, but her father arrested on unrelated child sex. That`s right. Unrelated, not to do with Brooke.

Straight out to the lines, Rose in Missouri. Hi, Rose.

ROSE, MISSOURI RESIDENT: Hi, Nancy. Thank you for letting me ask you this question.

GRACE: Yes, ma`am.

ROSE: I feel like screaming out. My question is to mothers and women that, why do they allow their children to be left at home with boyfriends, and like you say, with this man?

And I know the father is heartbroken, but yesterday when I heard him on your show, I asked myself, he thought maybe because this guy, this uncle, is married and has children, they somehow think that maybe that person`s normal but.

GRACE: Yes. Yes. I did not hear him say that. I heard him say that the child visited in the home. But anytime with a child sex predator is too much time. And I saw it in court a million times where mom chooses boyfriend or live-in over the child.

Mr. Bennett, what has your day been like since Brooke went missing?

J. BENNETT: It`s been agonizing. Frustrating. We just want our little girl home. We love her very much.

GRACE: I know you do. And please believe me, there are thousands of people joining us sentiment and praying for Brooke tonight.

Everyone, let`s stop to remember Army Private First Class Aaron Ward, 19, San Jacinto, California, killed, Iraq. Enlisted straight from high school, an M.P. from a long line of military vets.

Warm, loving, had a smile that lights up a room, dreamed of a military career and becoming a cop or firefighter and proposing to girlfriend, Katie. Leaves behind parents, Paul and Debra, sister, Samantha.

Aaron Ward, American hero.

Thanks to our guests, but most of all to you for being with us. I`ll see you tomorrow night 8:00 sharp Eastern, and until then, good night, friend.

END

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