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Will Racy Photos Cost Miss California the Crown?; Teen Vanishes During Spring Break

Aired May 6, 2009 - 19:00:00   ET



JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, controversy over Miss California reaches a fever pitch. Carrie Prejean stripped for a photo. So now, will she be stripped of her crown? The Miss California organization deciding her fate. I`ll tell you if the racy photos, the breast implant scandal, and her decision to lobby with an anti-gay marriage group will cost her the crown.

Plus, new twists in a Hollywood tug-of-war. Is drinking still a hassle for the Hoff? After reports that David Hasselhoff was rushed to the hospital with alcohol poisoning, it`s now deny, deny, deny for the former "Baywatch" star.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You went to the hospital, but not for that?

DAVID HASSELHOFF, ACTOR: Not for that, no. I went for a stomach flu.


HASSELHOFF: What do you think?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So did his ex make up the story or is Hoff in the middle of a cover-up?

Then, trembling anguish for a mother begging for the return of her adorable son. Three-year-old Briant Rodriguez snatched from his home by two gunmen. Cops now release sketches of the suspects in this race against time.

And a devastated mother fights to find her daughter. Brittanee Drexel vanished while on spring break. Now, her terrified mom takes cops to tasks after they clears boys who were with Brittanee just before she disappeared. I`ll sort out the puzzling facts.

Plus, Jose Baez isn`t done yet. Casey Anthony`s attorney wants to grill the corrections officer who witnessed Casey`s jailhouse meltdown. Again, is Casey`s defense team getting greedy?

ISSUES starts now.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Stunning new twist tonight in the saga of Miss California USA, Carrie Prejean. The controversial Miss USA contestant spent yesterday defending herself after semi-nude photos of her were leaked on the Internet. She says she was only 17 when they were taken, and they were modeling photos.

Pageant officials huddled to determine if she should lose her crown. In a surprising twist, her recent activism against gay marriage could seal her fate. The embattled beauty made these remarks about gay marriage at the Miss USA pageant.


CARRIE PREJEAN, MISS USA RUNNER-UP: We live in a land that you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. And you know what? In my country, and in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there. But that`s how I was raised, and that`s how I think that it should be, between a man and a woman.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: She didn`t win Miss USA, but she did coin a new phrase, "opposite marriage."

Shortly after the pageant, Prejean started working with a national group opposed to gay marriage. Now Miss California USA pageant officials say this is a direct contradiction of a 12-page contract she signed.

Plus, had she been lying to pageant reps but not reportedly acknowledging she had taken semi-nude photos? And the biggest question of all: could she lose her crown because of all this?

Meantime, another young woman preaching one thing and apparently practicing another. Bristol Palin, the governor of Alaska governor and former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Bristol now an ambassador for abstinence only. She is telling teenagers to do what she was not able to do: namely, abstain from sex as a teenager. We will bring you the very latest.

But first, my fantastic expert panel: Brenda Wade, clinical psychologist; Michael Musto, entertainment columnist, "Village Voice"; Jim Beck, national field director, Christian Coalition of America; and the fabulous, one and only A.J. Hammer, host of "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT."

A.J., what is the very latest when it comes to the leggy lightning rod known as Miss California USA?

A.J. HAMMER, HOST, "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT": There`s so much to talk about tonight, Jane. I don`t know where to begin. My head is going to explode.

First of all, as we know, there is one particular photo, a topless photo, although her back is to the camera, but you can see that she`s clearly wearing -- wearing no top. That is the first photo that was released earlier this week.

And Miss California, Carrie Prejean, for her parts, says, "OK, well, that was the only one, and it was shot when I was just 17 years old." Well, reports are there are more photos. They haven`t surfaced yet. But apparently, they could at any time.

The question as to whether or not she was actually 17, and this is a tease for "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT," Jane. Coming up tonight on the show, I speak with a Miss USA judge who was right there judging Miss California at the pageant a couple of weeks ago who has a definite opinion on whether or not she thinks those photos were taken much more recently.

I can imagine this going to court some time from now. They say she`s in -- in a breach of contract. She says, "No, I`m not." And they`re going to have to put these photos up for evidence.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And not to be too, well, detailed or graphic, but one of the reason why there`s a controversy over whether these photos were taken when she was 17 or not, is that she had breast enhancement surgery, and the question is, were those enhanced breasts that are peeking out there or not, right?

HAMMER: Yes, that`s exactly right. And if they were enhanced, well, that means these photos were taken much more recently. Because she had the breast implants before the Miss USA pageant just a couple of weeks ago.

And it`s fair to point out once again, the Miss California people paid for said breast implants.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Well, Prejean may lose her title as Miss California USA, not because of her opinion necessarily on gay marriage, but according to those who are weighing in here, she may have lied. She reportedly never disclosed to the Miss California USA pageant that she had taken semi-nude photos, even though that is a question posed in the contract. Such photos are reportedly grounds for disqualification.

TMZ reports Prejean told officials yesterday there was only one picture. However, TMZ says it has four semi-nude picks. TMZ says Prejean believes the pictures aren`t semi-nude, because she`s wearing lingerie or underwear with no top.

The question is, and I`ll pose this to Jim Beck, the national director of Christian Coalition of America, is she bending the truth here? And if so, is it hypocritical for her to be the face of a so-called morality campaign?

JIM BECK, NATIONAL DIRECTOR, CHRISTIAN COALITION OF AMERICA: Make no mistake about it: the homosexual mafia has aimed their guns at Carrie Prejean. There`s no doubt about it. She can`t get -- listen, Perez Hilton got his silk panties in a knot and asked a question that he wasn`t prepared to get the answer. She was respectful. This would not be happening had she answered the question the other direction.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But I`m talking about lying. I`m talking about being a champion for morality and lying and saying you never posed for semi-nude photos in a contract and signing that, when in fact these semi- nude photos now popped up.

BECK: I think that will be adjudicated. It sounds like there`s certainly a factor -- a factor in dispute. But I`ll tell you this. She should honor her contract, whatever her contract was. But at the end of the day she`s been targeted because of her position on same-sex marriage.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Michael Musto, you`re with "The Village Voice." What do you say? Do you think she`s been targeted by the gay mafia?

MICHAEL MUSTO, "THE VILLAGE VOICE": Thank you. I`m very glad to be called part of that.

But anyway, look, there are so many levels of hypocrisy here, Jane. Carrie is citing morality against gays and yet she`s got this shady past, or presence.

And meanwhile, the pageant itself is mad at her for doing whatever she did with the nude or semi-nude photos. Meanwhile, they`re the ones who parade her around in a bathing suit for judging by the entire world, and they`re also the ones who paid for her implants.

Yes, I think the only real issue here is not whether she`s dumb, which obviously she is, but whether she did go against her contract. I think it`s looking more and more like she did, and she needs to be dethroned. I`m changing my mind from yesterday.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You`re changing your mind. Now you say dethrone her?

MUSTO: Only because of contractual reasons. When you sign something, you have to stick with it. And I don`t think she really did.

I don`t think she should be dethroned because she`s anti-gay. I mean, it`s a free country. You know, you open yourself up to sliming by outraged people like me. But if you`re going against your contract then, sorry, the crown goes off. Along with your top.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Jim Beck, I mean, I think what people are saying here is that, you know, she`s now saying, "Don`t get into my personal business. These photos are nobody`s business. My breast implants are nobody`s business." But didn`t she sort of get into other people`s personal business when she said that other people shouldn`t be allowed to marry?

BECK: Perez Hilton should be spanked, and not the kind of spanking he would like. He asked -- he asked the question. She was respectful in her answer. How dare he take offense? How dare he get his panties in a knot and be offended?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: He`s not -- he`s not involved in this particular debate right now. I mean...

BECK: He precipitated it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... we`re talking about -- well, I agree that his question was the one that triggered the whole focus on her.

A.J. Hammer, we`re not talking about the actual winner. We`re talking about the runner-up.

HAMMER: Yes. And with all due respect to your guests, Jane, this now no longer has anything to do with what Carrie Prejean said about all of this. Is it true?

Do we think that if, in fact, that question had never come up at the Miss USA pageant, would these photos have surfaced? I`ve got to say, they probably would have. And I`d also like to point out -- and this may just be coincidence -- all this against the backdrop of what happened in Maine and New Hampshire just a few hours ago, where they are moving that much closer to same-sex marriage being enacted.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Brenda Wade, as a psychologist, I see a lot of emotion surrounding the issue of gay marriage. I see this as something that`s really becoming the dominant, almost civil rights issue of our era.

BECK: Right. Jane, that`s ridiculous.


BRENDA WADE, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: I`d like to respond to this.

BECK: That`s an insult.

WADE: Thank you very much. What I would like to say is that definitely, anytime people`s rights have been compromised, we are talking about civil rights. And in America, I, of all people, as an African- American woman -- and there was a time when African-Americans weren`t allowed to marry at all -- I am the last person who would say anyone has not the right to marry.

Now, let me talk about Carrie for a minute. My favorite quote from Albert Einstein is "A life without integrity is a life with no beauty." She may be a beauty queen, but she`s made an ugly mess. And if she stops playing victim and pointing the finger and blaming other people, she could actually learn one of the most important life lessons, which is when you give your word, you stand behind it.

Honesty is the highest moral value. And I would like to see her speak up and stand up for that.

MUSTO: And Jane, that`s the first time you`re ever going to hear "Carrie Prejean" and "Einstein" in the same sentence.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Jim Beck.

HAMMER: I don`t think -- I don`t think Einstein ever said "opposite marriage" either.

MUSTO: He never posed -- he never posed topless either. He never posed topless.

BECK: You can make fun of her. I mean, the role for these programs is bringing somebody on with opposite points of views and you make fun of them. Let me say this, Jane. I`ll tell you this right now. He made the mistake. He thought he was judging the Miss France competition, or the Mr. France competition. He brought the subject up. These -- I doubt she`d be having this trouble right now if she had answered the question in the opposite...



WADE: ... would be having trouble if she`d kept her word and being honest.

MUSTO: But Jane, it`s not -- it wasn`t even her views.

HAMMER: She claimed persecution. She has claimed persecution.


WADE: ... her views were.

MUSTO: Not so much her views, but the fact that she agreed to do a commercial for an organization promoting straight marriage. And she -- and according to her contract, she`s not allowed to make any appearances that the pageant doesn`t approve of. And she went outside that. I guess she`s not much of a reader.

BECK: I do -- I do believe...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Go ahead, Jim.

BECK: I do agree she probably shouldn`t be endorsing any product without the permission of the pageant. I mean, I get that.


BECK: But at the end of the day, she`s the victim here.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you know what? At least we agree on one thing: more on the crown controversy in just a moment. Do you think she should be dethroned? Give me a holler at 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297. Let me know.

Then David Hasselhoff admits he went to the hospital over the weekend but says it was not for alcohol poisoning. I will try to get the straight story.

First, Miss California now in a new controversy over semi-nude photos, making no apologies for her anti-gay-marriage views. Here she is defending her comments last week.


PREJEAN: No offense to anybody out there. This is just what I believe. I think we`re all entitled to our own opinions. He asked me mine specifically. I gave him an answer. And because of that, I was called names. I was made fun of. I was mocked.




PEREZ HILTON, CELEBRITY BLOGGER: She lost, not because she doesn`t believe in gay marriage. Miss California lost because she`s a dumb (EXPLETIVE DELETED).


VELEZ-MITCHELL: This USA pageant judge lashing out at Miss California Carrie Prejean for her on gay marriage. Could her involvement with a national organization opposing gay marriage now cost her her crown? I want to hear from you. Boy, the phone lines jam-packed.

Elizabeth in Maryland, your question or thought, ma`am?

CALLER: Hi, Jane. Thanks for taking my call. I have a couple comments on it, quickly. My question is, this issue of her, whether she posed nude or not, broke the rules, that`s all backlash as a result of her answering a question that they asked her. Had she answered the way he wanted her to, this wouldn`t be an issue. She was just standing up for herself and being honest.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I thank you for your input. But let me ask A.J. Hammer, Donald Trump had weighed in on this...

HAMMER: Right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... and what did he say about that whole issue?

HAMMER: Yes, he appeared on "The View" yesterday. They asked him, what do you think? Would she have won had it not been for the gay marriage question controversy? Donald said they added up the points, and they were very clear on the fact that no, she would not have won in any event.

And quite honestly, I don`t believe that this would not have eventually surfaced. It may be backlash for how upset a lot of people got at the fact that she spoke out against gay marriage. That`s all possible.

But there`s also a great possibility, as we have seen in the past with other beauty pageant contestants...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, Vanessa Williams.

HAMMER: ... that these photos would have surfaced sooner or later, and regardless of whether or not the question had been asked, she still would have been in breach of her contract, if that`s what they deem this was.

All right. Searcy, Illinois. Question or thought, ma`am?

CALLER: Why is it OK for her to be in semi-nude photos, but it wasn`t OK for Vanessa Williams?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, OK. That`s an interesting one. Brenda Wade, you want to weigh in on that?

WADE: You know, it`s interesting. I thought about Vanessa Williams right away when all of this came up. And fortunately, she is a very talented, very classy woman who did own up to her mistake. And if you remember, she apologized for the mistake that she made.

I think it would be great if Carrie could apologize for the mistake she`s made and just say, "Look, I signed a contract. I didn`t tell the truth." Young people make mistakes. If you can`t make a mistake, you can`t make anything, but only if you`re willing to take responsibility and own up. And she`s not. She`s playing victim.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Jim Beck, what do you say? Should she apologize?

BECK: She is -- listen, she is a victim. There`s no doubt about it. The absolute gates of Sodom and Gomorrah have opened up on this woman. I mean, make no mistake about it. I mean, this is -- this is -- all this is, is a homosexual mafia at work.

And I`ll tell you this. There are people all over America, in all walks of life, who are afraid to speak up for their values right now, because the message is, if you don`t support the guy and lesbian bisexual alliance, or whatever the cause of the week is, that somehow you may risk promotions.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mike Musto, you`ve been called now a member of the gay mafia, so I`ll give you the chance to respond on that one.

BECK: He`s the Tony Soprano of the gay mafia.

MUSTO: Getting even better. I prefer Edie Falco. But I`m wetting my pink panties here to think about all of this. It`s fantastic. I never knew that straight people were such victims of guys. It`s really quite a role reversal (ph).

BECK: Oh, it`s happening.

MUSTO: Thank you for educating me.

BECK: It`s happening. We`re getting spanked every day.

MUSTO: You`re getting married every day. You`re getting married every day.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I don`t know. I guess a lot of people around the country are getting spanked every day, but we don`t want to go there.

Another young woman in the news, Bristol Palin, teenaged daughter of governor and former Republican presidential -- vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, the young woman appeared on "GMA" this morning. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You say don`t do it, don`t have the sex, but you did. So how do you put those two together?

BRISTOL PALIN, DAUGHTER OF SARAH PALIN: I`m not quite sure. Just -- I just want to go out there and just promote abstinence and just say this is the safest choice. This is the choice that`s going to prevent teen pregnancy and prevent -- prevent a lot of heartache.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Essentially, Bristol is telling teens they should abstain from sex when that is precisely what she herself did not do. So some are wondering if they should call this the "do what I say, not what I do" campaign.

Brenda Wade, I had a psychologist explain to me once that the reason "abstinence only" doesn`t work is that intellect is a low defense against biology, that physiological urges...

WADE: Exactly.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... called hormones will be stronger in a teenager than their thought process.

WADE: That`s right. And this is the worst possible defense, Jane. We have the research. We have the statistics. Abstinence does not work for teenagers.

What we do know is teens who are educated about contraceptives, teens who access to contraceptives are much more likely to not have unplanned pregnancy and not have these very, very lethal STDs that are now out there. And we know that the highest rate of STD infections are among young people.

So to say that abstinence works is so irresponsible. I just can`t stand it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jim Beck, you`re with the Christian Coalition of America. There are 750,000 American teens getting pregnant every year. We have the highest pregnancy rate in the industrialized world. Eight out of 10 of those young girls do not marry the father of the child. Do you really think "abstinence only" is the solution to that crisis?

BECK: I just heard a very intelligent woman say abstinence doesn`t work. Show me one person that ever got pregnant not having sex. I mean, abstinence works. I mean -- I mean, I`m just old country. I`m an old country boy...

WADE: Abstinence doesn`t work. I`m sorry.


BECK: ... but abstinence works.

WADE: Statistics exist. Statistics exist that teenagers are not able to maintain abstinence. The intention may be there, but the execution is not there. And we are leading our teens at risk.

BECK: So what about alcohol?

WADE: To try to tell them to be abstinent.

BECK: What about alcohol and drugs? What about alcohol and drugs?

WADE: Alcohol and sex are not in the same category.

BECK: Sometimes it`s in the same car.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. I want to thank my ferociously fantastic panel.


BECK: Sometimes it`s in the same car.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Don`t forget, you can catch A.J. Hammer on "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" tonight at 11 p.m. Eastern. He will have a whole lot more on the Miss California controversy.

And here on ISSUES, I`m going to bring you the harrowing story of a mother desperately trying to find her daughter after she vanished on spring break.

And then, authorities frantically search for adorable 3-year-old Briant Rodriguez. We`ve got his sketches. We`ve got a whole bunch of new information. We`ve got to find this child.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: In the "Spotlight" tonight, a New York teen vanishes from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, during spring break. Seventeen-year-old Brittanee Drexel disappeared almost two weeks ago after visiting some male high school buddies at a hotel near to where she was staying.


CHAD DREXEL, FATHER OF MISSING TEEN: My daughter vanished. That`s the word I have. I -- it doesn`t make sense in my mind.

If she`s watching, baby, come home to your daddy. Just come home, and we`ll be with you. Please come home. Your sister and brother love you.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That poor dad. Now, new evidence. Take a look at this new grainy surveillance video. It appears to be her walking along the side of a road, a kind of busy traffic road that has some believing foul play could be to blame.

Meantime, Brittanee`s own mother says she`s not completely satisfied with the investigation as authorities clear a group of guys Brittanee was last seen with.

Straight to the one and only Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels.

Curtis, give me an analysis of this grainy surveillance video of Brittanee apparently walking along the side of a busy highway, possibly after she left the hotel with her guy high school friends. Is this not a prescription for disaster: a pretty young teen by herself in shorts, walking along the side of the road in a foreign town?

CURTIS SLIWA, FOUNDER, GUARDIAN ANGELS: Oh, for sure. And you`re coming from Rochester in New York, where everyone disses and dismisses you, because they give you the evil eye. And then the southern hospitality of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina where, "Can I give you a ride? You know where you`re going?"

And then all of a sudden you think, "Oh, this is the charming knight who`s going to take me to my place of residence." And then who knows what may have transpired?

You oftentimes see this when girls are walking along roadsides. Guys are looking at them as if they were Bambi during hunting season with an orange fluorescent vest on and always thinking that they can get the first, second, third base and maybe slide home.

Oh, yes. And you know what? You hit it on the -- the nail on the head, Curtis. We`ve created sort of a hunter/prey mentality between a lot of these sick guys and these pretty young girls. And I blame a lot of the violence in the movies and the media, where you have that repeated over and over again and these sickos watch it.

Listen to Brittanee`s mom explain to "FOX & Friends" how her daughter, a New Yorker, ended up in South Carolina.


DAWN DREXEL, MOTHER: She did not have my permission to go.


D. DREXEL: You know, she`s 17. She felt like she needed to get away for a little bit. And she just wanted to hang out with her friends.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: But Curtis, the mom is saying she doesn`t think she`s a runaway in the sense that she always cared about how she looked. She wouldn`t disappear in the same outfit for several days. That something bad, she says, happened to her daughter.

SLIWA: Yes, and unfortunately, I would agree with her, because it does appear this girl was always styling and profiling. You know, primping, always trying to look proper.


SLIWA: And even her boyfriend says that even though she went over to that other hotel where her male friend was staying from back in Rochester, he didn`t think that anything was up. And that`s a telltale sign right there, because normally, the boyfriend, he`s going out of his mind.

And I just got to believe that something bad happened on that way back to her residence...


SLIWA: ... after she left her friend. Because remember, he picks up in the middle of the night. He heads back to Rochester with not a care in the world on his mind.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Right. And there`s a cell phone ping the day after in the vicinity of where she was walking.

Curtis, thank you so much.

Casey Anthony`s attorney questioned two law enforcement officials yesterday. But he`s not done yet. Jose Baez wants to bring him in for more grilling. Is this situation getting overcooked, people. What is Baez thinking? Why does he keep grilling these officers over and over again? Is it fair?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: A desperate mother begs for the return of her adorable son, 3-year-old Briant Rodriguez snatched from his home by two gunmen. Cops now release sketches of the suspects in this desperate race against time.

And is drinking still a hassle for the Hoff? David Hasselhoff says reports he was rushed to the hospital with alcohol poisoning are completely false. So, is the former "Baywatch" star in denial?

Tragedy strikes when -- this is such a horrific story -- armed gunmen burst into a California home and they snatch a terrified 3-year-old boy. I will have the very latest on the abduction of little Briant Rodriguez in just a moment.

But right now, let`s dive in to the ongoing battle between Casey Anthony`s defense attorney and Orange County officers who witnessed Casey`s mega meltdown at the jailhouse medical center when a child`s remains were found. Jose Baez said he is not done grilling those officers.

Is this getting overcooked? What more could he possibly hope to learn than we already know? That Casey on December 11th had an intense reaction to news that remains of a child had been found. She was rocking and all sorts of things. Even before anybody knew those remains were her daughter`s.



LT. TAMMY UNSER, ORANGE COUNTY OFFICER: She collapsed into the chair and started to, what appeared to be, hyperventilating. She lost her breath. We told her a couple of times take some deep breaths. She was -- got real shallow breathing. Her hands started to sweat. She started rubbing them profusely.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Baez says he has a problem with the way Casey was treated. But was she really mistreated or is Baez trying to make sure the public never sees the surveillance video that captured her possibly incriminating breakdown?

Let`s break it down with my fantastic panel: still here, Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels; joining me now is Stacey Honowitz, Florida prosecutor; and Judge Karen Mills-Francis, host of "Judge Karen" and a former retired Miami-Dade County court judge.

Judge Karen, what the heck? This is getting to the point where these officers are going to be over-grilled. Is this...

KAREN MILLS-FRANCIS, HOST, "JUDGE KAREN": You know what? We are seven months into this trial; the first-degree murder death penalty case. Five months left before this case goes to trial, 200 witnesses. And this attorney has taken a two-hour deposition of a correction officer.

We haven`t talked to any of the forensic folks. We haven`t talked to the lead detectives. He makes a big to-do about a correction officer`s testimony. He says after two hours, I`m not finished with him yet. You know how I feel about this Baez?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, I do. And yesterday before questioning the jail house officer who was with Casey during her meltdown, Jose Baez hinted at possible legal action.

Listen to this.


JOSE BAEZ, LEAD ATTORNEY FOR CASEY ANTHONY: We need to get to the bottom of everything that occurred in this case. And that`s really the purpose for the depositions, everything that we`re trying to do. There`s no -- I`m not thinking of any lawsuits or anything. If she feels she has a claim after we do our investigation, that`s certainly -- if she has a claim for her right to pursue.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Baez talking right near the train tracks. He first claimed Casey`s rights were possibly violated when she was videotaped at the medical center. Now he seems to have flip-flopped backing away from that claim.

Stacey Honowitz, is there any solid ground for a lawsuit over how she was treated? And if so, who would Casey Anthony sue, the Sheriff`s Department for putting her in front of the TV set that the news was breaking that remains were found of a child near her home?

STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR: Well, certainly that`s what I think Jose Baez was trying to look to. He`s trying to say that this was a setup, something we discussed before that they never taped her before when they were giving her information. Now that the body was found, they set her up. They put her on tape purposely so that the jury could see what her reaction is.

Like I told you last night, Jane, I don`t know how relevant the prosecution is going to think this is because this cuts both ways.

You have 12 people you have to convince on that jury beyond a reasonable doubt. It takes one person to say, I think her reaction is that of a grieving mother. And as I said last night, he could be asking the deputy that. "Isn`t it true, deputy, that you could see a grieving mother reacting that way when they find out it`s her child."

He`s grilling. He`s going. He`s trying to find and figure out a way to say this was a setup. This might in the very end be all for naught because the prosecution might strategically decide it`s not worth putting this evidence in.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Curtis Sliwa, you`ve been observing this whole case. It always seems to boil down to her behavior. Let`s face it. She`s a somewhat, you know, attractive, compelling character. Whether she`s partying too much or rocking back and forth in the fetal position when she finds out what could be bad news. It always boils down to her personality.

CURTIS SLIWA, FOUNDER, GUARDIAN ANGELS: Oh, yes. You know, Baez, he`s smart. He knows like Pontius Pilate, he`s washing his hands of this case. He knows he`s going to lose. But he wants that infomercial time.

This guy is like Len (INAUDIBLE). He doesn`t know a camera, no microphone, he doesn`t want to have the urge to merge. That`s why when you heard the Choo-Choo Charlie engineer blow the horn, he`s saying, next stop, Miami. I can work that press corps over there if there`s a change of venue. It`s now all about Baez. He`s not really thinking about his client.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Judge Karen Mills-Francis, why doesn`t the judge in this case just put a gag order in place and prevent everybody from talking especially since Jose Baez is claiming that all the media attention in Orlando is why he can`t get a fair trial there? He`s partially responsible by giving all these news conferences.

MILLS-FRANCIS: You know what, he called a news conference on Monday at quarter to 5:00, right before the 5:00 news to complain about the press coverage. And he`s creating the press coverage. I don`t know what the judge is thinking. I don`t know why the judge hasn`t issued a gag order in this case.

But you know there is a bar complaint pending against Baez that was filed by the judge. I have said many times, I do not believe this lawyer is qualified in Florida to be a first chair death penalty defense attorney; second chair, third chair, fourth chair or fifth chair.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`ve got to leave it right there but we always invite Jose Baez on to our program to give his side of the story. We`d love to hear from him -- come in and visit us. Jose Baez, we`d love to have you.

MILLS-FRANCIS: Come on, Jose. Visit us.

VELEZ-MITHCELL: Come on, Jose, talk to us.

Hang on for a moment as we turn to -- this is just tragic, terrifying, it`s just stomach turning -- the abduction of an adorable 3-year-old little boy, Briant Rodriguez, violently snatched by two gunmen who burst into the family`s California home over the weekend. Now cops reportedly say they have a significant lead as they race against time to find this child who they say might have been taken to Mexico.

Yesterday, Briant`s distraught mom cried out for him during a very emotional news conference.


MARIA ROSALINA MILLAN, MOTHER OF BRIANT RODRIGUEZ: This is my son`s T-shirt. My boy, my boy, my boy. My boy is a beautiful boy.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Police say that as the brazen bad guys made off with little Briant, they threatened to kill the child. But so far, nobody has demanded a ransom. As far as cops are concerned, there`s no apparent motive. Why did they take this child?

Back with my expert panel, Stacey Honowitz, Judge Karen Mills-Francis and Curtis Sliwa.

Curtis, I`m very happy to say we`ve got some new information. Cops are now saying they have a very good lead in the abduction of this child. And they believe that the public can help them.

We were scheduled to have a news conference. We haven`t heard it yet. But is that encouraging, given that up until this point, this whole abduction didn`t seem to make any sense?

SLIWA: Oh, yes, very encouraging. Hopefully the police will share that with us lickety-split. But I`ll tell you this, the mother did say something very important, she said, "I don`t owe any money. My baby doesn`t owe any money."

I would bet, just street smart sense, that they took the youngest child of the many children in that house, because the father owed somebody some money. And it may have been over a business transaction. Maybe drugs -- I`m just going in a hypothetical direction now. But just from a street smart sense, this is about somebody owing money. Why would she have said that?

VELEZ-MITHELL: Let me just say this. And I`ll go to Stacey Honowitz on this one.

First of all, we have no information that the father is in any way or shape involved. He was off doing some work when all of this went down. And there have been cases where they have taken a child because some, let`s say very far relative -- there was a recent case where a child was taken and then thankfully released unhurt because a grandfather owed money to a drug cartel. But you never know who.

It could be the next door neighbor who owed money. Or it could be something completely different. It could be a case of mistaken identity and they were after the people who used to live in that house. We have no idea. Stacey.

HONOWITZ: Well, absolutely, Jane. That`s why it`s very important that we hear what the police have to say. It is very encouraging that there is a lead. Hopefully this child is still alive.

And you know that in cases like this, the very first thing that the police are doing is a background investigation on this family. To see if, in fact, there is any tentacles, not just the immediate family, but like you said; any relative, anybody who might be involved in something that would allow them to go in and break in and snatch this kid. We have to wait to hear. The fact that there is a lead, that they are investigating, and going on, is really, really good news.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, let`s pray. Let`s take a close look as well at how the police describe little Briant`s kidnappers. Cops say, both men thin, light-skinned, Spanish speaking. One about 18, 5`8, wearing blue jeans, a green T-shirt and a black baseball cap. The other about 24, 5`10. He was in a black T-shirt, black pants and a white bandanna.

An Amber Alert issued for 3-year-old Briant yesterday. He`s 3 feet tall and weighs a mere 40 pounds, last seen wearing a yellow T-shirt, shorts and sandals; his most distinguishing feature -- those adorable brown curly locks. Look at this cute child seen here in the video.

Briant`s distraught mom is afraid that his abductors might have cut his hair. So it`s important to take a very good look at this child`s face.

Boy, Judge Karen Mills-Francis, what would you tell the family to do right now if you could advise them?

MILLS-FRANCIS: You know what? I would advise the media to try to stay away from the house because these people might try to contact the family in terms of a ransom. And they need to stick by the phone and keep praying that he`s going to be returned.

And I want to commend you, Jane. There are 2,000 children that go missing every day in America. And I want to commend you for covering this story today.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you, Judge Karen. Coming from you, that`s wonderful.

Curtis, Stacey, Karen, thank you.

Don`t forget, tune in to "NANCY GRACE" at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. She will have much more on both this case and the Casey Anthony case.

Here on ISSUES, Bernie Madoff`s longtime secretary. You won`t believe what she has to say about Madoff. It`s totally unbelievable.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: David Hasselhoff and his ex-wife in a bitter feud over the Hoff`s alleged trip to the hospital for alleged alcohol poisoning. I will dissect the conflicting stories.

But first, "Top of the Block" tonight.

Scandalous allegations coming down the pike about, who else, Bernie Madoff. Madoff`s personal secretary of 20 years, Eleanor Squillari is speaking out against the swindler in Vanity Fair. She said the disgraced fraudster hurled offensive insults at his employees, got frequent massage at work and she claims she once caught him skimming the local escort pages. The longtime assistant also dropped this shocker on NBC`s "Today Show" this morning.


ELEANOR SQUILLARI, BERNIE MADOFF`S PERSONAL SECRETARY: I believe that, yes, he is protecting people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And when you say people, who do you believe he`s protecting?

SQUILLARI: I really don`t -- I really don`t think that I should say. You know, but I would like to say that I hope anybody who was knowingly involved would be brought to justice.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow. We`ve all been suspecting there were others involved. But she is the first source close to Madoff who has come right out and said it. I just hope more of Madoff`s cronies blow the whistle on him the way this courageous woman has.

That is tonight`s "Top of the Block."

Tonight, television star David Hasselhoff, furiously fires back at claims he almost poisoned himself on a drunken bender. The actor turned reality show judge denies shocking allegations that he was so dangerously drunk -- over four times the legal limit -- that he had to be raced to the hospital for alcohol poisoning.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So the reports about the .39 blood alcohol...

DAVID HASSELHOFF, ACTOR, REALITY TV STAR: Absolutely, unbelievably a lie, completely fictitious. I think that five years ago when I checked into Betty Ford, I actually survived a little bit more than that score.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: reported Hasselhoff`s daughter found him unconscious on the floor of his L.A. home over the weekend and kept slapping his face to, quote, "keep him alive."

Hasselhoff had a different spin on the events.


HASSELHOFF: I had a few drinks but there was no police involved.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And like, did you go to the hospital?

HASSELHOFF: I went to the hospital, but not for that.


HASSELHOFF: No, I went for a stomach...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: so you didn`t pass out?



VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hasselhoff`s lawyers say his ex-wife is putting out false information. She insists she`s telling the truth. So, did his ex make up the story or is the former Baywatch star in denial and does he need our compassion and help?

Joining me: Brenda Wade, clinical psychologist; Lisa Bloom, an anchor on the legal network "In Session" and CNN legal analyst; and Mike Walters, assignment manager at TMZ.

Mike, dare we ask, what is the very latest?

MIKE WALTERS, ASSIGNMENT MANAGER, TMZ: Yes, Jane. You know, we`ve got to say just like you did, that the issue here is the conflict of stories.

You know, let`s start with the fact that the wild allegations, the .39, him being drunk, passed out, foaming at the mouth, going to the hospital, barely being alive.

Now, you saw our video. He tells us that basically it`s all a lie. None of that happened. He had a few drinks. He went to the hospital for a stomach ailment. But I think the overlying thing here now that we`ve got it all on the table is, there`s a court order in their nasty divorce, him and his ex-wife Pamela, where they`re not supposed to talk to the media about this.

And remember, the one report that came out about and how specific it was, was very specific from the night of the event. So obviously Pamela`s the one doing the talking and she`s not supposed to.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Hasselhoff`s lawyers have said, quote, "It`s pretty obvious that his ex-wife is putting out false information about him."

Here`s what the Hoff told TMZ.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think your ex-wife is behind spreading these...

HASSELHOFF: What do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think -- seems like these things get out pretty quickly.

HASSELHOFF: Yes. Well, there`s basically a court order about stuff like this that she`s continuing violating but I`m not going to so I`m not going to say.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, lawyers for ex-wife, Pamela Bach, say quote, "Despite attempts by her ex-husband`s lawyers to divert attention from the hospitalization of David and undermining Bach`s life-saving involvement, she maintains her ongoing commitment to the health and well-being of the entire family.

Lisa Bloom, they had a vicious divorce battle. But it is over. They are divorced. What`s this war still about?

LISA BLOOM, ANCHOR, "IN SESSION": When you have a he said/she said, or in this case, he said/she said/she said, because the ex-wife and the daughter are both on the same side, you have to look at who has a motivation to lie. The ex-wife -- the divorce is over. I don`t see what she has to gain by this. The daughter, what does she have to gain by making up a lie?

David Hasselhoff, he does have something to gain by denying all of this, because it`s bad for his reputation. I don`t know who`s telling the truth. But I`m putting my money on the ex-wife and the daughter.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Brenda Wade, I never want to pass judgment. I am a recovering alcoholic with 14 years of sobriety. And you know, always there but by the grace of God...


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you. And so we want to always respond with compassion. But the fact is he admitted he had several drinks. He`s also admitted to being a recovering alcoholic.


WADE: If you`re a recovering alcoholic, if you`re a recovering alcoholic, you don`t drink, because you could trigger the disease. And go back into an alcoholic episode. And I hope for his sake he didn`t.

But you know, Jane, I`m very suspicious because he wouldn`t be the first person to have a slip. I will tell you, this case is exactly why I have a free love lesson on my Web site to keep couples together, because here we have a husband and wife squaring off on each other. Even if they`re exes, they are still parents. And who`s caught in the crossfire here but their children? And this is so traumatizing for children.

So there are two things I want people to take away. Number one, anybody can have a slip. You`ve got to work your program, work your program, work your program. But the other is that people who go through divorces have to get to forgiveness of one another. And I`m not hearing that forgiveness is necessarily -- they`re still blaming each other.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But let`s say -- ok.

The ex-wife is upset because he has access to the children and then he has slipped repeatedly. That might be her justification whether or not her story is exaggerated.

We know he had an incident in 2005, he went to Betty Ford. He has the hamburger incident in 2007. Now he has this. And there`s others reportedly.

So we`re going to analyze more of that in just a moment. Stay right there fabulous panel.



HASSELHOFF: I had a few drinks but there was no police involved.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And like, did you go to the hospital?

HASSELHOFF: I went to the hospital, but not for that.


HASSELHOFF: No, I went for a stomach...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you didn`t pass out?



VELEZ-MITCHELL: The Hoff talking to TMZ. Some have suggested David Hasselhoff seems to joke and minimize his battle with alcoholism.

Here`s his reaction to claims he had four times the legal limit.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So the reports about the .39 blood alcohol...

HASSELHOFF: Absolutely, unbelievably a lie, completely fictitious. I think that five years ago when I checked into Betty Ford, I actually survived a little bit more than that score.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And here`s that tough love shot by Hoff`s daughter and released by the show "Extra" in 2007.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tell me you`re going to stop.

HASSELHOFF: I`m going to stop.




VELEZ-MITCHELL: "Extra" says Hasselhoff asked his daughter to document him in this drunken state but it was never meant to go public. And after it did the Hoff talked about it on a segment for the NBC show "America`s Got Talented." Hoff told the audience, quote, "I`m going to have a cheeseburger for lunch."

You know, Mike Walters, he seems to have -- first of all, this is a long-running saga, his battle, and he seems to have this attitude of sort of making light of it.

WALTERS: Yes, you know, you`re right. I mean, you show that video. I haven`t seen that in a while. And it`s like -- you`ve got to remember, like you said, he`s an alcoholic, he`s gone to Betty Ford, and he shouldn`t be drinking at all.

But I think you have to go back, and I agreed with Lisa Bloom previously, it`s like, wait a minute, what about how this story got to the media in the first place? And the maybe not even exaggerated; even if it`s exact. How and why this got to a National Enquirer Web site. And the reason is whose motive here is to do harm to one another?

And remember, this story came from Pamela Bach in the beginning. So why is she doing it? I don`t know. But the reality is that`s where it came. And our video is a reaction to the story that ended up coming out there about this first.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Toula of Michigan. You have a quick comment. We only have a couple of seconds.

TOULA, MICHIGAN (via telephone): Yes. You are my hero for doing animal rights and human rights. First of all, I`m a physician; treated hundreds of people with abuse.

It`s his problem. Quit blaming everybody else. Go get some treatment. It`s okay to fall off the wagon, but please quit blaming people and get treatment.

Do more animal ISSUES, please.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you. Thank you, Toula. I`m right there with you.

Brenda, five seconds, we can learn from this, can`t we?

WADE: The most important thing for us to learn is that anybody can have a slip. Couples need skills to work out their differences. Check out for a free love lesson. And Jane, they both need to be in program.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell. You`re watching ISSUES.