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President Obama Makes Push for Final Passage of Health Care Plan; Outrage Over Sex Offenders

Aired March 3, 2010 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, a nation's rage, as a teenage honors student out for an innocent run is raped and murdered. The man charged with a crime, a convicted sex offender who once molested a 13- year-old, served prison time and got out.

How can the state explain Chelsea King's death to her grieving parents?

What about the others?

Is anybody safe anymore?

Can the senseless loss of young lives mobilize an entire country to say enough is enough?

But first, showdown, President Obama ready to rumble, telling Congress to bring it on.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Everything there is to say about health care has been said and just about everybody has said it.



Good evening.

A program note. We're in Washington tomorrow night and Charlie Rangel is our guest. It will be his first interview since stepping down today as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee amid controversy. He has taken a leave of absence.

And now tonight, after a year of increasingly bitter political debate, President Obama is pushing for an up or down vote on his nearly $1 trillion health care proposal.

Here's what he said about it today.


OBAMA: The American people want to know if it's still possible for Washington to look out for their interests and their future. They are waiting for us to act. They are waiting for us to lead. And as long as I hold this office, I intend to provide that leadership. I do not know how this plays politically, but I know it's right. And so I ask Congress to finish its work. And I look forward to signing this reform into law.


KING: Joining us in Washington, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Republican of Minnesota. She is campaigning and championing what's billed as the Declaration of Health Care Independence.

And Representative Alan Grayson, Democrat of Florida. Last fall in a speech on the House floor he said that the Republican health care plan is don't get sick, but if you do, die quickly. All right, Congresswoman Bachmann, what's wrong -- since it's happened so many other times -- with an up and down -- up or down vote?

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: An up or down vote is a good thing, Larry.

It's just how many votes will it take?

Will it take 60 votes or will it take 50 votes?

And that's what--

KING: But what's wrong with majority rules?

BACHMANN: Well, because that's not how the Senate works. The Senate works with 60 votes. And now, what the president is promoting is a nuclear option, which is 50 votes. So we should have an up or down vote--

KING: But it used--

BACHMANN: But it--

KING: It used that -- but it used a -- it used that majority rules on the Bush -- Bush tax cuts. It was 51 votes.

BACHMANN: Well, the House uses straight majority rule. The Senate doesn't.

So what this would mean, Larry, is that the Senate has to break their own rules in order to pass the bill.

KING: And that's wrong?

BACHMANN: Oh, I think so. Sure.


And Congressman Grayson, why do you think they should break this rule, which they have done in a few times in the past? REP. ALAN GRAYSON (D), FLORIDA: My esteemed colleague from Minnesota is entirely wrong. There's nothing in Senate rules that prevents reconciliation. It's been used 22 times overall and 14 times by Republicans. If it's good enough for tax cuts for the rich twice under Bush, it's good enough to provide health care for all Americans.

KING: All right. Let's get into some specifics.

Congresswoman Bachmann, if you agree there's a problem with -- with insurance in the United States and 38 million uninsured, what's wrong with the president's plan?

BACHMANN: Well, the problem is, number one, it's a job killer.

Number two, it's a government takeover of 18 percent of the economy and it's going to be massive tax increases. Plus, it will cut $500 billion from Medicare from vulnerable seniors.

So there's not a lot of up side, especially when you consider the perilous situation we're in. "Time Magazine" today said that the president's spending is laying the groundwork to double taxes in 10 years. That's before this health care bill passes.

So we're looking at massive increases in taxes going forward with all this spending. And that makes a lot of Americans very nervous.

KING: Alan, why do you favor it?

GRAYSON: Well, again, that's simply not the case. Look, we spend 17 percent of our income on health care. No one else in the entire world spends more than 11 percent of our income. And yet we're 50th in life expectancy in the world. The Japanese live more than five years longer than we do. And we are 46th in infant mortality, below Cuba.

How could we spend so much money and get so little?

The system is broken and it needs to be reformed. That's what this bill does.

KING: In a nutshell, what--

GRAYSON: It keeps Americans alive.

KING: Michele -- Congressman Bachmann or Congresswoman Bachmann, what's your solution, in a nutshell--

BACHMANN: In a nutshell--

KING: -- agreeing that there's a problem?

BACHMANN: I agree that there's a problem. We should let Americans buy any health insurance policy they want in the United States, purchase it with their own tax-free money and then fully deduct the rest of the expenses. That's what the real issue that Americans are facing right now is the high cost of health care. Unfortunately, President Obama's bill won't bring down the costs for average Americans -- or really for very few Americans, if any.

KING: Would that idea, Congressman Grayson, allow for many of those -- most of the 38 million to have insurance?

GRAYSON: According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Democrats' plan will provide insurance to over 80 percent of people who don't have it. And that's what we need more than anything right now in this country, because there's 122 people who are dying every single day in this country because they have no health care.

According to a Harvard study, if you take two people who are absolutely physically identical -- same race, same age, same gender, same -- same smoking experience and same weight -- two people who are identical except one has health care and the other one doesn't, then the one without health care is 40 percent more likely to die each year.

That's what we have to end. And we have to make health care not only universal, but we have to make it affordable and accessible. Too many people find that they get the health care that they need until they need it.

KING: Michele, why can't you come together on this?

BACHMANN: I think that we can come together. But I think a big question that has to be addressed right now, Larry, is, what in the world is going on in the White House?

Because today, the president offered a judgeship to the brother of a member of Congress. Tonight, the president has that same member of Congress at the White House, pressuring him to change his vote on health care.

We need to have an -- an independent investigation into this matter, because we've seen the Cornhusker Kickback, the Louisiana Purchase the union loophole.

And now, the big question is, is the White House trading health care votes for judgeships?

This is a pretty serious issue, Larry.

KING: Do you have to respond to that, Alan?

GRAYSON: Well, my esteemed colleague from Minnesota has just deployed another weapon of mass distraction that the Republicans use from time to time to try to change the subject away from health care.

BACHMANN: Corruption--

GRAYSON: And she's doing it again--

BACHMANN: Corruption isn't a distraction, corruption is an issue. We need to know-- GRAYSON: What's the issue here--

BACHMANN: We need to know if this is corrupt.

GRAYSON: The issue--

KING: Let him--

GRAYSON: The issue is that we need--

KING: Let Alan finish.

GRAYSON: -- affordable health care in this country that is accessible to people and that covers everyone. That's the issue. If you want to go off on a tangent, you're doing a disservice to the American people.

BACHMANN: Corruption isn't a tangent. This is a very real issue. We need an independent investigation. This is pretty serious, if you offer a judgeship to a brother of a member of Congress and the same night you have that member at the White House, where the president's twisting his arm to ask that member of Congress to switch his vote on health care?

This is very serious.

KING: Alan--

BACHMANN: We have to have an independent investigation.

GRAYSON: What we need--

KING: Are we going to get a health--

GRAYSON: What we need--

KING: Alan, are we going to--

GRAYSON: -- Larry--

KING: OK. Alan.

GRAYSON: -- is health care--

KING: Are we going to get a health care bill?

GRAYSON: -- for Americans. Yes, we're going to have a health care bill. I have to tell you, the speaker has been very consistent about this now for weeks and for months. It's going to happen. It's going to happen because that's what America needs and that's what American deserves.

KING: All right, we will --. And in the weeks ahead, pending it, we're going to do a lot on this subject and have both of you back.

Thank you very much. BACHMANN: Thanks, Larry.

GRAYSON: Thank you, Larry.

KING: The senseless death of a teenager, allegedly at the hands of a convicted sex offender, is any child safe?

Crime and punishment is next.


KING: The man accused in the death of Chelsea King appeared in court today, John Gardner III, a convicted sex offender. His DNA was found on Chelsea's clothing.

With us is Traci Barker-Ball, a King family spokesperson. She is the peer counseling supervisor for Poway High School, north of San Diego. And she knew -- she knew Chelsea.

How is the family doing, Traci?

TRACI BARKER-BALL, CHELSEA KING FAMILY SPOKESPERSON: You know, I've just been amazed at their strength. They -- you know, every time I talk to them, they want to know how everybody else is doing, how the students are doing. So, obviously very hard for them.

KING: How are the students at Poway -- that's a well-known high school -- doing?

BARKER-BALL: Actually, it's pounced Poway. They--

KING: Poway, right. Yes.

BARKER-BALL: Right. They -- they've been incredible. They're on an emotional roller coaster. They're angry. They're -- they're sad. They're -- they're scared. You know, the -- the world the way they know it has changed. Security has been taken away from them.

But they're troopers. They have been a wonderful community coming together and doing so much for Chelsea and -- and for the family.

KING: Most of our viewers -- 99-and-a-half point 10 percent of them -- knew her only in death, as the victim of a terrible crime.


KING: You knew her in life.

Tell us a little about her.

BARKER-BALL: Chelsea is one of those girls that when she walks in the room, you know, you just feel this ray of sunshine. She's quirky. She makes kids laugh. She -- if there's an awkward moment, she had this little ostrich dance she would do. I know that they've said she's a straight A student, but it wasn't just straight As. She was an A.P. student with four A.P. classes, got As in all of those. She did community service. She was in the symphony. She was in peer counseling. She was an athlete. She used to play volleyball. She was cross country. She did it all. She -- she's missed.

KING: Wow! I'm sure

Thank you, Traci.


KING: Sad, sad, sad.

Traci Barker-Ball.

Joining us now in San Diego, Elex Michaelson, reporter and anchor for XETV. He covered today's court proceedings in the Chelsea King rape/murder case.

And in New York, Jane Velez-Mitchell, host of "ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL," seen on HLN.

What specifically was he charged with today -- Elex?

ELEX MICHAELSON, REPORTER, XETV: Well, he was charged with murder with a special circumstance of rape that would intensify it. He also was charged with intent to assault another girl, which happened on December 27th. That was somebody who was able to get away. We heard from her that she actually elbowed him in the nose and she was able to get away from him. But it was very close to the -- to the area where this incident happened with Chelsea.

KING: Is this possible death penalty, if convicted?

MICHAELSON: Well, the district attorney wouldn't confirm that. They said that they will they will make that determination later on whether they're going to pursue that. But it is possible, with the special circumstances, that they will pursue the death penalty in this case.

KING: And he pled not guilty?

MICHAELSON: He pled not guilty. We didn't hear much from him in the courtroom today, but we did see Chelsea's parents in the courtroom today, very emotional. But they tried to stay strong. Most of Chelsea's family, about 15 family members, held hands during the proceedings. They were wearing orange and blue ribbons, which they say is Chelsea's favorite color.

And they looked straight ahead -- looked toward Mr. Gardner. And it was both a look kind of, of rage and despair at the same time. And many of them had tears in their eyes, just with the -- the visual of him.

KING: Did he have his own lawyer or a court-appointed?

MICHAELSON: He had a court-appointed lawyer, a public defender. And that's what about 90 percent of criminals here in San Diego end up going with

KING: Yes.

All right, Jane Velez-Mitchell, what's -- what's your reaction to this story?

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST, HLN'S "ISSUES": This is an outrage. This is a totally preventable death. It didn't have to happen. I'm calling it junk justice.

Here's a sentencing report from 2000. This guy molested a 13- year-old girl and pummeled her in the face in 2000. And in the sentencing report, it said he showed not a scintilla of remorse, he's extremely predatory and a psychiatrist basically warned he will do it again. And, of course, cops say he did it again.

Now, he could have been sentenced to 30 years if he had been prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Instead, he served five years in prison and then he got out.

On top of that, you heard that there was another jogger who was allegedly attacked by this very same man just in December -- December 27th, OK?

She got away by hitting him in the nose.

Was there any sign posted in that park that there was a predator looking for a female jogger?

No. If there had been signs posted that day, Chelsea wouldn't have gone jogging. If this guy had been in prison, she could have gone without being afraid.

I mean the fact is that we've got a broken justice system. This is junk justice. The number of mistakes made along the way is so extraordinary, that I'm actually saying we need a movement like a nonpolitical Tea Party movement so that it doesn't matter, Republican, Democrat, left, right, people who care about protecting their children and their loved ones need to come together and say we've got to fix this criminal justice system, because this is happening all over America every single day.

KING: Isn't also, Jane--

MICHAELSON: And, Larry, we're starting to see--

KING: Hold it.

Hold it, Elex.

Jane, isn't it also part of the justice system, presumption of innocence?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, yes. I mean he's going to go to trial and he's pleaded not guilty. But they really had him back in 2000. He admitted that he did these things. OK, he pled guilty. They could have easily prosecuted him and locked him away for 30 years and they didn't not do that.

KING: All right--

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And that's why we had a predator roaming the streets.

KING: Well said.

Elex, you wanted to add something?

MICHAELSON: Well, just what Jane is talking about has been what people are talking about on the streets. We've talked to thousands of people who have come out to search and who made that very point, some people saying they should be castrated, sex offenders. Other people saying they should be micro chipped. There were protesters out in front of the courthouse today and a real sense of anger -- not only despair and sadness about what happened, but a sense of anger that this didn't need to happen.

How does our society allow this to happen?

KING: Both of you very well said.

We'll be doing a lot more on this.

Thank you.

MICHAELSON: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Why are convicted sex offenders allowed out of prison?

Is there any way to keep them behind bars for the total length of their sentences?

We'll talk about that after the break.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every morning she would say, "Good-bye, mom and dad. Have a great day." And when she got home, she'd always ask us, "How was your day?"

And we would -- I mean we'd sit down and talk about it. She's just -- she couldn't wait for the next day.


KING: How sad.

In San Diego, San Diego's Dr. Mark Kalish, psychiatrist, diplomat, the American Board of Forensic Psychiatry.

In San Francisco, our friend, Marc Klaas, founder of the Klaas Foundation, the Klaas Kids Foundation. His 12-year-old daughter, Polly, abducted and murdered in 1993.

Dr. Kalish, you are a colleague of Dr. Matthew Carroll, the court-appointed psychiatrist who interviewed John Albert Gardner in connection with a sentencing recommendation on his 2000 molestation of a 13-year-old girl.

Was his -- what was that assessment and did you agree with it?

DR. MARK KALISH, PSYCHIATRIST: Well, Larry, I've been doing this work for 30 years and I have rarely seen a report that was more clear and more unambiguous than the report that Dr. Carroll did. It was well thought out, well reasoned. And he threw up as big a red flag as any psychiatrist possibly could.

He was deliberate in his thinking and his analysis and pointed out that this is a man who had no remorse for what he did. He took no responsibility for what he did. And he didn't admit what he did.

KING: So why--

KALISH: And Dr. Carroll--

KING: Why did he only serve five years?

KALISH: Well, apparently, there was a -- a plea agreement, that Dr. Carroll's warning wasn't heeded and he wasn't charged and prosecuted as fully as he could have been.

KING: Marc Klaas, why does this go on?

MARC KLAAS, FOUNDER, KLAAS KIDS FOUNDATION: Well, first of all, I think that we have to listen to the experts. As Dr. Kalish said, he's been in this business for 30 years doing these kinds of assessments. We've taken it to another level. You know, Larry, in 2006, Californians passed Jessica's Law. Among other things, Jessica's Law mandates that any person -- any violent predator that is being considered for release first must have an expert evaluation by two psychiatrists or psychologists. If that expert panel feels that the prisoner is -- is a sexual predator with a high offen -- a high expectation of re-offense, it has to be sent to the district attorney so they can start civil commitment proceedings.

Civil commitment simply means that they can maintain a dangerous person behind bars after the day of release.

KING: Well--

KLAAS: Currently in California--

KING: Do you know--

KLAAS: Currently in California, the sex offender commitment program managers are -- have -- they've set that aside. Instead of using that expert panel, what they're doing is they're allowing one health care professional to do a paper screening or a record evaluation without any kind of an in person interview at all. KING: Why--

KLAAS: This violation--

KING: Why, Dr. Kalish--

KLAAS: -- of California's law--

KING: Why -- all right. I've got it.

KLAAS: -- has put 17,000--

KING: I've got it.

KLAAS: -- of these sexual predators back on the streets.

KING: Why, Dr. Kalish, are -- are you not listened to?

KALISH: Well, I don't know the answer to that. But in this case, there were a couple places where they missed the ball. They missed the ball during the initial assessment, where Dr. Carroll put out his very, very strong warning. And then, after he had served his time, the district attorney did have an opportunity to start the civil commitment proceedings, as Dr. Carroll kind of warned them about. And for whatever reason, they didn't take up that burden.

KING: As we -- as we said earlier, time is limited when we have so many guests. But both of these gentlemen are always outstanding figures.

It's always great to have Marc Klaas and Dr. Mark Kalish with us.

KALISH: Thank you.

KING: And they'll be back in the nights ahead.

The man arrested in the Chelsea King case may be linked to the disappearance of Amber Dubois, who's been missing for more than a year now. Her mother is here and that tragic story is next.


KING: Carrie McGonigle is with us here in Los Angeles. She's the mother of Ambar -- Amber Dubois, who went missing from the same area as Chelsea King a year ago. She was walking to school. The cases may be related, by the way. Amber's grandmother has written a heart-wrenching article on our blog. You've got to read it. Go to

A year?


KING: What happened that day? MCGONIGLE: She was walking to school. She had a check in her back pocket for her lamb, because she was with the SFA. She had Valentine's Day presents in her backpack. She was very excited about that day. And she never made it to school. She was last seen by two parents, supposedly, and vanished.

KING: What kind of area is it?

MCGONIGLE: It's a -- you know, a suburban -- it's a nice area, good, you know--

KING: I mean there are other things on the block?


KING: The school isn't in a remote area?

MCGONIGLE: Oh, no. It's -- no, it's very populated. Two thousand children go to school there, traffic -- lots of traffic.

KING: Would she have gone over to a stranger in a car?

MCGONIGLE: Absolutely not. No. She knew better. We had just talked about it the week before, because there were some attempted abductions in Poway.

KING: So what do authorities guess here?

MCGONIGLE: At first, runaway. And then after that, they -- she's just endangered missing, because they don't -- they've gone through 1,600 tips.

KING: No chance runaway?

MCGONIGLE: No chance.

KING: No chance boyfriend you didn't know about?

This is what you're hoping for now, right?

MCGONIGLE: Well, that's a--

KING: A boyfriend you didn't know about--

MCGONIGLE: Oh, abs--

KING: -- that she ran away with?

MCGONIGLE: Absolutely. But I know my daughter.

KING: So how are you affected by the -- the occurrence that we learn about now with Chelsea King?

MCGONIGLE: Mixed feelings. I mean I went down and helped with the search for Chelsea, met the parents and, you know, gave my support to them. But it disgusts me that this guy was on the street and it scares me that he might have done something with my daughter.

KING: Since it is the same area--

MCGONIGLE: Right. A few miles away he lived.

KING: Do you have any optimism?

MCGONIGLE: I have hope that she's still alive. I have hope that she is somewhere, that it's another Jaycee story or a Shawn Hornbeck.

KING: How do you sleep?

MCGONIGLE: Not very much.

KING: You're separated from your husband, right?


KING: How is he taking it?

MCGONIGLE: We have our up -- we both -- we complement each other. When I'm having a good day, he's having a bad day. So, it's brought us closer.

KING: Do authorities have any leads?

MCGONIGLE: No. They've gone through 1,600 and they're back at square one.

KING: This suspect -- he has to be called a suspect now in this system--


KING: Do you think he might give you some hope, at least tell you something?

MCGONIGLE: I hope so--

KING: Because you want information, right?


KING: You want closure if that--

MCGONIGLE: I want closure, yes. But I don't -- I don't think he's going to talk, even if he had something to do with it. The police haven't found anything as of today that links him to Amber. But the possibility is great.

KING: So what keeps you going is hope?

MCGONIGLE: That's the only thing that keeps me going, hope and faith.

KING: What high school did -- did Amber go to? MCGONIGLE: Escondido High School.

KING: Is that near Poway?

MCGONIGLE: Seven-and-a-half miles from where Chelsea went missing.

KING: The schools are rivals, right, football rivals?


KING: In LA, yes.


KING: It's a beautiful area.


KING: It's a little north of San Diego, right?


KING: It's very middle income.

MCGONIGLE: Yes, it's a nice neighborhood. In talking with Chelsea's aunts, the girls were a lot alike. They were both nature girls and stuff like that.

KING: Good luck, Carrie.

MCGONIGLE: Thank you very much.

KING: A woman who was kidnapped and raped by the man accused of taking Jaycee Dugard is here. She was shocked to learn that he got out of prison after serving 11 years. He was sentenced to 50. That's next.


KING: A return visit now with Katherine "Katie" Callaway Hall. She was kidnapped and raped by Philip Garrido in 1976. You know that name. Garrido was sentenced to 50 years to life for his crimes against Katie. He was paroled after serving just 11 years. He now stands accused of kidnapping Jaycee Dugard in 1991 and holding her in sexual captivity for over 18 years. When you hear about the Chelsea Kings and the Ambers, does it bring back memories?

KATHERINE CALLAWAY HALL, KIDNAPPED AND RAPED IN 1976: It brings back terrible memories. It makes me realize how lucky I was. My heart goes out to the Kings and of course to Carrie and her husband, I'm sorry, Amber's father. I hope that they get some closure in this. I hope they find her, even if it's in a situation like Jaycee.

KING: The guy who grabbed you and you were lucky to get away. You were taken into a building right? HALL: In a mini-warehouse, yeah, out by the airport in Reno, yeah.

KING: How did you get out?

HALL: I was rescued by a policeman who wasn't looking for me. I was very lucky. When he banged on the door and Garrido went out to find out who it was and came back and said, you know, it's the heat, he wants to see a receipt. Do I have to tie you up? Are you going to be good? I said, no, I've been good. I've been good. Don't tie me up. When he went back out with the receipt, I went right after him.

KING: Smart move.

HALL: Yeah.

KING: Do you think he would have killed you or tried to hold you?

HALL: I think he was planning on keeping me for a while, yeah. He talked about it. He talked about how he was going to take me home to meet his wife, that she would like me, you know.

KING: What's your reaction, first, that he got out?

HALL: Well, I was shocked when he walked up to my roulette wheel at Caesar's and stood in front of me. I thought he was in prison for a long time still to come.

KING: You were working at Caesars?

HALL: I was working at Caesars as a dealer and the last I had checked, his scheduled parole date, release date was April 2006. In November of 1998, there he was standing in front of me.

KING: You were scared.

HALL: I was terrified. I had left town, I moved.

KING: What do you think should be done to sex offenders?

HALL: You know, Larry, the rate of recidivism is so high with this type of predator, that I don't think they should be let out. I don't think there should be any chance two or chance three. How many more young women and children do we have to risk?

KING: Your thought is that they're not curable.

HALL: Right. No, they're not really habilitatable (ph) if that's a word.

KING: What about registries, the sex offender registries? Do you think they help protect people?

HALL: I think they are only as accurate, you know, as the use they're being put to. I think they tend to give people a false sense of security in a lot of situations in a lot of cases.

KING: Do you feel safe? Do you always look over your -- how do you feel? It's been 34 years.

HALL: Now, I my, my bogeymen is going to be put away forever, but you still have to use some common sense. I still am always aware of my circumstances, but until this happened with Garrido, I always had to look over my shoulder.

KING: You don't have any role in the prosecution now, do you or do you?

HALL: My role is self-appointed. I've decided I'm going to go to every trial and just be present and watch and listen. I was in fact at his last hearing on Friday. They've told me that I might be called to testify if it goes to trial.

KING: Because they can't bring up any prior convictions of his.

HALL: No. But there's a new law that allows past victims to testify in California. So I may be brought in.

KING: And you would happily do that?

HALL: Absolutely.

KING: This is hard to say, this probably a tiny bit of hope for Amber, right?

HALL: There's always hope. You have to hope. Look at Terry Probyn (ph). She -- that poor woman, she had to live with hope for 18 years and it came through.

KING: Yeah, her daughter was alive. So the hope is she is being held.

HALL: The hope is she is being held. That's sad.

KING: That's weird that's what you're hoping for.

HALL: It's weird to think of it that way, but you have got to hold on to some hope.

KING: Katie will remain with us. We have an outstanding panel coming. Information is one important tool in protecting the public against sexual predators. The FBI's crimes against children unit maintains a national sex offenders registry with state-by-state data. Should there be tougher laws for sex offenders? We're going to try to answer that question next.


KING: Catherine "Katie" Callaway Hall remains with us. We're joined now by our friend Mark Geragos, the noted defense attorney who is trying a case in Cincinnati today and that's where he comes to us from, that Ohio city. Here in Los Angeles, Robin Sax, legal commentator, victims' advocate, former prosecutor activist, former prosecutor, author of "It Happens Every Day," inside the world of a sex crimes DA. And in Washington, our friend Judge Greg Mathis presiding over the TV court show "Judge Mathis." Mark Geragos, this is going to be difficult to have presumed innocence here, isn't it? So what are your thoughts generally on this whole matter of the sex offender getting out?

MARK GERAGOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, there's -- you know, part of the problem in defending these cases actually and prosecuting these is one and the same. That is, how do you distinguish who is really a sex offender and who you may actually have a problem with in terms of recidivism, versus somebody who the net has been cast too wide. And in a case like this the presumption, once you hear that somebody is a sex offender, it's extremely hard to un-ring that bell and I think there's a presumption of guilt in a case like this, unfortunately.

KING: Isn't that true, Robin? This guy, can he get a fair trial?

ROBIN SAX, FORMER PROSECUTOR: He can get a fair trial, but did the victims get a fair chance at surviving?

KING: I know. We have a system, though, presumption of innocence. Do you think anyone in the world is presuming him innocent?

SAX: Right now, the people who are watching television are probably outraged and just as outraged as I am, but the people who are going to be sworn to that jury are going to be taking an oath to listen to the evidence fairly and that's the jury system that we have in place and I have to trust that it's going to work.

KING: What are your thoughts on what to do with predators?

SAX: I think the biggest problem that we have right now is clumping all predators together. Predators is a very large word.

KING: So as Mark said, some are not recidivism? Maybe right or we don't know.

SAX: Perhaps. I think that when we look at the registry and we define who is on the registry as a predator, we start getting into trouble. The problem is is that the sex offender registry, which is designed to alert people.

KING: Of who's in my neighborhood.

SAX: Of who's in your neighborhood has now encompassed people who may not be the people that would be worried about whose in your neighborhood.

GERAGOS: Which is exactly the problem.

KING: In other words, if you urinated in public, you might be listed as a sexual predator? GERAGOS: Right. Or somebody (INAUDIBLE) who has sex with a 17- year-old --

JUDGE GREG MATHIS, HOST, "JUDGE MATHIS": I think we need to enhance the notification. I think that we need to have mailings, mass mailings going to perhaps a one-mile radius of a neighborhood, just like you send a tax bill, send a notice. The sex registry, people have to take it upon themselves to look, how many people take their day out and get on the computer to look at a sex registry?

KING: I got you. Katie, you were nodding your head?

HALL: I think it's an absolutely great idea. I think there should be notification directly to peoples' homes.

KING: What if it was someone say falsely accused by a 17-year- old girl, labeled for life as a predator?

SAX: The more important issue is notification and monitoring these people. The idea of citizens having a duty upon themselves to go have to look at the registry and then decide which crime, which means and which person, what happened where? That's not the way it should be. Law enforcement should be watching the most serious of the serious.

KING: To your knowledge, Judge Mathis, is a sexual predator like this gentleman who's been charged, are they ever curable?

MATHIS: I've read studies. There are studies that suggest that they are psychiatric illnesses in some and some are environmental. So I think that some instances there is rehabilitation available, but in many instances, it's incurable. In such instance, I think we should look into what California and Florida allows and that's chemical castration, particularly after a second offense or conviction.

KING: You both are nodding your head?

HALL: Absolutely.

KING: You too?

SAX: Absolutely. I don't think that's going to change the sex offender offending, because I think they'll use their finger. They'll use their tongue -- they'll find some other object

MATHIS: It reduces the desire. It reduces the desire.

KING: Mark, what did you think of that idea?

GERAGOS: Well, I've known people who have actually done it. As Robin just said, I saw one of the guys who chemically castrated himself in a bid to kind of win leniency and then when he was back in court a couple years later, precisely because he had used his tongue. There are certain cases where you just can't deal with it. And the system isn't equipped to deal with it, but you still have a fundamental problem is that we cast way too wide of a net on this. If they focused on the worst offenders, the offenders that you should be worried about, I think you would have a much better system than what we have now, which is basically a laundry list of crimes that gets put on the registry.

KING: Let me take a break and we'll be right back. We'll also include your calls. Don't go away.


KING: We'll be right back with our panel. A reminder, Charlie Rangel tomorrow night, first interview since taking leave of absence as chairman of House Ways and Means.

Let's check in with our chairman of House ways and means here at CNN, Anderson Cooper. He hosts "AC 360" at the top of the hour. What's up tonight?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, AC 360: Larry tonight on the program, the raw politics of a president pulling out all the stops. He's going to deal on health dare. But did the Democrats actually have the votes? David Gergen, Bill Bennett, Donna Brazile weigh in on that.

Also promises of a Congress clean of corruption swept the Democrats to power. So how is it that one of the most powerful Democrats on Capitol Hill, who Larry was just talking about, temporarily resigned his chairmanship today after accusations of an ethics violation, and believe me there are plenty of our accusations against him still pending, so if the Democrats on Capitol Hill really care about accountability, how come it took this long for Charles Rangel to step aside? We're keeping them honest tonight.

And a tsunami scare caught on camera in Chile. The details and a live report on rescue efforts and getting aid to survivors. Those stories and a lot more on "360," Larry.

KING: Thanks a lot, Anderson Cooper, 10:00 Eastern, 7:00 Pacific. Our panel is assembled. Let's get a call in, (INAUDIBLE) Massachusetts, hello.

CALLER: Hi Larry, this is -- my question is, why in the world, when the justice system knows time and time again that child pedophiles and (INAUDIBLE) they can't be, they can't get well. They (INAUDIBLE) really bad and my suggestion is to put these people to death.

KING: You favor the death penalty Robin?

SAX: You know I've actually changed my tune a bit on the death penalty. I've got to tell you.

KING: In a case like Ms. King.

SAX: Well in a case like this case, it does feel like that would be the only sort of justice that could balance out the amount of pain that this family is going through.

KING: What do you think Katie?

HALL: You're talking to a victim. I absolutely am for the death penalty or life imprisonment. One and you're done, no more--

KING: Judge Mathis, what about you?

MATHIS: I'm against the death penalty generally because of the bias and the problems that is inherent in it. However I am in favor of life imprisonment. Three strikes law, in many instances, there's a theft as the third strike and you go to prison for life. Here we have in many instances child predators receiving less time than a drug dealer on the corner.

KING: Mark, what are your thoughts on this?

GERAGOS: Well, you already have a -- basically a one-strike law in California where you can face life in a crime -- actually, in fact, the prior crime, the prior conviction. In a case like, this the death penalty is not going to do you any good because it is just going to tie the system up forever. Life without parole, which is an option I think is much more horrible and a much cleaner way to punish if the person is, in fact, guilty. And I don't think it makes a whole lot of sense to tie it up -- none other than the chief justice of the state of California has called the death penalty system dysfunctional and it clearly is.

KING: All right.

SAX: And Mark is absolutely correct. There is a one-strike rule here in California. The problem isn't with the rules and the laws. The laws actually are pretty darn good here in California for victims. It is a matter for prosecutors and judges to know how to use them and use them effectively. The one strike could have been a fact back in 2000. This guy should have been in prison for life then.

KING: Mark, have you defended anybody accused of being a predator?

GERAGOS: I have. I have.

KING: And have some actually been predators?

GERAGOS: I won't talk about my individual clients but I will talk based on --

KING: Which leads to the question what have we learned about predators?

GERAGOS: There are predators. There is no doubt about that. There are people who cannot be cured and I don't even like that term. There are people who should be -- another term is warehoused and that's basically what you have to do in certain cases when they fit a certain mold and you have a situation like this. KING: Is it --

GERAGOS: Something else though. Part of the problem is understand that prosecutors make deals sometimes because their case may be weak, their evidence may be weak. The person -- the parents of the child may not want that person to go through a testimony or testifying. So, sometimes there are problems in proof and when that happens, rather than go forward and potentially lose the case, prosecutors make deals.

MATHIS: Why don't we have mandatory sentencing? We should have mandatory sentencing.

GERAGOS: We do have mandatory sentencing in a lot of cases.

MATHIS: Well -- well --

GERAGOS: The fact remains that if you've got problems with proof, you can't mandatorily sentence somebody if you don't win the case.

MATHIS: But the judges have discretion in California when it comes to child predator cases and as I'm saying, as they do with drug dealers, you have mandatory sentences for drug dealers, little kid on the corner, one 8-ball of crack, he gets five years. So, we should have mandatory sentencing for the first.

GERAGOS: Actually --

KING: We get a break and we come back with some more moments, some more moments right after this. Don't go away.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Gardner wishes to enter a plea of not guilty to both counts and deny the allegations that are attached thereto.


KING: Can a person like Mr. Gardner, in your opinion, Robin, be helped?

SAX: Mr. Gardner cannot be helped. The only thing that we can do is help victims and help everybody that we don't know about that he's assaulted.

KING: Katie, do you think he can be helped?

HALL: No, I don't think he can be helped and I think he should be put away or get the death penalty, absolutely. But I think there needs to be an effort for victims of this man that have not come forward and victims of Garrido come forward.

KING: There have to be other victims? HALL: I actually have been in contact with other victims who never reported it with Garrido and I'm hoping to get them to come forward.

KING: (INAUDIBLE) and take them prisoner.

HALL: Yeah, but they didn't report it and they wish they had.

KING: Judge Mathis, you think he can be helped?

MATHIS: I think we need a psychological -- a psychiatric analysis because I don't know whether it's incurable or whether it's environmental. Could be power and control which is what many rapists operate off of. Not sure.

KING: Mark, you have a thought?

GERAGOS: Well, until they are convicted, I generally like to reserve judgment.

KING: He was convicted of a prior instance.

GERAGOS: I understand that.

KING: In that matter, can he be helped?

GERAGOS: In that matter, somebody made the determination, what was it, a six-year sentence I believe is what the appropriate sentence was at the time. I have got to believe that there was some kind of a problem with that case at that point.

KING: Do we have an answer, Robin?

SAX: I think that that's an example of a weak prosecutor who hides under the auspice of we are going to protect the victim and we are not going to make the victim go through it when, in fact, I think very often, victims feel empowered, find the experience much more cathartic than you would imagine and can find closure and understanding when you have people believe them.

KING: We thank our panel, Katie Callaway Hall. Continue. Good spirits Katie. Mark Geragos, the noted defense attorney, Robin Sax, the legal commentator, victims' advocate and Judge Greg Mathis hosts his own very popular TV show.

We have a sad announcement about a member of our "Larry King Live" family. The brother of our senior supervising producer, Carey Stevenson, passed away Saturday. Carrie was very proud of her big brother, Sergeant Craig W. Stevenson, there you see him, who was just 44 years old, a decorated 19-year veteran of the Lima, Ohio, police department. He also proudly served as an officer in the United States Army Reserve. He served in Desert Shield and the Desert Storm campaigns. He is survived by his two children, nine-year-old Connor and seven-year-old Sydney. His parents, Karen and Buzz Stevenson and sister, Carrie. Craig leaves behind an important legacy, a legacy of family, country and community. And he will be dearly missed, a sad night.

Charlie Rangel tomorrow night in Washington with us, his first interview since taking leave of absence from his committee. Right now Anderson Cooper and "AC 360." Anderson.