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CNN NEWSROOM

Marco Rubio, V.P.?; Law Suit Filed for Rape in the Military; Military Under Fire for Discharges; Live Coverage: Zimmerman in Court

Aired April 20, 2012 - 11:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to the live coverage. I'm Kyra Phillips.

George Zimmerman, in his own words, you just saw it live on CNN. The neighborhood watch volunteer who killed an unarmed teenager in Sanford, Florida, just took the stand near the end of a two-hour bond hearing.

Let's go back to the live events.

(BEGIN LIVE FEED)

MARK O'MARA, ATTORNEY FOR GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: ... second-degree murder case because I say it is and that is what they present to you as evidence of second-degree murder, then I would ask that you consider the anti-author (ph) argument which is not only could the state not prove this case to the author (ph) standard that proof is evidence and presumption great, but that as of today, you and I know now more about what happened or may not have happened that day.

And I (INAUDIBLE) with that in considering whether or not you'll allow bond and then the amount of it.

JUDGE KENNETH LESTER, FLORIDA: Thank you, Mr. O'Mara.

Mr. De La Rionda?

BERNARDO DE LA RIONDA, ASSISTANT STATE ATTORNEY: May it please the court?

(INAUDIBLE), obviously, we differ and I know that the court be at somewhat of a disadvantage because we haven't tried the case, and what occurred here maybe was an attempt by defense council to try it in terms of just the probable cause, but we obviously have much more than that.

But our position is that the court should consider in terms of what he is facing, that is, life in prison, so it's a felony, a life felony, and that obviously makes it different than what it was before in terms of when he was out. He wasn't charged with a crime in terms of his flight risk.

You also have the fact that it is an unarmed 17-year-old boy. I mean, the court has to consider the fact itself. This young man was minding his own business, was not committing a crime. And I know we're not going to litigate a case in front of the court at this time, but that is a factor in terms of you have an innocent young man whose life is no longer among us.

His ties to the community, I don't know how good they are. Quite frankly, I think he has a nice family, but, you know, where is he going say about if the court lets him out and will he be a threat to other people? Quite frankly, some people may want to get at him, in fairness to him, in fairness to the defense.

But our position is that you have a person, Mr. Zimmerman, who in the past has committed violent crimes. Now, it was minimized, I guess, by the fact he was allowed in some diversion courtroom, but it shows a lack of adhering to authority, which I think is an important factor. The court is the obviously most authoritative figure in this courtroom and, for this case.

But you have a law enforcement who told him to abide by his commands and he just disregarded and, as a result, he confronted that officer and now I guess the family are saying the defendant is saying some kind of self-defense or something. He didn't really mean to do it.

But the bottom line, you have a prior violent act and then you have the consideration of the injunction. Granted, he did end up putting an injunction, but meaning he has prior violence in his past. So it's not somebody who has never been in trouble with the law before and I think the court has to factor that in, in terms of the consideration and safety of the community.

He has violence in the past and obviously he committed this crime, or he's charged with committing this crime. I know the court hasn't heard all the facts and the court can't adjudicate them at this time.

Our position is that he still will be a danger to the community and, based on the crime, he should be kept on no bond or the bond should be $1 million, quite frankly. We feel that we've established at least probable cause if not more based on the facts. What it boils down to, he shot somebody.

Now, his defense is, which is an affirmative defense which he's obligated to put and which there is no evidence to the court of that right now since the defense chose not to ask Mr. Zimmerman about that nor was I able to inquire of him. So, quite frankly, that is not before this court.

The facts before the court is you have a 17-year-old young man who was minding his own business and was walking home when he was confronted by the defendant who felt that Mr. Martin was committing a crime of some type. Unfortunately, he made the wrong assumption and that's why the word profile was used for no other way. That's the reason the word is there.

And he confronted Mr. Martin. Why else would Mr. Martin want to confront Mr. Zimmerman? Mr. Martin was on his way home, minding his own business. If anything, you could argue that the self-defense is really Mr. Martin trying to defend himself, but I'm not here to argue all the facts, obviously.

Our contention is, Your Honor, that this is a serious crime and that he should be held under no bond or, if the court were to set a bond, it would be $1 million. I thank you for the court's indulgence.

LESTER: Thank you. Anything further, Mr. O'Mara?

O'MARA: I have numerous cases to present, but you're more familiar than I, so I'm not going to bore you with those. I just ask you to consider the case law in making your determination.

LESTER: Thank you very much.

The good thing about practicing law in Florida as a judge, as a prosecutor, and as a defense attorney is that we have lots of experience. I don't think there are too many jurisdictions in the country that get the wealth of cases, the amount of cases like this, not this particular one, but just cases in general in the criminal justice system, so we're all very experienced with this.

This is a very common type hearing and we're all familiar with this topic. It's a regular hearing but for the media involved in the particular case and circumstances associated with Mr. Zimmerman's record are something that the court and anybody who practices in the Central Florida area is familiar with the situations that go on at those establishments on the UCF corridor is the way I'll describe it. I think that's the best way.

And so we're familiar with those particular situations. I won't say it's standard, but it's a run-of-the-mill type run-in with the alcohol and beverage agents at the library, I believe it was. They're fairly common, so I'm familiar with those, even though it's in another jurisdiction.

The injunction was somewhat mild compared to the injunctions that I'm familiar with and so really what this revolves about is the facts of this particular situation as presented to the court.

What I'm going to do is I'm going to find that the motion is well taken. I'm going to grant the motion, set bond in the amount of $150,000 with the following conditions, electronic monitoring, GPS. I'll require the state and the defense to meet with the sheriff's department to accomplish that.

That means Mr. Zimmerman will not be released today, but I'll make sure that the state and the defense can work out those assurances and then, if we need further hearing again to preserve the secrecy and to establish safety as long as the state and the defense can agree, that's fine with the me and the sheriff department agree, that's fine.

If we can't, we can have another meeting with respect to that. There is to be no contact, directly or indirectly, with the victim's family or through an intermediary in any way. There is to be no possession of firearms, be they rifles, shotguns, handguns, pistols, revolvers, any type of firearm or destructive device.

There is to be no consumption of alcohol. There is to be a curfew from 7:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. He is to advise the monitoring supervisor and the sheriff's department as to his location every three days.

Are there any other special considerations the state wants me to invoke at this time?

DE LA RIONDA: Your Honor, we would request that he -- obviously his attorney has the right -- but have no contact with any of the witnesses in this case. He doesn't know who the witnesses are at this time, but ...

LESTER: No contact with the witnesses. He can actually go and meet with Mr. O'Mara. That's between Mr. O'Mara and his client how they arrange that due to the facts of this particular situation. Anything else you want me to consider?

DE LA RIONDA: No, your honor.

LESTER: No use of controlled substances other than those lawfully prescribed to you by a licensed medical doctor. I've mentioned no consumption of alcohol.

Mr. O'Mara, anything else you need?

O'MARA: I'm asking that Mr. Zimmerman be allowed to reside out of state, Your Honor.

LESTER: That's why I'm saying you need to talk with the state and that sheriff's department, work that out and see if it can be accomplished and then, if there's further discussion, you can bring it before me, OK?

O'MARA: Yes, your honor.

LESTER: All right, there were other issues. I think yesterday the press was somewhat concerned that we were holding a hearing outside of their presence. I think by virtue of the order that I entered, they saw what the purpose of that meeting was.

It was purely for logistical purposes to figure out how to get Mr. Zimmerman dressed for the hearing and how to secure the appearance of the witnesses in a manner which preserves their safety.

The state has indicated they're very concerned about that with respect to their witnesses. The defense has indicated they're very concerned with that with respect to their witnesses. In light of that, I'm going to have to work and I'm going to rely upon the state and the defense to assist me as far as what to do with the court file because the media absolutely has a right to the court file. The state understands that. The defense understands that.

I think at a preliminary we need to work toward getting that information to the media with the redacted version as far as addresses and names. Can the state and defense advice me if you have any objection with me working toward that right now?

I'll give you the final product, so you can OK it before anything's released. We can get that to the media as quickly as possible and then we'll tentatively set a hearing for next Friday at 9:00 to allow the media to go ahead and, if they any further concerns at this time, to go ahead and voice them.

But I think if we can get that product to them immediately, I think that will alleviate a lot of the concerns they have with not being kept up to speed and being able to (INAUDIBLE). Is that OK with you?

DE LA RIONDA: Your Honor, if I may address the court, in fairness to defense council, I have not provided discovery and I think, quite frankly, (INAUDIBLE) until I provide Mr. O'Mara discovery and I know Mr. O'Mara and I have spoken before.

There's some issues that I think both sides - I know I will concur with Mr. O'Mara - should not be subject to the public knowing about, including statements, et cetera, and I think we can address those with the court at a later date.

LESTER: All right, I think what we can do there, Mr. O'Mara, if you agree that you two can work it out and if you think there's an area of concern, you can go ahead and approach the court by motion and we can have that heard and then we can discuss it.

But with respect what's in the file here today, it's fairly thin as far as ...

DE LA RIONDA: I apologize. I agree as to what's in the file right now. I apologize. That's correct.

O'MARA: My only concern, yes, I agree working towards that goal is good and we need to get to it quickly. I have gotten or received some notice of hearing that told me of a hearing before a Circuit Judge Tuesday at 9:00 on motions filed by the media.

LESTER: I don't know about that, but I'm just telling you I'm more than happy to -- most of the file consists of motions filed by the media, so you can look to your own files if you want to do that.

But I think the best way to get it is for me to work through this, give you the products, both of you - all the attorneys -- look at that, make sure I'm OK, get that to them as quickly as possible and then, if they have any further concerns, we can address it at that hearing on Friday at 9:00.

O'MARA: And we don't need to be here Tuesday at 9:00?

LESTER: I'm not going to hear it Tuesday at 9:00. I still have a working division. I'm still doing other trials. The state attorney's offices has thousands of cases up in Duval County. You have an active present.

O'MARA: Thank you for the time. LESTER: Anything further from the state at this time?

DE LA RIONDA: Thank you very much, Your Honor.

LESTER: Anything further from the defense at this time?

O'MARA: No, thank you, your honor.

PHILLIPS: Bottom line, George Zimmerman will not go free today, but you heard the judge right there -- $150,000 bond, electronic monitoring, GPS, no contact with the victim's family, no firearms. He'll be on a curfew and he'll have to check in with authorities every three days.

Mark Nejame is going to break it down for us right after a quick break and you will hear from Zimmerman as he testified.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: And if you've been watching CNN live out of Sanford, Florida, George Zimmerman will not walk free today, but the judge did set a $150,000 bond with electronic monitoring.

Let's bring in Mark Nejame, legal analyst for CNN, also criminal defense attorney, joining me live out of Orlando.

Mark, this was definitely out of the ordinary that we heard from George Zimmerman in a bond hearing. Agreed?

MARK NEJAME, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: That it is. Everything else was pretty expected. That one was unexpected, but I think it was a calculated risk that Mark O'Mara played and I think it played all right.

Obviously, it hit the news that there was an overture to the family of Trayvon to offer an apology and apparently it was rejected, but the overture was rejected by his council.

This was an opportunity, a calculated risk, to humanize George Zimmerman. We've heard a the lot of negative things for weeks now and I think now you see a living, breathing person who is there extending an apology.

The state attempted to make hay of it, tried to open doors, but the way the law reads is that you're limited on cross-examination to that which came out in direct examination.

So the calculated risk was an apology and no questions were permitted by the state beyond that apology.

PHILLIPS: So, Mark, just to recap, $150,000 bond, electronic monitoring with GPS, no firearms. He'll be on a curfew. Everything three days, he's got to check in, but he has already said he's broke.

So explain to me the bond situation. Who would put up the money? Do you think he will be able to collect that money and get out on bond?

NEJAME: I do. I think he'll be out as soon as the special conditions are satisfied. Basically, we have a bond system in Florida which allows a bail bond company to secure one's appearance and then the person who gets the bond, the defendant, pays a 10 percent fee.

So $15,000 would be paid as a fee to the bond company and then they would look for signatures and collateral or equity, but I think there's a lot of bond companies that would come forward and do it simply for the attention and knowing that they would eventually get the money.

And I suspect that there's going to be donations coming in from different people that would allow at least this to be satisfied. Mark O'Mara has indicated he's doing this pro bono, so I think that any funds that come in would go to satisfy that bonds.

I fully expect he'll be out as soon as those conditions are met.

PHILLIPS: Stay with me, Mark. We're going to hear from George Zimmerman, what he said on the stand there.

We're going to take a quick break. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: You've been watching CNN. It was just about 15 minutes ago. The judge looked at George Zimmerman, there in the courtroom in Sanford, Florida, and said that bond will be set for $150,000. He will be on electronic monitoring.

Now, the question is, where will he gather those funds to pay that bond? He says he's broke.

He got up to the stand, definitely according to attorneys this was absolutely out of the ordinary, took an interesting twist. Let's take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: I wanted to say I am sorry for the loss of your son. I did not know how old he was. I thought he was a little bit younger than I am. And I did not know if he was armed or not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: Mark Nejame, once again, joining me live out of Orlando. He's a criminal defense attorney, also a CNN analyst.

OK, you've made the point before the break, Mark. This was to make him look human, but here's what's interesting. He went on to say, I didn't know if Trayvon Martin had a weapon or not.

Should he have said that?

NEJAME: No. He should have stuck just to the apology. Once you get on the stand, you never know what's going to come out. That's what the great risk is.

But it's out there. And it seems like he really wanted to do it. I suspect strongly that Mr. Zimmerman wanted to go and do this and told his lawyer that and his lawyer agreed at some point capitulated to agreeing to it, but wanted to limit what he was going to say.

PHILLIPS: Well, and if that is indeed the case, he did not say what he was supposed to say, according to his attorney. He might have freelanced it a bit there. How could that help or hurt him as we move forward?

NEJAME: Well, remember -- and this is such a big point of controversy -- our "stand your ground" law in Florida allows somebody under the proper circumstances, proper or legal circumstances, to kill another person, to shoot another person. You don't have to have like- force to meet like-force, which was the historical standard.

So I think he never said in his statements that he thought that Trayvon was armed, so I think that this is not necessarily inconsistent with what he'd given in his three statements, but it's always better not to have it in there than to have had it in there.

PHILLIPS: So ...

NEJAME: But I think what's specifically so important here are the other things that came out during the course of this testimony. I am absolutely dumbfounded that the state lead investigator took the stand, great move by the defense, and he said he didn't have the documents with him because he didn't expect to testify.

Oh, my gosh. You are the lead investigator, you're at the courthouse, you get called and you're not ready for it?

The defenses brought out some of the most important points that could ever be had and then the state says, well, your honor, we didn't expect that this would be like a trial.

Well, they should have. Oh, my. They have a situation where they have a got a tenuous case that now looks all the more tenuous.

Two key factors. They have now said under oath - under oath by their lead investigator -- that they don't know who started the fight and they don't know if he was going back to the car or not.

Two essential elements to make a case and they now are under oath memorialized and locked in forevermore that they have no evidence to establish it. Amazing, that they were so unprepared.

PHILLIPS: Unprepared. I think a lot of us were unprepared and not expecting to hear from George Zimmerman and also comments like you just brought up from attorneys.

We were also surprised I think to hear that his wife spoke, his wife, Shelly Zimmerman, saying he's not a violent man. Please let him go free while he awaits trial. What do you think about that move and hearing from his wife and also, too, the fact that the family has been getting threats and, of course, George Zimmerman, as well. Will he be able to reside out of state as he awaits trial?

NEJAME: Well, I think there will be a search for him by the media and by individuals, but, yes, I think it can happen.

I think, though, that putting the wife on was necessary. Everybody said -- from the prosecution to Trayvon's family to the defense -- we want the truth to come out and that's what's happening.

The judge asked only a few questions, but, as I've said, he's very, very common sense and he knows the law. He commented at the end of it. He goes, we see these type of cases routinely and it came out through his wife about this prior alcohol and tobacco run-it in.

Well, remember, that charge was dropped. It was reduced to a misdemeanor and then dropped, so the judge understood that might have been an overreaction by law enforcement. That's kind of the veiled attempt made, as I interpret it, and it may be the state was lucky they got even got him into pretrial diversion, which is what the judge was somewhat intimating.

And then this restraining order? I mean, this is what the state was relying on to keep a person in jail? It was very, very weak.

And then the judge - right to the heart of it -- asked about the stippling of the gun and how close and about the gun shot. Well, what does that show? It shows that there was not a shooting at a distance, but that there was apparently mutual combat where the two of them were engaged within immediate proximity to each other, which suggests that one really doesn't know what happened because it wasn't from a distance which would show a depraved mind, but, in fact, right there during regional combat.

That's what some of the incredible points brought out during this two-hour hearing showed us.

PHILLIPS: Mark Nejame, CNN legal analyst, criminal defense attorney. Appreciate it so much.

If you're just tuning in, George Zimmerman will not walk free today, but the judge did set $150,000 bond right there within his bond hearing, electronic monitoring with GPS, a curfew, and he will have to check in with authorities every three days with regard to his location.

We'll be right back with the latest news next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Let's get you caught up on news. Overseas we're getting more details of the crash of a commercial airliner in Pakistan. Reportedly a 737 with 127 people on board went down near the airport in Islamabad. The weather pretty was bad, high winds, low visibility. We'll update you as you we learn more. In lower Manhattan, police digging up a basement in search of a breakthrough, evidence in the case of Etan Patz. The 6-year-old disappeared as he walked alone to a bus stop in 1979 and hasn't been seen since. No one has ever been criminally charged in that kidnapping, but a cadaver dog hit on something in the workshop of a handyman. Ray Kelly says this isn't the first police visit to that site.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RAY KELLY, COMMISSIONER, NEW YORK POLICE DEPARTMENT: It had been searched. It was looked at a long time ago, 33 years ago. There's new technologies involved, new chemicals, just new techniques that can be used. So I think law enforcement, certainly FBI, NYPD, are hopeful we can give some comfort to the parents.

A huge case in 1979. I was a lieutenant in the organized crime control bureau. And I think it changed the way the country thought about missing children. As with you know, Etan's picture was the first one to go on a milk carton. And I think parents sort of rethought their willingness to let kids do lots of things as a result of this case.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: That handyman, who is now 75, was picked up yesterday by the FBI and returned to his home in Brooklyn after questioning.

Taliban saying they shout down a Blackhawk helicopter. Went down in southern Afghanistan. The U.S. military says all four American crew members were killed. Blackhawk was flying in bad weather, but the military says it conditions rule out enemy action.

U.S. Airways and American Airlines could be one step closer to a possible merger. They now have the backing of three American Airlines unions which represent 55,000 airline employees. According to a document filed with the SEC, workers have agreed to support a potential merger with U.S. Airways. But in a letter, the chief executive is pointing out that the union support is just one step toward a merger and emphasizes a deal has not gone through yet.

A criminal in a maximum security prison is just another number once he walks behind those high walls. But to his family and kids at home, he's still called dad. Our "CNN Hero" was honored in 2008 for helping kids stay connected with their incarcerated parents through video messages. Since then, she's expanded the program. Actress Holly Robinson Peete (ph) was so moved, she decided to see her work up close.

(CNN HERO)

PHILLIPS: And to nominate someone who is making a difference in your community, go to CNNheros.com.

Senator Marco Rubio refers to himself as V.P. What's that all about? "Fair Game" is next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Marco Rubio, vice president of the United States. No, I didn't say it. He kind of did. And that's "Fair Game."

Joining us Democratic strategist, Robert Zimmerman, and Republican analyst, Boris Epshteyn. Let's get right to it and here what he said. Let's roll it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R), FLORIDA: Three, four, five, years from now, if do I a good job as vice president -- I'm sorry.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You all got that, right?

RUBIO: As senator.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You all got that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: Boris, slip of the tongue or was he trying to be funny? Seriously, you look at this and it could go either way.

BORIS EPSHTEYN, REPUBLICAN ANALYST: Channeling the thoughts and prayers of a lot of the Republicans right now who are thinking about who the vice presidential nominee to should be. And I actually did think that Marco Rubio with his background, would be one of the strong picks. Not the only one, but one of the strong picks. That's just a slight of the tongue that he made. It's not a big deal. But is he on a small list and should be vetted and strongly considered for the V.P. slot.

PHILLIPS: But, Robert, he said many times he's not going to do it. So what did you make of this?

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Not only did he say many times, he gave an endorsement to Mitt Romney that was so painful to watch that clearly it was hardly the most enthusiastic cheerleader for governor Romney. But if having a poker face is a requirement to be a national leader, I think his comments alone just now disqualify him for that. I think Boris and I might want to get him in a poker game to see how he holds up.

PHILLIPS: I'll tell you what is clear, and we're short on time because of the Zimmerman bond hearing, but Rubio's version of the Dream Act. If indeed what he said was, you know, had some truth to it, Rubio's version of the Dream Act, it would create a path to legal status for children of illegal immigrants among other things. But if you look at Romney's camp saying it would steady and consider this plan, wouldn't what it is that Rubio put out be directly at odds with the right wing side of things? Boris? EPSHTEYN: Absolutely. The simple answer is actually no. What Mitt Romney has gone out there and said that he would veto the Dream Act. It has a path to citizen he zip, not just status. The act put forward by Rubio, it does not have a path to citizenship.

PHILLIPS: 15 seconds, Robert.

ZIMMERMAN: The reality is the Rubio bill is nothing more than trying to maneuver away from the extreme right wing that governor Romney has taken. No presidential candidate has ever advocated for more transportation of undocumented workers. That extremist position is what's hurting not just Marco Rubio credibility but also Governor Romney's.

(CROSSTALK)

PHILLIPS: Robert, Boris, got to leave it there. Sorry. Time is tight today.

Well, the weekend is here and that means a lot of unwinding, fine dining, maybe a cocktail. Yes, we do have time for our "Travel Insider" next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: After a hard day at work, what a better way to relax than eating good food and drinking fine wine. Our Kareen Wynter shows us where she likes to go.

(TRAVEL INSIDER)

PHILLIPS: Just over an hour ago, a lawsuit was filed against two of the most prestigious military academy, allegations of rape at West Point and the Naval Academy. Straight ahead, I talk exclusively with the women who say they want justice.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Just this week, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced new aggressive policies to combat sexual assault in the military. Zero tolerance is the message from the Pentagon's top man. But ground zero for battling this growing problem may start at the nation's most prestigious military universities. Reports of sexual assaults at the academies are up nearly 60 percent, and out of the 65 cases investigated last year, only one resulted in court-martial.

That's why these two young women say they are coming forward in a lawsuit on their behalf, filed just over an hour ago. They allege they were raped their first year at the academies and say their alleged perpetrators were never prosecuted.

Here is a preview of my exclusive investigation, "Betrayal of Trust."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) # (voice-over): West Point, the Naval Academy, the Air Force Academy, prestigious military universities, tasked with training future officers ethically, spiritually, and morally.

(SHOUTING)

PHILLIPS: But for these high school honors students, their experience would be far different.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I remember him turning off the lights and me asking what are you doing?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the middle of the night, I did come to, and he was on top of me.

PHILLIPS: Carly Marquette and Annie Kenzior say they were raped, raped by fellow classmates they trusted, and ignored, they say, by a chain of command that promised their parents they'd be protected.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And nobody, not a single person, not one, was looking out for her best interests.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: We reached out to West Point and the Naval Academy for comment. They declined an interview due to privacy issues.

As for the secretary of defense, Leon Panetta, he couldn't directly respond to Carly and Annie's allegations for the same reason, but he did sit down with me to tell me what he is doing about sexual assault in the military.

Just one week after our interview, Secretary Panetta held a news conference and announced new initiatives with regard to investigations and prosecutions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEON PANETTA, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: We've got to train commanders to understand that when these complaints are brought, they've got to do their damnedest to make sure these people are brought to justice. That's the only way we're going to try to prevent this in the future is to show that people cannot get away with it.

PHILLIPS: How do you get it through these men's heads if they rape, they will pay the price?

PANETTA: This place operates by command authority and it has to begin at the top, and the message has to go down to the bottom.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: My investigation, "Betrayal of Trust," airs this Sunday night at 8:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. Eastern time.

They signed up for the honorable duty of serving their country, now these servicewomen allege that they were sexual assaulted and then discharged for speaking up. We have that story with our Sanjay Gupta right after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Well, this is not the first time that the military has come under fire for ignoring sexual assaults. The Pentagon estimates last year alone that there were about 19,000 sex assaults. Most went unreported and unpunished.

CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, spoke with several former servicewomen who all shared the same story. Once they reported the assault, they were fired from the military.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Doing the right thing was in 21-year-old Stephanie Schroeder's blood.

STEPHANIE SCHROEDER, RAPPED IN MILITARY: I joined shortly after 9/11. I thought it was the right thing to do.

GUPTA: Six months after enlisting in the Marines, she found herself training at a base 23 in Virginia. One Saturday, she decided to blow off steam with some fellow Marines.

SCHROEDER: We went out to dinner. I got up to go to the restroom, and my attacker followed me and forced his way into the bathroom. I went to pull the door shut, and he grabbed it and flung it back as hard as he could and charged into the bathroom and slammed the door behind him.

GUPTA: Back on base, Schroeder reported what happened to the officer in charge.

SCHROEDER: I told her I need to report an assault and she just looked at me, and then she started laughing and said, don't come bitching to me because you had sex and changed your mind.

GUPTA: Schroeder said she took a lie detector test about her attack and passed. But charges were never filed. She was forced to work with him side by side for over a year. Meanwhile, her rank was reduced and her pay was docked. She says all because of the incident.

SCHROEDER: If you want to keep your career, you don't say anything. You just bear it. You just deal with it.

GUPTA: But dealing was a struggle. In early 2003, five months pregnant with her now husband in Iraq, Schroeder felt suicidal. She went to see an on base psychologist.

SCHROEDER: The first time, he was very nice. The second time, we got into the assault. Shortly after that, the chain of command said we're starting an administrative discharge on you.

GUPTA: She received her discharge papers. The reason given, personality disorder. A disorder that the textbook for psychiatrists defines as a long-standing pattern of maladaptive behavior beginning in adolescence or early adulthood.

ANU BHAGWATI, SERVICE WOMEN'S ACTION NETWORK: It makes no sense for people medically to be diagnosed, all of a sudden, after being sexual assaulted as an adult in the military, to say, no, you've had this all along.

GUPTA: Anu Bhagwati is a former Marine and also executive director of Servicewomen's Action Network. It's a veterans advocacy group.

BHAGWATI: It's also extremely convenient to slap a false diagnosis on a young woman or man and then just get rid of them.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: That was really one of the critical issues here. The question about a false diagnosis, this personality disorder, what exactly was happening? Why was it being used to discharge these women?

We asked Defense Secretary Leon Panetta about that. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PANETTA: Obviously, our goal here is to try to put in place what we need in order to deal with these cases as we move forward. There are procedures within the department of defense that allow these individuals to raise these concerns and determine whether or not they have not been treated fairly, but I think -- and I hope they will follow those procedures to determine whether or not that has been the case.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GUPTA: He said, look, they can appeal to the Discharge Review Board. I know you talked with him about this as well.

PHILLIPS: Right.

GUPTA: But Stephanie Schroeder, the woman you just met in that piece, that's exactly what she is doing. But it is a long process, and she has been very emotionally affected by this as well. Her questions for her own well-being, her safety.

PHILLIPS: Sure. These women wanted to serve. They wanted to be there.

GUPTA: Yes, and they wanted to feel safe while they were serving, especially with their own fellow marines.

PHILLIPS: Sanjay, thanks. That does it for us. Michael Holmes in for Suzanne Malveaux, next.