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Honey Boo Boo Abuse?
Aired August 20, 2012 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NANCY GRACE, HOST: Breaking news tonight. Overnight sensation reality show "Toddlers and Tiaras" with show stoppers like 6-year-old Honey Boo Boo, little Maddy Verst and 3-year-old toddler girl Hazely Dickie (ph) -- the extremely lucrative and extremely controversial hit reality show that showcases little girls as young as 18 months old in JonBenet Ramsey- style beauty pageants. They include padded push-up bras, sexy fake butt enhancers, stage makeup, hair, tiny bikinis -- frankly, a pedophile`s dream.
Bombshell tonight. Is the "Toddlers and Tiaras" gravy train set to hit the skids? Now multiple claims of child abuse.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You may know her as Honey Boo Boo Child.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) family.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m Alana. I`m 6. And I`m a beauty queen.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is like that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But not only is she Dolly, she has the enhancements just like Dolly has.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love dressing up as Dolly.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) if they think they`re going to be me Honey Boo Boo Child.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Drinking a little something called "go go juice."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) This is paisley (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like Julia Roberts in "Pretty Woman" as a prostitute.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When Alana`s on stage, (INAUDIBLE) judges and walk her through her routine.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Alana`s mom, June, admits giving her 6-year-old energy drinks to rev her up.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She drinks it for pageants to give her that extra oomph. So whatever works for your child, use it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Good evening. I`m Nancy Grace. I want to thank you for being with us.
Bombshell tonight. The overnight hit reality show "Toddlers and Tiaras" included padded pushup bras, sexy fake butt enhancers, stage makeup, hair, tiny bikinis. This show is a pedophile`s dream.
But tonight is "Toddlers and Tiaras," the gravy train, set to hit the skids after multiple claims of child abuse? I`m not talking about just one child. Here you`re seeing the famous Honey Boo Boo and her mom. There are other children in which child abuse claims are swirling around.
We are taking your calls. I want to go straight out to Kat McCullough on the story. Kat, a lot of claims of child abuse not just around the show itself. What do we know about papers filed in court alleging child abuse?
KAT MCCULLOUGH, NANCY GRACE PRODUCER: That`s right, Nancy. In the case of Maddy Verst, the father is alleging that the mother is actually sexually exploiting this young 6-year-old girl by having her wear a Dolly Parton costume that`s a padded bra and a big padded butt along with a sexy dress.
GRACE: OK. Right now, we`re talking about Maddy Verst. There she is. I wish we could see a side shot of this in a padded draw and a sexual butt enhancer. I know a lot of people would laugh at this, but these children are as young as 18 months old. And it`s not just that, claims about the hours they`re working on the show.
There`s one segment where a little girl is dancing on a bar, Kat McCullough?
MCCULLOUGH: She is dancing in a bar. It was actually not filmed by TLC, but it was posted on the Internet and went viral. This is actually Honey Boo Boo, allegedly. And the mother says that it`s OK because it`s a college bar, it`s not a sleazy bar.
GRACE: All right, to Donna Rice, an expert in the prevention of child sexploitation. Donna Rice, thank you so much for being with us. You know, a lot of people, they see this video. And I get it. I`m not condemning them. They laugh. They think it`s funny. But the reality is, pedophiles all across this country, Donna Rice, put that Tivo on "Toddlers and Tiaras," and we know why.
DONNA RICE, EXPERT, CHILD EXPLOITATION PREVENTION (via telephone): Well, that`s exactly right. I mean, we`re making it so easy for sexual predators these days, whether it`s this kind of a show and this type of, really, exploitation of these children when they`re really so young and innocent and naive.
And they`re also -- you know, they want to be famous, and they`re usually pretty cute little kids. And you know, we as parents are the ones that really have to help them understand things like modesty and what`s appropriate behavior and what`s not appropriate behavior and not introducing them to things too soon, like sexuality and especially their own sexuality and exploiting that.
GRACE: Well, what`s concerning me is not just us theorizing about it, Donna, because, you know, in court, you can`t use statistics, so we can`t tell a judge this is child sexploitation because of these statistics, because of common sense. You actually have to have facts to back it up.
But right now, court papers have been filed claiming child abuse. To Ellie Jostad. We do we learn in the court papers?
ELLIE JOSTAD, NANCY GRACE PRODUCER: Well, Nancy, those papers have not been made public, but what the father is alleging is that these outfits that this little girl, Maddy Verst, is wearing in these pageants are sexualizing her.
And the judge, Nancy, actually, somewhat agreed. He told the mother that she has to curtail all pageant activities for right now. He also took a report from a child psychologist, who said that the father was the more appropriate parent. And that child psychologist also slammed these costumes the little girl is wearing, not just the Dolly Parton costume but also another one described as a sexy police officer.
GRACE: Everybody, we are showing you videos of one child, a toddler girl dancing on a bar. They`re shots of one little girl dressed up like "Pretty Woman," the hooker. There are other shots where push-up bras are used, padded butt enhancers are used.
What more do we know about claims -- out to you, Robyn Walensky -- that first surfaced in "The Enquirer" regarding the treatment of the hit, Honey Boo Boo?
ROBYN WALENSKY, THEBLAZE: First of all, we`ve got the mother, who really appears to be a sick individual, who during one of these videos, when the little girl is dancing in this Daisy Dukes costume, is screaming out, Work it, Smoochy. So you have the encouragement of the mother.
She`s also alleged to be feeding her what she calls "go go juice," which is a combination platter of Mountain Dew and Red Bull, which, as you know, Nancy, is full of caffeine. On top of which, she apparently gave the child 15 bags of pixie sticks (ph), which is all sugar.
So that`s where the abuse allegations are coming in. What this child is being fed is clearly not a normal diet, to say the least.
GRACE: Well, you know, another thing about the go go juice, Alexis Tereszcuk, you know, if you put a parent in the slammer for giving their child sugar, the jails would be full. There`s got to be more to it than that. But just out of curiosity, Alexis, what is the go go juice?
ALEXIS TERESZCUK, RADARONLINE.COM: The go go juice is Mountain Dew mixed with Red Bull. She only drinks it at these pageants, though. Her mom has -- I`ve spoken with her mom, and she only has them at pageants, which aren`t every day. She doesn`t have 14 bottles of it. She has one really quickly before she goes on stage.
GRACE: Out to the lines. Diana in Arizona. Hi, Diana. What`s your question?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Nancy. Is there a fee for these little kids and babies to be in these pageants and reality shows?
GRACE: You mean do they have to pay to be in the pageant, or do they get paid?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.
GRACE: You want to know the answer to both of those.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.
GRACE: Let`s go out to special guest joining me right now. Heather Ryan is with us. This is Lindsay Jackson`s and Maddy Verst`s talent agent. Heather, thank you for being with us. Do they have to pay a fee to be in the pageant? And do they get paid to be in the pageant?
HEATHER RYAN, LINDSAY JACKSON AND MADDY VERST TALENT AGENT (via telephone): (INAUDIBLE) you always have to pay some kind of minuscule fee. Sometimes they`re more expensive, sometimes they`re less expensive. "Toddlers and Tiaras" in particular doesn`t pay you because it`s a documentary-style television show. So they don`t actually pay talent to be on that show.
GRACE: Out to the lines. Terry in Georgia. Hi, Terry. What`s your question?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My question is, number one, they are singling out one child that is, her clothing, which is not appropriate, but they haven`t taken the other child, Honey Boo Boo, out that`s danced on bars. And her mother also danced, by the way.
I just wanted to know why, you know, they aren`t concentrating on this one first, getting her out of the home and teaching her -- giving her a good education and sending her to etiquette classes, because she needs it.
GRACE: Well, hold on. Terry in Georgia, are you talking about Honey Boo Boo, Alana Thompson?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I`m talking about Honey Boo Boo needing to be taken out of the home and given a good life.
GRACE: You know, Terry, when I was prosecuting felonies -- unleash the lawyers, Kelly Saindon, Randy Kessler, Don Samuel.
Don, you and I practiced against each other for many, many years.
DON SAMUEL, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: We did.
GRACE: And when I think of child abuse, Don, I think of cases that I personally prosecuted where a child is left in a coma after a beating or is a vegetable or has been sexually molested or is covered in cigarette burns. That`s what I think of when I think of child abuse.
But Don, there`s the other issue. I know you heard Donna Rice, about child sexploitation. A lot of people laugh this show off and laugh off Honey Boo Boo. But would you dress your child up in a padded push-up bra and a butt enhancer and dress her up like a hooker or have her dance on a bar at age 3?
SAMUEL: I wouldn`t do any of those things, Nancy, obviously. But there`s a different question between whether you would do it with your child and whether we think that it`s a crime. We can`t criminalize everybody who makes different decisions. We can`t legislate morality. Clearly, what she`s doing is inappropriate, according to most people, although apparently, a lot of people watch the TV show. So...
GRACE: Well, hold on. Don Samuel, please, please, get off the stump, all right? I`m just asking you -- we`re not in court. We don`t have to do battle.
GRACE: But what I`m saying is, if this girl were put in another scenario where she`s dancing on a bar like a stripper, if that were in another scenario, if a stranger had done that to her, that would have been considered some type of child sexploitation. I think you`ll agree with me on that.
SAMUEL: I would agree with you. If it`s not being done by a mother, if it`s being done by someone else who`s getting paid, you`d have to start thinking about cruel and excessive psychological pain, which is also a different form of child abuse.
GRACE: You know, I`ve got to be really very careful about attacking a parent for feeding somebody sugar. But this "go go juice thing," the road kill (ph), the Red Bull, it`s way over the top. I`m more concerned about turning your child into a pedophile`s dream. You got a problem with that, Kessler?
RANDY KESSLER, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I do. But Don said it exactly correctly, which is there`s a difference between civil law and criminal law. This is not crime beyond a reasonable doubt. This is simply take the child and give the child to another parent, another caretaker, another custodial arrangement. But a crime? I mean, this is...
GRACE: You know, I appreciate...
KESSLER: ... a bad choice...
GRACE: ... the echo, Kessler. Donna Rice, before I go to Kelly, the reality is, if a stranger had dressed this child up like a hooker and put her on a bar to dance, you know that there would be jail time involved. But because it`s Mommy, it`s OK.
RICE: Well, yes. That`s exactly right. And one of the things that I`m hearing, because I`m not seeing the pictures -- it does sound like some of these moms might be living vicariously through their children.
But one of the things that concerns me is that they`re teaching these kids so young in their life that their value, their identity is based on their looks. And also to win, they need to be over the top. And I`m concerned with the messages it`s sending these kids, but also the other girls competing against them.
GRACE: Well, you know what, Donna, I`m all about helping a healthy self-image in children, but I`m more concerned about child abuse and sexploitation, which is your field of expertise.
Let`s hear from the horse`s mouth. Here`s Honey Boo Boo and her mother.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Her future plan is to be a couponer like her mama. This is contestant number two, Alana.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Alana did really well at her interview today. The only thing she didn`t (INAUDIBLE) she didn`t show her belly.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am Daisy Duke!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here, here, drink. Drink two big gulps.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Go go juice makes me laugh (ph) and play and it makes me feel like I want to pull my Mommy`s hair.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m Alana. I`m 6 and I`m a beauty queen. I want to win the biggest trophy with a lot of money! Look what I won. Money!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) Money!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) Must be crazy if they think they`re going to be (INAUDIBLE) Must be crazy if they...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: You`re seeing video from TLC`s "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo." Honey Boo Boo is actually just a 6-year-old little girl, Alana Thompson.
We are taking your calls. Tonight, claims of child abuse swirling as it relates to the stars on TLC`s big bombshell, "Toddlers and Tiaras."
Joining me right now, Mike Walker, senior editor with "The Enquirer." You know, I had heard of the show, Mike, but I read this article in your magazine, "Honey Boo Boo Abuse Scandal." That`s the tip of the iceberg, Mike Walker, because now we are learning after we started looking into it that a father has actually gone to court to rip custody away from the mom over child abuse claims revolving around this show. It`s getting extremely serious.
MIKE WALKER, "NATIONAL ENQUIRER" (via telephone): I, like most people, have no sympathy for these shows. I don`t know how they get on the air. "Toddlers and Tiaras" makes me ill.
And now we have Honey Boo Boo. She was such a hit on "Toddlers and Tiaras," they gave her her own show, as you know. Well, the show has done wonderfully. It`s a bizarre show. It`s got a whole lot of belly slapping and gas passing. These people, the Thompson family, that live in rural McIntyre, Georgia, are, you know, earthy folk.
And at first, there were all kinds of -- sort of bubbling under, we were hearing things about how the parents were feeding her energy drinks and cheese puffs for breakfast. And then we heard how -- and that`s when we got on it -- when they were cooking road kill for her meals, Nancy, road kill.
Now, if you remember, Britney Spears has an uncle called "Roadkill Willie" who is famous for eating road kill. He lives in a trailer, and so forth and so on. That`s one thing. This is a little girl.
And -- but none of this really became of the level of child abuse and the authorities didn`t get involved until there was a video of this little girl dancing in a bar, on a table in a bar, that was posted on line. That`s when the authorities got into it.
And the mother, you know, defended her daughter`s action, saying, Well, it was a college bar, not a sleazy one. This is her own quote, "not a sleazy one." I don`t know the difference, actually.
But now it`s very shocking. As you say, we`re following, you know, that the father is trying to get custody. It`s a shocking, shocking thing.
And by the way, it`s going to get even worse, Nancy, because later in the season -- I don`t know if you know this -- Alana`s -- Honey Boo Boo`s sister, 17 years old, Anna (ph), aka Chickadee (ph) is going to give birth to a baby girl with two right thumbs, and her grandma makes fun of the defect, OK?
If they were being charged for having bad taste, Nancy, the judge would throw the book at them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot of pageant moms and people know what this special juice is. A lot of moms say, Oh (INAUDIBLE) your child. Well, hey, no, I`m not. I`m not hurting her. She just drinks it for pageants to give her that extra oomph. So whatever works for your child, use it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am ready to go!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My special juice is going to get me loose!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: You`re seeing video from TLC`s "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo." It`s an offshoot of "Toddlers and Tiaras." But after a story broke in "The National Enquirer," we began investigating, and it turns out that at least one parent is trying to rip custody away from moms who put their kids in this show.
We are taking your calls. Josh in Alabama. Apparently, Josh, not everybody thinks dressing a toddler up as a prostitute is cute. What`s your question, Josh?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My question -- you know I love your show.
GRACE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here`s my question. I`m so flabbergasted, I can`t even begin to put the words together, but -- actually, two questions. Firstly, how in the world did this -- whoever ran the -- how did they let a 6-year-old into the bar?
Secondly, what could be in this mother`s mind to feed her 6-year-old energy drinks? And I`ve known people who`ve ended up in the hospital for drinking those. So I`m concerned about this child, the fact that she`s going to end up, you know, with heart problems in the future. How can they let this happen?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can we start now? I am Honey Boo Boo Child! And I am (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Work it, Smoochy! That`s it, baby!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We started pageants about two years ago.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am ready to go!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are a big investment. We work really hard (INAUDIBLE) we invest a lot of money. So we do take pageants seriously.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Alana!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She never has won a grand supreme title.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Third runner-up, Alana.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bronze winner, Alana.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Alana does get upset when she loses.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel sad because I didn`t get a crown.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But that`s all about to change. There`s a big pageant coming up at the end of the summer, so we`re going to do whatever it takes to win.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Alana!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`ve got to set (ph) up (ph) up our A game.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) stage.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So the whole family`s going to pitch in.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She`s running!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And make Alana the pageant winner we know she can be.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You better watch out! (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When she wears the fake boobies and the fake butt, it`s just like (INAUDIBLE) you know, extra bonus. And it`s really funny when she comes out on stage and everybody thinks it`s hysterical because they all of a sudden realize that not only is she Dolly, she has the enhancements just like Dolly has.
Turn around and let me zip you up. Pull your booty down.
We tend to score really well with it all the way around for most everybody.
Let me see. Fluff your hair. Do what Dolly does.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Not everybody thinks dressing a 3-year-old child up as a prostitute is cute. As it turns out, a hearing just went down in Campbell County, Kentucky, to decide whether a 6-year-old "Toddler and Tiara" star, Madison Maddy Verst, will be ripped away from her mother. The father fighting custody, Lindsay Jackson, the mom. He claims that Maddy`s participation in that beauty pageant is one of the many reasons he should get full custody.
And in an unprecedented move, this is what we`re talking about tonight, Judge (INAUDIBLE) ejected all the media out of the courtroom so we can`t hear what`s going on. And suggestions have been made to the father as to how he should proceed.
What I don`t understand, it just seems like history is repeating itself as it comes to children being sexploited, not just about drinking the Red Bull, about eating sugar, about the go-go juice, but the hours that`s used in these pageants, the way the children are dressed up to look like hookers or sex stars, dancing on bars. Mike Walker, now legitimate claims in court have been filed to rip custody away from the mothers. Bring us up to date, Mike Walker.
MIKE WALKER, SENIOR EDITOR, NATIONAL ENQUIRER: Well, we -- it is ongoing and what astounds here, did you hear her say that everybody thinks it`s adorable when they put the fake breasts, you know, prosthesis on this little girl`s chest? How can people continence this? This show has, for a cable show it`s very impressive, 2.2 million viewers. That`s why she got her own show because she was the breakout little girl from "Toddlers & Tiara," a show I cannot watch. How can this be allowed? How can people, how can the American public watch and support something like this? Are they crazy?
GRACE: Well, Mike, you`re not the only one because when I look at these children, I think of all the pedophiles across the country --
GRACE: -- setting their TiVos to watch it.
WALKER: Of course. That is exactly right.
GRACE: I think of all the children that I represented, children of sex abuse, children of child abuse.
WALKER: That`s right.
GRACE: There are these children were targeted and many, many court watchers believe that is what happened in the JonBenet Ramsey case.
With me right now is a special guest, Heather Ryan. And she`s not here for us to attack her. She`s here for a chance to explain. She is the talent agent for Lindsay Jackson and Maddy Verst, two of the little girls. Heather joining us from Des Moines.
Heather, thank you for being with us. I know the father has filed child abuse claims in court. Does that mean that in Lindsay Jackson`s case, Lindsay can still participate in the beauty pageants? Then why did the judge put a gag order?
HEATHER RYAN, TALENT AGENT FOR BEAUTY PAGEANT, DOLLY PARTON GIRL MADDY VERST: The judge in this case has set aside the fact that the father is a convicted felon. He set aside that he`s been recently charged with DUI with Maddy in the car. He set aside all of that because Maddy has makeup on during pageants. For me that`s extreme.
The fact that she competes in pageants does not trump that the father is not a good father but Lindsay, the mom, is a good mom. She`s never been charged with any kind of neglect or abuse.
GRACE: OK. Miss Ryan, I appreciate you dragging in the father`s arrest, all right, but that wasn`t my question. I`m going to try one more time.
With me is Heather Ryan, the talent agent.
Miss Ryan, can Maddy, the daughter to Lindsay Jackson, continue to compete in pageants? That`s all I`m asking you.
RYAN: The judge has put a moratorium on pageant participation until this case is settled.
GRACE: Now, let me ask you, the Dolly Parton costume that was put on a child, the fake boobs, the fake behind, whose idea was that?
RYAN: That actually used to belong to Lindsay, the mom. She is a pageant contestant from years ago and that was actually her competition outfit for Dolly Parton for the state of Tennessee. So it was back when Dolly was gigantic and, no pun intended, was gigantic and she was representing Tennessee. So Maddy was actually wearing her mom`s costume from 20 years ago. And the fact is, Dolly Parton is well endowed, she does have some junk in her trunk and it just goes with the costume, and it makes it funny.
Now it makes it more competitive. And that`s what people aren`t seeing. They`re seeing only what they want to and that`s the sexual aspect of Dolly Parton. But Dolly Parton as a caricature does have endowments that are included in the costume.
GRACE: I want to go back to Mike Walker, senior editor with "The Enquirer."
Mike, how can -- I mean, you`d have to be living in a cave to not understand that this show and the treatment of these children is like a buffet, all right? It`s like you`re at Ryan`s steakhouse.
WALKER: It`s hard for me to understand how any adults can look at these little girls objectified and sexualized as the agent just said with the junk in the trunk and the big enormous boobs. How anyone can think that`s cute and adorable, knowing that there are literally hundreds of thousands, if not millions of pedophiles out there who get sexual gratification from looking at highly sexualized pictures of little girls.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Work it, Smoochie. That`s it, baby. Smile, baby. That`s it, baby. Smile, baby. She said that she meant business and
I don`t know where Alana`s personality comes from. Honestly. Alana is Alana. She got a great personality and that Daisy Duke was so, so cute.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: That is video from TLC`s hit "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo." One of the children that competed on "Toddlers & Tiaras."
We are taking your calls. Out to Heidi in Michigan. Hi, Heidi, what`s your question?
HEIDI, CALLER FROM MICHIGAN: Hi, Miss Nancy. Thank you for taking my call. I just have to be careful what I say. My twins just walked in and I`m just livid what I`m hearing in regards to "Honey Boo Boo" so I`m a little fired up and have to be careful what I say because I have children in the room.
GRACE: Got you.
HEIDI: But -- basically, where`s this child`s advocate that`s supposed to be her mom, but her mom is promoting, aside from the pageants, I saw one episode flipping channels and this little girl is lifting her shirt to shake her tummy. What`s going to happen next? How much farther is the shirt going to get in a couple of years?
I mean just -- some people may think that`s harmless but on TV to show your skin and shake your tummy, I may sound a little old school, but that little girl is supposed to be covered.
GRACE: You know, I will never forget, Heidi in Michigan, when I was out doing "Dancing with the Stars," we were relocated to L.A. and I had the children in a little Methodist play school there while I was practicing and working, and I will never forget bringing them home one afternoon and they were strapped in their little car seats and I was driving. And my little girl, Lucy, this is age 3, said, mommy, can I paint my fingernails? And I nearly did a back flip, all right?
But I acted like that was fine, just looked in my rear view mirror and thought, uh-oh, what`s next, a push-up bra? Then she said, can I pierce my ears? All right. Then I nearly pulled the car over to the side of the road.
I want to go to Alexis Tereszcuk, senior reporter, Radaronline.com, who interviewed Lindsay Jackson, this is the mom of Maddy Verst who is the focus of a could battle right now regarding child custody.
Alexis, you interviewed Lindsay Jackson. What did you learn?
ALEXIS TERESZCUK, REPORTER, RADAROLINE.COM: I just want to point out this was before the gag order was imposed by the judge. But what she said is that she doesn`t feel like it is fair that the government is telling her what extracurricular activities she can put child her in. She could be in swimming, she could be in gymnastics and the uniforms would be the same. And she is irate that this judge is trying to tell her how to be a parent. These pageants are not illegal and she feels that she is doing nothing wrong.
GRACE: Can I get back to it`s exactly the same? Didn`t they compare the child to Gabby in the Olympics?
TERESZCUK: I don`t know if they specifically said with Gabby, but the girls in the Olympics are wearing leotards. Swim team wears little bathing suits. And so Lisa said this is exactly -- she said that my daughter`s costumes cover up more than a bathing suit would show if she were on the swim team.
GRACE: Alexis --
TERESZCUK: And her daughter loves these pageants.
GRACE: Gabby and the mom said that on FOX. I don`t recall the Olympic uniforms including butt padding and push-up padded bras, Alexis, but thanks.
Ellie, what can you tell me about the comparison to Gabby in the Olympics?
ELLIE JOSTAD, NANCY GRACE CHIEF EDITORIAL PRODUCER: Well, right, Nancy. Lindsay Jackson, that is Maddy Verst`s mom, she said that, you know, if she gets custody taken away because she puts her daughter in these pageants and allows her to participate, she says this opens the door for a parent being attacked by the other parent for almost any activity they choose to enroll their child in. And she even made the comparison to Gabby Douglas.
She said what if Gabby Douglas` father had said, I don`t want her to move away for training, I don`t want her participating in gymnastics? She`s saying, you know, this could have a chilling effect on all activities for kids.
GRACE: Back to you, Alexis, what exactly were Maddy Verst costumes?
TERESZCUK: She dressed up like Dolly Parton, she is dressed up like a sexy police officer, but it`s a black dress. It`s sleeveless, it has a tutu on it, it covers her belly completely. She was like -- she does glitzy pageants. So these are the costumes that cost thousands and thousands of dollars. They are covered with sequence --
GRACE: Thousands and thousands of dollars. You know what, hookers can charge thousands and thousands of dollars, too, Alexis. That doesn`t make it right. Drug lords charge thousands and thousands of dollars for cocaine. Is that OK too? What about machine guns, is that OK, Alexis Tereszcuk?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You like the mud?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We do a lot of mud ball and a lot of four-wheel riding.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And lots and lots and lots.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So she can dress up and be beautiful like this but she likes to get down and dirty. We`ve got several --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are a redneck.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are a redneck?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tell her your new saying.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You better Redneckinize.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: We are taking your calls. Child abuse claims swirling around several of the little girls that star on TLC`s hit reality show, "Toddlers & Tiaras."
Leslie Austin, psychotherapist joining me out of New York.
Dr. Austin, weigh in.
DR. LESLIE AUSTIN, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: Well, I`m just about apoplectic here. There is no distinction between whether it was a mother or someone else putting a child dancing on a bar. That is absolute sexploitation. I hope all of these pageants get banned because they are not taking care of their children`s best interests going up. Every one of these little girls is going to be pathologized, growing up if not have medical problems from what they`re being said and terrible self-image.
GRACE: To Det. Lt. Steven Rogers, former fed with the FBI. Steve, when the talent agent said that this has nothing to do with pedophilia, that pedophiles have nothing to do with "Toddlers & Tiara," to suggest that they`re not even watching -- now we know for a fact that video like this, video similar to this is traded by them online.
DET. LT. STEVE ROGERS, NUTLEY, NEW JERSEY, POLICE DEPARTMENT: As you said, Nancy, this is a pedophile`s heaven. Just tune in. They`ll view the television program and, as you know, Nancy, they will find out where these children live. And you know what, instead of investigating a child abuse case, we end up investigating a homicide. What a tragedy.
GRACE: Papers just filed in court trying to rip child custody away from a mom whose child competes in "Toddlers & Tiaras."
We are taking your calls. I want to gout now to Dr. Laura Jana, pediatrician, expert in child development.
You along with Donna Rice have so much to tell us. Weigh in, Dr. Laura.
DR. LAURA JANA, M.D., PEDIATRICIAN AND EXPERT IN CHILD DEVELOPMENT: You know, thanks, Nancy. I can barely figure out where to start. But let me make your life easy, first of all. Because I agree with you that it is extremely concerning about the pedophile interest in these pageants and these young girls but even if we were to not take that into account, first that I think we need to stop defining the sexualization of young girls and their ability to be sexualized as talent. So calling that a talent is very disturbing to me.
The other thing here is we can go so far beyond pedophiles with what`s wrong about this in the health and well being of young children. Caffeine is a drug. It is a limited by the Food and Drug Administration as a drug barely above the combination of Mountain Dew and Red Bull.
Early childhood education, child development and brain development is incredibly important in these early years. And we are affecting these children the rest of their lives. What I know as a pediatrician trained to screen and any time I have a concern I am obligated to report any concerns of child abuse and neglect.
I don`t usually get into the legal aspects because that`s your area. But let me just say what I have as emotional abuse includes impairing a child`s emotional development or sense of self-worth. I don`t think you`ve an expert on. I don`t know a pediatrician that wouldn`t feel the same. We are impairing these children`s emotional development and sense of self- worth participating in these pageants.
We`ve got issues of character development. We`ve got issues of character development. We`ve got issues of obesity epidemic and the poor nutrition. There`s an absolute difference between sex and sexuality. Health sexuality is something that all of as pediatricians and I do as an early educator focus on teaching boys from girls, healthy kind of sense of body awareness.
That is absolutely nothing the same as dressing young girls up as Dolly Parton. Sexualizing their body parts it is absolutely inappropriate. And the last thought here and I will let you take it, is poverty is an issue here. And I just think we need to be clear, whether it`s an intent or not, it is not a matter of whether you intend to emotionally abuse or neglect your child.
Poverty does play a role, whether it is obesity and nutrition issue, whether it is caffeine is a drug or participating in pageantry this family has so many issues that I fear for the overall well being of the families we`ve been talking about and the one who participate in these pageants.
GRACE: Unleash the lawyers. Kelly Saindon in Chicago, Randy Kessler, Don Samuel, Atlanta.
Weigh in, Kelly.
KELLY SAINDON, FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY: They are putting their children at risk. And in these court cases the judge has to decide when the parents can`t get it right, what is in the kid`s best interest? So here they`re looking at what is the least harmful, it sounds like, in a situation of Maddy, the better, safer place for her to be. And the fact that everyone is staying it`s funny and it`s cute, it`s not sexualization is very, very disturbing.
GRACE: You know, Randy Kessler, a judge has ordered at least one of these children to stop participating in the pageants. You can`t understand why?
RANDY KESSLER, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, the one thing I can`t understand is how we can set global terms for everybody. This maybe over the line but family law issues are decided by local communities. That local community elected that judge and is going to reflect that community`s desires. Family law is a local thing. It`s a civil proceeding, not a criminal case.
GRACE: OK, stop. Please stop. What are you saying? What are you talking about?
KESSLER: I`m saying that we --
GRACE: Trying to say that that judge, because of where he is located is wrong? Is that what you are trying to say?
KESSLER: I didn`t say -- no, I`m saying that the judge will decide what`s appropriate in that community. Some communities might say look, there are different ages of marriage, there are different ages of consent across the country. We have to let that community and that government over there decide. It sounds like the judge is making the decision you want the judge to make, Nancy.
GRACE: You know, Don Samuel -- everybody, Don Samuel literally wrote the book and updates it every year when it comes to procedure in court, criminal procedure in court.
Don, yes, you are a veteran defense attorney but can you take off that hat just for a moment?
DON SAMUEL, VETERAN DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Sure.
GRACE: It`s crazy talk to say that judge, because he`s in a different jurisdiction doesn`t speak for us. What I`m talking about is what is right and what is wrong. Now all of us have been in court on child abuse claims? All right? Me prosecuting them. True, this is not like the ones we`ve taken to court. But if you take a look at dressing the child up like a hooker, having her dance on a bar, like the caller have said, and how did a 6-year-old get into a bar anyway.
Don Samuel, I see so many legal issues on so many levels.
DON SAMUELS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I don`t see criminal conduct, though. That`s the problem. And your guests who have talked about, you know, pedophiles, you know, what are you going to do? You`re going to outlaw public swimming pools because pedophiles may go to swimming pools and look at --
GRACE: Why don`t we address this issue?
SAMUELS: Are you going to outlaw beaches because pedophiles may go to beaches and look at women or young girls?
GRACE: You know those aren`t my two choices, Don. My two choices are not outlaw beaches or allow little girls to be dressed up as hookers.
SAMUELS: If you`re going to start --
GRACE: Those are not my two choices.
SAMUELS: If you`re going to start outlawing activities because of what pedophiles may do you`re going to outlaw a lot of legal activity. And that`s when --
GRACE: I`m outlawing child abuse that`s what I`m talking about, Don.
SAMUELS: I have no problem outlawing child abuse but child abuse can`t be defined by what a pedophile would do as far as the dancing in a bar, I don`t know the specific of the bar but apparently it`s not a strip club, we`re not talking about any sexual activity, occurring in a bar that would clearly be illegal, nobody under the able of 18 can go into a bar.
GRACE: Well, I`m looking at one right now, just look at your monitor, Don. And you`ll see what I`m talking about.
Everybody, let`s stop and remember Army Private First Class Alan Newton, Jr., 26, Asheboro, North Carolina, killed, Afghanistan. Bronze Star, Purple Heat, Combat Action Badge. Loved fishing, playing corn hole, mud wheeling. Leaves behind parents Joyce and Alan Senior. Stepfather Randy, sister Christine.
Alan Newton, Jr., American hero. Thanks to our guests but especially to you for being with us. Dr. Drew up next.
Everyone, I`ll see you tomorrow night, 8:00 sharp Eastern and until then, good night, friend.