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LEGAL VIEW WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD

Huge Security for Olympics and Super Bowl; NC Police Officer Indicted for Post-Car Crash Shooting; University of Missouri Investigated Following Suicide of Student Who Was Allegedly Raped; Nun Faces Prison Time

Aired January 28, 2014 - 11:00   ET

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


GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... allies constitute an access of evil.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR, "STATE OF THE UNION": They are like mile markers in the nation's history.

Be assured as they write and rewrite at the White House, they are wondering, arguing and probably betting on what words will capture the moment of January 28th, 2014.

We asked former presidential candidate, Rick Santorum, a Republican, what he thinks President Obama should say.

RICK SANTORUM, FORMER REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I made a bunch of mistakes and I am here to say we need to correct them.

CROWLEY: Delete.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks so much for joining me. I'm Carol Costello.

"LEGAL VIEW" with Ashleigh Banfield starts now.

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Food, beverages, merchandise, even seat cushions, all of it being screened to help keep the Super Bowl safe in America, and that is just a small part of the safety plan.

We're going to dig into all of it and what might be new. That's coming up.

Also ahead, rape on campus, how high is the risk? And what keeps so many young women from reporting it.

One tragic case of sexual assault and suicide that we all need to hear about.

And two days ahead of her 84th birthday, this Catholic nun is in federal court as she's about to find out if she's going to spend the rest of her life behind bars in a prison. The crime? Nuclear sabotage and breaking into a top-secret storehouse for weapons-grade uranium.

Hello, everyone. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. It is Tuesday, January 28th, and welcome to LEGAL VIEW.

Huge sporting events like the Olympics and the Super Bowl mean huge security efforts. That is just the day we live in today.

It is definitely the case for Sunday's big game at MetLife stadium in New Jersey. And we are talking eyes all over the place, on the state and on the federal level, hundreds of troopers, thousands of security guards and agents who are right now working around the clock.

Evan Perez joins me live now from Washington. Homeland Security is now weighing in on this, and they are preparing for this big event.

Give me the headline from that department about what we are facing this weekend.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ashleigh, one of the big worries about this Super Bowl in particular, is that it is very dependent on transit.

Unlike Super Bowls that are held in New Orleans or Miami where you have a lot of cars and people get driven to the stadium, this is very dependent on transit. And so this increases worries for the federal officials.

There is a train station that is just yards away from MetLife stadium, just yards away. And so one of the things that the TSA is doing, for instance, is they're going to do 100-percent baggage checks for people -- 15,000 people that expected to ride the train between Secaucus Junction and MetLife stadium. Now, this is New Jersey Transit.

The first sign of the increased security interest will be in some of the main train stations in New York City and in New Jersey. In the next day, you are going to start seeing a lot more baggage checks in Grand Central, in Penn Station, for instance.

The TSA is sending up these teams called VIPER teams. That stands for Visible Intermodal Prevention Response teams. I'm always stumbling on that name.

But these guys have behavioral specialists. They have air marshals. They have canines. They have basically everything to secure these train stations.

They also have radiological detectors that are going to be going through the stations to make sure people are safe, come Super Bowl day.

And then the day after the game, you have this big influx of people at the airports, at Newark airport, people trying to get back home. And so there are going to be increased response at the airports, as well, to help people get out safely, Ashleigh. BANFIELD: Yeah, I'm so worried about all those contingency plans for weather, as well, as we look forward to this weekend.

Evan Perez, live for us from Washington, D.C., thank you.

And since I mentioned the weather, as soon as the Super Bowl is done, it's on to another massive sporting event filled with security concerns, the Winter Olympics.

Terror groups have been peppering Russian with threats. Some American athletes are telling their families, stay home.

And it's not just terror. There is also Russia's anti-gay laws.

Former Olympian Brian Boitano, who is part of the U.S. delegation, says athletes have got to be careful.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRIAN BOITANO, OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: Demonstrations under the Olympic charter, are -- they don't allow demonstrations, so they could be sent home. They could have their medals taken away.

So I think that that's why this presidential delegation is important, because we can speak volumes from being there, and the athletes don't have to put their medals on the line or their reputation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: And the Winter Games get under way in just 10 days.

But today, 140 million people in 34 states are under some kind of winter weather warning or advisory today. The snow is causing dangerous driving conditions.

It is bitterly cold in the Midwest with high temperatures -- high temperatures -- 10 to 30 degrees below what we are used to, below normal.

The wind chills are feeling like minus-30 degrees in cities like Chicago.

The prolonged cold is creating a significant propane shortage, as well, across the Midwest, propane, something you just take for granted.

Wisconsin is the latest to declare an energy emergency as thousands fear not being able to heat their homes properly.

And then there are signs like those, no school, no, school just canceled. They are popping up all across the south in cities like Houston and New Orleans and Montgomery, Alabama, places not used to snow days where even three inches of snow is a big old deal.

It is hard for them because they are ill-equipped to deal with snow emergencies. They just don't have all that gear that the northern states have.

More than 2,800 U.S. flights have now been canceled according to FlightAware.com.

And, on a lot of minds, of course, the forecast for the Super Bowl in New Jersey, I can tell you what it is today at least. At kickoff, it is supposed to be 34 degrees. With the wind chill, it is apparently going to feel like 26 degrees and partly cloudy.

Stay tuned, because you know that can change, days to go.

A North Carolina police officer, Randall Kerrick, has now been indicted on a manslaughter charge. Kerrick shot and killed Jonathan Ferrell as the 24-year-old was apparently looking for help after being involved in a car crash.

It took two grand juries -- two -- to indict that police officer. And joining me now is Jean Casarez with more on how this is all unfolding.

First of all, I always think that when it comes to a grand jury you don't get two kicks at the can, that maybe it's the same kind of thing in a court case, where you can't just go after someone over and over again on the same charge.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: This is highly unusual.

BANFIELD: What happened?

CASAREZ: Here are the facts as we know them. The prosecutor went to the first grand jury, last week. That grand jury listened to testimony, we understand, from the state bureau of investigation, also the Charlotte police department in North Carolina.

They came back and said, we do not believe there is probable cause that this officer committed voluntary manslaughter, but we do think there is a lesser here.

The prosecutor then went to the judge and said, we don't believe there were enough. Some of the grand jurors were missing that day.

Now, under North Carolina law, 12 to 18 grand jurors is sufficient, but we don't know how many there were. But it appears as though there were at least 12.

But the judge allowed the prosecutor to go to a second grand jury that says, you know what, we believe there is probable cause he committed voluntary manslaughter.

BANFIELD: So there's no double jeopardy issue. Let's say -

CASAREZ: The defense is saying there is.

BANFIELD: I was just going to say, if I'm the police officer and I've got my lawyer, I'm arguing real hard and fast to say, you had your shot. You lost.

CASAREZ: You better believe it, and that's what the defense is been saying.

I've been trying to get a hold of the defense team since last night, because I want to know if they are going to appeal this.

We all both know it is called an interlocutory appeal, before trial, or will it be something they have to preserve if there is even a conviction?

BANFIELD: Here is what's so frustrating. And, look, I get why, but it's still very frustrating in American jurisprudence that grand jury proceedings are so secretive. You just can't get your hands on all the information.

And it's pretty critical when it comes to issues like that.

CASAREZ: But that's another issue the defense has. They say the prosecutor came out and said, We're not finished yet here, when the first grand jury failed to recommend an indictment.

BANFIELD: And, just quickly, there is dash-cam video of what has happened here, and we haven't seen it.

CASAREZ: No.

BANFIELD: It's not public. We don't even know if the grand jury has seen it, at this point.

CASAREZ: We don't, but the civil attorney representing the family -- and we can't forget. This is a tragedy. This was an innocent man that had an automobile accident, was trying to seek help and then he was shot 12 times and now he is dead.

But, here is what we know from the dash-cam video, that there were laser beams, and this according to the civil attorney for the family, laser beams on the chest of Mr. Ferrell.

And he then started coming toward the police officer, maybe to say, wait a minute. We don't know what was in his state of mind.

But, after that, the 12 shots rang out.

BANFIELD: Twelve shots.

CASAREZ: And 10 of them hit Mr. Ferrell.

BANFIELD: And we also don't know if he was disoriented. He'd been in a car crash. We don't know what his behavior was, either.

CASAREZ: The car was very damaged. He had to climb out the back of the window. Yes.

BANFIELD: It's so distressing. Keep your radar out on how that transpires and what ends up happening.

CASAREZ: Absolutely.

BANFIELD: Jean Casarez, thank you for that. Appreciate it.

An American university is now under fire for how it handled an alleged rape that involved one of its football players.

The victim, the alleged victim of the rape, is now dead. She committed suicide. This is a mess.

That story, ahead on LEGAL VIEW.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: How's this for a staggering statistic? According to the government, as many as one-in-five women are sexually assaulted while at college, one in five.

Now, think about that for a moment, because, sadly, the vast majority of rapes go unreported.

And now there is the case at the University of Missouri that could send even more rape victims into the shadows for fear that, just by seeking help, it could actually be a one-way ticket to a publicity nightmare.

As George Howell reports, the university is under investigation right now after one of their students, an alleged rape victim, committed suicide.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: She came to the University of Missouri to fulfill a childhood dream, to become a competitive swimmer.

Sasha Menu Courey made the swim team on scholarship in 2009, but the following year, something happened that changed the course of her promising college career, something her parents didn't learn about until after she died.

LYNN COUREY, SASHA MENU COUREY'S MOTHER: People were telling us that she had been raped, and she wrote it in her journal.

HOWELL: In light of a 16-month investigation by ESPN's "Outside the Lines" program, new questions are being raised about what the university knew about the alleged assault and when officials knew it.

According to the report, in February of 2010, after a night out drinking with friends, Courey admitted to going home with a former university football player off campus and having consensual sex.

But months later, she told a rape-crisis counselor and wrote in her journal that after the former football player left, another football player entered the room, locked the door and raped her.

Courey's parents say their daughter also talked about the alleged assault with a campus nurse and a campus doctor, 11 months after the alleged attack. In 2012, the local paper reported that, quote, "Menu Courey also wrote in her diary months later that she was sexually assaulted at the end of her freshman year." The school never launched an investigation. Officials say they weren't notified by the nurse or doctor due to the policy of not reporting sexual assaults without a victim's consent.

Corey's parents say she already suffered from a long history of depression, and in the months to follow, she became more and more depressed. In 2011, Sasha Corey took her own life.

LYNN COUREY, SASHA MENU COUREY'S MOTHER: We lost our daughter and we can not bring her back. But we can make a difference for others.

HOWELL: School officials say they later discovered and turned over to Courey's parents a transcript of her conversation with a rape crisis counselor. They also sent her parents a letter asking if they wanted the matter investigated, but officials say her parents never responded.

MIKE MENU: We did not feel supported in this letter. This letter was a check the boxes letter, and really to be honest, it did not deserve a response.

HOWELL: The question, did the university have an obligation to act even without the parent's response? According to Title 9, a federal law that guarantees college men and women are equally protected on campus. Universities are legally required to investigate allegations of rape, even if the alleged victim is no longer alive.

BRETT SOKOLOW, EXEC. DIR ASSN. OF TITLE IX ADMINISTRATORS: I don't sense that there is any clear evidence of a cover-up at this point. I certainly thing the university should have been more proactive at trying to bring in information and find out more.

HOWELL: The head of the University of Missouri system now acknowledges the case needs to be investigated. President Tim Wolf declined our request to speak on camera, but put out a statement late Sunday saying he is, quote, "asking the board of curators to hire outside independent counsel to conduct an investigation of MU's handling of matters related to Ms. Courey."

The university, in its defense, is already raising privacy concerns for Courey, saying in a statement, quote, "victims of sexual assault need to know they can seek medical care without the concern that reports will be made to police or campus officials without their consent. Otherwise, some victims will be deterred from seeking medical care."

The university is conducting its own independent investigation, and the case has been turned over to Columbia police. Officials say they are moving forward only now, because of that ESPN report, mentioning specific names of people that may have relevant information about the alleged assault.

George Howell, CNN, Columbia, Missouri.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BANFIELD: I want to bring in our legal expert on this case, Joey Jackson. Something that's been really bothering me about this case is that if a college kid right now is watching, or a parent of a college kid is watching, what do you tell your child? What advice can you give them to, A, make sure they report what happens and make sure they can protect their privacy if it's going to destroy their lives.

JOEY JACKSON, HLN LEGAL ANALYST: It's a wonderful question, Ashleigh, and it's a sensitive subject. First of all, I mean, to think about what happened to this girl is just awful. I get what the university is saying with regard to the medical issues, that they want to respect her medical privacy. That argument carries muster because there is a privilege that attaches and certainly, you want to be frank with any medical professional that evaluates you.

However, when it gets to the issue that if it is true this girl did say, this young woman said to her academic adviser, Ashleigh, that this rape occurred. That triggers a reporting requirement. Certainly, any young woman who is raped or anything else, it is not something you always want to talk about. Rape victims wait and come back years later, because it is very sensitive.

BANFIELD: And there have been lengthening of statutes of limitations on rape for this very notion. We have become savvy about how long, sometimes, it takes rape victims to come --

JACKSON: We absolutely have, and in the court of law, what you usually hear in these cases when it is not reported on time, the defense seizes upon that and they seize upon that to go against the notion of, it didn't really happen, did it?

BANFIELD: You never said anything at the time.

JACKSON: Exactly. You didn't say it at the time. However --

BANFIELD: They used to say , 'you were wearing a short skirt.'

JACKSON: Yeah, you can't do that either. With regard to this, there are two federal statutes. Under Title IX, at a minimum, if the university did become aware, a non-medical person, a university campus official and there are indications that that's the case, if they did become aware of this at the very least under Title IX, there should have been an investigation.

In addition to Title IX, Ashleigh there is something called the Cleary (ph) Act named after a young woman who unfortunately was raped in 1986. Under that statute, there is a duty to report. So finally, two issues: if in her journal, she gave the indication that she called her academic adviser and conveyed this information the university should have acted upon it.

Furthermore, in February, when there were media reports about this, the university had an obligation at that time to further investigate. To the extend that they did not, we'll find out all the details. We don't want to prejudge, but if they did not, it is problematic. BANFIELD: Real quickly to summarize, if you're out there, you're concerned, you're wondering what to do, you can right away talk to your doctor, you can right away talk to a mental health counselor without any risk or thought that this is going to end up in a public case somewhere. That is a given. This, on the other hand, goes outside of those purviews. It goes to the academic adviser. So, it's different. I hope that will at least help women not stay in the shadows if they have fear.

Joey Jackson, stick around if you can. Thank you. I appreciate it.

I want to show you a picture. I want you to look at it too. It is an adorable picture of an 83-year-old nun. Her name is Sister Megan Rice. She's nice-looking, huh? Smiling. And today she's going to find out how long she's going to spend in prison, because she is being sentenced for her role in a protest in a break-in at a uranium storage facility. Sister Megan Rice. And you know what? Depending on how long they sentence her for, because of her age, it could be a life sentence. You have got to hear this one.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: We expect to hear at any moment whether a Catholic nun who turns 84 on Thursday is going to be spending the rest of her life in prison. Sister Megan Rice and two of her fellow Catholic peace protesters. There is the lineup, were convicted last spring of a protest at a nuclear plant. As part of the protest, here is what they did. They were able to penetrate four fences around a uranium storage and processing site. All of this was at the Oak Ridge, Tennessee, nuclear weapons complex. When they got inside, they spray painted and they splattered a building with human blood. The government decided to call this sabotage. The protesters for their part, they spoke with our David Mattingly during their trial.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Was this sabotage?

SISTER MEGAN RICE, CONVICTED OF SABOTAGING NUCLEAR SITE: Of course not. The sabotage is going on by the existence of that sabotage to the planet.

MATTINGLY: If you end up spending the rest of your lives in prison, was it worth it?

RICE: Absolutely.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: My colleague, Joe Johns, is standing by, he's watching this case as it plays out live. Do we have any word on the sentencing?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: No word yet. This had the potential to be a fairly long hearing because a number of people were expected to testify in support of Sister Megan Rice and her two accomplices, Ashleigh. BANFIELD: What do we know from the tenor of the judge going through this case and how it is looking for the sister and her coconspirators.

JOHNS: If you take a look at the sentencing guidelines, Sister Rice could probably get up to seven years. She is already 84, so given her advanced age, a sentence like that could be construed as the rest of her life. But remember, the court could take into account her age in giving her a downward departure on the sentence, less time, in other words.

The accomplices could get 8 or 9 years. There is some information in the record suggesting they have been arrested many times before in protest actions. This judge has been tough. He is a Bush 43 appointee. He refused post-conviction release of these defendants. They wanted to be released on their own recognizance. He said no. One of those defendants wanted to sing a couple peace songs in the sentencing hearing. The judge said no to that, you are not going to perform in my courtroom, but he did allow them to all be sentenced together, which is something they requested, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: No release post conviction either. Wow. This judge is tough. Let us know and break into programming when you do find out, Joe.

JOHNS: I'll do my best.

BANFIELD: Thank you, Joe Johns. Our senior Washington correspondent reporting for us live.

Joey Jackson is here with me again with his take on the defense of these folks. The first thing that came to mind with the smiling 84- year-old nun is what about a lifetime of service, what about character references? There have got to be a myriad character references for her that were available. Will that matter when the crime is this serious?

JACKSON: It could. You know what happens is the judge has discretion and the judge could downwardly depart. Here is how it works in a nutshell. Under the federal guidelines, there are a series of things that are taken into account, and certainly what's taken into account and what will play heavy on the mind, is the nature of the offense, what happened as a result of the offense.

However, the attorney, her attorney wants to point out, as you mentioned, she is a nun and has a lifetime of good, and charitable deeds, and wonderful things. There are letters to that effect, and it could certainly move the judge. And what could also move the judge, Ashleigh, notwithstanding the conviction, is the intent here. Obviously, this is not something you do when you want to deter people from ever doing this. It's a nuclear facility. However, was her intent to be a terrorist or was her intent to make a message and send a signal that nuclear proliferation was wrong? And that's something, certainly, that the judge could have in mind -

BANFIELD: I got 20 seconds. But at her age, again, she is 83, right, her birthday is -- she is turning 84 in two days. Does that make a difference when a judge says, oh, I'll just give her a couple of years, which effectively could be for someone that age a lifetime.

JACKSON: It absolutely could make a difference because look, it could be a life sentence at that age. Hopefully, she lives until over 100, we pray. At the same time, certainly, the punishment, if she is punished severely, she could die in prison. Do we really want that, given what she did?

BANFIELD: She is not Madoff. She is not somebody we thought, off you go. All right, Joey, thank you. We'll continue to watch that, obviously. We are waiting on that decision. Could come down at any time. Thank you.

We are also gearing up for something pretty big tonight. Did you hear? The president, he is gearing up for his big State of the Union address. It is going to be live on the TV tonight. Before he even opens his mouth, he is already ruffling some feathers. What kind of action he is taking today that could set the tone for the whole next year. Come on back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)