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Bill Cosby Charged With Sexual Assault; Devastating Floods; New Year's Holiday Threats Prompt More Security; Flood Waters Reaching Historic Levels; Historic Missouri Flooding; Prepping Holiday Security; "Affluenza" Teen Fights Extradition. Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired December 30, 2015 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR: All right, good to hear. Jennifer Gray, thanks very much. Stay warm there. And thank you, everybody, for watching today. I'm Randi Kaye. Wolf with Brianna Keilar starts right now.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there, I'm Brianna Keilar in for Wolf Blitzer. It is 1:00 p.m. here in Washington, 6:00 p.m. in London and 8:00 p.m. in Jerusalem. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks so much for joining us.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
KEILAR: And we are beginning with breaking news. Bill Cosby is due in court shortly to face a sexual assault charge. The prosecutor in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania announced the charge against Cosby just a short time ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN R. STEELE, FIRST ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY, MONTGOMERY COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA: These charges stem from a sexual assault that took place on an evening in early 2004 at Mr. Cosby's home in Cheltenham Township, Montgomery County. Mr. Cosby is charged with aggravated indecent assault. Mr. Cosby's attorney has been notified of the charges and he is expected to be arraigned later this afternoon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: More than 40 women have come forward with accusations of sexual assault against Cosby, but this is the first case that has resulted in a criminal charge. Cosby has steadfastly denied any wrongdoing.
Let's get to CNN National Correspondent Deb Feyerick. She's joining us live now. And tell us a little bit about this alleged victim and the circumstances of the case. This is a woman who settled a civil case with Cosby, right?
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, she did. She settled a civil case back in 2006 after she attempted to press charges against him. And the district attorney at the time saying, no, and therefore not following through on those charges. But it's this civil case that really has sort of opened up the floodgates. Because during that civil case, a deposition was taken of Bill Cosby in which he essentially acknowledged giving women quaaludes intending to have sex with them.
Well, those documents became unsealed over the summer and that caused the district attorneys and other investigators to reopen the case and see whether, in fact, there was grounds to press charges. They interviewed the witness, Andrea Constand, who has been very public about this. She was the director of operations at Temple University women's basketball team when this alleged assault took place. It was so traumatic to her that she moved back to Canada, back with her parent and she's been there since.
But it was the unsealing of these documents that, really, the investigators took a close look not only at her testimony, but the testimony of other women who said Cosby did something similar to them. They looked at evidence that was given in these depositions. And they really felt that there was enough grounds to follow through on these charges, the aggravated indecent assault which is a second-degree felony -- Brianna.
KEILAR: And the deposition is so damning. Cosby, himself, admits giving Constand three friends, as he put it, to help her relax when he was talking about the pills that he gave her. He has, though, denied these allegations of drugging and assaulting.
And then, earlier this month, he filed a counter suit against seven of his accusers. Have we heard reaction from him or from his attorney in react -- in response to this charge?
FEYERICK: Well, CNN has repeatedly reached out to Bill Cosby's lawyers to try to get any sort of a response, including whether he, himself, will be at the arraignment even though the district attorney has said they expect him that they notify the lawyers. Unclear whether he will actually be there in person or let his lawyers handle it.
But, as you say, Bill Cosby has consistently denied these allegations. He has said that the encounters with these various women were consensual. And by turning the tables, in a way, and suing them for defamation, he's really trying to take the heat off himself.
He even went after model Beverly Johnson, suing her for defamation saying that the allegations she makes in a new book are a little more than an attempt to sell more books. So -- and, frankly, rejuvenate a failing career, in his words.
So, he has tried to turn the tables. But this is very serious. We've had this out there for a long time. But now, this is the first time there have been bona fide criminal charges against him -- Brianna.
KEILAR: And speaking of a failing career, I mean, his fall from grace because of this has been -- this has been a huge drop for him.
FEYERICK: Yes, there's no question about that. I mean, you've got universities that have rescinded honorary degrees, including Fordham, Brown, Marquette. You have television series that have been cancelled, specials that have been pulled, reruns no longer even airing.
And so, you see that at the end of his career here, he doesn't even have a venue to continue entertaining, because these allegations have been so harmful and because the stories against him have really sort of undermined whatever he did in the entertainment field.
KEILAR: All right, Deb. And we know you'll be waiting here shortly where we see whether it's Bill Cosby or maybe just his lawyers who show up in court here in a short period of time. Thanks so much, Deb.
And joining us now to talk more about this, CNN Legal Analyst Paul Callan. And we also have legal expert and commentator, Laura Coates. She's a former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia.
[13:05:05] Paul, I think one of the things that's pretty interesting about this case is that the statute of limitations was set to expire soon, and then you see these charges come to light now. The statute of limitation -- statute of limitations, what, 12 years?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, it's a 12-year statute in Pennsylvania which, by the way, is kind of a long statute for sex crimes, although there's been a movement in recent years to extend the statute and many states have. But to wait until the last day before expiration is very, very unusual.
And I find it particularly unusual because he testified under oath in a civil case. The D.A., the prior D.A. had invested this case previously and decided not to pursue charges. So, it's really exceptional that it would've waited -- they would've waited this long to actually posit charges.
KEILAR: What do you think about that, Laura? What's changed, really, now? Aside from this deposition becoming public, there were all -- you know, 10 years or so, there were 14 women who were allegedly assaulted by Bill Cosby and their allegations were largely swept aside. What's changed now?
LAURA COATES, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: What's changed is well, the prosecutor, frankly. There's a new prosecutor on this case who's looking at it with a new lens.
But what is different about this, particularly that the others ones do not have is that we, as a society, and all the sexual assault cases I've ever prosecuted, one of the big legal hurdles you have is if there is a delayed report. When there's a delayed report, the credibility of the victim goes down. People are more skeptical to believe.
But in this victim's particular instance, she reported quickly. She was disbelieve to the point of not having a criminal charge brought. She was persistent and steadfast in her approach. Filed a civil suit and then came back and sued the first prosecutor for defamation as well. And so, you have a different victim who's viewed differently. Even the other 40 or plus victims who have already been tried and have been trusted in the court of public opinion.
KEILAR: Do you think that he's going to show up at court today?
COATES: I -- if he does, I'd be surprised. It'll be a very short hearing. The whole purpose is just to preserve his rights and plead not guilty. But the most important part of today will be to set that motion schedule, because there's a very important motion coming, and that is can the other alleged victims testify in this criminal trial about whether or not he has a general if theme of this sort of criminal behavior. That date will be set very quickly.
CALLAN: And you know, Brianna, --
CALLAN: -- the normal process when somebody is indicted for a felony is that a warrant for his arrest is issued. If there's been an ongoing relationship with defense attorneys, prosecutors will sometimes say, we will not enforce the warrant. We'll allow your client to surrender.
So, I would think that Cosby's attorneys would have made a really serious effort to get him into court today. But if he's somewhere else in the world or somewhere else in the country, maybe they're going to cut him some slack and let him come in at a later date.
So, we'll just have to see if he shows up. It's always unusual when a felony defendant doesn't show up for his own arraignment. I mean, this is not a parking ticket. This is a 10-year felony that will have a devastating effect on his life and the life of the complainant ultimately.
KEILAR: So, if he's geographically in the area of Montgomery County, you think there is a likelihood that he could show up?
CALLAN: I'd be very surprised if he did not. If he's in California or Europe or something, then he might have a reasonable excuse for not showing up. Obviously, the prosecutor has got to go forward with this because the statute of limitations is about to expire.
KEILAR: What does that look like when he does show up, whether it's today or whether it's sometime in the future? Would you see him in handcuffs? Would you see him being processed as we sometimes do with defendants?
COATES: Well, it's not going to be the typical criminal defendant where they're -- they were brought in, as Paul was talking about in the back of a squad car and handcuffed and shackled and possibly in an orange jumpsuit. This is somebody who has been out among the public before he's been charged. They're going to probably plead not guilty and they're going to address whether or not he can remain released until there's a trial actually happening. And given his -- I know it's a fall from grace, but he certainly has ties to the community and would come back and has no criminal record that has actually been proven. He will remain on the outside until whatever trial date is set.
And only if convicted will that even change. It will be a very short hearing though. And it will not be -- I don't think it's even filmed in Pennsylvania. It'll be a lot of heckling probably from the outside. But once he's inside, it will be just another case in Pennsylvania.
CALLAN: I -- you know, I can tell you, Brianna, for a normal defendant facing charges this serious, you know, usually what happens, they go into the police station. They have to be fingerprinted and then they're transported and they remain in a cell until the arraignment takes place.
[13:10:05] On the other hand, if his lawyers have negotiated a surrender, a voluntary surrender, what usually happens is that's all done and then he's released from the police station. And he'll come in wearing a suit and tie and just looking like an ordinary civilian. He's not going to be in an orange jumpsuit or handcuffs, I can assure you of that.
KEILAR: All right. Well, this is the big question. We'll be waiting to see when he is supposed to be in court here in less than a couple of hours if that really happens. Laura, Paul, thank you so much to both of you.
COATES: Thank you.
KEILAR: Up next, we are going to take you live to Missouri where deadly floods are reaching historic heights.
And then, later, New Year's holiday threats are prompting increased security in three U.S. cities. We'll tell you where those cities are. We're also going to talk with a New York Congressman about protecting Times Square.
KEILAR: More breaking news now with historic flooding in the U.S. in the state of Missouri. Thousands of people have been forced from their homes as heavy rains are causing rivers to overflow their banks. The governor of Missouri declared a state of emergency, and he also says he's never seen water this high in the state. And he admits that it's just going to get worse before it gets any better.
As many as 13 people have died in the flooding in Missouri so far. And as we watch the heavy flooding near St. Louis, we do need to remember that the flow is heading down stream, down the Mississippi River into Tennessee, Arkansas and Louisiana.
We're also watching flooding along the Meramec River which is west of St. Louis. The flooding there has already caused the release of raw sewage into the river. And because of the sewerage treatment plant -- because that plant was actually overwhelmed with floodwater as this river has hit a historic high water mark.
Our Alina Machado is there in Pacific, Missouri. Give us a sense of how bad things are where you are, Alina
ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, we've been seeing water levels here slowly creeping up throughout the day here.
And I want to move out of the way so you can see the situation here in Pacific, Missouri. What you're looking at is the Meramec River. It has overflowed its banks. It is flowing right through this part of town. Dozens of buildings, you can -- as you can see, are surrounded by several feet of water.
Officials here tell me at least 400 homes and businesses have been flooded. Hundreds of people have listened to the warnings and they were able to get to higher ground before the water moved in. There is a shelter in town where we know storm victims from here and from neighboring counties have sought shelter.
And this river really have been above flood stage, which is at 15 feet, since Sunday. It is expected to crest tomorrow. Now, initially, the National Weather Service was saying that this was going to surpass a previous record of 33.6 feet before cresting and that it would do so by at least two or three feet. The latest forecast that was just posted has this river cresting just below the record at 33.4 feet. Some good news, Brianna, for the people here who have been waiting to see what happens.
KEILAR: All right, Alina Machado for us in Pacific, Missouri, thank you so much.
Many in this area remember just the devastating floods of 1993, but this flooding is actually expected to be even worse than that. Our Jennifer Gray is in Valley Park, Missouri. Give us a sense of what you're seeing there.
JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, you know, I talked to people that were here in '93, and they said that the water wasn't this high. Looking behind me, Brianna, I mean the water has been rising all morning long. We're been here since 5:00 this morning local time, and -- and look at that. I mean look at the bridge, the overpass, that's Interstate 44 and the water is up to the overpass. What runs underneath it, perpendicular, is Highway 141. It's under water by at least 12 to 13 feet.
And if we pan a little bit over here to the right, you can see these signs. The Highway 141 sign. I took a photo early this morning, right after the sun came up, and there were arrows underneath there, basically another sign underneath that 141 sign that was completely above the water and now completely under. So it just gives you an idea of how fast the water has risen just throughout the day today. The traffic lights almost submerged as well. We've had about 150 people out here taking pictures with their cell phones. Everyone seems to want to get a closer look. However, authorities say that it's a dangerous situation. The water is
still rising and it is expected to rise most likely another two feet before midnight tonight. The forecast has actually changed a little bit. It looks like the river is going to crest a foot higher than expected. It was supposed to crest around 43 feet, which is three feet above the record. It looks like now it's going to crest at 44 feet between midnight and 6:00 a.m. Flood stage is 16 feet. And this is going to crest at 44.
And going back to the interstate. I spoke with somebody from the Missouri Department of Transportation and he said that a stretch for about 24 miles of Interstate 44 is completely shut down, most likely will be shut down until at least Friday. And 141 that runs perpendicular, the highway that's just behind me, could stay closed until Monday or Tuesday. It's all a matter of how quickly this water will recede. And, unfortunately, Brianna, it looks like it's going to be a very slow process. So people have days, weeks, months ahead of them they will be cleaning up all of this mess.
KEILAR: Yes, not surprising at four feet expected above the previous record. Jennifer Gray, thank you so much, reporting live for us.
Just ahead, a million people in Times Square, they'll be there to watch the ball drop. And we've just learned security is going to be tighter. We'll talk about that.
[13:22:25] KEILAR: Two people reportedly linked to ISIS are under arrest in Turkey for a suspected New Year's Eve bomb plot. Turkish authorities say the pair were scouting out attack locations in the capital city of Ankara earlier today. And officials say a bomb vest and a backpack filled with iron marbles and other bomb-making materials were recovered right there. You see them there. Authorities say the pack was, quote, "ready for use." European authorities have been on alert after warnings of possibly ISIS-related terror attacks possibly in connection with New Year's celebrations.
CNN has learned that federal and local security officials are tightening security in high-profile locations tied to New Year's celebrations, and that includes New York's Times Square, where a million people are expected to watch the ball drop. And we're also talking about the Rose Bowl festivities near Los Angeles. A big concern there.
CNN justice reporter Evan Perez joining me now live from Times Square.
Evan, just yesterday authorities said there was no credible threat in New York. So, obviously, this -- this is a change. Can you explain this to us?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Brianna, it remains the case that their -- the officials say that there is no credible threat. That, however, doesn't mean that they're not on heightened alert, and especially here in New York City. Twenty-four hours from now you're going to have about a million people gathered here to ring in the New Year. In Los Angeles, there's going to be the celebration surrounding the Rose Bowl, the parade and the football game.
And we're told that just before President Obama left for his vacation in Hawaii, he was briefed on the threats around the country. And one of the threats he was briefed about was one originating overseas that focused on possible terror attacks here in the United States in three particular cities, New York being one of them, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. We're told that this threat is uncorroborated. It came from a single source, again overseas. But it does reflect the picture that officials are dealing with, which is heightened alert regards ISIS, as you mentioned the possible thwarting of a plot there in Turkey and one in Belgium. It reflects the year we've had where ISIS has been the cause of about 60 terror prosecutions in this country.
KEILAR: All right, Evan Perez for us in Times Square, thank you so much for that report.
We are going to speak more about these security precautions, pardon me, with New York Congressman Gregory Meeks next.
Also ahead, a teen made national news when he got probation after a drunk driving crash that killed four people, injured many more. And now this so-called affluenza teen is under arrest in Mexico and fighting extradition.
[13:28:21] KEILAR: The so-called affluenza teenager, Ethan Couch, and his mother are now fighting extradition to the U.S. after being captured in Mexico. Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson tells CNN they could be sent back tomorrow, perhaps later. Surveillance video obtained by ABC News shows Couch and his mother, Tonya Couch, inside of a Puerto Vallarta butcher shop on Monday. Couch is accused of violating his probation. And there was a video that was shot just two hours before -- that's this vide that you're looking -- this is just two hours before the Couchs were arrested.
CNN's Ed Lavandera has the latest.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Texas authorities are awaiting the arrival of Ethan Couch and his mother, Tonya Couch, back here in Texas after the pair was captured in the Mexican resort town of Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific Ocean. Investigators here are still trying to piece together the timeline of how Ethan and his mother drove from Ft. Worth into Mexico, and what exactly they did once they got there. So a lot of that work is still very much up in the air and still waiting to be done.
However, a slew of problems awaits this family as they return back here to Texas. Tonya Couch is facing a felony charge of hindering the apprehension of a juvenile fugitive. She could face up to ten years in prison on that criminal charge. However, the case of Ethan Couch is a little more complicated. He,
technically, hasn't committed a new crime, he has simply violated the terms of his probation. And because of that, prosecutors in Fort Worth are trying to move his case from the juvenile system into the adult system. There's not a hearing scheduled on that until January 19th of next year. So the terms in jail time that Ethan Couch faces here is minimal. Prosecutors here in Texas say they want to move it into the adult system in case he violates his probation again he could face much stiffer punishment.