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Epstein Accusers Recount Alleged Abuse in Court; Puerto Rico Braces for Storm; VA Investigating Suspicious Deaths at Hospital; Softball Camps Invited to White House. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired August 28, 2019 - 08:30   ET



[08:31:05] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: The suicide of Jeffrey Epstein has not silenced his alleged victims. In a dramatic move, a New York judge allowed dozens of them to speak on the record about what they say Epstein did to them. Afterwards, some accusers explained how thankful they were for that opportunity. Others, of course, still pushing for some form of justice.


JENNIFER ARAOZ, EPSTEIN'S ALLEGED VICTIM: It was so powerful in there hearing all the other victims and very similar stories that I have endured. I want to thank the judge for letting us speak, having some closure.

CHAUNTAE DAVIES, EPSTEIN'S ALLEGED VICTIM: It makes me sick to my stomach that there's perpetrators out there that obviously helped him in many ways for a very long time and they're still out there with no punishment.


CAMEROTA: Joining us now is Gloria Allred. She's an attorney representing several Epstein accusers. She was inside the courtroom yesterday and read statements from a number of her clients.

Gloria, great to see you.


CAMEROTA: Is it true that in all of your years of defending victims, representing victims, you've never seen what happened yesterday in the courtroom?

ALLRED: A hundred percent correct, because what happened yesterday was in a sense kind of a hybrid of a victim impact statement. But those statements by victims, which are so important, generally happen at a sentencing after the defendant is convicted. Here, the victims have been denied the ability to confront the defendant in court because he's deceased. Jeffrey Epstein died either by suicide or some other cause, which is being investigated. But usually the victims would not have that opportunity unless the

defendant were -- was convicted. Here the court exercised its discretion, which is in a very, I think, unprecedented situation to allow the victims the respect and the dignity to be able to provide a statement about what happened to them, what they've suffered. And I really commend the court for allowing that.

CAMEROTA: Some of the statements that they read and/or that you read on behalf of them are so dark and disgusting it's no wonder they wanted to air it, I think, in public so that people could see what they say Jeffrey Epstein did.

Here's one. It's really disturbing. Here's someone, client statement two, who's anonymous. I had never even kissed a boy before I met him, and never throughout the horrific abuse did Jeffrey Epstein kiss me even once. When he stole my virginity, he washed my entire body compulsively in the shower and then told me, quote, if you're not a virgin, I will kill you. And then I wasn't a virgin anymore.

ALLRED: Exactly. And that's one of my client's statements, which I read. She was in the courtroom. She would like to have her privacy protected. And that is why she asked me to read it as a Jane Doe rather than providing her name.

But she has a very dark story. Perhaps one day she will provide all of the details.

A lot of the victims at this point, Alisyn, are taking baby steps. You saw a lot of statements from Jane Does yesterday. Of course two of my clients, you know, did read it themselves. But -- and throughout the day we saw a number of victims identified as Jane Does. They sometimes had feelings of fear, being ashamed, which, of course, they shouldn't be because they are victims, they are not the perpetrator. And it's a process for them to be able to come forward. I'm so proud of those that did.

CAMEROTA: One of the better known victims who's gone public is Virginia Guiffre.


CAMEROTA: I hope I'm saying that right.

ALLRED: Virginia Roberts (ph), I think.

CAMEROTA: Well, you'll recognize her.

ALLRED: Yes, Guiffre, yes.

CAMEROTA: Yes, Guiffre, because we have --

ALLRED: Yes, her maiden name was Roberts. Yes.

CAMEROTA: Right. And so here is what she explained about how she was recruited. So listen to this moment from yesterday.


VIRGINIA GUIFFRE, EPSTEIN'S ALLEGED VICTIM: I was recruited at a very young age from Mar-a-Lago. And entrapped in a world that I didn't understand. And I've been fighting that very world to this day. And I won't stop fighting. I will never be silenced until these people are brought to justice.


[08:35:11] CAMEROTA: OK, she said a lot there that I think is interesting. First of all she -- her story is that she was recruited from Mar-a-Lago where she was working basically under age, providing under age massages at Mar-a-Lago, which, of course, is President Trump's resort.

But she talked about the associates. And you say that there are so many victims who are still afraid of Jeffrey Epstein's associates. Like who? Who are they afraid is going to come after them at this point?

ALLRED: Well, it's just a feeling that he knows a lot of powerful people, whether they're political people or from the entertainment world or other worlds, business world that they just have this generalized fear that causes them to want to protect their identity, where they live and so forth.

But this tape that you played is extremely important. So many of my clients were recruited. Maybe they were recruited from a mall. Maybe they were recruited from some other place where they happened to be. It's the essence of the conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of children that is what is being investigated by the United States attorney. So anyone in that chain who may have recruited them, knowingly recruited them to be sexually victimized by Mr. Epstein, I think should right now be very concerned because I know that the U.S. attorney is conducting a very serious investigation. Actually, yesterday, right after court, I was at the U.S. attorney's office and one of my clients was being interviewed. And I know they're doing a very intensive investigation. It's not the only client that's being --

CAMEROTA: And how confident -- but how confident are you that associates of his will be legally held accountable?

ALLRED: Well, I'm very confident that there's going to be a very serious investigation of who were his associates, what was their role, what did they know, what did they tell our client, in what way did they assist? So it's a matter of conspiracy that's a high burden to prove that. But, again, that was charged originally. Coconspirators unnamed when Jeffrey Epstein was arrested and also indicted and charged. So I think -- I know. I spoke to the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York yesterday in the courtroom. He assured me that there's a serious investigation. And I know that having been involved with those who are investigating.

CAMEROTA: This is not the end of the road for the investigation and certainly not for the victims.

Gloria Allred, thank you very much for explaining all of this to us.

ALLRED: Thank you.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, we have important breaking weather news.

Puerto Rico bracing for a direct hit just hours from now from what will become hurricane Dorian. We're going to bring you an update about where the storm is headed first and then, look at that, everywhere from Miami to South Carolina, get ready.


[08:41:54] BERMAN: All right, the breaking news, which is a must watch for millions of Americans this morning, Puerto Rico bracing for a direct hit from what will become hurricane Dorian. The storm is expected to make landfall over Puerto Rico and Vieques. That's the popular tourist island just off the coast of Puerto Rico, off the eastern side. They were so badly hit two years ago by Hurricane Maria.

And then, look at this, Dorian expected to turn towards the mainland United States, gathering strength as a category two, possibly a category three storm.

Chad Myers, our meteorologist, has been tracking this forecast all morning.

And this really changed overnight, Chad.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It sure did, John. The entire model that we had yesterday to show what was going on completely failed, both of them, the American and the European and everything else in between.

The storm sneaked onto the north about 80 miles, farther than it was supposed to. So all of these models said, oh, right through here, just south of Puerto Rico toward the DR. That's just not going to happen. That was a complete swing and a miss.

Hurricane hunter aircraft in it right now. I'll show you where the new center is.

It's going to be a 70 mile per hour storm or very close to a hurricane when it runs over St. Croix and then into Vieques and then even into the eastern half there of Puerto Rico.

And a lot of times you see the storm being bad on the right side. This one actually has more rain on the left side. I'll show you that.

A one hundred mile per hour storm somewhere between Miami and maybe Charleston. And I know Alisyn talked about this with the hurricane center earlier, it could be a lot less, it could be a lot more, it could be a right-hand turn like Matthew. This is still five days out. Many, many things can still happen here. Here's the radar. We're seeing the center of circulation about 30

miles wide, so it's not an eye. But what we will see is that this heavy rainfall will get to St. Croix, will get to Vieques, will get to all of Puerto Rico and at least six to 10 inches of rainfall coming down. And in those mountainous areas that will be bad.

New hurricane hunter aircraft, Alisyn, just had a flight level wind, 10,000 feet, at 82 miles per hour. That doesn't mean it's at the surface, but it's high.

CAMEROTA: Yes, that's higher than you told us last time. Obviously it is getting worse.

Chad, thank you very much for keeping an eye on all of that for us this morning.

Meanwhile, this story. The VA is investigating 11 suspicious deaths at one of its hospitals in West Virginia. The probe was launched after the family of 82-year-old patient Felix "Kirk" McDermott filed a claim citing a medical examiner who concluded that McDermott died by homicide while in the VA's care.

CNN's Rene Marsh is live in Washington with more.

What do we know, Rene?

RENE MARSH, CNN GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, this is a string of just suspicious deaths that happened at this VA medical center. It's now under investigation. Both the VA inspector general and federal law enforcement, they're all involved. The VA says that it is looking into, and I'm quoting, potential wrongdoing in the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center. This is in Clarksburg, West Virginia.

Now, Senator Joe Manchin, who represents West Virginia and is also a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, said that a -- and this is quoting him, a person of interest is no longer in contact with patients at the facility. Now, he said at least one of the deaths is confirmed a homicide.

[08:45:10] Now, in a claim filed just last week by the family of Felix "Kirk" McDermott, you showed his picture just at the top, a patient who died at the hospital, this family alleged that he was injected with a fatal dose of insulin, either negligently or willfully by an unidentified person, while he was a patient at the center.

Now, the 82-year-old Army veteran did not have diabetes. The claim also states, and I'm quoting, each of these nine or 10 patients had received a large and wrongful injection of insulin in the abdomen that was neither ordered by a doctor or medically necessary.

Well, a spokesman for Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center told CNN that the allegations of potential misconduct that we've heard essentially in the media do not involve any current Louis A. Johnson Medical Center -- Johnson Medical Center employees.

Back to you, John.

BERMAN: Quite a story.

All right, Rene Marsh, thank you so much for being on top of this for us.

So the boys little league team, the World Series champs, headed to the White House after their big win. But what about the girls? What about the softball team that won the World Series just a few weeks ago? No invitation. The coach reaching out to the president to ask why. We'll talk to him and the team's star pitcher, next.


[08:50:38] BERMAN: We have some breaking news. The kind that will make you smile.

So the coach of the little league girls softball World Series champions has been fighting to get his team recognized at the White House. The North Carolina squad won it all earlier this month. But after President Trump invited the little league baseball boys team to the White House, the softball team was wonder, hey, where's our invite?

CAMEROTA: Joining us now is Steve Yang, the head coach of the little league softball champions, and Campbell Schaen, she's the winning pitcher of the team.

And, Coach Yang, we understand you have some breaking news for us. What have you just received?

STEVE YANG, HEAD COACH, LITTLE LEAGUE SOFTBALL WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS: Yes. About 15 minutes ago, I received a phone call from the White House that we officially received our invite. So all this hard work that everybody has put forth has come to fruition. So we're excited. And they're supposed to be e-mailing some dates on what days will work great for us. So we're excited and thanks to everyone.

BERMAN: Well, congratulations and good for you.

And, coach, just explain to us what the feeling was like, this process was when you saw that initial tweet from the president of the United States after you'd already won the softball World Series, immediately inviting the boys there. How did this work for you?

YANG: Well, I had a parent send me a message Sunday evening after they saw the message from Senator Scalise to -- and then Donald -- President Trump respond to his tweet. And so a mom sent me a text saying, what do you think, Steve, do you think we can get something like this? I'm like, I'll just send a message and see what happens. And things have gone viral since and here we are.


Campbell, you're going to the White House. How are you feeling?

CAMPBELL SCHAEN, PITCHER, LITTLE LEAGUE SOFTBALL WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS: I'm really excited to meet the leader of our country.

BERMAN: Campbell, by the way, is a ridiculous pitcher.

So, Campbell, congratulations to you for winning the World Series. Congratulations on going to the White House.

Why do you think it's important for your team --

SCHAEN: Thank you.

BERMAN: Why do you think it's important for you guys, or the girls more specifically, to get invited to the White House when the boys also get invited? Why is this important?

SCHAEN: I just think that we both have the same accomplishments and we both won and girls can do things that boys can do, too.

CAMEROTA: Well, that is a very important message that you certainly personify.

So, coach, just out of curiosity, I know that you launched a campaign, you know, you e-mailed, you tweeted, I guess, at the president when you realized the boys had been invited and there was nothing about the girls. And do you think that, I don't know, being on national television this morning with your story, do you think that that also helped expedite the invitation from the White House?

YANG: Yes, I don't -- I wouldn't call it pressure put on the White House, but I do think the president and a lot of our politicians locally and within our state has been communicating with the White House. So we've had a lot of help with that. So as one of our local county commissioners sent me a message last night, it'll be a national scandal if we weren't invited after all the hard work that everybody has put in, which we -- we -- we sincerely appreciate to get to this point.

BERMAN: Well, I'm sure the hard work you put in to get to the White House nothing like the hard work that you and Campbell and the whole team put into world -- win the World Series. So congratulations, coach and Campbell, both of you for everything you've done. And enjoy your trip to the White House. You've certainly earned it.

YANG: Thank you very much.

SCHAEN: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Have a great time.

I really hope she's watched "Bad News Bears" because Tatum O'Neal was also, I think, the pitcher on that team.

BERMAN: They didn't win, though. Campbell won.

CAMEROTA: Good. That is --

BERMAN: That's the distinction. CAMEROTA: Yes.

And when we just came to her live, Campbell wasn't smoking a cigarette, like Tatum O'Neal was in the first scene when you saw her at 11 years old.

BERMAN: All right, "The Good Stuff" is next.

CAMEROTA: Fantastic. More good stuff.


[08:59:07] CAMEROTA: OK, time now for "The Good Stuff." A true bond of brothers between two Marines in the mountains of Utah.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A few days ago I drove by and I was like, you know what, I think I'm going to take John up to the top of that by myself.


CAMEROTA: All right, that's John Nelson. He and Jonathan Blank served together in Afghanistan. That's where Blank lost both of his legs in an explosion. On an emotional hike to the summit, Nelson carried Blank on his back for more than 14 miles of steep terrain.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got legs. I got legs. I couldn't imagine if I --


CAMEROTA: Jonathan hopes that their journey can inspire other people.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not only have I lived through this, he's lived through it as well. We're also, you know, special operations guys. You know, we're force recon Marines. We can do anything.


CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh. The two plan to hike Mt. Whitney on Veteran's Day, the tallest mountain in California at more than 14,500 feet.

[09:00:08] BERMAN: And they'll make it. They're lifting each