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Jane Velez-Mitchell

Did Teen Help Set Up Gang Rape?; Alternative Thanksgiving: Trying a Vegetarian Feast

Aired November 25, 2009 - 19:00   ET



JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, did a 14-year-old girl help arrange the gang rape of her class mate? A furious Alabama D.A. is saying she may be charged as an accomplice. The victim told cops what started out as consensual sex quickly turned into a violent attack, with three young suspects allegedly taking turns, raping her, her injuries so severe that they required surgery. And why did this victim have to sit in school in her bloody clothes for hours before school officials called cops?

Plus, police say an Indiana father left his 5-year-old alone in his unlocked semi to watch cartoons while he threw a few back in a strip club. When he left the racy watering hole and couldn`t find his truck, he called police to report it stolen, at 1:30 in the morning. Now he`s facing charges of child neglect. What was he thinking? Or was he just drinking?

And it`s a case that horrified the nation. A teen doused with rubbing alcohol and set on fire, allegedly by a group of boys over a video game and a bike. Doctors say this courageous boy will survive but he faces a long and painful struggle. How do Michael Brewer`s parents feel about the kids charged with doing this? We`ll hear from Michael`s family.

ISSUES starts now.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, a sickening question. Did a ninth-grade girl help arrange the gang-rape attack on her own classmate? That`s what authorities in Monroeville, Alabama suspect. They say a 14-year-old girl was brutally raped by three men here in this house you`re about to see, just last week. There it is.

Investigators say three males -- a 16-year-old, a 17-year-old and 20- year-old Steven Scott -- went to the home with two 14-year-old girls before the start of classes that day. Cops say the young men took turns assaulting one of the girls and afterwards, brought both girls back to school.

They say the injured victim was left to sit in her bloody clothes for hours until school officials finally called police. Excuse me? Those injuries were so horrific that the girl required surgery and was kept in intensive care for three days. Why did it take so long for somebody to notice something was wrong?

Meantime, what about the victim`s so-called friend, the other 14-year- old girl? She provoked the wrath of the D.A. when she did a TV interview after the crime and said well, the victim knew that sex was on the agenda and that it was all consensual.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We all agreed. And I said, "Steve, I have a friend on the other line; she want to have sex tomorrow."

He was like, "OK, that`s fine."


VELEZ-MITCHELL: The victim admits it did begin with consensual sex with one of the boys, but then it turned into gang rape.

The D.A. was fuming when he heard that female classmate`s comments, given that the victim need surgery after the sexual assault. Says the D.A., "I am exceedingly angry, and you can quote me on that."

And the D.A. says he may now use that female classmate`s comments as a justification to charge her as an accomplice, but is that legally justified? Why would a teenaged girl allegedly procure her friend under false pretenses to have sex with a group of guys?

And tonight`s big issue, the frightening consequences of a pack mentality.

Straight out to my expert panel: Judge Karen Mills Francis, host of "Judge Karen" and former Miami-Dade County court judge; Darren Kavinoky, criminal defense attorney, legal analyst for "The Insider", and our very own voice of reason; Steve Kardian, former criminal investigator and director of Defend University; Belisa Vranich, clinical psychologist and author of the new book "Get a Grip: Your Two-Week Mental Makeover." I want to read that one.

But we begin with Michelle Sigona, investigative reporter and founder of

Michelle, what have you been able to uncover about this extremely disturbing case?

MICHELLE SIGONA, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: This is a disturbing case, Jane, as you mentioned. And what I can tell you is that the grand jury is scheduled to meet this upcoming Monday to review this case and review the charges and to move forward in this investigation.

Right now, those three suspects, and the 20-year-old that we do know his name, but the other ones are considered juveniles, they are charged with rape at this time, and that the other 14-year-old, the friend that you mentioned, could possibly be charged as an accomplice. That is something the district attorney is checking into.

I can tell you today that the district attorney, the police chief, pretty much the entire town of Monroeville, Alabama, is off because of the holiday, so it`s been extremely difficult to get a hold of folks. But hopefully, by this Friday or maybe even early Monday morning, we will have a little bit more information on where these charges will go.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Michelle, I don`t understand anything that the ninth-grade female classmate of the victim is accused of saying. You heard her say there off camera that she essentially thought that this was all consensual, but she later says that "They tried to rape me, too," but no intercourse occurred, however, a medical examination showed that she did have sex.

So why is she saying it`s consensual and then she`s saying they tried to rape her, too?

SIGONA: It`s all very confusing, and I think one of the things that investigators are looking into right now, Jane, is the fact that this 14- year-old may have a connection to one of these men as a boyfriend and that she could have possibly -- again, this is only possibly -- could have set something up to be able to make this encounter happen.

We do know that the girls did leave school before classes that day and that they were brought back around lunchtime.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Tonight`s big issue, the frightening consequences of a pack mentality. Last month, cops say three adults and three minors gang-raped and robbed 15-year-old Richmond, California, girl. Police say at least a dozen people witnessed the attack which lasted two hours, but they failed to call cops.

Now, just last week, cops say 16-year-old Carvett Gentles was dubbed the baby-faced shooter. This was a New York case. You can see why when you see his face. There he is. Looks like a young kid.

NYPD cops say four young men affiliated with this youngster were in a gang and had targeted another male, but the bullet meant for that male hit a 15-year-old girl who was just walking by then.

A bunch of Florida kids are accused of setting a teenaged classmate ablaze over a dispute over a video game and a stolen bike. It goes on and on and on.

Judge Karen Mills, what is going on with pack teen violence in this country? I`m going to declare it a crisis right now.

KAREN MILLS FRANCIS, "THE JUDGE KAREN SHOW": You know what, Jane, a couple weeks ago when you had me on and I talked to you about some of these videos, the music videos, the objectification of women, that it`s OK, gang banging is OK, where are the parents?

My question is where are the parents? I`m not about blaming the victim but even in this case, these girls willingly left school, the victim in this case, with a group of boys that she didn`t know. When I was in school, I couldn`t leave school. When you were in school, you couldn`t just make a decision to leave school. It seems like there are no rules, that nobody is following any rules.


FRANCIS: It has to start at home.



KAVINOKY: You know, pack mentality has been a problem for time immemorial and, of course, in these other cases that you allude to, there`s also this bystander apathy that happens.

But remember, generally speaking, a bystander or a witness to a crime does not have an affirmative duty to act unless they played an active role in creating the danger in the first place.

That could be one of the problems in this Alabama case, if this theory that the 14-year-old friend actually brought and encouraged, aided and abetted, this crime in taking place.

But remember, just because things are socially repugnant or morally reprehensible doesn`t necessarily make them crimes. If that was the case, there would be plenty of reality TV stars that were behind bars right now. But this -- this D.A., while he`s angry and upset and we can all understand that, he may not have legs to stand on in terms of charging this other young girl with a crime. And given her age, she`s in a protected class. She may be yet another victim here. So this one is very, very muddy. Very, very complicated.

FRANCIS: My understanding of the story is that both girls left, expecting that they were going to have consensual sex, and then this gang rape occurred.

KAVINOKY: Yes, but -- but initially the 14-year-old, they need to be protected. And that`s, of course, what the statutory rape laws are all about, is that when people are at a certain age, we don`t deem them to be mature enough to even be able to consent to sex. So therefore...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Belisa, psychologist, when I was 14, I barely knew the facts of life. These 14-year-olds seem almost dangerously sophisticated about sex but obviously, they`re not because they get in situations that are horrifically violent.

BELISA VRANICH, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, first of all, just the math here, Jane. You`ve got three men and two girls, and they`re going to have consensual sex. Just the math doesn`t work out. Something is going to go astray here and not work out and not be pretty, because there`s not even two couples there, if they were planning to have consensual sex. So something is very wrong right from the beginning.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And it`s not about love. It`s not about even attraction. It`s more, I think, about low self-esteem and trying to maybe curry favor with these boys, at least on the part of one of the teenagers, perhaps? One of the teen girls?

FRANCIS: Or being cool. Or being cool in school.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Being cool is another thing. Being cool at school. Oh, my gosh.

More on this sick teen case in just a minute.

Coming up, surveillance video exposes sheer stupidity. A 39-year-old father is accused of leaving his son in an 18-wheeler while he gets hammered in a strip club and he`s getting lap dances. Not one, but three lap dances. Just wait until you hear his 911 call.

But up next, we will try to get to the bottom of the real story in the alleged Alabama gang rape case. Did the victim`s ninth-grade classmate, a female student, mastermind this attack?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s a sickening question. Did a ninth-grade girl help arrange the gang-rape attack of her own classmate? If so, what price should a 14-year-old pay?

Straight out to Steve Kardian, former criminal investigator.

Steve, here`s my question. These three males, allegedly, after the alleged rape, take the two girls back to school, the two ninth-grade girls. One of them has been gang raped, according to police. The other one, we don`t know her story. We`re trying to figure it out. There`s a lot of conflicting information.

Why does it take school officials hours before they realize something is wrong and they call police when the rape victim is sitting in her bloody clothes at school for hours?

STEVE KARDIAN, FORMER CRIMINAL INVESTIGATOR: Jane, the crime of sexual assault in a school or if a woman is brought to a doctor, it`s a mandatorily reported case. This was a crime of forcible compulsion. It wasn`t -- it wasn`t a statutory rape case. And the forcible compulsion has with it aggravating factors, in that she received a serious physical injury and that it was a gang rape.

And this gang mentality, they tend to feed off of one another, and they try and one-up each other. That`s what makes this such a vicious crime.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And it`s happening over and over again. Belisa Vranich, one of the hallmarks of some of the most violent stories that we`ve covered in recent months are packs of teenagers.

Now, I know that teenagers do become sort of pack-like when they get into puberty. They like to travel in groups, and that they might be encouraged to win peer approval to do something horrifying that they could never do on their own. Explain how that works. What`s the psychology behind the pack mentality?

VRANICH: With adolescents or even young adults, gaining respect or gaining some sort of attention from their peers is even more important than attention from their parents. And it`s so important that they`ll even break the law, knowing that later on, they`re going to get in a tremendous amount of trouble.

So what their peers say and following the leader is so important that I think we should declare that it is a crisis, a time of crisis. You`re absolutely right about that.

FRANCIS: Kids have always -- kids have always been that way throughout time. Boys have hung out with other boys. My brother`s hung out with other boys when I was growing up.

What`s different about today is that they have become violent and the acts are criminal. That`s what we need to be asking ourselves: why is it that these juveniles are turning to crime, not just, you know, fun and games, but actual criminal acts?

KAVINOKY: But this pack -- this pack mentality, if you take a step back from it -- and I agree, this is a horrible, awful situation -- but this has really been going on for -- for decades, if not hundreds of years.

I mean, remember that Wilding case out of New York City? That was another pack case. Obviously all the gang violence. I mean, you can even reflect back on Nazi Germany and talk about those kinds of pack mentalities and even back all the way to Jesus Christ. I mean, there`s all sorts of pack mentalities. It`s something that we seem to be hardwired to engage in.

FRANCIS: Well, we`re hearing it now every day. It`s in the news now.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: One at a time. Judge Mills.

FRANCIS: It`s in the news now every day. When I was growing up, I went to an inner-city high school that had a bad reputation. There was never a report of a gang rape at my school. There was never a report of somebody setting another child on fire at my school. There was never a report of somebody bringing a gun to school and just firing away and killing people. It wasn`t happening.

I come on your show, Jane. Every week, I come on your show, we`re talking about a gang of kids gone wrong. It`s...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, what do we do about it?

FRANCIS: We have to open up a discussion and stop asking just our schools why didn`t the school call? I think it has to do with the parenting that`s going on here. Where are the parents?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Or the lack thereof. Or the lack thereof.

You know what? I`ve been reading stories about how families do not gather around the dinner table anymore. Everybody`s running around eating fast food, and watching TV and working shifts. These kids are raising themselves. And it`s like "Lord of the Flies," that classic novel, where kids are left alone on an island, and it`s survival of the fittest.

And this is what`s happening on our streets, because morality is not being taught to these kids and what they are learning, they are learning from television. And all you have to do is take your clicker and click through and see how long it takes you to get to an image of a woman being assaulted by a man on television. It`s every other channel. That`s what they see. So how are boys...

FRANCIS: That was great. That was a great analogy. That was a great analogy.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... who are 14, 15, 16, 17, supposed to make the determination that this is morally wrong, and I`m not going to participate in it, if nobody is telling them that this is morally wrong?

KAVINOKY: Well, it -- ultimately, it does -- it does go back to the family, and it does go back to the types of messages that these kids receive. As outrageous as it is that this poor girl was at the school and sitting there in her bloody clothing for all that time, it`s not the school`s job to -- to oversee the students in that way.

If she leaves the school grounds, if she`s running off with these other kids, the school is there to educate. They`re not necessarily there to police. So ultimately...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me just say this.

KAVINOKY: ... it goes back to that family dynamic.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know, the stories of violent sex assaults are horrifying and outrageous. We don`t want to make it sound like it`s only happening in the inner city. I mean, they`re nothing new to the public...

FRANCIS: It`s happening everywhere.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Do you remember the case of the Preppie Killer, Robert Chambers, in 1986?

FRANCIS: New York.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Robert Chambers, nicknamed the Preppie Killer because of his boarding school upbringing, pleaded guilty to killing 18-year-old Jennifer Levin after an episode of what he claimed was rough sex in New York`s Central Park? So you know, he was a kid with all the advantages in life, and he ended up having a similar problem: violence.

FRANCIS: Jane, I think it was a perfect analogy to "Lord of the Flies." What happened in "Lord of the Flies"? There were no parents.


FRANCIS: These children have no parents, and nobody is raising these children.

SIGONA: It starts in the home. It starts with the family dinners. It starts with all of those things.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you, fantastic panel.

Coming up, does a dad put strippers and booze before his own son? You won`t believe this one.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: In tonight`s "Spotlight," the national symbol of Thanksgiving, the turkey. President Obama has just pardoned one turkey. That`s been a White House tradition for more than 60 years now.

There`s been an entire movement to save turkeys and move towards an alternative Thanksgiving feast. That was the theme of a beautiful Thanksgiving meal I attended at New York`s famed Tavern on the Green. It was hosted by a wonderful group called Farm Sanctuary.

Of course, the food was fantastic, but the most memorable part of the event was the message. Listen to two of the guests, famous painter Peter Max, as well as actress, Ally Sheedy.


ALLY SHEEDY, ACTRESS: I`m vegan so unfortunately, a lot of people around here and in my family are not. So my table is my portion of the table in which there will be vegetables and vegetables and delicious baked goods.

PETER MAX, ARTIST: Being a vegan for me is huge. I love it because it`s healthier; it`s compassionate. It`s the right thing to do.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And now I want to welcome Gene Baur, president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary and author of "Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds about Animals and Food," a fantastic book.

Gene, Farm Sanctuary hosts an incredible event every year where people celebrate Thanksgiving by feeding the turkeys. Tell us all about that.

GENE BAUR, PRESIDENT/CO-FOUNDER, FARM SANCTUARY: That`s right, Jane. We turn the tables at Thanksgiving where the turkeys are our guests of honor instead of the main course, and we get to interact with them. We get to watch them eat stuffing, squash, cranberries, and it`s a fun event.

And we have hundreds of people from around the country visit our farms in Watkins Glen, New York, and Orland, California, to feed the turkeys. It`s our celebration for the turkeys.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know, there`s a phenomenal "New York Times" best seller called "Eating Animals" by Jonathan Safran Foer. This is the book that makes a very strong case for vegetarianism. I spoke with Jonathan about his philosophy of compassionate eating. Listen to what he had to say.


JONATHAN SAFRAN FOER, AUTHOR, "EATING ANIMALS": If people just ate by their values, not by my values but by the values they already have, they wouldn`t -- and if they knew where these turkeys came from, they wouldn`t want to include them on the table.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, this is not about condemning Thanksgiving traditions. We like to think of it as thanks-living, as opposed to Thanksgiving.

Gene, is it difficult to get people to adjust their holiday rituals to include some of the concepts that -- that you and I believe in?

BAUR: Well, I think most -- the most important thing about the holidays is coming together with friends and family. We don`t need to do that with the body of a dead bird in the middle of the table. I mean, there`s plenty of great things to eat and to break bread with friends and neighbors and relatives. And so it`s, I think, getting easier and easier, and people are now adopting turkeys instead of killing them. We have an adopt-a-turkey program, where people can go online to

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And that`s a lot of fun. I`ve adopted animals through Farm Sanctuary. And you get a plaque, and you learn about the animal you`ve adopted. So actually, people can go to, and they can adopt a turkey for this Thanksgiving. Is that true, Gene?

BAUR: Absolutely. And we encourage people to do that and to celebrate a new tradition, one that`s based in compassion instead of in killing. And I think, you know, most people, as Jonathan said, would be shocked to see what happens to animals on these factory farms today. And people should make choices that are consistent with their own values that are more humane and also healthier.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And yes, and you know, also, it`s a great way to save money. You can do veggies, which can be very cheap and a lot of fun. We had a great time at your Thanksgiving event at Tavern on the Green. And I have been to your sanctuaries in New York and in California. They`re amazing. I urge everyone, check them out.

Thank you again, Gene, and happy thanks-living to you.

BAUR: Happy thanks-living to you, too, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Did a dad leave his son in an unlocked truck, drunk?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Police say an Indiana father left his 5-year-old alone in his unlocked semi to watch cartoons while he threw a few back in a strip club. When he left the racy watering hole and couldn`t find his truck, he called police to report it stolen at 1:30 in the morning.

Now he`s facing charges of child neglect. What was he thinking? Or was he just drinking?

It`s a case that horrified the nation. A teen doused with rubbing alcohol and set on fire allegedly by a group of boys over a video game and a bike. Doctors say this courageous boy will survive, but he faces a long and painful struggle.

How do Michael Brewer`s parents feel about the kids charged with doing this? We`ll hear from Michael`s family.

Tonight, a father in Indianapolis is making a strong showing for worst dad of the year honor. This case might be funny if it weren`t so tragic.

Police say Donald Crawford left his 5-year-old son inside his unlocked tractor trailer with the keys in the ignition. Dad was busy getting drinks and lap dances, three of them, at a strip club. When he left, he couldn`t find his truck, so he reported it stolen.

Listen to this.


DONALD CRAWFORD, LEFT SON IN TRACTOR: I need to report a stolen vehicle and a lost child.

911 OPERATOR: Ok. Where is the child? You don`t know who took him.

CRAWFORD: He was in the vehicle when it was taken.

911 OPERATOR: Were you in a business or something.

CRAWFORD: I was at whatever this little strip club is.

911 OPERATOR: You left your son in the truck to wait for you?

CRAWFORD: He was sleeping.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: "I need to report a vehicle stolen and a lost child." Gee.

Thankfully, the little boy`s fine. Police found him inside the truck watching cartoons. Police then charged his father with child neglect and public intoxication. You think? The truck was in the parking lot all along but apparently, he was too loaded to remember where in the parking lot he left it.

Now, full disclosure here: many years ago before I got sober, I once got drunk at a party and forgot where I parked my car and then reported it stolen. It`s typical alcoholic behavior.

Thankfully, unlike this guy, I didn`t have any kids sitting in the car.

Let me welcome back my fantastic panel: Judge Karen Mills-Francis and psychologist Belisa Vranich; also joining me, Lieutenant Jeff Duhamell, spokesperson for the Indianapolis Metro Police Department.

Lieutenant, I understand you didn`t do a blood alcohol test but judging from that phone call, you didn`t need to. He is clearly, clearly intoxicated.

LT. JEFF DUHAMELL, INDIANAPOLIS METRO POLICE DEPARTMENT: Yes. You can tell just by his voice that he had been drinking quite a bit. In fact, when the officers got there, he was staggering and they could tell that he had been drinking by the odor of alcohol that was emitting from his body.

What was really unusual is his vehicle was an 18-wheeler Kenworthy, dark purple in color and was parked right out there in the parking lot, so. Extremely rare incident and in fact, how it happened, but to have him call the police and thinking that someone had stolen it when the truck is right there in front of him.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You`ve got to be really drunk not to be able to find an 18-wheeler in the parking lot of some kind of strip club. It`s not like going to Walmart or Disneyland. It`s not that big.

We actually have video of the suspect taken inside Sassy Kat`s strip club. The manager says this is Crawford. Here it is, walking in and getting a drink at the bar. He then went to the back of the club where he got three private lap dances. Meanwhile, Junior, age 5, is outside in the truck watching cartoons, in the cab of his dad`s semi.

The manager says Crawford argued with employees over paying for the lap dances. A short time later, a bouncer escorts him out of the club.

Here`s the bartender who served him that night. Understandably, she did not want to be identified.

Listen to her.


BARTENDER, SASSY KAT`S: When he left, he was mad because we told him he needed to pay for his dances. He was mad because we was kicking him out. But he wasn`t stumbling, he wasn`t slurring his words. He was arguing with us.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Judge Karen Mills-Francis, he was inside the club only about 45 minutes so I think we can assume that he was already drinking when he drove his son there. This is what I call blackout behavior, and unfortunately...

JUDGE KAREN MILLS FRANCIS, HOST, JUDGE KAREN SHOW: This goes with your last segment. We just asked where are the parents with these kids?

Look at the type of parent this man is. To be somewhere in a truck stop, unlocked car with a 5-year-old left unattended, enough time -- gone long enough that he`s gotten three lap dances and he`s gotten himself drunk, and he is a parent. What kind of child is this parent raising?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And get this. This is the capper, Judge Francis. Suspect DONALD CRAWFORD has five children. The oldest is 14. The 5-year- old is now in the custody of his mom.

I have to ask, where was mom on the night in question? Well, she was probably taking care of the other kids. She and Crawford have never married but they reportedly lived together for years. Mom probably is aware that this guy has some kind of problem; I would suggest a drinking problem.

He is probably an alcoholic.

MILLS FRANCIS: And she let the child go with him? She let the child go with him, though.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, well, she refused to talk to reporters. Lieutenant, does the mother possibly face charges? What do you know about the other children and why this little boy was allowed to be with dad?

DUHAMELL: Well, we believe at this time this was an isolated incident. Like you said, he does have five kids total and to my knowledge, and we`re looking into that, if there had been any other problems in the past.

Right now, we haven`t seen anything like that. In fact, looking at his record, this was the only arrest we could find here locally.

So, very poor judgment on his part, but right now, we think it`s one isolated incident. He is facing child neglect charge which is a "D" felony plus the public intox, which is a misdemeanor.

The prosecutor will take it very seriously and look into it. And we will look into other aspects as far as if there`s any other problems with the family as well.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me make sure I have this right. Are you saying, lieutenant, that he has no criminal record at all?

DUHAMELL: From our jurisdiction, we could only find this arrest here that occurred yesterday. So that`s a good thing.

MILLS FRANCIS: He`s a long distance truck driver, though. So he could have a record in another state, right?

DUHAMELL: Well, that`s something we can look into. We called -- what is it -- Triple I and they can look in as far as any criminal history or any arrests throughout the United States. That will probably be looked in as far as the investigation is concerned but here locally, he has not and on the south side, about 25 miles south of Indianapolis is where he`s from in Franklin, Indiana, and my understanding in Johnson County, he had had no arrests.

BELISA VRANICH, PSYCHOLOGIST: Jane, may I add something here?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Here`s my big issue. Yes, go ahead.

VRANICH: Jane, I just have to clarify that because he has no prior arrests, does not mean that he does not do this all the time. This man is a serious drinker. He obviously has very bad judgment.

And he has been drinking and driving an 18-wheeler cross country. I know he`s been drinking before. So it`s not that he hasn`t done it before. It`s that he hasn`t been caught.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, obviously, this is what you call classic blackout behavior. And one of the things that is so scary about alcoholism and I have the dubious honor of knowing this from personal experience because I`m a recovering alcoholic with 14 1/2 years of sobriety, is that alcoholics go into blackouts.

And that`s when you`re there but you don`t know you`re there, and you`re basically a zombie walking around and sometimes, lieutenant, I`m sure you`ll back me up on this, these people who are driving the wrong way on the freeway, they don`t even know that they are driving the wrong way because they are in a blackout.

And I think when you walk out of a bar and you can`t find an 18- wheeler, in a parking lot of a small strip club, you are undoubtedly in a blackout. But the fact that he left the keys in the ignition to me indicates that he probably got there already under the influence.

So Judge Karen Mills, ten seconds, should this...

MILLS FRANCIS: Jane, it couldn`t have been much of a blackout though...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Should he go to jail or should he just go into rehab?

MILLS FRANCIS: He should go to jail. He should go to jail. People need to start taking responsibility.

He had enough sense to dial 911. He had enough sense to say it`s been stolen. But he didn`t seem so upset that a little boy might have been in harm`s way. I think my little boy is lost. That`s what he tells the police.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Maybe jail and rehab. How about that?

MILLS FRANCIS: That sounds good.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s a solution.

Coming up next, "Jon and Kate plus 8" is over but Jon Gosselin is still bringing home the drama. You will not believe what he`s been caught saying now. And it`s all on tape.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Coming up, the latest on the teenager who was doused with rubbing alcohol and set on fire.

But first, "Top of the Block" tonight.

The "Jon and Kate plus 8" series finale aired this week but the drama just keeps going on and on. In a newly released audiotape obtained by, father of the year, not, Jon Gosselin apparently shows his true colors, accusing TLC of not giving him his share of the profits.


JON GOSSELIN, "JON & KATE PLUS 8": I mean, I put my kids out there to every pedophile on the planet and they never got paid for it? Disgusting.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: So are we to assume that he only regrets pimping out his kids because they all did it for free? And who has released this tape? Well, another fantastic father figure, Michael Lohan, whose end of the conversation is noticeably missing.

We`re going to stay on top of this one, of course. That`s tonight`s "Top of the Block."

The teenaged boy horrifically burned from head to toe allegedly by his own classmates will undergo his first skin graft surgery on Monday. It will be the beginning of many painful surgeries for Michael Brewer.

Tonight: inside his painful recovery. Michael`s mom says her son`s courage is incredible. Listen to this.


VALERIE BREWER, MOTHER OF MICHAEL BREWER: When he manages to get a smile, it really makes it easier to get through the day.

It`s a struggle. It`s a daily struggle. It hurts him terribly just to take a drink, just to lift his arm up like this. He has to -- he can lift it this far, then he has to put his head forward like this just to take a drink, because it hurts so bad to move. And he doesn`t have full function of his arms yet.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Michael`s mom also thanks supporters for the letters and donations she`s gotten. She says it`s restored my faith in humanity.

Michael was doused with rubbing alcohol, then literally set on fire. He had to jump in a swimming pool to put out the flames.

The boys who allegedly lit him up, his own friends. The youngest boy who witnessed the incident is 13-year-old Jeremy Jarvis. He gave this public apology. Listen.


JEREMY JARVIS, DEFENDANT`S BROTHER: I want to express my deepest sympathy to Mikey and his family. I will pray for Mikey to grow stronger every day and for Mikey`s speedy recovery.

I want to tell my brother, D.C., I love and miss him. I just hope and pray we all get through this.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Michael`s mom won`t even address that apology. She says she wants to stay away from any negative energy -- totally understand that.

Three teens have been charged as adults with attempted murder. If they`re convicted, they could face 30 years behind bars.

Michael suffered second and third degree burns over two-thirds of his body. This is the very first photo we`re seeing of him after the attack.

Straight out to my expert panel, we`re also delighted to have joining us CNN correspondent Ed Lavandera. Ed, you actually spoke to Michael`s parents. What can you tell us? What is the very latest?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, I was really struck by just how much this whole ordeal has consumed their life over the last month and a half. They have essentially not left the hospital here in the Miami area where little Michael has been treated.

And so they`re by his bedside either throughout the day or at night. They go sleep at the Ronald McDonald house to get extra rest but they`re really kind of helping him through this. And they know that the next four to five months, maybe even longer, this is what their life will be like.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: For a while, the doctors when asked wouldn`t say for sure that he would survive. Is he considered out of the woods now?

LAVANDERA: They won`t go that far but you can definitely sense based on what they`ve been saying today that perhaps they feel like they`re through the worst part now, and they`re talking about long-term goals for him. And they shared parts of what he`s been doing lately and he started three hours of daily physical therapy, which just sounds excruciating.

In fact, the way his mother describes it, she can`t even be in the room to watch her son go through this. She has to leave. She says it`s just unbelievably painful.

But there is hope. You can definitely get the sense that unless there`s some major catastrophic setback, an infection or something like that, that they feel perhaps he`s on the right path now.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, actually, Michael`s mom had described her son`s daily shower as the torture hour.

Listen to this.


BREWER: In the shower, they take a piece of gauze and they wipe off all of the dead skin. They give him painkillers for that. But it`s incredibly painful and it breaks my heart every time that they have to do it, because it`s just incredibly painful.

LAVANDERA: Is that what you call the torture hour?

BREWER: That`s what -- we call it the torture hour, yes.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: This photo of Michael in the hospital looks promising, because thank God, the burns did not cover his face. That`s a little piece of good news there. But he`s actually in constant excruciating pain.

So Ed, how is he dealing with all this pain? I heard something about finding comfort in Ozzy Osbourne?

LAVANDERA: You know what, if there was a moment to kind of laugh a little bit, Ozzy Osbourne had found out about Michael`s plight and young Michael apparently a big Ozzy Osbourne fan, the first concert he ever went to, we`re told, was an Ozzfest concert.

Osbourne sent him a gift package which included a CD so as he goes into that torture hour, as the family calls it, it`s an hour and a half process to take a bath, they just crank up the Ozzy Osbourne. And apparently, that helps the young man get through it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know, my big issue tonight are the teens who lit this boy allegedly on fire. Are they living in some kind of fantasy world? Could they have committed this disturbing crime because they see violent imagery all the time on TV and in video games? Maybe they can`t distinguish fantasy from reality.

I mean, take a look at them. They`re kids. They have been charged as adults. If they get the maximum, they won`t get out of prison until their late 40s.

As heinous as their actions allegedly are, the chances of all three classmates being psychotic seems slim to me. Is locking them up and tossing away the key the real way to solve this problem?

Let`s listen to one of the younger brothers, Jeremy Jarvis, on NBC`s "Today Show".


JARVIS: Because Michael was really one of my best friends, but then all this happened, so...


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Again, Jeremy, the little boy you just heard, has not been charged. But if you look at these kids, look at these kids, they look like little boys.

Florida`s one of the toughest states on teenagers. More teens are facing life sentences in Florida than any other state.

Darren Kavinoky, I just don`t know that locking them up is the solution to a societal problem where kids are inundated with violence and they act on it.

DARREN KAVINOKY, LEGAL ANALYST, "THE INSIDER": No, and prisons are often described as like graduate schools for criminals, so taking impressionable young minds and putting them in that kind of environment seems to me to be incredibly counterproductive.

Of course, my heart just breaks for this entire family. As a parent, as a human being, my heart really goes out to this young man. I hope to add an empowering message to all of this, that you know, Jane, in terms of things that shape our lives, it`s not just the events that happen but it`s the meaning that we attach to them.

And I know from the professional work that I do that the seemingly worst events that happen in people`s lives can really be the catalyst of profound and powerful positive changes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I hope you`re right.

KAVINOKY: And I only hope that this kid -- that he`s able to go forward and adapt an empowering meaning from all this.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to go back to Ed. Ed, are the parents of the victim in any way shaken or torn by the fact that the people accused of doing this are so young?

LAVANDERA: Yes, obviously. I mean, that strikes them very, very intensely, but, I think what they are most struck by is the fact that these were kids that were at one point considered friends. I mean, we asked them, you know, have any of the kids or any of the parents reached out and apologized or reached out and consoled them in any way.

They said that hasn`t happened and then when you pressed them a little bit further, we asked them, is that even a phone call you would consider taking at this point. And they say we have nothing to say to them right now.

So clearly they are not in a place where they`re ready to talk to any of them. But I think the fact that they were so close to Michael, perhaps hurts even more than that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely. Thanks, Ed.

More in a moment.



VALERIE BREWER, MOTHER OF BURN VICTIM: It`s incredibly painful. He almost cries because it`s so painful and he`s blocking stuff. He`s burnt badly on the backs of his knees. And every time he moves his knee, it pulls. And it -- if it`s healing and has a scab on it, it cracks and starts to bleed. So it`s incredibly painful.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was Michael`s mom talking about his excruciating physical therapy. He has to stretch the scar tissue just to keep mobility in his arms. If Michael doesn`t do that painful physical therapy of the stretching, his arms will freeze and he won`t be able to use them.

Michael`s mom says she hopes her son will recover and speak out against teen violence.

Darren Kavinoky, I think that`s what we need. We have so many parents lecturing against violence. But if we had a teenager who was a courageous survivor of teen violence becoming a leader saying, "Hey, I`m a teenager, you are a teenager, this has got to stop." I think that`s that might be the message that could actually get through to kids.

KAVINOKY: Yes, and that`s exactly what I was alluding to for his own recovery. That by going out and spreading that kind of a positive message, not only will it help all of the people who hear that incredibly compelling story, but it will also help him. Because he`ll be able to attach a deeper meaning and transcend his own suffering and that`s something that we see play out in all sorts of scenarios among people that are crime victims, among people who are recovering from alcoholism and addiction.

It`s that notion of -- of making the worst events in your painful past of some significant value to society and to yourself and to others because ultimately, at the end of the day, it`s that kind of contribution that leads to a life that`s well lived.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Michael`s parents say that this boy has vivid flashbacks of the crime. He wakes up screaming, he dreams that he`s on fire and then begs for water to put out the flames. Listen to this.


MIKE BREWER, SR., FATHER: I need some water, I have to put these flames out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He screams for his dad and he screams help. And he says he`s on fire.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: So, Belisa Vranich, psychologist -- not only is Michael going through physical torment, as he recovers but he`s also being tormented psychologically from being attacked by his friends. What a nightmare for this boy.

VRANICH: He definitely has and will have post-traumatic stress disorder for quite some time. The healing is going to take a long time and it`s going to be in his memory in the way of flashbacks and in nightmares for quite awhile.

It`s really heart breaking. My prayers go out to the Brewers. And I hope that we can get an address on your Web site to be able to...


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ed Lavandera is there any kind of sense of, oh, it could have been worse because his face was spared? Because we know burns are horribly disfiguring.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And yet, thank God, you look at his face there and you still see Michael Brewer. There`s got to be a sense of relief at least that he`s not physically disfigured in his face.

LAVANDERA: Right, you know, that picture that we see of him is a little bit deceiving. We should remind people that the burns that he has is essentially on the back, from the middle of the back of his head all the way down below the back of his knees. So you really don`t see it in that picture.

But we spoke with the paramedic, one of the first paramedics that treated him on the day of this incident. And he said remember this young man was set on fire and he took off running for a swimming pool and jumped in. That paramedic said that essentially that air that was pushing him back and pushing the flames away from him probably saved his life because it meant that he`s air...


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And we`re out of time. Ed thank you for joining us.

You`re watching ISSUES.