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Nancy Grace

Break in Missing Groom Case?

Aired January 11, 2006 - 20:00   ET


NANCY GRACE, HOST: Tonight: Is there a break in the case of the missing groom? Twenty-six-year-old George Smith vanished from his honeymoon, a Mediterranean cruise. Not only are police now honing in on a Russian-American passenger, but tonight, sources reveal blood found in unusual spots in the groom`s stateroom.
And tonight: Shame on you! A Vermont judge gives a slap on the wrist to a sex offender, just 60 days in a local jail for sex assault on a little girl, 6 years old. The state of Vermont bracing for a backlash.

Good evening, everybody. I`m Nancy Grace. I want to thank you for being with us tonight. Tonight, total outrage! A district court judge sentences a sex offender to 60 days behind bars for sex assault on a child! Take a look. Judge Edward Cashman, district court judge, Burlington, Vermont, handed down the sentence after the defendant pleads guilty to repeatedly -- repeatedly -- sexually abusing a 6-year-old girl over a four- year period. You can get less than that for shoplifting!

But first tonight: Is there a break in the mystery surrounding the missing groom, 26-year-old George Smith? Smith vanished off a honeymoon cruise in the Mediterranean. Was there blood not only on the side of the ship, "The Brilliance of the Seas,"~ but under the sheets of the groom`s bed? Have police zoomed in questioning on one man?


BREE SMITH, SISTER OF MISSING HONEYMOONER: As you know, my brother, George Smith, went missing on July 5 from the Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the Seas. We believe he was murdered on his honeymoon.

MAUREEN SMITH, MOTHER OF MISSING HONEYMOONER: We just thought, It can`t happen. We just thought, He`s somewhere else on the ship.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Turkish police came on board. They conducted a full forensic investigation. They took fingerprints. They took samples from the cabin. They took photographs and collected that evidence.

KAREN DRAKE, PASSENGER ON CRUISE SHIP: I`m worried, definitely, that there was some kind of serious foul play. Unless you were playing king of the world, you know, it`s just not possible to fall over.


GRACE: Straight out to investigative investigator Pat Lalama. Pat, what`s going on?

PAT LALAMA, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Oh, boy! There`s a lot of new information that I think is really interesting. One being that, as you say, they are beginning to hone in -- and I said all along, this is where they should have gone, but you know, armchair quarterback -- the people who were hanging out with him that night, one in particular, a man referred to as a strapping Russian-American who lives in the Bronx. Remember, he, and I believe two younger brothers and another teenager, were allegedly with George that night in the room.

Now, count to three days forward, these same guys are alleged to have sexually assaulted a young woman and put it on videotape, and that`s how they finally got their behinds thrown off the ship. That`s where cops are going.

Secondly and significantly is the implication that there may be -- have been blood found under the bedspread, which explains -- which would explain why the security staff didn`t see it when they brought Mrs. Smith to bed and why she didn`t see it when she got up in the morning and went on the way to the spa.

GRACE: Here`s what a passenger on the ship had to say.


DRAKE: I`m worried, definitely, that there was some kind of serious foul play. Unless you were playing king of the world, you know, it`s just not possible to fall over. And I just -- there was so much blood, and the distance from his balcony to that deck was not that great, you know, to generate this kind of injury. So you know, I`m worried that something terrible happened to him and he was pushed overboard. That`s what I`m worried happened.


GRACE: I want to go to Lanny Davis. Lanny is with us. He is the legal counsel for Royal Caribbean. Welcome, Lanny.


GRACE: Lanny, what can you tell us about the blood found in the cabin? Was there blood on the groom`s bed?

DAVIS: Well, the FBI`s asked us not to comment on that forensic evidence that was taken by the Turkish authorities and turned over to the FBI. But I think, with all the published reports, what I`m able to say to you is that there certainly has been confirmation that blood was found in the room in small amounts and was turned over to the FBI after forensic examination.

GRACE: Lanny! Lanny!

DAVIS: But that`s about all I`m allowed to say about that.

GRACE: Lanny, I got a surprise for you. Two weeks ago, we reported blood in the cabin right here...


GRACE: ... on the airwaves. I`m trying to...

DAVIS: I`m not trying to deny your report on that, Nancy.

GRACE: Thanks. Thank you. I don`t want Lanny Davis on, on the NANCY GRACE show, taking us to court. Well, Lanny, what can you tell me? I asked another one of the counsels for Royal Caribbean, and it was like pulling a tooth out of her. I`m a JD, not a DDS. I don`t know how to pull teeth. I finally got that there were videocameras in the halls. Now I understand over 90 videotapes were handed over...

DAVIS: Correct.

GRACE: ... to the FBI. Are there cameras trained down the corridor of George Smith`s hall?

DAVIS: Yes. There are cameras trained all over the ship, but we`re not sure, because we haven`t viewed those videotapes, that they were in that particular hallway. But I can certainly confirm to you that I believe approximately 94 videotapes were turned over, somewhere in the 90s, to the FBI, who are viewing them to see whether they can track the movements of these young men who were seen with this George Smith, taking him down the hall to his room.

GRACE: Lanny, this happened on July 5.

DAVIS: Correct.

GRACE: We`re in January now. How long do they need to review the videos? And how long until we get the results back on the DNA of the blood? Can you confirm tonight the blood on Smith`s bed and, from what I understand, on tissue and towels in the bathroom of his stateroom are Smith`s?

DAVIS: Again, I`ve seen the same reports about a smidgen of blood on the bedspread and a tissue and towel in the bathroom. You`re right. That`s already been reported. I don`t know what the status of the FBI investigation is. We are working with them. We did send photographs of the cabin...

GRACE: Well, don`t you think you should find out if it is his blood?

DAVIS: Well, what we...

GRACE: I mean, wouldn`t you want to know that, as the Royal Caribbean counsel?

DAVIS: Absolutely. But the FBI is conducting the investigation, and the FBI doesn`t share that information. A grand jury has been impaneled. And you know that it`s very hard to get either the FBI or the U.S. attorney to share information with anybody, much less attorneys for the cruise line.

GRACE: True, true, true. Even as a prosecutor, it`s hard to get the feds to cooperate with you on anything. Question, Lanny. There were some photos today released of George Smith`s cabin.

DAVIS: Right.

GRACE: And one of them looked like a messy room. The next one looked like a messier room.

DAVIS: Right.

GRACE: Now, it`s my understanding that Royal Caribbean took -- somebody`s security guard took these photos and handed them over under the agreement they would not be disseminated. Now, people, I -- it`s not a close-up of the bed. It`s not a close-up of the bathroom. You see a messy room, and then a messier room, the clothes on the floor. Then the next picture, more clothes on the floor.

I didn`t see any forensic value, but it leads me to ask you, How were these photos leaked? Didn`t Royal Caribbean hand them over under the understanding, the agreement that they would not be disseminated so as not to jeopardize this case?

DAVIS: Yes. First of all, thanks for asking the question, and let`s just talk the facts here. We took photographs at 9:30 in the morning, before the Turkish police arrived, so we had a record of the way the room looked before they went into their forensic investigation, where they`d be...

GRACE: Smart.

DAVIS: ... taking things out and moving things around. Secondly, our guest relations manager went back into the room to pack up Jennifer`s clothes, Mrs. Hagel-Smith`s clothes, and open the safe with her combination, with her permission, to pack up her clothes. And thirdly, an FBI agent came on the ship three days later. After that, we took photographs to look at the difference between the first set and the second set.

Now, we sent these photographs at the request of the two attorneys for the Smith family precisely because we wanted to share with them everything we knew. The irony is, they`ve been criticizing us for not doing that. The only reason we were allowed to do it is the FBI said to us, You must get their absolute commitment they will keep the photographs confidential because if we`re investigating anything that happened in the room, we don`t want the individuals we`re investigating to get a head start on concocting stories, if they happen to see something in those photographs.

GRACE: You`re absolutely correct.

DAVIS: So here`s what happened. The...

GRACE: Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait!

DAVIS: All right.

GRACE: Lanny, I want to interpret what you just said so brilliantly. All right, here`s the deal. When a defendant doesn`t know what the state`s evidence is yet...

DAVIS: Correct.

GRACE: ... they`re in the dark, OK? They`re stabbing in the dark. Once they see the state`s photos, once they find out what the evidence is, they can then tailor their story to match up with, for instance, these photos.

GRACE: That`s correct, Nancy, and you have it right, and you are an attorney that understands that. But the two attorneys that we wrote the letter to, to give them these photographs because the family has been criticizing us and was criticizing us...


DAVIS: ... and what do they do? They leak it to a television station. The FBI last night, I can tell you, because we talked to them, is furious that these attorneys broke the agreement and it has injured the FBI investigation, and yet, they still criticize Royal Caribbean...

GRACE: OK. All right. Wait a minute!

DAVIS: ... for not doing...


GRACE: I get it. I get it. Smith`s lawyers leaked it. That`s what I was trying to find out.

DAVIS: Correct.

GRACE: Got a tough question for you, Lanny Davis. You ready?

DAVIS: I`m ready.

GRACE: OK. The other night, counsel for Royal Caribbean told me that the cabin, George Smith`s cabin, was kept intact, no one tampered with it. Even after Turkish authorities said you can release it, they kept it sealed for a period of time. Correct?

DAVIS: Correct.

GRACE: All right. Then is it true, what Jennifer Hagel says? She says that day, the day her husband goes missing, in that 24-hour period, someone from Royal Caribbean went back in the room, went through everything in the room, took everything they believed was Jennifer Hagel`s, put it in a bag and gave it back to her. Wouldn`t you call that tampering with a crime scene?

DAVIS: Certainly, she asked us to get her belongings because she wanted to go home. The lady who did this, Marie Breheret, who is our guest relations manager, was very careful. And she`s been interviewed on television and explained all she did was pack the clothes.


DAVIS: She didn`t touch anything else. She tried to be careful. You`re absolutely right. She had to be careful...

GRACE: OK, that`s kind of a boo-boo. That`s kind of a boo-boo, but I don`t know if it`s going to amount to anything forensically by her going in and getting Jennifer Hagel`s clothes, but how do you know?

What I`m saying, Lisa Wayne -- you`re a veteran defense attorney. You and I both handled cases that involved blood -- blood, Lisa. And what I would like to see is the blood on the bed, the blood on the Kleenex, the blood on the tissue. Why? If it`s a blood spatter, that means it could be a beating or there could be a shooting. If it is a blood drop, that means that George Smith was killed over the object and blood dropped down. If it was a smear, it could mean something altogether different, Lisa Wayne. If it was on the bedspread, the bottom of the bedspread, where your foot is, on the pillow, under the pillow -- every fiber of this blood on the sheet has to be examined and photographed because forensically, it is vital.

LISA WAYNE, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You are totally correct, and I think what`s hard is that this woman, Marie, may have had very good intentions. She didn`t know. And frankly, someone should have been directing her. The crime scene should have been sealed off immediately because now you have interference of -- if things were transferred, if blood was transferred, fibers were transferred, and that may compromise the scene. She didn`t know, but someone should have been directing her correctly.

GRACE: Well, and the other thing -- to Michelle Suskauer -- Michelle, along the same vein -- everybody, Michelle Suskauer, Florida attorney -- Michelle -- and this is not to impugn anything on Jennifer Hagel or her belongings. But if there were blood spatters in that room, what if there were blood spatters from high impact, like a shooting or a beating, on some of her belongings? She would never notice it. You got to look at it forensically.

MICHELLE SUSKAUER, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Absolutely. This crime scene was absolutely corrupted, and the integrity of the evidence is at issue here and that`s very, very significant because we have the Turkish police who are investigating, the FBI who are investigating, and we could have some very key pieces of evidence that are now missing. You`re absolutely right, Nancy.

GRACE: And of course, Lanny Davis -- this is not a question, I`m just saying -- that with her good intentions, trying to help Jennifer Hagel, we may have lost some evidence there.

To Adriana Gardella, managing editor with "Justice" magazine. There is some good news tonight. There is some good news. Tell me about this Russian-American young man that police have honed in on. They are questioning him repeatedly. He`s not a suspect tonight. What can you tell me, Adriana?

ADRIANA GARDELLA, MANAGING EDITOR, "JUSTICE" MAGAZINE: No, of course he`s not a suspect, but what we do know is -- we got confirmation during the press conference yesterday with Royal Caribbean that the four men, some of the four men who escorted George Smith back to his room, were also some of the same men involved in the unrelated incident, which is a sexual assault that allegedly took place a few days later. So we have that information. We know that the Russian -- the person of Russian descent is represented by a lawyer now, and a few other things.


BREE SMITH: Even when we heard that the boat had been searched, you know, we said, Well, make sure that the waters are being searched. And I pushed and pushed and pushed for the extension of the search, you know, by the Turkish and the Greek coast guard, and they did do that for us. We did everything we could because George was so strong and so muscular, we thought that he could swim, if, you know, he was OK when he went in the water. But unfortunately, I don`t think he was OK when he went on the overhang.




DRAKE: I woke about 7:30, and I stepped out on the balcony and it was just too apparent to miss, right below my balcony. And there was a very large blood stain there, very, very dark in the middle.

WALTER ZALISKO, POLICE OFFICER: It`s physically impossible for someone to go over that railing without some assistance. On my balcony, they actually came up to chest height, and there`s no way that you can fall over, particularly if you`re drunk because the first thing that gives when you`re drunk are your legs.


GRACE: You`d have to be an Olympic high jumper to jump over that fence, yet George -- that railing on the balcony -- but George Smith`s blood was found on the other side. Now, tonight, we are learning his blood found in unusual places within his own cabin -- on the bed, on tissues and towels in the bathroom.

We don`t really know enough, though, Pat Lalama, because what`s in the bathroom could be on a tissue from shaving, a shaving accident, or could it be blood from wiping up blood? It could be anything, Pat.

LALAMA: Well, of course. And especially if the crime scene`s been corrupted to some degree, but...


GRACE: OK, Johnnie Cochran. That`s enough out of you! That`s enough out of you, Johnnie Cochran, about contamination!


GRACE: If this lady...


GRACE: God rest. If this lady...


LALAMA: Wait, wait, though, Nancy. Wait, wait. Let me just say, though, what if we find some DNA from one of the four? That`s what we can only hope for...

GRACE: You know, I got...

LALAMA: ... is DNA from some of the other people.

GRACE: I got another question Regarding this Russian-American young man. He was there, I understand, with his family. But that`s not who he was boozing it up with and getting boisterous and raucous there in the casino with George Smith. He was with two other guys. And what I don`t understand, and you tell me if I`m wrong, Pat Lalama, they say that -- they put on video -- and I`m putting it in quoties -- sex with a young woman. Now, they also say Turkish officials say that sex was consensual.

Somebody here on the set, anybody on the panel tonight want to tell me that this woman agreed, consented to sex with three guys she just met on video? I think the Turkish authorities were way off, Pat. Now he`s being questioned in a murder, Pat!

LALAMA: Well, listen, I mean, it`s already been reported that there are sexual assault allegations. So what they want to say is one side of the story, but how that young woman sees it might be something completely different. There`s a videotape, for Lord`s sake! But what I don`t get is that...


GRACE: We always wonder...

LALAMA: Go ahead.

GRACE: ... what people do on cruises for weeks on end.

Lanny Davis, a woman being assaulted...

DAVIS: First of all...

GRACE: ... on the ship, with video, and then the Italian authorities -- I thought it was Turkish -- it`s Italian, I`m sure -- say, Oh, no, no, that wasn`t a crime. Bye-bye!

DAVIS: First of all, I`ve got to put a few facts out. Thank you for letting me respond after hearing so many things that need correction. The crime scene wasn`t corrupted because we don`t know whether it was a crime scene. And the Turkish...

GRACE: Whoa, whoa, whoa!

DAVIS: Let me -- wait...

GRACE: No. No.

DAVIS: ... don`t -- let me finish, Nancy!

GRACE: You`re perpetrating. You`re perpetrating.

DAVIS: Let me finish.

GRACE: This man is missing.

DAVIS: Let me...

GRACE: There`s a ton of blood found there, and you`re saying it`s not a crime?

DAVIS: You`re not giving me a chance...


DAVIS: ... to speak without talking over me, and that`s not fair.


DAVIS: It may be a crime scene. What I`m saying is that the room was sealed. The Turkish investigators came in, took the forensic evidence, including what you`re reporting as samples of blood that could have come from the gentleman, Mr. Smith, could have come from Mrs. Smith, could have come from the young men. We don`t know that. They took the forensic evidence, turned it over to the FBI. The FBI boarded the ship two days later, went into the room and praised the forensic investigation that was done.

And in terms of an assertion on national television that the crime scene was corrupted...

GRACE: Well, you`re the one that told me...

DAVIS: ... When the individual...

GRACE: ... he went in...

DAVIS: ... does not know -- the only thing that happened was Marie...

GRACE: Somebody went in a room and got them!

DAVIS: ... at the request -- at the request of Jennifer, removed the clothes after...

GRACE: That doesn`t make it OK, Lanny!

DAVIS: ... after -- after the Turkish authorities...

GRACE: Doesn`t make it OK!

DAVIS: ... after the Turkish authorities...

GRACE: Let me ask you something...

DAVIS: ... released the room after they finished...

GRACE: Let me ask you something!

DAVIS: ... their forensic investigation.

GRACE: I appreciate the sermon. It`s beautiful. But answer this, Lanny...

DAVIS: I gave you facts, not sermon.

GRACE: Let me ask you a question. You`re saying, number one, there may not be a crime. That`s BS, number one. Number two...

DAVIS: How do you know it`s BS?

GRACE: You know what? I would bet you everything in my pathetic little savings account...

DAVIS: You can bet, but that`s speculation. You don`t know. And so rather than speculating...

GRACE: Yes. You know what? I agree...

DAVIS: Let the FBI finish its investigation, rather than your speculating. I am very suspicious, along with you, Nancy, but I think we both agree that we`re speculating, and only the FBI has the forensic evidence...

GRACE: Lanny...

DAVIS: ... and we ought to let them...

GRACE: Lanny!

DAVIS: ... do their investigation.

GRACE: Lanny! The guy`s dead, all right? I don`t want to hear any argument from you about whether there`s been a crime. In fact, you`re losing a lot of credibility by suggesting everything`s A-OK! And another thing, I don`t know if you`ve ever prosecuted violent crimes, but even if someone gave you permission to go into a crime scene and remove items from a crime scene, that is contamination~!

DAVIS: And maybe you didn`t...

GRACE: And I don`t care...

DAVIS: Maybe you didn`t hear...

GRACE: ... who in the family -- I was speaking! The family doesn`t have the ability to allow, to consent to have items removed from a scene. And isn`t it true that after these items were removed, packed up and gone, it was after that that you found, Royal Caribbean, found blood on the bed? Yes, no!

DAVIS: No. And the Turkish authorities were there before, and they released the room after they completed three hours of forensic gathering of the evidence you`re describing. And you and I do not disagree. We`re both speculating. We`re waiting for the evidence to come in, and you`re not.



BREE SMITH: The last time I saw him was the day after his wedding. My mother had a little luncheon for him. And we waved good-bye, and he went off on his honeymoon cruise and never came home.


GRACE: That was George Smith`s sister. She was here on our show recently, asking for help.

Very quickly, before we move on to our next topic, back to Lanny Davis, legal counsel with Royal Caribbean. Lanny, you`re a television pro. I`ve seen you comment on everything from impeachment to Washington politics, for Pete`s sake. Is there anything on behalf of the cruise lines that you would have done any differently?

DAVIS: Sure.

GRACE: What?

DAVIS: You know, I think that we assume that Jennifer was taken care of when the consulate told us that the ticket was on Lufthansa and being taken care of. We discovered after the fact that she had to pay for her own ticket. That was horrible.

I certainly think that, looking back, that when she asked Marie to go back on the ship to pack up her clothes, even though the Turkish authorities had done their forensic work and released us, that now the second guessing that you`re saying here is we probably should have said to her, We can`t get your clothes. But looking back, we tried our best. Our heart goes out to the family. Our heart goes out to the family, and that`s about all we can say.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Judge Edward Cashman was speaking to a packed Burlington courtroom. Most of the onlookers were related to a young girl who was repeatedly raped by 34-year-old Mark Hulett of Rolliston (ph). The sex abuse started when the girl was seven and ended when he was 10. Prosecutors were seeking a sentence of at least eight to 20 years behind bars, in part so Hulett could be punished.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Punishment is a valid purpose. The state recognizes that the court may not agree or subscribe to that purpose of sentencing, but the state does. And the state thinks that that is a very important factor for the court to consider.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): But Judge Cashman explained that he is more concerned that Hulett receive sex offender treatment for rehabilitation, but Hulett does not qualify for in-prison treatment, so the judge sentenced him to 60 days in prison and then Hulett must finish sex treatment when he gets out or face a possible life sentence.


GRACE: Judge Cashman, you are in contempt tonight. Straight out to Wilson Ring, reporter with the Associated Press. Wilson, I`ve gotten conflicted reports, even from the A.P. Some say the girl was six. Some say she was seven. The abuse goes from four years to three years to five years. Set us straight, Wilson.

WILSON RING, ASSOCIATED PRESS REPORTER: Well, I`ve seen both the reports, both the six and the seven. And I`ve never seen them go as long as five years. It`s my understanding the girl was 10 years old. The abuse ended sometime last May, shortly before Mark Hulett was arrested. And so that`s when it ended. Precisely when it began, I can`t say for sure.

GRACE: You know, I`ve been taking a look at some of the comments that Cashman made. One of them -- Elizabeth, do you have that in a graph for the viewers? Yes? All right. Let`s go with that.

"The only message I want to get through is that anger doesn`t solve anything. It just corrodes your soul."

And I`ve got with me another A.P. report. Here`s one out of Burlington, Vermont, a reporter in the courtroom. The judge says, "I discovered punishment accomplishes nothing of value. It doesn`t make anything better. It costs a lot of money. We create a lot of expectations. We feed on anger."

He said that to people in the court. I understand the little victim`s mother left the courtroom in tears, Wilson Ring.

RING: That`s my understanding, too. And I can`t explain the judge`s sentiment there. I`ve heard it, and I have been surprised by it, too, frankly. But, as your intro said, the judge`s goal in this case, the -- as he sees the big, the long-term picture, the best way to protect society, he feels, is to get Mr. Hulett into sex offender treatment as soon as possible, where he will be under -- and once he is out of jail, he would be under the strict supervision of the Department of Corrections.

GRACE: Oh, please.

RING: And he could be sent back whenever he re-offends.

GRACE: I want to go to Alison Arngrim. You may know her as Nellie Oleson on "Little House on the Prairie." The whole time she was starring on "Little House," she had been a victim of child abuse. She is with the National Association to Protect Children.

Alison, response?

ALISON ARNGRIM, SEXUAL MOLESTATION VICTIM: Well, unfortunately, at, our Web site, you can read how this is an epidemic of judges handing out these kind of non-sentences. Cashman isn`t unusual. And I am curious as to who is the person the Department of Corrections who declared this man who had molested this girl hundreds of times to be not dangerous enough a sex offender to qualify for their incarcerated therapy program.

GRACE: You know, another issue, to Lisa Wayne, defense attorney, it`s my understanding that the sentencing scale in black and white code of the law goes from eight to 20.

Is that right, Ellie? Is it eight to 20?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s what the prosecutors had requested he receive.

GRACE: OK. What is the code?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s 10 to life, I believe.

GRACE: Thank you. Thank you. It`s worse, Lisa. It`s 10 to life, for basically sodomy. Sodomy is anal or oral sex. In this case, it was with a child, either six or seven years old. This sentence, in my mind, is illegal.

WAYNE: Well, let me say two things, Nancy, here, because I think your viewers need to know this, because you`ve indicated this is a slap on the wrist. Those of us who represent sex offenders, I can tell you that I`ve represented hundreds who would rather go to prison than to do the treatment that this judge handed down. It is not a walk in the park.

GRACE: OK. That`s not what I asked you, but thanks.

WAYNE: This guy isn`t -- well, that`s important to know, because what this judge is...

GRACE: Well, I`m glad that your clients would rather go to jail than have treatment, but not so in this case.

WAYNE: Let me finish here, because I think what this judge is attempting...

GRACE: Well, say something relevant.

WAYNE: Well, what this judge is attempting to do, Nancy, instead of being mad at the judge, is that he said, "Look you`re putting these people in jail. They`re going to get out. They`re going to be back in our community. And they`re not being treated. So I`m going to make sure that they get treated." The legislature needs to fix this. Don`t be mad at a judge who does this.

GRACE: OK, thanks. Thanks, Lisa. Thanks. Thanks. Thanks for blaming the legislature.

Back to Alison Arngrim, child molestation victim. She`s trying to bring about change. You can see her site, What I was asking, which was skillfully evaded, is the legality of this sentence under the law. Sodomy, much less on a child, this involved oral sodomy. I`m not talking about two consenting adults. I`m talking about a child.

ARNGRIM: This also was a -- this is a complete betrayal. He was in her bedroom on a regular basis for four years. This child`s been betrayed not only by the man, but unfortunately by her own parents, who allowed him in, and the judge, and the Department of Corrections.

The sentence, quote, "was legal." He simply chose to suspend it, which at Protect, we`ve seen that. We had an action against a judge in Kansas who`s doing the same thing. One of the things that can be done is a judge can be removed from all cases concerning children, even while he still continues to keep his job.

GRACE: Hey, this is a shot of the defendant right there. I keep wanting to call you Nellie. I can`t help it. I`m a "Little House" fan.

This is Hulett. All right? This is the 34-year-old man who worked not only at Wal-Mart at one juncture but at a fire station at another juncture. This is the molester of a six- or seven-year-old little girl for about three solid years, OK? Let`s just take that in for a moment.

I want to go to Bill Ford, sexual offender counselor. And he is the cofounder of Mustard Seed Forensic Services. Bill, explain to me -- you`re the expert -- why this judge -- where could he have gotten the reasoning that this guy would not qualify for treatment behind bars?

BILL FORD, SEX OFFENDER COUNSELOR: Nancy, I don`t know. I`m confused myself. I`m wondering about the risk assessment that was done in the Department of Corrections in Vermont. I don`t know what qualifications they utilized to determine whether or not a person qualifies for treatment in or out. I`m at a complete loss.

GRACE: I am, too. You know why you probably don`t understand it, Bill? Because it`s illegal, and it doesn`t make any sense. Here`s what the judge had to say.


JUDGE EDWARD CASHMAN, GAVE SEX OFFENDER 60 DAYS IN PRISON: It`s clear that punishment is not enough. And to encourage in victims of crime retribution as the only response, one, we`re not following legislative directives; two, we`re wasting state money; and, three, we`re not solving problems.

All of the literature I`ve read said, if you`re interested in changing behavior, you don`t have to do it inside. If anything, you have a better success with an outside program.


GRACE: Maybe he`s the one that needs mental treatment. Have we ever thought about that? I mean, think about it: This is a frightening, frightening message to deliver to sex predators, that they can sodomize a seven-year-old girl for years and do a few weeks time behind bars. That is the message tonight.

And having dealt with child molestation victims and rape victims, one of the worst after-effects they have, as they grow up, is they feel nobody was there, nobody protected them. And they have a feeling of helplessness, of rage, of anger the rest of their lives. And now the judge is in on it.

I want to go to the attorney for Mark Hulett. He is a sex offender. Thank you for being with us, Mark Kaplan. He is a veteran criminal defense attorney. Mark, make your case for us, sir.

MARK KAPLAN, SEX OFFENDER`S ATTORNEY: Well, you know, I`ve been listening to your show and the various news accounts. And it`s clear that Judge Cashman`s sentence was a far more subtle sentence, I think, than it`s been picked up on by the press. Judge Cashman was upset with the Department of Corrections because they gave him a (INAUDIBLE) report that said, under our guidelines, we won`t treat him inside.

GRACE: OK. I`ve got a really bad connection. I`m going to interpret what you said, as saying the judge was mad at Department of Corrections because they wouldn`t give this guy treatment behind bars. Is that right, Mark?

KAPLAN: That`s exactly what the judge said and...

GRACE: OK. Got you.

KAPLAN: ... and what he did was, he came up with kind of an ingenious sentence. He said, "I`m going to give him 5 1/2 years to life." That`s the overall sentence. But the actual sentence that means anything here is the sentence of 60 days to 10 years. And when he issued that sentence, he said to the Department of Corrections, I`m going to put him in for 60 days, and that`s going to give you an opportunity to take another look at him and see if you want to think about changing this policy to treat (INAUDIBLE)

GRACE: Like you`re going to change the law with one sentence? Many people, including the population, Mark, think the law, hard time for child molesters, is appropriate. Mark, stay with us. With us, veteran trial lawyer Mark Kaplan, who defended Hulett in this case.

To tonight`s "Case Alert." Navy reservist wife Monique Berkley, charged with murder one in the shooting death of her husband, just home, Paul Berkley. He was shot on a romantic stroll with his wife in a park, North Carolina, one week before Christmas.

Also on the docket, the Sacramento state assembly approves a bill freezing the death penalty across the state.



CASHMAN: All of the literature I`ve read said, if you`re interested in changing behavior, you don`t have to do it inside. If anything, you have a better success with an outside program.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He should pay for what he did to my baby. It`s not fair that she`s not even home with me (INAUDIBLE) and that he can be home for all this time, even what he did in my house.


GRACE: The woman in tears was this little girl`s mother after a judge handed down a 60-day sentence after repeated sodomy on her child, her little girl.

Welcome back. I`m Nancy Grace.

You know, what happened here is Trial 101. This is called a blind plea. In other words, the prosecutor in this case is entering a guilty plea with no deal in place. The prosecutor in this case wanted eight to 10 years behind bars for repeated sodomy on a little girl. There they call it -- what do they call it? -- aggravated sex assault, sodomy.

All right. The defense takes the case to the judge, normally to a judge they think they`ll get more lenient treatment than the prosecutor will give. They tell the scenario and throw themselves at the mercy of the court. And in this case, it worked. Judge Cashman handing down a sentence of 60 days behind bars.

To psychoanalyst Bethany Marshall, what do you think factored into the ruling?

BETHANY MARSHALL, PSYCHOANALYST: Well, here`s what I think happened to this judge. First of all, if the judge were my patient, I`d be telling him that maybe he`s harboring fantasies of being a minister rather than a judge, because that`s what he really sounded like in court.

But I think he has these sex offenders, sociopaths and psychopaths coming through the court. And what happens is, because they have lower levels of anxiety, they don`t experience punishment like you or I do, so they don`t have a learning curve. It doesn`t mean as much to them when they go to jail.

So I think the judge began to feel disillusioned and he began to feel things were better on the other side of the treatment fence, in other words that therapy would be better for some of these sex offenders. And it`s true the literature says that therapy has a higher rate of efficacy, but it`s no cure. It doesn`t fix the situation.

GRACE: So there`s no cure, Bethany, in my mind.


MARSHALL: There is no cure.

GRACE: And, you know, to you, Bill Ford, do you really think that there`s a cure for hardened sex predators?

FORD: No, Nancy. There is no cure for sexual offenders. There`s only treatment and long-term treatment. Treatment needs to occur inside the prisons and outside of the prisons. What I don`t understand, again, is what type of assessment was done to determine whether -- that this gentleman was not...

GRACE: Right.

FORD: ... a serious enough offender to be treated inside. I don`t know if they just took a clinical analysis. I don`t know if they just looked at actuarial assessment or...

GRACE: Well, I can tell you this much, Bill Ford.

FORD: ... polygraph...

GRACE: Here. You know what? I`ll let the mother of this little girl say it for me. Take a listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He should pay for what he did to my baby. It`s not fair that she`s not even home with me (INAUDIBLE) and that he can be home for all this time, even what he did in my house.


GRACE: How this judge can look this mother in the face or look this little girl in the face and hand down a 60-day sentence, the rest on straight probation? If he doesn`t like the system, that`s one thing. But what is his answer to this little girl?

Alison Arngrim, what is your answer?

ARNGRIM: Well, I`m fascinated with this obsession with therapy. I have yet to see this logic applied to any other crime, armed robbery, murder, car theft. Why is it only when someone rapes and tortures a child, we all fall all over ourselves about their mental well-being? Does this judge sentence people who rob banks to parole and therapy? Does he feel that the bank should not express anger to the person who robbed them?

I find this very disturbing and discriminatory that it is only children as victims who are treated as expendable in the system. And Cashman is wrong. Anger is a wonderful emotion and I use it daily.

GRACE: And Alison, everyone, you may know her as Nellie Oleson from "Little House on the Prairie." She was evil little Nellie. And I`ve seen some of her scenes where she was acting out and smashing china, kicking furniture. At that time, she was dealing with being a child molestation victim herself.

Very quickly, Alison, how does something like this sentence affect a little child molestation victim?

ARNGRIM: As I was saying, it`s ultimate betrayal. She was so young when this started. She was really the same age I was. This is literally how she found out about sex.

The damage is immeasurable. Then to be told, "It`s OK. We`re going to help you. We`re going to stop the bad man, except no we`re not. We`re not going to do anything. We`re going to go help the bad man, because we feel worse for him than we do you." That`s what they`re telling her. And it`s disgraceful.

GRACE: Very quickly, to tonight`s "All-Points Bulletin." Law enforcement across the country on the lookout for Abraham Shorey, wanted in connection with sex abuse and burglary in Ithaca, New York. Shorey, 24, 5`8", 140 pounds, brown hair, blue eyes. If you have info on Abraham Shorey, call Ithaca Police Department, 607-272-9973.

Local news next for some of you. But we`ll all be back. And remember, live coverage of the Senate hearings for the Supreme Court nominee, Samuel Alito, set to take the place of Sandra Day O`Connor, 3:00 to 5:00 Eastern, Court TV.

Everyone, please stay with us tonight as we pause to remember -- we remember Chief Warrant Officer Chester William Troxel, 44, an American hero.


GRACE: We at NANCY GRACE want very much to help solve unsolved homicides, find missing people. Take a look at 16-year-old Ross Murray. He disappeared from Monee, Illinois, October 2005. If you have info, call county sheriff, 815-727-8575, or go online to

Very quickly, to defense lawyer Michelle Suskauer, what kind of judge does a defense attorney pick out to give a blind plea?

SUSKAUER: Well, you can`t pick the judge that you`re going to get, Nancy, but obviously they...

GRACE: But you don`t have to enter a blind plea, even if you`re assigned to a judge.

SUSKAUER: You`re right. You can go to trial, or you can have a plea arrangement with the state. But obviously, what they were looking for here is a thinking judge. They`re looking for a judge who wouldn`t just be a rubber stamp for the state, and that`s what they got.

GRACE: They were looking for a judge that would give 60 days for oral sodomy on a child.

SUSKAUER: That`s not what he gave.

GRACE: Yes, 60 days, 10 years on probation.

SUSKAUER: No. He gave life probation, Nancy. This guy is going to be...

GRACE: How long is he doing behind bars?

SUSKAUER: He`s -- well, according to his lawyer, at least 60 days...

GRACE: OK, thank you.

SUSKAUER: ... many up to years.

GRACE: OK, 60 days is what the sentence says.

Very quickly to Wilson Ring with the A.P. Wilson, is there any movement afoot to throw this judge off the bench?

RING: There`s been no movement to -- there`s been some -- a little talk about impeachment, but no serious talk about impeachment, although there are some lawmakers in the Vermont legislature who have introduced a nonbinding resolution asking him to resign.

GRACE: Oh, so the legislature has passed a resolution asking him to leave the bench? OK.

RING: It hasn`t passed. It`s being considered.

GRACE: OK. Well, I`ve got a suggestion: a re-sentence. This guy needs life behind bars for attacking repeatedly a six-year-old child. If the judge is too blind to see it, then he needs to get off the bench. Vermont, are you listening?

Thank you to all of my guests. Our biggest thank you is to you for being with us, inviting us into your homes. Coming up, headlines around the world. And tonight, a special good-bye to a friend and colleague, Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom. She`s leaving Court TV and heading to our competitor, FOX. Even so, we wish her well and look forward to dueling with her on air.

I`m Nancy Grace signing off for tonight. See you right here tomorrow night, 8:00 sharp Eastern. And until then, good night, friend.