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John Walsh's Crusade; Protecting Children From Sexual Predators

Aired April 26, 2005 - 20:00   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everybody. Glad to have you with us tonight.
Tonight, we focus on what we know is your single biggest worry, protecting your children from sexual predators.


ZAHN (voice-over): A warning sign on the street of a convicted sex offender, did it cause him to kill himself?

RANDY HARRIS, MARION COUNTY COMMISSIONER: I have no doubt that he was guilt-ridden over the crime that he committed. I mean, he committed a sexual offense against a child.

ZAHN: Tonight, protecting our children and the power of labels.

CHUCK CLAXTON, VICTIM'S FATHER: Totally unfair because he never raped anybody.

ZAHN: Plus, the man behind "America's Most Wanted" and the crime that changed him forever.

JIM WALSH, HOST, "AMERICA'S MOST WANTED": The worst phone call of my life, the worst day of my life.

ZAHN: John Walsh and his crusade against crime.


ZAHN: Well, you certainly don't have to look very far for evidence of why two-thirds of Americans in a CNN poll put child molestation at the top of their list of concerns, way ahead of even terrorism. That's why we are committed to bringing you the news you need to know to keep your kids safe.

Today, in Bradenton, Florida, there is an Amber Alert for 12- year-old Margarita Aguilar-Lopez, missing since last night. Police believe this man, Antonio Paulino-Perez, who was a co-worker of her two older brothers, kidnapped her. And, in Cocoa, Florida, a sixth grade teacher appeared in court on Monday, suspected of molesting a 13-year-old male student nearly 100 times.

All of this is deeply troubling. How do we know who pedophiles are? How do we keep track them in the first place? Well, one way is to register convicted sex offenders. But that can have tragic results of its own.

Here's Rick Sanchez.


RICK ELMHORST, BAY NEWS 9 REPORTER: The county sheriff confirms a father's worst fear.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jessica Lunsford's body discovered.

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The horror of the crimes were out there for the whole world to see on television, radio, print, and especially by word of mouth.

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The horror of the crimes was out there for the whole world to see -- on television, radio, print, and especially which by word of mouth.

CINDY BRILL, RESIDENT: And I work in one of the local hospitals and it was topic of conversation every morning and every evening throughout the day as we were updated or read the newspaper.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The worst-case scenario became a heartbreaking reality.

JACKIE CALLAWAY, REPORTER: The sheriff's had identified her body.

SANCHEZ: Not one, but two Florida girls from the same general area killed by sexual offenders. The first 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford, taken in the middle of the night found buried in a shallow grave clutching her stuffed dolphin. The second 13-year-old Sarah Lunde taken after return everything a church outing, found way down and partially disrobed at the bottom of a murky pond.

DEBBIE PARDEE, RESIDENT: I personally was horrified. I have an 8-year-old and 16-year-old I feared for them immediately.

SANCHEZ: Ocala, Florida, is about an hour and a half drive from the place where both girls were found murdered -- crimes that created a mood of fear and caution. People were holding on to their kids just a little tighter. So, when they heard a convicted sex offender was living among them, they decided to take matters into their own hands.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think a lot of people were sick, just sick and saddened, by what they heard. And I think they still are, and in shock.

SANCHEZ: County commissioner Randy Harris is a tough-minded politician who makes no excuses for his proposal to identify and label all sex offenders with signs and posters.

HARRIS: I believe that the county commission should post signs in neighborhoods and inform the public of where these people actually reside, because they are residing in a neighborhoods where people simply don't know. SANCHEZ (on camera): In this Central Florida town that proudly displays its red, white, and blue, the people see this issue as black and white, cut and dry. A sex offender should simply not be allowed to conceal himself. Parents need to be told about them so they can protect their children.

What happens, though, if there are mitigating circumstances? If one case is different perhaps from others? Maybe, just maybe, it's not so black and white.

CHUCK CLAXTON, VICTIM'S FATHER: He was a threat to no one but himself. Absolutely no one.

SANCHEZ: Must be pretty painful, Chuck.


SANCHEZ (voice-over): Chuck Claxton cries when he thinks of his son. Clovis Claxton was a convicted sex offender, but he was also wheelchair-bound and depressed because of his illness. So, when he began seeing signs describing him as a threat and sex offender, his father says he used pills and alcohol to take his own life.

HARRIS: I'm not interested in shaping our public policy around the exception. The exception is that one of them has committed suicide.

SANCHEZ: Commissioner Harris makes no apology when it comes to protecting children.

HARRIS: It's my opinion that he was a victim of his own circumstance. I have no doubt that he was guilt-ridden over the crime that he committed. I mean he committed a sexual offense against a child, I believe, 9 years old.

SANCHEZ: The record shows that Claxton did expose himself to a young girl, the daughter of a friend, in 1991. However, a careful review of that same record by police also shows that he was no longer considered a threat. Just to be sure, we asked the local sheriff's what they had found.

CAPT. DENNIS STROW, MARION COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPT.: Our risk assessment did not indicate that he was a threat to the neighborhood.

SANCHEZ: Here's why: as a child, Claxton was diagnosed with both meningitis and encephalitis, which left him severely impaired physically and mentally.

How old was when this happened?

CLAXTON: All right. Chronically, he was 20; mentally, 10, 11, because of some injuries he had to his brain due to encephalitis at the age of 10. It was nothing more at the time of -- him and a little girl just playing, show me yours, show me mine, you know.

SANCHEZ: Claxton has never again been accused of a sex crime. What's more, the girl and her family who accused him have forgiven him, and even visit.

CLAXTON: The girl's parents are still friends of the family.

SANCHEZ (on camera): That speed limit sign you see right there is approximately a block and a half from Clovis Claxton's home. He literally could not go home on any given night without seeing that sign. It is one of the places where someone hung a poster, right underneath the sign. The poster read, "child rapist."

How unfair was that characterization?

CLAXTON: Totally unfair, because he never raped anybody.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): Clovis Claxton was found dead in his apartment days after the first posters appeared. He was found, in fact, with one of the posters that accused him of being a child rapist.

Child rapist. That's pretty strong.

HARRIS: It is strong. It's very strong.

SANCHEZ: Strong enough to cause one man to take his own life and to possibly teach all of us the lesson about the power of labels and how words really do matter.


ZAHN: Rick Sanchez reporting.

Coming up, a man who has devoted his entire adult life to finding missing children.


CHARLES MASINO, INVESTIGATOR, TEAM ADAM: If you do do something that does return a child safely or a kind word to a parent, there is no other high.


ZAHN: A retired detective who just can't quit and is still making a difference.

And a little bit later on, the making of a crime fighter, John Walsh on the loss of his own son and his crusade for justice.


ZAHN: ... delayed signing the Jessica Lunsford Act. That act is named for the 9-year-old Florida girl was abducted and murdered earlier this year. It would increase penalties for people who prey on our children. Governor Bush says he needs another week to look over the bill, but does intend to eventually sign it. There are about 100,000 cases of sexual assault or sexual abuse against children in the U.S. every year and 58,000 abductions by people who aren't related to the victims.

So, we can all be thankful there are some people who devote their lives to protecting our vulnerable children.

Deborah Feyerick has the story of one of them.


DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Detective Charles Masino is not the kind of guy who retires easily. Then again, when your life is about finding missing children, it's not the kind of job you just walk away from.

MASINO: It's the single most important crime that's the most difficult to solve. In other words, you can have a case of a missing child and there's no evidence. If you work homicide, you have a body.

FEYERICK: When he heard 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford had been snatched from her bedroom in the middle of the night, Masino did what he always does.

MASINO: Well, I got right on the computer and contacted the center to see if I could be of assistance.

FEYERICK: He's been searching for missing kids for more than two decades, first as a detective with the Phoenix, Arizona Police Department and now as part of an elite team of retired police officers and federal agents.

BEN ERMINI, MISSING & EXPLOITED CHILDREN CENTER: But not very many law enforcement agencies have experience handling these types of cases. We want to get experienced investigators out to the scene to assist law enforcement.

FEYERICK: They work from their homes as members of Team Adam, named after the abducted son of TV host John Walsh, the co-founder of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Even when there's little evidence Masino believes almost every abduction can be solved.

MASINO: Because somewhere in this folder or somewhere in the police report there's an answer.

FEYERICK: The reason boyfriends and girlfriends break up. Relationships change, like the time in Phoenix when Masino convinced a woman he'd interviewed years earlier to come clean about what her boyfriend at the time had done to a 12-year-old girl.

MASINO: I have a tape of a young lady that witnessed the murder of 12-year-old Amy and what this girl turned around and said to this woman who was in the car, the suspect was a male, she was driving and looks up at her and says, "I thought you were my friend. I loved you."

FEYERICK: That woman ultimately testified at trial as the government's star witness. For Masino it's that kind of payoff, part obsession, part crusade that keeps him searching.

MASINO: We're adults. We can figure out what's going on. Imagine a child ten years old, five years old, 12 years old being ripped out of their home or ripped off the street and then this monster, not a suspect, does something to them personally, whether it's rape or some type of sexual assault. They're still not fathoming what's happening. They're crying. And then that person kills them.

FEYERICK: The majority of children abducted by a stranger never return alive. Still at the end of the day Masino feels he's done good.

MASINO: If you do something that does return a child safely or a kind word to a parent there is no other high.


ZAHN: That was Deborah Feyerick reporting for us tonight.

Coming up, we remember the Adam, the boy who gave Team Adam its name.


WALSH: The worst day of my life. He was my best friend. And he said, those remains -- my son was decapitated -- is Adam.


ZAHN: John Walsh of "America's Most Wanted" on the crime that changed his life.


ZAHN: Still ahead, the man behind "America's Most Wanted," why John Walsh turned into one of America's best-known crime fighters.

But, first, just about 17 minutes past the hour, Erica Hill at Headline News standing by to update us on the other top stories tonight.

Hi, Erica.


And we start off with an update on another tragedy involving young children. A preliminary autopsy finds no signs of foul play in the drowning deaths of 3-year-old Jonah Payne and his 2-year-old sister, Nicole, in Georgia. Their bodies were found yesterday in a sanitation pond just a few hundred yards from their home.

Closing arguments are now under way in trial of the man accused in the kidnapping and murder of 5-year-old Samantha Runnion in California. Alejandro Avila is accused of killing the girl in 2002 and dumping her body 15 miles away. Prosecutors say traces of teardrops found in the defendant's car match the girl's DNA. Suspicious material that caused a plane to be diverted when it was halfway across the country turned out to be harmless after all. The United Airlines jet from New York to San Francisco made an unscheduled stop in Chicago after a passenger spotted the material. And that was found to be only an MP3 player and some herbal extract belonging to a homeopathic healer.

A woman hired as a surrogate mother in Phoenix has given birth now to quintuplets. And doctors say the five baby boys are doing fine, as is the woman, Teresa Anderson. Now, originally, she had accepted $15,000 from a childless couple to bear a baby. But then she changed her mind when she found out she was carrying five babies and said that couple may need the money more her.

And that's the latest from Headline News at this hour -- Paula, back to you. Lot of work ahead of them.

ZAHN: Yes. What a gift, though, five of them.

HILL: Amazing.

ZAHN: Thanks, Erica.

We're going to check back with Erica in just about a half-hour or so.

Time for you to pick the person of the day. The choices, surf shop owner Donna Frye for getting a second shot at running for mayor of San Diego after the incumbent she lost to resigned, and Rafik Hariri, the assistant -- that should be the assassinated former prime minister of Lebanon, whose death brought about his goal of getting Syrian troops from Lebanon, or skier Charles Horton, who survived eight days with a broken leg and frostbite in the Colorado woods. It's a miracle he lived.

Cast your vote at I'll tell you who wins a little bit later on in this hour.

Coming up, he has flushed out fugitives and helped find missing children, John Walsh of "America's Most Wanted."

And then a little bit later on, she was Mrs. Michael Jackson for almost three years. What will she tell the jury in his child sex abuse trial?


ZAHN: After 24 years, the murder of 6-year-old Adam Walsh remains officially unsolved. And his parents, John and Reve Walsh, still want to see justice done. But they've never surrendered to their grief. Instead, they became fighters to protect the rest of our children. The couple helped found the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

And, of course, John Walsh is now known to millions as the tough- talking fighter for justice on "America's Most Wanted." His story in tonight's "PEOPLE IN THE NEWS."



ANNOUNCER: Now, from our Washington crime center, John Walsh.


ZAHN (voice-over): He's the driving force behind "America's Most Wanted."


WALSH: This week, your tips have led to not one, but two captures.

ZAHN: John Walsh, the nation's go-to guy from fugitives to missing children.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's the hardest working guy I've ever met in show business.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he's probably visited almost every single city in the United States, talking to people.

ZAHN: John Walsh has become synonymous with fighting crime and with catching the uncatchable, with giving a voice to the voiceless.

After more than 15 years on "America's Most Wanted," Walsh is a certified pop culture icon wrapped in a leather jacket. TV host, crusader, activist, John Walsh has been in the public eye more than 20 years, years no father should have ever had to bear.

John Walsh was born the day after Christmas 1945 in Auburn, New York, the first of four children.

SUSAN SCHINDEHETTE, CO-AUTHOR, "JOHN WALSH: TEARS OF RAGE": John grew up as part of a big family in upstate New York. Irish Catholic. Very traditional values. He had a wonderful, wonderful father and I met his mother who's now passed away and she was a lovely, lovely woman.

ZAHN: Walsh idolized his parents especially his father, who was known as Gentleman Jack or more often by his nickname, Adam.

WALSH: I had a great father. Went to Notre Dame. He was a World War II hero, B-24 bomber pilot. I was lucky and blessed, but I was wild. I just loved to have fun. I loved dangerous sports. In those days, you know, people didn't get a gun and kill somebody. You fought. You know, we fist-fought.

ZAHN: If Walsh sometimes fought for fun, he more often than not fought to protect. Somewhere early on, he had picked up the idea that it was his job, his duty to take care of things. SCHINDEHETTE: John really felt this kind of overwhelming sense of responsibility, that he was tougher and stronger and smarter and would last longer than anybody who came up against him.

ZAHN: Walsh was popular growing up, even more so when he entered college. He was single and loving it until a young woman named Reve Drew walked into his life.

WALSH: I met Reve when I was in college. She was a beautiful lady. Very, very attractive. And I remember one of my buddies, I think he was a football player, said, "You know, there's this beautiful gal that wants to meet you over here and I'm going to take you over and introduce you to her." And that was the beginning.

ZAHN: John Walsh and Reve Drew began dating. And, eventually, they left Upstate New York for Florida. By 1971, the self-described hell raiser was married and working as a marketing executive in the hotel industry. Walsh's work took him around the world, away from home, away from Reve.

SCHINDEHETTE: One of the points that John always made is that he and Reve did not want to start a family immediately.

WALSH: I always thought being a father would be a huge responsibility and I think Reve thought the same thing.

ZAHN: On November 14, 1974, after more than four years of marriage, Reve gave birth to a baby boy, a son the Walsh's named Adam after John's father.

SCHINDEHETTE: And after Adam was born, these two carefree people, I think, shifted their sights.

ZAHN: The Walshes doted on their new son. They took him to the Bahamas to share John's love of the ocean. They took him to Disney World. Adam was never alone.

WALSH: A lot of people used to say, Adam is so gracious. He's so loving. He's so kind. He lights up a room when he comes in the room. He speaks, you know, way beyond his age. He's so gentle. He was a great artist. He's an old soul. And it kind of summed up Adam. He was that kind of a loving -- he was very different than me.

ZAHN: John and Reve hovered over Adam, partly out of instinct, but mostly out of love, out of joy.

WALSH: Reve was a full-time, stay-at-home, 100 percent devoted mom, brought Adam to school, private school, brought him every day, picked him up every single day.

ZAHN: If the Walshes were sometimes overprotective, Adam didn't seem to notice.

In the summer of 1981, Adam was 6 and he was learning to play baseball. And when he wasn't running the bases, he was with Reve as she went about her daily routine in Hollywood, Florida. On July 27, 1981, Reve and Adam Walsh were out running errands. It was an ordinary day. They stopped at the Hollywood Mall and went into Sears to buy some lamps.

SCHINDEHETTE: She and Adam went into the store and in the center of the toy department was something that was brand new, brand new. They were called video games. No one had really seen much of them.

And as soon as they got to the video game, Adam said, "Mom, Mom, can I stay here and play with the games."

And she said, "OK, Adam, I'm going to be over in the lamp department. It's just around the corner."

ZAHN: Reve didn't specifically tell Adam to stay put. She'd never had to warn him before.

SCHINDEHETTE: Reve came around the corner and went back to where the video games were and she said to me, "It wasn't just that Adam wasn't there, she said it was so quiet all of a sudden. All of a sudden no one was there."

ZAHN: Suddenly, the little boy who never strayed had vanished without a trace.

Coming up, an unimaginable tragedy turns tears into rage.

WALSH: We don't exist to bury our children. You're not supposed to bury your children. They're your legacy.



ZAHN: John Walsh never intended to be a celebrity. He was an ordinary American, a loving father when an unspeakable crime ripped his world apart.


ZAHN (voice-over): Two weeks after Adam vanished in the summer of 1981, the remains of a small boy were found in a canal 150 miles north of Hollywood, Florida. John and Reve Walsh were in New York at the time. They'd just appeared on a national morning show, pleading for information about their missing son.

ZAHN: John was in the hotel by himself when the phone rang.

WALSH: The worst phone call in my life, the worst day of my life. It was my best friend. I think he said, those remains -- my son was decapitated -- is Adam. And that's all I remember. I remember smashing things and wrecking things and throwing things around. I don't remember them breaking into the room. But, I was told they did, security. I guess they got a hotel doctor or a doctor from somewhere, and I told them that what I had to do was call Reve. I had to find Reve because I didn't want anybody else to tell her. I wanted to tell her myself. I said, you know, this is going to be the hardest thing I've ever done, but I have to do it myself.

ZAHN: The abduction and murder of his son Adam nearly consumed John Walsh. For a time, he didn't want to go on. Desperate and grieving, Walsh looked for answers, but all he found were more questions.

ERNIE ALLEN, MISSING & EXPLOITED CHILDREN CTR.: Twenty years ago, if your child was abducted, you were pretty much on your own. Today, there's a national network for disseminating images and information. There are 50 state missing-children clearing houses; 20 years ago there were none.

ZAHN: John and Reve started a local missing children's center out of their garage, and eight weeks after Adam's death, they testified before Congress on behalf of the Missing Children's Act, which would require the authorities to keep files on missing children and unidentified bodies. John Walsh had come to Washington for help, for action; what he ran into was resistance.

He was a nobody from Florida, and it was a sad story and he lost his little boy, and they wanted to pat him on the head and go away.

WALSH: We don't even know how many of our children are missing.

ZAHN: But Walsh wouldn't go away, wouldn't give up.

WALSH: Any coroner will tell you most children are murdered in 24 hours.

ZAHN: His persistence paid off. In 1982 he was there when President Ronald Reagan signed the Missing Children's Act into law. Walsh's activism helped establish the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

By this time he was becoming a very familiar face, not only in Washington, but around the nation. Walsh continued to hone his on- camera skills, through news conferences and talk show appearances, appearances that impressed executives at a fledgling new network called Fox.

WALSH: I became a victim of crime when my young son Adam...

ZAHN: They had an idea for a program that would profile criminals and solicit tips. TV was ready for John Walsh, but he wasn't ready he was sure for TV. He said no for six months until finally...

WALSH: I asked Reve. I said, you know, Reve, they want me to do a pilot. I don't know what a pilot is. And Reve said, you know what, do it. That's what we're about.

WALSH: Good evening from Washington, D.C. I'm John Walsh.

ZAHN: "America's Most Wanted" debuted in February of 1988.

WALSH: Our first case is from the FBI's "10 Most Wanted" list. ZAHN: The first person profiled was caught three days later.

ANNOUNCER: "America's Most Wanted" is where America fights...

ZAHN: And, a once-reluctant John Walsh has been the host for nearly 20 years. In that time, "America's Most Wanted" has led to the capture of hundreds of fugitives.

No one has ever been charged in Adam Walsh's murder. In 1997, however, John published "Tears of Rage." In it, he and his co-author combed through Adam's 10,000-page police report. They also name a suspect.

WALSH: I believe that Ottis Toole, a serial killer who died on death row in Florida from AIDS and cirrhosis of the liver killed Adam. He confessed to Adam's murder on several occasions in spite of the media saying he recanted his story. He didn't recant his confession. His lawyer did.

ZAHN: Over the last two decades, John Walsh has been a tireless advocate, not only for children's rights, but also victims' rights. He has fought for new laws and he has helped thousands, and he's done it all with one person in mind.

WALSH: I've often thought that I wanted to make sure Adam didn't die in vain, that his beautiful little life wasn't in vain. And I think he's up there saying, go get 'em Dad. Hang in there.


ZAHN: And has his father ever hung in there. We asked you to e- mail us with some of your concerns about children and sexual predators. Here's what a few had to say.

Cassie from Kentucky writes, "The damage done by sexual abuse far exceeds the damage from drug offenses, yet our message is clear: rape a child, even a baby, and serve five to fifteen years, but sell crack- cocaine and a mandated 10-year sentence is imposed."

And this, from Bridget in Ohio: "As a survivor and as someone who volunteers with abused kids, it concerns me when most of the focus is on the [unknown pedophiles] of the world, because that focus overlooks a very real and much more prevalent danger to kids: the people they and their parents know and trust."

We want to hear your thoughts on the subject. Our e-mail address is

Coming up in a few minutes, the Michael Jackson molestation case. Tomorrow, one of his former wives will testify against him.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that their marriage was really for the purposes of public relations and image-making, but not for the purposes of, you know, love and romance. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: Coming up next -- what will Debbie Rowe have to say when she's on the witness stand tomorrow?

And a little bit later on -- what's with all that hand holding? Will it actually lead to lower gas prices?


ZAHN: A surprising and, so far, unexplained, development in the Michael Jackson sexual molestation trial, his lead lawyer, Tom Mesereau, filed paperwork informing the court that Jackson's long-time family attorney, Brian Oxman, is off the case.

Yesterday, these pictures tell it all. Oxman -- he's the guy on the left of your screen -- was seen in what I guess you would call an animated and apparently angry conversation with Mesereau. And there could be more drama at the trial tomorrow. Sources are telling CNN that the mother of Michael Jackson's two young children will take the stand. What do we know about Jackson's ex, Debbie Rowe? Here's senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.


JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR LEGAL ANALYST: It wasn't what you would call an obvious match. Michael Jackson, the King of Pop and Debbie Rowe, his dermatologist's nurse.

J. Randy Taraborrelli has written about Michael Jackson for more than 10 years.

J. RANDY TARABORRELLI, JACKSON BIOGRAPHER: Michael just thought that she was one of the most entertaining women that he's ever known.

TOOBIN: They married in Sydney while Jackson was on the Australian leg of his 1996 tour. The ceremony took place 10 days after they announced Rowe was pregnant with Michael's child.

TARABORRELLI: No one knew who she was. All of a sudden there is this mystery woman in Michael Jackson's life who's carrying his baby.

TOOBIN: What kind of marriage was this? One London tabloid quoted Rowe's father saying she was artificially inseminated. Others reported she was paid to carry the child.

TARABORRELLI: I think their marriage was really for the purposes of public relations and image making, but not for the purposes of, you know, love and romance.

TOOBIN: By the time the couple divorced in 1999, Rowe had given birth to two children, Prince Michael and Paris.

TARABORRELLI: Their relationship has been very strange. She never lived at Neverland. When they were husband and wife, they never lived together, yet she was having these children for Michael Jackson and giving them to him to raise.

TOOBIN: In 2001, Debbie gave up her parental rights to both kids saying at the time Michael was "a brilliant father," and it was in the children's best interest to be with him. According to court papers Rowe signed a confidentiality agreement when she and Jackson split, it barred her from discussing, "Paternity, Michael's mental or physical condition, purported drug use, sexual behavior or lifestyle" of her children. In return, she received a multi-million dollar settlement.

In 2003 after Martin Bashir's now infamous documentary on Michael Jackson, Debbie appeared in Michael's taped rebuttal defending her ex- husband.

DEBBIE ROWE, MICHAEL JACKSON'S EX-WIFE: He would never hurt a child, never. It's not in him. It's -- no way.

TOOBIN: But Jackson's arrest on molestation charges opened a new chapter in the strange relationship. Debbie initiated legal proceedings to regain custody of her children. And later that year when Debbie appeared on an entertainment show, Michael stopped paying her, saying she had broken their confidentiality agreement.


TOOBIN: Now, with their custody case still undecided, Rowe is being called to testify in Jackson's molestation trial tomorrow, Paula. And since this is a criminal case, the confidentiality agreement doesn't apply. So, she can tell the truth, whatever she knows.

ZAHN: What do we think she's going to say and how damaging could it be to Michael Jackson?

TOOBIN: Well, there's been a lot of litigation, already, about the scope of her testimony. And the one thing we know she's going to testify, is after the Bashir documentary, the Jackson camp tried to organize this rebuttal documentary. And Debbie Rowe, as we saw exert from, she was part of it.

ZAHN: Sitting in front of the fire, looking very cozy.

TOOBIN: And she is going to say, apparently, that this was very much a scripted performance. And much like the accuser's family said they were part of a scripted performance. And worse, she will say that she was sort of intimidated or promised access to her kids, which she didn't have, if and only if she played ball in this rebuttal documentary.

ZAHN: How much does this help the prosecution where the mother of these two children who have been a part of this case has been pretty weak so far?

TOOBIN: Not much. I don't see this as being terribly relevant evidence, because all of her dealings for starters, were with Jackson underlings, people working for Jackson. It's very hard to tie anything that she did in this case directly to Jackson. Plus, I mean, this is very intonated stuff. You know, she gave a rebuttal video. So, the parents of the accuser gave a rebuttal video. You have to draw a lot of inferences to make this at all relevant to the case.

ZAHN: So where are we today in this case? How do things look for both the prosecution and the defense?

TOOBIN: Well, the thing you always have to remember in this case is, that if the prosecution gets the jury to believe the accuser's testimony, it's over. He's convicted. And that's always important to remember. However...

ZAHN: That's a big if.

TOOBIN: ... that's the big if. Everything else in the case sure seems problematic to me. These witnesses were not great. The other big factor in the case, as we know, is that there were these other incidents testified to, you know, five other supposed molestations. There are problems with all five other accusers, but the jury may being saying to themselves, come on. Where there's smoke, there's fire. I mean, five accusations in addition to this case. That's the prosecution's best hope.

ZAHN: You're a former prosecutor yourself.

In the 15 seconds you have left, what is it that the prosecution can do to sort of close this case?

TOOBIN: Well, I think it's tough. I mean, I think they can hope Michael Jackson takes the stand, because I think he'd be a terrible witness. But Tom Mesereau...

ZAHN: That won't happen.

TOOBIN: That's -- that's not -- that's not going to happen. I think they've just got to hope that the jury believes where there's smoke, there's fire. And there is, fair enough, a lot -- a lot of smoke here.

ZAHN: Jeffrey Toobin.

TOOBIN: More to come.

ZAHN: That's for putting it mildly.

TOOBIN: Yes, indeed.

ZAHN: What's that line from "Alice in Wonderland," it gets more curiouser and curiouser everyday. What that it?

All right. Coming, a little macho hand holding grabs Jeanne Moos' attention.

But first just about 15 minutes before the hour, time again to check in with Erica Hill at Headline News.

I'd try to hold your hand, Erica, but you're so far away. HILL: We're so far away. But next time we're in the same city, Paula, we can hold hands.

ZAHN: See you in a little bit.

HILL: On to the headlines now.

The most wanted in terrorist in Iraq some how gave U.S. troops the slip. Officials say they very nearly had Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in February. They're not saying how he got away. Zarqawi calls his group al Qaeda in Iraq. And the U.S. says he does indeed work with Osama bin Laden. Sources do tell CNN one of Zarqawi's top lieutenants, though, was captured.

Florida Governor Jeb Bush sign as no retreat law, allowing people to respond with deadly force -- if needed to defend themselves. A lobbyist for the National Riffle Association looked on as Bush approved of the measure. Now, it makes clear that a person does not have to run way when under attack on street or in other public places.

In Massachusetts, talk about a treasure trove. Two Massachusetts men stumble on a trove of buried treasure, found it right in his own backyard. Tim Crebase, said they were trying to dig up a tree when they found box stuffed with cash, as well old gold and silver certificates. The findings valued at more than $130,000. So far no one knows where the money came from.

Some people in Maryland found their neighborhood is where the buffalo roam. A heard of about 10 buffalo some how got loose. Police had to learn herding pretty quick there, eventually using a tennis court as an improvised corral. Police say they know where the animals came from, so far though, they're telling.

Well, maybe not the buffalo, but the bulls sure have been stampeding for stock in Google. Valerie Morris takes a look at the company in tonight's market movers.


VALERIE MORRIS, CNN BUSINESS NEWS: Despite a rocky start leading up to initially public offering, Google keeps on rolling. It's changing the way we use the Internet and access information with a series of innovations. Google's products include a searchable index of more than 8 billion Web pages. Local searches, map services, comparison shopping site, Froogle and Gmail. The companies stock is soaring. Google shares are now trading at $200, that's more than double the August IPO price. Google's founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page started the company seven years ago in a garage. They're now billionaires.


HILL: That's the latest from Headline News. Paula back to you.

ZAHN: (INAUDIBLE) to the buffalo story, how folks wouldn't know where those buffalo came from is beyond me. But... HILL: Isn't that odd?

ZAHN: If you figure it out, share it with us tomorrow.

HILL: I definitely will.

ZAHN: All right. Take care. See you tomorrow.

We're coming up on "LARRY KING LIVE" in just about 12 minutes from now.

Hi, Larry. How are you doing tonight? Who's joining you?

LARRY KING, HOST LARRY KING LIVE: I want a home where the buffalo roam.

ZAHN: That's wild. Like, do you keep buffalo in your backyard, Lar?

KING: No, I haven't.

ZAHN: I don't know many people in Maryland who do either.

KING: Tonight, we're going to do a show on a topic that affects so many people, migraine headaches. And the guests will be a psychologist, a doctor who is an expert in migraines and three victims, Lee Grant, Susan Olsen in and my wife, Shawn all migraine suffers. That's ahead, migraine headaches -- Paula.

ZAHN: We'll be watching. Thanks, Larry. See you in about 11 minutes.

Still ahead -- making sense of a hands-on relationship.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They look kind of happy together together.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They do actually.


ZAHN: Jeanne Moos comes to grips with some presidential hand holding. Lasted a long time, too.

And find out who you picked as the "Person of the Day," surfer Donna Frye for getting a second shot at running for mayor of San Diego. Rafik Hariri the assassinated former prime minister of Lebanon, who's death accomplished his goal of getting Syrian troops out of Lebanon. Or skier Charles Horton who survived eight days in the Colorado woods with a broken leg, no cell phone, no food, no water and lots of frostbite. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ZAHN: Well, you voted. They're in. Time to reveal the "Person of the Day." Your choices were surfshop owner Donna Frye for getting a second shot at running for mayor of San Diego, Rafik Hariri whose assassination brought about the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon, or Charles Horton for surviving eight days in the Colorado wilderness after breaking his leg, with no water, no food, no cell phone. And you picked -- drum roll please -- oh, I'm dizzy -- skier Charles Horton.


(voice-over): One of the first things that comes to mind when you think of Colorado is skiing. With its challenging slopes and trails, it is home to some of the country's best skiers, people like Charles Horton. An experienced outdoorsman, Horton left his house and set off solo into Colorado's back country. But, what started as a one-day, cross-country ski trip turned into an eight-day ordeal.

While skiing, the 55-year-old massage therapist lost his footing, fell and broke his leg. With below-freezing temperatures and without food, water or a cell phone, he was left to fend for himself.

MARY O'BRIEN, FAMILY FRIEND: He was soaked pretty much to the skin, and at that time he questioned his ability to survive much longer.

ZAHN: But in an almost Hollywood-like ending, Charles Horton was rescued this morning. He was taken to a nearby hospital, dehydrated, hungry, barely able to speak, but very much alive.

DR. MICHAEL SISK, ORTHOPEDIC SURGEON: A lot of people in that situation would not have had a chance of making it.

ZAHN: There's a lesson to the story: no matter how experienced of an outdoorsman you may be, it's always a good idea to bring a friend. Charles Horton is a survivor and the "Person of the Day."


ZAHN: We'll be back.


THE BEATLES (SINGING): I want to hold your hand. I want to hold your hand. Oh please, say to me...

ZAHN: So, how do you feel about men holding hands? How about when it's the president holding hands with another world leader? Questions Jeanne Moos explores for all of us now.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is who we're used to seeing the president holding hands with. No wonder this came as a shock to some folks -- America's macho president.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God. Are they lovers?

MOOS: Love of oil is what makes these two a power couple. Maybe they were inspired by the tweeting birds or the bluebonnets.

GEORGE W. BUSH, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: This is our state flower.

MOOS: For nearly a minute, the Saudi Crown Prince and the president strolled hand in hand. The image was plastered on newspapers, captured from every angle.

They look kind of happy together.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They do actually.

MOOS: The "New York Post" observed that cowboys across the Lone Star State must be shuddering. Comedians took aim.

JAY LENO, HOST "TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": Show that footage from this morning.

(SINGING): Love lift us up where we belong...

MOOS: And there was this burning question....

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to know who initiated.

MOOS: Let's go to the instant replay. You judge. The president is routinely briefed on cultural customs of those he meets. When he met the Crown Prince in Crawford three years ago there was a mere handshake. Now they've graduated to double cheek kisses and hand- holding. Among other cultures, straight guys holding hands is nothing more than a sign of friendship. Even Tony Blair has gotten into the swing. Arabs do it all the time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If hand-holding is part of the culture and he's not going to show the American yuck sense of things.

MOOS: The most Americans seem able to stomach is the menage-a- trois handshake, but hand-holding...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Too much of an intimate relationship.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it was a gesture of kindness.

MOOS: And if Americans are getting squeezed at the gas pump...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it is not a hand-hold thing. It is a hand squeeze. Now, you'll lower those prices, right, sheik?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His wife's better looking than the sheik anyway.

MOOS: At least you know Laura is not jealous, though she might not appreciate the gay jokes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that Elton John and his fiancee?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. That's the president and the prince.

MOOS: And, speaking of gay guys getting hitched, look at the headline in the "Dallas Morning News" about a vote in the Texas House right, next to you know who holding hands. Does this mean that President Bush really did have a "mandate"?

THE BEATLES (SINGING): I want to hold your hand. I want to hold your hand.


ZAHN: Thank you, Jeanne Moos. That wraps it up for all of us here tonight. Really appreciate your being with us. We'll be back, same time, same place, tomorrow night. "LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.



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