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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Millions Wasted, Lives Lost in American Samoa; Democrats in Danger?

Aired October 27, 2009 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Your money was supposed to stop a disaster on American territory -- tonight, an investigation only on 360 into millions of tax dollars went and what the money really bought, instead of saving lives. We're "Keeping Them Honest."

"Digging Deeper": 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta goes inside one of the busiest in the country for children with the H1N1 flu. He brings back potentially life-saving information for parents.

And, later, a story we have been talking about all day -- what happened is terrible. What didn't happen is far worse. A young woman beaten and raped, as many as 20 people were involved or watched. Yet, nobody lifted a finger to stop it, nobody. Wouldn't you want to know how this be could? "Crime & Punishment" tonight.

First up tonight, though, something that, frankly, doesn't make a lot of sense, why 34 people had to die after you and I spent millions, millions of dollars for the sole purpose of saving their lives. They died halfway around the world in American Samoa. That's a tiny dot of an island.

You start here in mainland, United States, you go west out in the Pacific to Hawaii, then down here in the South Pacific, up here, American Samoa. It's an American territory way out there. Last month, an earthquake hit offshore. A massive wave formed. And that's when a brand-new multimillion-dollar warning system was supposed to kick in. But it didn't. And the waves hit.

You have seen these pictures before. You watch them play out here. What we didn't know until we started digging was that there was no warning, because the warning system was never built. Paid for, yes. Built, no. So, what did all that money buy that was worth 34 lives?

"Keeping Them Honest," we sent Drew Griffin and David Fitzpatrick of the CNN Special Investigations Unit to find out.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On a Saturday morning, villagers in Leone, American Samoa, hold funeral mass for the 33rd victim of this tsunami. Outside the packed church, the village remains in ruins. A boy is still missing here.

One village over, flowers mark the spot where two more died.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They found the mom, and now they're still looking for the -- the daughter now.

GRIFFIN (on camera): Nobody sent out a warning?

FIDELIS LEOTA, LEONE VILLAGE CHIEF: No warning at all. And we just...

GRIFFIN: That's why people died.

LEOTA: That's why people died.

GRIFFIN: We decided to investigate why the United States government has sent millions and millions of dollars to this island to prepare for an emergency that they weren't prepared for.

(voice-over): Records show U.S. taxpayers have shelled out nearly $13 million in disaster-preparedness grants since 2003, and, yet, no sirens, no warning system, and 34 dead.

And, to our surprise, the highest ranking official here on this American territory, an island of 68,000 people, the governor, says there was a study but never a plan for a warning system.

GOV. TOGIOLA TULAFONO, AMERICAN SAMOA: I was trying to get verification of what happened to that application. But I wasn't able to get the definite information.

GRIFFIN (on camera): There is every reason to believe tsunami warning sirens should have been blaring at the time when people, unbeknownst to them, were sitting in the line of fire. True?

BIRDSALL ALAILIMA, FORMER AMERICAN SAMOA HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: True.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): This man says he has all the information the governor says he lacks. His name is Birdie Alailima. And he worked for the governor as Samoa's homeland security adviser. He was fired two years ago, in 2007.

Today, Birdie lives with his son in the U.S. And he insists he was testing and preparing the very warning system the governor seems to know little about.

And the siren system that -- that was being planned for Leone was going to be right up here.

GRIFFIN: Thirty or more towers, 30 or more sirens. Hit a button, and a tsunami warning siren blasts across the island.

(on camera): What you're saying is that the tsunami warning system should have been in place?

ALAILIMA: Yes.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): So what happened? Birdie says some of the money from U.S. taxpayers for Samoan homeland security went missing. He says the government of Samoa was using that money to pay salaries of what he calls extra personnel.

(on camera): You're speaking like a bureaucrat.

ALAILIMA: Well...

(CROSSTALK)

GRIFFIN: When you say personnel put on the payroll, me, being from Chicago, think I'm rewarding my cronies with a job.

ALAILIMA: Well, in some ways, yes.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Not just new jobs. U.S. Homeland Security investigators reported emergency money instead was being spent on fancy extras, like plasma TVs, expensive leather furniture, and government SUVs not used for emergencies.

So, the U.S. stopped the free money train. It froze the Samoan preparedness accounts.

TULAFONO: I'm not going to fault them for freezing the funds. I mean, these are federal funds. They have oversight responsibility. And they saw fit to freeze the funds.

GRIFFIN: Federal negotiators wanted the Samoans to pay back those misused funds before unfreezing the rest of the money.

TULAFONO: All I'm saying to you is that we have tried to work with them, and we have tried to get some partial releases. But, so far, it hasn't -- hasn't happened.

GRIFFIN (on camera): A federal official in position to know calls the governor's statement nonsense. American Samoa was asked to pay back just some of the money it misused. The government here and the governor refused. And the tsunami siren system was stopped.

(voice-over): When we asked the governor's office about that, a spokesman declined to comment. Thirty-four dead, $13 million in U.S. taxpayer aid, and now CNN has learned the FBI is looking at why Samoa's tsunami warning systems were never built.

In fact, since 1995, the U.S. has sent $2 billion to American Samoa, that while the U.S. officially describes American Samoa as -- quote -- "high risk" for receiving federal funds.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: And Drew Griffin is with us now.

Drew, that stunning, stunning. There is no doubt, had this system been in place, lives would have been saved, right?

GRIFFIN: You know, no doubt.

You know, that FBI surveillance tape that you showed, John, it shows a 26-minute period of time between the earthquake shaking and the first wave coming ashore. That's according to that FBI tape. Now, if the sirens were up and running, sounding the alarm, because of the topography there, I can't imagine anybody in American Samoa who couldn't get to higher ground really in less than five minutes.

KING: And, despite this, as you noted at the end of the piece, more money heading in, more federal money heading into this territorial government?

GRIFFIN: And -- and this was probably the most stunning. We have got a sitting lieutenant governor there who's heading to a federal corruption trial. We have got the federal government calling this a high-risk island for sending money. Yet, the money flow going there, not just homeland security money, but I'm talking about all the money, John, is stunning.

Tomorrow night, we're going to show you just how much federal taxpayers are sending to American Samoa, and, from our perspective, just how little it is helping the average Samoan citizen, even now, as they try to recover from this tsunami, which really, I'm telling you, is a self-help kind of recovery. You have to do it yourself there.

KING: Drew Griffin "Keeping Them Honest."

And, as he notes, we will see you back here tomorrow night, Drew. thanks.

GRIFFIN: Yes.

KING: And coming up: Are the Democrats in danger with a pair of key elections coming up next week? We have got the "Raw Politics."

Plus, important information parents need to know about dealing with a flu virus that is nearly everywhere, but a vaccine that isn't.

Also tonight, text 360 about a story that is nearly as outrageous for what didn't happen as what did. Send your questions to our panel at AC360, or 22360, about how teenagers could beat and rape a young woman while others stood by and did nothing. Again, that's 22360, or AC360.

And, as always, standard rates apply.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: One week from today, New Jersey and Virginia will elect new governors. Now, two states do necessarily a national statement make. But those elections and a few others around the country will be watched as an early sign of what the country's mood might be next year in those critical midterm congressional elections.

Now, the White House is already saying foolish to suggest next week's voting is a referendum on the president. Still, Mr. Obama is heavily invested in both governor's races and in preparing for next year's contests. Since taking office, the president has been busy doing what presidents do best, raising money for their political party. The states in gold, places where Mr. Obama has been out raising lots of money for the Democrats just lately.

Let's take a closer look at the stakes next week. And we will start with Virginia, a big governor's race there. We will come out here and take a peek here. If the election were held today, the Democrat Creigh Deeds losing by 11 points to the Republican, Bob McDonnell, the Republican winning big there.

Now, in the last seven governor's elections, Democrats have won five. So, you can see a Democratic loss would be quite disappointing there. Virginia now also has two Democratic senators for the first time in nearly 40 years. So, Democrats have been gaining there. President Obama has twice been to the state, including today, to campaign for Mr. Deeds.

Now let's take a peek more up here. Let's come up to the state of New Jersey, move these guys out of the way. Up here, you have a three-way race. And this is quite significant. The independent candidate, Chris Daggett, could influence the race. The incumbent, Jon Corzine, with a very narrow lead in the recent polls.

Democrats have won three and Republicans two of the last five elections. The last Republican to win statewide in New Jersey, 1997. Mr. Obama, over the weekend, will make his third visit to campaign for the incumbent Governor Corzine.

So, just how much is at stake next Tuesday for the president? Should Democrats be worried?

The "Raw Politics" now with CNN contributor and Democratic strategist James Carville and Republican strategist Kevin Madden, who was a senior aide in the Mitt Romney presidential campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Gentlemen, let's start first big picture. Then we will hone in on some of these specific races.

James, as you watch what happens next week, people will say it's a referendum on Obama; it is this; it is that; it is the other thing.

What is the single biggest thing you are looking for? Is it whether your base is tired, demoralized?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I mean, I think that's one thing that -- obviously, that's one thing that you're going to want to look at.

And, you know, people tend to -- to decide that losers -- well, say, oh, well, it was just a localized state election. They will say it wasn't nationalized. The truth of the matter is, historically, these races mean something. They don't mean everything.

Governor Warner won in 2001. But the Republicans came and -- and won -- did well in the congressional elections of 2002. But, normally, they mean something. And, right now, they're -- they're going better for the Republicans than the Democrats.

KING: So, Kevin, the Republicans got thumped in 2006, thumped again in 2008. As you head into these few elections in 2009, what is the one biggest thing you're looking for, for proof that the party is regaining its footing?

KEVIN MADDEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, look, I think, if you look at why we lost in 2006 and why we lost in 2008, it was because we were no longer seen as the party of reform. And we had lost the mantle of being the party of ideas.

And reform and ideas are what motivate that larger swathe of voters that make up a center-right America. So, I'm going to be looking on whether or not these Republican candidates have been able to put together that grand coalition of center-right voters.

So, I want to see where independents are. I want to make sure that we're winning independents in places like Virginia, which will serve as a better microcosm for the electorate when we look forward to 2010 and then eventually 2012.

KING: Well, let's stick to Virginia. Probably not surprising, Republicans feel best about their chance there, James, but Eric Cantor, the House Republican whip, he is the number-two House Republican. He's from Virginia. He says, you know what? My state is a microcosm of where the country is right now, what people are feeling.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Is -- is Virginia the new Peoria, in the sense that, look, Obama was the first Democrat to carry it since 1964. Democrats have had great success at the governor's level lately. If this Republican wins...

CARVILLE: Right.

KING: ... is that a message?

CARVILLE: Well, we have also had great success at the Senate level also. We have got Democratic senators in Virginia.

Yes, I think it's going to be troubling. I don't think it's going to be the be-all or end-all. There have been Democratic governors during eras of Republican dominance in Virginia. But, look, would I would like to win this thing? Yes. Do we have a way to go before we accomplish that? Of course we do.

KING: And, Kevin, do Republicans need to win both governor's races to be able to claim, you know, a sweeping victory? I mean, the current Democratic governor of New Jersey, Jon Corzine, is about as popular as Bernie Madoff right now.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: If he wins reelection, what does that say about the Republicans?

MADDEN: Well, I think, if we lose in New Jersey -- and I'm still very confident that we can there -- if we lose in Virginia, it's because we let this become a race to the bottom, and we stopped talking about ideas.

I think, if you look at Virginia, and the reason that Bob McDonnell has done there very well -- done so well there, is, it serves as a case study for what happens when we don't ever race to the bottom; instead, we have a race to the top, a race that is about issues.

Bob McDonnell put together a coalition of voters that was persuaded that he was the right candidate on the economy, on jobs, on spending, on transportation, all the issues that voters list as the -- at the -- at the top -- as their top concerns.

KING: And, James, you come out of these two big Democratic years, and, yet, you look at a new Gallup poll, and 40 percent of Americans consider themselves conservative, more than at any other time in the last 20 years. Only 20 percent of Americans identify themselves as liberal.

Is that a result, a bit of a backlash against the Obama administration? Is that a little bit of what we're seeing here?

CARVILLE: I don't know from what. Before I saw the Gallup poll yesterday on the situation on this network, it generally breaks down 40-40-20. That's pretty consistent with everything I have seen. I think Gallup said it's up three points.

I would like to see some more data there. But it sure is the three points that rocked the world here. Look, there's no doubt the Republicans are doing better. We're not going to win three elections in a row. That's not going to happen. We had two big elections in '06 and '08. But there's a lot can happen between now and the congressional election in 2010. And, you know, let's wait and see, but it -- it might -- it might be a little better than people think.

KING: And, Kevin, when you say models for the future, if you look at Bob McDonnell, the Republican candidate in Virginia, his past was as a conservative, anti-abortion. He went to Pat Robertson's Regent University.

But he has been running talking about jobs, talking about education, not guns, not abortion, not the culture wars, if you will, reaching out to minorities. If he wins, will Republicans across the country say, this is the model?

MADDEN: Well, I think it will -- it will offer evidence, John, that we can win with a more modernized message. That doesn't mean that we have to moderate.

I think the issues that you laid out before, whether it's the defense of marriage, it's a defense of Second Amendment rights, or a defense of pro-life policies, those are important. But we have to look at what's driving voter concerns. And, right now, economic issues are driving voter concerns. Pocketbook issues are driving voter concerns, national security issues.

So, what we have to do is make sure that we put together a very compelling message that persuades that larger group of the electorate that's worried about what -- what their economic future and national security future looks like.

KING: One week to Election Day.

James Carville, Kevin Madden, gentlemen, thanks.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Just ahead tonight: He says he was distracted on the flight deck, and so was his captain. Now they're both grounded, their licenses suspended. And wait until you hear what the feds said about them when they yanked their tickets.

Also, text us your questions to AC360, or 22360, if you're wondering, as we all are tonight, about, how can people watch a horrible crime unfold in front of them and do nothing -- nothing -- to help, a gang rape. What stops people from doing the right thing? Text AC360.

And, remember, standard rates do apply.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: The family of a woman who died after taking part in a sweat lodge ritual is speaking out and demanding answers from the self-help superstar who led the ceremony. You will hear from them a little bit ahead.

First, though, other important stories tonight -- Erica Hill joins us with a 360 news and business bulletin.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And, John, we begin with breaking news about Afghanistan -- "The New York Times" reporting that the brother of the Afghan president has received regular payments from the CIA for much of the past eight years.

The paper says Ahmed Wali Karzai, a suspected player in the country's opium trade, was paid for a variety of services, including helping to recruit an Afghan paramilitary force that operates at the CIA's direction. The CIA declined to comment to CNN about that report.

Eight more Americans dead in Afghanistan today, making October the deadliest month of the war. The soldiers were killed in two roadside bomb attacks. Fourteen Americans died yesterday in two separate helicopter crashes.

The FAA has revoked the licenses of two Northwest Airlines pilots who overshot the Minneapolis Airport by 150 miles and were unreachable by air traffic controllers for more than an hour. The pilots said they were using personal laptop computers during that period. In a strongly-worded enforcement letter, the FAA called the pilots' actions a total dereliction and disregard of their duties.

Home prices up for a third straight month in August, with San Francisco, Minneapolis, and San Diego seeing the biggest climbs. That's according to an index of 20 major cities -- prices, however, still just about 30 percent off their peak in May of 2006.

And a plunge in Iceland's currency has made it too expensive to operate the country's McDonald's restaurants. So, all three are closing. Iceland's krona has lost half its value since January 2008, which means the cost of a Big Mac right now, John, is the equivalent of more than five U.S. dollars.

KING: Bad for McDonald's. Oh, it's the wrong thing to say, but I wonder, if went back in six months, if Iceland would be, say, in a little better shape, maybe lose a little weight?

HILL: Oh, I don't know. We will have to see, although, for the owner of the franchise, he said McDonald's did everything they could to try to help. And...

KING: It's tough.

(CROSSTALK)

HILL: They parted on -- on good terms.

KING: The financial crisis hit Iceland incredibly hard, on a more serious note...

HILL: Yes.

KING: ... just like many people here.

All right, 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta on the front lines of the H1N1 battle -- what you need to know to protect your family.

And, later, in his upcoming no-holds-barred memoir, tennis star Andre Agassi logs -- lobs a bombshell -- his surprising confession ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Got kids? Then you have got worries. That's just part of the deal. But, right now, there is a wild card, the H1N1 flu. It is hitting kids hard -- schools across the country reporting infection rates in the double digits, and hitting worried parents harder, because we all want to do the right things to prevent it and take the right steps if our children come down with it.

Today, we learned that Sasha and Malia, the first daughters, have gotten their flu shots, H1N1 and the seasonal variety. Their parents only got the seasonal shot, because they're not in the high-risk group for H1N1.

The question is, what about your kids?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KING: And Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us now.

Sanjay, so a child can go from having mild symptoms to quickly deteriorating. So, then how do emergency rooms determine which kids get admitted and which kids should go home and wait it out?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, it's interesting.

If you look at the children who have the worst sort of consequences of this, these are kids who often get another infection on top of H1N1. So, they get the viral infection. Their immune system gets a little compromised, and then they get a bacterial infection on top of that, which usually affects the lungs.

And why that's important is that they often will get a fever. That fever will go away, and then it will come back. A fever that goes away and comes back, John, that is a huge red flag for E.R. doctors and should be for parents alike.

Also, as you might imagine, just difficulties breathing, trying to -- have difficulties speaking while breathing, for example, that can be a red flag. And any sort of bluish tint to the fingernail beds or to gums, any of those things, those are all red flags, John.

HILL: Hey, Sanjay, it's Erica. A question for you about when it comes to vaccinations....

GUPTA: Hey, Erica.

HILL: ... because even as we hear about these overcrowded E.R.s with children, so many parents are still skeptical about getting their kids vaccinated -- vaccinated. In fact, a recent "Consumer Reports" poll found nearly 70 percent of parents said, you know what? I would rather let my kids get a natural immunity by letting them get the H1N1 virus, kind of like chicken pox.

Is that, A, possible? And, B, is that really a smart move?

GUPTA: Well, it's possible, but not smart.

I mean, this is -- you know, this is one of those interesting things, Erica, because you're right. There were a lot of kids who got chicken pox, and got natural immunity that way. But we also know that there -- there are kids who are dying of this H1N1 infection.

And we can't always predict who those children are going to be. We know kids who have underlying illness, they're going to be the worst off. But if you get this infection, you're going to be sick for -- for several days. I mean, most kids are going to recover just fine, but you're going to be very, very sick.

And getting the vaccine is just so much easier. KING: And, Sanjay, we know the government is well behind its initial estimates for producing H1N1 vaccine. So, it's in short supply. But what about now we're hearing the liquid Tamiflu for kids that you can buy over the counter? That missing as well?

GUPTA: Yes. You know, and it's funny, because I had some personal experience with this as well, some of the pharmacies in my home area simply not having enough Tamiflu.

I asked that same question at Boston Children's Hospital today. And what they reminded me -- and I think it's a good message for -- for doctors and pharmacists out there -- is, you can take Tamiflu, and you can sort of reconstitute that. You take the actual -- the actual substance, and reconstitute that either water or in some cherry- flavored syrup or something that kids like to drink.

So, if they can't take the pills, there are ways to do that. You just got to ask your pharmacist about actually getting the liquid form.

KING: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks so much.

GUPTA: Thanks, guys.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: And still so many unanswered questions about the H1N1 vaccine, with the first being, where can you find it? Go to AC360.com to find out.

Up next: They watched and did nothing. A girl is gang-raped. A crowd stands by. Why didn't they help her?

We also want to hear what you think. Text your question to AC360 or 22360.

Plus, a woman said to be in perfect health dies after attending a sweat lodge ceremony. We will talk to her family -- tonight on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: An unthinkable, unthinkable crime in northern California is sparking outrage across the country. It's hard to imagine, but authorities say a 15-year-old girl was gang raped for at least two hours following a homecoming dance yesterday at her high school. What makes this story even more disturbing is that apparently there were police officers on patrol in the area as well as school officials who were at the dance but nowhere in sight when the girl is being victimized.

Dan Simon has the latest in tonight's "Crime & Punishment" report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAM SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For 2 1/2 hours, police say she was repeatedly raped and beaten, 2 1/2 hours. And it happened right under the noses of police officers, teachers, school administrators, and other adults hired to make sure Richmond High School's homecoming dance went off without incident.

What happened? How could everyone have missed a gang rape happening on school grounds on their watch?

(on camera) As far as you know, nobody walked around outside of the school to see if anything was happening?

CHARLES RAMSEY, SCHOOL DISTRICT BOARD MEMBER: Well, obviously it didn't. Because the student was gang raped for 2 1/2 hours from 9:30 to midnight. And so I'm certain of that, that there was no surveillance done.

SIMON (voice-over): Charles Ramsey is a 16-year member of the district's school board. He says procedures weren't followed, procedures that require active surveillance during school events.

(on camera) Why didn't anybody at the school bother to go outside, look around, see what may have been going on?

RAMSEY: I haven't been told that yet. I mean,, this just happened over the weekend. I have to look into that and find out. I can't speak to what the motives and rationale is.

But I believe, from what I'm hearing, that people felt the dance was going well. People were having fun, that everybody who was there was in the building and that they had closed the doors and so they -- the situation was contained.

And this girl had left. So they didn't know that she had returned or came back.

Should we have anticipated it? Yes. I believe that you have to anticipate any potential problem.

SIMON: Here's what we know. The dance took place inside the high school gym and the victim left around 9 p.m. to be picked up bier her father. Instead, a friend asked him to walk with him towards the back alley on the other side of school. And that's apparently where they were greeted by others with alcohol.

You can still see the remnants of some crime scene tape. This is where the people involved would have gained access to this area. Normally, this fence right here is closed. We are told that everybody would have had to jump over this fence.

And this is where the alleged rape took place back in this area where you see those picnic tables.

(voice-over) The area has no lights, no surveillance cameras either. They've been ordered but not installed yet. Another reason why Randy says it should have been searched.

Not to mention the high school has a history of violence on campus. And Richmond itself is considered one of the most dangerous cities in California.

RAMSEY: As the duly elected official, I'm going to share in the responsibility and say that we probably could have done better.

SIMON: And if what happened here couldn't get any more troubling, listen to this. Police think as many as 10 people might have been involved in the rape and another ten just stood by and watched. Why didn't they help? Why didn't they call 911? Right now police have no idea.

Police arrested the 15-year-old boy who led the victim to the alley. His name withheld because he's a minor. Also in custody, 19- year-old man Manuel Ortega, a former Richmond High student. Neither has been formally charged.

LT. MARK GAGAN, RICHMOND POLICE DEPARTMENT: What we also know is that during the 2 1/2 hours that this crime was going on, several people came, saw what was going on and either left and didn't report it to the police or stayed and observed and. in some cases. participated in her gang rape.

SIMON: The victim, found unconscious, was hospitalized with non- life-threatening injuries. As a community wonders how a high school homecoming could have turned into such madness.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: And, Dan, the stomach just turns. Ten people involved, another ten maybe watching and not doing anything. It's shocking no one has come forward. Is there any reason to believe the authorities have any reason to believe it will start coming forward?

SIMON: Well, first of all, John, we should point out that those ten or so people who watched what happened but did not report it, you might find this surprising. That police say they have no authority to arrest and charge those people. They say the law is very rigid in that regard.

We should point out and publicize, however, that police say they are offering a $20,000 reward for information that may lead to the arrest and conviction of those directly involved in this rape. Twenty thousand dollars certainly a notable figure, especially for high school students, John.

KING: Dan Simon for us tonight. A horrible story. Thank you, Dan.

How could this happen and why? Why did no one try to help her? Education contributor Steve Perry is here with some important thoughts on this disturbing subject. And also joining us, Mary Koss. She's a clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Arizona.

Steve, you work with kids all the time. Does the brutality of this shock you?

STEVE PERRY, CNN EDUCATION CONTRIBUTOR: It -- it doesn't shock me, sadly. I am saddened by it. But it doesn't shock me.

I've seen that we -- we've seen from our children that they are stooping to a level that -- of depravity that we could have never have hoped to have seen. This is what happens when children are unchecked and unloved.

What we see is there are too many administrators and too many police officers in that building for something not to happen. Two and a half hours this went on?

My heart goes out to this child. I want to make sure that she and her family know that people throughout the country love and support her and wish her the very best. And we know she's going to make it back, and she's going to be a hero, and we're going to be so proud of her.

But these children who have done this to her, I hope they do everything they can to send them away as far and as long as they possibly can.

KING: Mary, Steve was just saying, two hours. Two hours and witnessed by countless people. Yet, nobody called the police. Nobody ran inside to try to get somebody. How can that happen?

MARY KOSS, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST/PROFESSOR: John, thanks so much for having me and, Steve, thank you so much for expressing the outrage about this tragedy that we -- that we -- we all, all feel. This is a horrible, horrible thing.

KING: Mary, how do you explain -- I mean, what is there in psychology, what is there in human behavior that nobody would do anything? Nobody would run and pound on the door of the school? Nobody would go get the police?

KOSS: You know, we call that the bystander effect. And we've seen it in some other incidents that -- that occurred over the years. It's -- it is really hard to believe how people can stand around, and they somehow think that someone else is taking care of it. And so nothing ends up getting done.

What I think is even more amazing, though, is that, in this day and age, with cell phones and kids sending text messages, 4,000 of them a month, uploading, you know, their own videos, I just don't understand how people didn't think, "Get out my phone, get some help here."

PERRY: I don't know that they didn't. I don't know that people didn't say something to kids inside. Typically, when something happens at a dance, there's a buzz that develops. So you know something is going on somewhere. Typically. And so there is that.

But this is the same type of behavior that we saw in Chicago. This is the same type of behavior that we've seen in other places where children know what's going on, but there's something about it.

I had a conversation with a couple young ladies at our school about Chris Brown. And they were listening to his music. And I said, "What do you think about what he's done?"

And they had rationalized it. They said, "Well, you know, he's a nice guy. And it wasn't really that bad what he did."

Our children have lost their way. They have lost their way in a way in which we should have never expected. Things are really bad. If you haven't visited your schools lately, you should, because what's coming down the pike should frighten you. It should frighten you. Because children are not connected in a way in which we need them to be. This should not be able to happen at all, anywhere on earth.

KING: Let's get to our "Text 360" question. And Mary, we'll put that one to you. It's from a Lilibeth Edmonds in Washington. She wants to know, "Do you think the violence our children see on TV, movies, video games, et cetera, contribute to their own violent behavior?"

KOSS: Well, I'm absolutely very worried about that. I think when incidents like this happen, it has to be a wakeup call: a wakeup call for our society, a wakeup call for our families, a wakeup call for our schools. What exactly are we doing as a society to create the conditions where something like this could occur?

KING: And, Steve, what about the victim? We were talking about the outrage that people could have watched this. There's a young girl that's been brutalized at the age of 15. What happens?

PERRY: I have to be honest with you, John. It's tough for me to hold it together. I work with so many children. And I know what happens to a child when they have a sexual assault. What that does for them throughout their life.

And I'm hoping that this young lady has the capacity and the people around her to build her up, to let her know that you didn't deserve this. You did nothing at all to deserve this. These were mean and hateful and hurt people who did this to you. This is their issue, not yours. You can and will recover from this. Let this be an incident that happened but don't let it color your life forever.

Easy for me to say. I want to make sure I say that. But these are at best encouraging words, because I want this child, and her family to know that throughout the country, through all over the world, we believe that this wasn't her fault. This was -- this was the other children's fault. They did this to her. She didn't do this to herself.

KING: Steve Perry here with me. Mary Koss, thanks, as well. We can't understand this, so I won't try to pretend we can. But we appreciate both of your insights to help us do a little bit of a better job trying to explain it. Steve and Mary, thank you.

Next, the latest on another story we're following, three dead after a spiritual retreat tragedy. Tonight, one family is speaking out and taking action against the leader, James Arthur Ray. We talk to them ahead. And shocking the sports world, Andre Agassi with a huge admission. What the former tennis star had been hiding, when "360" continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Tonight, an emotional new interview with the family of a victim from that fatal sweat lodge tragedy in Arizona. Liz Neuman was one of three people who died after attending the New Age ritual. Her family is demanding answers, especially from the controversial self- help guru who led the sweat lodge ceremony.

Gary Tuchman spoke with her three children today and joins us from Minneapolis with a "360 Follow."

Gary, what do the children want?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Liz Neuman was 49 years old when she died after nine days in a coma. She does have three children, two sons and one daughter. And they want James Ray to be criminally charged. They're also planning to file a wrongful death lawsuit against him.

They say their mother was loyal to James Ray, that she knew him for seven years, went to many of his seminars and events, spent a lot of money with him. And they say they would have expected James Ray or one of his workers to tell them she was in the hospital in critical condition. Instead, the children found out on their own.

They flew from here in Minnesota to Arizona to be by their mother's bedside. And they expected to see James Ray or one of his assistants in the hospital.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDREA PUCKETT, DAUGHTER OF SWEAT LODGE VICTIM: I initially thought, "Well, they must be there, and there must have been such chaos that they can't identify people. They don't have phone numbers for some reason they're able to get to.

TUCHMAN: So you gave him the benefit of the doubt?

PUCKETT: I did at first. I assumed that when I got there, that I would see him or some of his people there. And when I got there, there was no one.

TUCHMAN: When you got there and saw no one, what did you start realizing about this situation?

PUCKETT: I started to realize that he obviously doesn't care for her as much as she -- she cared for him. I mean, they had a relationship for seven years where she helped to grow his business. And when she needed him most, he was nowhere to be found.

(END VIDEOTAPE) KING: Gary, what did the doctors say about her condition and nowhere to be found? Did he ever -- did James Ray ever come to the hospital?

TUCHMAN: Well, initially, the doctors gave the children some hope. They put her in a medically-induced coma. But a week and a half later, after the sweat lodge incident, she passed away.

And what doctors are telling the children she died of massive organ failure, caused by severe heat stroke. Now James Ray never came to the hospital to visit her. But he did reach out.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TUCHMAN: You get a call during your mother's coma from James Arthur Ray?

PUCKETT: No.

TUCHMAN: Did you get a call from anyone that works with James Arthur Ray?

PUCKETT: No, no contact.

TUCHMAN: Whatsoever?

PUCKETT: Nothing.

TUCHMAN: Your mom paid $9,700 to be at this seminar, this several days in Sedona, Arizona. James Arthur Ray knew her for seven years and never called? Did you ever hear from him after she died?

PUCKETT: I did. I heard from him the Sunday, the day after that, that she had passed.

TUCHMAN: So a week and a half afterwards, after your mother took sick, you finally heard from him. What happened?

PUCKETT: Ten days afterwards, did he call me. Once he said his name, I couldn't bear myself to talk to him. So I hung up the phone.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: And, Gary, one would assume from that, if she did get a chance to talk to Ray's people, some choice things to say?

TUCHMAN: Yes, she had. I mean, all three of these children, they are very angry. They're angry that James Ray is continuing to hold these seminars. We just went to one last week in Colorado. He's continuing to bring in business.

They're angry at his responses. He hasn't told the families he's sorry. But what he's done is he's gone on his Facebook site, on his Web site to express his regrets.

They're angry that he hasn't talked to law enforcement. Law enforcement tells us they still haven't talked to James Ray. They would like to.

What we're being told right now is that a homicide investigation is under way, but as of now, charges have not been filed against Ray.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRYAN NEUMAN, SON OF SWEAT LODGE VICTIM: The things that went on there were obviously inhumane, and the way he handled it, he basically -- basically acted like a, you know, heartless, soulless coward. He abandoned everyone there and their families and didn't contact them.

PUCKETT: I keep thinking that after all this goes away, after it's out of the news, after, you know, lawsuits and all that is done, that she's going to be back, that she's going to be here, you know, cooking Thanksgiving dinner and, you know, being there for future weddings and grandkids. And it's hard to think that she won't be here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TUCHMAN: Twenty-six-year-old Andrea's birthday was October 8, the same day that her mother was in the sweat lodge. Tomorrow, 20 days later, her mother will be laid to rest -- John.

KING: It's a horrible story. Horrible. Gary Tuchman, thanks.

The family says Liz Neuman was in perfect help before entering the sweat lodge. So what could have happened during the ceremony that caused her death? Let's get some answers from our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, as we heard there, Liz Neuman died from massive organ failure. What could cause that?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, when you think about all the various organs in the body, they demand a continuous supply of oxygenated blood. The brain demands it the most, followed by the heart, and then other organs really crave this. And if they're not getting it, the cells start to break down.

Now a combination of dehydration with overheating can cause your blood pressure to fall, not enough oxygen getting to the various organs, and can start to cause that cell death.

What is particularly interesting here, John, is that when you're in a sweat lodge, you can't really count on the body's natural cooling mechanism to work. The body -- the body can cool itself very well, even in extreme heat, by sweating. The sweat gets on your skin and evaporates. The body starts to cool down.

John, you can imagine a sweat lodge, there's so much moisture, so much humidity in the air, so much sweat, frankly, that the evaporation process never takes place.

KING: Well, let's dig a little deeper there. Thirty-six hours of fasting before entering the sweat lodge and then the conditions you mentioned. What do you suspect their bodies were going through?

GUPTA: Well, you know, the 36 hours of fasting in and of itself, people would have dizziness. They might feel lethargic. They might feel a little lightheaded, all the things you might expect from simply not having eaten for some time.

Then when you start to add this -- this dehydration/overheating, what little sort of reserve was in the body starts to diminish even further.

Several things can happen at that point. Your body's natural mechanisms to cool start shutting down. The body temperature goes up. But you also start to become disoriented. And the reason that's so crucial is that, at some point, if you're not disoriented you say, "Look, this isn't right. I need to do something about this." Get out in the fresh air, cool yourself down in some way. But if you're disoriented, you don't even make -- you don't have that good judgment.

KING: And would some people be more susceptible, or maybe the word is more vulnerable than others to the heat and the conditions they face in a sweat lodge?

GUPTA: Yes. And usually it's the people that Gary was talking about. I mean, it's the elderly, whose own cooling mechanisms don't work as well. And it's the very young.

KING: And so in this case, though, Liz Neuman, 49, active physically, said to be in pretty good health. No warning signs there, right?

GUPTA: No. I wouldn't think so. I mean, when I heard this story the first time, I was surprised, I think, like a lot of doctors were. But I think it's a reminder that this -- you know, the body temperature can really fluctuate wildly under certain circumstances. Most of the time it's great at taking care of itself. But certain circumstances make it much worse.

KING: And based on everything you've heard about what was going on in the sweat lodge, the condition of the people, what medical attention could have been given?

GUPTA: Well, it's a great question. And the No. 1 thing to try and cool that body down as quickly as possible. It is the heat. It is the extreme heat that's causing the problem at that point, causing that massive cell death.

There's all sorts of different ways to cool someone down. Some emergency rooms will literally put someone in cold water. Other people do a thing where they'll put cold water on the body and then use fans to sort of evaporate that cold water away. Other people would use ice packs all around the body, even injecting cold saline into the veins. But that's really the No. 1 goal and to sort of control the blood pressure.

KING: Incredibly sad story. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks for your insights. GUPTA: Thank you.

KING: The sweat lodge tragedy is causing business setbacks for James Arthur Ray. Find out just how on AC360.com.

Next, a shocking admission from Andrew Agassi. Find out what he admits to doing while playing professional tennis.

And working for David Letterman, one former writer speaks out. Hear what she says life was like as a woman working for the funny man.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: A lot more happening tonight. Erica Hill joins us again with a "360 Bulletin."

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: And John, a story that's breaking right now, as we speak. There is new video coming to us out of Kabul. You can see a column of smoke rising over the Afghan capital. Here you see there are reports of a fire fight. So far, though, not many details beyond that. These are live pictures you're looking at, again, from the Afghan capital. CNN's Chris Lawrence is on the ground there. We'll get an update from him if the situation warrants.

This, of course, comes just one day after eight American soldiers were killed by roadside bombs in Afghanistan.

A confession from Andrew Agassi. According to reports, the former tennis star admits in a new autobiography he used crystal meth during his career, failed a drug test and even lied to the ATP. Agassi won eight Grand Slam singles titles before retiring in 2006. That autobiography hits stores November 9.

Arrest made in the stabbing death of a University of Connecticut football player. Jasper Howard was killed outside a school-sanctioned dance earlier this month. The prime suspect, Josh Lomax III, is charged with Howard's murder. His attorney says Lomax, though, was just trying to break up a fight. Police have charged two others in connection with the fight.

And a former female writer for "Late Night with David Letterman" says she worked in a hostile, sexually charged atmosphere. Nell Scovell writes on "Vanity Fair's" Web site sexual politics led her to quit what had been her dream job and says there are too few female comedy writers. She's calling on Letterman and others to hire more women and to treat them with respect, John.

Not the end of the Letterman story yet.

KING: I know. I suspect more will speak out as this one goes on.

HILL: They just may. So let's lighten things up a little bit, shall we, with a little "Shot" action?

KING: Let's do it. HILL: A kid you probably don't want to mess with. He's tough. The little man has a six-pack.

KING: Ooh.

HILL: Did I mention he's 5? Yes. This is the boy wonder from Romania. YouTube put him -- look at that. They made him a sensation, obviously.

In addition to playing and drawing, he apparently works out a lot.

KING: Wow.

HILL: I'm amazed at this. He excels in walking on his hands, and reportedly those hand-walking skills have earned him a spot in "The Guinness Book of World Records." It's impressive and, frankly, a little creepy.

KING: Perhaps the future governor of California.

HILL: Yes.

KING: All right. So what are your suggestions for "The Shot"? You, too, Governor Schwarzenegger. Bring it on. Let us know at AC360.com.

Shifting gears again, serious stuff coming up at the top of the hour. Thirty-four people died on American territory. Your tax dollars were supposed to prevent it. We're following the money, finding the culprits who wasted it, "Keeping Them Honest."