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LEGAL VIEW WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD
Mia Farrow Accuses Woody Allen of Sexual Abuse; Police Chemist Accused of Tampering with Evidence; Manhunt for Escaped Prisoner; CPAC Asks Christie to Speak at Annual Meeting.
Aired February 3, 2014 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Allen has consistently denied the claims and was never charged. The allegations have tainted his image for two decades.
Now, Dylan, breaking her silence and admonishing some of Hollywood's most celebrated who are, in her words, turning a blind eye by continuing to work with Allen. Others are still scared, vulnerable, and struggling for the courage to tell the truth. The message that Hollywood sends matters for them." She goes on to write, "Woody Allen is a living testament to the way our society fails the survivors of sexual assault and abuse."
Allen's lawyer reportedly responding, "It is tragic after 20 years a story engineered by a vengeful lover resurfaces after it was fully vetted and rejected by independent authorities."
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Deb Feyerick reporting.
For the LEGAL VIEW on this, I want to bring in attorney and legal analyst, Lisa Bloom, who has extensive experience defending and representing child sex abuse victims. Start with the credibility factor.
What makes Dylan stand out?
LISA BLOOM, ATTORNEY & CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Woody Allen would be presumed innocent in a court of law. I think she is very credible. She is not trying to sell anything, not a book, not a movie. She has not sued him. There is no case pending. All the details are consistent with what we know about sexual assault. His putting his thumb in her mouth, his head on her naked lap -- that is consistent with what we know. To say that a 7-year-old fantasized about sex with her father, that's completely wrong. 7-year-olds do not fantasize about sex with their father. To a 7-year-old, sex is repulsive and disgusting. This is a woman that reported it at the time. Unfortunately, the authorities did not handle the case well. I think her story is credible.
BANFIELD: Mr. Allen released a statement through one of his representatives, read the article and found it untrue and disgraceful. He said author reinvestigation was conducted by a court-appointed, independent expert and concluded there was no evidence of molestation. Woody Allen said, I didn't find any moral problems when it came to being with Suni, another adopted daughter whom he had' sexual relationship with her whom he married. I didn't feel because she was Mia's daughter there was any great moral dilemma. Can we connect one circumstance with the other?
BLOOM: It shows is an almost sociopathic lack of empathy for the family. She was the daughter of his girlfriend that he had a long- term, serious relationship with. He seemed completely oblivious to the pain that caused to Mia Farrow and the others. He made a very famous movie where he starred as a 42-year-old man having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl with absolutely no moral compunction whatsoever. He has been interested in underaged girls for a long time.
BANFIELD: Lisa Bloom, always good to have you.
BANFIELD: Thousands of criminal cases could be ruined because of alleged tampering with evidence this is the crime lab we are talking about, a worker at a lab at the center of the investigation. Wait until you hear what he is accused of doing and what implications this has for ongoing trials.
BANFIELD: Thousands of criminal cases in Florida could be compromised all because one person allegedly stole drugs from an evidence room. It is not just any person either. It is a law enforcement chemist. The chemist is accused of switching out the prescription medication, the evidence and putting back in over-the-counter medication instead.
CNN's Nick Valencia explains, it is not just a small problem. This could jeopardize eight years worth of cases.
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More than 2000 criminal cases at risk of being thrown out or overturned. A Pensacola, Florida, chemist accused of swapping out drug lab evidence with over-the-counter aspirin.
GERALD BAILEY, FDLE COMMISSIONER: It could be personal use. It could be trafficking. It could be each of those. We don't know.
VALENCIA: This is significant. Florida Department of Law Enforcement spokesman told CNN, "We've never had to undertake something like this before."
The investigation spans 35 counties across the state of Florida. In all, 2600 cases over the past eight years. All of them potentially impacted because of alleged evidence tampering. BAILEY: Our first priority is to find out exactly what happened in this particular case and work with the state attorneys to hold this person criminally accountable.
VALENCIA: The investigation began last week when the Escambia sheriff's office and state attorney noticed missing prescription pain pills from the evidence room. Instead, the drugs were replaced with over-the-counter medication. Florida's attorney general said the situation underlies the extent of prescription drug abuse in the United States. "Our battle in Florida has been very successful over the last three years. I will not tolerate any actions to compromise our continued success in ridding our state of this problem."
VALENCIA (on camera): Not all of the 2600 cases were drug related. They will all be reviewed to make sure the chemist didn't allegedly tamper with any other evidence. Law enforcement officials tell me he has been removed from duty and hired an attorney. Charges are pending.
Nick Valencia, CNN, Atlanta.
BANFIELD: Bring back in Mark O'Mara from Florida.
This just gets my blood boiling. Imagine the hundreds of thousands and millions in fact of dollars that have been spent in those prosecutions.
BANFIELD: One quick question for you. Is it possible that serious bad guys could be released from jail or prison so that their cases can be reviewed just because there is such a mess on the table?
MARK O'MARA, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY & CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Worse than just reviewed, I think what they have to do is say these 2600 cases, every case that this man has touched in the past eight years is going to be overturned. The reason why is we now know he is either a drug dealer or a drug abuser or both. But not only did he let go of 2600 cases that should have been properly prosecuted, he has undermined the whole system. I, as a criminal defense attorney, am pretty frustrated we trust somebody like him to properly prosecute my client and he either stole drugs or made them up and now we have 2600 cases that are going to be overturned. They all have to be.
BANFIELD: How about Annie Dukan (ph) up in Massachusetts who had thousands of cases that were affected? 600 defendants had convictions they temporarily set aside. Let's just say, right here and now, let's hope none of this ever came near a death penalty case. That's where I start getting real angry.
You and I are going to talk about that in another time and place. Thank you for that. Do appreciate it.
Another big case we have to get to, a convicted killer right now on the loose. He is supposed to be behind bars for a life sentence. He killed four people. Now, he has escaped from a Michigan prison, took a woman hostage with a knife or a box cutter or some other gentle piece of equipment. Now, he out there. So, how is the manhunt going? We'll update you in a moment.
BANFIELD: A manhunt is underway for a convicted murder that escaped from a prison less than 24 hours ago. Michael David Elliot, he killed four people and abducted a woman using a box cutter right after he got out. He then drove all the way to Indiana where he eventually stopped for gas and, thank god, the woman got -- she got away. She called 911. That did not help to get him back.
Our George Howell is with us from Chicago.
What kind of manhunt is underway? How many people are looking for this guy? He is dangerous.
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We know this is across state lines. We know the U.S. Marshals are involved in this. You can see the mug shot. You can see it here on the screen. We know the vehicle, a red jeep liberty. Yesterday evening, we understand, that is when officials at the correctional facility, the Ionia County Correctional Facility realized that the inmate was missing. We also got some more insight into exactly how this happened. According to surveillance video there, he got his hands on prison whites. This is a uniform that is associated with being in the kitchen. However, Elliot was not assigned to the kitchen. He managed to get access to a part of that prison where he basically bent the wires, I should say. He bent the fence, saw that he was able to get out of the interior fence and the perimeter fence. He made his way to freedom. Here is the thing. He made his way to the city of Ionia and carjacked the woman and the two of them headed to Elk Heart, Indiana. That is where we are learning a story about how a dispatcher helped this woman to escape.
I want you to listen to some of this 911 audio. You can see what happened. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
He doesn't say where exactly. He just said somewhere far.
Yes, it is occupied. Yes, in a little bit. Sorry. Taking me longer than what I thought.
Is that him?
He is knocking on the bathroom door saying, let's go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: So you understand, the dispatcher apparently told the woman to go into the restroom, to lock the door. She was told to do that when Elliot went inside to pre-pay for gasoline. When she went into that gas station, she did not come out. Apparently, Elliot, you heard there, you heard him talking. I don't know if you could hear it but you could hear him basically saying, it is time to come out. She did not. That's apparently when he decided to flee.
BANFIELD: That's just chilling, just absolutely chilling given what he is capable of.
George Howell, you would think maximum security wouldn't be in words only.
Thank you for that.
We'll continue to update that story.
Also, there is this. Give us the documents. Cough them up today. Today is your deadline. All of this in that big Chris Christie investigation over the bridge traffic scandal. A flurry of accusations over the weekend. We are going to sort this out after the break.
BANFIELD: This was supposed to be the day that New Jersey lawmakers got a whole new batch of e-mails and text messages and all sorts of other documents in the Chris Christie bridge investigation. But turns out that deadline on the subpoenas is a little softer than we thought. So we do expect the governor himself to be facing some questions from the public today, probably anything but soft.
CNN's Chris Frates joins me live now from the New Jersey capitol.
So here's the deal. We get a big letter over the weekend, everybody is freaking out over what his former port authority official said in a letter, asking for legal fees to the port authority. And the left is claiming it's a smoking gun. And the right is saying no such thing. What exactly is going on?
CHRIS FRATES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'll tell you what's going on first and foremost today, Ashleigh, and that's these subpoenas. We just got a statement in from the two co-chairs of the committee taking and investigating Bridgegate, and they tell us this: "The committee expects today to begin receiving material responsive to its subpoenas with more responses expected in the near future in a cooperative effort with recipients. Numerous extensions have been granted as is typical in such situations. No documents will be released today. The committee will announce its next step as soon as that course is decided."
So what we're just learning here is that there is not going to be a ton of news out of these subpoenas. But what we did see is this spat between David Wildstein, who is a top appointee at the port authority for Governor Christie and Governor Chris Christie, the Wildstein letter said there is evidence that exists that maybe Christie knew more than he was saying. And Christie saying that's absolutely not the case. So we have a couple different things going on here. We have the subpoenas here at the state capitol, starting to come in today with some people being granted extensions. And then we have this other fight between Wildstein and Christie.
BANFIELD: And knowledge of lane closures doesn't necessarily mean knowledge of something nefarious in lane closures, I think is where we get stuck on this language.
Chris, thank you. Stand by if you will, because there is more.
The same conservatives who shunned the New Jersey governor last year are now rolling out the red carpet this year. You know about CPAC, the Conservative Political Action conference. This year, it's inviting Chris Christie to speak at the group's annual gathering that gets under way next month.
And my colleague, Wolf Blitzer, from D.C. with that.
It sounds to me what we were predicting a couple weeks ago might be coming true, that Democrats who might think Bridgegate is fantastic for them has actually galvanized people on the right, and they are embracing this and embracing Christie with it.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST, THE SITUATION ROOM: A lot of people on the right do like Christie, precisely because he's being so strongly attacked by people on the left. And that makes him more acceptable, if you will, given the fact that he does have some sort of -- some moderation as a Republican, as governor of New Jersey, and he welcomed Barack Obama, the president of the United States, only days before his re-election in 2012. It caused some heartburn for a bunch of Republicans out there who supported Mitt Romney, among others. Now they see that he's being so strongly attacked by a lot of Democrats, a lot of people on the left, all of a sudden he's becoming more popular with those on the right. And I think that opened the door for this invitation from CPAC to come to their conference next month. And I assume unless there is some new evidence showing that he actually lied, and there is no evidence to back that up, at least not now, he'll be very warmly received at that conference.
BANFIELD: Because I was so confused over the different networks I was watching, and how they embraced this letter, I want to read the specific line and get your take on this: "Evidence exists as well, tying Mr. Christie to having knowledge of the lane closures during the period when the lane closures were closed, contrary to what the governor stated publicly."
The left is saying this is a smoking gun. The right is saying knowledge of the lane closures doesn't mean knowledge of anything wrong. It could have been a traffic study. What am I missing here?
BLITZER: You're not missing anything. It's obviously -- we don't know what that evidence is, if it exists. We don't know what it is because Wildstein is not making that evidence public. And based on everything we have known, the documents he has provided to the legislature, he hasn't given any documents that would back up that as evidence. Maybe he does have some sort of evidence, but it hasn't been made public yet so we don't know what it is. And the other day I was speaking to the mayor of Ft. Lee, which is right at the center of this, and he pointed out if the governor knew about what was going on with the lane closures on day one, maybe even day two, that would have been -- wouldn't have been -- would have been a big deal. If he only learned day three or day four, maybe not, because by then there were more media reports and people were talking about it. So there's still a lot of confusion, a lot of uncertainty. No smoking gun against the governor, at least not yet. We'll see what else emerges. But with thousands of pages of documents now coming forward, presumably we'll learn more.
BANFIELD: Sure. Devil's in the details, as I like to say, certainly on the legal shows, the law is all based on what the details say in the evidence. And you know what, you could drive over the George Washington Bridge and know that there were problems and lane closures. It's just what you know about them. And so hopefully we'll get that.
Wolf, great to see you, as always.
Be sure to watch Wolf this afternoon at 1:00 eastern time, and then again at 5:00 p.m. also for "The Situation Room."
And thank you for watching us this morning. It's been nice to have you with us.
AROUND THE WORLD starts after a quick break.