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Americans Kidnapped in Egypt; Obama in Virginia; Penn State Still in Hot Seat
Aired July 14, 2012 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: You're back in the CNN Newsroom. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Breaking their silence today, the family of a Massachusetts man kidnapped in Egypt. A group of Bedouins captured Pastor Michelle Lui (ph) along with another American tourist and their Egyptian tourguide yesterday.
It happened in the country's Sinai region. Lui's (ph) family says they are praying that everyone is freed. WCZB reports his son is concerned for his father's health because he is diabetic. Journalist Mohamed Fadel Fahmy joins me now by phone from the Sinai region.
So Mohammed, earlier you heard that the kidnappers were trying to negotiate by trying to win the release of some who were imprisoned on drug charges. What's the latest now on those negotiations?
MOHAMED FADEL FAHMY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on the phone): Well I just spoke to the head of security in Sinai and he is very positive that the situation will be resolved shortly. I also spoke to the kidnappers a couple of hours ago and they confirmed that the hostages are safe, they are unharmed. But they also vowed that they will kidnap more tourists if the authorities does not release the relative incarcerated for drug charges.
Now it is important to mention that in the past year and a half, there have been half a dozen kidnaps in Sinai and none of the hostages were harmed in any way. The last time the U.S. hostages were taken in May, the authorities actually gave in to the kidnappers' demands and released the prisoner. Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: So Mohamed, in your discussions with, you know, the kidnappers you spoke with, what was it about these alleged hostages? What made them vulnerable to these kidnappers?
FAHMY: Well, most of the kidnaps happened in the same area where the hostages were taken. We understand that Pastor Michelle Louis (ph) was on a missionary visit to Sinai and that area is remote. There is not a lot of police patrolling there and actually, the security, the head of security in Sinai mentioned on the phone that the travel agency did not inform the police so they were not able to send some sort of escort to secure the tourists. Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: And so Mohammed, did these kidnappers say anything or reveal anything about their knowledge of this pastor Louis (ph) in particular was a diabetic and may need some medical help or treatment along the way? FAHMY: They do not know that he is diabetic or at least they do not show any signs that they knew about it. But he was very clear that he mentioned that they are like my guests, we're giving them tea and rice and that they are in good condition and they will not be harmed.
But he also mentioned that during Hillary Clinton's visit now, he thinks that maybe this will direct the spotlight to his situation. He mentioned that he hopes she pressures the Egyptian authorities to release his uncle who he claims is falsely detained on drug charges.
WHITFIELD: Journalist Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, thanks so much for that update. Keep us posted. All this taking place while the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Egypt, as you heard Mohamed underscore there. There she is deplaning there. She is there to emphasize U.S. support for the country's democratic transition.
Well tomorrow she meets with the head of the country's military counsel. Today she held talks with newly elected President Mohamad Morsi. Morsi is in a power struggle with Egypt's military leaders who dissolved parliament just last month. Clinton said Morsi is ready to unify his country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: President Morsi made clear that he understands the success of his presidency and indeed, of Egypt's democratic transition depends on building consensus across Egyptian political spectrum to work on a new constitution at Parliament, to protect a civil society, to draft a new constitution that will be respected by all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Clinton is expected to address two touchy issues during her visit. Women's rights and equality for Coptic Christians.
When President Barack Obama won Virginia back in 2008, he did something no Democrat has done since Lyndon Johnson won it in 1964. Well that's why the president is headed to his second Virginia campaign stop of the day. A high school in Centreville. It is a vital battleground state.
At this stop in Glen Allen, Virginia, where it was pouring rain, Obama said Mitt Romney's top down economic approach just simply won't work. Well, Romney is taking a few days off the campaign. So one time rival Rick Santorum actually showed up on Mitt Romney's behalf at the opening of a campaign office in Greensburg, Pennsylvania today.
This is another battleground state in Santorum's home turf. Until today, Santorum had not campaigned for Romney. This may be the first step in the peace making process following their bitter primary battle.
Now to Houston, Texas. People are dealing with the worst flooding in more than two years. Rescue crews scrambled to save dozens of people from the flash floods, including some kids from a baseball day camp. The National Weather Service has extended some of its flood warnings until tomorrow morning.
And it's an incredible story of survival. An autistic man surviving three weeks in the Utah desert with just the clothes on his back. Coming up, hear from the pilot who helped rescue him.
WHITFIELD: The worst is far from over for Penn state after scathing reports that the response of university leaders to child sex abuse allegations. The school is still under scrutiny by the Department of Education and the NCAA. Let's bring in our legal guys, Avery Friedman, a civil rights attorney and law in Cleveland, good to see you.
AVERY FRIEDMAN, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Hi Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: Hello. And Richard Herman, thank you very much. Richard Herman, a New York criminal defense attorney and law professor joining us from Las Vegas. Good to see you as well.
RICHARD HERMAN, NEW YORK CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Hi, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Gentlemen, this Louis Freeh report is scathing. It involved more than 400 eyewitnesses. Very detailed accounts of who knew what when and all this after the conviction of Jerry Sandusky. However, his sentencing is coming up. You have to wonder how much this is going to impact his sentencing. Richard?
HERMAN: Well, I don't think it's going to impact his sentencing. The jury has spoken on that, Fred. And I think that this man is going to die in prison. No chance of him getting out, seeing the light of day again. This Louis Freeh report is devastating. It is devastating to the current status of Penn State and to the future status of Penn State. It is not an admissible document in court. However, it is a road map to discover just how deep this horrific conduct by people at Penn State, people in control, including the top dog himself, Joe Paterno, who could have prevented this 15-year reign of terror by Sandusky.
It is an absolute abomination, Fred. The university is going to stand to lose federal funds for violating the Clery Act. And in addition to that, the NCAA could impose a death penalty, take the football program away for a year. I would not be surprise that they did that. They should do that.
WHITFIELD: All those things being considered. So Avery, you know, when you look at the pictures of some of the people involved in the investigation, the questioning from the grand jury and now even this report, we're talking about from the president of the university. Spanier, or the former president, to Tim Curley, athletic director. You know, Mr. Schultz, the names go on and on. We already know that Mr. Schultz and Tim Curley, you know, will be facing criminal trials for having failed to report the 2001 assault and then lying about it under oath.
But now as a result of this report, do you see that the criminal investigations, or at least the charges, may be broadening out. Not just involving those that i name but others as well?
FRIEDMAN: I think so. I think the top dog at Penn State wasn't Joe Paterno. It was the president of the university. And at this point, you have two charges against the athletic director and vice president. Look, I mean based on the Louis Freeh report, there is evidence that surfaced including evidence from janitors who back in the late 1990s knew about what was going on. Scared to death about doing anything about it.
WHITFIELD: Reporting it.
FRIEDMAN: Yes, I mean, I think it really does go all the way up to the president. There are e-mails that certainly surface going back to the grand jury. I think the former president also faces issues. Frankly of Joe Paterno were alive, Fredricka, he would be facing conspiracy, child endangerment, other very serious felonies. It is the tip of the iceberg.
I agree, the Clery Act, that is the law that requires reporting these things. Nothing is done since the enactment of that law and that's $27,000 per event times hundreds of events. And again power of the NCAA to actually suspend the program. So We're going to see a lot more coming up. The Louis Freeh report is an absolute blockbuster, it is the beginning of the next chapter of this story.
WHITFIELD: Right. And so what we know the criminal charges or the criminal cases could expand. It could expand over a period of years. Civil lawsuits could come quite quickly as a result of this 400, you know, the 400 people who were interviewed in this document. And we're talking a matter of weeks or perhaps even months in which we could see some developments from any civil litigation? Richard.
HERMAN: Right. Plaintiffs' attorneys are going to jump all over this, Fred. Litigation, I would expect, would start being commenced next week. There may be statute of limitation issues. If they can overcome those hurdles, Penn State is going to settle these cases as quick as you can say Penn State. They must do that. And look, let's give credit to Penn State.
FRIEDMAN: That's what the lawyers are doing. Actually, that's what the lawyers are doing right now. That's exactly right. They are getting these plaintiffs' lawyers in to try to get resolved before it blows up and ultimately goes to trial.
WHITFIELD: Wow. OK.
HERMAN: They commissioned this report by Louis Freeh. They turned over all the records that they had in their possession now. They want to try to do the right thing here.
HERMAN: The problem is, Fred, it was just so devastating and the fact that, don't fool yourself. Joe Paterno was the top dog at Penn State. Nobody knows Spanier. Everybody knows the legendary coach. He himself, the ra-ra, ethics guy himself, he was the one that was - FRIEDMAN: That's exactly right.
HERMAN: He's the one who did nothing to protect these young boys. He is the one -
FRIEDMAN: That's why Penn State has to wrap this up and they got to resolve -
WHITFIELD: And perhaps Penn State had no idea.
FRIEDMAN: If it goes to trial, it is explosive.
WHITFIELD: Yes, perhaps some in Penn State among the board of trustees and others maybe didn't even realize this report would be as explosive and damning as it turned out to be.
WHITFIELD: All right. Don't forget, you can catch our legal guys every Saturday noon Eastern. You do not want to miss them ever. They're always on fire.
All right. I've got a picture that you just have to see. Take a look at this jaw-dropping x-ray. A knife going through a man's neck. And guess what? He survives!
You're going to find out exactly how this happened. Plus - tomorrow, Dr. Sanjay Gupta introduces us to a man who is part Mcgyver, part hacker on his show. Dr. Gupta's show, "The Next List." A profile of an innovator who uses toy parts to create inexpensive medical devices.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is (INAUDIBLE) and I use toys to make affordable medical devices. When you're using toys, it demystifies the process of medical technology. Often we look at these medical devices and we think that they're a black box. You need an expert to even take a screwdriver out.
You may not have the courage to hack a thousand dollar device but you definitely have the courage to hack something that's $5. And if you ad a little ingenuity, it becomes something as powerful as a thousand dollar medical device.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Fascinating stuff. Tune in tomorrow to watch "The Next List" or set your DVR for 2:00 Eastern and then at 2:30 Eastern time, right here in the newsroom. The folks from the PBS show "History Detectives" are investigating one of rock 'n' roll's most infamous guitars. It is the electric guitar. Bob Dylan played at a 1965 folk festival. Fans booed Dylan for going electric at the time. Now that guitar is at the center of a controversy about who actually owns it. How authentic is it? I'll talk with the "History Detectives" tomorrow.
WHITFIELD: An autistic man is recovering after wandering for more than three week in Utah's Escalante Desert. Rescuers found 28-year- old William Martin Lafever Thursday starving and dehydrated but alive.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHANE OLDFIELD, PILOT, UTAH HIGHWAY PATROL: In all honesty, we didn't necessarily expect the outcome that we had. So the river is pretty windy. As we came around that fateful turn, I was pretty shocked to see him sitting in the river waving his arms at us. By the time we got him, he was unable to stand, walk or even crawl. He was down to rolling. It was about the only form of motion, locomotion that he had.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Lafever's journey started in early June when he ran out of money while hiking. His father told him to go to Page, Arizona, where he would wire William some cash. Well, he planned to walk nearly 50 miles in the Escalante Desert which local officials describe as some of the most rugged, unforgiving terrain on earth. But at some point, he ran out of food and water. He says he survived on frogs, roots, and river water.
A Massachusetts prison guard is lucky to be alive today. Nate Beauvais is recovering after an inmate stabbed him in the neck with a hand made knife. Inmates call it a shank. The x-rays showed how close the wound came to killing or perhaps even paralyzing him. The surgery to remove the knife took six hours. His wife credits the doctors and their faith.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NICOLE BEAUVAIS, PRISON GUARD'S WIFE: They told me it missed his spinal cord by half a centimeter. We have strong faith in god and I knew it was a miracle. I knew how close he came to dying but seeing that it took my breath away. The handle just happened to break loose and he kept stabbing and punching Nate but the knife was not attached to the handle anymore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Wow. Beauvais and two other unarmed guards were monitoring 93 inmates when he was shanked.
All right. Coming up, a very close encounter with something else very menacing. Try a great white shark. I get to talk with the fisherman who had that close encounter and caught it all on videotape.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WHITFIELD: All right. President Barack Obama on a roll today on the campaign trail crisscrossing Virginia. This time he is making a stop in Centreville. Unlike earlier today when he was in another city, it was a heavy downpour of rain. Now at least he is dry. Dry shirt and everything but he is trying to appeal to the voting public there in Virginia. Not taking for granted the fact that he won the red state of Virginia back in 2008. He is hoping that it will be blue again for him on his re-election campaign.
You might think this next guy is a little crazy. An Australian fisherman who came face to face with a great white shark who says he is not afraid to get back in the water. In fact, he did get back in the water today. He went snorkeling. Nathan Podmore and his friend Dave Richards were off the course of western Australia, south of Perth when they were circled by a 12-foot long shark.
Nathaniel captured the whole thing with a mini video camera.
WHITFIELD: So you and your friend Dave were spear fishing in an area where there had already been some reported incidents of great white attacks. Why did you decide to go spear fishing there?
NATHAN PODMORE, DIVER WHO FENDED OFF SHARK: There had not been any reports in the area we were. There have been sightings and a couple of attacks in the state. A few people had said one is likely in the area but it was never, it was probably the last thing on our minds when we went out.
WHITFIELD: Take me back. You and your buddy, you're fishing. You're in, you're at depths that are fairly shallow and we can see that you have a mounted camera so you're videotaping it all. You've got your spear fish rod there. Then what happens?
PODMORE: I turned the camera on ready to do my second dive of the day. And I was, my body was facing the opposite direction to me and I was taking my final breath, ready to do a dive. And I just heard him scream and I turned around and I was face to face.
WHITFIELD: So you've said that you always wanted to encounter a great white but now that you have, it is the scariest thing and you don't ever want this to happen again. What were you thinking at the time when you saw this great white? Which by estimates was about 12 feet long.
PODMORE: Yes. I always said I would like to see one. I couldn't have gotten luckier with the camera that we did have. I never want to see another one in the water. It is nuts. What can you say?
WHITFIELD: How close did this shark get? Did you actually have contact with it? Did you actually poke it with that spear?
PODMORE: Yes. I had to fend it off twice and my buddy Dave - he did fend it off twice as well. WHITFIELD: And why did you do that? What did your instincts tell you at that time? Did you feel like it was in attack mode? Or did you feel like that you could actually scare it off?
PODMORE: No, it wasn't in attack mode. It was more curious. But when you're face to face with (INAUDIBLE), yes, you don't want to let it get too close. And I suppose to let it know that we knew it was there. We wouldn't let it get any closer. That was the (INAUDIBLE).
WHITFIELD: Did it just go away on its own? I mean because you can see in the background from your images that your boat was a pretty good distance away.
PODMORE: Yes. The boat. We were just over 15 meters from the boat when it came in. And it followed us the whole way back. Circled us a couple of times, came in a little closer. We got back to the boat. My buddy jumped right in. As soon as it was just on the edge there, I was turning and we never saw it again.
WHITFIELD: Wow, lucky them. Nathan describes the whole incident as life changing. That's quite the understatement. We'll have a look at your top stories next.
WHITFIELD: A quick check of today's top stories.
A family of a Massachusetts man kidnapped in Egypt is making an urgent plea for his release. A Bedouin tribe captured Pastor Michelle Louis along with an American woman and their Egyptian tour guide yesterday. The kidnappers are demanding Egyptian authorities release a jailed family member.
And a representative for Sylvester Stallone said the actor is devastated today after his son, Sage, was found dead in his Los Angeles home. He appeared in the movie "Rocky V" with his dad and was engaged to be married. Sage Stallone was 36.
And in Houston, Texas, people are dealing with the worst flooding in more than two years. Rescue crews scrambled to save dozens of people from the flash floods including some kids at a baseball day camp.
I'm Fredricka Whitfield. That's going to do it for me. Much more of the NEWSROOM straight ahead with Poppy Harlow filling in for Don Lemon but first "DR. SANJAY GUPTA MD" with a special report from Cambodia.