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Hillary Clinton Crying Foul; Shocking Allegations at Oprah Winfrey's Leadership School for South African Girls

Aired October 31, 2007 - 23:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN HOST: Good evening. Welcome, everybody. I'm Soledad O'Brien. Anderson has the day off.
Hillary Clinton is crying foul today. Just 24 hours ago, her opponents turned her into a pinata at the Democrats' nastiest debate so far. Senator Clinton is calling in the politics of pile-on. Could all the bashing backfire? We'll take a look just ahead.

Also tonight, another controversy involving the church that Tom Cruise and other celebrities swear by. Accusations that Scientology is targeting poor Christian congregations for new recruits. We'll tell you why Pentecostal pastors are embracing some of Scientology's teachings.

Plus, at Oprah Winfrey's Leadership School for South African girls, shocking allegations that have brought the talk show star to tears. What really happened at Oprah's $40 million dream school? We'll take a look.

That's all ahead.

We begin, though, with the punches that were thrown last night at Senator Clinton. The debate was the seventh face-off for the Democratic White House contenders. This time, the gloves truly came off. In the months since their last debate, Clinton's had widened her lead as frontrunner, making herself an even bigger target. And so the attacks weren't a surprise. But were the attacks successful, though? Got more on that from CNN's Candy Crowley.


SEN. CHRIS DODD, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Fifty percent of the American public would say they're not going to vote for him.

CROWLEY (voice-over): It was her roughest debate yet and arguably not her best, though Camp Clinton thinks she more than held her own in the face of incoming from almost everywhere.

Still, her Democratic opponents think Hillary Clinton handed them plenty of ammo to fit the current narrative. The issue, said one rival camp, is candor.

There was this discussion, of why publicly Clinton only talks fiscal responsibility when asked about Social Security, but privately told the voters she would consider raising Social Security taxes on the wealthy. SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But everybody knows what the possibilities are, Tim. Everybody knows that. But I do not -- I do not advocate it; I do not support it.

CROWLEY: Pounce.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is part of the politics that we have been playing, which is to try to muddle through, give convoluted answers.

CROWLEY: And there was this back-and-forth on giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, as proposed in New York.

CLINTON: It makes a lot of sense. What is the governor supposed to do? He is dealing with a serious problem.

I just want to add, I did not say it should be done, but I certainly recognize why Governor Spitzer is trying to do it. And we have failed. We have failed.

DODD: No, no, no. You said, yes, you thought it made sense to do it.

CLINTON: No, I didn't Chris, but the point is what are we going to do with all these illegal immigrants?

CROWLEY: Pounce.

JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Unless I missed something, Senator Clinton said two different things in the course of about two minutes.

CROWLEY: Clinton aides argue her statements over time and in context are perfectly consistent, not to mention that everyone on the stage has apparent contradiction in their own records, but she's in the front-runner spot and the klieg lights are hotter there.

CLINTON: You know, Tim, this is where everybody plays "gotcha."

CROWLEY: Tuesday's debate left Wednesday questions. John Edwards is most willing to be in Clinton's face but is he turning off neighborly Iowa voters? Certainly he raised eyebrows on the stage.

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's bothering me because it's pretty close to personal attacks that we don't need.

CROWLEY: Barack Obama has gotten more aggressive but is it enough to ease concern that he does not have the stomach for the blood sport of politics? Wednesday, the Clinton campaign was still explaining her position on driver's licenses. It suggests they're worried about another question out there. Are charges that Hillary Clinton dodges the tough ones beginning to stick? To be continued on the campaign trail.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.


O'BRIEN: Last night's debate seemed to mark a turning point in the battle for the Democratic presidential nomination. A turning point from nice to nasty. Earlier today, CNN's John King talked about that with several members of the best political team on TV, CNN political contributor and former Clinton adviser, James Carville and CNN senior political analyst, Gloria Borger.


JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Gloria, Senator Clinton obviously went into the debate expecting sharper attacks and she was not disappointed. Her rivals questioned her honesty, they questioned her trustworthiness, they questioned whether she was being candid with voters. Almost saying she was being duplicitous in this campaign. How did she fare?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think it was a Hillary Clinton we're not used to seeing. She's been smiling a lot lately in these debates, full of laughter. And I think in this debate last night, we saw more of the head mistress in Hillary Clinton. She was very stern. She was glaring at her opponents because they were attacking her. And at times, she seemed a bit evasive and of course annoyed with them. So it was a very different Hillary Clinton from the one we've seen in the previous debates.

KING: James, you advise Mrs. Clinton from time to time. How did she handle it? Was she has different as Gloria said? And help me out. Is it smart for the other Democrats to go after her? Do they have any choice?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: First of all, they don't have any choice. They have gone down, they are tanking, 30 points behind and people don't go gently into that long good night. They're going to fight and Edwards is going to fight back. That's part of the deal of being the front-runner. I would say that I've seen her do better in debates. I think she did fine, not a very good last two minutes. Could have been better on the immigration question.

Having said that, I think the overreaction to this thing is like almost laughable. But it hardly is the end of days and you've got everybody writing columns and a lot of breath and screaming on cable TV. It was not her best debate performance and not her best answer, but I wouldn't put any more stock in it than that. I expect they're going to keep attacking her. This isn't going to stop. I think she knows that. Her people know that. They're very well-financed, talented campaign. And this is something I'm sure they'll be able to deal with.

KING: Gloria, it was not just - hold on one sec, Gloria. It was not just her honesty and her trustworthiness that came into question. Senator Dodd raised her electability.

Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. CHRIS DODD, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The fact of the matter is that my colleague from New York, Senator Clinton, 50 percent of the American public say they're not going to vote for her. I'm not saying something people don't know already. I don't necessarily like it but those are the facts. We as a party certainly have to take that into consideration.


KING: Something you can sell, Gloria, to a Democratic primary electorate? Hillary Clinton can't win in November?

BORGER: Yeah. I think the Democrats want to win above all else. They're tired of Republican administrations, they're tired of this one in particular. They want change. That's what this election is about. And so they care about a candidate who's electable. Look at what happened to Howard Dean, for example, in Iowa. Hillary Clinton, of course, is no Howard Dean. James, I'm not saying that. She's got a very different kind of campaign. But there is this sort of sense of inevitability about her campaign. Maybe we in the press are promoting that. Or this invincibility about her.

And I think what all these other candidates were doing last night was really trying to puncture that and say, she's not inevitable. She's not perfect. And by the way, half the people in this country don't like her and won't vote for her, so give us a look.

CARVILLE: She's not perfect? Come on. She's perfect to me.

KING: James, there was one moment in the debate that I found striking. Senator Clinton at one point said she was someone who could reform the government. And then she was asked by Tim Russert about her own documents anything she had written to President Clinton when she was first lady. Any advice, and why not have those released?

And she said the National Archives was sitting on the documents. And then Tim Russert had the gotcha moment, he had the letter from President Clinton to the National Archives saying don't release those records. And then she said, that's not my decision. That's a punt, isn't it? All she has to do is turn to her husband and say, Bill, write another letter, get those records released.

CARVILLE: I suspect that's a question that will come up again and I suspect she'll answer it again. A fair enough question to be asked. But I don't think the country is like waiting and dying to see what she as first lady wrote her husband. I think there are probably good reasons why you delay this.

But it's not an unfair question. It's a question that she'll be asked again in the future and I suspect that they're aware of this. And I suspect the attacks are going to keep coming. They've always - the front-runners regardless of the party have always been attacked. And I'm sure she's going to be able to deal with it. She's a very bright woman, she's very talented. And this comes with the territory.

KING: Comes with the territory and we're out of time for tonight. But this will come up again, I'm sure, in the weeks ahead. James Carville, Gloria Borger, thank you very much.

CARVILLE: You bet.



O'BRIEN: And that was John King helping us out. The Democrats are going to face off again November 15 in Las Vegas in a CNN debate hosted by Wolf Blitzer. Then at the end of the month, Anderson hosts our second CNN YouTube debate. You can go to to pose your questions for the Republican candidates.

Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes are certainly famous for the roles they played as actors. Also famous for something else, their religion. Both of them are members of the Church of Scientology. The church is controversial, some people call it a cult. But despite the secrets it keeps and all the questions, Scientology may be spreading and maybe to some very unlikely places. CNN's Gary Tuchman shows us where and how.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At this church in Tampa, Florida, a Pentecostal congregation is celebrating the Lord in a lively style. But the pastor here does something out of the ordinary for church.

Have other preachers criticized you.

REVEREND CHARLES KENNEDY, GLORIOUS CHURCH OF GOD IN JESUS CHRIST: Much, much, much, much, much. Much, much, much.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Reporter: I guess you're saying much.

KENNEDY: Much, much, much, much, much, much, much.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Reverend Charles Kennedy sometimes uses a book that is not the Good Book.

KENNEDY: It will fit anybody if they would just take the time to read it.

TUCHMAN: Reporter: the book is called "The Way to Happiness." It's written by L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of the Church of Scientology.

(on camera): Do you think what he says contradicts the religion of Jesus Christ?

KENNEDY: Sometimes, yes, sometimes, no.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The happiness or unhappiness of others you could name is important to you. Without too much trouble, using this book, you can help them survive and lead happier lives.

TUCHMAN: Reverend Kennedy says the book and many Scientology programs help solve real life problems for people at inner city churches like his.

KENNEDY: One thing I took out of Scientology was an excellent spirit.

TUCHMAN: Reverend Kennedy's Glorious Church of God in Christ even operates an after school program for children using educational ideas derived from Scientology. The pastor's daughter is an instructor.

JIMIRRA KENNEDY, REVEREND KENNEDY'S DAUGHTER: We say this all the time, and I don't know if my father said it, Pentecostal Scientologists. That is what we are.

TUCHMAN: Pentecostal Scientologists? That's not a term you'll hear every day. Scientologists provide free materials to Reverend Kennedy's church and others across the country.

(on camera): The international spiritual headquarters of the Church of Scientology are in this old hotel in nearby Clearwater, Florida. We wanted to ask the church top brass if they hope to recruit new members with these types of relationships. But church officials are often quite skittish about going on camera and this story is no exception.

(voice-over): So the church won't comment. But Rick Ross, who carefully tracks what he calls the cult of Scientology, did.

RICK ROSS, SCIENTOLOGY EXPERT: Their hope, that is the Scientologists', is that through these programs people will become more interested in L. Ron Hubbard and what else Mr. Hubbard had to offer and this will lead them eventually to Scientology.

TUCHMAN: Scientology draws extra attention because of its celebrity members and its unusual precepts. Believers recognize a supreme being, do not worship God, very difference from Christianity. The handful of churches that we found using Scientology techniques say they don't sacrifice their own religious ideas.

REV. JAMES MCLAUGHLIN, WAYMAN CHAPEL AME CHURCH: Getting people off drugs, I would say, a 70 to 80 percent success rate.

TUCHMAN: Reverend Jerry McLaughlin preaches at the Wayman Chapel AME Church in Houston. He uses one of L. Ron Hubbard's programs to help drug addicts.

MCLAUGHLIN: I am looking for the solutions. And the people that I help, they don't ask me who L. Ron Hubbard is. Do you know what they ask me? Do you know what they say? Thank God.

ROSS: L. Ron Hubbard was a science fiction writer. Some of these programs seem like fiction science to me.

TUCHMAN: These churches stress the Lord keeps top billing. But L. Ron Hubbard now gets an honorable mention.

(END VIDEOTAPE) O'BRIEN: Almost seems completely contradictory. And there they are holding that little book which you happen to have. What's in that book? Is there something controversial in there?

TUCHMAN (on camera): This is the book. This is "The Way to Happiness, a Common Sense Guide to Better Living." And you might think it's controversial but it's common sense. Maybe that's why it's called that. But you read it and it says, get care when you are ill, keep your body clean, preserve your teeth. Sounds like common sense.

O'BRIEN: I'm in with all that.

TUCHMAN: But then some of is kind of laughably obvious. It says the way to happiness doesn't include murdering your friends, your family or yourself being murdered. And I feel strongly about this, don't you?

O'BRIEN: I completely concur.

TUCHMAN: I concur with that.

O'BRIEN: Myself being murdered is not the way to happiness.

TUCHMAN: What the Scientologists are saying is this is good advice to you. But what critics say they get you in and then you can't get out.

O'BRIEN: So it's just the very beginning, the tip of the iceberg kind of thing.

TUCHMAN: That's what the critics say.

O'BRIEN: Interesting. Gary Tuchman, thanks. Always nice to see you in person.

TUCHMAN: Thank you, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Word of mouth of course plays a very big part in spreading Scientology. Here's a little raw data for you. On its Web site, the church says more than half of all Scientologists were introduced to the religion by a friend or a relative. About 20 percent learned about it by reading L. Ron Hubbard's "Dianetics" or another scientology book. Eighteen percent took a personality test. Others were primarily introduced by ads and seminars.

Coming up next, a stunning verdict in the Madrid train bombing case. And the surprising truth about terror trials here in the United States.

Plus, speaking the truth, a surprising suspect admits that he started one of those California wildfires.

More than 38,000 acres up in flames. Twenty-one homes destroyed, all started by a kid with matches. Should he be prosecuted? Should his parents have to pay for all the damage? When 360 continues.


O'BRIEN: Today is Spanish court delivered an unexpectedly mixed verdict in the trial of 28 people charged in the 2004 Madrid train bombings. One hundred ninety one people died in the terror attack. You might remember. Scores were injured. But just three of the eight prime defendants in the case were convicted of the most serious charge, mass murder. There were gasps in the courtroom when the three-judge panel made its ruling. The trial's outcome made us wonder just what's happening with terror prosecutions here in the United States. We have more on that tonight from CNN's Joe Johns.


JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Bush administration says it's winning the war on terrorism on our own turf, at least.

GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT: We have waged an unprecedented campaign against terror at home and abroad. And that campaign has succeeded in protecting the homeland.

JOHNS: The Justice Department says it's charged more than 500 defendants and convicted more than half of them. Keeping them honest, we looked at two recent studies. Justice claims a 59 percent conviction rate on terrorism and terrorism-related cases since 9/11. But a report from New York University says Justice's conviction rate on actual terrorism charges was just 31 percent.

KAREN GREENBERG, NYU CENTER ON LAW AND SECURITY: The discrepancy between what they allege and what they eventually prove in court is vast in terms of terrorism.

JOHNS: Karen Greenberg runs the Center on National Security at NYU. Its report says the Justice Department announces potential terrorism cases before the evidence is in place to enable prosecution. And most of the cases turn out to have no link to terrorism once they go to court. NYU says 13 percent of the government's cases are acquitted or dismissed. But many cases, like the alleged plot to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago, are still pending. Greenberg says prosecutors are being asked to do much.

GREENBERG: If they're overreaching, it's because they're being overpressurized. They're expected to be the front lines of intelligence, the front lines of informants, the front lines of law enforcement, the front lines of the court procedures.

JOHNS: The government says the NYU findings are quote, "wildly inaccurate" saying it has convicted more than 350 defendants, winning nearly 60 percent of its cases.

We looked at another study by a Wake Forest law professor, Robert Chesney (ph), of suspects charged with giving material support for terrorism. He found nearly two thirds of 62 cases led to convictions or guilty pleas, a pretty good record.

But the government says the conviction rate isn't the only measure of success, adding, "aggressive prosecution prevents attacks."

MATTHEW FISHBEIN, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY: Obviously if you wait too late hoping to get a better case, there could be a catastrophe.

JOHNS: The government often notes there has not been another attack on U.S. soil since 9/11. But it also says there are would-be terrorists on our own turf and there are hundreds being held at Guantanamo Bay who still face military charges. Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.


O'BRIEN: That Madrid train bombing trial lasted five months and the judges heard from hundreds of witnesses and experts in the days and weeks after the bombings, in fact, it seemed like police and investigators had really amassed a lot of evidence. So what exactly happened with today's surprising verdict? Joining us this evening to talk about that is CNN terrorism analyst Peter Bergen and also our senior league analyst, Jeff Toobin right here in the studio with me. Gentlemen, thanks very much.

Jeff, let's start with you. When you look at this list of suspects, a guy named Rabei Osman who is from Egypt goes from being the alleged mastermind to being completely acquitted. That is really what sent gasps up from people who were watching this. What went wrong for the prosecutors in Madrid?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: What happened there -- First of all, this is a guy who was already convicted in Italy of his involvement in the Madrid bombings. So you have inconsistent verdicts. But the problem is when you have an enormous case like this -- first of all, the main Madrid bombers blew themselves up three weeks after the crime. So you're dealing for starters with people who were relatively peripheral compared to the main people.

And the wider you cast the net, the weaker the evidence is. And they just had a handful of wiretaps with disputed statements on them. It wasn't enough for the Spanish court.

O'BRIEN: Peter, people who are clearly watching all this were absolutely shocked, frankly. Were you surprised by what happened, 28 defendants and only three of them convicted of mass murder?

PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Not necessarily because as Jeff points out, the main perpetrators all killed themselves in a sort of suicide pact when they were surrounded by police a few weeks after the main attack.

And so the people that were being prosecuted were on the peripheries. These kinds of cases were people being inciting terrorism. These things are very hard to prove. I don't think it was necessarily a complete failure for the Spanish judicial system here.

And of course the Spanish judicial system is very different from what it is in this country. This is not a jury trial. These are professional judges who spend their lives looking into these kinds of things. So you have to give them some credit. It wasn't a case of sort of jury nullification or something like this. It was very considered. It took two years. The Spanish judicial system seems to have worked, I think. The main perpetrators did get significant sentences here.

O'BRIEN: When you turn and look at what happens here in similar cases in the United States, also very, very difficult to prosecute. What are the similarities, what are the differences?

TOOBIN: Well, the big difference is John Ashcroft and Michael Chertoff, when they were running the Justice Department right after 9/11 said we're going to change the model of criminal justice in this country. We're going to not wait until a crime takes place to do our prosecutions.

When there's a bank robbery, you go back and you see what happened. They said the stakes are simply too high to wait until a crime takes place. So they're bringing down cases early in Lackawanna, in Miami.

But the problem is when you do that their evidence isn't there, and sometimes it seems they bring down cases where there was more talk than action and the cases wind up falling apart. We'll see what happens in Miami, but when you do cases in advance, juries often wind up saying, hey, there's just not enough evidence here.

O'BRIEN: The guys were convicted, Peter, of mass murder got an incredible amount of time. They were all sentenced to tens of thousands of years. But under the Spanish law, they're actually only going to be able to serve 40 years at most apiece. For people who are watching that - get sentenced to 30,000 years in prison and then they say, it's really 40 or less. Something seems wrong with that.

BERGEN: That's the Spanish penal system. Forty years is the most you can get. These guys will emerge from prison as very old men. Looking at the picture in terms of the United States and Joe Johns' piece, it is interesting that if you look at the actual number of terrorists who are actually being convicted in this country of actual potential acts of terrorism, you find only three, which is sort of a good news picture. That was Zacarias Moussaoui, the 20th hijacker, Richard Reed, the so-called shoe-bomber. And a guy planning to blow up a bomb in Manhattan in Herald Square. The good news there is I don't think there are al Qaeda sleeper cells in this country. I can't prove negatives to you.

But if they exist, they're so asleep they're effectively comatose or dead. They've done nothing and really it's a testament to the American dream, the American Muslim community here has not bought into the al Qaeda ideological virus. They are better educated than most Americans on average. Higher incomes on average. They don't live in ghettos.

Very different from what you're seeing in Europe with the kinds of things - with the Madrid case or the London case. So in a way the fact that we're not getting significant terrorist convictions in this country is sort of a good news story because these kinds of serious terrorists don't exist here in the same way that they do in Europe.

O'BRIEN: But do you think with the problems, though, Jeff, that the terror cases should be going to an international court?

TOOBIN: Our government doesn't operate with the international criminal court. And we don't believe, at least the current government, the Bush administration does not believe in this cooperation. In part because none of these case, none of these other countries have the death penalty, Spain, all the countries in the European Community completely reject the death penalty. And we reject any system that rules that out.

O'BRIEN: So it's not going to happen any time soon. Jeff Toobin and Peter Bergen for us tonight. Gentlemen, I thank you for your time. Really appreciate it.

Coming up next, a little boy who did a lot of damage. Should the child who set this wildfire in California be prosecuted? Our next guest says, yes, he should. We'll tell you why up next.


O'BRIEN: Most of those wildfires are now under control in Southern California for now. But Governor Schwarzenegger says that Santa Ana winds could strengthen in the coming days and that could trigger flare-ups. He is ordering fire crews to prepare for a possible new offensive.

Meanwhile tonight, police say they now know who set one of the fires and it was a child. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office believes a boy under the age of 13 has confessed to accidentally starting an inferno that burned nearly 40,000 acres. Should this young man be charged as a criminal?

Well Ken Padowitz is a former prosecutor who made headlines with a murder conviction against Lionel Tate for killing a six year old girl when he was 12 years old.

Ken Padowitz joins us this evening. Nice to talk to you. Thanks for being with us. First and foremost, the obvious question, how do you think age is going to factor into whether this kid is prosecuted or not?

KEN PADOWITZ, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Well, it's going to be a very important factor, Soledad, by the prosecutors who review this case. Most forensic psychologists agree that a child's brain is very different than an adult brain. And there's a definite difference in how you determine whether or not a crime was committed, whether or not the child actually appreciates and understands the gravity of what they did and the actions that brought forth the destruction that we see here in this fire.

So the age is going to be a very important factor. If the child is older, towards the 12 or 13-year age range, then there's more of a likelihood that that child understood and appreciated the fact that what they were doing was not only negligent but crossed over to the criminal side, which is gross negligence or wanton reckless disregard for human life. So age is going to be a very important factor here.

O'BRIEN: If criminal charges are in fact filed, what kind of liability could the boy's parents, no one has heard from them yet. What kind of liability could they face?

PADOWITZ: Well, Soledad, if there's criminal charges brought against this child, the prosecutors can seek, as part of a sentence, if there is a conviction or a plea agreement that there be some type of restitution. And obviously a child is not going to have the means and ability to pay that restitution. That's probably going to fall on the parents' shoulders. Clearly there's potential civil liability for the parents.

O'BRIEN: So even if there's no criminal charges against the minor, in civil court, the parents in fact could be financially liable to all the people who lost a lot?

PADOWITZ: Absolutely. They can be on the hook for the actions of their minor child. And clearly, that's something that all parents have to be concerned about because they are responsible for overseeing and making sure that their children are not engaged in behavior that destroys other people's property. So clearly, there's a civil liability element for the parents here.

O'BRIEN: What kind of punishment could this kid face? Again, we don't really know how old he is. We know he's under the age of 13. How much time in juvenile hall, if that's in fact what he ends up getting, is he really looking at, realistically?

PADOWITZ: That's a great question. Because there has to be determination by the prosecution as to whether or not to charge him at all. And if to charge him, whether to charge this juvenile as a juvenile in juvenile court or to charge him in adult court. And based upon that decision, adult or juvenile court, the sentencing is vastly different.

In juvenile court, it's aimed at rehabilitation. In adult court, it's more focused on punishment. And the punishments can greatly vary between adult court and juvenile court.

O'BRIEN: If it turns out that the whole thing was a horrible, horrible accident, apparently the kid has confessed to playing with matches -- would a prosecutor, you're in the position to know -- would a prosecutor go forward with criminal charges against the kid?

PADOWITZ: Well, all factors would have to be considered. All the evidence, the physical evidence, the circumstantial evidence, any statements made by the suspect, the child, and clearly if it's shown to be just an accident and there's no criminal culpability, well, then there may not be criminal charges brought. When accidents occur, many times they occur on the roadway and in fact it's just an accident and no criminal charges are brought.

But if it is shown that it rose beyond just mere negligence but went to a criminal negligence, such as culpable negligence, a gross, wanton, reckless disregard, then there may in fact be criminal charges brought. And obviously there can be some significant sanctions and punishments that go along with that.

O'BRIEN: Ken Padowitz. Former prosecutor joining us tonight. Thanks, Ken. We appreciate your time.

PADOWITZ: Thank you, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Coming up next, a different crime in a place that's supposed to be safe.

Teachers preying on your children. Tonight, why it's more common than you might think.

Plus, abuse allegations at Oprah's prized school.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She said to them that I've failed you, I've failed you.


O'BRIEN: Oprah's outrage, when 360 continues.


O'BRIEN: A sixth grade teacher in Nebraska is on the run and police say she has company. Take a look at this picture. It's Kelsey Peterson, 25 years old and she's accused of kidnapping a 13-year-old boy. Now the two haven't been seen since last week. Authorities believe, though, that Peterson was having a relationship with the student and now a warrant is out for her arrest.

It's pretty awful to have to tell you stories like this. But across the country, children are, in fact, falling prey to their teachers at school. The numbers are truly staggering and the stories are absolutely chilling. Who's making sure that your kids are safe. Once again, here's CNN's Joe Johns keeping them honest.


JOHNS (voice-over): This is something a parent needs to hear but never, ever wants to hear from their child. A description of an alleged sexual encounter with an adult teacher. This is a social worker interviewing Jenna Bramow in 1995 when she was eight years old.

JENNA BRAMOW, VICTIM: He was right here. And he was pulling it back. I was pulling it up, but he wouldn't let me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When your hand was back there, where did it go then?

BRAMOW: On his pee-pee.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you know it was on his pee-pee?

BRAMOW: Because I felt something. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How did it feel?

BRAMOW: Bumpy.

JOHNS: Jenna and her parents won a $20,000 judgment against the school district and an undisclosed amount from the teacher, Gary Lindsey who was never charged with a crime. Years earlier, Lindsey has been forced to resign from another school after touching the breast of a fifth grade girl. But Lindsey didn't stop teaching until Jenna spoke up. Now 20 years old, Jenna is glad she did.

BRAMOW: I didn't get it as bad as some of the other girls did and I don't know what could have happened in the future if they wouldn't have taken his license away.

JOHNS: Keeping them honest, we called Lindsey's house but he didn't want to talk about the case. He did have this to say to the Associated Press.

GARY LINDSEY, ACCUSED TEACHER: It never occurs to you that some people don't want their past opened back up, do you?

JOHNS: Jenna's case is not as rare as you'd hope. A national survey by the Associated Press uncovered staggering numbers suggesting the extent of sex abuse in America's schools is widespread.

MARTHA IRVINE, AP NATIONAL WRITER: We found 2,570 educators whose licenses had been revoked, suspended, punished in some way over a five-year period. From everything the experts tell us, it's really tip of the iceberg kind of stuff.

JOHNS: The AP reports nine out of 10 predators are men. And often well-liked. Sometimes the abuse starts out as a game. In one Chicago suburb, music teacher Robert Spurlic (ph) used duct tape to tie up grade school girls while he touched them. He wasn't caught until one of them told her mother nearly five years later. He pleaded guilty to sexual abuse and kidnapping 20 victims. In an exclusive television interview with CNN, the parents spoke in shadow to protect their child's privacy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I said, what do you mean he duct taped you? She said we would sit in a chair and he would duct tape our arms and our legs and our mouths. And I started crying.

JOHNS: If you think justice is swift for school room predators, that's not necessarily true.

ROBERT TANNER, AP NATIONAL WRITER: There's a great amount of motivation on the part of administrators to let a teacher leave quietly where they are going to possibly face a lawsuit themselves or it has to go to police.

JOHNS: In the Chicago case, three girls has written a letter about Spurlic. Parents say the school principal told them about the letter but didn't tell them about the children's claims of abuse. And prosecutors say the principal never alerted police. Even so, the principal was cleared of a misdemeanor charge that she failed to report it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just watching your children suffer for something that we couldn't protect her from, it's just -- where do you come up with these answers? I don't know. You pray and you hope that God, that they could get through this and live a normal life.

JOHNS: But that isn't so easy. After hearing that Spurlic was sentenced to just 20 years, this mother says her daughter attempted suicide saying Spurlic had ruined her life. It's the children who live with the emotional scars. Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.


O'BRIEN: Coming up next on 360, a scandal rocks Oprah's dream school in South Africa. A dorm parent is accused of abusing the girls. We have reaction from Oprah when 360 continues.


O'BRIEN: It's the kind of topic Oprah Winfrey probably would rather not talk about. It's about herself. It's also about her school in South Africa which we show here the ribbon cutting ceremony earlier in the year. It's a school that Oprah is very proud of and it is a school where there are now shocking accusations that are bringing Oprah to tears.


OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: My cup runneth over with love for these girls.

O'BRIEN: Oprah's for her students is clear and so her mission to save her dream school from scandal. Her $40 million all-girl's leadership academy is at the center of abuse allegations involving at least one adult. A lot of the reports about the school are coming from one South African newspaper. Its lead reporter on the story is Gavin Prins.

GAVIN PRINS, "RAPPORT" NEWSPAPER: The allegations are that one of the girls in the school choked some of the girls, physically abused them, threw one against the wall. We heard this specific dorm parent touched one of the girls in a very inappropriate place.

O'BRIEN: The dorm parent was suspended and the headmaster went on a voluntary paid leave of absence. Helping authorities in the case is Oprah herself, hiring an American team that includes a private detective and two social workers. They handed their findings over to the police.

The talk show host also recently flew to Johannesburg, visiting the school twice in October and according to the South African newspaper report, broke down in tears during face-to-face meetings with parents.

PRINS: She said to them that -- I failed you, I failed you, after which she apologized. Parents told me that the atmosphere at that meeting was very, very, very, very tense. One parent actually got up and said to Oprah, it's not your fault. It's OK. You've got more passion for this school than any of us or anyone in the world.

O'BRIEN: In a statement, Oprah said, quote, "Nothing is more serious or devastating to me than an allegation of misconduct by an adult against any girl at the academy. I will do everything within my power to ensure their safety and well-being."

The state-of-the-art school opened in January with a class of 450 students.

WINFREY: This has been the most fulfilling, the most rewarding experience of my life. It is filled me up. So today I stand before you a full woman.

O'BRIEN: The girls are from poor families and it's Oprah's hope to inspire greatness in them. She also wants to give them a safe place to learn, a hope she now finds herself struggling to achieve.


O'BRIEN (on camera): Coming up next on 360, Tropical Storm Noel is gaining strength and is heading toward Florida. We'll have the very latest on its path.

And a new twist on pumpkin carving. Water is only the half of it. It's our shot of the day and it's coming up next.


O'BRIEN: Politics can be downright frightful. And on this Halloween night, we have got some scary examples for you in a dose of "Raw Politics." Here's CNN's Tom Foreman.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT Well, the congressional clock is striking and it's time for tales from the "Raw Politics" capital.

(voice-over): And then there were none. One of the last of the presidents old advisers is giving up the ghost and going back to Texas. For two years, Karen Hughes has let efforts to win hearts and mind in the Muslim world. OK, resignation accepted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you like scary movies?

FOREMAN: Remember that telemarketing "do not call" list that you signed up for? It's expiring. But Congress now appears headed toward a vote to make it permanent.

The end of the world, Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton side-by-side promoting preservation of historic American sights. The Hill is smiling because she just picked up a big union endorsement and the first lady is smiling because her husband was across town trashing the Hill's health plan. Child of the corn, the president picks Edward Schaefer as the new secretary of agricultural. He'll deal with subsidies, drought, animal husbandry. Meanwhile, confirmation of his attorney general choice, shakier by the day.

The changeling. Republican Chuck Hagel shows up at the capitol as Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden. The real big Joe calls the trick a treat.

And Dennis Kucinich, a mild-mannered congressman and presidential dreamer until this. "I've seen a UFO."

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I did. It was unidentified flying object. OK?

FOREMAN: Reporter: psycho? Maybe not. A recent poll found that a third of Americans believe in ETs.

(on camera): Our time is up. Sleep well, my little candidates. But remember, "Raw Politics" has its eye on you.


O'BRIEN: Okay, Tom, you're scaring me. Our Halloween shot of the day is coming up. First, though, Gary Tuchman joins us again for the "360 Bulletin." Hey, Gary.

TUCHMAN: Hey, Soledad. It's hard to follow up a bouncing eye.

O'BRIEN: Yeah.

TUCHMAN: In the news tonight, Tropical Storm Noel is gaining strength in the Caribbean after pounding Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Flooding and landslides in the region have left at least 48 people dead. Tonight tropical storm watches are posted for the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area but Noel is not expected to land in the U.S. but the Bahamas beware.

Around San Jose, California, shaky times, 40 aftershocks since last night's 5.6 earthquake. But no reports of serious damages or injuries.

A Kansas church that pickets funerals of U.S. service members killed in Iraq has been slapped with a nearly $11 million verdict. The money goes to a Pennsylvania father who sued after church members demonstrated at his son's 2006 funeral. The church says the war is punishment for the nation's tolerance of homosexuality.

And the Federal Reserve has cut a key interest rate a quarter point. It's the second rate cut this year as the Fed faces a slumping housing market and surging oil prices.

Soledad, Happy Halloween to you. O'BRIEN: And thank you very much. And that brings us right to the shot of the day. Since it's Halloween and all. Would you say you're good at pumpkin carving? Take a look at this guy. Not bad. If you take a closer look, that looks pretty good, especially when being done under water. It's kind of hard.

But there's an added level of difficulty you might not first see. It just swam by. This is being done in a shark tank. There you go. It's all part of an event they call Sharktoberfest. It takes in an aquarium in Tampa. And they'll do pretty much anything to get anybody to come by. Carve pumpkins in a shark tank? A little strange.

TUCHMAN: Very, very interesting day at the aquarium.

O'BRIEN: It's still weird. Thanks. Ashley Judd has a special cause we're going to tell you about, we'll tell you how one young woman is leading the charge. You'll meet the CNN hero coming up next.


O'BRIEN: Our "CNN Heroes" sharing the spotlight series continued with award-winning actor Ashley Judd. We asked her who she considers to be a hero. And she told us about someone bringing a life-saving message to young people. Take a look.


ASHLEY JUDD, ACTRESS: For me, a real hero definitely has some sort of spiritual charge. I'm Ashley Judd. And Kate Roberts is my hero because she has a very clear vision, which is a world-free of HIV.

KATE ROBERTS, YOUTH AIDS: In the '90s, I was working for a leading advertising agent in Eastern Europe. I became a sort of expert youth marketer.

JUDD: By her own description, her job was to sell soda pop, bubble gum and cigarettes to 12-year-olds.

ROBERTS: I decided to take a vacation. I went to South Africa. I saw a funeral on every corner and I was told that one in four 14- year-old school girls were infected with HIV. I remember the hairs going up on the back of my head. I just knew that I had to do something.

The idea of Youth AIDS was really to use Hollywood and the music industry and corporate America to reach the world's youth with a lifesaving message.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Protect yourself, protect your friends, protect everyone's future.

JUDD: Kate devotes her energy into making positive lifestyle choices hip, slick and cool.

ROBERTS: We have a lot of products that we are marketing and selling around the world to raise money for our programs.

This is the famous campaign. See no evil. We have two types of tags, military style.

And then there is the actual work in the field to get people to protect themselves.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not going to have sex. I'm too young.