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High School Rejects HIV-Positive Student; Newt Gingrich Rising; Jerry Sandusky Speaks Out in New Interview

Aired December 5, 2011 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. It is 10:00 here on the East Coast.

And we begin tonight "Keeping Them Honest," with a 13-year-old honor student and an athlete who dreams of going to college and going to a good high school. He's speaking out tonight, talking about a bunch of adults who he says are insulting his intelligence with fear and ignorance.

He's talking about how a prestigious boarding school turned him away, an institution, Pennsylvania's Milton Hershey School, with a long and proud tradition of helping kids just like him, but denying him admission for one reason. He's HIV-positive. School officials say openly they're afraid he may have sex with a fellow student some day and spread the virus.

And as you will see, they not letting the public know what kind of medical advice led to that conclusion, even though in any case, the Hershey School is a highly structured, highly supervised environment, even though condoms block the spread of HIV and taking antiviral drugs, as this boy is, lowers the risk of transmission even during unprotected sex by 96 percent.

That said, the school claims it simply cannot take any chances, even though barring the student, known in court papers as John Doe, would seem to violate the Americans With Disabilities Act. I spoke to the school spokeswoman earlier.


COOPER: In a legal document, you have written, "The school has made an individualized assessment as required by the ADA, the Americans With Disabilities Act, and its implementing regulations and determined that John Doe would pose a direct threat." That's the language you have also used just now.

I want to read you from a question and answer document put out by the justice department by their civil rights division to inform people about the Americans With Disabilities Act. In this document it says and I quote, there's a question, "Can a public accommodation exclude a person with HIV/AIDS because that person allegedly poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others. Answer: "In almost every instance the answer to this question is no. Persons with HIV/AIDS will rarely if ever pose a direct threat in the public accommodations context." So given that, how can you still claims that they are direct threat?



COOPER: School spokeswoman Connie McNamara.

Beyond that claim though that the Milton Hershey School is somehow unique because it's a residential school as well as like a boarding school, I wanted to know what if any scientific basis they had for keeping this child out?


COOPER: What medical evidence was your decision based on?

MCNAMARA: We did a thorough review. We had the admissions committee and our senior administration along with our medical staff review the case.

COOPER: So you had a doctor or a medical professionals consulting on this?


COOPER: And they advised you that there was a risk of having an HIV-positive child in this school?

MCNAMARA: I wasn't in those discussions, Anderson, but I can tell you that the decision at the end of the day was that in balancing the risks, we had to think about those other 2,000 students in our home.


COOPER: Well, we wanted to know more, especially after speaking with Emory University Medical Center's Dr. Kimberly Manning.


DR. KIMBERLY MANNING, EMORY UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: We just need to point out this was a decision that was rooted in fear, not because of public health concern, because if this was truly for public health purposes, they would have sought the counsel of the appropriate medical professionals who have then told them of the compelling data that has demonstrated that those taking antiretroviral therapy if indeed they have do have sexual intercourse with someone HIV-negative the chances of getting HIV is minimal in those instances.


COOPER: So who did this school consult with? We e-mailed Connie McNamara today, she replied saying she had no comment because of pending litigation, the lawsuit filed on this teenager's behalf.

But as we said, the boy is speaking out through his lawyer, by e- mail, the teenager whom again the school has referred to incorporate -- only as John Doe answered some of my questions tonight.

He says -- quote -- "I'm not a threat to anyone." He adds, "If anything the lawyers and spokesperson for the school are a direct threat to me by insulting my intelligence as though I do not understand or know the consequences of having unprotected sex." Then he asks, "Who wants to have sex anyway at my age?"

He wants -- he wants the school to -- quote -- "stop making like I'm this vermin that's out to get the student body at Milton Hershey."

In a moment, we're going to talk to his attorney. First, what is to many a staggering fact. There's happening more than -- this is happening more than a quarter century after another young man, Ryan White, fought to stay in school despite being HIV positive. Through his battle with authorities and the virus many learned to live or to leave their unfounded fear of AIDS behind, but apparently not everyone.

I talked about it earlier tonight with Jeanne White-Ginder, Ryan White's mom.


COOPER: Jean, what went through your mind when you first heard about this 13-year-old honors student in Pennsylvania being denied admission because he was HIV positive?

JEANNE WHITE-GINDER, RYAN WHITE'S MOTHER: Oh, gosh. Anderson, I just felt like, you know, it was Ryan's story all over again. I mean, it just seems -- I didn't know the whole story at the time. I just thought people were uneducated. I did not understand the part about the sex.

I mean, their response for not allowing him in school was because they're afraid that he might have sex. I mean, I think that's just kind of ridiculous.

COOPER: What about it do you think is ridiculous?

WHITE-GINDER: Well, I mean, for a 13-year-old -- I mean, this kid sounds like a really responsible kid. He's very smart and very intelligent and he wants to go to that school. And a kid with HIV, I think that's so important for him to have such hope and promise in his life. And he wants to make something out of his life even though he's got HIV and AIDS.

I mean, I just think he's -- it's just an important thing for him to be able to better himself. And he can live a long, productive life. And I think it's just very unfair that they will not let him go to Milton Hershey School.

COOPER: What kind of a -- what do you think Ryan would say about the fact that a situation like this is unfolding in 2011, almost 2012?

WHITE-GINDER: I think Ryan would be very annoyed that we're doing this again. I think he would feel, you know, it's ridiculous. I mean, I think he would feel like, you know, we've already fought this battle. You know? We know that AIDS cannot be transmitted by kissing, tears, sweat and saliva.

And you know it can't hop, skip or jump around. And I think it was just important for Ryan to -- for people to look at a person for who they are and like a person for who they are. You're not giving them a chance of seeing who he is. You know? All you're seeing is HIV/AIDS, and you're not giving him a chance in life.

COOPER: I do some work with the Elton John AIDS Foundation helping them raise money. I know Elton became close to Ryan and to you. And he's talked about the impact Ryan had on him.

What impact do you think this story, what's happening to this young boy, is going to have?

WHITE-GINDER: Well, I think it's going to make us do more education. I mean, I think it's important for everybody to get educated. And I think we've come to a standstill kind of people talking about AIDS. This gets AIDS in the forefront, not that it's -- we want it to be like this but -- over a story like this, but at the same time it makes people and enforces that you can't get AIDS by casual contact or by living with somebody, going to school with somebody, working with somebody. You cannot get AIDS that way.

COOPER: Jeannie White-Ginder, we appreciate you being with us.

WHITE-GINDER: Thank you, Anderson.


COOPER: Well, you heard some what the teenager in question has to say about the situation. He says it has been rough with him. I asked him how he's doing. He says, I don't think I'm not dealing with it good. I'm a shy person and all the attention is a little overwhelming. But I'm glad I'm getting out and not being -- getting out and not being swept under the rug. I don't feel normal anymore.

When asked what he'd say to parents at the school who might have concerns, here's what he said."As far as the parents are concerned, I do understand but ignorance is a very dangerous tool. Your children should be educated about a person who is HIV positive. If I have a cut, I have the common sense to get a bandage or tell my mother."

Joining us now his attorney Ronda Goldfein, also senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin joins us as well.

So, Ronda, I want to ask you something that the school has been unwilling or unable to clarify for us. The school's spokeswoman, Connie McNamara, told me on Friday the school consulted with medical professionals before denying admission to your client.

Are you aware of who those medical professionals are?

RONDA GOLDFEIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, AIDS LAW PROJECT OF PENNSYLVANIA: We're not aware of who they may have spoken to. And I can say at the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania, which is a nonprofit public interest firm, we've been doing this work for 23 years. And I'm not aware of any credible medical or scientific expert that would suggest that this boy, simply on the basis of his diagnosis, should be excluded from school.

COOPER: Jeff, the school is saying that he poses a direct threat. The Americans with Disabilities Act clearly says that in virtually no case does somebody who's HIV positive pose a direct threat in a public place.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Particularly public accommodations, which is the argument that they're making is because this is a residential school, a boarding school, he is a special risk. But the Justice Department specifically ruled that out and said that's not a legitimate justification, just as Congress specifically amended the Americans with Disabilities Act to make precisely clear that HIV status is not a basis in which you can discriminate against someone. I mean, this case seems like a very obvious result.

COOPER: Ronda, by the school's logic, though, shouldn't then any college not have HIV-positive students because it's got residential facilities and there's probably even less supervision in college than there is at this academy?

GOLDFEIN: Exactly. They're suggesting that there's something unique about the fact that the students sleep overnight that somehow increases the risk. I mean, the law and the science is clear, there's no risk for this child to be in the school or at a day camp or any other place. So the idea that if he's there when it gets dark somehow the risk is increased is just really a lack of information on their part.

COOPER: And what's your reaction to the school's -- what appears to be the school's main concern which is that your client, this 13- year-old honor student, might become sexually active at some point in the time that he's at this school because it goes all the way through 12th grade?

GOLDFEIN: We were pretty distressed to hear their opinion on this. I mean, we had tried to negotiate with the school for several months because we really just wanted to resolve it and get our student into school as quickly as possible. And then after months to hear that their concern is he was going to have sex? They haven't asked anything about him. They haven't talked to his family. They haven't talked to his providers. they have just decided that on his diagnosis and his age he's inappropriate for school. That's pretty distressing.

TOOBIN: And you should think about the reasoning here. I mean, lots of high school kids who don't go to boarding school also have sex. So presumably under this reasoning, you could exclude HIV students from day schools as well. I mean, the logic here is so discriminatory and so -- COOPER: You think this is clear-cut discrimination.

TOOBIN: I -- you know, look, I usually try to, you know, give both sides and, you know, not give categorical opinions. But I don't see any basis for the Milton Hershey School's position -- Milton Hershey School's position here. And it's particularly distressing because this is such a distinguished institution with such a great history of educating kids in need.

COOPER: Right. They're clearly helping a lot of kids, but they're really doing damage to this child and frankly to anyone with HIV out there, the message that they are sending.

What's -- what is the latest with regards to the actual lawsuit, Ronda?

GOLDFEIN: We filed our complaint. We haven't heard anything back from them, nothing's been filed. So we will proceed on a litigation path. I mean, we're hoping that this can be resolved promptly. It never should have gotten to this point.

Lawsuits are difficult, painful events for all of the parties. We just wanted our student to be able to go to this prestigious school. And we are as stunned as everyone else to find ourselves in this lawsuit.

TOOBIN: And even if he wins, you know, he's going to have to probably give a deposition. I mean, this is going to be an ugly process for this poor kid to have to go through. And even winning a lawsuit is a miserable experience. And there's just -- there's no reason this kid should have to go through it.

COOPER: We're going to continue to follow it. I just think it's a really important case, says a lot about where we are as a country.

Ronda Goldfein, appreciate you joining us. Jeff Toobin, as well.

Let us know what you think. We're on Facebook, Google+. Add us to your circle, or follow me on Twitter @AndersonCooper. I will be tweeting tonight. I already tweeted about this. Let us know what you think.

"Raw Politics" next: Mitt Romney vs. the latest anti-Romney, Newt Gingrich. Could this be the matchup all spring? Can Newt knock off Mitt or is he just a polling sensation minus the organizational punch to really pull it off? What about his claim that poor kid have no work ethic? We're going to have a new answer to that problem involving Donald Trump from Newt Gingrich today.

We'll explain that ahead.

And later he has the right to remain silent and a lot of lawyers say he should. So why is alleged serial child molester Jerry Sandusky talking? And what's he saying about the charges against him? You're going to hear that.

Let's check in with Isha -- Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the Florida A&M marching band is famous for its precision and style. And now incidents of hazing are coming to light. Tonight up close new revelations in the alleged hazing death of the band's drum major.

And eye-opening inside details of the brutality that some drum majors endure -- that and much more when 360 continues.


COOPER: "Raw Politics" now. New polling that shows Newt Gingrich continuing to surge and a new plan taking shape, the former House speaker, who likes to be known as an ideas man, coming up with an answer to a problem he identified the other day.


NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Really poor children in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works. So they literally have -- they have no habit of showing up on Monday. They have no habit of staying all day. They have no habit of I do this and you give me cash. Unless it's illegal.


COOPER: That was Newt Gingrich last week. The remark set off a firestorm of controversy as he himself predicted. Today after paying a call on Donald Trump he unveiled one of his ideas for combating economy and teaching poor kids the value of work.


GINGRICH: I suggested to Donald Trump that he adopt a program of apprentices and take one of the poorer schools in New York City and create 10 apprenticeships that will be paid for part-time work. And he liked the idea a lot. He understood exactly what I was getting at.


COOPER: New polling, as well, from NBC/Marist College -- one shows likely Iowa caucus-goers, 28 percent prefer now prefer Gingrich and Romney is tied with Ron Paul for second place.

In New Hampshire, practically a home for Mitt Romney, Gingrich trails by 15 but has been closing the gap. In Florida Gingrich enjoys a massive lead. However in all those places he lacks the kind of political organization that Mitt Romney has been building for years.

The question is, will Romney's stellar sales force be enough when Republican voters really don't really to love what he's selling?

Joining us now to talk about it, Democratic strategist Paul Begala, and GOP strategist Rich Galen who once served as Newt Gingrich's spokesman.

So, Paul, you say that Newt Gingrich has the most important quality in a candidate which is perseverance.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: He does. And I have to admire that. I mean, he has withstood withering attacks. I mean, Tim Pawlenty got out of the race -- remember him, he ran for about 10 minutes -- and he got out when nothing very bad had happened to him.

Newt Gingrich went through months. People like me mocking him, hammering him, insulting him, and he took it. I mean, and the -- it's been rough. Any normal person would be under the bed in the fetal position. So I don't -- I'm not a fan of Gingrich, I don't agree with him, would not like it if he was my president. But setting that aside that kind of toughness and perseverance is something I admire.

COOPER: You've also said, though, Paul, that you think Gingrich as the nominee for the Republicans would be a godsend for Democrats.

BEGALA: You know I say that with the caveat that, you know, they -- my predecessors in interest in the Carter White House apparently said that about Ronald Reagan. So I want to be careful and uncharacteristically for me a little humble.

But yes, I mean, every Gingrich story ends the same way. I'm not even worried about the baggage of which he has more than -- you know, if Liza Minnelli was checking into the Plaza Hotel with a full retinue of massage therapists and aroma therapists and horoscope readers, more than that.

But I'm more -- if I were for Newt would be worried and as an adversary I'm certain that he'll self-destruct. Every Gingrich story ends with Newt and a can of gasoline and a BIC lighter. So -- if he runs, and if he's the nominee, then the president will have his hands full, I'm sure, but I -- he may not make it that far.

COOPER: Well, Rich, I would like to hear what you have to say about Paul's vision of him as self-destructing. But also I have heard you say that despite the fact that he does have, you know, his fair share of baggage, he is a known quantity and that actually helps him.

RICH GALEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: It does help him. Let me go back to one more example of who you want to run against. When George H. W. Bush was running for reelection against what we called in 1991 the seven dwarfs, one of whom was Bill Clinton.

Everybody was saying let's -- if we could just have Clinton, then we know we've got this. Guess who was taking the oath of office on January 3 -- January 20 the next year?

But for Newt, the interesting -- the interesting kind of irony in all this is that he is of Washington and he has been covered by Washington reporters for a quarter of a century. They know all this stuff. So they can't get into that sort of there's gambling back there, Claude Rains kind of breathless reporting when they find something out, like when -- you know, with Rick Perry and they found out the name of this fishing camp as an example.

But -- so he does get a -- a free ride on that. The business with the -- with the underprivileged children, you can say the same thing about families that live on the Hamptons, by the way, that nobody there works either and the kids don't have any work ethic.


COOPER: Paul, Gingrich, I mean, I guess he's playing catchup in terms of campaign organization. How much -- I mean, obviously, he's got momentum, but how much in the marathon that this is does ultimately the campaign organization play?

BEGALA: Well, I think we're learning that at least in 2012 probably less than in prior years. I mean, message matters most, momentum matters, organization matters. It's not nothing. And I think Gingrich wishes he probably had more people with him earlier.

But I think when you've got a message that's hot, people will flock to you. And you know I have seen this before. And the organization that some of Newt's opponents are building in Iowa may very well turn out caucus attendees who caucus for Gingrich. So I wouldn't put too much in organization.

I think it's more important to have a message and stick to it. But right now apparently his message is that -- you know, 9-year-olds instead of going to school in the inner city should be, you know, cleaning urinals or working in the boiler room, or now 10 kids are going to have an apprenticeship with Donald Trump? Which he does know that's a TV show, doesn't he?

I mean, it's like, I'm going to call my friend Andy Bernard, he's the regional manager at Dunder Mifflin in Scranton. He'll get 10 guys at internship --

GALEN: There's something else, though, Paul, that the Republicans have changed this year that's a departure. And that is that caucuses and primaries between now and April 1 are proportional. There's no winner-take-all in those first three months, so that -- and it was designed to make the process stretch out so that all the states didn't try to crowd up to the front.

And that does, I think, argue for some level of organization as you move out of the first three or four states and get into February and March -- April, March 6 is Super Tuesday, California and New Jersey aren't all the way until June. I'm not so sure that organization isn't going to matter. And I think that does help Romney in this case.

COOPER: Just briefly, Rich, I'm curious to know, if you were advising candidates, I think right now only Gingrich and Santorum have agreed to appear in this forum that Donald Trump is going to be moderating. If you were advising candidates, would you suggest they go and appear there?

GALEN: No, I would suggest they follow the Obama model during the Super Committee debate and get as far away on the planet as you can possibly get. Guam and Australia fit the bill perfectly.


COOPER: All right, Ron Paul and Huntsman have said they're not going to go.

Paul Begala, Rich Galen, guys, thanks very much.

GALEN: Thank you.

COOPER: Still head: inside to mind of an accused pedophile. Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky speaking out in a new in-depth interview and again admits he -- well, you'll hear what he says for himself.

Why would he say something like that about being attracted to young people? Why would his attorney let him?

We're going to talk to forensic psychiatrist and our senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

Also, "Up Close": new details about the violent history of one of the country's best college marching bands and the hazing ritual that may have led the death of their drum major.


COOPER: "Crime & Punishment" tonight: former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky speaking out again raising more eyebrows and more questions. Charged with -- now with 40 counts of molesting eight boys over 15 years, he's free on bail while awaiting a preliminary hearing next week.

In an interview with "The New York Times" Sandusky denied sexually abusing any children. He told the paper about opening his home to kids from the charity he founded, arranging sleepovers, wrestling with them, giving them money and gifts, but when he tried to describe his relationships with young people, his lawyers had to step in with an assist. Take a look.


JERRY SANDUSKY, CHARGED WITH SEXUALLY ABUSING CHILDREN: If I say no, I'm not attracted to boys, that's not the truth because I'm attracted to young people, boys, girls --

JOE AMENDOLA, ATTORNEY FOR JERRY SANDUSKY: But it's not sexual. You're attracted because you enjoy spending time --

SANDUSKY: Right. I enjoy -- that's what I was trying to say, I enjoy spending time with young people, I enjoy spending time with people. I mean, my two favorite groups are the elderly and the young.


COOPER: That was Joe Amendola's voice, the attorney, you heard off camera saying his client isn't sexually attracted to young people. In an interview last month Sandusky gave an equally kind of rambling answer when Bob Costas asked him if he's sexually attracted to young boys.

Back with us is senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin. Also want to bring in Dr. Michael Welner, a forensic psychiatrist and chairman of the Forensic Panel.

COOPER: Michael, what do you make of this, I mean, of that answer? It is -- it's the second time he's sort of given that strange answer.

DR. MICHAEL WELNER, FORENSIC PSYCHIATRIST: Well, I think what's more significant about that interview -- and perhaps this is why victims are so touched by it -- for weeks, we've been asking why in 1998 and 2002 and beyond did people say nothing to see here, move on? If you watch the interview by "The New York Times" reporter, her choice of questions is exactly why he's been out on the loose.

A predatory sex offender communicates about his actions through what are known as cognitive distortions. Answers that deny. Rationalize, minimize. Give the listener the impression nothing to see here, move on. And so for example, a question that she would ask, she'd say, can you see why people are alarmed that you would take showers?

Excuse me, that's not why we're here. We're not here because he took showers with children. We're here because he was sodomizing and he was exploiting and having sex with children. And he was doing it --

COOPER: Well, allegedly.

TOOBIN: He's accused. He's accused. He's not convicted.

WELNER: But the point is that's why we're having this discussion. And so -- and so to articulate this as some sort of discussion about whether showering is appropriate plays into the notion that he needs to advance and has with Penn State, with law enforcement, that it's not a big deal. It's what happens in athletics.

And so essentially if you interview a predatory sex offender, whether he's suspected or guilty, you have to work with the ugliness. You can't do it from a lofty position. You have to say, can you see why people would be outraged that you would have sex with a 10-year- old who is not in any position to give consent?

That's the question to ask. You can't send a "New York Times" reporter in to do a "National Enquirer" reporter's job.

TOOBIN: But wouldn't -- wouldn't an innocent person also deny it, too? I mean, it seems like you're sort of...

WELNER: But that's not the point.

TOOBIN: ... damned if you -- damned if he does, damned if he doesn't. WELNER: I think that Costas' question was actually illustrative. "Are you sexually attracted to children?" You ask the question. It could be answered in any way. And yet that answer is the one you come back to. And many things could be asked again.

Do you think -- you know, not saying you're guilty, Mr. Sandusky, but can you imagine that people might be outraged if you had sex with a 10-year-old? And see what he says. That's a fascinating, relevant question that doesn't force someone to be accusatory, and it's an appropriate way to go about it without enabling a cognitive distortion.

COOPER: Jeff, are you surprised that his attorney is allowing him to do these interviews?

TOOBIN: Yes, I mean, he seems to be making a bad situation worse. Frankly, I thought the interview with Joe Thomas, the reporter who got this fabulous scoop, was better for Sandusky than the Costas interview. I think he seemed a little more rational.

But you know, it's completely baffling, because all these tapes are completely admissible in a court. And, you know, they can get pretty far to the way to a conviction just on these tapes. He admits being in the showers. He admits...

COOPER: So it's actually -- it helps prosecutors?

TOOBIN: Oh, it helps the prosecutors, absolutely. Now, you know, I know in high-profile cases, the defendants often are very frustrated that their story is not getting out. And they're the ones who actually push to get -- you know, to get publicity. But it's the job of the lawyer to say, "Look, just wait for the trial." I don't see how this helps at all.

COOPER: You talked about cognitive distortion. If somebody is doing that, does that mean that they believe what they're saying?

WELNER: Absolutely. I think one of the lessons we also need to learn from this, is that sexual assault such as you see in predatory pedophilia, it's not an event; it's a process. It's the end point of a process in which a victim is targeted, and then groomed through isolation, developing a need. And then finally sex comes into it and then an enforced silence. So it's the end point of a process.

And so with respect to cognitive distortion, it's not just how Sandusky communicated to a victim. It's how he communicates to a protector. You don't engender just the trust in the victim; you engender trust in the parent, even the protective parent who says, "I wouldn't leave my child alone with anyone." But with this person, whether he's the esteemed football coach or the Catholic priest who's known for good deeds.

"Doubt," the movie, the play, beautiful illustration of this. The lead character, was he guilty or was he not? He was benevolent, but there was something icky. And that quality about Sandusky, the benevolence and the presence he had in so many people's lives, enabled him to trade upon his legend, to establish trust for parents that they would only leave a child with him. And the same worked with Penn State.

TOOBIN: If we can just add one point about the cover-up issue, which also is relevant to this -- to this interview. You know, he talks to Joe Thomas of the "Times" of -- about he had free access to the locker rooms. He had -- he was not restricted by Second Mile...

COOPER: It was Joe Becker of the "Times."

TOOBIN: Joe Becker, I'm sorry. Who was so -- that all of these so-called restrictions that we heard about, that he was banned from the locker room, were nonsense. That he had free rein, Paterno never talked to him...

COOPER: Even after 2002 that Paterno never talked to him?

TOOBIN: Right. I mean, all of that stuff really suggests -- obviously, that's right. We're only relying on his word, but it certainly does seem like the restrictions that we heard about when this story broke were not there.

WELNER: You know, there's another very troubling issue that deserves closer attention, as long as we're "Keeping Them Honest."

COOPER: Yes. We've got to run but go.

WELNER: I'll be very quick. Penn State can account for Penn State, but they sent him out all over the country as an ambassador, helping to recruit, even in an unofficial capacity, knowing that they couldn't even account for him under their own roof. Imagine what he could do where nobody knew his history.

COOPER: That's interesting. Michael Welner, thank you. Good to have you on. Jeff Toobin as well.

Coming up, shocking details of what may have happened on a Florida A&M band bus that allegedly led to the death of a 26-year-old drum major, Robert Champion. That is him. Band members, Robert's parents speak out tonight.

But first Isha is back with a "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Isha.

SESAY: Anderson, the head of the FAA is taking a leave of absence after he was charged with a DWI. Randy Babbitt was arrested in Fairfax, Virginia, over the weekend. Police say he was driving on the wrong side of the road. The leave of absence is effective immediately, while officials discuss the status of his employment.

President Obama is urging Republicans to join Democrats and pass an extension of the payroll tax cut. Senate Republicans say they didn't have any input in the Democratic plan, and it has no chance of passing. The president said Congress has to act before the tax cut expires at the end of the year.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Not only is extending the payroll tax cut, important for the economy as a whole, it's obviously important for individual families. It's important insurance for them against the unexpected. It will help families pay their bills. It will spur spending. It will spur hiring. And it's the right thing to do.


SESAY: The U.S. Postal Service is trying to save more than $2 billion with a proposal to cut about 28,000 jobs and end next-day service of regular mail. The proposal is meant to offset an expected 47 percent drop in regular mail over the next ten years.

And Anderson, Christmas is still almost three weeks away, but lots of people are already pretty much done buying gifts. That's according to Reuters and a survey by America's Research Group. Almost 40 percent said they'd finished most of their Christmas shopping...


SESAY: ... which leaves me naturally to say, what have you got me?

COOPER: I haven't done any shopping. I -- wow. Forty percent have already finished? Have you done any?

SESAY: I know what I'm getting you.


SESAY: What?

COOPER: I don't know.

SESAY: Don't judge me by your standards. OK?

COOPER: Ouch. That hurt.

SESAY: I know.

COOPER: Oh, that hurt.

All right. Time now for "The Shot." We play Frisbee every day at 360 for hours at a time, especially when Isha is in the office. Actually, we never actually play Frisbee in the office or elsewhere, but this YouTube video from Perth, Australia, makes us want to. Take a look.

SESAY: Oh, wow.

COOPER: It's amazing. The video has more than 3 million hits. If we played Frisbee in our office, it would look nothing like this. SESAY: It would look nothing like that.

COOPER: That's pretty cool.

SESAY: I'd be hiding under a desk. That is pretty cool.

COOPER: Here's from the other angle. Very impressive. Zoom, zoom, zoom. That's my boat sound, zoom, zoom, zoom. Yes.

SESAY: You might need to work on that.

COOPER: OK. Amazing. We'll check back with you, Isha.

Serious stuff ahead. Up close: the death of a college drum major, exposing a history of violence in one of the country's top marching bands. Disturbing new details about how Robert Champion may have died.

Also ahead, Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two young daughters were murdered in their own home. You probably remember that story. The question tonight: will the jury that heard the grisly details of their final moments sentence their killer to death? The latest from the courtroom.


COOPER: Up close tonight, the violent history of a renowned college marching band that's just coming to light.

At a rally this evening students of Florida A&M University were asked to sign an anti-hazing pledge. The campus is reeling from death last month of Robert Champion, who was allegedly hit -- died as a result of hazing by his fellow band members. He was 26 years old. His parents have sued the university.

The story stunned a lot of people, probably because we usually hear about hazing in sports or fraternities or sororities, not necessarily marching bands. This isn't just any college marching band, and tonight we're learning more about what may have happened in the minutes before Robert Champion collapsed. Here's Jason Carroll.


JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Robert Champion was living his dream -- a dream that started when he was 5 years old -- being a drum major. His parents say the last time they spoke to him was just before Thanksgiving.

PAM CHAMPION, MOTHER: We had talked to him and he was saying how he couldn't wait to come home.

CARROLL: Robert Champion was a member of Florida A&M University's prestigious marching band, the Marching 100. On November 19, after Champion had performed at a football game in Orlando, his parents got another call, this time from his sister. ROBERT CHAMPION SR., FATHER: She called us and saying someone had called her and saying that Robert had problems breathing. And I think one of the band members said he wasn't breathing.

P. CHAMPION: When you get that kind of news, you think, "Not my Robert," you know what I mean? "Maybe they made a mistake." So I guess I kind of still had that in my mind, that it wasn't my son, you know? You know, this is a bad joke, you know?

R. CHAMPION: A bad dream.

CARROLL: But this was all too real. Listen to the 911 call made by a band member.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you with the person right now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I'm outside the bus so I can hear you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. So he's inside the bus?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, he's inside the bus.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's not even -- he wasn't responding. We thought he was breathing; he was making noises. But I don't even know if he's breathing now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Is he awake? Do you know?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His eyes are open. His eyes are open. He's not responding.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. But is he breathing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have no idea. I cannot tell you that.

CARROLL: The 911 call too painful for his parents to hear. It wasn't until Robert's body was brought home to suburban Atlanta that the shock of his death really began to register.

P. CHAMPION: But before that, you kind of looked at it like he was still at school, and he was -- just hadn't come home. But to have him come home that way, that's the hardest thing for anybody.

CARROLL: But why did he die? Investigators suspect hazing. Band members we spoke to say it may have been the result of a rite of passage called Crossing Bus C. That's the bus Robert was on after the November 19 game. One band member, who did not want to be identified, told me what happens.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have to walk from the front to the back of the bus backwards. And while the bus is full with other band members. And you get beat till you get to the back.

CARROLL (on camera): And the point of it is what?


CARROLL (voice-over): And the beating can involve something he referred to as thunder and lightning.

(on camera) Thunder and lightning. What's that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think thunder is when you get like a straight hit to the chest.

CARROLL: A straight hit to the chest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And lightning is when you get like -- kind of like a slap to the shoulders.

CARROLL (voice-over): He says he himself has never been hazed but that the beatings usually happened for one of two reasons. A mistake during a performance or as a way for the band member to gain respect.

In some ways, the Marching 100 is bigger than the games where they play. Their high-stepping choreography has earned them a worldwide reputation, performing spots at Super Bowls and the president's inauguration.

(on camera) But allegations of hazing have followed the band for years. Back in 2001, a student was paddled so badly he had to be hospitalized for kidney failure. And just weeks before Champion's death, the band's director, Julian White, had to suspend 26 of the band members for hazing.

(voice-over) White says he tried for years to end the practice but says no one listened. The university fired White following Champion's death and suspended band performances indefinitely.

The school's president, James Ammons, spoke at Champion's funeral and vowed his death would not be in vain. Ammons declined repeated requests to be interviewed. The parents say the school must be held accountable.

P. CHAMPION: Whatever it takes to cleanup, whether it is from the top to the bottom, clean house.

CARROLL: They say justice will come. Healing for them will take much longer.

P. CHAMPION: The thing is, is that I'm just going to miss his smile, his big hugs. There's nothing in the world that can prepare you for that. Nothing. Gosh, I'm crying. Nothing -- nothing can prepare you for that, nothing.


COOPER: It's amazing the parents are able to talk at this point.

Jason, you pointed out in your piece that the band director says he warned the school numerous times about the hazing. Right after his death, though, it was that band director who was fired. So do people around there feel that he's being made the scapegoat?

CARROLL: I think there are some, Anderson, who definitely feel as though that he is being made a scapegoat. They feel as though this is a man who didn't have the power to expel students. He could certainly recommend that they be suspended.

But his critics say, look, this is something that's existed at the university for such a long period of time. Suspension isn't enough. For some of these students, it's like a holiday, Anderson, being suspended for a week or a few days. And Champion's parents say if you have a system in place to try to prevent something and it isn't working, you have a responsibility to try something else.

COOPER: You just got back from a mandatory campus-wide meeting where the president of the university spoke.


COOPER: What did he say tonight?

CARROLL: Well, he talked a lot about changing the culture that exists at the university. He talked about the -- this institution of secrecy, this wall that needs to be broken through. He also said that the university would be doing everything that they could to cooperate with the criminal investigation.

But once again, he has his critics, as well, who say the same thing, basically say when you have something that's existed for such a long period of time, it's going to take more than what they've been doing to fix it.

COOPER: All right. Jason Carroll, appreciate your reporting. Thanks, Jason.

Robert's family and friends have launched a Facebook page so people can share their stories or their support, find expert advice on hazing. You can find it on Facebook: Drum Major for Change Robert D. Champion. Again, that's Drum Major for Change Robert D. Champion.

Up next, police make a key discovery in the case of a missing 7- year-old.

Did Halliburton destroy evidence in the Gulf oil disaster? We'll tell you who's making that allegation.


SESAY: I'm Isha Sesay with a "360 Bulletin."

Police have found the body of a 7-year-old Canton, Georgia, girl missing since Friday. Investigators believe Jorelys Rivera was abducted, sexually assaulted, and murdered at her apartment complex.

Jury deliberations will continue tomorrow in the sentencing phase of this man, convicted of a deadly home invasion in Connecticut. Joshua Komisarjevsky could face life in prison or the death penalty. He was found guilty of 17 charges, including the murders of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters. Husband and father William Petit is the only survivor of the attack.

In newly-filed court papers, BP accuses Halliburton of intentionally destroying evidence linked to the Gulf oil rig explosion that led to the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

And Dorothy's ruby red slippers from "The Wizard of Oz" are hitting the auction block next week. They're one of only four pairs worn by Judy Garland in the 1939 classic movie. The auction house, Profiles in History, expects the shoes to fetch between 2 million and $3 million.

So Mr. Cooper, if you're not sure what to get me for Christmas, there's one idea right there. Now back to Anderson.

COOPER: Coming up, she's back. Our favorite newlywed slash singer slash love crusader waxes poetic about married life with a man three times her age. I say "I do" to "The RidicuList."


COOPER: Oh, yes, time for "The RidicuList." And tonight we have to add once again the romance haters who doubt the pillars of love, strength and all things genuine that compose the blessed union between Courtney Stodden and Doug Hutchinson.

These naysayers, the very same people who said that at 51, Doug -- and yes, I think I can call him Doug -- was just too old to marry 16-year-old Courtney. They said things like what could they possibly have in common? Her parents should be in jail, they said. This is never going to last, they said. Well, you know what, romance haters? Doug and Courtney have been married now for almost seven months.

In a new video for VH-1's "The Fab Life," Courtney shuts down the cynics once and for all with a glimpse into the magical world that she and her husband have created. They share feelings, insights, and trips to church and saucy jaunts to pumpkin patches. Also there are bands.


COURTNEY STODDEN, MARRIED TO 51-YEAR-OLD: I turned him onto Maroon 5, Train, you know, all the new, you know, awesome artists who are out. It's so cute. Doug calls Maroon 5 "Monsoon 5." I can't believe. Like, "Yes, Monsoon 5!" It's so embarrassing, but it's darling, too.


COOPER: Ha ha, ha ha, ha ha. It's not all Top 40 music and gold tube tops in the Hutchinson-Stodden household. Oh, no, a typical day at Chez Courtney, well, it can get kind of crazy.


STODDEN: A typical day for me is crazy, let me tell you. I get up out of bed in the sexiest outfit you've ever seen. My hair is done, my makeup's done.


COOPER: Done. Hair done. Makeup done. We love you, Courtney Stodden.


STODDEN: My hair is done. My makeup's done. I get up at around 12, 12 p.m. And I make my mocha. I don't care about anything else.

Doug is wonderful. Picks up my coffee beans that I spill on the floor. He picks up my foundation. He picks up my feathers from my big robe that I wear. My high heels are all over. So I have a wonderful life, a wonderful husband. So a typical day for me is like a princess.


COOPER: Somebody call Mother Goose. Best fairy tale ever. The princess who kissed a guy in his 50s and turned him into a vacuum cleaner, picking up her coffee beans and foundation and feathers.

I do have one concern, though. Now that Princess Courtney is married, will she have enough time to focus on her career? Remember, Courtney's career from back in her single days -- cue the boat and the pink dog.


STODDEN (singing): When I go shopping, eyes be popping. When I'm a-walking, jaws be droppin'.


COOPER: Well, I'm happy to report jaws will soon be dropping once again, because we have not heard the last of the song stylings of Miss Courtney.


STODDEN: The latest on my music career, I'm currently in production with some songs, with some singles that are going to be coming out in 2012. So I'm real excited to, you know, hurry up and get those done and share them with you guys.


COOPER: We're excited, too, Courtney. We are excited, too. So it sounds like she's doing great. The marriage, the career and, I guess right about now, the haters are eating their words, much like Courtney seems to be eating her own face in my favorite clip.


DOUG HUTCHINSON, MARRIED 16-YEAR-OLD: People are welcome to their opinions. That's what the world is about. If they -- if they need to feel this way, that's theirs to hold, not ours.


COOPER: I don't know what she's doing. I can watch that literally every day, and I still -- I see new things in it each time. That was from "Good Morning America," by the way. It's pretty much the best thing that's ever happened.

So Courtney and Doug, you keep on keeping on. And romance haters, remember that 51 plus 16 always adds up to true love. Well, she's 17 now. Anyway, who cares? On "The RidicuList."

Hey, that's it for us. Thanks for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: We're live from the Middle East tonight with our exclusive conversation with the prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and the ruler of Dubai.

Plus in the United States, the payroll tax war intensifies.