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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
A Campaign Casualty?; Graphic Testimony in Sandusky Trial; Syrian Children Caught in Crossfire
Aired June 12, 2012 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Erin, thanks. Good evening, everyone.
We begin tonight "Keeping Them Honest" with the troubling new indication of just how hard American families have been slammed by this economy. A new study just released by the Federal Reserve paints a grim picture in numbers. The most stunning revelation from the studies that between 2007 and 2010 the average American family's net worth dropped by almost 40 percent.
Now our focus tonight is how that fact has been portrayed today in the presidential race. In FOX News this morning, Mitt Romney was asked about the Fed study, particularly the drop in American's median net worth. Here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I knew that that's why the American people are having such a hard time. That's why -- the idea of selecting as a campaign slogan forward is so absurd. People are having hard times in this country. And the president needs to go out and talk to people, not just do fundraisers. Go out and talk to people in the country and find out what's happening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, Mitt Romney certainly seems to be placing the blame on President Obama.
Now there's no doubt that a nearly 40 percent drop in median net worth over three years is terrible. But what's lost in the Romney comments is the fact that the three years we're talking about, the three years the Federal Reserve study looked at, are from 2007 to 2010. President Obama didn't take office until 2009.
So President Obama and his supporters say, well, you can't simply blame him. You have to look at the situation that he inherited. Now you can agree with that or disagree. But in case you think I'm simply siding with President Obama here in this tit-for-tat, let also me point out that President Obama seems guilty of similar tactics in recent attacks on Mitt Romney.
In a new campaign ad, President Obama zings Governor Romney for some bad economic stats in Massachusetts. Some of which can also be blamed on, well, you guessed it, the economic situation he was handed when Romney took office.
Keeping them both honest on both sides, here's Tom Foreman.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So let's look at those numbers because that really is the key to all this.
If you ignored who the candidates were, you said, what does it really tell us? Look, here's the 2010 figure, $77,300, according to that study of the median family worth. And by comparison to what was before in 2007 under George Bush $126,400.
If you just look at those two numbers, this looks huge. It looks obviously like things were much better here than here. But the key is, you have to go beyond that and you have to look at what's happening beyond it, which is the question of this. What were we losing money on.
The simple truth is we lost money on our jobs because a lot of people weren't making the money they expected to make. We lost money on our savings because people weren't expecting that either. But the big loser, and this is the key to all of this, the big loser is over here in the question of savings, or in the question of home ownership. Right there.
That's where the big, big precipitous fall came in terms of what people were owning and where they lost all of their family value.
And look at this chart when that happened. If you look at U.S. home prices, the number one driving force in changing that change in value, net value, median home value, happened right in here. President Obama didn't take office until about here. So you can see this gigantic climb in home values. Huge fall off the cliff.
He wasn't in office until here. So you're absolutely right. To suggest that somehow it's his policies that led the way to all of this is simply not true. The numbers say that's not the case.
COOPER: Mitt Romney certainly is saying also that President Obama hasn't done enough to help get home prices back up, get people out of the water not fast enough.
We mentioned, though, Tom, in this intro a second ago that the Obama campaign is now going after Governor Romney's Massachusetts record using kind of the same criteria they're crying foul against, no?
FOREMAN: Absolutely. And you're right. Republicans have a fair complaint to say that maybe the president should have stopped this sooner. He should have turned it around sooner. He should be doing more now. That's an absolutely valid complaint. But on the other side, the Democrats are now coming back at the Republicans with the same tactics. They're saying president -- Romney, the figure they love to cite over and over again, is that he created fewer jobs when he was governor than almost any other governor in the country. They're absolutely right about that. But what they're not bearing in mind, when you look at this increase from his time when he was in office to here, that's a very, very small, like, 1 percent gain in terms of jobs in his state. What they're not counting is the nature of the economy in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts was also hit by huge recession. Right before he took office. One that hammered technology companies and Massachusetts has a lot of them. So the simple truth is both sides are using the same trick on each other. There may be more or less blame either way. But it's the same trick. And it's equally unfair on both sides -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Tom, appreciate that.
Joining me now to get into the "Raw Politics," Romney adviser and Republican strategist, Kevin Madden. Democratic strategist and Obama 2012 pollster Cornell Belcher.
So, Kevin, Governor Romney knows the president isn't responsible for the 40 percent drop in net worth. But would someone who heard the answer he gave this morning be able to tell that?
KEVIN MADDEN, MITT ROMNEY ADVISER: Well, I think that the governor is talking more about the divide right now between the president's posture on the economy, some of the rhetoric that he's using, and the real -- the perceptions I think and the realities that Americans are feeling every single day in this economy.
The president's talked about that we're making progress and that the -- that the private sector is doing fine. But people are feeling very real anxieties about everything like Tom said about housing prices and the amount of savings that they have. And as well as the rising costs that they're seeing. Whether it's at the gas pump or whether it's for food prices or everything from health care costs, to energy costs, to education costs, higher education costs. All of those are rising right now.
And that the president's policies right now haven't done enough to get us out of the --
MADDEN: The economic doldrums that we've seen over the last four years. And that's the -- that's the reason that we're having this election is that we're putting a context right now of our vision for the -- for the future and how to fix the economy against President Obama's and his policies and his record over the last 3 1/2 years.
COOPER: Just for the record, has prices have been falling. But Cornell, the Obama --
MADDEN: They're still very high though.
MADDEN: They're still very high.
COOPER: The Obama campaign, Cornell, is saying that people should look at the upward trend of job creation under President Obama, take into account the dire economic situation he inherited. If that's true shouldn't the Obama campaign do the exact same thing for judging Mitt Romney's record as governor of Massachusetts?
CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Think when you -- when we judge Mitt Romney's record in Massachusetts, you have to look at what, in fact, he did in Massachusetts. You know, the same sort of policies that he put in place in Massachusetts is the same sort of policies he's trying to talk about putting in place right now. Which is, again, doubling down on giving massive tax breaks to very wealthy individuals, while raising taxes and fees on middle -- on middle class families. And slashing public sector jobs.
Look, over the last 16 months, we've had -- we've had positive job growth in the private sector. For last 16 month, we've lost jobs of teachers and first responders and firemen. Those are middle class jobs that count also. So, you know, tactics aside, it's about the policies that Mitt Romney would implement if he were president. It's the same sort of policies of giving breaks to the wealthy while, you know -- while struggling middle class families get the short shaft and get higher fees.
COOPER: Well, Kevin, let me ask you about something that Cornell had referenced.
COOPER: The Obama campaign has jumped on -- those comments that Mitt Romney made, saying he wants to -- according to the Obama campaign, fire police, firefighters and teachers to cut government even smaller. Romney seemed -- is now saying, well, look, Romney was taken out of context. I just want to play for our viewers what exactly he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It's time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Isn't the implication there that we don't need more firemen, police or teachers, and to cut government, that's where you would fire?
MADDEN: No, the implication is that we have very different world views on how we help spur economic growth. I think Governor Romney has made very clear that what we need to do is put more faith back in the American people, allow businesses both big and small to grow and hire more people --
COOPER: But he's saying cut government and he's citing --
MADDEN: On the other side of it we have --
COOPER: But he's talking about cutting government and he's citing teachers -- but he's citing teachers, firemen and police --
MADDEN: Right. And so President Obama's world view is that we help spur the economic growth by putting federal taxpayer dollars into growing the size of government and hiring more government workers.
Now the big problem here is that in order to get the local tax base -- you know, that's the other thing to remember, too, is that localities, local city governments and states, they're the ones that hire first responders. They're the ones that are primarily responsible for education funding.
So what happens is we're not going to have a federal government write a check. What happens when those -- when that money is gone. If you have a one-time hit, what happens when you don't have a local economic growth --
COOPER: But, again --
MADDEN: If you don't have the growth in the local economic base, you can't sustain teachers, firemen and police officers. So what you have to do is grow the economic base.
COOPER: But doesn't it -- it sound like Romney is saying we don't need more teacher, firemen or policemen, and we got to cut government? Is he saying to cut -- to fire some?
MADDEN: No, no. I think he's saying that when we're looking at growing the economy, the most important thing to do is grow the private sector because when you have a very robust private sector, then you can sustain the jobs of firemen, teachers and policemen.
MADDEN: And that's -- look, that's an important point that Governor Walker even made.
COOPER: Cornell, is that -- is that -- you think what Romney was saying?
BELCHER: Look, I think what you see is two very different visions. And all due respect to the other side on this. You see one vision where you see President Obama saying, you know what, we've got to invest in those things that sort of help empower the middle class. The idea that we're going to cut teachers and police officers, and somehow that's going to lead to a more prosperous and stronger and safer future for Americans, you have to scratch your head.
I mean, you know, what kind of thought process is it that if I cut back on teachers, you know, I've got less kids getting, you know, into college and I cut back on first responders, somehow that's going to help our country grow and be successful?
I mean, I just -- you know, with all due respect, you have two very different visions. One about investing in those things that help the middle class grow and one about sort of cutting away those things that help the middle class grow in order to profit the very wealthy.
COOPER: All right. Kevin, appreciate it. Cornell, as well.
Let us know what you think. Send me a tweet @andersoncooper. I'm using Twitter during commercial breaks so I'll be on it.
A stunning day in the Jerry Sandusky trial. Prosecutors calling two of their most powerful witnesses to the stand. Jury is hearing from the accuser whose allegations launched this entire criminal investigation. The first accuser. And also the Penn State coach who claimed that he actually caught Sandusky in the act. We have a live report from the courthouse.
Plus the latest on that deadly and fast-moving wildfire in Colorado. Chad Myers tells us why firefighters could face an even tougher battle tomorrow -- next.
COOPER: In "Crime and Punishment" tonight, graphic emotional testimony today in the Jerry Sandusky trial coming from two of the prosecution's star witnesses. Now it started with the now 18-year-old accuser whose allegations first triggered this entire criminal investigation against the Penn State assistant coach.
In court documents, he's known as victim number one. We'll call him accuser number one. He's described meeting Sandusky when he was just 11 years old and detailed how their contact escalated from kissing to repeated sexual assault.
Jurors also heard from the Mike McQueary, the former member of the coaching staff at Penn State, says he witnessed Sandusky in the middle of a sexual act with a young boy in the team's locker room.
Now there are also new questions about what school officials knew about Sandusky. Prosecutors allege that former Penn State vice president Gary Schultz, who's facing perjury charges in the case, withheld information during the investigation.
Want to bring in our national correspondent Jason Carroll, who's covering the trial. Also CNN contributor Sara Ganim, reporter with "The Patriot-News" who's won a Pulitzer Prize for her coverage of the Sandusky scandal. Both were in the court today. Also joining us in New York, former federal prosecutor Jeffrey Toobin.
So, Jason, one of the most powerful witnesses was accuser number one. What about his testimony? What did you hear today?
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, based on courtroom reaction, Anderson, it was extremely compelling. This is an 18-year-old young man. When he walked to the courtroom, he looked vulnerable. Quite frankly, he looked scared. And when he sat down and began to testify, he really became emotional when he described the abuse which he says began in 2005 at the hands of Jerry Sandusky. Mostly occurring in the basement of Sandusky's home.
Anderson, he said it always began the same way. Started with a back rub. He went on to say, quote, "After rubbing and cracking my back, putting his hands down my shorts and blowing on my stomach, he, he had," and then he paused for a moment, then he broke down, and began crying.
And before he could finish, he looked directly at Jerry Sandusky who was sitting in the front of the courtroom. Jerry Sandusky looked at him. And then he went on to say, "He put his mouth on my privates."
And at that moment, I looked at the jurors who were sitting over to my left. Juror number 9, she's an elderly woman in her 70s. She's a bus driver. And if you recall, during jury selection, she was one of those who said, "I feel as though it's my duty to protect children. She had her hand over her mouth during this testimony." So it clearly had a major impact on her.
COOPER: Sara, the Sandusky defense attorney, Joe Amendola, really pressed accuser number one. Inconsistencies in his grand jury testimony. How did he handle that?
SARA GAMIN, REPORT, THE PATRIOT-NEWS: Honestly, Anderson, he broke down at one point and looked directly at the prosecutor and asked him for help. He said, please make him stop asking me the same question. You know, it was interesting, because during cross- examination, Joe Amendola was really harping on the fact that his story had changed slightly. And the accuser number one said on the stand -- he was quite honest, I thought, with jurors.
He said, look, I testified three times before a grand jury. I told my story to multiple police officers. And every time, it was someone new. And I didn't feel comfortable with someone new. And so I was embarrassed and I was holding back. And he said, but I'm here today telling the truth.
And Joe Amendola kept coming back at him and coming back at him with the same question. And he -- he just broke down at one point. You know, he's 18 years old. And he looked at the prosecutor. He got no help. He gathered himself. And he answered the question one more time. And then they moved on.
COOPER: Jeffrey, I mean, you've been in courtrooms. How does that play to a jury? I mean he's pressing a witness about apparent inconsistencies. Is that a winning strategy?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Often it is. In this case, I doubt it. I mean given the magnitude of these charges, given the number of accusers, given how embarrassing the information is, it would not be surprising if an 18-year-old kid told the story somewhat differently.
Look, Amendola is doing his job. I don't begrudge him that. But, I mean, think about how horrible this testimony is. And Mike McQueary, I mean, what's Mike McQueary's incentive to lie here? He looks horrible. He's the one who didn't go to the police when he sees Jerry Sandusky raping this kid. Why would he lie about that?
I mean I just -- you know, yes, it's possible that one witness could have a financial motive as the defense has raised. Yes, it's possible someone could have told inconsistent stories. But when you have so many witnesses, it just seems overwhelming.
COOPER: Jason, what did McQueary say on the stand today?
CARROLL: Well, McQueary -- Mike McQueary has basically been saying what -- a lot of what we've been hearing all along, which is basically, he said he went into that locker room during that alleged incident. Heard rhythmic sort of slapping sounds. Skin on skin sound. Went into the locker area, turned around, looked through a mirror and in this reflection he says he allegedly saw Jerry Sandusky embracing a young boy. The young boy with his hands up against the wall.
And at one point that really seemed to grab the jurors' attention was when prosecutors put up a huge video screen and showed actual pictures of the shower. And then put mannequins to position it exactly where Sandusky was standing and where this young boy was standing.
At certain point, the defense tried to poke holes into McQueary's theory, saying why could you be certain it happened in 2001 or 2002, what sort of specifics were you telling others about this, university officials. But McQueary seemed to stand by his story, saying all along I know what I saw.
COOPER: And Sara, what about these allegations of new documents that were released today that alleged that officials at Penn State withheld the evidence that was subpoenaed by the grand jury?
GANIM: It was actually part of the response that prosecutors filed because one of those officials, Gary Schultz, is trying to get his charges dropped. So prosecutors filed this response that said, look, we just obtained these new documents that show more evidence in your case. And this -- you know, and they're using it to bolster their case. They're saying that he kept some kind of file. We don't know the contents of the file. Only it was some kind of file about allegations made against Jerry Sandusky.
We know that Gary Schultz, this defendant, is one of the only people that knew about several different allegations. Because he was the director of the police department. And there had been a report to police in 1998. And then he was also involved in a -- in the report that Mike McQueary is involved in. COOPER: Right.
And Jason, I understand we just got a response from his attorney.
CARROLL: That's right. I'm reading it to you right now. It's just come to me here on my BlackBerry. This comes from Tom Ferrell. He represents Gary Schultz. He says, to be clear, quote, "Mr. Schultz did not possess any secret files. All his files were left behind after he retired and were available to his secretaries and his successor." The only, quote, "secret" information revealed was the privileged grand jury information inaccurately described by unidentified law enforcement sources to the media.
So that statement coming to us just a few moments ago from Tom Ferrell, Gary Schultz's attorney -- Anderson.
COOPER: Right. How long do you think it's going on?
TOOBIN: It's going to go a few more weeks. I mean that's a lot -- I mean there's -- he said -- the judge has said he's going to do this quickly, I mean, in a couple of weeks.
TOOBIN: But I just find it hard to believe it's going --
TOOBIN: You can get that much testimony in that quickly.
COOPER: Do you think -- do you think Sandusky will take the stand?
TOOBIN: I think it is out of the question.
TOOBIN: I just don't see how he can possibly respond to all this testimony.
COOPER: Jason Carroll, appreciate it. Sara Ganim, as well. Jeffrey Toobin, thank you very much.
Coming up next, stunning new report levels some incredibly serious allegations against the Syrian government, saying they're specifically targeting children, torturing them, killing them, murdering them, using them even as human shields. Details ahead.
COOPER: George Zimmerman's wife is arrested. What she's accused of tonight when we continue.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: Well, for months, we've reported on allegations of torture and murder of children by the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Now a new report by the U.N. documents shocking abuses of kids. Really unprecedented attacks on children in this conflict. Saying the pro-regime forces have even used children as young as 8 years old as human shields. Eyewitnesses say children of suspected dissidents are being captured and tortured.
I just want to repeat that. Adults who have simply spoken out against the regime have had their children arrested and tortured. Beatings, blind foldings, stress positions, whippings with heavy electric cables. Cigarette burns. And at least one incident, an electrical shock to the genitals. This is on children that we're talking about.
The U.N. peacekeeping chief now calling the conflict an all-out civil war. Pro-regime thugs are also physically preventing monitors from observing a cease-fire. A cease-fire that doesn't exist, it's in name only.
Russia and China have blocked the Security Council from taking any significant action against al-Assad. Well, today Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accused Russia of sending Damascus helicopters like this one. The video posted on YouTube. The video allegedly shows regime forces firing rockets over northern Aleppo province.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: We have confronted the Russians about stopping their continued arms shipments to Syria. They have from time to time said that we shouldn't worry, everything they're shipping is unrelated to their actions internally. That's patently untrue. And we are concerned about the latest information we have, that there are attack helicopters on the way from Russia to Syria, which will escalate the conflict quite dramatically.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Human rights watch is begging the U.N. Security Council to tighten economic sanctions and impose an -- an arms embargo on the Syrian government.
War photographer, photojournalist Robert King spent more than two months under siege in Homs. Last week we showed you some of his really devastating footage from a makeshift hospital. But Robert King has just made his way out of the country. He joins me from Beirut.
Robert, first of all, I'm so glad you're safe. And that you've been able to focus world attention on what's happening inside Syria. You know, the U.N. now has this new report. And they say that the Assad regime is targeting children as young as 9 years old. They're the victims of killings, maimings, arbitrary arrests, detention, torture, children used as human shields. Even sexual violence.
We've been documenting. We've seen this for the last 15 months. The U.N. Special Representatives on Children and Conflicts says she's never seen such targeting of children.
You've seen it firsthand. I mean you saw children, correct?
ROBERT KING, PHOTOJOURNALIST: Yes. It was horrifying. Saw more children than I've seen in 20 years of covering conflicts that have been wounded by this butcher, this regime. And their only crime is that they're children of the revolution.
COOPER: Have you ever seen that in other places? Have you -- have seen children directly targeted? At this level?
KING: No. No. In fact, it's horrifying. It's -- there's no real words to describe the type of war crimes that are taking place. (INAUDIBLE) is just one small city, town in Syria but may represent what's taking place all across the country.
COOPER: The U.N. peacekeeping chief says Syria is now in full- scale civil war, do you agree?
KING: I think it's still an ethnic cleansing process. I don't think the FSA or the Free Syrian Army have enough weapons to conduct this civil war. I mean to have a civil war, both sides have to be relatively armed. I mean, though, light weapons, against heavy weapons. I don't think there's any room for reconciliation. I think that line has been crossed. So the next phase of this conflict would be an all-out civil war.
Whether it's starting now or a week from now or a month from now. I don't know when that will take place. But it's obvious the country is heading in that direction, if it's not already there.
COOPER: But this is ethnic cleansing to you?
KING: Yes, you know, they're killing the revolutionaries. Then they're going after their children to kill them, the reports of them raping the women. So you're wiping out two, three generations of people and to me that is -- describes ethnic cleansing.
COOPER: Secretary of State Clinton said today that the U.S. is concerned Russia is shipping attack helicopters to Syria. How would that change the dynamic on the ground?
Just yesterday we had reports of helicopters being used, which is clearly, if true, an escalation of the conflict. How would helicopters change the dynamic?
KING: Yes, they are using. They're already using helicopters. I've heard from the people of Alcaser yesterday that they were using airplanes.
COOPER: Often times, I mean, you spent a lot of time there and you saw a lot of death very up close. You're now out. Sometimes when you leave a conflict zone, I know you haven't had much time to reflect.
But, you know, you have at least a little distance. You probably have a little more sleep than you've had before. What do you think about now? I mean, what is it like to no longer be there? What stays with you?
KING: Just the stories, the people. There's a bit of survival guilt. A little bit of remorse. Just the friends I made along the way. And -- I want to continue the relationships we've built over this time. But I also have to continue and report on what's going on in their country.
COOPER: Would you want to go back to Syria?
KING: Yes, of course. Maybe not to the same town but, you know, I'm not done there. I'm not going to let our colleagues die in vain. I'm not going to be intimidated by this regime and I'll continue to do my work.
COOPER: Well, Robert, I really appreciate you talking with us. Again, you've taken so many risks to try to get these images out. I really just -- I thank you for that.
KING: OK, thank you, Anderson, I really thank you.
COOPER: Very brave reporter.
Coming up, a story we've been following for years that keeps getting, well, more intense, a school in Massachusetts that uses electric shocks on its students, students with severe developmental behavioral problems, autistic students.
Report from a human rights organization goes into graphic detail with what they say are horrifying claims about what's happening at the school. They call it torture pure and simple. I'll talk with an attorney for the school when we continue.
COOPER: The fast moving wildfire in Colorado turning deadly. More fire crews on their way to battle the flames. Will the weather help or hurt their efforts? The latest when we continue.
COOPER: Another "Keeping Them Honest" report tonight on a story we've been covering for years now. It's the story of a school called the Judge Rosenberg Center in Canton, Massachusetts. It's a school where autistic students and other with severe behavioral and developmental issues are given electrical shocks to try to control their behavior.
Sometimes they're strapped down with restraints and shocked. The school says it's the last refuge for some students no other facility will take. To be sure there are parents who stand by the school and say it has saved their children's lives.
There's public outcry over what's going on at the school. The JRC for short reached a new level the public outcry did when a video was recently released showing the so-called aversive therapy technique the school uses.
The school fought to keep the video from getting out. I want to warn you, it's hard to watch. It shows a then 18-year-old student named Andre McCollins being shocked 31 times over the course of seven hours.
The video is from 2002. McCollins is no longer at the facility. His family recently settled a lawsuit against the JRC. Now, as we said, nearly every time we dig into this story, we find new elements to it.
We've recently uncovered this report from a group called "Mental Disability Rights International," a human rights organization that advocates for people with disabilities.
In 2010, the group issued an urgent appeal, saying the severe pain and suffering perpetrated against children and adults with disability at JRC violates the U.N. convention against torture.
In its report, MDRI quotes former students and teachers from the school. Their accounts suggest that the treatment goes far beyond the electrical shocks you just saw. Some of the treatment is called behavioral research lessons.
One former student quoted in this report described them like this. Quote, "They try and make you do a bad behavior and then they punish you. The first time I had a BRL. Two guys came in the room and grabbed me. I had no idea what was going on. They held a knife to my throat and I started to scream and I got shocked.
I had BRLs three times a week for stuff I didn't even do. It went on for about six months or more. I was in a constant state of paranoia and fear. I never knew if a door opened if I would get one. It was more stress than I could ever imagine, horror."
The JRC denies that any student has ever been threatened with violence to elicit an unacceptable behavior. In a moment, we're going to hear more from the attorney for the school.
Now the school regularly compares the shocks to a bee sting. But in this report, a former student says it's much worse. Quote, "I got the shocks for swearing. Saying no, leaving a supervised area without asking, and even for popping a pimple, any noncompliant behavior.
I had one electrode on each arm, one in each leg and one around my waist. It was the worst pain, like a third degree burn. They tell people it feels like a bee sting but they lie."
Also described in the report, systematically withholding food as a form of punishment. The report describes students being deprived of food all day. In the evening, in their behavior improve, getting some sort of mashed food sprinkled with liver powder.
Here to response to the report is Michael Flammia, a lawyer for the JRC. Also Dr. Louis Kraus, chief of Child And Adolescent Psychiatry at Roush University Medical Center in Chicago. Dr. Kraus, as a child psychiatrist, you say treatment like this is tantamount to using cattle prods on autistic children. Aren't there some kids who simply can't be controlled any other way? That's what the school officials say and have been rejected by other schools.
DR. LOUIS KRAUS, BOARD MEMBER, AMERICAN ACADEMY OF CHILD AND ADOLESCENT PSYCHIATRY: You know, that's ridiculous as though this is the only school in the country that takes care of very difficult children. They are probably isn't a state in our nation that doesn't take care of kids like this.
But they don't use these types of aversive treatments. There are many other treatments that have research bases to them. That can be used often in a multidisciplinary-type way, often bringing in consultants when necessary. But not using aversive therapy.
COOPER: Michael, if -- you're the attorney for the school. If this works, why is no other school in the country -- and we can't find anyone else in the world using it?
MICHAEL FLAMMIA, ATTORNEY, JUDGE ROTENBERG CENTER SCHOOL: The schools that say they don't use it, that treat the tough kids, the very difficult behavior disordered students that they can't treat without the aversive, they come to JRC.
They are discharged from those programs and they ascent to JRC. So JRC is treating the most difficult cases of behavior disorders in the nation. The toughest cases are at JRC.
COOPER: Dr. Kraus, do you buy that?
KRAUS: I don't. I've worked in several residential facilities. I worked at the Illinois State Maximum Security Youth Center in Joliet for nine years. I just don't buy it.
Almost every state that I know, child psychiatrist, developmental pediatricians, that work in very tough facilities with kids that do really disastrous things. There are other techniques in taking care of them.
Simply because somebody has a no refusal policy doesn't mean that they're necessarily taking care of the toughest kids. It means they want to get as many kids as they can.
COOPER: Michael, the thing -- even the toughest prisoners in this country are not allowed to be, you know, strapped to electrodes and have shocks given to them to control their behavior.
Even the wildest animals are not systematically shocked. So why is it OK to do this to kids? Some of whom who can't even communicate?
FLAMMIA: Well, it's just an absurd comparison.
COOPER: Why is it an absurd comparison? You have prisoners who have violent, a threat to others -- FLAMMIA: Anderson, let me answer your question. You wouldn't perform any treatment on a prisoner if they didn't need it. You wouldn't do dentistry. You wouldn't give them chemotherapy. You wouldn't amputate a limb. You don't give any treatment to a prisoner.
You give treatment to someone who needs a treatment. The students at JRC, the clients at JRC, they've been tried in all these other programs that the doctor is talking about. They were expelled from those programs.
COOPER: What I'm saying is why is it humane to do this to a child when it's not humane to do this to a hardened criminal who is maybe going to kill another prisoner or bash their head against the wall?
FLAMMIA: Why is it humane to just let them bash their heads until they have a stroke? Why is it humane to give them so much antipsychotic medication that they are catatonic? That is inhumane.
COOPER: But Michael, as you know, the allegations and we've heard from a former teacher's aide at the school who says it's not just severe behavior. Sometimes it's done to prevent, like with the severe behavior, you know, noncompliant behavior. If a student gets out of seat, they can be shocked.
FLAMMIA: It's false. All of this treatment is approved by the court. It's approved by the parents. It's approved by physicians. Those are just false statements.
COOPER: So Andre McCollins when he was shocked more than 30 times over the course of seven hours and strapped down in four-point restraints that was all prior approved by the courts?
FLAMMIA: Yes, he had attacked a staff person earlier that day. He was struggling with the staff. The staff were doing everything they could to help him.
COOPER: So you're saying he needed -- but you're saying he need to be shocked more than 30 times over the course of seven hours?
FLAMMIA: Well, at the trial, the expert for the plaintiff, Mrs. McCollins, testified that aversive are needed for some people, for the tough behavior disordered case.
Aversive were needed for Andre McCollins. But his opinion was on that day they should have stopped after five applications. This was something that happened 10 years ago --
COOPER: So that doctor who is saying they should have stopped -- you just said this stuff is all court approved and doctor approved. You just talked about somebody who said no, this kid did not need to be shocked 30 times over seven hours.
FLAMMIA: No, this is the plaintiff's expert at the trial. You're missing the important point, Anderson. Aversive, he testified, adversatives are needed for some tough cases. Aversive were needed for Andre McCollins.
Although on that day with that severe behavioral outburst he would have stopped after five applications. Again, this was 10 years ago. That is not how JRC would handle it 10 years into the future, which is where we are right now.
COOPER: Dr. Kraus, the treatment of these types of kids for shocks, I mean, can you imagine any situation where shocks would be valuable?
KRAUS: I cannot imagine any situation where using this type of shock treatment or any type of aversive treatment would be a reasonable approach to help these kids.
When you look over the report among some of the kids that are accepted into this program, you've got kids with posttraumatic stress disorder, the concept of shocking these kids.
If you look at the practice parameter for the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, on the treatment of children in residential facilities, this just came out.
They're very specific about not using aversive treatment. They're very specific on using multidisciplinary approaches and this -- there's no construct of this occurring.
You know, this is all based on antiquated theory, from Skinner that basically has been debunked many years ago. Human beings are much more complicated than simply behavior.
COOPER: Michael this report from this organization you say what, that it's -- it's just false?
FLAMMIA: Well, they're -- no, it's a joke. I mean, that agency never told JRC they were doing an investigation. They never came to JRC. They never asked to come to JRC. They only talk to people on the internet, on record, being against aversive.
It wasn't an investigation. The report isn't worth the paper it's written on. The fact of the matter is I've been representing the school for over 20 years, Anderson. I see these people when they come into the school.
They are on so much medication that they can't even open their eyes. They can barely walk. They're drooling on themselves. They're coming from the institutions that say they can treat these behavior disorders without aversive.
Guess what, they can, they just sedate them. These parents want something better for their kids and they see these kids getting less than one, two-second applications a week. The behaviors are gone. They're in the classroom. They're learning. That is far more humane than what this doctor is talking about.
COOPER: Dr. Kraus, do you agree that this might work to control behavior? It seems like what you're saying this is just unethical, just inappropriate, whether or not it actually can control some behavior.
KRAUS: You know, there are a couple of issues here. Number one, aversive treatment at best is painful. At worse, it's potentially a torturous process. It is not research based. It is not peer reviewed.
This type of treatment was used prior to sensory integration modalities with occupational therapy, prior to different types of medication managements. Prior to more intensive speech and language work.
Prior to positive behavioral treatment plans being implemented. Some would take -- most of my work is with child advocacy. I certainly use psychotropic medications in my regimes. It's one small part of what we do. The reality is --
FLAMMIA: But it's what these kids --
KRAUS: Excuse me, I would --
COOPER: Let him --
FLAMMIA: -- these kids with behavioral disorder, that's what they get. They get that small part of the doctor's practice he's talking about. They get the drugs. They get massive doses of drugs.
COOPER: Dr. Kraus is basically saying you guys dope these kids up.
KRAUS: I understand. He's cutting me off. He apparently didn't like what I was saying. The reality is the child psychiatrists really don't dope kids up. There are medications that are clearly tranquilizers that can potentially be used. That is not what we do in the great majority of children.
KRAUS: When medications are used. The point is -- you know what --
FLAMMIA: Small majority of students -- you're a joke, sir -- we get the small majority of students this doctor is talking about. The doctor's not familiar with the literature. In the last five year, there have been several peer reviewed articles --
COOPER: But Michael, come on, if this thing worked it would be used more across the nation. It would be used in some other country. No other place uses this. The guy who runs your school and came up with it had to resign.
FLAMMIA: No, it's being used in other countries --
COOPER: Didn't the guy who created the school have to resign?
FLAMMIA: He retired, OK --
COOPER: Under -- to avoid prosecution.
FLAMMIA: Well, you come to the school, Anderson, you'll see these kids, you'll see how --
COOPER: Again, you're not answering -- he resigned to avoid prosecution, correct?
FLAMMIA: Yes, but Anderson --
COOPER: Because he destroyed videotapes --
FLAMMIA: Are we here to talk about the treatment? Is that the issue, Anderson?
COOPER: You're talking about how this is peer reviewed and is so widely approved. If the guy who created this destroyed documents and had to resign to avoid prosecution, that's part of the story.
FLAMMIA: I'm talking about the peer reviewed articles. The kids that you're forgetting about, Anderson, you're not focusing on.
COOPER: OK, I appreciate you being on and doctor as well.
KRAUS: If I could establish, I'm not aware of any peer reviewed articles, but thank you so much again.
FLAMMIA: The doctor needs to look more closely.
COOPER: Well, Michael, you send us all your peer reviewed articles. We'll review them. We love to see them.
FLAMMIA: I'd be happy to do that.
COOPER: Michael, appreciate you being on. Dr. Kraus as well. Up next, the latest on the deadly wildfire in Colorado.
COOPER: Colorado's massive fire now covered nearly 68 square miles, about the size of Washington, D.C. The fire's claimed its first victim. A 62-year-old woman whose body was found inside her burned home.
Officials hoped to send 34 fire crews into the field tomorrow up from 17 today. It's so big. You can see the smoke from Denver 60 miles away. Evacuated pets are being housed at the county humane society. Despite the danger, some people are refusing to evacuate. Want to go to meteorologist Chad Myers now for more. What is it going to look like tomorrow -- Chad?
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It's going to look bad especially on the western flank. We talked about this now. This is Roosevelt National Park. The problem is, we talked about this a little bit yesterday, in that national park, 70 percent of the trees are dead because of a beetle infestation. So this isn't burning live trees. This is burning just dead timber that's just ready to burn. The good news is not many people live out that way because it is national park. This thing grew about 10,000 acres, 7,000 to 10,000 acres overnight. That's about ten square miles.
And today was a good day. The winds weren't bad. Winds were down. Tomorrow, they pick up a little bit. Even at this point in time, gusts only 16 miles per hour, Anderson right there at Fort Collins.
You get higher elevation though. Higher up towards Estes Park, you know, 10,000 to 15,000 feet. We have gusts to 22. That's the danger category . That's when sparks can fly.
We won't get those winds tomorrow. They will die off. But Thursday, we could see thunderstorms. That sounds like a good thing except for the lightning part and very little rain. Saturday and Sunday, the winds could be back to 40. They need to get a handle on this tomorrow.
COOPER: Yes, we'll continue to follow. Chad, appreciate the update. A lot more we're following. Let's check in with Isha in the "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Isha.
ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, George Zimmerman's wife, Shelly, is free on bail tonight, after being arrested on a perjury charge. Prosecutors say she lied at her husband's bond hearing about their finances. Due to those accusations, a judge ordered George Zimmerman back to jail earlier this month.
She helped one of Boston's most wanted evade police for 16 years. Now Catherine Greg is preparing to serve hard time. A judge sentenced the girlfriend of alleged mobster James Whitey Bulger to eight years in prison. Her lawyer says she has no regrets.
A big reversal in the case of the alleged New York soccer mom madam. An appeals court reducing Anna Cristina's $2 million bond to $250,000. She will still need to wear a monitoring bracelet. She pleaded not guilty to charges of promoting prostitution.
Anderson, reporters had tough competition getting the attention of L.A. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick after winning the MVP title in the team's first Stanley Cup victory. His young daughter, Madison, ran around, waving at Kings flag, and calling for her dad. She's the boss.
COOPER: She should be. Isha, thanks. We'll be right back.
COOPER: We ran out of time for the "The Ridiculist" tonight. We went long in one of our debates. That does it for us. We'll see you in one hour from now latest edition of 360. Thanks for watching.
"PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" is next with Casey Anthony's attorney. His Piers' guest tonight. Before the two sat down for the interview, Mason called Casey Anthony so she could speak with Piers exclusively. "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" starts now.