A “20/20” INVESTIGATION ASKS: SHOULD SEX OFFENDERS EVER GET OUT OF JAIL?

7:44 pm Press Releases - ABC News

ABC NEWS May 31, 2001

And: Sid Caesar is Still in the House and We’re Still on the Floor.

Also: Hidden Cameras Reveal Hidden Meaning Behind Seemingly Meaningless Comments.

Across America, the fear of a convicted child molester living nearby is so great that one Texas judge now requires released sex offenders to wear controversial signs warning “Danger…registered sex offender.” This week’s “20/20” examines the campaign of an angry Florida mother, Judy Cornett, to go one step further: To prevent the release of her son’s molester from prison — forever.

That man, Kevin Kinder, was about to regain his freedom — rehabilitated, he says, after serving seven years of a 17-year jail sentence for molesting Cornett’s son, Jason Flores. Her protests prompted the state of Florida to resort to a new remedy, a controversial new law for sex offenders who’ve already served their prison sentence. Kinder was tried in court once more — this time to determine if he still represents a threat to society.

Such civil trials, now in use in 15 states, have resulted in hundreds of sex offenders serving more time than their original sentence. Some may never be released. Judy Cornett vows that Kevin Kinder will be one of them. “We got a life sentence so why shouldn’t he?” Cornett tells correspondent Tom Jarriel. “20/20” airs FRIDAY, JUNE 1 (10:00-11:00 p.m., ET), on the ABC Television Network.

And: Where did Paul Reiser, Billy Crystal and Drew Carey learn how to make people laugh? They say from Sid Caesar, star of a Saturday night standard called “Your Show of Shows” which first aired in 1950. “There were a lot of people who not only rushed home to watch Sid Caesar but bought TVs because of Sid Caesar,” comedian Paul Reiser says of the man credited with influencing decades of sitcoms, sketches and improvs.

Film critic Joel Siegel talks to Caesar about his lasting legacy. “People come up to me and they thank me…And they’ll always remember one piece. And it’s always something different. It amazes me,” Caesar tells Siegel. “They saw them once 50 years ago. And they still remember them.”

ABCNEWS.com will provide users with video clips of Caesar’s comedy acts. Users can chat with him on Monday, June 4, at 4 p.m., ET.

Also: A husband and wife get dressed. The husband slips on a pair of socks and then puts on his sandals. He thinks he looks pretty nifty. His wife thinks otherwise – and says so. “I am trying to save you from yourself. You know when you see old men walking around looking totally inappropriate,” says the wife. According to author and linguist Deborah Tannen who spent three years studying families and how they talk to one another, words can often hurt those we love most.

Tannen, author of “I Only Say this Because I Love You,” eavesdropped on the everyday conversations of four families who let “20/20” put cameras in their homes. What she says about those conversations may surprise you. “We need to pay attention not only to what we intend, but to how the other person might interpret what we said,” Tannen tells correspondent Lynn Sherr.

ABCNEWS.com will host a chat with Tannen on Monday, June 4, at 2 p.m., ET.

Plus: Should politicians decide how much workers get paid? John Stossel takes a look at the “living wage” movement in this week’s “Give Me A Break.”

Barbara Walters is the host of “20/20.” David Sloan is the executive producer.
ABC News Media Relations:
Adam Pockriss: (212) 456-7243, adam.pockriss@abc.com
Todd Polkes: (212) 456-4586, todd.polkes@abc.com
— ABC —
NEWS

May 31, 2001

 

ABC NEWS AND TIME MAGAZINE PARTNER TO EXAMINE
“THE NEW FRONTIER” BETWEEN MEXICO AND AMERICA

Peter Jennings to Anchor “World News Tonight” from Laredo, Texas
Beginning next week, ABC News, in conjunction with Time Magazine, will present a series of reports on the U.S.-Mexican border entitled “The New Frontier.” Segments will appear on “World News Tonight with Peter Jennings,” “World News Tonight Sunday,” “Nightline” and “This Week.” The reports will examine the enormous impact this new frontier has not just on border communities, but on the entire U.S. economy.

“We are extremely pleased to partner with TIME Magazine and dedicate our resources to examining the crucial role the border plays in both Mexico and America,” says ABC News executive vice president and managing editor Paul Friedman. “Considering that 31.3 million Hispanics account for 11.5 percent of the total U.S. population, we can think of fewer subjects more important than our evolving cross-border alliances.”

On June 4 Peter Jennings will anchor “World News Tonight” from the border city of Laredo, the fastest growing city in Texas and the second-fastest growing in the U.S. He will examine the economic and cultural connections between Laredo and its sister city across the border — Nuevo Laredo. Experts say these two booming cities represent the best example of NAFTA’s success. The banks are open seven days a week, and each Friday and Saturday night Nuevo Laredans shop at Wal-Mart, the busiest store in town.
Other reports will include:

“The Latinization of American Politics,” June 3 on “This Week”
George Stephanopoulos looks at the impact Latin Americans have had on California which boasts Latino members of Congress and a Latino lieutenant governor. Furthermore former Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa is locked in a tight race in next week’s L.A. mayoral race. Knowing how important the Latin/Hispanic vote will be in the next election, both political parties want to win this increasingly important constituency.

“The Mall,” June 3 on “World News Tonight Weekend”
For years Mexicans have been crossing the border to shop – adding billions of dollars to the U.S. economy. Now a San Diego developer is building a 67-acre mall, a symbol of a new relationship with Mexico, that entwines the cities of Tijuana and San Diego. Correspondent Deborah Amos reports from the site of the $250-million mall that Sam Marasco is building. Soon he will also build a pedestrian bridge to that mall, spanning the international border.

 

“The Presidential Office for Mexicans Abroad,” June 5 on “Nightline”
When Vicente Fox was elected Mexico’s newest president, he promised to represent not only Mexicans inside the country but, for the first time, Mexicans abroad as well. He has plenty of reason – they send home $8 billion a year to support their families and spur development in some of the poorest regions in Mexico. To do this Fox created a new “Presidential Office for Mexicans Abroad” and gave its chief a cabinet post in the Mexican government, reports Deborah Amos. Its point man is Dr. Juan Hernandez, the immigrant czar who fights for Mexican rights across America and the first Mexican-American to ever occupy a seat in Mexico’s cabinet.

“America’s Front Door,” June 5 on “World News Tonight”
There are no borders when it comes to bearing the impact of growth, both positive and negative. The costs of supporting tens of thousands flocking to the border in search of a better life has imposed a enormous strain on sanitation, health services and schools which have students from both sides of the border. Some have dubbed it “the forgotten frontier” and are calling on Washington and Mexico City to support the border with new policies that will help to bear the additional costs of growth. Judy Muller reports from El Paso and Juarez.

“The Village,” June 6 on “World News Tonight”
Correspondent John Quinones examines the price of growth along the New Frontier. The villages in interior Mexico are barren. There are no young people, no one to work the fields; only the old and infirm live there. The youth have gone north to U.S. suburbs and cities like New York City which has the fastest growing Mexican population in the country. Quinones looks at a transplanted village in the Bronx, and how its home village in Mexico prospers because of the money sent home.

The Spanish language translation of these broadcasts will be simultaneous and made available through the Secondary Audio Program (SAP) channel.

ABCNEWS.com, the 24-hour news service of ABC News and part of the Walt Disney Internet Group, will provide companion programming to the broadcasts.
ABC News Media Relations:
Todd Polkes: (212) 456-4586, todd.polkes@abc.com
— ABC —
NEWS

May 31, 2001

 

A COUPLE’S MYSTERIOUS DISAPPEARANCE OFF THE GREAT BARRIER REEF,
ON “VANISHED: DISAPPEARANCE DOWN UNDER,” AIRS WEDNESDAY, JUNE 6
One of the greatest adventures on earth is diving at the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. An American couple, Tom and Eileen Lonergan, on their way back from a three-year Peace Corp assignment in Fiji, decided to dive there on their trip home. Explorers by nature, on January 25th, 1998, they joined 24 other divers and snorkelers on a charter boat to the reef. It was a perfect “flat calm” day to dive — and it was the day they disappeared. Their dive boat returned to port and, at first, no one noticed they were missing. Once discovered, their disappearance brought world headlines and evolved into a story of mystery and intrigue. “We lost two people in perfectly survivable conditions. And we’re never found them. It’s almost unbelievable,” Dive Queensland vice president Col McKenzie tells ABC correspondent Robin Roberts. The one-hour special, “Vanished: Disappearance Down Under,” airs WEDNESDAY, JUNE 6 (10:00-11:00 p.m., ET), on the ABC Television Network.

As police investigated the couple’s disappearance, a mystery began to unfold: Something wasn’t right. Did they stage their disappearance? Were they alive? Was suicide at work here? “I feel as though my life is complete and I’m ready to die,” Tom Lonergan wrote in a seemingly prescient diary entry in 1997, an entry that came to light during a coroner’s inquest. “However that sounds to someone else, it’s what I feel in my heart.” Eileen Lonergan’s family, however, refused to believe the couple took their own lives. “That was deliberate, malicious misquoting of the diaries. And it was sad. And it hurt a great deal,” Eileen’s father, John Hains, tells Roberts.

For six months new clues kept surfacing. There were over 20 alleged sightings of the Lonergans in Australia. Most of their dive gear washed ashore on the same remote beach in perfect condition. Then — A message in a bottle, a plea for help written on a dive slate was discovered in a mangrove swamp nearly 100 miles away. “It was a dying declaration, it was a message in a bottle, using diving equipment. That’s what it signified to me. That those people were truly left 30 nautical miles to sea and had written a plea for help, at eight o’ clock the following morning,” says John Bailey, a prosecutor in the coroners office. It was his choice to recommend criminal prosecution for the boat’s captain. “And had the search started earlier, we may not have needed an inquiry,” he adds.

Attention became focused on the conduct of the dive boat’s captain and crew – how could they have left the scene without noticing that two of their divers had not returned? “Vanished” recounts the emotional trial of the boat’s captain on charges of criminal negligence, his controversial acquittal and the toll these events have nevertheless taken on him and the rest of the boat’s crew.

Tom and Eileen Lonergan had started their life together on the campus of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, their hometown. Eventually Eileen’s family visited what they believed to be Tom and Eileen’s final resting place. “It was St. Cripin’s Reef. It seemed like a holy place, so we went out and consecrated the place, put some flowers out and said this would be what we’ll consider their resting place,” says Kathy Hains. “It was the best we could do.”
The “Vanished” series of ABC News specials premiered in 1999 and focuses on mysterious and unusual events. Other “Vanished” specials have dealt with the Lindbergh baby kidnapping and the tragic life of supermodel Gia Carangi.

The executive producer of “Vanished: Disappearance Down Under” is Rudy Bednar. The producer is Howie Masters.
ABC News Media Relations:
Todd Polkes: (212) 456-4586, todd.polkes@abc.com

 

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