20/20 Downtown

7:56 pm Press Releases - ABC News

For Release: June 15, 2001The Shocking Saga of a Young Runaway, on
“20/20 Downtown,” airing Monday, June 18

And: Jurors In Anna Nicole Smith Trial Speak Out;
Also: Sex Offender Cries Victim

In a special report, “20/20 Downtown” takes its cameras deep inside the stark world of a young runaway named Star Chase, just one of an estimated 2 million outcasts who once lived in society’s shadow. Correspondent Chris Cuomo followed the teenage Star for two years, offering a gritty first-hand account of her saga on the streets, littered along the way with graphic forays into prostitution and drug abuse. “I mean, once you put the needle in your arm even if someone does it for you, you are still a junkie, even if you do it just once,” Star tells Cuomo. “20/20 Downtown” airs MONDAY, June 18, 8-9 p.m. ET on the ABC Television Network.

Star’s story begins in Las Vegas, when she’s squatting in abandoned buildings with her boyfriend Josh, a junkie on parole known on the streets as “Drop Dead Fred.” The Vermont native had run away from her suburban, middle-class family at age 15, refusing to be bound by rules and conventions. By Vegas, Star and Josh were shooting crack, speed or heroin financed partly from tricks. Something had to give. “It scared me,” Star tells Cuomo. “I decided, you know, that we’ve just gotta come up with something else. I can’t do this anymore.”

In the midst of his reporting, Cuomo discovers that Star — still a junkie — is pregnant. “Dude, I’m high right now and I don’t want to deal with this right now,” Star says at one point. “Just back off. I don’t want to talk to y’all.” Finally, determined to shake her addiction and make a better life for her baby, Star makes a brave decision: to leave Josh and return to her Vermont hometown to give birth. “I regret living on the street, and I regret getting into all the drugs I did,” says Star, now 20. “But I don’t regret having him. He’s actually the light of my life.”

And: For the first time on national television, 12 of 16 jurors speak out about their crucial role in the raucous civil trial of the infamous Playboy centerfold Anna Nicole Smith, who sued for a sizeable chunk of her late husband’s estate. Actual courtroom video features startling accounts of the intimate life of the 10th grade dropout and the man more than 60 years her senior. But jurors say it all boiled down to Smith’s cross-examination by lawyer Rusty Hardin, known as “the Bulldog.” One juror tells ABC Correspondent Cynthia McFadden that Smith was “a manipulative, greedy woman, a child.” Another says it took “about a second” to decide if the actress/model’s late husband had agreed to give her half his fortune. Their verdict: unequivocally and unanimously no.

Also: “20/20 Downtown” shows the flip side of an ugly reality with the surprising story of a convicted sex offender from Texas now crying victim. John Lee is taking offense over a judge’s order to put signs that say “Danger! Registered sex offender lives here!” in the yards of some first-time felons like Lee, who pled guilty to indecency with a child, the 15-year-old daughter of a friend. “You feel that nobody wants anything to do with you,” Lee tells ABC Correspondent Don Dahler. “You’re toxic.”

Go to ABCNEWS.com where you can vote on whether you think it’s fair to post warning signs in the yards of paroled sex offenders. Results will be released during Monday’s broadcast.

Plus: “Night Shift” goes ghostbusting with a woman who’s never met a paranormal presence she didn’t like.

ABCNEWS.com, the 24-hour news service of ABC News and part of the Walt Disney Internet Group, will provide companion programming to Monday’s broadcast.

Elizabeth Vargas, Cynthia McFadden and John Quinones are the co-anchors of “20/20 Downtown.” The ABC newsmagazine show broadcasts from the rooftop of its Times Square studio. “20/20 Downtown” airs throughout the summer with a full slate of original stories, initially on Mondays at 8 p.m. (ET) then, starting August 3, on Fridays at 10 p.m. (ET). John Siceloff is the senior producer.

ABC News Media Relations:
Adam Pockriss (212) 456-7243
Todd Polkes (212) 456-4586

Lauren Kapp: (212) 456-2478 lauren.kapp@abc.com



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