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Bill Cosby to be Released from Prison After Conviction Overturned; Attorney Lisa Bloom Discusses Bill Cosby's Sex Assault Conviction Being Overturned, Release Soon from Prison; Survivors Give New Details of Condo Collapse; Structural Engineer, Jason Borden, Discusses His Findings After Last Year Examining Condo Tower That Collapsed; Nephew Remembers Uncle, Godmother: They Were Beautiful People. Aired 1:30-2p ET
Aired June 30, 2021 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: More on our breaking news concerning Bill Cosby. A short time ago, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned his 2018 sex assault conviction. He is set to walk free after serving more than two years of his sentence.
One of Cosby's lawyers telling CNN just moments ago they believe he will be released from prison this afternoon.
We are joined by attorney, Lisa Bloom, who represents three women who have accused Cosby of sexual assault.
Lisa, first, just your reaction to this ruling?
LISA BLOOM, ATTORNEY (via telephone): I'm absolutely disgusted and shocked by this ruling. And to think that it's all based upon a prior sweetheart deal the prosecutor made with Cosby after a full trial, which I attended with my client, Janice Dickinson.
She was one of the brave witnesses that testified that went in there and testified about what he had done to her, along with several other women.
The jury heard all of the evidence, considered everything, convicted him.
Now that this day has come, it's a slap in the face to all of the victims.
CABRERA: So he could be walking free within a matter of hours before people are even fully able to digest what is happening.
What kind of emotions will that bring to his accusers? [13:34:59]
BLOOM: I think it's going to be a very hard day. I think it's going to be a retriggering event for all of them who testified that he had drugged and raped them.
I want to remind everybody these are very, very serious charges. These women allege they were sexual assaulted when they were under the influence of drugs that they did not intentionally ingest.
He tricked them, they said, into taking drugs. And then they were passed out and he sexually assaulted them. Very, very serious charges.
It just goes to show, if you have money and power in the criminal justice system, and you can afford attorneys to fight and fight and fight for years and years, eventually, you may find a loophole and a way to get a conviction overturned. That's what happened here.
CABRERA: One of the women you represent, as you mentioned, is Janice Dickinson, who testified at the trial, helping to establish a pattern of conduct.
Have you spoken with her yet?
BLOOM: I have not spoken with her yet.
I know Janice well. I was proud to represent her. We did get her a big victory in the civil case we filed for her.
I want people to know that there's the civil justice system as well as the criminal justice system. Sometimes you can get justice in the civil system even if you can't get it in the criminal system.
But I know Janice well. I'm sure she is devastated by this ruling.
CABRERA: He was sentenced to three to 10 years. He's coming up on that three-year mark since he was sentenced in 2018. Here we are in 2021.
Do you feel like that time served was justice in some way?
BLOOM: Well, I'm glad he got some time served. I really am. But if you think -- I believe it's more than 60 or 70 women in total that have accused him.
He got to have a good long life of wealth and privilege before he was held accountable for his crimes. It was only a tiny, tiny measure of the justice that he should have received.
CABRERA: He has always maintained his innocence, which is one of the reasons, in fact, he was denied parole just a month ago because he didn't comply with some of, I guess, the treatment or courses and counselling they wanted him to have in prison.
He is still maintaining his innocence. It doesn't sound like there's any remorse there. BLOOM: He has. But I think common sense dictates -- if you have one
accuser or two accusers, OK. But when it's more than 10, when it's more than 20, when it's more than 50 women, it's just inconceivable that he's innocent.
I want to remind everybody that this conviction was overturned today not because he's innocent, but because a prior prosecutor made a sweetheart deal with him.
And the court said today that he could not have been prosecuted after that deal was made.
CABRERA: Let me read a portion of the ruling. Because To your point, to the viewers who just may be joining us, it is a little bit technical in terms of the legal action that was taken, why they said this conviction was overturned.
It didn't have to do necessarily with what he did and whether he was innocent or guilty of the act. But it actually had to do with the fact that there had been a previous deal he made with the district attorney, a prior district attorney, D.A. Castor, many years ago.
This dates back to 2004 when he was accused of having indecent sexual incidents with Andrea Constand.
He ultimately was told then by then-District Attorney Castor that he would not be prosecuted for that incident, which led to him being forced to testify in a deposition for a civil case.
And because that deposition, what he said that was incriminating in that civil deposition and was then used in his criminal court case. It essentially prevented him from pleading the Fifth.
His words were used against him in criminal court, is how I'm understanding that, Lisa Bloom.
CAMEROTA: It sounds like a technicality. Could there still be a chance of another trial moving forward?
BLOOM: I don't think there's going to be another trial. I think this decision can be appealed higher up the chain in the appellate court.
But the original decision by the first prosecutor, who decided to let him go scot-free on a simple promise that he would not be prosecuted, is really deeply disturbing.
I mean, It would have been one thing if Bill Cosby took a plea bargain and served some time.
Again, dozens of women have accused him. Andrea Constand, who was the brave woman at the center of this criminal case. She has always maintained that he sexual assaulted her.
It would be one thing if there was a plea bargain and he served some time.
But it was simply a promise that I'm not going to prosecute him. I mean, that was just the bare promise. And I think it's really appalling that that promise was ever made.
But Bill Cosby's attorneys continued to fight this and now they've gotten this victory today. Deeply disappointing for the victims.
CABRERA: More than 50 women have publicly accused Cosby of raping or assaulting them over the next 40 years. Could another case of another accuser be -- go down the criminal path?
BLOOM: It sure could. The biggest problems that victims have in all of my cases -- and I represent many, many sexual assault victims, of Jeffrey Epstein and many others -- is the statute of limitation, the time deadline to file. In many cases, that's five years, 10 years.
My client, Janice Dickinson, her incidents happened in the 1980s so she was not able to file a criminal complaint. But we were able to file a civil case for defamation after he called her a liar. And some other women did that as well.
But if women were sexual assaulted by Bill Cosby in the last 10 years, they should consult with their attorney immediately and find out what their rights are. The time limits vary from state to state. They vary from civil to criminal cases. They can be a little bit complicated.
But, yes, it is always possible another victim could bring a case.
CABRERA: Lisa Bloom, attorney, thank you so much for joining us and reacting to this breaking news.
Again, Bill Cosby about to walk free. His conviction overturned by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Meantime, our other breaking news, cracks in walls, a race to escape. Survivors of the tragic building collapse in Florida are providing new details that could prove crucial to investigators.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: I'm Wolf Blitzer in Surfside, Florida.
As the days pass after the deadly building collapse here, survivors are telling their stories.
One recounts waking up as a crack spread through her sixth-floor unit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LLIANA MONTEAGUDO, ESCAPED FROM 6TH-FLOOR BEFORE COLLAPSE: I feel like sounds, strange sounds, strange. I run to my living room. Something inside of me said, run, because this building will collapse.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: I'm joined by Jason Borden, a structural engineer who actually examined this condo tower last year.
When you were there, what was your bottom-line, Jason, conclusion?
JASON BORDAN, STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: The conclusion was that they needed work. We were there because they invited us to the building to do a 40-year inspection.
Prior to doing that type of work, we have to generate a proposal to let them know how much our fees are going to cost.
To do that proposal, we do a site visit to the building to learn the scope, how much time we're going to be spending there, what level of effort it's going to take.
So I had visited the building to do that preproposal review.
BLITZER: Did they start doing anything based on your recommendations that they needed to fix things?
BORDEN: No. We submitted a proposal for them.
BLITZER: When exactly did you submit that proposal?
BORDEN: Our final proposal was submitted in March of 2020. So we were not selected to do any of the work, so we didn't do any kind of assessment or inspection of the building associated with the 40-year.
We assumed that was given to another engineer. When I caught up with the property manager, we were informed that we weren't selected.
But I didn't follow up to see who was selected to do the work at that point.
BLITZER: I'm curious because you're an expert in this area. When you see all these new reports that the pool deck collapsed first and then everything else began to collapse, what does that say to you?
BORDEN: It's congruent with the information in the original engineer's report that we've been able to review since the collapse.
He indicated this was significant concrete deterioration in that plaza level and garage slab, especially around the planters in the pool area.
So if there is reports that there's information that that's where the collapse started, it would be consistent with the information where he noted the most significant deterioration.
BLITZER: When you surveyed the building, the south building when it's collapsed, in 2020, your bottom-line conclusion in needed of work, but you were not overly alarmed? Is that right? BORDEN: That's right. I spent approximately an hour on site doing a complementary review for the association, submitted our proposal.
I toured the property with the property manager and they pointed out a couple of locations of areas of concern that they felt would need to be addressed for the 40-year inspection just so we could get an overall sense to have building.
We didn't look at the entire building. We didn't look at every area of concern.
So what I had seen was what I normally see when I do this type of work.
We are engineers that specialize in buildings. When we get called into a property, it's usually because there are issues of some sort. So we expect to see issues of some kind.
BLITZER: Was there ever any sense that -- I mean, I've been coming to this area for a long time -- that the building itself was in real danger of collapse?
BORDEN: Not in my experience. Not that I saw while I was there.
In my career, I've been in situations on buildings where we're doing an inspection where we will see something of concern and we will direct the owner to immediately address that, to put in shoring, to get bracing, to make the area safe and stable.
And while I was on the property, I did not see anything that made me react in that way. But I felt like I needed to direct the owner to act --
BLITZER: Do you think people in other buildings around here should be worried right now?
BORDEN: I don't think so. I think this is an anomaly and that we should definitely investigate and review. But there was -- you know, this is not something that very often, that ever happens at all. So I feel like they are safe.
BLITZER: They have to learn what exactly happened to make sure it never happens again.
BORDEN: Right. It's going to impact our profession and industry going forward as we learned.
BLITZER: It will be a turning point, I suspect, in what's going on down here.
Jason, thank you for joining us.
BORDEN: Thank you.
BLITZER: Jason Borden, a structural engineer.
It's a tragic truth, as hours and days pass with zero signs of life, hope to find survivors diminishes.
My next guest, who is a local meteorologist in Miami, lost his godmother and uncle, Gladys and Antonio Lazano, in the condo collapse.
The couple were together, were found together in the rubble on Saturday.
Phil Ferro, their nephew, is joining us right now.
Phil, I'm so sorry about this news. My heart goes out to you and your family.
Your uncle and godmother were married for 59 years and you've described them as beautiful people.
Tell us about how you're remembering them now?
PHIL FERRO, GODMOTHER AND UNCLE KILLED IN CONDO COLLAPSE: First of all, thank you, Wolf, for having me.
My godmother and uncle were incredible people, very loving, very giving. Basically the rock of our family.
They were always kind of bickering as to, oh, my gosh, I hope that I go first and not you. It's almost a blessing in disguise, if you will, that they both went together.
We are going on the presumption that they fell asleep and they never knew what happened.
BLITZER: Gladys and Antonio's son, Sergio, told our Randi Kaye that your loved ones were found in their bed. As you correctly point out, that they died in their sleep.
Over 140 other families are still awaiting confirmation of what happened to their relatives, to their families. What is your message to them?
FERRO: Oh, my gosh, don't lose the faith. We all want to be reunited with our families one way or the another. We all want closure.
The folks that are out there working so diligently to recover our loved ones are working hard day in and day out all through the night. And so don't lose faith.
We need to make sure that we are at least reunited with all our loved ones. Basically, it's in the hands of a higher power. But don't lose the faith.
BLITZER: Your uncle and godmother, Phil, I know they lived in apartment 903. For how many years? And did they ever complain? Did you ever hear them complain to you or
other members of the family about the condition of the building?
FERRO: I never heard any complaints whatsoever. That was their home. They loved living by the beach.
That was Antonio's dream was to live at the beach after they retired. They have been there 20-plus years. We have been there many times.
I personally never saw anything. But then again, I was never looking for anything.
But as far as I know, they had never commented anything to me about any conditions that were present at the condominium.
BLITZER: Were you or your family aware of that April letter that residents received that further detailed how quickly concrete seemed to be deteriorating in the building?
I guess the bottom line, were you ever concerned for your loved ones' safety?
FERRO: Never. We were never made aware of -- at least for me, I was never made aware of that letter.
And since I did not know of any ill conditions there at that building, I never worried about them.
As a matter of fact, there was never in the scope of my reality that something like this would happen.
So to answer your question, no, I had never heard or seen that letter.
BLITZER: What questions do you want answers to right now? Once again, my heart goes out to you.
FERRO: Well, first of all, we all want to know what happened. What led to this? What kind of a catastrophic event led to this situation?
So answers. Answers are needed by everyone, for the family members, for architects and engineers. We need to know, what was the cause of this so that it never happens again.
This should not be a reality for anyone anywhere in this country or any place else in the world. We should all have safe places to live in.
BLITZER: Yes. And it's an awful situation, heart breaking in every respect.
Phil Ferro, thank you so much for joining us.
So sad, indeed. Ana, I know the president and the first lady will be here tomorrow. He
will have his role as comforter-in-chief, meeting with the search and rescue teams who are all heroes right now.
The weather is getting really bad. And also meeting with family members like Phil. It will certainly be a painful experience for the president and the first lady.
CABRERA: So many lives touched. And the strength that you are hearing in all of those voices and the people you have been talking with this past hour, Wolf, is really remarkable. Our hearts go out to all of them.
Thank you for being there for us, Wolf.
Thank you, at home, for joining us. We'll see you back here tomorrow at 1:00 Eastern.
The news continues next with Alisyn and Victor.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Welcome to NEWSROOM. I'm Alisyn Camerota. Victor is off today.
We do have breaking news. Bill Cosby will reportedly walk out of prison this afternoon a free man.