tv This Is Life With Lisa Ling CNN November 20, 2016 10:00pm-11:01pm PST
this is naomi. she is taking her daughter to see her biological father at his company's christmas party. >> that's his car right there. >> which one? >> the black one. >> oh, he is in it. >> he is in it? come here, princess. >> what her daughter doesn't know is that this man raped her mother. >> i don't want him in my life.
i don't want him in my daughter's life. >> don't you feel like you're in a bad dream? >> i can't wake up. >> tonight something inconceivable. women who are forced to hand their children over to the man who raped them. >> when you found out the man who raped you might want to see the child, how did you feel? >> i was angry and i was scared. i don't understand how that can be possible. >> it happens in many states in this country, and potentially affects thousands of women. >> i was told it was the best interests of the child. >> was outraged and absolutely terrified. >> three of them are sharing their stories with us. >> the judge basically sentenced me to live a 16-year relationship with my rapist as family. >> i just want him to go away. i wonder what he is getting out of this. >> one would think the law would protect these women and their children. but i'm to be learn that in much of this country, that's not the case.
>> does he deserve the privilege of fatherhood for having raped and caused the birth of the child? some questions don't need the debate. he is not a father. he is a rapist. our second story out front, we have breaking news on cleveland kidnapper ariel castro. >> ariel castro asked to see the 6-year-old girl he fathered by raping one of his three captives hi, wanted visitation. it was one of the many shocking things today. >> when notorious kidnapper
ariel castro requested visitation with the daughter he fathered after raping one of his captives, it shocked the country. but what was even more disturbing is there was no law in place to stop him. in many states if a man rapes a woman and a child is conceived because of that rape, it's possible the rapist could get parental rights to that child. we are presently in one of those states. ♪ twinkle, twinkle little star, how i wonder what you are, up above the world so high, like a diamond in the sky ♪ >> it's a chilly morning in rural nebraska, and 22-year-old noemi is coaxing a song from her 4-year-old daughter. moments like these are routine for many mothers. but noemi clings to them tightly. >> she is the focus of my world.
everything revolves around her. i love her to death. what do you want mommy to make? >> a square. >> a square? okay. >> noemi's daughter was conceived unexpectedly and under unimaginable circumstances. because of this, noemi has asked that we hide her daughter's identity in order to protect her privacy. what are your biggest fears right now? >> she'll get hurt or, you know, something bad will happen to her. >> reporter: noemi was just a senior in high school when she became pregnant with her daughter. in many ways, she was the last person you would expect to become a pregnant teen. >> i was very naive, inexperienced. i had no idea what sex really was. >> did you talk about it with your family at all? >> they would just say not to have sex before marriage. to this day i wouldn't even know if i would know how to do any of that stuff, i am so inexperienced. >> noemi started working at a local restaurant to earn extra
money for her family. it was there noemi tells me that a 20-year-old coworker began to pay special attention to her. >> i didn't talk very much to him. just if i needed something or he needed help with something. it was just another coworker. >> were you kind of interested in him at all? >> i just thought he was cute. >> did he seem interested in you? >> his behavior, yeah. like a jealous kind of type was what i was getting. he was kind of like controlling, if i would talk to my girlfriends, someone that i thought was good-looking or anything, whoa be like what are you searching for? we're here. and stuff like that. didn't picture that this was going to be the outcome. >> one night after work, noemi's coworker invited their his apartment. >> he said he was going to tell me why he was being like that to me at work.
and one of my friends dropped me off. i clearly remember saying that i didn't want to have sex with him. but that's it. i don't have a clear memory of what happened. >> you don't remember waking up at his place the next day? >> yeah. and i got a ride home. and i was really confused. i didn't know what had happened. i figured out myself later on. because there was rumors at work that i was a bet and that he had slept with me. and two months later i found out i was pregnant. and i texted him what happened. and he said you can't be pregnant unless you're a virgin mary. >> after you found out you were pregnant, how soon before you reported it to the authorities? >> it wasn't long. it was in high school. somebody told my counselor that i was pregnant and they called me in. and she told me that we had to report this because it sounds like rape.
and so i had a detective come almost immediately to the school. and i talked with him. and he said that it was rape, and that we had to take this case. >> while noemi says she remembers little of what happened that night, we received a copy of her court documents which reveal some chilling details. i have the arrest report filed by the law enforcement officer. here it says that noemi said she does not remember having sex with the defendant. a couple of days later, this police officer interviewed the defendant. he suggested that he had penetrated her with his fingers consensually, but admitted he began instead using his penis, and that he lied to her and told her he was just using his fingers. he also admitted that noemi asked him if she was still a virgin. and he purposely misled her by telling her that he did not have sex with her.
it wasn't until noemi found out she was pregnant that she realized that he had actually had sex with her. based on the defendant's admission, law enforcement believed they had enough evidence to charge him with first-degree sexual assault. noemi's rapist was arrested and took a plea bargain for a lesser charge of third-degree sexual assault. in nebraska the parental rights of a rapist are only terminated if they are convicted of sexual assault in the first degree. so when noemi's rapist plead to this lesser charge, it cleared the way for a troubling situation. did you have any idea that the man who raped you could possibly get parental rights? >> no. i thought if they were charged for rape that they didn't get that -- that benniefit of beingn our child's lives. >> a really pretty ponytail, okay? >> okay. thank you. >> you're welcome.
>> noemi now lives the nightmare feared by many women who keep a child conceived in rape. unsupervised visits between her daughter and her rapist. >> i can't tell what he will do to my daughter. i know what he did to me was terrible. i have to leave my daughter with someone i can't trust. ♪ p is for privileges. o is for ordinarily i wouldn't. l is for layers of luxury. a is for alll the way back. r is for read my mind. and i... can't see a thing. s... see you in the morning. polaris, from united.
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good job. >> for the past year, noemi's rapist has had court-sanctioned visitation with her daughter. she tries not to think about it, but she is often forced to. >> it's very frustrating. now i have to text my rapist or e-mail my rapist. i have to have conversations with him. >> it wasn't always like this. initially, noemi's rapist didn't appear to have any interest in the child. >> i was pregnant, and he started sending me messages to abort my baby. fall down a flight of stairs. to punch myself in the stomach, and to text him back when it was dead. i was kind of fearing for my life. >> things changed after noemi applied for state medical assistance for her daughter. she was asked to name the father and then the state demanded child support from him.
at that point, he requested and was granted visitation with her daughter. >> since he had not my daughter physically he was able to get rights. >> a coparenting plan that allowed visits to increase over time. >> visits started at half an hour every other week. they were supervised. now it is two and a half hours unsupervised at his house almost once a week. and they will just keep increasing. >> how do you think you're going to be able to deal with this over the next few years? >> i don't know. i don't know how i'm going to do that yet. i know that thinking about that is hard enough. i really -- i can't talk.
i don't know what i'm going to do. i'm stuck in this situation because he gets that right from the state. and there is nothing that we can do. so it's a hopeless feeling. >> it just makes no sense. how could someone who confesses to a rape then have access to the child, but in a sense, access to his victim? for the rest of her life? the emotional trauma from a rape can be overwhelming. it can take years to overcome, even without this type of regular contact between a victim and her rapist. >> thank you for calling the wca. how may i direct your call? >> the nebraska women's center for advancement serves hundreds of sexual assault survivors a
month. >> you were sexually assaulted then? >> some in the same predicament as noemi. >> what is your biggest concern and fear at this point? >> for him to get custody of her. only because i know his intentions are not to be a father. >> and he indicated that the only reason he is coming after custody is to hurt you? >> yes. >> for staff attorney rachel smith, stories like these are all too familiar. she often helps clients navigate the custody laws here in nebraska. >> what parental rights does the rapist have here in the state of nebraska? >> there is a provision in the state law at this point if someone is convicted of a first-degree sexual assault, he cannot have any custody, any parenting time, any visitation with this child. a lot of times what happens with a plea bargain is the degree is dropped to a lesser charge. >> so that means a rapist automatically receives rights if it's not a first degree
conviction. >> under the statute the way it's written right now, they can. >> how often do rape cases result in first degree convictions? the cases that go to trial on a first degree sexual assault are very rare. most criminal case do end up in a plebe. >> as an attorney representing rape victims, how frustrating is it for you to have to adhere to these laws? >> it's extremely frustrating. these women, whether it's been a first-degree sexual assault or a third-degree sexual assault are going through the same trauma. and to explain to them that they have different rights and that person could be involved in their child's life is extremely frustrating. >> it's going to be hard. this isn't a pregnancy by choice. and that's why we're here for support, to help you through this process. >> every year in america, an estimated 32,000 rape victims become pregnant after their attack. a third of those women choose to keep the child.
that's a potential 12,000 custody cases nationwide. and yet many states don't have a legal road map for how to deal with them. the state of massachusetts is home to some of our most progressive courts and respected academic institutions. and yet it has even fewer restrictions on the parental rights of rapists than in nebraska. i'm about to meet a young wo o hopes to change that. 21-year-old h.t. is wearing a disguise. she has requested this to protect her identity. >> i live every day known in my town as that girl. i don't want to be known as that girl everywhere. >> if you need to stop and take a breath, just say that too. okay. what kind of place did you grow up in? >> a very small town. everybody knows everybody. i grew up with just my mom. once i hit middle school, she was working a lot during the day, and what would you do?
>> i was in school, and then i would come home and i would be home by myself. >> and what were you like at 14? >> i was very innocent. i was into horse. so i would be home or the horses or church. >> and what role did the church play in your life? >> i was there all the time. that was my group of friends. >> church should have been a safe place for h.t. to spend those lonely after school hours. but it was there that she met the 20-year-old man who stole her innocence. >> he was dating my best friend's older sister. he was my friend. but i also considered him as an older person. who i generally wouldn't hang out with other than for car rides and that her sister was there. >> so what happened? >> he came to my house. i didn't know what was going to happen. i didn't have, like, what people would call street smarts. >> had you ever even kissed a boy? >> no.
i didn't have a boyfriend. i didn't -- i wasn't into that. >> it was during this visit that h.t. was sexually assaulted for the first time. >> i was terrified. i cried the entire time. and none of it mattered. >> over the next four months, h.t.'s rapist assaulted her three more times. >> what did he say? >> it was lot of threats. don't tell anybody. people will say it's your fault. that i would lose everything. all the blame would be on me. my mom would be mad. >> as a scared eighth grader, she believed his threats and never told anyone. but her secret was revealed when she found out she was pregnant at a routine physical exam. >> it was a shock. my mom was shocked. she was like how did this happen? and i told her who it was. and the doctor was like, i'm sorry, i'm going to have to report. this we had to go directly from the doctor's office to the police station. >> h.t.'s rapist was arrested.
but now she had to face the difficult and unexpected choice of motherhood at just 14. >> growing up in church, none of the other options really would work with my faith. that's what made me decide that i have to keep her. >> so under no circumstances did you ever think about terminating the pregnancy? >> no. a lot of people put in all of their opinions that i have to. isn't the baby going to remind me of everything. nobody's opinion was to keep the baby. but if i didn't have her, i wouldn't be able to live with what had happened to me. >> h.t.'s rapist plead guilty to four counts of rape and abuse of a child. he was sentenced to 16 years of probation, but he served no jail time. >> i was so upset. you automatically think that a criminal is a criminal, and he is going to serve the time he is supposed to serve. for justice. and i never received that justice.
>> and for h.t., the injustice didn't stop there. at the end of the criminal trial, the judge sent her rapist to family court where he was ordered to pay child support until h.t.'s daughter reached adulthood. like noemi's case, it was then that h.t.'s rapist made a startling request. >> that if he had to pay child support, then he wanted visitation rights. i didn't know what to do. that was my spiral downward. i wasn't protected and now my daughter wasn't going to be protected. ♪ ♪ ♪ how else do you think he gets around so fast? take the reins this holiday and get the mercedes-benz you've always wanted during the winter event.
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together to make a difference for other people's lives. together, we're building a better california. so we finally got to file the brief, and we're waiting to see whether he files one. so you got a copy of this, right? did i send your copy? i thought. so. >> when a judge ordered h.t.'s rapist to family court, he requested visitation with her daughter. it was then she enlisted the help of wendy murphy, an attorney who specializes in civil rights cases for women and children. they've been fighting her case for nearly four years. >> can you believe that this has continued to go on this long? >> i never thought it would be this long. i never thought that i have to fight for my child against my
the legal system. i always imagined that that would be my safety net. and it hasn't. >> just as a matter of public policy, why would the law want to reward such horrific behavior with the privilege, the gift of fatherhood? >> what is the status of h.t.'s case? >> we right now have an appeal pending with the massachusetts appeals court. we basically asked the court to answer the question should a convicted rapist have any parental rights at all. our position obviously is that there are no such things as rapists with parental rights. believe it or not, massachusetts has never answered the question. and lots of states have not yet answered the question. why? we know statistically babies are born from rape at pretty high numbers. it's not a rare occasion. >> in our justice system, criminal courts handle cases involving crimes. and family courts handle cases
involving domestic issues such as divorce and child custody. wendy believes that it was a mistake to transfer h.t.'s case to family court. >> we made the argument to the court that we never should have been in family court, that this is a felony, not a family. why don't you just punish him in the criminal case with restitution. because if he had knocked windows out in her house instead of raping her, you'd say give her the money that she can use to put new windows in. >> did you have to see him in family court? >> yes, i did. every single time we go. >> what was that like for you to face your rapist so regularly in family court? >> it's horrible. i feel like i'm always where i started. there is never moving forward. i'm always stuck in my rape. >> to have done that at all to h.t. is just unconscionable. she was 14. >> two years into her case, h.t.'s rapist offered to drop
his visitation demand if he could get out of paying child support. because of this, the judge concluded that her rapist didn't have a genuine interest in the child and ruled in h.t.'s favor, denying him visitation. but her legal battle is not over. her rapist still has parental rights. this leaves an important door open. >> what if he comes back next year and says i'm a reformed man. i now have a deep interest in this child, and it isn't tied to my desire not to send support. a guy with parental rights in theory can keep filing. that a very substantial burden to impose on a rape victim. who didn't ask for any of this. why do we have a legal system where a judge wants to give a convicted rapist power over his victim for 16 years? >> sitting and listening to h.t.'s story, it confounds me
that they've been dealing with this for so many years. while she has won a small victory in that her rapist isn't allowed to see her child, the fact that that threat of him coming back into her life and her daughter's life still continues to loom. it's just wrong. >> that's beans. >> this legal limbo doesn't just affect rape survivors and their children. it often makes an entire family feel like they're under siege. noemi and her daughter live with her parents and two younger sisters. her parents emigrated to the u.s. from mexico. >> it's so good. [ speaking spanish ] amen. >> i know you didn't expect to
be grandparents so soon, how how has it been to have her in your lives? >> she is a blessing. >> so what do you call him? >> my dad. >> he's your dad? oh! and how does that feel when she calls you dad? >> good. >> how did you feel when you found out noemi was pregnant and had been sexually assaulted? do you feel angry? >> yeah. >> and when you found out that the man who raped her would be able to see your grandchild and be part of, really, your lives for a very long time -- >> it's really hard to handle. it's really hard. just the way acting towards such act. that it happened to her.
what hurts somebody that i love because it's just not okay. >> i just want him to go away. i wonder what he is getting out of this. he didn't want the baby in the first place. he shouldn't even have a choice right now. >> i think he thinks this is just a big joke to him. when he is having other people's lives and he is hurting other people's families. do. >> you admire your sister for how she has hdled it? >> i do. >> one of the strongest people, you know. i don't know how i would deal with this. >> i can't even stand by him because i would lose control and i would probably punch him in the face. >> i pray and i hope that something will change. like they'll open their eyes and
realize that it's not right. i can't talk. >> for now, things have not changed. and tomorrow noemi's rapist will have an unsupervised visit with her daughter. a nightmare she shares with many rape survivors throughout the country. but the efforts of one florida woman might provide a glimmer of hope. it's america's dirty secret. and whatever i have to do to change that, i will. hey, i'm paul. and i used to ask if you could hear me now with verizon... not anymore. i'm with sprint now because guess what? it's 2016 and every network is great. in fact, sprint's reliability is now within 1% of verizon. and sprint saves you 50% on most verizon, at&t and t-mobile rates. so, i switched to sprint. and millions more have too.
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so of all 50 states, florida has one of the toughest laws against rapists gets parental rights. it hasn't always been this way. one woman fought hard to change the laws here. >> okay, okay. >> can you sit down? >> days start early and are hectic in the household of 41-year-old anna lynn. she is a single mother, and life is a constant juggle, with little time left over. >> let's go check on the baby. >> the people are feeling like they're suffering because there aren't people working together to get anything done. >> and yet at the end of the
day, anna lynn manages to lead a double life of sorts. >> there is no such thing as a small case. no such thing. >> anna lynn has a law degree and is working with activists across the country to pass laws that limit or terminate the parental rights of rapists. >> the legislation-making process is a little bit like making sausage. it's not very pretty i guess is the nicist way to put it. >> what do you want people to know about how many states allow rapists to have rights? >> there are different states that have things on the books. some of them have nothing in place. >> anna lynn believes these rapists often exploit these legal loopholes to further torment their victims. >> it's about power and control. what better way to show power and control than to terrorize you over your child and threaten your family. >> anna lynn understands this pain because she has lived it. she nearly lost her own custody battle with her assailant. >> i'm not so much motivated by the crime that occurred in the
past, but by the love that i have for my daughter. >> okay. here comes another knot. >> i don't feel anything. >> i'm switching here. >> 11 years ago, anna lynn was living in louisiana when she was violently attacked by an acquaintance. several weeks after the attack, she discovered that she was pregnant with her daughter. >> how did you feel when you found out you were pregnant? >> i felt a whole range of things. i think my first initial reaction was shock. at the same time, i was just overjoyed and amazed that i was going to be a mom. i kept looking at my ultrasound picture and wondering who this person that was here with me through this whole thing. i felt like i was so alone in what had happened, and here i have this child. >> what did you think? yeah? like that? purple glitter. okay. >> uh-huh. >> this is purple too? >> yeah. >> okay, good.
>> because anna lynn's attacker was an acquaintance, he knew that she was pregnant. so a few months after her daughter was born, anna lynn moved to florida. but when her daughter was 5 years old, anna lynn's attacker found them and requested visitation. >> when this request was made, how did you take that? >> i got ulcers. i was very upset. i was trying to seek to have her sent across state lines to louisiana to meet him and to be there with him as though he was some kind of long lost father. and i was told that a biological father, who fathers a child through rape is as good as any other father in the state of florida under the laws of florida. yeah. just let that sink in a bit. i was disgusted and outraged. and infuriated by it. >> there you go. like that. perfect.
>> after a protracted legal battle, anna lynn ultimately won her custody case. but this close call pushed her to make sure other women were protected. >> there is nothing on the books at the time. i remember a judge saying is there anything at all, even a federal law that can prevent this from going forward. i remember in the family court saying to the judge, no, your honor. but i'm working on it. >> members under current florida law, rapists may be able to exercise custody rights over children conceived through rape. this seeks to terminate parental rights of men who father through rape that there is clear and convincing evidence that the rape resulted in the in the parentage. >> what does it feel like to have played a role in establishing the model legislation in florida? >> it was wonderful. it showed me that nothing was really impossible.
>> while anna lynn is making headway on the legislative front, she is also fighting another difficult and more personal battle. the battle against the stigma attached to children conceived in rape. you can change laws and different things. but the real challenge is to ask for a change in hearts and minds. the stigma that is around children like my daughter who are conceived from rape is something that i'm devastated by. and i am determined to see that change. >> what do you want people to kow about girls like your daughter? >> this is an amazing, wonderful person. please don't hold it against her for what occurred that was not her fault. this is somebody you should want to get to know instead of judge. and for something that she did not cause at all.
>> anna lynn hasn't told her daughter about the circumstances surrounding her conception. has she ever been curious about who her dad is? does she have any idea? >>, no she really does not have any idea. >> are you planning on telling her? >> at some point i think we'll have that conversation. you know, in a way that would be very loving and very appropriate for where she is in her understanding. >> how do you think she'll take it? >> i think that she will have such a strong sense of who she is as a person, how loved she is that she isn't going to feel any kind of shame or blame on herself. that's my hope. >> good. >> that was great. are you so tired? >> yeah. >> you're so fun to watch. your face is so intense. >> thank you. >> do you love it? how does it feel when you do that? >> it makes me feel strong. >> why is it so important for you to feel strong? >> because women, they don't get
to stand up for theirselves a lot. i want to do that when i'm older if i have, to which i hope i don't. >> you want to be able to defend yourself? your mom has been pretty strong through a lot of stuff. >> uh-huh. >> there is so much stigma attached to these children. and what anna lynn wants to do is say look at this little girl. despite how she came into this world, she is extraordinary. and you know what? she is. ♪ ♪ ♪ how else do you think he gets around so fast? take the reins this holiday and get the mercedes-benz you've always wanted during the winter event. now lease the 2017 gle350 for $579 a month
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just a nervous, stressful feeling that i can't do anything about it. >> where are you going? >> to get dropped off. >> noemi's daughter is too young to learn the true identity of the man she is about to spend the afternoon with. for now she thinks he is a family friend or social worker. >> that's his car right there. >> which one? >> the black one. >> oh, he is in it. >> let me know when you are here. >> he is in it. shoot. yeah, he said he is out front of his car. that's him. >> come here, princess. see you in a little bit, okay? >> okay. >> hey. >> hi. >> bye, princess. i'll pick you up later, okay? yep. >> it's unfathomable to me that
she has to see the man who raped her so regularly. ♪ how you feeling? >> the visits last 2.5 hours and usually take place at the home of her rapist but today is a little different. >> where did we just drop your daughter off at? >> at his christmas party. >> so is he telling people this is my daughter? with all these other families? >> i believe so. when i took her to the halloween party from his work he was
showing her off and saying she was his daughter and he has pictures of her at his work. >> does 2.5 hours seem like an eternity. >> yeah. even an hour. devastating that i have to take her here with this man that i don't trust. >> what is it like to see him? >> before i would shake and fear of not wanting to go to certain places and do you think she's having with him him right now. >> probably because i mean they are at a public place and at a christmas party. but she is tiny so she cannot come pedestrians head why she is in her life. who he is and what he did to me. but when she gets older she will eventually find out who he is. it's not going to be fun anymore for her. it's going to break her heart.
>> in a year that's going to happen. >> it seems like a bad dream. >> i can't wake up. it's real and it's happening and there's more years of it and it's just going to get worse. >> the 2.5 hours are up and it's finally time to pick up her daughter. >> princess, look at all you got. >> i got reindeer. >> a reindeer balloon? wow. >> hi. how was it? was it fun? >> yeah. >> what did you do? >> played. >> you played? did you have fun with him? >> yeah.
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be a nurse. >> but the threat of a custody battle with her rapist hangs over her. >> there's not a day that i can wake up to know that he can never get access to my child or me because if he has access to her then he has access to me. >> her lawyer wendy is still fighting to win her appeal. >> what kind of rights can he still assert considering the case is still open. >> wendy hopes to set a legal precedence with this case. >> if we can prevail in massachusetts it will have tremendous influence. >> if you're a convicted rapist, you're done. you're not a father. it's not a family. >> we're here to announce legislation. >> lawmakers across the country are starting to pay attention to this issue. >> this bipartisan legislation encourages states to pass laws that allow women to petition for the termination of parental rights based on clear and convincing evidence that a child was conceived through rape.
>> congress passed a bill that provides funding to states that adopt laws like florida. >> arkansas house of representative passed legislation to strip racists of parental rights. >> could be getting help thanks to a new bill. >> so far ten states have signed on and she is working hard to get all 50. >> i want to get bipartisan support. i want it to be unanimous.th e are women and children that are going through this. that are suffering silently. i'm hoping that more of them will know that they can survive this and the love and strength they have in themselves is stronger than any of the pain they have gone through. >> a law similar to the one in florida is under consideration in nebraska and she plans to testify in front of the state legislature. >> do you think you had any experiences that you think you need to include in this
testimony? >> it's going to be very important to talk about how i don't want to be tied to him for life. >> i don't think senators always notice that the child is a victim in this as well. >> i really want them to change the system. women that get pregnant due to rape should not have to be tied forever with these men. our children are the forgotten victims of this situation. i know my daughter, when she finds out the truth, she'll probably hate me for having to make her two with this man and have him in her life. >> each of these women made such a brave decision to keep a child born out of unimaginable circumstances. and they shouldn't have to fight every day to protect those children and they shouldn't be forced to have to ever deal with the man that raped them ever
again. >> the u.s. president barrack obama returning from his last trip overseas as president while his successor looks to fill the next administration. there are also new concerns about the future job for the trump children we examine the fine line between business and nepetism. >> why france's conservative party seems to have had enough of the former president. live from cnn world headquaters in atlanta welcome to our viewers here in the united states and around the world. i'm george howell. cnn newsroom