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tv   Nightline  ABC  November 11, 2011 11:35pm-12:00am EST

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tonight on "nightline," not a game. an exclusive interview with the mother who alleges her 11-year-old son was sexually abused by a penn state football coach. the startling statistics on how frequently boys are victimized and what you need to know to keep your child safe. the shocking truth. a look inside the top secret head quarters of taser international. >> don't tase me, bro! ow! >> and the controversy behind a weapon some people say is deadly but its makers call a lifesaver. and band of brothers. they went through hell in this valley. now they'll meet again in this one. and start the process of healing. on this veterans day, a very special reunion. >> announcer: from the global resources of abc news, with terry moran, cynthia mcfadden and bill weir in new york city, this is "nightline," november
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11th, 2011. >> good evening, i'm terry moran. and we begin tonight with the scandal engulfing penn state university. the accusations of repeated sexual assaults on children by a coach there have shocked the country. today, president obama expressed his outrage. now, in an exclusive interview, the mother of a boy who says he was sexually abused by coach jerry sandusky speaks out for the first time. her story is gut-wrenching, for all parents, especially those whose kids play sports. boys, as well as girls. linsey davis reports. ♪ >> reporter: thousands gathered tonight to remember the victims. a candlelight vigil on the steps of penn state's old main building marked the end of a stunning week. first, the shocking arrest of former defensive coordinator jerry sandusky. and then, the firing of legendary head coach joe paterno. >> we want joe!
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>> reporter: riots shook the campus and have threatened to overshadow the eight young sexual assault victims at the heart of the case against sandusky. >> i'm infuriated that nobody told me, you know, what was going on. >> reporter: this is the mother of the little boy whose allegations started this whole thing. she spoke for the first time on "good morning america." for her protection and her son's, her face has been hidden and her voice altered. >> he was angry about something. we didn't know what. i went to the school counselors and it was basically, they said a puberty thing. at points he was starting to get violent. intentionally getting grounded. >> reporter: according to grand jury document us, sandusky allegely began taking victim number one to football games and gave him a computer and clothes as gifts. eventually he allegedly sexually assaulted the young boy repeatedly during sleepovers at
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his house. >> it's different maybe in how prominent the abuser is. nevertheless, the outlines of the case are all too typical. >> reporter: this woman runs a sexual abuse crisis center and says 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before the age of 18. 90% of them by someone they know. a relative, a teacher. a coach. >> a coach can be a very trusted and revered authority figure in a child's life. athletic attainment can be what causes a child to blossom. can get them access to a college education. the coach can be in a position of enormous power with a child. >> reporter: it begins with the abuser grooming his potential victim. >> with a boy, we're talking about sports, it may be special attention in the coaching process. maybe special opportunities to see the coach outside of the confines of the normal coaching relationship it might even be special favors in terms of how much playing time someone might
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get. >> reporter: a many of them don't speak up about it. >> the most common emotion that a child may feel when thinking about disclosing abuse is shame. they often feel that it is their fault, that they have responsible. and often the abuser will capitalize on this and help the child to feel that it is their fault, that they are responsible. >> reporter: theo fleury was a national hockey league star who says it happened to him. >> from the time i was 14 to the time i was 17 years old, i was molested, probably about 150 times by my coach. >> reporter: fleury was a junior hockey player in canada, with his sights set on the nhl, when his coach sexually abused him. >> 400 miles away from home, you know? he was -- this guy was everything to me. he was my dad, my mom, paying for everything for me. he basically, at that point, had convinced me that the only way that i was going to make it to the nhl was through him and
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being with him. >> reporter: and like many other abuse victims, he kept what happened to himself. >> you just don't have the faculty to be able to deal with it. plus, who am i going to talk to? i have nobody to talk to. if i blow the whistle on this guy, will i be branded this troublemaker or this guy that blew the whistle or, you know, am i gay. >> reporter: after years of drug and alcohol abuse, fleury has now found teaming in trying to help prevent other children from being abused. >> know the coach driving your kid home after practices. if the coach starts to pay particular attention to your kid or if you see this guy as being more attention to one little guy as opposed to everybody else on the teteam, that's a tell-tale sign that that kid is getting groomed to get abuse. >> reporter: parents can look for additional warning signs. >> a child who normally slept
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well and was carefree now seems to not be sleeping well or eating properly. older children may engage in risky behaviors, things that they didn't do before, where they don't seem to care about themselves as much as they used to. >> reporter: and most importantly, kids and adults alike should always report abuse. a sentiment the president echoed tonight. >> we all have a responsibility. we can't leave it to a system. we can't leave it to somebody else. each of us has to take it upon ourselves to make sure our kids have the love and support and protection that they deserve. >> reporter: for "nightline," i'm linsey davis in state college, pennsylvania. >> penn state tonight, the real penn state. thanks to linsey davis, theo fleury and all children's advocates out there. next, a inside look at a controversial weapon. tasers, critics say it's deadly, but its maker says it saves thousands of lives every year. ♪
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[ male announcer ] the space-saving, eco-friendly, totally unique smart. unbig. uncar. ♪ >> announcer: "nightline" continues from new york city with terry moran. >> 50,000 volts in the palm of your hand. enough to stop a 300 pound man dead in his tracks. tasers are intended to be safe alternatives to deadly firearms. yet several people die every year after being shocked by them. but is the weapon to blame or is it cops who are poorly trained, perhaps, too inexperienced to use it properly? from phoenix, arizona, my co-anchor bill weir reports. >> reporter: every three minutes, someone, somewhere in the world -- >> tonight tase me, bro! >> reporter: gets tasered. and that's just by law enforcement. it doesn't include all the ja a
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"jackass"-inspired knuckle heads who do it for fun. or the directors of films like "the hangover" who know that complete loss of motor function is comedy gold. >> right in the nuts! >> whose taser is this? >> reporter: maybe scenes like this in "nurse jackie" are only funny because we know this weapon only inflicts temporary pain. but that hasn't stopped taser international for becoming a magnet for lawsuits and scorn. greatly upsetting the brothers who built it. >> the reason we started this company, we want to get people to stop killing each other. and in order to do that, you know, you have to take some steps that are sometimes not pleasant. >> reporter: do you spend more on research and development or legal fees? there have been years when the litigation budget has been higher than the research. you hear about the cases but you don't hear about all the cases that it avoids.
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>> reporter: they started the company in the early 's '90s. >> we can put man on the moon, but the way people fundamentally defend themselves is how we fought the revolutionary war. >> reporter: so, they tracked down the ex-nasa scientist who invented the taser, and uses parts from ace hardware, modified it for a broader market. >> we take a piece of metal hanger, we have to do the winding back and forth. >> reporter: the first time they tried to sell it at a police convention, a tough as names marine volunteered to see what it could do. >> i shot him and he stood there and had a conversation with me. he said, most people would be on the ground right now. and the whole audience is laughing. >> reporter: he agreed to come back and once they worked out the bugs, the laughing stopped. >> he said, this is a game changer. >> reporter: the taser uses compressed air to shoot so it
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has all the kick of a party popper. the gun sends 50,000 vomit 50, the straightened fish hooks. it confuses the central nervous system until the trigger is released. have you seen anyone yank these out? >> no. >> reporter: they can't control -- >> you can't control motor function. >> drop it! >> reporter: when cops started buying them, it only took a decade for taser to grow into a multibull dollar company. they now have retina scanners at the front door. >> identification is completed. >> reporter: and an atrium inspired by "star wars." half a million cops around the world carry them today. more than a million people have been tasered and around 400 have died. can you absolutely guarantee that your product would never, ever cause cardiac arrest in any person? >> no. we can't make that guarantee. the best i can tell you is, these devices make dangerous
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situations safer. >> reporter: there's the device and then the person holding it. >> right. >> reporter: because cops figure, hey, no muss, no fuss, just pull the taser. how do you deal with the lazy cop syndrome? >> we spend a lot of time in our training of law enforcement officers, trying to avoid what we call taser dependency. when our baby gets misused, it does hit you in the gut. that's why -- we take the next step, we say, make sure it doesn't happen again. >> reporter: taser misuse inspired the brothers to come up with what may be another law enforcement game changer. it's called axon. >> it sits on top of the head. >> reporter: an evidence-gathering camera worn on the side of an officer's head. one step closer to robo-cop. >> an officer might be skeptical. i'm going to record everything? but then, once they try it a couple times, they realize, oh, my gosh. i get accused of all these awful things all the time. >> put the gun down. put it down right now. >> reporter: axon video helped
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back up the story of cops who shot a suspect in arkansas. along with the taser, the smiths believe their intentions could save municipalities millions in lawsuits. >> pointing a gun at us. >> reporter: and lives. as long as they are headline grabbing mistakes -- there will be critics. >> they say, well, we shouldn't use the take taser. but they never say, in that particular situation, if not a taser, then what? getting hit with a taser is not pleasant, but chemotherapy, right, if you have cancer, they do awful things to your body to try to save you. our society has a cancer. we are a violent, dangerous society. and we have a device that while it's not pleasant, can make a huge differences. >> story of taser there. thanks to bill for that. when we return, the next chapter in an incredible story of bravery, fidelity and heroism on the battlefield after after.
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today is veterans day. and we honor and thank all our veterans and their families. and here's the story of one group of u.s. soldiers, once they drew fire in one of the deadliest corners of afghanistan, but today, they're finding solace in each other, along the colorado river. we caught up but these brave young men for our series "standing up for heros." this valley, one of the deadliest outposts in afghanistan.
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considered by those deployed here a god forsaken place where hard-fought battles are a daily routine. >> we got something over there! >> reporter: some of the most riveting, up close images of the war in this valley were captured by journalist sebastian younger and the late tim hetherington who was killed earlier this year in libya. the two men imbedded with the 173rd air born while on assignment for "nightline" in 2007. >> that's artillery going in right now. >> reporter: and would later use that same footage to make the award-winning documentary "restrepo," named after a platoon medic killed in battle. just one of the 6,000 u.s. troops who have lost their lives in afghanistan and iraq. but tonight, we ask, what about the men who made it home? it's a different kind of expedition. this time, no sniper fire or
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ieds to worry about. just the sounds of the colorado river's rushing waters. it's a program called "outward bound for veterans." designed to help returning warriors come to terms with civilian life. >> when i was in afghanistan, i watched people die for each other. and i come back to a society that honks at me if i've taken too long to make a right hand turn. >> reporter: for many of these guys, surviving the war was the easy part. it's life at home that's hard. >> i didn't get the feedback i was expecting coming home from people. they just kind of give me that blank stare, like, the uh-huh. wow, yeah, that must have sucked, okay. and then they go back into their daily routine of bitching. that was tough to adjust to. >> reporter: their new mission? to enjoy themselves. >> being isolated in this remote canyon, water all around, clutches all around, you know?
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no people for, like, miles. it's just -- it's awesome. and we don't have to worry about people in the hills, ready to shoot at us. >> reporter: the idea is to take soldiers back to the wilderness. together. younger, who has partners with "outward bound" says the trips help them make sense of what they've been through. >> it takes them and punts them in some of the most rugged and beautiful parts of america, of that country they're defending. >> reporter: the trips help remind the men of team work and the challenges of the natural world. giving them a place away from society to bond again. >> a lot of soldiers actually miss the war that they were in. not that they miss war but they miss being in a small group where they feel so protected by they brothers and sisters. >> being with my boys again, it's a great way to reconnect. and i know the other guys are having such a blast that we want to make this a regular deal. >> reporter: on a raft heading
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down the river, the men, once again, experience the courage, brotherhood and the real sense of power and competence they began to love, began to need, while in combat. >> first night i think i had a decent night's sleep in the last month. and i'm like, wet -- it was a little chilly. my mind was cleared. i wasn't thinking about anything. i was just looking at the stars. everything. it was awesome. >> reporter: the next morning, as the sun rises, the men take it all in. the beauty and the glory and the gift of nature. of home. something worth fighting for after all. god bless them. to find out more about "outward bound," go to and thank you for watching abc news. stay tuned for "jimmy kimmel live." up next. check in for "good morning america." we'll see you here tomorrow. >> dicky: tonight onmm


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