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Bill Kamal Interview Sunday on WPLG


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Bill Kamal goes public on cloud over his head

 

By JOAN FLEISCHMAN

 

[email protected]

 

Former WSVN-Channel 7 chief meteorologist Bill Kamal, doing five years after getting nabbed in an Internet sex sting, gives an exclusive prison interview -- to WPLG-ABC 10. First installment, reported by Matt Lorch, airs at 11 p.m. Sunday.

 

Kamal, 48, inmate No. 75028-004, is in the Federal Medical Center in Devens, Mass. The facility has a sex offender treatment program. ''He's teaching weather classes to inmates,'' says his lawyer, Jeffrey Voluck.

 

Kamal got busted in October. The 14-year-old ''boy'' he chatted with online was an undercover cop.

 

Kamal tells Channel 10 why he pleaded guilty -- and why he's sorry now that he didn't go to trial. Other subjects: the humiliation of strip searches, and how he yearns for freedom. In the prison yard, surrounded by barbed wire, Canada geese land and fly away. Kamal wishes he could do the same.

 

His projected release date is March '09, with credit for time served pre-sentencing and good conduct.

 

The station expects Kamal's interview will air in at least three parts.

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Guest marlins02

Other subjects: the humiliation of strip searches, and how he yearns for the 14-year-old ''boy'' he chatted with online.

763712[/snapback]

 

 

what a f***ing freak :mischief

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Guest Moneyball

-Bill Kamal's hair is all gray. He looks 10 years older.

 

-Before he was put in prison the vehicle in which he was transported went by his childhood home.

 

-He still receives fan mail.

 

-He's a "social drinker" and was lucky he wasn't fired from channel 7 before the arrest because of his DIU arrests.

 

Part 2 or 4 tomorrow.

 

Tomorrow he'll talk about the arrest. He will claim he's a victim and he isn't a child molester.

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Kamal: "I miss the little things that you couldn't possibly even imagine, like when I saw two Canadian geese in the recreation yard. And I'm thinking they don't know they're in prison -- they flew away -- and I can't fly away."

 

The federal prison Kamal calls home is 1,500 miles from South Florida and a world away from the life he used to know. It's in the Massachusetts countryside, ironically only 22 miles from the place where he was born.

 

South Florida came to know Kamal as a trusted meteorologist; his expensive suits, his jet-black hair -- a man who delivered the forecast with confidence.

 

Today, the hair that had been darkened with dye is now gray like the walls of his prison. His GQ look replaced with a prison jump suit.

 

Kamal: "Some days are easier than others. I hope I don't get used to this lifestyle where I settle in because some days you just can't believe I'm here. It's just so surreal. It's like a dream."

 

 

STORIES

# Former TV Weatherman Sentenced In Sex Crime

# Accused TV Weatherman Reaches Plea Deal

# Judge Deems Former Weatherman Danger To Community

# Judge Denies Bond For TV Weatherman

# More Details Emerge About Kamal Arrest

 

A bad dream says Kamal, one that began last October when he was arrested outside a Fort Pierce convenience store, caught in an Internet sex sting, his life spun out of control. He wound up in isolation in the downtown Miami federal detention center.

 

Kamal: "It was an unbelievable hell. I would be on my knees and talk about soul searching. I probably got closer to God in four to five months than most people do in a lifetime. You have nothing but God, letters, letters that you write, mail that comes in. You have only to look forward when officers come by, opens big door, (it's) called chuck door, they open it up to feed you on a tray then they close it again. Very seldom ask how you are doing. When you go to recreation, it was just you. Move to a different room, that was just you. But it had fresh air rather than air conditioning -- no sunlight, never any sunlight. And sometimes, in 12-by-6 cell for three weeks at a time, breathing the same air. My books, my letters, my mail and God -- not necessarily in that order, and just looking forward to some human life. Bring my meals, that's what I looked forward to. And God got me by. I got by with God. I was arrested in October and never saw the light of day again. I was put on suicide watch -- not even knowing I was on suicide watch. You people reported that I was on suicide watch. My family and friends think I'm going to commit suicide. I didn't even know where the hell I was."

 

That isolation ended when Kamal pleaded guilty. He was sentenced to five years and was moved from Miami to the federal medical center in Deven, Mass., which is where he reflects on the last time he was outside the prison walls, driving in a prison van through the neighborhoods where he grew up, a drive that brought him to tears.

 

Kamal: "We drove down I-93 past my godmother's house -- two miles. It went past where I was born by a mile and a half. I thought about my parents. I'm thinking, 'Just take this exit. Don't take the next exit and I can be home. Don't take the next exit.' When you pass the exit on the highway that you grew up as a little kid, that's pretty chilling. I cry pretty easy. I'll shed some tears before your questions are over -- what my life has become. But I'm the type of person that believes that God has a plan and a purpose for everybody. Of course it's a detour to the life I had, but maybe it's for a better purpose. Maybe it's for a higher purpose and that's what keeps me going."

 

He also keeps going because he has no choice. Prison is all about structure, and you're not allowed to be late.

 

Kamal: "Get up a 5:45 a.m. Weekends, sometimes 6:30 a.m. -- a little later on weekends. My Monday through Friday, after we eat, start my job a 7:30 a.m. I'm teaching a class here -- weather climate and health. It's how weather and climate affect your mental and physical health. I take some evening classes. I don't teach them. I take them. Italian, I signed up for that."

 

Kamal says he's had moments where his new home felt like a college dormitory or even an Elks Lodge, but reality sets in rather quickly in prison.

 

Kamal: "We have very few privileges here. We are subject to strip searches. Whenever a visitor comes you have to strip naked. Every time my family visits, I strip naked. They check your mouth, your ears, you open your legs, spread your cheeks, you do everything. It's just so humiliating. How can you ever get used to it? I don't want to ever get used to that because that is not me."

 

His family and his friends get him through. Kamal says he'd be lost without the letters.

 

Kamal: "Friends, family, viewers -- I had viewers, total strangers starting writing in November and December and we've become the best of friends. And I really believe God puts people in our lives for a reason. Like, I believe this happened to me for a reason and I never would have known these wonderful people personally had it not been for this tragedy or crisis, whatever you want to call it. It's amazing to me and I'm so blessed to have family and friends support me and total strangers who felt that they knew me. Those letters. I would get cards on a daily basis, three, four, five a day. And letters -- they'd make me cry, cry a river every day the mail came. It amazes me and you don't know how many friends you have. It's like you died but you're still alive. You see everything. It's like you are elevated above your own story and you look down and you see people crying, people frustrated, people helpless, eulogizing you and yet I'm still here."

 

Kamal says he's a survivor now. He was also a survivor at Channel 7, keeping his job despite two arrests for drunken driving. He now admits he had a drinking problem.

 

Kamal: "I was always a social drinker until I got into television. A social drinker means you drink once in a blue moon -- a beer once a month, special occasions. When you graduate to habitual drinking, which is what I was doing, it becomes a habit. What do people do 11:30, 12 at night after this business? They go to a club or bar because there's nothing else to do. I fell into that habit, not that I was drinking seven days a week, but I was drinking as a habit and like anybody who drinks and drives, I thought I can get away with it."

 

But now this time, one day after his arrest on suspicion of soliciting sex, WSVN fired Kamal.

 

Kamal: "Look, it's business. If I owned the company, you know, it's basically an offense that's hard to tell your side of the story -- basically, guilty until proven innocent. It's a very crime du jour everybody is honing in on nowadays and I know that the station probably had no choice but to do that. And I'm thinking, had they said, 'He's suspended pending the investigation,' they could be picketing the station to get him off the air -- (people asking) why are you doing this? God forbid I had bail and was allowed to go back on the air, who knows what people could have done. They could have threatened them or me. So maybe they did the right thing. But it was tough."

 

Kamal misses his job but that's way on the bottom of his list.

 

I miss freedom. I miss being able to get up when I want to get up, lie down when I want to lie down, bathroom, privacy. I miss 4 and 10. I miss the gym, the little things it makes you really appreciate. When we say stuck in traffic, we are not in prison. We do not have four walls.

 

This was only the beginning of our interview. Tonight at 11 we press Kamal on what happened in Fort Pierce. Was he planning to have sex with a boy? Is he attracted to young boys? What led to his arrest? And what was he doing in that Internet chat room to begin with?

 

Kamal: "(The Web site) was dads and sons, or sons and dads, and I said, 'Well this is an odd chatroom.' I mean if I were a child molester, if I were a sexual predator, how do you become one at 48 years old? As I was driving up (to Fort Pierce), I thought, 'Could this be a trap? Could this be that?'"

 

So why did he still go? Kamal answers that question and offers so much more of the story that no one has ever heard tonight at 11 on Local 10 News.

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Bill Kamal's life changed when he turned on his home computer. It was late October. He was taking a break after an exhausting month, working on the air for days at a time warning viewers about the four hurricanes that hit Florida. He says he was tired, bored and just started playing around on his computer. He entered a chatroom. The police say it was called "boysformen." Kamal says that's not true?

 

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Kamal: "It was not boysformen. It was dadsandsons, or sonsanddads, and I said, 'Well, this is an odd chatroom. I don't remember seeing this chatroom.' I was sick that day. I had some kind of poisoning -- food or bacterial -- was in a bad frame of mind. Bored, alone at home and was just playing on the computer, and I went into this chatroom, and I wondered if it's like somebody you can be a big brother to. That's what first got me into the chatroom. And I'm thinking, 'If AOL allows this chatroom and they have parental control then everybody in here should be an adult, 18 years or older.' And so, I'm playing around and I see this e-mail -- this screen name that I e-mail. I know that I instigated the e-mail -- that's in the record -- and the guy says that he's 14, I'm thinking, 'Yeah, right.' I'm 48 and I lie about my age too on the computer. Millions of people do that, so I started playing around. Bored and nosey and just playing on the computer and I'm so damn na?ve that I don't even think that this could be a possible felony because I'm talking to somebody who could be under 18."

 

Kamal admits the conversation on that first day was at times inappropriate. Transcripts released after his arrest shows some of those conversations, according to the arrest affidavit, Kamal, who said his name was "Billy," wrote: "Have you been with a guy before? ? "I love to kiss." ? "I could kiss you and you kiss me." "I'm really looking for a real son, not just to trade pics and never speak again."? "I'm not just looking again for quick sex."

 

The conversation got even more graphic with language unfit for television

 

But Kamal says that's all misleading. He said those sexually explicit conversations only happened on that first day when he says he was playing games and didn't really believe he was talking to a 14 year old.

 

Kamal: "I thought I was talking to somebody in their 30s or 40s or 50s. I was fooling around on the computer."

 

But then that game playing became more serious. Kamal still didn't know whether he was talking to a teenager, but one exchange made him wonder.

 

Kamal: "Here's how it happened in my mind. First, I'm thinking this guy could be an old person or it could be an old lady. Who knows -- you can be anything you want to be on the Internet."

 

"Then I'm thinking because he starts to tell me about his dad dying in a car accident, and my dad's 10th anniversary of his death was coming up. I was already on that emotional rollercoaster. My mom had died the previous Christmas -- just died Christmas 2003. Their 58th anniversary was a week later, so I was on high emotions. So, he says his dad died and the mom's new boyfriend was just using his mother for sex and doesn't care about him and abandons him and verbally abuses him, and I'm thinking, 'Well, wait a minute?'"

 

Kamal gave the person on the other end of the chatroom his cell phone number and from then on claims he received relentless phone calls from the detective disguising his voice as a child.

 

 

STORIES

# Convicted TV Meteorologist Moved To Fed Medical Center

 

# Former TV Weatherman Sentenced In Sex Crime

# Accused TV Weatherman Reaches Plea Deal

# Judge Deems Former Weatherman Danger To Community

# Judge Denies Bond For TV Weatherman

# More Details Emerge About Kamal Arrest

# TV Meteorologist Accused Of Soliciting Sex With Minor

 

Kamal: "Every call that was ever made he made to me. There were days when I didn't want to e-mail him or talk to him -- he left voice mail and I didn't email him back. He e-mailed me and said, 'Are you mad' I haven't heard from you. So he calls me the next day and he would e-mail me when I didn't respond and says, 'I hope you haven't forgotten about me,' and then he sends me a picture and says, 'You think I'm ugly.'"

 

"I mean all these things to entrap me and entice me into staying on a chat with him either through the Internet or through the phone. And I have never had anything like this happen to me, so I'm thinking because my nature is compassionate to begin with; my nature is to help people. I wouldn't be in the business that I'm in if I didn't want to save peoples lives and property or help people and I'm thinking, 'Is this a jerk? Is this a pervert? Or is this some kid who really needs help, is being abandoned and maybe abused, and maybe physically abused where if I can go up there?' -- And this is as the week went on into the weekend -- 'That I can go up there and spend a couple hours with him and just talk.' And I specifically said on the computer -- after day one there was no talk of sex -- either on the computer or on the phone and I specifically typed in, 'I am not coming up here for sex.'"

 

"I was a really fat kid. Ridiculed, beat up in school and verbally and physically abused. In fact, I fell on somebody and broke his leg in eighth grade. I was over 300 pounds. I came from adversity and that's another reason I wanted to go up to help this alleged young man who I thought maybe was not a pervert. Maybe it's somebody who really needs help 'cause I knew what I went through as a kid and how lonely it felt to be abandoned.

 

"When you were fat and ugly and they don't pick you for a sports team. They beat you up. That's another reason for going up to help him. If anything, I would come up there and just give him a big hug -- if he really was who he said he was and in need -- and I even told him I only had a few hours to spend. I asked him what he liked to eat. He said, 'Steak or pizza.' I brought steak and pizza coupons with me. Do you think the federal government used that in their press conference? -- which was legitimate -- that I brought up to this young man, hoping to take him out to a public place just to talk. Not to take him to some seedy motel or dive or anything like that. I never wanted to do anything but above board. Just to help somebody in need and what a fool I was for doing it."

 

On Sunday, October 24 Kamal headed to Fort Pierce. Six days after the initial encounter on the Internet.

 

Kamal: "It was a weekend. Saturday was rainy. Sunday was beautiful. I thought maybe I should go up. Well, one of the reasons was to see the hurricane damage. I thought maybe I'd kill two birds with one stone. Beautiful day -- hardly ever drove my car -- reason to go. I wanted to see the damage that I forecast. I wanted to see. It was only a week to two weeks old, so that was one of the reasons. And to meet someone who I thought was in need."

 

And even during the drive, Kamal questioned whether he was being set up.

 

Kamal: "When I drove up there, I was going to call a friend of mine on the cell phone and say, 'Do you think I should do this?' And oddly enough he wasn't home. I mean it's a tragic, horrific time in my life waiting to happen. I thought about that as I was driving up there. I thought, 'Could this be a trap? Could this be that?' And I thought I knew why I was going up there and I didn't think that even though I talked about what I talked about on October 18, all the conversations that followed -- Internet and phone - "I can really help this person," and if this person was a fat, old pervert, you know I would have seen that too. But, you know, the young man on the Internet and phone kept telling me how lonely and how abandoned he was, and I said to him, 'You know I'm a real person -- if you're a real person,' and that's what I was going up to show him, that I was a real person."

 

There was a real person waiting for him in Fort Pierce, but not a 14-year-old boy. Instead it was Detective Neil Spector -- the detective who for a week posed as a teenage boy on the Internet.

 

Kamal: "I'm so na?ve. When I was arrested and actually tackled, I actually thought it was a Halloween prank. That's how na?ve I was. I thought it was people saying 'Happy Halloween,' 'cause it was coming up that weekend?"

 

Kamal was taken into custody? police found toy guns and condoms in his car?

 

Kamal: "The toys in the trunk of my car -- the alleged toys I was bringing to this young man -- were in my trunk for almost a year and a half. We get stuff mailed to us all the time in work - hats, sunscreen, UV indicators. The big guns are all the rage now in the pool -- so you have the guns, still in the case they came in. They were in my trunk because I didn't put them in my house."

 

Kamal's former boss indicated that because of the amount of mail coming into the station there's no way to know if Kamal received them at work.

 

Kamal: "They used those falsely. They prejudiced the public. The media picks up on that. They don't bother to investigate that those toys were not meant for that young man. Those toys have been in my car. I was framed by those toys I kept in my car.

 

"As far as the condom, all they had to do was check the expiration date. I didn't even know they were in the damn glove compartment. Look at the expiration date on the condoms. When you go to a club, they hand out condoms. I throw them in my glove compartment and I only had two. That shows you the type of person I am. I wouldn't have like 20. I had two. If they checked the expiration date they would see they are two years old, which is how old my car is."

 

Detectives also said Kamal admitted having a laptop computer in his Fort Lauderdale apartment containing pictures of children engaged in sex acts.

 

Kamal: "Oh, and this whole thing with the child pornography -- well, that's wrong on all accounts. What I told them -- I have a laptop computer in Fort Lauderdale and I was getting an e-mail from somebody. An attachment came and I had no clue what was on it until I opened it and I saw what looked like people under age 18 and I said, 'Don't ever send me something like that. I don't want things like that on my computer.' They weren't having sex -- just pictures. Don't you think if those people were really under 18 the Federal Government would have said that? No, they came up with one picture and it was a female, and how that got on my computer I have no idea. That they thought was underage -- the other pictures they came up with -- the disclaimer on the bottom of the picture, 'All models used are over the age of 18.' I have never spent money on an adult Web site or a children's Web site -- ever. Every picture I have gotten was an attachment."

 

Kamal says he's innocent and has never had sex with a child and isn't attracted to children.

 

Kamal: "Never, ever, ever. Do you think that if I did they would have found out? Of course they would have found out. Don't you think that they would have come up with people? Even if they didn't come out of the woodwork, don't you think they would have found them?

 

I wouldn't hurt a damn fly. It pains me to kill a bug. Harm a kid? I mean if I were a child molester, if I were a sexual predator, how do you become one at 48 years old? And why didn't anybody pick up on the fact that nobody came out from the left or right field and say, 'Hey, this happened to me." That, you know, well, nobody has come out. How do you become somebody that they tell you you are after a whole life of serving the community and helping people and after 48 years be what they say you are because of one nosy, bored day on the computer?"

 

As for Kamal's claim that the sexual dialogue on the Internet only took place on day one, it is true the arrest affidavit shows the most graphic sexual conversations took place on that first day.

 

But the U.S. Attorney's Office says on the days that followed, Kamal may not have used the words, but the intent was there and those conversations were still explicit in nature.

 

They also point out that Kamal himself knew what he was doing was wrong when he asked online if he could go to jail if he was caught. No one from the U.S. Attorney's Office would go on camera and they would not give us additional transcripts or recordings of the telephone calls. They also wouldn't address the expiration date on the condoms or let us check the evidence for ourselves.

 

So if what Kamal says is true -- if it was just a terrible misunderstanding -- if Kamal really wanted to be just a big brother to a troubled teen, why on earth did he plead guilty and go to prison?

 

Kamal: "They had my mind. I was in such shock. I didn't know how I was thinking. I was cringing. Now I see more clearly. And they think that is part of the strategy, they knock you down, they beat you down, they put you in isolation, force you to plea."

 

Kamal says he made the biggest mistake of his life and he wants to correct it. Today at 11 p.m.: how he says his legal team failed him and what he wants to do about it now.

 

He says he's made mistakes in his life, such as drunk driving, but as far as this case is concerned, Kamal says the only thing he did wrong was fooling around on a computer. It may have been immoral, he says, but it wasn't a crime.

 

Copyright 2005 by Local10.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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