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Identifying the Victim: A double-standard by the AP?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Evil ... Thy name is Orville Redenbacher!!, Apr 24, 2007.

  1. Here is an AP story regarding the extortion of a MLB player.
    The AP identifies the victim through sources close to the investigation. Why identify?
    Yes, I want to know, but it seems unfair on the AP's part ot ID the guy, who is a victim.
    Why not ID the girl? Unless she is under 18, which I doubt, this seems like a B-I-G double standard.

    Ex-con pleads guilty to fraud in alleged shakedown of athlete
    Associated Press Writer
    ST. LOUIS (AP) - An Illinois ex-con accused of trying to extort $150,000 from a former St. Louis Cardinal after claiming the player impregnated the man's daughter has pleaded guilty to a federal fraud count, ensuring the athlete won't have to testify.
    George Edwards, 48, of the St. Louis suburb of Belleville, Ill., pleaded guilty in federal court Monday to wire fraud in the extortion case.
    A person familiar with the investigation, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the case is pending, told The Associated Press the target of the extortion was former Cardinal second baseman Ronnie Belliard, a married father of two children who now plays for the Washington Nationals.
    Edwards' target has not been identified by name by attorneys or in court papers, which describe the athlete only as "the victim" or "John Doe."
    In exchange for the plea, court records show, prosecutors will drop a felony extortion count when the jobless Edwards is sentenced July 6. He remains jailed without bond as a flight risk and public danger.
    Messages left Tuesday with Edwards' public defender, Kevin Curran, were not immediately returned, and the case's federal prosecutor, Tom Albus, declined to comment Tuesday.
    Edwards' deal has been anticipated since late last month, when he waived what was to have been a hearing challenging the evidence, including FBI-recorded telephone talks he had with the athlete's agents.
    Prosecutors argued Edwards sought $150,000 from the athlete in exchange for keeping quiet about the athlete supposedly impregnating Edwards' daughter after the pair met last fall at a local nightclub.
    According to the indictment, Edwards told the athlete's agents during a telephone call that a paternity test proved the athlete impregnated the daughter, then lied when he said certain health-care providers had tended to his daughter before an eventual miscarriage.
    Even after the supposed miscarriage, according to the indictment, Edwards said he and his daughter still wanted to be paid to keep them from telling the media.
    Authorities said the scheme unraveled when the athlete's agents reported the matter to investigators, including the FBI, who secretly taped four conversations between Edwards and the athlete's agents.
    Edwards' daughter has not been charged.
    Belliard, 32, last season hit a combined .272 with 30 doubles, 13 homers and 67 RBIs with Cleveland and St. Louis, for whom he started at second base in last year's World Series.
    In 18 games this season with the Nationals, Belliard is hitting .268. with 19 hits and 13 strikeouts in 71 at-bats.
  2. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    That's why.
  3. Why name one and not the other?
    Why name the player, but not the daughter?
    In other stories, the AP has mentioned parties associated with crimes and stated that they have not been charged.
    As I stated: Unless she is underage, I don't see why she wouldn't be ID. Either she was in on the plot with her dad, which doesn't appear to be the case, since she was not charged. So doesn't that make her a victim- as much of a victim as the named ballplayer who WAS named in the story?
    I think the writer and the AP are playing favorites.
  4. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    Because you don't name someone in a criminal investigation until they've been charged because of potential civil liability (See: Jewell comma Richard) if they aren't charged.
    The victim is named because, I would think, because he is a public figure.
  5. I don't know Slap, from reading the story, I got the impression she was not going to be charged. It seems like a double-standard to me.

    As I said before, The AP has named associates of charged criminals in stories before, while noting that person has not been charged.

    If I can think of some examples I'll post them ...

    If the player is going to be named, why was it not done on the record?

    "A person familiar with the investigation, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the case is pending, told The Associated Press the target of the extortion was former Cardinal second baseman Ronnie Belliard, a married father of two children who now plays for the Washington Nationals."

    If say, Maria Sharpaova or Natalie Gulbis was raped would the AP name them because they are public figures? No, right? Because the AP has a policy of not naming rape victims. If they were the victims of an extortion scam would they be named?
  6. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    Rape is a different type of crime than extortion. If they were beign extorted, yes, they would be named.
  7. Then why wasn't the player named on the record by officials?

    Isn't a victim, a victim?
  8. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    The Jewel case/scenario is the reason we've heard the term, "Person of Interest" the last few years. Eliminates liability.
  9. It's not the daughter's fault that her father is an idiot. Since she wasn't deemed worthy of being charged, we have to assume that dad was the primary bad guy in this case. As slappy said, naming the daughter implies that she was part of the scam--which isn't clear from the story--and, since she wasn't charged, is potentially libelous.

    Naming the player is necessary because he is a public figure. I'd image it's been well known that he is the victim for some time. To me, naming him is a service to him. It's a vindication of his innocence.
  10. novelist_wannabe

    novelist_wannabe Well-Known Member

    Naming the player is necessary? I don't know that I buy that. Now, whether the extortioner (extortionist?) is guilty or not, whether Belliard had sex with the girl or not, he is tainted by this whole thing. On top of that, publishing his name is one of the supposed pressure points of the extortion scheme. Seems like we're making good on the perp's threat by printing it.
  11. gingerbread

    gingerbread Well-Known Member

    I agree with Chris. The story ought to explain why Belliard wasn't reached for comment. It also should tell the reader why he was identified. Total double standard if a female athlete was the victim.
    But I also think the accuser in the Duke rape case should be identified now that a court has found the players innocent.
  12. cake in the rain

    cake in the rain Active Member

    Hasn't Belliard's name already been mentioned several times in connection with this extortion case? I remember reading about it a couple months ago.
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