The Transylvania Times -

Reporting On Crime

 


In today’s Opinion of the Readers, Bill Thomas criticizes us for publishing a story and photo in last Monday’s paper of Charles Kells Hogan, who has been charged with two felonies: first-degree sex offense with a child and indecent liberties with a child.

We do have guidelines to which we adhere in reporting crimes. We do not report misdemeanors unless there are extenuating circumstances, such as the involvement of an elected official. We do report all felonies that are reported to us by the Brevard Police Department and Transylvania County Sheriff’s Office, as well as the SBI and N.C. Highway Patrol. We do not presume to be law officers or prosecutors. As a result, whenever they believe they have enough evidence to charge and arrest someone and, in fact, do so, we report their actions.

In the case of Hogan, we noted that Chief Deputy Eddie Gunter with the Transylvania County Sheriff’s Office reported that the victim came forward with detailed information. We also reported that the alleged crimes took place 30 years ago and that Hogan remains in the county detention center on a $200,000 secured bond. He has since been released after posting bail.

We never endeavor to “destroy” someone. In fact, we do not “try” cases in the paper as some media outlets do. We let the judicial system run its course and trust in its outcomes. We strive to present the facts of an arrest and follow up when the case comes to court so that the public knows if the person has been found guilty, innocent or plea bargains. We do this not only to inform readers about the outcome for the defendant, but also to keep readers informed as to how well or poorly law enforcement and prosecutors have done in gathering evidence and making their cases in court. An overwhelming number of plea bargains, for example, could indicate poor collection of evidence by law enforcement or poor court skills by a district attorney.

We strongly agree with the premise that people are innocent until proven guilty. Thus, we refer to the crimes, as we did in this case, as “alleged.” It is unfortunate that many members of the public automatically view a person as guilty when he or she is arrested. That may be part of human nature or it may be the belief that law enforcement does not arrest people unless there is more than ample evidence they committed the crime.

We would be derelict in our duties not to present felonious arrests, particularly when it comes to sexual abuse cases involving minors. Such crimes often go unreported for years and many children can be victims. Naming the perpetrator of such alleged crimes might make others who were abused feel more comfortable in coming forward. Numerous cases nationally have shown that to be the case.

We wholeheartedly disagree with Thomas’s assertion that it is our “editorial policy” that should leave every camp director or teacher “shaking in their boots at the thought that some camper or student from 30 years ago could wreck their lives.” It is not our policy that allowed Hogan to be arrested; it is the law. Even if we did not report such an arrest, camp directors, teachers and anyone else who works with minors could still be arrested for sexual abuse some 30 years after the fact. If Thomas or anyone else thinks that 30 years is far too long for someone to wait before coming to report such a crime, their argument should be with the law, not us.

In fact, there are legitimate questions regarding the statute of limitations. The case against the alleged perpetrator in the case of Edna Glaze was thrown out because many of those involved in the case are no longer living or reside in the area. Yet, her disappearance occurred much less than 30 years ago. By reporting that events occurring 30 years can still be brought to court at the very least informs the public that certain charges, either real or manufactured, may be considered viable three decades later.

We regret that such stories occur in our community, just as we regret fatal traffic accidents, homicides, etc. But we believe it is our duty to keep the public informed as to the best of our ability to both the good and bad things that occur here. We would be failing the community not to report those allegedly charged with child abuse and follow up with the outcome of those cases.

 
 

Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2017