In Fridays paper, the Times ran a story about a Parishville man convicted of a sex crime against a family member. This story was a breach of Times policy and that it appeared was a major breakdown in our reporting and editing process that we deeply regret.
The policy not to identify victims of sex crimes is strongly enforced here. In a nutshell, in the case of an arrest, an indictment and a conviction of someone accused of a sex crime, we will go to extreme lengths not to reveal the victims name. For this reason, we routinely do not report on the charge of incest; rather, we select another sex-crime related charge that is levied and report on that.
It is our policy to reveal the names of reported victims only if there is an acquittal, since no crime has been committed in the eyes of a jury or judge, or if the victim voluntarily steps forth to identify herself or himself including if the victim subsequently files a civil lawsuit over the incident.
We believe that our policy is sound and that it protects victims or purported victims of sex crimes. We believe that it is in line with the vast majority of news outlets in this country, both print and broadcast. We firmly believe that these victims deserve privacy and the ability to rebuild their lives. We work hard to balance the publics right to know about terrible crimes in their community and the privacy of the victim. On Friday, we failed. This failure is made worse by the age of the victim and the size of the Parishville community, where identifying someone by association is easier than it is in a larger city.
We were wrong and we are sorry. We extend our sympathy for this egregious error to the family affected by this mistake. There are no excuses, and no blame shifting: we really fell down on this. The only thing we can now do is redouble our efforts to keep this from happening again and we will coach our reporters and editors so there is absolutely no ambiguity in our policy. It should not have happened, but well make doubly sure it does not happen again.