And In Local News … Editor’s Acquitted

So, you’re the 67-year-old editor of a small-town newspaper who also happens to do the books for a local businessman.

The local businessman’s not just your boss. He’s also the owner/landlord of your newspaper’s office, your residence, your son’s residence and your daughter’s business. You live in one of those in-grown places that dot America, a place where everyone whispers everyone’s business.

One day, you’re arrested. The charge: embezzling $9,000 from this businessman-boss-landlord.

The arrest happens in the middle of the day. Somehow, the local police chief decides to give you a perp walk in handcuffs down a main street of your little town, where everyone knows you and you know everyone. And, somehow, a freelance photographer just happens to be there, takes photos of you perp-walking, and sells them to a rival weekly newspaper, which of course publishes them.

You, the newspaper editor, say it’s all a mistake. Of course she didn’t steal anything … it was an accident!

The town’s in an uproar. Scandal! And on top of it a perp walk right in town for a 67-year-old lady!

A year later, you go to trial. Your defense attorney offers up a case full of evidence against the accuser, calling him “obsessed and unhinged.”

A jury acquits you of all charges.

What happens next? Well, you’re a newspaper editor in a small town.

Your paper places a big headline — INNOCENT — atop a 4,700-word cover story, with every bit of detail of the trial’s proceedings and testimony.

And writes an editorial, too.

This part, a bit of a dig at the “other newspaper,” caught my eye:

Under cross-examination, [businessman-landlord Jack] Goehring admitted that he too was nearby during the arrest, and after the event had accompanied [freelance photographer Maud] Krulla to Middleburg Life to sell her pictures.

Both Middleburg Life (and Middleburg Life’s sister publication, Leesburg Today) declined the offer.

Asked if he had finally sold the pictures for $200, Goehring insisted that he had not.

Shown a receipt from the Loudoun Times Mirror for $200 in payment for Krulla’s pictures, Goehring denied having accompanied her to Leesburg to sell them.

Asked if his purpose was not to humiliate [Dee Dee] Hubbard, Goehring replied that he did it because he thought the public had “a right to know.”

The Loudoun Times Mirror had earlier refused, on ethical grounds, to identify Krulla as the source of the photographs they spread across the front page of their paper the day after Hubbard’s arrest.

At press time, no comment on the paper’s decision to pay Krulla, print her pictures with a Times Mirror photo attribution, and post them on YouTube with links from the paper’s website has been forthcoming.

Who said small-town news couldn’t be fascinating?

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