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When the story gets ahead of the facts

How horrifying it was to read the Aug. 3 front page of the Review-Journal. Two days prior, the paper reported that four professional young men from California were accused of gang rape in Las Vegas. Their pictures were published and they were identified by name for hundreds of thousands of readers. Then, on Aug. 3, we read that indisputable evidence reveals the charges have been seriously challenged, and the men have been released without bail. On to the courts.

That same day, we also read an RJ editorial criticizing the guilty-until-proven-innocent approach inherent in civil forfeiture. In the meantime, four young dentists must return home, their reputations tarnished and their careers and current lifestyles in jeopardy.

I realize that “innocent until proven guilty” refers to our court system. And the measure of guilt in the Las Vegas assault story remains to be seen. But what are the consequences of being so concerned with headlines that news reporting does not wait for at least some verification of the details?

America’s habit of judging people before the lawyers sort it out is questionable and needs scrutiny.

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