N.L. pa­per apol­o­gizes for head­line crit­ics said blamed sex case com­plainant

Cape Breton Post - - ATLANTIC -

A New­found­land news­pa­per has is­sued an apol­ogy for a head­line some read­ers said blamed the vic­tim of an al­leged sex­ual as­sault by a po­lice of­fi­cer.

Steve Bartlett, man­ag­ing edi­tor of the Tele­gram in St. John’s, N.L., said in a let­ter to read­ers that the head­line writer was try­ing to draw at­ten­tion to the role con­sent plays in the al­le­ga­tions against Const. Carl Snel­grove of the Royal New­found­land Con­stab­u­lary.

“There was no in­tent to blame or judge the com­plainant, or to im­ply she was re­spon­si­ble for what hap­pened,’’ wrote Bartlett in a let­ter pub­lished in Mon­day’s pa­per. “But that’s how, un­der­stand­ably, many of you in­ter­preted it.’’

Snel­grove is ac­cused of sex­u­ally as­sault­ing an in­tox­i­cated wo­man he drove home from a bar while on duty in De­cem­ber 2014.

The Crown ar­gues the 10-year RNC veteran took ad­van­tage of the vul­ner­a­ble wo­man, who was in no po­si­tion to con­sent be­cause of her level of in­tox­i­ca­tion.

How­ever, a head­line in Fri­day’s pa­per for a story about the case that read “Too drunk to re­mem­ber,’’ drew out­rage from some read­ers, who said it shamed the vic­tim.

Bartlett said many peo­ple were of­fended by the head­line, and the pa­per will learn from the anger.

“Our jour­nal­ists, to a per­son, show up each day ready to hold those in power to ac­count, ready to fight for those who have been wronged and ready to make our so­ci­ety bet­ter. They work ex­tremely hard at do­ing these things,’’ said Bartlett.

“No one on our team would ever in­ten­tion­ally choose words to ag­gra­vate a vic­tim’s suf­fer­ing or, as some are im­ply­ing, per­pet­u­ate rape cul­ture. That goes against ev­ery­thing we stand and fight for.’’

Jenny Wright of the St. John’s Sta­tus of Women Coun­cil wrote in a col­umn in Mon­day’s pa­per that the me­dia wrongly fo­cused on the wo­man’s be­hav­iour rather than the al­leged ac­tions of the po­lice of­fi­cer.

“We are frus­trated that once again we must re­mind the me­dia that rape isn’t a com­mod­ity you get to ben­e­fit from, that wrap­ping up some­one’s very real ex­pe­ri­ence of vi­o­lence into a sala­cious head­line to sell pa­pers is in­ten­tion­ally cruel,’’ said Wright.

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