We’ve caught flak this week from readers for covering a criminal trial involving felony child abuse. Most of the time, child neglect cases are handled in civil court. Even more rare are cases that allege mental and emotional abuse rather than physical abuse. Rarer still, it is a case that is before a Sheridan jury.
The telephone calls and emails were consistent: we shouldn’t be reporting on the case. The judge overseeing the case, Judge John Fenn, received an email from a citizen to close the jury trial to the media. Certainly we could’ve chosen not to cover the proceedings. Yet if you’ve been following the reporting in the Press, the case is impossible to ignore. This trial is that disturbing; there’s no free pass either in the courthouse or in the court of public opinion.
Most tellingly, the most compelling testimony is from the people who sought to protect three children from further victimization by their parents. The testimony and facts of the case are remarkable and graphic. The details of the trial can break your heart. What’s equally remarkable is what we decided to leave out. Including detailed testimony from the children.
Believe it, this type of crime happens here. It’s difficult to listen to, it’s difficult to read about. It’s difficult to publish the stories. Our belief is that this reporting will make the community more aware. Perhaps it will help other children from enduring similar behavior.