Reporter’s Prostitution Stint Sparks Criticism


Newspaper reporter Venessa Santos-Garza was successful as an undercover cop last month in Corpus Christi, Tx. Two of her targeted johns were arrested and charged with prostitution, says Allan Wolper of Editor & Publisher. Several days later, she recreated those street scenes for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. Editor Libby Averyt killed the story, saying, “For us to maintain our watchdog role, we should not get involved in law enforcement activities and will not in the future.”

Criminal defense lawyers are unhappy. “I don’t understand why the police didn’t charge the reporter, too,” said Michael O’Brien, president of the Coastal Bend Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, based in Corpus Christi. “They would arrest anyone else posing as a prostitute. She wasn’t reporting on a crime. She was creating one.” Concludes Wolper: “Police stings sometimes eviscerate civil liberties by luring people into crimes they never thought of committing. Newspapers are supposed to help protect civil liberties, not violate them.”


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