No Gag Order In MO Boys Case; Story Accuracy Questioned


A Missouri judge rejected requests from Michael Devlin’s lawyers to place a gag order on the New York Post and force a freelance writer hired by the paper to turn over her notes, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. College student Susannah Cahalan interviewed Devlin in the jail last month and wrote a story for the Post about the suspected kidnapper’s remarks. Devlin is accused of kidnapping Shawn Hornbeck in 2002 and William “Ben” Ownby on Jan. 8 and sexually assaulting both boys.

Calahan said she took no notes during the interviews but later sat down and wrote “some notes based on my recollection of Mr. Devlin’s statements.” Bob Steele, an ethics expert at the the Poynter Institute, a journalism research and educational organization in St. Petersburg, Fl., said, “If we are quoting an individual, we should be quoting exactly what that individual said. “I would say that it is exceptionally dangerous, as well as perhaps impossible, to accurately use a dozen or more quotes in a story without taking notes or using a recording device.”


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