Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Talk about not telling the whole story ...

Remember that story last week about Joel Covender, the man whose stepchildren are recanting their reports of molestation that sent him to prison for 11 years?
Well, when we were writing that story, we ran Covender's name through our files looking for past stories we had written about him.
We found a story from March 1996, the same year he went on trial for his alleged sex crimes.
Except the story we found had nothing to do with sex or molestation.
It was about a house that Covender and then-wife, April, were renting on Tenney Avenue in Amherst. The Covenders were fighting with their landlord about repairs to the home.
The 1996 story made absolutely no reference to sex charges even though it was written at the same time Covender was headed to trial.
How could we not have known about this man's background? Don't we have access to those court records?
I asked Brad Dicken, our court reporter, and Julie Wallace, our asst. managing editor who is a former court reporter.
"There are just too many indictments," Julie told me. "We can't cover them all."
Brad agreed. He said 30-40 grand jury indictments are put out twice a week.
Hmm. It seems to me those names should be getting in the paper somewhere. We are trying to figure out how to do that.
In the meantime, I'd like to apologize 11 years later for not telling the full story in that 1996 tenant-landlord story. We didn't tell the whole story because we didn't know the whole story.
And I know the sex allegations had nothing to do with Covender's fight with the landlord. But it seems as if not mentioning it was like it would be if we wrote a story today about Michael Vick's football prowess without mentioning that he is under indictment in a dog-fighting case.

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