Leader Blues

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

FROM THE PUBLISHER>> Reactions to series on predators

We’re getting plenty of comments about our series on sexual predators. Many readers are sending their comments to our Web site, www.arkansasleader.com.

Not all the comments are favorable. Here’s one reader who thinks we could have done better:

“As a retired journalist and grandparent, I was both disappointed and shocked by your story, ‘Predators in Our Midst’” (April 13). “My disappointment with The Leader starts with the writer focusing on the 1997 Jack Walls case; that’s hardly news, and certainly not above-the-fold, front-page news.

“Walls is locked up, people are dead, and space that could have been more constructively used with current information was wasted.
“...the narrative contained no comments from public officials, and no information citizens can use to protect themselves against sexual predators who may be lurking just around the corner, possibly near my grandchildren.

“Rehashing the Walls case and jumping from it back and forth between current cases was confusing and useless. That’s not to mention one of the weakest leads I’ve ever read:

“This area has had several high-profile sexual-abuse cases in recent years.”

“Not everyone has access to the Internet to check the whereabouts of these creeps within our communities.

“If The Leader is attempting a public service by providing any real information, it would NAME the offenders, their crimes, and their addresses.

“It’s a shame your otherwise wonderful newspaper dropped the ball with this amateurish, useless story. Do your readers a favor and let a more competent writer handle the big issues. Was the editor off this week?”

Here’s more e-mail:
“As the mother of two of Jack Walls’ victims, I think his name should be published in the paper every day for the rest of his life. I think every sex offender in Lonoke County should be listed in the paper at least once a year, so the public will know who they are and where they live, including the level ones and twos that they won’t list on the internet. Even though they may have only been caught once doesn’t mean that your child may not be the next.

“My family suffers every day of our lives because of the abuse of our boys, and I just pray that the ones that don’t want to hear or read the stories never have to go through the pain and sadness that we have had to live with for the past twenty years of our lives.”

Here’s another e-mail:
“Readers should realize that there are many, many men out there that wish they could erase, lock up or kill all memory of Jack Walls III and what he did to them. Rehashing this case useless? Wasted news space?

“Try telling that to those that have suffered. Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. Never, ever forget how easily a pedophile infiltrated a community and raped the minds of the adults ‘in control.’”

We’ll keep you informed about upcoming trials of accused sexual predators.

Unfortunately, there are many, many more on the courts dockets.