Newburgh Heights, OH – A television news crew who stalked a rape victim at her home has complained that the bodycam video police released of the incident has caused their news station to receive threats of violence (video below).
The chief of the Newburgh Heights Police Department released bodycam video on Friday from his encounter with a News 5 Cleveland (WEWS-TV) news crew at a place they didn’t belong.
In the video, Chief John Majoy was responding to a distress call from a recent rape victim in his jurisdiction who said the television crew had descended on her home wanting an interview, according to a video posted to the Newburgh Heights PD’s official Facebook page on Friday.
“Deplorable behavior by News Channel 5 Cleveland for randomly showing up at the home of a rape victim; watch the police chief’s response. After being confronted by the Chief of Police for their callous, insensitive conduct, News Channel 5 apologized to the victim through the Chief of Police. This video was released with the consent of the victim in hopes that her privacy and that of all victims is honored and respected. The victim is not shown in any part of this video,” the department posted as the description of the video on June 29.
The video began after Chief Majoy arrived at the victim’s home, and spoke with the victim in front of the house.
“You stay right here,” he told the victim.
“Okay. I don’t want them in my place,” the rape victim told the chief.
“No, stay right there,” Chief Majoy said, as he headed down the driveway beside the house to where the camera crew was standing by their SUV, near a garage in the back yard.
As the chief walked away from her, the victim can be heard giving the chief details.
The chief wasted no time in confronting the man and woman, who were talking to someone associated with the victim in the driveway behind the house.
“How are we doing? Chief Majoy. Who are you?” he asked.
“My name is Jordan, from um… with News 5. And this is Bridget. News 5,” the reporter offered his hand to the chief.
“So, News 5 shows up to the home of a rape victim? Is that right?” the chief asked, with a tone of disbelief.
The man looked uncomfortable and hesitated to respond, the video showed.
“Yes or no?” the chief demanded.
“Yes,” the man answered.
“Why would you do something like that? I’ve been in law enforcement for 27 years – I’ve never in my life had a new station go to the home of a victim of a rape,” the chief began to lecture the reporters, who should have known better.
“You’re on bodycamera right now. I’m going to make this bodycamera available to a lot of people. I suggest you leave right now. What’s your name again?” the chief asked.
“Jordan Daniel,” the man replied.
“Let’s get his ID. ID both of them,” the chief told an officer who had responded to the scene with him.
“Very poor taste, folks. Very poor taste. What would possess you to do that?” Chief Majoy asked.
“For the record…” Daniel began.
“What record?” the rape victim’s friend asked, cutting him off.
“It’s a phrase, I’m sorry,” he said. “I vocalized my concerns to my superiors and…” the man explained, seeming to blame the producers and directors who had assigned him the story.
Chief Majoy was having none of that, the video showed.
“Ask your superiors to please contact the chief of police for the Village of Newburgh Heights, because I find that in extreme poor taste,” the chief instructed them.
“If you guys want to know something about the case, call us – we’ll tell ya. But to show up at the victim’s house, how would you feel?” Chief Majoy asked.
Then he put the woman named Bridget on the spot.
“How would you feel if you or one of your loved ones was the victim of rape? You’re a female – how would you feel? Would you want the news to show up at your house?” the chief asked her.
“I’m not sure,” the woman replied.
“You’re not sure?” the chief asked, voicing total disbelief. “Well, I hope to God you never have to find out. Good day folks, there is the street. Good day.”
He pointed them to the roadway, and then continued to give them a verbal tongue lashing, the video showed.
“Guys, I’m appalled. I’m without words. I’d like – who is your editor who sent you here?” Chief Majoy asked.
Daniel gave the chief two names and offered him email addresses. The chief said he already had them, and told the reporter to have his bosses call him.
“I would like a phone call from them. But you can tell them [of] my extreme displeasure in you guys doing this. I support the media. I support all the stuff you guys do. But boy oh boy, going to the house of a victim of a rape? That’s an all-time low for me guys. Good day,” the chief said, and then he strode off toward the front of the house.
In the video, he said he was turning his bodycam off at that point because he was going back to talk to the rape victim.
The blowback at News Channel 5 via social media was instantaneous. The station posted an apology beneath the video, but that wasn’t enough to put out the apparent firestorm from people who felt they had violated a rape victim’s privacy.
It got so bad that the television station called the police department to complain they had begun receiving threats.
On Sunday afternoon, the department posted a message from the chief about the threats in the comments beneath the video.
“Message from Chief Majoy: The News Director from Channel 5 notified me to report they have received threats of violence and are gravely concerned for their safety. We condemn this conduct and I am saddened by it. The spirit behind the release of this video – as noted in the post – is to remind folks to respect the privacy of this and all victims of crime. It was released with the consent of the victim with this in mind,” the department posted.
“News 5 did indeed hold themselves accountable as they have shared. Aside of one’s thoughts or opinion on this matter, there is no room for threats of violence and this needs to stop immediately. Please share my comments to promote safety and decry the threat of violence. Together we can make a difference,” the message said.
News 5 Cleveland also contacted Law Enforcement Today and complained about them sharing the video on their Facebook page after somebody posted the contact information for the news station, which is readily available online, in the comments beneath the video.
“My name is Mike Canan and I am a corporate leader with the EW Scripps Company, owner of Channel 5 in Cleveland. You posted video of a confrontation between a local police chief and our news crew. We understand and respect your right to post this video. However, someone has posted the station’s phone number and the names of the managers involved. The newsroom has already fielded one threatening phone call. In the wake of the newsroom shooting in Maryland, we respectfully request that you delete or the hide (sic) the comments with our station’s phone number and naming our staff members. We are concerned for our team’s safety.”
Then News 5 Cleveland sent a second message to the publication’s Facebook page.
“After I sent [the first] note, our newsroom received a call from someone saying they ‘hope what happened in Annapolis happens here.’ We appreciate your attention to this matter,” the message read.
The comment was removed and the user was banned, they said in their reply to the news station.
UPDATE: The police department pulled the video. Here's another copy: