A state police report released last week on the alleged hazing during a Robertson High School football camp included the names of the six victims.
But the print and television media declined to release the information to the public out of concern for the victims — with at least one exception.
A few days ago, a reporter on Albuquerque’s Channel 13 KRQE showed one of the pages of the report to the camera, close enough for viewers to see a victim’s name. By the station’s account, it was a mistake.
Iain Munro, KRQE’s assistant news director, acknowledged the error, saying a member of the victim’s family called the station to express concern. He said he sent a letter of apology to the family.
After the Optic inquired about the situation, he e-mailed a copy to the newspaper, with the name of the family redacted.
“We exercise our editorial judgment every day regarding what we should broadcast,” Munro states in the letter. “In this case, we regret not making the decision to redact the victims’ names even if we were under no legal obligation to do so. Your (family’s) point makes sense from our perspective, and we’re sorry this happened.”
Munro also wrote that the station has discussed the matter with its employees, so they can “be mindful of all facets of our news broadcast.”
According to the state police report, the victims told officers that other players sodomized them with broomsticks. Five of the alleged perpetrators have been suspended from school for the rest of the year, while another has been expelled. Four of them have been rejected for admission into West Las Vegas.
Since the hazing allegations went public last month, Albuquerque’s three main TV stations have intensely covered the situation. Residents have seen satellite trucks around town, often in front of the Las Vegas City Schools administration building or the Robertson football field. Such trucks are a rare site unless things take a negative turn in Las Vegas.
The state police report contained the names of the victims but not the suspects. That’s because law enforcement agencies often keep secret the names of suspects until they are charged with crimes. Victims’ names are nearly always included, but media organizations often refrain from reporting them, especially if they are underage.