AS IT IS: Why wasn’t name printed?

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By David Giuliani

A few readers have wondered why we didn’t publish the name of a man accused of sexually molesting an 8-year-old in a story in the Aug. 3 Optic.

They note that the name appeared in other news outlets. We didn’t give any special treatment to this suspect; our policy is not to publish the names of those accused of sexual crimes until they are bound over to state District Court for trial. Exceptions are made for public officials and people who are in positions of trust such as police officers and teachers.

Why do we have such a policy? Because we believe there is a stigma associated with a sexual crime like no other, including murder. So we want to wait to print a name until a magistrate judge finds there is sufficient evidence to bind the case over to District Court.

We realize that not everyone will agree with this policy, and we are always willing to reconsider it. Please let us know your views.

Some might say that we may as well publish the names if they are already in other media. But I don’t think this argument alone justifies changing the policy. For instance, if other media published the names of rape victims, we wouldn’t follow suit. Fortunately, nearly all news outlets refuse to print such information.

• • •

A reader called me last week to express her displeasure about the references in last week’s column to Las Vegas police Sgt. Martin Salazar. The point of my column was that it’s always the best policy for citizens to cooperate with law enforcement officers, not argue with them (unless, of course, they’re violating your rights).

But I also noted that cops may find themselves in hot water when they lose their tempers. Salazar discovered this when he got in a dispute with then-suspect Bernadette Varela. Jailers alleged that Salazar threatened her with violence, but the state police cleared the officer of that allegation.

Nonetheless, I wrote that Salazar could have avoided all of these problems if he hadn’t lost his cool.

However, the reader said we should lay off Salazar, noting that the officer did a fine job in investigating vandalism to my car last year.

I agree; he did a great job, which resulted in the arrest of a suspect, who was later found guilty. In fact, I watched a video of Salazar conducting the investigation, and prosecutors pointed out how he was asking the suspect all the right questions.

And Salazar has done other good police work in many other instances.

But that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be held accountable when he goes off course.  

I may write a really good story one day, but that doesn’t excuse me from a bunch of botched stories afterward.

The same goes with Salazar.

• • •

Readers often call to criticize stories. And that’s the way it should be. We’re here to serve our readers.

Last week, an upset reader told me, “I’m not going to call you Mr. Giuliani. I’ll call you David.”

Believe me, ma’am, I’ve been called worse things than my given name. Much worse.

• • •

If there are any women longing to enter the men’s locker room at the Highlands University field house, they should be warned: Stay out.

Last week, I noticed a sign outside the field house with just this warning. Apparently, the football players are fighting off an invasion of wayward women.

In all seriousness, I’ll bet the sign was put up after dancers during the Relay for Life earlier this summer used the field house to change.

That was when football coach Chad Roanhaus got some unfortunate publicity for himself and the school when he pulled the plug on the anti-cancer event — literally. Girls were ready to begin a dance performance when they found they were without electricity. Witnesses reported that they saw the angry coach disconnect the power.

The coach, who was running a football camp at the time, was upset that he saw girls in the field house. He was rightly concerned because of possible problems with young girls changing around football players. But Roanhaus probably could have put his anger in check and dealt with the problem calmly.

Next time, he’ll have the assistance of the women-not-allowed sign.

David Giuliani is managing editor of the Las Vegas Optic. He may be reached at 425-6796 or dgiuliani@lasvegasoptic.com.