February 11, 2003

Looking For Patricia Meili

Allan Wolper: It's Time to Name the Central Park Jogger

With Book Deal, She Doesn't Need Protection

I wanted to identify New York's Central Park Jogger in this column. But my editors told me I would have to wait until April 8 when her book, I Am the Central Park Jogger: A Story of Hope and Possibility, with her name on the cover, begins showing up in stores everywhere.

My editors felt queasy about E&P becoming the first mainline print publication to name her. But they're letting me explain how they and the rest of the news media are being pushed around by a publisher peddling a book.

Naming the Jogger before her book's publication does not violate her privacy. She has forgone that by writing the book and agreeing to publicize it. She will announce who she is the day it is published, and then tour the country to promote her story.

The reason reporters keep the names of rape victims out of their newspapers is to spare them the stigma associated with the crime. There is a reason for that. We are a country that still paints a scarlet letter on rape victims.

But the Jogger doesn't need to be protected anymore. She is lifting her veil because she wants to tell the world who she is and how she came back from near death to conquer life. She overcame. She is doing what many people want her to do: destigmatize the status of rape victims. She is opening her life to scrutiny.

Her name is not a journalism secret. New York newspaper editors know who she is. She was identified in police records after she was attacked. WCBS-TV, WNBC-TV, WPIX-TV, and the New York Amsterdam News, a leading black weekly newspaper, all identified her before enclosing her in a cloak of anonymity.

I would not be writing this in the aftermath of April 19, 1989, when the Jogger was raped, beaten, and left for dead on a tree-lined path in Central Park. She was brutalized so badly that to this day she has no idea how many people attacked her.

That story was about a vicious sexual assault. This one is about marketing the victim of that assault. It is about abusing the practice the media use to protect victims.

I am anxious to read this book. But before this April, I want to know what Patricia Meili thinks of the recent turn of events in the case, especially the exoneration of the Central Park 5.

Posted by ronn at February 11, 2003 04:35 PM


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Not much to add to what Ronn had to say a few days back in his Looking for Patricia Meili [Read More]

Tracked on February 20, 2003 01:13 PM