Letter to the Editor: It’s possible to support child sexual abuse victims and have concerns about coverage

Baltimore Sun [Baltimore MD]

July 16, 2023

By Mathew Lane

Given the emotion and pain around the subject, I fully expected that my letter about excessive Sun coverage of Catholic Church sexual abuse (”Coverage of child abuse has hit overkill level,” July 8) would be interpreted as being not properly sympathetic to victims (”It’s not ‘media overkill’ for survivors to be heard,” July 12). Thus, now is the time to add a postscript that, like too many others, victims of sexual assault and abuse can be amply counted among my family and friends.

I believe them. I support them, and I stand with them. Victims of sexual assault should pursue criminal charges, and they should hold accountable those institutions that neglected them. However, the victim’s right to speak up and to pursue justice is wholly separable from the professional ethics that govern how news is written, specifically the grave responsibility of clearly delineating legally proven truth from assumed truth.

A fierce support of victims can and should co-exist with the presumption of innocence in the absence of proven guilt that is supposed to be the heart and soul of our legal system. If the opportunist can achieve as much traction as the true victim in court, everyone loses.

— Mathew Lane, Baltimore