Indiana Station Considering Next Steps After Judge Rejects Motion To Air Court Audio

By Stephanie Tsoflias Siegel Comment

WPTA, the ABC affiliate in Ft. Wayne, IN, says a criminal court judge has rejected the station’s motion to reconsider an earlier ruling over the use of an audio recording in a news report.

As TVSpy first told you, WPTA has been in a battle with the court for weeks over a recording made during the sentencing of a doctor on trial for sex crime charges.

The station obtained the audio through a public records request but a judge barred the ABC affiliate from broadcasting it.

Here is an excerpt from a story the station posted Thursday:

In his ruling, [Judge Thomas] Hakes noted a state judicial rule (Rule 2.17) that prohibits “broadcasting, televising, recording or taking photographs in the courtroom,” with certain limited exceptions. The recording in question was made as part of the official court proceeding. Dr. John Mathew was sentenced to two years of house arrest and must register as a sex offender after he pleaded guilty to two counts of felony sexual battery. Prosecutors initially charged Mathew with rape. A second woman has filed an unrelated lawsuit against Mathew, claiming she was victimized sexually while working with him at a Fort Wayne hospice. The testimony on the audio recording includes that of supporters of the doctor as well as those speaking for the victim. It also includes the victim, herself.

As is journalistic standard, the Quincy Media-owned station’s policy is to not identify those affected by crimes of a sexual nature. The station says it does not intend to broadcast her testimony.

Station management said it is “disappointed by the ruling and is considering its options.”

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