Wichita Falls, Texas, NBC affiliate KFDX started its 10 p.m. newscast Wednesday night with a story about an inappropriate relationship between a school district employee and a student. The story said the employee had been promoted, despite a police investigation, and the student was set to be “disciplined, suspended and then prosecuted.”
According to The Graham Leader, Graham Independent School District Superintendent Sonny Cruse said the only thing the station got right was the part about an investigation.
KFDX reporter Stephanie Garland said someone who said he was Cruse on the phone gave her the info. Cruse said he never spoke with her and called her after the report aired to say she got it wrong. The station has retracted the story.
Garland gave Cruse the phone number that the impersonator called from, and Cruse forwarded that number to the Graham Police Department, he said.
KFDX News Director Doug Bilyeu acknowledged the mistake and confirmed that Garland reported wrong information, but, as of press time, he could provide no further information on how this information was acquired.
Police Chief Tony Widner confirmed that he spoke with Garland on Wednesday evening and did nothing but confirm that the agency’s investigation into the allegations is ongoing. The reporter, he said, assumed the information she had was correct and at no time asked the chief to confirm or deny her information.
“At that time, she already had her news and didn’t even ask to confirm it,” Widner said.
Cruse is also mad the station didn’t give the retraction the same prominence it gave the story. “My experience is when people retract a story, they bury it,” said Cruse. “If it was a headline story, why is it not a headline retraction? People want us to be ethical; the media should be ethical also.”
Here’s the cached version of the story that has been pulled from the station website:
Although the Graham Police Department is continuing its investigation into a report of an inappropriate relationship between a staff member and a student, the staff member allegedly involved has been promoted.
The district superintendent says the student involved will be disciplined, suspended and then prosecuted.
Authorities are not releasing the name of the adult or the age of the student involved.
Graham Superintendent Sonny Cruse says despite speculation surrounding the initial stages of this matter, his district finds no reason to deviate from their original and tentative investigative findings.
Here is the full statement he provided our news team: “Despite any and all conjecture, speculation and supposition surrounding the initial early stages of this matter, we find no reason to deviate from our original and tentative investigative findings at this time, regardless of what may have been previously released.”
Again, Graham Police Chief Tony Widner says they are continuing their investigation into this matter.
Cruse initially told us when the allegations surfaced the employee in question was placed on administrative leave.