Nashville police chief publicly blasts DA spokesman who released name of alleged rape victim

The Nashville Police Chief publicly blasted a spokesman in the District Attorney’s office for releasing a police incident report to a TV station that contained the name of a housekeeping employee who reported she was raped in a Bridgestone Arena bathroom.

The woman later gave an on-camera interview to WSMV-TV Channel 4, saying she wanted to tell her story and was upset after learning that the co-worker who she said attacked her was a registered sex offender. “They should screen sex offenders, murderers, anybody (before employing them),” she told the TV station.

Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson

Police Chief Steve Anderson said that releasing the name of the alleged rape victim to the TV station was “unconscionable” and a “violation of trust and human dignity.” He said many victims would not come forward if they thought they had to face public scrutiny.

The spokesman, Ken Whitehouse, is employed by the district attorney’s office. But Anderson said if the spokesman had been one of his staff, he would have taken “corrective action.” Anderson sent the three-page memo to department staff and victims advocacy organizations, and posted it on the police department’s webpage.

In its story, WSMV-TV reported that the contractor for Bridgestone Arena that employed the man said it will change how it hires people and now require background checks.

An exemption to the Tennessee Public Records Act allows police and prosecutors discretion to withhold information that is part of an ongoing investigation.  Three years ago, a bill was introduced in the Legislature that would have granted anonymity to alleged rape victims, making their name confidential in police records. Instead lawmakers decided to narrow the bill and create an exemption to make the name confidential only if the allegation resulted in a guilty verdict or plea. Most media organizations have policies not to reveal the name of a sexual assault victim, or alleged victim, or only do with their permission.

Read more:

Bridgestone Arena contractor changes hiring practices after alleged rape (WSMV-TV Channel 4)

Nashville police chief blasts DA’s office employee over release of report (WRKN)

Nashville police chief scolds DAs spokesman for releasing info on rape victim (The Tennessean)

One thought on “Nashville police chief publicly blasts DA spokesman who released name of alleged rape victim

  1. M Chambers

    Thank you for reporting this turn of events. I felt sad when I had heard of the victim’s story on WSMV. Sad about what had happened. I hope the arena (and other employers) update their procedure on who’s doing ‘which’ employee background check. It was good reporting. I agree giving all people a chance at redemption but perhaps with added safety precautions. For ex: a convicted sex offender looking for employment might need to be on a supervised work crew. Or: might not need to be left alone with one other worker (as were those two employees, without the victim knowing of the situation). Thanks to WSMV, and to TCOG, the public now has a chance to be safe and stay informed. That downtown employers have a chance to ‘check’ on their checks. I hope victims get a chance to speak up if they want to. If they don’t want to – that’s fine, too. It’s important to let the victim decide if and when they want to talk about it. Not the police or anybody else.

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