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