Cleveland mayor to officials: Stop leaking information, start respecting kidnapping victims’ privacy

Mayor Frank G. Jackson issued an order to stop the leaks, citing desire to give victims "time and space to heal"

Topics: Cleveland kidnapping, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, Michelle Knight, , ,

Cleveland mayor to officials: Stop leaking information, start respecting kidnapping victims' privacy Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson (Credit: Cleveland City Hall)

Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson issued a cease and desist order on Thursday to stop city officials from releasing information to the press relating to the Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight kidnapping case.

Jackson called the “outpouring of support” from the media and others “caring in nature,” but said the victims’ privacy was being badly compromised by unauthorized leaks:

This is not for the sake of concealing any information. It is to demonstrate compassion for the victims and their families and to insure the credibility of the investigative process and allow us to arrive at a just conclusion to this difficult situation.

The victims’ families, psychologists and kidnapping survivors like Elizabeth Smart and Jaycee Duggard have all called for the press to leave the three women alone while each begins the process of recovery, but a seemingly insatiable appetite for constant coverage has left them with little privacy. Privacy that they’ll badly need, as Smart told ABC News on Tuesday: “It is so important to respect their privacy, to give them every chance they can to find their own way back, their own path to happiness and well being.”

Jackson’s statement in full:



The City and this nation have overwhelmingly provided support and compassion for the victims and their families at this difficult time. This has been a great display of a caring nature. We in Cleveland greatly appreciate this outpouring of support.

Although we appreciate the compassion, the victims and their families have been overwhelmed by this response. Most of it has been done with good intentions.

As we allow the victims and their families to transition through this very difficult time, we need to give them space and time to heal. They have been and will continue to be surrounded by their close family and friends who are providing much needed support.

To that end, I am ordering Public Safety Director Marty Flask to instruct all employees in Public Safety to cease and desist releasing information and records outside of the established chain of command and protocols.

This is not for the sake of concealing any information. It is to demonstrate compassion for the victims and their families and to insure the credibility of the investigative process and allow us to arrive at a just conclusion to this difficult situation.

I am asking everyone else – the average citizen, public officials, the media – to show good judgment in how they handle themselves in order to demonstrate their compassion and help guarantee the integrity of the investigation.

Remember, the eyes of the nation are on us.

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

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