Having been both a journalist and police public information officer, my view on this issue is in keeping with Dodd's and Richard's. Yes, the OJ fiasco was a blot on this country's (the United States) criminal justice history. In my experience, though, people like Mr. Simpson will usually offend again (and he did, and will likely never again see the proverbial light of day outside of prison walls).
Abuse stories of magicians (priests, youth ministers, Scoutmasters, and those of similar ilk) are particularly puerile, and are always "newsworthy." It's a quite sad but undeniable fact that pedophiles are drawn to such positions, as these positions provide them ready access to victims. We are compelled, however, to tread lightly when broaching information about the presumed guilt of another. In my aforementioned role as a public information officer, I have, of course, been responsible to insuring (as the United States Constitution establishes) that the public be informed, by way of its media representatives, when an individual has been charged with a heinous crime. The national registry of sexual offenders also, legally, requires such reporting, where and when applicable.
When such people are arrested, "the media" will naturally exploit the opportunity to sell advertising space (another sad, but true, fact) by reporting the sometimes-sordid details. Should these people be "exposed?" Of course they do, if they did what they're accused of doing. I'll remind those over the age of 40 of a case which set the precedent for the ridiculous "OJ coverage." The case received almost equal exposure in the press, and held captive the collective imagination of the country.
"Imagination" is the key word, in this event. The trial to which I allude is that of the then-infamous "McMartin Preschool" family. "Expert" witnesses daily rendered their captivating "testimony." Each told of how the children involved were maltreated, how "Satanism" (later recognized, along with all of the other allegations, to be absolute fantasy) played a major role in the event, as the nation told of ritualized abuse going on day after day.
In the end, it turned out the first couple of children interviewed, had followed the "coaching" of the adult accusers, and the rest of the children -- in true Salem Witch Trial fashion -- seeing the attention their peers were receiving, joined in. Absolutely every allegation, "fact" presented and story the children (with capable assistance of "professional" counselors) was proven untrue.
Still, the country awaited each day's testimony with baited breath. The trial was televised, and made headlines throughout the Western world, for three years. Some of the trials themselves exceeded six years in length.
When the media circus was over, the McMartin family's reputations, finances and LIVES were irrevocably ruined. All this, because a couple of children in Manhattan Beach, California, had their imaginations stoked by people who should have known better.
Allegations are only allegations, and convictions are final "proof" in the eyes of the law. Even then, of course, as we've discovered through the admission of DNA evidence over the last two decades, is often fantasy as well.
If you elect to spread rumored charges against a fellow magician (or any other human being), and you do so as a media representative (even in the tiny "world" of magic), you expose yourself, your fiduciary associates and your advertisers to potential libel suits, a reputation of being a rumormonger, and a lifetime of knowing (if, in the end, the allegations -- recall Mr. Copperfield and Mr. Forte -- are proven false) that you've injured a fellow person (and in our instance, performer or creator of illusions), quite possibly beyond repair.
Long ago, the fact was established that human beings who "believe" a thing to be true, will continue believing said thing, subsequent facts to the contrary notwithstanding. Throughout the time since, this fact has been maintained in psychological theory, and proven beyond question. We, of all people, should very carefully wrestle "illusion" from the realm of reality, when something as important as another's literal life is possibly at stake.
The attitudes established by Richard and Dodd (only mentioned because of the stance they've taken herein) are the correct attitudes. Rumors are rumors, and always will be. Yes, there are those with evil intend lurking amongst us (probably even now), but as I previously noted, time will tell in the end. I applaud these gentlemen for their respective positions.
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