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Sex offender denies rape in 'dungeon' case

http://www.cnn.com/2007/LAW/04/22/dungeon.trial.ap/index.html?eref=rss_topstories

This article was about Kenneth Hinnson who was suspected of raping two 17-year-old girls in a small cellar he built. Hinnson is claiming he did not rape them and the sex was consensual and thats all that happened. He says he was hiding from the cops for four days because he thought they wanted him on a drug charge because he built the cellar in order to keep marijuana in. On the night the girls said they were there he had four pounds of marijuana down in teh cellar. The girls are accusing him of kidnapping them out of their bedroom while they were sleeping and dragging them into the cellar and raping them.

A couple small things I noticed and are things you talk about in media ethics class and have touched on in our class is using the middle name when identifying the suspect. You definitely don't want to miss identifying someone you are charging with raping two girls and previously raping a 12-year-old girl. The second thing I noticed was they did not name the victims but they did mention that they were surpressing the names because of the associated presses ethics, nothing printing the names. This is a tough story because of the case involved and the victims, the reporter tried to give a back and fourth of the accusers (and council) and the accused, but some fo the comments he used and the information he added leans the article to assuming guilt. He chose to use a quote from opposing council, a very intriguing quote, timplies strongly Hinnson is lying but they don't use a strong quote from the defense. The reporter also writes about a witness and then explains how the witness is actually a convicted felon and was buying drugs when he overheard information, which is information that has to be used but the manner in which it is used is very skeptical.

The Washington Post's Coverage of the story: "S.C. Rape Suspect Brags About Dungeon"
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/17/AR2007041701940.html

The first story is misleading, kind of. It ends with the judge setting him free but that was really after his served time for his first offense which was the rape of a 12-year-old girl.

Here is how the first story dealt with his history as an offender:

"Hinson was convicted in 1991 for the rape of a 12-year-old girl.

Two review committees recommended Hinson be committed to a state program for sexually violent predators after serving a nine-year prison sentence, warning he could commit a future sex crime. However, a judge rejected the plan and set Hinson free."

However, there is no mention of this first offense until right here following other talk about his current trial. So when they talk about the review committees and the setting free there are talking about that second offense but it is not clear. The first time I read it I thought they meant he was set free for this offense.

The Washington Post story makes it much more clear. They are discussing his background case its not mixed with talk about about the current case here is their version:

"The case attracted national attention when McMaster said during a four-day manhunt that Hinson _ convicted in 1991 for the rape of a 12-year-old girl _ could have been indefinitely committed to a state program for sexually violent predators after serving a nine-year prison sentence. Two review committees had recommended that Hinson be placed in the program, warning he could commit a future sex crime."

Brief and clear, it doesn't take a second read to understand what is going on.

The Post story also used the quote more effectively not using them in an incriminating way. Hinson is quoted saying : "I was very proud of it," he was talking about his cellar that he constructed. The quote works because it does not assume guilt and it is a simple thing that the defendant said.

I preferred the Post article because it was much more clear to me what was going on and the sequence of events. I also thought they covered in fairly. While the first story was not biased I felt it leaned slightly to assuming guilt on the part of the suspect.