By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Another perspective on the Herald libel suit

Here’s an interesting perspective on the Boston Herald libel suit. In July 2009, the Jamaica Plain Gazette reported that inmates were claiming that prison officials were cracking down on their efforts to reach out to young people as part of an anti-crime initiative. The article includes this:

Recent articles in the Boston Herald that claimed state Rep. Gloria Fox sneaked a woman into prison for illicit visits were incorrect, several sources told the Gazette, confirming a press statement issued by Fox. In fact, Fox also was responding to complaints about retaliation against prisoners, and the false tips that led to the Herald’s articles were part of that payback, according to Hudson and other sources.

“Hudson” is a reference to a prisoner named Mac Hudson. The Gazette story also quoted Steven Kenneway, head of the guards union, as denying that any retaliation had taken place.

The libel suit was brought by Joanna Marinova, an activist who, according to the Herald, was caught engaging in “sexual acts” with an inmate during a visit to the Old Colony Correctional Center in Bridgewater. On Wednesday, a Superior Court jury ruled that the Herald’s story, written by Jessica Van Sack, was false and awarded Marinova about $563,000.

The Herald maintains that its reporting was correct and, in this story, says “it will continue to defend its article and reporter Jessica Van Sack going forward.”

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  1. Jerry Ackerman

    Kissing? Touching the knee? Oh, my. Next thing you know there may be a glimpse of bare ankle. Oh, dear!

  2. This reminds me a lot of that libel case the Herald lost several years ago, agains that judge who allegedly (but not really) made insensitive comments about a teen-aged rape victim. I don’t blame the reporter here too much; I blame the editors, and the ridiculous, buffoonish tabloid culture and low standards they’ve allowed to take root there. The reporters can dig up all the salacious detail and phantom allegations they want; the editors are supposed to have the better judgment, the cooler heads that temper the story. They don’t.

    This case doesn’t seem quite as egregious as the previous libel verdict (where I’d have fired everyone who touched that story), but it is stupid, and even worse, it’s to be expected from the Herald.

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