The Associated Press articles published by Philly.com detail claims that some of the alleged suspects may have helped the 7-year-old victim. The articles also discuss possible police coercion of under-age suspects.
Police officials claim that a 7-year-old girl was gang-raped by five men while at a party in Trenton, NJ. Officials accuse the 7-year-old’s 15-year-old stepsister of selling the girl for sex. Trenton Mayor Doug Palmer expressed outrage at the alleged vicious acts and community residents demanded immediate police action. Celebrities such as Russell Simmons rallied in Trenton, marching in local neighborhoods hoping to spark discussions about violence in urban communities.
I commend Philly.com for broadening the discussion of this alleged horrific and barbaric crime. Many times, when there are shocking allegations, police and the media tend to cave into community pressure and make rush judgments about accused suspects. Of all the local media, the Philly.com’s coverage of the alleged rape has been the most extensive- they have published numerous articles explaining the facts as they develop. The articles are neutral and do not incite anger like many of the local broadcast news stories.
Unfortunately, my review of Philly.com’s coverage of this story is not all praise. Nearly all of Philly.com’s stories on Trenton child rape case come from the AP.
Although Trenton is in New Jersey, it is a part of the Philadelphia metropolitan area. The story is of both local and national interest– Philly.com should send staff writers to cover the story to give it a more local feel. Philly.com uses staff writers for other New Jersey based stories, such as the rape charges filed against NJ State Troopers. Given the attention and the various issues raised by this story (issues regarding prostitution, violence again women and children, urban violence, teen violence), local coverage is must. And so I hoot and howl….
– Cherri Gregg