By: DOROTHY GIOBBE
A NUMBER OF newspapers in New Jersey say they will not print the name of a man who sexually molested and killed two boys until a court decides whether public naming would violate the man’s constitutional rights.
The man, known as “E.B.” in court papers, has admitted to sexually abusing and killing two boys in Virginia during the late 1960s. Also, he sexually molested three other boys in New Jersey during the 1970s.
E.B. was released from prison in 1989. He bought a house in Englewood, where he and his wife currently live.
Last year, New Jersey adopted “Megan’s Law” ? legislation that complies local authorities to notify the community when a convicted sex offender moves into or resides in the area.
E.B. has challenged the legality of public disclosure, arguing that it constitutes additional punishment. Early this month, a U.S. District Court judge issued a temporary restraining order forbidding authorities from disclosing E.B.’s name. The order is pending a decision in a similar case which currently is before a Third Circuit Court of Appeals.
Some newspapers in the state have fashioned their editorial policy along the lines of the court’s reasoning. The Newark Star-Ledger and the Record of Bergen County, have chosen to keep E.B.’s name out of print until the court decision, while the Jersey Journal in Jersey City, and some local television stations have used E.B.’s full name.
The Newhouse-owned Journal decided to name E.B. because editors felt readers had a right to know, said managing editor George Latanzio.
“Part of what went into our decision was that the television stations had already named him,” Latanzio said. “I’m not sure what we would have done if TV hadn’t named him first.
“Also, E.B. challenged the case. We felt our readers had a right to know the name of the individual who was challenging the case in court.”
Another Newhouse newspaper, the Star-Ledger, has up to this point, refused to reveal E.B.’s full name in the newspaper.
“It’s not in our immediate circulation area, so that makes it a little less thorny of an issue,” said Star-Ledger editor Jim Willse.
“Our reasoning is that it’s before the courts, and we’ll let them decide. We see no compelling reason to name him, although we reserve the right to change that decision,” he added.
The Record also chose to protect E.B.’s privacy for the time being. The newspaper’s editors explained their decision to readers in a Feb. 2 editorial.
“We believe E.B.’s neighbors have a right to know his identity,” read the editorial.
“But by agreeing to hear E.B.’s appeal, the judge ruled, in effect, that there is a legitimate question of whether notification in this case would violate the U.S. Constitution.
“Our decision against printing E.B.’s name at this time in no way indicates a lack of horror on our part for the crimes he committed. His acts were monstrous, and we believe the community has a right to know who he is,” the editorial continued.
“But we also believe that in a nation of law, the court should be given time to rule on the case,” it concluded.
?(The Record of Bergen County, N.J., explained to readers in an editorial why it has not identified in its news stories the paroled killer) [Caption]