'Boston Herald' Reporter Testifies in Judge's Libel Suit

By: (AP) A Boston Herald reporter being sued for libel for reporting that a judge made a callous remark about a 14-year-old rape victim testified today: "I'm certain that quote was correct."

David Wedge acknowledged that he never spoke with Superior Court Judge Ernest Murphy before the story ran. But he said he tried to contact the judge to verify the accuracy of the remark and was not allowed to see Murphy.

"It's preferable to have that person speak to you, but if they don't speak to you, you rely on the best information you have," Wedge said under questioning by Murphy's lawyer, Howard M. Cooper.

In 2002, the Herald reported that prosecutors had criticized Murphy for what they thought were lenient sentences, including eight years' probation for a 17-year-old convicted of two rapes and an armed robbery. Murphy was quoted as telling lawyers involved in the case about the victim: "Tell her to get over it."

Murphy was excoriated on talk radio, and critics dubbed him "Easy Ernie" and "Evil Ernie."

Murphy sued the Herald and four of its reporters, saying he received hate mail and death threats because of the story. He insisted he never said, "Tell her to get over it." Instead, the judge says, he spoke about the 14-year-old rape victim with compassion, inquiring about the availability of counseling.

The Herald insists the story was accurate and is standing by Wedge, its lead reporter, saying he had reliable sources and had no doubt about the truth of the published statements.

During a 2002 pretrial deposition, Wedge acknowledged that none of his sources had directly heard the judge's comments about the rape victim. But Wedge said Tuesday that he no longer believed that assertion was accurate.


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