Philly Workshop: "Covering Immigrants and Refugees"
Covering Local Tragedies
Ochberg Fellowship Program
In October 2002, Nicholas C. Plante, of Burrillville, was convicted of sexually assaulting a fellow high school student the year before, when he was 17 and she was 15.
Reporter Kate Bramson covered Plante's sentencing, at which Superior Court Judge Edward C. Clifton called the case a nightmare for both families. The judge also noted that it had "splintered" the community.
Bramson met the young woman and her parents at the sentencing and interviewed them briefly. Later, they agreed to extensive interviews and debated about whether they wanted to be identified in the newspaper with their full names. (The Journal's policy is to not identify victims of first-degree sexual assault.)
In the end, they agreed that Laura would be identified by her first name and that her parents' names would not be used, to protect her from identification by inference.
They are aware that many in the community know who they are. However, they felt this agreement would allow them to maintain a degree of privacy.
Nicholas Plante declined to be interviewed. During a two-hour interview, his parents declined to talk about Laura or their son's trial.
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