Did News Channel 12 Investigative Report on New Rochelle Sexaholics Anonymous Meeting at Catholic Church Cross The Line?

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5AE37BEC-6F63-4C9D-8A95-3115009D214C.jpgIn an breathless "expose" that only Will Ferrell's "Ron Burgundy" character from Anchorman could love, an obviously inexperienced "investigative" reporter for a local cable news organization climaxed her over-the-top report by melodramatically bursting into a closed meeting of Sexaholics Anonymous "demanding answers" to her "disturbing questions" and expressing "frustration" that the startled sex addicts would not interrupt their meeting to sit down with her for impromptu on-camera interviews.

As News12 owner Cablevision does not make their web site available to non-subscribers we can't show you the entire piece but we've edited together a few clips into a remix to illustrate the points made in this post -- that while it MAY be true that a person who should not have been at the SA meeting was at the meeting, the over-the-top production with sound effects, gimmicky lighting and tilted camera angles is used to mask the mundane nature of the story and does not justify in any way Rosenblum intruding on a private meeting where sick people go to get help for serious psychological, emotional and spiritual problems. Nowhere in the piece does Rosenblum concern herself with the impact her intrusion will have on the mental health of the people she is filming and accomplishes nothing that could not have been accomplished without intruding on a meeting of sick people trying to get well.

With lights blazing and cameras rolling, Tara Rosenblum, in what could pass for an homage to Burgundy's co-anchor Veronica Corningstone, pushes her way into a meeting room at Holy Family Church and interrupts an in-progress, closed 12-Step meeting in a grand-standing stunt she grandiosely bills as "The Confrontation". She is also trespassing and when asked to leave refuses and continues to question the people. You can just barely hear it over her shouted questions but you can make out a man's voice saying politely "please leave".

Here's a tip for Ms. Rosenblum, if you have to resort to the use of ominous background music and kettle drums, slow motion video, titled camera angles, flashing reverse negative images, and leading questions intoned in your best "Dr. Evil" voice, then you don't really have much of a story. A good investigative report stands on its own merits.

For those who don't subscribe to Cablevision and were spared News 12's descent into theater of the absurd, the entire story revolves around the shocking fact that one entrance to the building where the meetings take place is "steps away" or a "stone's throw away" from an entrance to the Holy Family gymnasium where CYO basketball games are sometimes scheduled to coincide with the start of the SA meeting. That meetings of 12-step groups routinely take place in meeting rooms at churches is hardly news but you wouldn't know that from the breathless reporting of Tara Rosenblum who has apparently spent a few Tuesday evenings last March slugging down coffee and inhaling cigarettes in a vehicle parked on Clove Road in New Rochelle to stakeout SA members enter and exit the meeting room.

If you can get past the thumping bass chords and disorienting images flashed on the screen, you will hear Rosenblum admit the group has been meeting for many years without any sort of complaint let alone any incident that she so frighteningly predicts. Initially she says that one of the men is a pedophile but later tells the Assistant Monsignor at the Church "we have it confirmed that some convicted sex offenders are in that meeting". So which is it, one or many?

What I would like to know is how Rosenblum knows anything at all about the people in the meeting. Did Rosenblum send someone to the meeting "undercover"? If so, is that not a gross violation of journalistic ethics?

Did a member or former member of the group make claims to her about the other members of the group? If so, how did she verify the information? 12-Step members do not identify themselves by their full name so how did Ronseblum know who was who.

If she was able to positively identify convicted sex offenders then why blur out their identity or shoot them from behind to hide their faces? Their convictions are public records so there is no reason for her not to simply say "Joe Smith, a man convicted of this particular crime, in this particular case, was in attendance at that meeting".

More telling is that this story was done between January and March (the CYO basketball season ends the third week of March) and the response for the New York Archdiocese came April 6th and the story did not run until June. Why was this story left in the can for two months and then run on a weekend. If this was such an urgent problem why did they wait? And at this point, why run the piece at all especially given that her own report says the SA meetings at Holy Family ended in March?

Obviously, I am not condoning pedophilia and pederasty or sex crimes and I can certainly agree with the Assistant Monsignor at Holy Family that convicted sex offenders should not be put in close proximity to children but don't we want people these people to join programs like Sexaholics Anonymous to get support and hopefully the sort of help they need. Wasn't their some other solution here? And what purpose was served by bursting into the meeting? Short answer: none. That was clearly done for dramatic effect, to create a spectacle. To that extent, this report is a disgrace.

What bothered me the most about this piece is News 12 treating everyone in the room like they were criminals. What is more disturbing is the notion that Channel 12 News believes it is an acceptable journalistic practice to go onto private property and then enter a closed meeting of a 12-Step group "demanding answers" from people who are quite likely not in a position to answer them. If Tara Rosenblum had done even the slightest bit of homework she should know that members of ANONYMOUS groups like this one are not even allowed to give interviews as members of the group. It's sort of implied in the name of the group, right?

Mostly I am concerned of the impact that his report has on people who do benefit from attending these meetings and now rightfully fear that Rosenblum may come barging into their meetings and so stay away and thus do not get the help they need.

If you saw the full piece on Channel 12 News I hope you will agree that whatever good, if any, came from this news report it was a lot less about protecting children from convicted sex offenders and a lot more about providing Tara Rosenblum a platform to PLAY "investigative reporter" and hyperventilate into the camera and display faux outrage against the Catholic Church for allowing recovering addicts to use a meeting room at a local parish.

Cablevision should fire Tara Rosenblum and everyone at News 12 who was involved in this poorly conceived and even more poorly executed travesty of an "investigative" report.

Commenting on this Blog entry is closed.

Anonymous on Fri, 06/26/2009 - 20:57

SA meetings aren't where pedophiles all get together to plan out how to hunt down children. They are not nearly that juicy. Folks go there to cope with their demons, develop a spiritual life, and free themselves from the control of lust. I'd much rather have those folks who admit their problems and are working on a solution near my children than people who do not recognize their sex addiction and see no wrong in preying on children.

Anonymous on Mon, 06/08/2009 - 23:55

Just report and investigate; then present in a professionally edited way. Let the viewers make their own judgements. What ever happened to reporters who a least tried to stay out of the story by remaining objective? Do the Jerry Springers and Maury Poviches of the industry set the barometer now a days? I'm not in the news business, but that seemed like an overly zealous grab for ratings.

It's difficult to extract the issue through all the over-done effects. As a parent, I can appreciate being made aware of the events going on in the surrounding environments of children, but that was teetering on yellow journalism.

Anonymous on Mon, 06/08/2009 - 12:58

What's an "Assistant Monsignor"? I'll tell ya - there's no such thing.

Anonymous on Mon, 06/08/2009 - 01:40

Should we look into Ms Rosenblum's life. Where does she live, what does she do for the community, what's her lifestyle like, what's her salary, how does her rent get paid, any skeletons in the closet ? We all have skeletons, don't we?

Anonymous on Thu, 06/25/2009 - 18:09

I'm thinking an equivalent outrage would be something on the order of barging into Tara's home and inquiring if she has had her breasts enhanced, or a nose job, or if she wears acceptable underwear.

She doesn't know it yet, but she'll be the laughingstock of the industry for years to come. It will take forever before anyone takes her seriously again. If they ever did.

Anonymous on Sun, 06/07/2009 - 21:55
Title: news 12

As a native of New Rochelle, resident child decades past...had far too many close encounters, with the pediphiles. One that comes to mind, far to often then I care to think about, was a "transiet" "buisnessman", hoping to start new ventures, in home repair and construction buisness in New Rochelle, 1962-63 If you are very lucky, you may not have encountered him or his fledging buisness, which he opperated out of his rental home, just off the west end of Webster Ave. His name, we will get to shortly...you may have heard of it, in some horror story...decades past and far away from precious New Rochelle! Remember our parent's "warnings"...don't hitch hike or accept rides from strangers...Well somehow, that dosen't work, when you have to walk home from school (Albert Lenard J.H.S.) (no money for the "city" school bus) and being pelted by hail stones the size of ping pong balls, and chased away from all the shelters...front porches of residents in the Tom Paine area. Me and my companion that day, were knocked down to our knees by those hailstones, time and time again. We were not hitch hiking, when this stranger stopped to rescue us, on North Ave., just above "twin lakes"...with no shelter, anywhere remotely even close to us! We were, thourougly beaten by the elments, and this "clown" rescued us!
Big Fat Man, with Iwoa licence plates on his "new"car...he was using like a pick up truck, with tools scattered everywhere. Freely gave his name...and picked us up, as he thought or said, he needed help with his new buisness venture, and couldn't find reliable help, for easy work, and willing to pay us $5.00 per hr., when min. wage was 75 cents per hour, if a kid could find a job! Duhh!We did what we could, to bail out and away from that "clown". but he maqnaged to hold and attempt to attack my friend, at the intersection of Lincoln and Webster Aves. It was a mess, tied up traffic 4:00 P.M., for miles, in every direction. "Nobody repeat Nobody" came to the rescue, of me, or my friend. . . looked, and stood back! The pediphile, that incedent, was John Wayne Gacey. . . Thankyou N.R.P.D. , for turning him loose, to reek havocic, 39 known victums, just in Chicago, 16 years later! Somebody needs to look for the "lost boys" from N.R.,N.Y. and surounding areas, since 1962!

Robert Cox's picture
Robert Cox on Mon, 06/08/2009 - 14:41

I do not want to get sidetracked from Tara Rosenblum but this is an amazing story. I can hardly believe it is true but I went ahead and contacted an author familiar with Gacy to learn more about whether Gacy was known to have been in the New York area at this time. The story seems pretty fantastic but from researching a little about Gacy, some of the elements of the story check out enough to at least make some inquiries.

Is this "Gacy in New Rochelle" story otherwise known by long-time New Rochelle residents?.

For those who do not know, Gacy is the notorious "Killer Clown" who was executed in Illinois for over 30 murders of young men between the ages of 15-21.

Anonymous on Sun, 06/07/2009 - 06:36

This is a very sad, poorly prepared story. Is there any ethics group for reporters and their editors ? AA meets at churches, does that mean they leave there all drunk and get in their cars? Wow, this chick is nuts !

Ilovenr2 on Tue, 06/09/2009 - 02:14

When it comes to kids. We have to take this story serious. We are not just talking about sexual addicts. But men who are pedophilles, who sexual attraction are CHILDREN. I don't care about the addicts. The pedophilles should not be there.

Robert Cox's picture
Robert Cox on Tue, 06/09/2009 - 12:45

I do not think any sane person would dispute that pedophiles and pederasts should not be permitted to be around children. In my post I made clear that I agree with what you say here. But there are ways to deal with that short of bursting into an anonymous sexaholics meeting with a camera crews and doing ambush interviews of priests at their home. The piece portrayed everyone in the meeting room as a criminal when according to the report a single person in the room was a pedophile. It seems to me the solution would be to remove that person from the meeting rather than seek to attack everyone at the meeting.

Solutions might have included moving the meeting night, rescheduling it to occur later in the evening on CYO basketball nights, etc.

Keep in mind that these sort of meetings are anonymous so the premise of Rosenblum bursting into the meeting -- that this is a meeting like a Kiwanis Club meeting where everyone knows everyone and everyone in the room would know that a person at the meeting had a particular background -- is false. The people in the room did not vote and approve this one person as a member, knowing his past, as if they were endorsing his being there in disregard for the safety of children.

The problem is not the Church for offering the meeting space or the group for allowing anyone to come who admits they have problem with sex from coming to the meeting, it is the individual identified in the piece who went to that particular location for a meeting when there is presumably many options to attend SA meetings that do not require being at that particular location on that particular night. To that extent, what would have been perfectly appropriate is to question that individual and that could have been done at their home or even on Clove Road as they walked to their car (public property). The solution would be that person to stop attending that meeting. The Church and the SA group could then have sorted out options like rescheduling the meeting to avoid the CYO basketball nights or moving to a different night. BTW, the group apparently meeting for 9 years, every week. CYO basketball runs for a few weeks each winter so the vast majority of the time there is no conflict at all.

Keep pedophiles away from children - YES.

Burst into a closed, anonymous 12-Step meeting and treat every person there as a criminal because of the bad acts of a single person - NO

If News 12 and other news organizations believe it is acceptable to burst into a meeting like this with cameras rolling then where does it end? If a member of an AA meeting gets drunk and kills someone does that mean they can infiltrate the AA meetings to report who is attending? Can they plant recording devices in confessional boxes? About the case of the 4 terrorists from upstate? Should News 12 send operatives into a mosque to record Friday prayers?

We have seen to often how "it's for the children's sake" can be used to justify just about anything. Let's not feed into the hysterical reporting of Tara Roenblum. A sensible policy is to create separation between people who have problems involving sex with children from children and let those who do not have that problem get the help they need so the guy who is cheating on his wife can get help and maybe in the process save his marriage, his career and take care of his children. I am more worried about the people in that meeting like the philanderer who were trying to get help and have now been treated as if they are pedophiles.

Ilovenr2 on Tue, 06/09/2009 - 17:58

Mr. Cox, I do think your right. The other men have a right to be there. Just not the pedophiles. They should meet on another day and time. Away from children.

Anonymous on Sun, 06/07/2009 - 20:46
Title: history

If only New Rochelle could become named for 2 cities...I sujest Sodom and Gamora...why not?

Warren Gross on Mon, 06/08/2009 - 16:56
Title: balance

pedophiles have a reserved place in the Inferno, but that does not preclude treatment that just might work on one or more.

the point you are making is equally important. What a numbskull. freedom of the press does not mean freedom to oppress. the woman is incompetent or overly ambitious; probably both. she reminds me of the character Andrea Otero in Angels and Demons. Here personal ambition trumped common good. Rosenblum should face up to the fact that she is less interested in what has been going on as opposed to her own agenda. Does she know what the hell a sexaholic means; isn't that what David Duchovny claimed and there is no pederasty attached to his name. Point is who the hell knows. I trust the church did not go into this blindfolded and was true to its missiion to help all souls. They may not be the sponsor of the sessions, but they are aware of the purpose and process.

warren gross

deepthroat on Mon, 06/08/2009 - 17:02

HMMMMM..
church = pedophiles...might be the right venue after all