During the investigation into rape allegations against lacrosse players at Duke University, most news organizations did not name the woman who claimed she was raped. Even after the prosecutor dropped the charges against the students, most media have continued to withhold her name.
One exception is The News & Observer in Raleigh. Melanie Sill, the newspaper's executive editor, speaks with Scott Simon about how and why her staff chose to publish the accuser's name.
Editor's Note: According to our ethics policy, NPR does not name victims of sexual assaults. There will, at times, be exceptions — such as certain instances when a victim goes public with his/her identity. NPR editors will judge these instances on a case-by-case basis.
While North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper says no rape occurred, and that the young men who were accused are innocent of all charges, we've decided not to air the name of the accuser based on the facts and circumstances of this particular case.
NPR arrived at this decision after much discussion within the newsroom, as well as a review of material prepared by organizations focused on journalism ethics.
In this case, the attorney general specifically decided not to charge the accuser with perjury, or filing a false police report. He went so far as to say that his investigators told him that the woman may believe some of the stories she has been telling. He said the decision not to charge her with making false accusations was also based on a review of sealed court files, including records of the woman's mental health history.
Because of the facts stated above, we decided that there was enough that remained unknown about the accuser and her motivation that we would not use her name on the air.