Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Ron Meroney Arrested

Ron Meroney, co-host and anchor of FOX13's Good Morning Memphis was arrested at his home Wednesday afternoon. He was picked up by TBI on a warrant issued from Wicomico County, Maryland. The warrant stems from a grand jury indictment handed down in December, 2005; the charge was statutory rape. According to Maryland law, the age of consent is 16, so the child involved would be younger than that.

He is being held at the Criminal Justice Center (aka 201 Poplar) downtown until a hearing Thursday morning. That is sure to be all over the noon and evening news tomorrow.

I don't particularly want to cover this but it seems that a "one stop shop" of links for websurfers is called for. So this post will serve that need.

The Commercial Appeal has their story here. Apparently, court and public offices in Maryland were closed by the time local media got the word on the story as no one has any quotes or comments from Marylanders as of Wednesday evening. But they note:
Meroney lived in Maryland from 1972-85 and also has lived in Florida, according to an online public records data base.
Remember those dates, as we'll come back to them.

(There is one oddity in the story, an outgrowth of the daily's strange unwillingness to acknowledge any media or news source other than themselves and the national nets/papers. One sentence in the article begins: "According to a FOX 13 Web site ...." "A?" Is there another one? It's either a strange bit of sloppiness or a needless bit of obfuscation.)

The local television news offers a bit more.

WMC/5, in their report write:
Jennifer Johnson with the TBI says, "We were notified by a family member that he was wanted on a warrant out of Maryland and they were very concerned that he had be[en] living in Memphis and had not been picked up."
The "a family member" is a bit vague. Was it the victim's family or Meroney's? Why was this left hanging so long when Meroney isn't attempting anything like hiding? Very strange.

At WPTY/24 there's a bit more:
A TBI spokeswoman says last December the 69 year-old was indicted in Maryland on a charge of statutory rape. She says one of his relatives called the TBI to alert the agency that he was wanted in Maryland.
Stranger still.

And WREG/3 has a bit more background, including discovering another case involving Meroney dating back to 1984! They report:
But News Channel 3 has obtained police reports dating back 22 years ago in a separate Maryland County - Baltimore County.

Those police reports state that a "sexual assault" case was investigated in May, 1984 involving Meroney. They say that the alleged victim was a nine year

But court records show that case was never prosecuted. That a "disposition" for child abuse and second degree rape was put on "nolle prosequi" in August, 1984.
It makes you wonder why this has been sitting out there unnoticed all this time. And if it's part of a pattern, then that's just frightening.

I tried to search various Maryland television news and newspaper sites, but couldn't find anything either current or past. Google didn't offer turn up any results.

As more becomes known, I'll update this post.

THURSDAY EVENING UPDATE: Hmmmm. Very little to update here. I'm kind of surprised, given the explosive nature of the charges and the media's love of this kind of luridness.

Anyway, WMC/5 adds to their original story with this:
A news release by the Wicomico County Child Advocacy Center said only that an investigation uncovered a statutory rape accusation between the months of June and October of 1974.
Is that last a typo? Do they mean "1984" which would match when Meroney lived there?
In 1984, Meroney was charged with several counts of sexual offenses in Baltimore County. Those charges included child abuse and rape.

All but one of those charges were dismissed in July of 1984. On one charge, third-degree sexual offense, Meroney was granted probation before judgment, indicating that a judge found that the facts were sufficient for a prosecution, but instead elected to grant probation before entering a sentence.
So did Meroney fail to complete probation? Did something else happen?

WPTY/24 to their original story add this:
On Thursday at 1:00 p.m. Meroney was released on a $50,000 bond.

Former local television anchor Joe Larkins offers some insider's thoughts about the business side of this situation. As I said to a friend last night after the story broke, innocent or not, mistaken case or whatever, his career is likely over. Even if he's completely exonerated, this will still attach to him forever more.

And that's it. I wonder if the story would be this scant if it involved a politician, businessman or "average citizen." The skeptic in me has to wonder if "one of their own" is being given some slack. I doubt it, but the apparent lack of digging bugs me.

THURSDAY NIGHT UPDATE: OK, WPTY/24 steps up and provides some much needed details. The arrest yesterday involves an incident 31 years ago. A female family member alleges she was raped between June and October of 1974. No details have come out yet as to why the accuser waited 30 years to come forward.

The arrest happened because a family member sent an email to Governor Bredesen's office. Shelby County Sheriffs and Baltimore prosecutors are blaming each other for the snafus.

The 1984 case was a completely separate incident.

If, and I stress if the charges are true then we move to a new fear. It's widely accepted in psychological circles that once a pedophile (or ephebophile, they are related) acts on his impulses, he will continue to act on them. If we have two incidents 10 years apart, we must consider that there might be further undiscovered incidents in the intervening time.

I know, pretty horrifying to think about.

Finally, let's use this opportunity to clear up some terms here. A pedophile is a person (usually but not always a man) who is sexually attracted to children. By that we mean pre-sexual children: infants, toddlers, pre-adolescents. Humans without secondary sexual characteristics like breasts, pubic hair, hip curves, etc.

An ephebophile is a related phenomenon, involving people who are sexually attracted to post-adolescent children, to humans who are sexually immature and still developing like tweens or late bloomers.

NOTE: No more updates to this post.

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