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Reporter Investigates Hospital Security- and gets arrested

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  • Reporter Investigates Hospital Security- and gets arrested

    So we had an infant kidnapped from a local hospital a few weeks back. This gal then heads up to Amarillo (about 100 miles north) to investigate the security of their hospitals and gets arrested for attempted kidnapping...

    Lubbock Reporter Arrested In Amarillo
    "There are storms that are named, storms that are not named, and storms that are named that are not storms" -NHC Director Rumsfeld

  • #2
    Your link isn't working, unless I register.


    • #3
      Here's a cut-and-paste of the AP story:

      LUBBOCK, Texas:
      A television reporter trying to gauge security at two hospitals in Amarillo has been arrested on suspicion of attempted aggravated kidnapping, authorities said Wednesday.

      The arrest came a few weeks after a New Mexico woman was accused of going to a Lubbock hospital dressed in hospital scrubs and kidnapping a days-old girl hidden in her purse.

      Cecelia Lynn Coy-Jones, 33, a reporter for NBC affiliate KCBD-TV in Lubbock, was dressed similarly and carrying a large red bag when she entered Northwest Texas Hospital on Tuesday evening.

      She was not wearing any hospital identification when she went into the nursery area and began asking questions about child abduction security, Amarillo police Sgt. Randy TenBrink said. Her inquiries set off "alarm bells" with security personnel who confronted her. It was not clear how long she was in Northwest hospital before being noticed, police said.

      Coy-Jones told them she was a reporter from Lubbock, and showed her station ID badge and her business card, TenBrink said. She told security officers she was trying to see how long it would take for them "to respond to a suspicious person," he said.

      Police ordered her to leave the hospital, TenBrink said.

      It was not clear whether officers warned her against doing it again at another hospital, Amarillo police Cpl. Jerry Neufeld said.

      About 20 minutes later, security personnel at Baptist St. Anthony's Hospital, within walking distance of Northwest, notified an off-duty officer that a woman was asking "odd" questions about security as she stood near a large nursery window where visitors can view newborns, TenBrink said.

      The reporter again identified herself and was arrested after police arrived, TenBrink said.
      "We didn't see the humor in this test," TenBrink said. "We don't know that's who she really is, the hospital staff doesn't know that's who she really is."

      Dan Jackson, KCBD general manager, said the station was doing an undercover investigation to see what security measures hospitals and maternity wards were taking after "recent infant kidnappings in Lubbock by individuals posing as nurses."

      Rayshaun Parson, 21, of Clovis, New Mexico, was indicted last week on federal kidnapping charges for allegedly taking a baby from Covenant Lakeside Hospital in Lubbock on March 10. The baby was found in Clovis the next day. She has not entered a plea and remains in custody without bond.

      Last year, a woman was accused of kidnapping a days-old baby from the mother's home after posing as a nurse and befriending the mom in another Lubbock hospital.

      Coy-Jones was arraigned on two charges of attempted aggravated kidnapping Wednesday and was released from jail after posting a $10,000 (€7,491) bond. Each second-degree felony charge carries a possible prison term of up to 20 years and a fine up to $10,000
      "We look forward to resolving this misunderstanding with the Amarillo Police Department as soon as possible," wrote Jackson, who later said the two hospital stops were the first in the investigation.

      Coy-Jones did not intentionally go into "private areas" in the hospitals or come into contact with newborns or other patients, Jackson's statement said. But TenBrink said a still photo made from a surveillance video showed Coy-Jones "within arm's length of a nurse who had a baby on a cart."

      While in the hospitals, Coy-Jones walked through numerous areas "clearly posted" as "restricted or controlled access," TenBrink said.

      Scott Libin, who specializes in ethical decision-making at the Poynter Institute, a Florida-based school that teaches and studies journalism, said he believed there was a "legitimate public policy issue" involved and that responsible efforts to investigate important issues should be respected.

      "Having said that, not everything with an investigative label slapped on it is journalism of the highest order," said Libin, a former TV news director. "I set the bar pretty high on that. It has to be done in a very thorough, painstaking way."


      • #4

        That's KCBD's own website. Here's the article:

        NewsChannel 11 Reporter Released On Bond

        While conducting an undercover investigation testing hospital security, Amarillo police arrested NewsChannel 11's Investigative Reporter, Cecelia Jones, at Baptist St. Anthony's Health System. Amarillo police have now charged Cecelia with two counts of attempted aggravated kidnapping. She is out of jail and back in Lubbock.

        In the wake of the recent abduction of baby Mychael Darthard-Dawodu from Covenant Lakeside, Cecelia planned a report and went up to Amarillo to test hospital security there. She planned this undercover investigation with station management and consulted with legal council. The plan for the investigation had her mirror the profile of the accused abductor in Lubbock's recent kidnapping case.

        Cecelia visited two hospitals Tuesday night. She went to Northwest Texas Health System first. According to our photographer on the scene, she entered the hospital around 7:30 p.m. Cecelia was there for around ten minutes before being confronted by two hospital security guards.

        They asked for her ID, and Cecelia immediately gave it to them, along with her media badge. She told them she was a reporter working on an investigative story about hospital security. At that point, security asked Cecelia to leave and escorted her to the front door, and she left.

        Amarillo Police released a picture taken from a security camera at Northwest's maternity ward. It shows Cecelia standing in the same public hallway as an employee who was taking a baby back to the ward.

        You'll remember that police reports indicate Rayshaun Parson, the woman accused of taking baby Mychael from Covenant allegedly walked down the same hallway with a nurse carrying a child as well.

        Cecelia never touched a child, and investigators say passing by the baby in the hallway is as close as she ever got to one of the babies. Police and Northwest hospital officials also say that Cecelia did not go into any restricted areas.

        After leaving Northwest, she went across the street to Baptist St. Anthony's Health System. That was around 8:00 p.m. Tuesday.

        Mary Barlow, the Director of Corporate Communications for BSA, says Northwest contacted BSA and told them an undercover reporter from Lubbock was in town before Cecelia ever walked inside.

        Cecelia entered the first floor and went to the second floor where pediatrics is located. When she couldn't find the nursery, she asked an employee where it is located, and the employee allegedly directed Cecelia to the third floor.

        Barlow says Cecelia never entered into any restricted area there either. Security footage shows Cecelia walked down a hallway and into a public waiting room.

        Barlow says the closest Cecelia ever got to a baby at BSA was walking through the public access hallway. Hospital security and an off-duty Amarillo police officer confronted Cecelia.

        She again identified herself as a reporter and showed her media badge and explained what she was doing there.

        The off-duty officer apparently contacted police, and security detained Cecelia at BSA for about two hours. Police officially arrested Cecelia just before 11:00 p.m. Tuesday. She was booked into jail around 2:00 a.m. Wednesday.

        Cecelia appeared before a judge around 8:00 a.m. Wednesday, where she learned she faced two charges of attempted aggravated kidnapping, one for each hospital.

        She was released on bond around 2:00 p.m. Wednesday.

        Greg Bruce, Vice President at University Medical Center in Lubbock released this statement Wednesday:

        "UMC Health System appreciates the relationship we have with members of the news media and value the partnership we have with the media in communicating information to the public we serve."

        "Hospital security, especially infant security, is a paramount concern for UMC and all hospitals. Our goal is to provide as safe and secure of an environment as possible for our patients, and we are certain the facilities in Amarillo share that goal."

        "It is apparent this investigative reporter was on assignment in Amarillo, covering hospital security measures. She clearly demonstrated those measures work well at both Amarillo hospitals. I hope any misunderstanding related to her identity or intent will be quickly cleared."

        Covenant Health System released this statement Wednesday:

        "Covenant Health System commends the Amarillo hospitals and police department in their efforts to protect the integrity of their hospitals' security systems."

        "In our experience, KCBD, NewsChannel 11 is a fine news organization with a history of professionalism."

        Attempted aggravated kidnapping is a felony. Prosecutors at this point would likely have to prove that Cecelia intended to steal a baby.

        We know from KCBD General Manager Dan Jackson that her assignment was to test security, and she never had any intention of trying to take a child.

        "There was an overwhelming viewer interest and response to the Lubbock kidnapping. Our station was conducting a critically important investigation about how well our hospitals are protecting our children and families at their most vulnerable time," Jackson said.

        "The station took rigorous steps to insure that no one's privacy would be violated and that infants would be safe. Cecelia caused absolutely no harm to any infants; in fact, she broke no laws," Jackson continued.

        Investigators tell us Cecelia never came in contact with a child.


        • #5
          My thoughts:


          2. The charges will be dropped or downgraded. Felonies generally require intent. It's fairly obvious she had no intention of kidnapping a child. A prosecutor would have a damned hard time getting this past a jury, especially with the ND testifying as to the purpose of her visits to the hospitals.

          They charged her with the felony so they would have somewhere to go when they start bargaining. They'll offer her some misdemeanor charge with a light sentence instead, and her lawyer will tell her to take it just to get out of legal trouble.

          Oh, and because a picture is worth a thousand words:

          [ March 28, 2007, 06:21 PM: Message edited by: Spike ]


          • #6
            I'm sure she was happy to find out that security at those hospitals apparently works.
            "The Dude abides."


            • #7
              She should have smiled!

              Oh well...I think it makes a great story. I hope they drop the charges before her investigation actually airs. If they don't...I'm glad it wasn't me!

              I'm sure the station will pay for a good attorney.


              • #8
                I'm not sure she was formally charged. The AP story says she was "arrested on suspicion of aggravated kidnapping" and the KCBD story says " ... police charged her with two counts of attempted aggravated kidnapping ..." Police don't "charge" -- DAs do.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Another side:
                  I'm not sure she was formally charged. The AP story says she was "arrested on suspicion of aggravated kidnapping" and the KCBD story says " ... police charged her with two counts of attempted aggravated kidnapping ..." Police don't "charge" -- DAs do.
                  If she hadn't been charged with anything, would she be released on bond? Why would there be a bond if she wasn't charged? Doesn't a judge have to set bond when the charges are formally entered?

                  [ March 28, 2007, 08:22 PM: Message edited by: Spike ]


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by LittleBabyPuppy:

                    I'm sure the station will pay for a good attorney.
                    I doubt it.

                    If it's like any other station, they will fire her and leave her out to hang. Reporters are dime a dozen, they can fire her today and hire some fresh out of college kid for less than what she was paid.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Spike:
                      </font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by Another side:
                      I'm not sure she was formally charged. The AP story says she was "arrested on suspicion of aggravated kidnapping" and the KCBD story says " ... police charged her with two counts of attempted aggravated kidnapping ..." Police don't "charge" -- DAs do.
                      If she hadn't been charged with anything, would she be released on bond? Why would there be a bond if she wasn't charged? Doesn't a judge have to set bond when the charges are formally entered?</font>[/QUOTE]No ... judges set bond (or in many cases there's a bond schedule in the jail so that law enforcement doesn't have to wake judges up in the middle of the night) upon arrest. Sometimes its several days before charges are actually filed.


                      • #12
                        I'm struggling to understand what the news value of her "critical investigation" is ... so she was just wandering around maternity wards and asking questions about how babies got kidnapped? What the he11 is that supposed to prove/show? And why not do it in hospitals in her own market? Did they assume she couldn't have done it there because people would recognize her as one of the local teevee reporters? If that's the case, why is Amarillo hospital security relevant to Lubbock? Aren't they like two hours apart? I understand doing something more covert would have exposed them to more legal problems if caught, but their apparent method of "investigation" was absolutely worthless.
                        If you're too lazy to lift a kitchen table to chop his leg nuts, you can also include in your diet any unsalted fish such as trout.


                        • #13
                          Screw her.

                          Responsible journalists don't do this kind of crap.

                          I'll watch if they show the strip search when she went to jail, though. [img]graemlins/eusa_shifty.gif[/img]


                          • #14
                            The crime of Cecelia Lynn Coy-Jones was a pissy little trespassing case at best. At worst her story idea was really dumb. To charge her with an over the top felony charge without any evidence of an attempted kidnapping is actionable in civil court if it can be proven that that action resulted in her spending time in jail or extra bail and legal fees because of the malicious charge.

                            I predict the entire event will go away in relative short order. I hope that this reporter and others trying to “test” security measures will learn that’s a pretty bad idea. These are precisely the kinds of stories that I deal with by finding ways to do them without arrests or embarrassment to anyone other than someone who’s misdeeds are exposed.
                            Remember dear readers, you heard it here first! Off the record, on the QT and very hush hush...


                            • #15
                              My first thought was this involved some "kid" who was pretty darn green, and didn't know better. In that market, I wouldn't be shocked.

                              But she's 33. You'd think she had more professional insight than this story suggests. What was she planning to do with this story, if it went as she'd envisioned?

                              It didn't seem to have the potential to be a great, earth-shaking investigation. Just the same, I can't imagine what statutes she could have violated. I see nothing to suggest that she broke even the most minor law. Where do they get off throwing her in jail on feloney attempted kidnapping?
                              \"If your mother says she loves you, check it out.\" A.A. Dornfeld, City News Bureau of Chicago