Letter: Did Post mean to feature sex offender?

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 2, 2007

I wonder if the Salisbury Post would knowingly feature a registered sex offender and include in the article an invitation to join a club which he leads. Somehow I can’t believe the Post would do so, but apparently, that is exactly what has happened.

Page 1C of Tuesday’s Area section included a feature article on Matthew Hopkins, “Bringing chaos to order in seven small tiles.” I’m hoping that Scott Jenkins and the Post did not know that they were featuring a young man who is a registered sex offender in Florida and North Carolina, who has served prison time in Florida and who is currently on supervised probation for a crime against a minor.

Perhaps this is a dilemma for newspapers: how to be sure no convicted felons end up in articles that highlight them personally and invite an unwitting public to be exposed to potential harm.

If I were a young woman who enjoyed Scrabble or the parent of a teenage girl who enjoyed word games, I might be interested in a Scrabble club. I would definitely not want to join a club led by a man who had committed this crime. No one wants to be prey to such an individual.

Facts are facts, and as you have so often written, the Post takes responsibility to publish for its readers matters of public record. Do you have the courage now to publish the facts about Matthew Hopkins?

What is the newspaper’s responsibility if someone meets this individual and is harmed?

— Susan Fisher


Editor’s note: The Post was not aware of Hopkins’ record. Hopkins, who turns 24 this Sunday, was convicted in 2003 in Leon County, Fla., of lewd or lascivious battery of a victim between the ages of 12 and 15, according to the Florida Sex Offenders Registry. He served time in prison from Oct. 7, 2003, until May 7, 2005. The North Carolina Sex Offender Registry lists his crime as first degree rape. It lists his address as 175 Wiles Road in Gold Hill.