This letter is in response to Howard Schwach’s front page article which appeared in The Wave, January 29, 2010.
Howard Schwach and Susan Locke have repeatedly demonstrated their lack of journalistic integrity over the years, but this article reflects a new low. The author’s tone is disturbingly voyeuristic and is lacking objectivity. It reads as an attempt to glamorize a grown man’s advances towards a teenage girl. His revelation of several sordid details further re-victimizes her. It is reprehensible, that Schwach would, despite a later statement to the contrary, record that a “defender” of Finnegan’s, felt that the molestation of the 15-year-old victim was consensual.
Schwach goes to great lengths to protect the identity of the single, anonymous defender, yet spares Finnegan’s former wife and children, no such anonymity. Finnegan was arrested and pleaded guilty, over a year ago. His former wife and children continue to live, work, attend school and worship in Rockaway, while the perpetrator resides in Florida. Finnegan pleaded guilty to every charge listed within the article. Absent from the article, was the fact that his violent threats against his wife resulted in a two year long restraining order, still in effect.
Sheila Cassidy Finnegan is a hero. Upon learning that her husband was having what he described as an “inappropriate relationship” with a minor, she filed a report with authorities and insisted that the matter be investigated. Without her persistence and cooperation, it is doubtful that there would have been a conviction. She has always been an advocate for children and she continues to be an example to others, as she parents her children and serves her community.
Schwach and Locke, your positions as editor and publisher (respectively) present you with the unique privilege to use the influence of the written word to empower or humiliate. You have abused this privilege, choosing to exploit the innocent. Professional journalists and all members of the press are charged with the responsibility of presenting factual unbiased information that serves the community, in a timely manner. You have violated not only the code of ethics of your profession, but our society.
Mr. Schwach, you have demonstrated an inability to maintain objectivity in presenting what you proclaim as news. I urge you step away from the news desk and limit your activity to editorializing in a column. It would be an even greater “ service to our community if you would finally step down from your post as managing editor of The Wave, and allow someone more qualified to have the final say as to what is newsworthy and appropriate.