During an emotional meeting yesterday, members of Pittsburgh Presbytery prayed about how they might handle property disputes if some of their congregations leave the denomination and heard a final letter written to them by a pastor who committed suicide after KDKA-TV ran promos for an expose on his sex life.Here's more.
In it, Mr. Dugan, pastor of the Community Presbyterian Church of Ben Avon, apologized for the shame he believed he had brought on the presbytery. He said he had struggled with his sexuality all his adult life, hoping to fall in love with a woman, but concluding he was to devote his life only to his congregation.I want to take a look at how KDKA was describing in the piece. From Rob Owen on 11/6/06:
He said he did so until four years ago, when he became close friends with a man who claimed to love him, and with whom he had occasional sexual encounters. That man cajoled him into leaving specific kinds of sexual fantasies on his answering machine, and then betrayed him by setting up a meeting at an adult bookstore, where KDKA-TV recorded him, Mr. Dugan wrote.
KDKA general manager Chris Pike said the station would have no comment beyond a statement released Friday night that expressed condolences to Dugan's family and friends and explained that KDKA had "conducted a monthlong investigation into reports of public and illegal sexual behavior by Pastor Dugan. The results of that investigation were scheduled to air [Thursday] evening. ... That evening the station received information from someone close to Pastor Dugan that indicated that he was considering doing harm to himself. As a result, the station made the decision not to air the story."[emphasis added]Now take a look at what Dugan said.
That man cajoled him into leaving specific kinds of sexual fantasies on his answering machine, and then betrayed him by setting up a meeting at an adult bookstore...There's obviously a disconnect here because there's a big gap between gay phone sex, meeting in adult bookstore and illegal sexual behavior.
Did Marty Griffin have anything to back up his charge of illegal behavior? As posted here before, Rob Owen didn't think so:
During the 11 p.m. news Thursday, Griffin said his investigation "uncovered illicit, possibly illegal, activity by a local minister, activities which, at the very least, violated the rules of his denomination."Does KDKA have any other defense? Becuase if they don't it looks an awful lot like they set up a lonely closeted gay pastor for a ratings bonanza.
It's the use of key words -- possibly illegal, at the very least -- that call into question whether the report was worth doing in the first place. If the best Griffin could dig up was a trip to an adult bookstore (not illegal) and violation of church rules, then there's not much in it to serve the public interest. It comes off looking like another "gotcha"-style story designed for no benefit except the TV station's ratings.
I hope the news division and Marty Griffin are very happy with themselves.