Vermont CBS-affiliate news station WCAX-TV showed a video of a naked, murdered woman back in October 2014.
The parents of the woman, a teacher named Melissa Jenkins, sued the station and now have received a “substantial out-of-court settlement” from the station’s then-owners Mount Mansfield Television, according to VT Digger, a Vermont news site. The station was sold in 2017.
Deborah T. Bucknam, the lawyer for Jenkins’ parents, Richard and Phil Ann Jenkins, told VT Digger, “Mr. and Mrs. Jenkins have grievously suffered not only from the horrific death of their daughter, but from the additional pain of seeing their beloved daughter’s body on statewide television.”
Bucknam pointed iMediaEthics to the press release announcing the settlement, which said “plaintiffs alleged that WCAX intentionally or recklessly caused severe emotional distress to the Plaintiffs as a result of that broadcast.”
The lawyer for Mount Mansfield Television, Kevin Lumpkin, provided iMediaEthics with a statement from former WCAX president Peter Martin saying,
“We are pleased to have resolved this case with the Jenkins family. The station’s unintentional airing of the courtroom photo of Ms. Jenkins body was a serious error, and we took steps shortly after this event occurred to ensure that no similar errors would occur in the future. We extend our sincere apology to the Jenkins family and to the public once again for this mistake.”
Lumpkin added, “I can confirm that one of the anchors issued an apology immediately following the airing of the package, and that the station issued a number of apologies across various media thereafter.”