the truth

It’s hard enough staying on top of the truth without irresponsible reporting by the media.

This afternoon I spoke with Pastor Stephen Leininger of the Milford Christian Church to follow up on the story of Lucas Howland, 19, who two days ago I reported had been sentenced to two years in jail by Judge Duane Huffer of the Kosciusko County Superior Court for breaking into Pastor Leininger’s church in September and stealing $8 from the secretary’s office. Two days ago I ran with the facts as reported by Rachel Glaser of the ABC affiliate television station in South Bend IN.

“That reporter got her facts wrong,” Pastor Leininger told me.

“Once we were into the interview, I could see she wanted to spin the story a certain way. The boy didn’t get a jail sentence. It was suspended. He is serving two years’ probation.”

“Oh, that changes everything,” I said.

What Rachel Glaser’s story also left out is that this was the second break-in at the church. According to Pastor Leininger, the first break-in obviously involved more than one person because so much stuff—a couple computers, a projector, and a heavy safe—was taken, loaded into the church’s van, and then driven off. This second break-in, he said, had all the earmarks of having been committed by someone who already knew his way around in the dark. He told me the thief (or thieves?) caused $800 in damage to a window through which he (or they?) gained entry to the church.

“Our only contact with this case was reporting the break-in to the police,” Pastor Leininger said. After that, he was not asked to testify or otherwise become involved. He seemed to be satisfied that justice has been served by the suspended sentence. He read me an excerpt from a news story that ran in the Warsaw Times-Union (which unfortunately I was unable to find online) in which Judge Huffer had lectured Lucas at sentencing, saying that he was being given a second chance as a kind of act of grace, and that he (Howland) now holds the key to his own jail cell—that if he blows his second chance, he will have turned the key himself. Pastor Leininger said that he’d heard that Lucas is living with an aunt and has a full-time job—and now has a real chance to get his life together.

This is all good. The kid has a second chance. It suggests that the Kosciusko court is not as dysfunctional as the erroneous facts of the Lucas Howland story had suggested. It also indicates that the harsh judgments some readers made of Pastor Leininger (based on their viewing of Rachel Glaser’s story) were unwarranted. He is a decent man and genuinely concerned about the welfare of young people in his community, which is experiencing a methamphetamine crisis and all the collateral social damage that goes with it.

Our quest for authentic justice is about discovering the truth and dealing with it honestly, unselfishly, and in a spirit of love and respect for everyone involved. Our mission is not to “win” by any means necessary (as has so widely perverted the ideals of justice in America), but to help influence outcomes that benefit children, families, victims, communities, courts, etc. Only by discovering the truth is reconciliation possible, and only by serving the truth is the redemption of young lives possible.

I’m glad the facts as I reported them two days ago were wrong. I’m glad I am able to correct the disinformation that was put out there by Ms. Glaser’s bad reporting and which might have done some real damage to our cause had I not learned the truth.


Groove of the Day 

Listen to Buddy Holly performing “True Love Ways”


15 Responses to “the truth”

  1. 1 matt
    January 29, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    Sounds like goodness all around, except perhaps for the concept of “unbiased reporting” of the news, and not making the news. Hmm . . .

  2. 2 Jeffrey
    January 29, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    Before we give to much credit to Judge Huffer and the Kosiuko county courts for showing such compassion for a 19 year old, who is legally an adult, let us remember Huffer showed no such mercy for a 12 year old child who he sent to adult court and on to a 30 year prison sentence with no regards to the facts or that child`s constitutional right to a fair waiver hearing. On the media I just assume half of what they say anymore is false or twisted to create sensationalism to get ratings or satisfy a political agenda.

    • January 29, 2012 at 10:59 pm

      Thanks, Jeffrey, for reminding us that there are plenty of real things to find fault with in Huffer’s and Hampton’s actions. Let’s just be sure to practice the same fairness we expect from them.

  3. January 29, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    Well, this is good news Dan. Like you (and some others) I was taken in by this “spin doctor’s” reporting. Yes, as you said (and I agree with you), some of us made unwarranted harsh comments (and I do a “mea culpa” myself in this regard) based on incorrect information. Some people have no conscience – I have scant regard for the “integrity” of the press, but am just relieved that Pastor Leininger seems to be a genuine caring person and that young Lucas come through this experience reasonably unscathed. Keep up the good work mate. £ance.

  4. January 30, 2012 at 2:57 am

    This shows us that noone is free of over judging, and we all should learnt not to judge anyone and much less from an article coming from the media. My apologies to Mr leininger for thinking he was on the other side. Is glad to hear Lucas is doing fine and he was given a second chance. But I like Jeffrey do not feel any sympathy for a judge and a prosecutor who showed no mercy to a 12 year old and a severely abused 15 year old amd sentenced them to outrougeous adult sentences.

    In the end we all need to understand that the media rarely reports the truth, it is only there to create sensationalism as very well jeffrey say.

    Damn!!! I feel really bad for my harsh words to Pastor Leninger, my most sincere apologies to him.

    • January 30, 2012 at 6:55 am

      Gloria, I think you need to cut yourself a little slack; all of us believed that reporter’s story at some level–it was the only information out there that we could see. The reporter did a real hatchet job on Leininger, and I confess that I felt the same emotions about him as you did. I could tell he was embarrassed by his portrayal–he said the reporter had caught him on an “off day” and that he was glad the news station only ran the news clip once at 11:00 at night, and that apparently not that many people saw it (or commented to him about it). I have left a message with the news director of the station, and it will be interesting to see what if anything they do about it.

      These kinds of things offer all of us an opportunity to do better, to work together for a better common good. It is the essence of healthy community life to live and learn and to change our minds.

      I regret that I allowed this news story to harden my opinion against Judge Huffer and Prosecutor Hampton. For a couple days I believed there was absolutely no good or common sense in these men and that there was no redeeming them. Now I see there is the hope that even they can be dealt with, that they can improve beyond the errors they made with respect to Colt and Paul Henry.

      Gloria, you do so much good for kids–and it may be that without your passion this would not be the case. The research you have done for Nathan has made him so happy and hopeful, for example… but maybe you wouldn’t have done that for him if you did not have that “fire in the belly” that in this instance led you a little astray. The important thing is that you changed your mind about the pastor. You continue to be a great example for all of us to look up to.

      Thank you for being you.

      • January 30, 2012 at 2:43 pm

        Thanks a lot Dan, your words meant a lot to me.:) I’m very glad to hear that Nathan Is happy with the information I sent, I’ll keep looking for more and sent you more. I’m glad I can be of some help.

  5. January 30, 2012 at 10:14 am

    A wise lawyer once said to me, the job of a reporter is to sell newspapers, not report the truth. sad.

  6. January 30, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    lets just say many ofcourt judges cops, prosecutors, and jury and media don’t know meaning of justice for juveniles and they don’t know difference between a adult and a kid, and how both individuals think. They need to be taught that kids need fair trials and not prison, give second chances and to not charge kids as adults. The word money comes to mind when it comes to putting kids away and be prosecuted and sent to prison cause they know oh more money keep them in jail. they don’t give a rats butt for the kid or teenager at all what so ever. Court systum has abused power abused the meaning of justice abused kids, and allows kids like blade to get physically and emotionally, meantally, spiritual, sexually abused and be in poor health. This burns me to high heaven. as u know money i root of all evil court. thats what they do hurt kids abuse destroy them. cause they want money and power pride. I SAY HELL WITH MONEY, PRIDE, POWER GIG. KIDS, TEENS LIVES ARE MORE IMPORTANT.

  7. January 30, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    You are absolutely correct, Dan. The TRUTH is what matters most. Until we know the truth for sure in these cases, then we don’t know what is best for each child, their family and the community. Good for you for getting to the bottom of this and for having the decency to correct a previous blog. The media needs to follow your example. They need to insist on getting to the truth the first time and when they find they’ve printed the wrong information, they need to go back and correct their mistakes. This is how I remember the media to be from when I was a kid but sadly truth and facts don’t seem to have a place in today’s reporting. Let’s hope our insistance for excellence will sway the tide to better reporting. Kudos to you.

  8. 11 Jeanne
    January 30, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    I am really happy to hear the initial report of Howland was incorrect. I am not proud of my comment either. It is wrong to break in and take anyone’s property. It was hearing that he was homeless and had no money for food that upset me. I felt the punishment was extreme for a person in a desperate situation.

    I hope this boy makes the most of his second chance. I hope the church and pastor receive through the grace of God the money to restore their losses and then some. I am glad the judge and prosecutor we able to provide second chance.

  9. 12 breakfast
    October 3, 2014 at 10:01 am

    I love what you guys tend to be up too. Such clever work
    and reporting! Keep up the wonderful works guys I’ve included you guys
    to my own blogroll.

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