November 29, 2012

Vt. newspaper aware of reporter's sex offense

The Associated Press

BARRE, Vt. — The publisher of a Vermont newspaper defended his paper's hiring of a convicted sex offender to cover police and courts, saying in a story Thursday that he supports fair punishment for those who break the law but also giving them an opportunity for rehabilitation.

Barre-Montpelier Times Argus Publisher R. John Mitchell spoke to a sister paper, the Rutland Herald, for a story about reporter Eric Blaisdell's hiring that ran in both papers.

"This is an incredibly well supervised and restricted situation by the judge, the probation officer and a therapist," Mitchell said. "I am not going to second guess that process, (and I) am willing to participate in it and give it a chance."

Times Argus Editor Steven Pappas said Blaisdell disclosed his crime when he applied for the job in June. Pappas said New Hampshire Department of Corrections officials and Blaisdell's references said he posed no risk to the public.

Blaisdell served nine months in prison after pleading guilty to three felonies. He was arrested in 2007 for soliciting sex via computer from a 13-year-old girl who turned out to be a police officer. He had no physical contact with anyone.

Blaisdell, 27, of North Haverhill, N.H., told the Rutland Herald he didn't intend to do anything wrong. He did not return a call from The Associated Press seeking comment.

"It was never my intention of following through," he told the paper. "There was a lot of talk, a lot of talk, but I would come up with some excuse and say, 'Oh, my car broke down,' or 'My grandmother died.'" 

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