Why We at Northville Patch Released the Name and Photo of a Teen Accused of Sex Crime
At 18, Joseph Miklos is an adult and charged as one - and the public has a right to know.
It was not an easy decision to publish the name and photo of an 18-year-old accused of Criminal Sexual Conduct with an 11-year-old boy.
Be assured that anytime such incidents occur, there is always a discussion about how to report on it.
But we had a reason, and because of the volume and tone of the comments and emails I've received on the issue, I'm addressing it in this opinion piece.
When I received a press release from the city of Northville police department about the case, I knew it was going to be a touchy subject worthy of special sensitivity. That was part of the discussion I had with police officials. They were obviously concerned about how I was going to report this delicate issue too.
Why did we run the name and photo of the 18-year-old accused of this crime?
First and foremost, he is considered an adult in the eyes of the law and faces charges as an adult.
What swayed our opinion most was the interest of our core readership — you, the Northville resident who turns to Patch for news and community information every day.
The accused, Joseph Miklos, is young and no one at Northville Patch has any interest in dragging this young man's name through the mud. However, we must consider whether one person's privacy outweighs the public's right to know. In this case, we concluded it does not.
Because police say he is known to hang out with boys of the same age group as the accuser, we wanted to help get the word out to parents that they might want to talk to their children if they've associated with Miklos. This is not to say we believe Miklos is guilty. That is for a court to decide. We're simply helping the police department disseminate important information to Northville parents.
The details of what Miklos's accuser says occurred were published to illustrate the severity of the allegations.
We were obligated to report it.
I have been dismayed at hearing that others have used the information we've reported for the benefit of parents to threaten Miklos on social media pages. I encourage those readers to please leave this matter in the hands of the court.
Some of the comments people have left on this story have been deleted for that reason. We have an ethical obligation to present the facts which have been given to us by the police department, not to allow others to speculate about the accused's sexual orientation, mental state or other factors.
We will continue to report on this case as it progresses. On Monday, Miklos will go before a 35th District Court judge for a preliminary hearing. Northville Patch will publish an article following that hearing. If he is eventually cleared of the charges, we will be glad to publish another article.
If you disagree with Northville Patch's coverage, feel free to leave comments or to email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am certainly not opposed to a civil dialogue on the topic.