WVU professor talks about being held in contempt

By Anna Sale and Greg Collard 

A WVU journalism professor faces a federal contempt of court order for refusing to identify anonymous sources she used while reporting for the USA Today. 

In 2002, Toni Locy was covering one of the country’s biggest stories.  Attorney General John Ashcroft announced to the world that a former Army scientist named Steven Hatfill was “a person of interest” in a series of deadly anthrax attacks from a year earlier.  

A media circus ensued. At times, Locy used anonymous sources in covering the investigation. For example, she relied on an anonymous source to report that Hathilll was “evasive” in a FBI polygraph when asked about the attacks. After several months went by without an arrest, she also used an anonymous source to report that investigators wondered if they focused on Hatfill too soon. The source said it “would be like starting over” if they had to abandon him. 

Hatfill never was arrested, and he’s filed a lawsuit against the Justice Department for violating his privacy rights by giving reporters information about the FBI’s investigation of him. Steven Hatfill’s attorneys declined to comment for this story.   

In August, a federal judge ordered Locy to cooperate with Hatfill’s attorneys and reveal her sources. She didn’t. On Tuesday, the judge said he will hold her in contempt, and indicated he will impose fines that start at $500 a day and could reach as high as $5,000 for each day she refuses to cooperate. 

Yesterday, she was back in Morgantown, where she’s teaching media law and public affairs reporting this semester. She spoke to us from her office there.   

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