Newspaper thieves face punishment

N.J. student pleads guilty to creating disturbance

student at Ocean County College in New Jersey pleaded guilty on April 6 to having possession of 1,200 copies of the school's student newspaper, The Viking News.

Allen Rubman was charged with possession of stolen property, a criminal offense. He pleaded guilty to a lesser municipal offense of recklessly creating a disturbance and was ordered to pay $50 and court costs.

Karen Bosley, adviser for The Viking News, said the newspaper staff was disappointed and surprised by the outcome of the proceedings.

"They're really devastated," Bosley said. "We expected more from this."

She said the newspaper plans to pursue compensation through other channels.

"We want to start pursuing the college discipline code," Bosley said. "Also, we want to publicize the story using [Rubman's] name."

Bosley said witnesses saw Rubman with the Nov. 18 edition of the newspaper in the trunk of his car.

The stolen issue contained a commentary about Rubman's quest to get a thousand hugs from women to win a bet.

In February, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga took disciplinary action against two students accused of stealing 2,000 copies of the student newspaper, according to Jaime Lackey, editor of the Echo. Michael Knaby and Jim Casey, both UTC wrestlers, were apparently angered by an article in the Sept. 9 edition of the Echo that reported the arrest of two other wrestlers for assaulting another man.

Lackey was sports editor at the time of the thefts. She and Nikki Middlebrooks, former news editor, saw the theft in progress and identified Knaby as one of the thieves to campus security.

Lackey said administrators told her that disciplinary action was taken against the two men, but that university policy prohibits the release of the details of judicial proceedings.

Lackey said she believes the university handled the theft adequately but feels the damage was already done.

"No matter what, they got away with it," Lackey said. "What they wanted was for students not to see the story, and they didn't."

In New York, a Hofstra University student found responsible by a campus court for trying to remove advertising inserts that contained a Holocaust revisionist essay from 1,500 student newspapers was required to write a letter of apology to the newspaper.

After being caught by the university's public safety office in October, the student realized he could be charged for the papers and tried to reassemble them.

Shawna Van Ness, editor of The Chronicle, said she was disappointed by the way the university handled the vandalism of the papers.

Van Ness said that in the past, many copies of The Chronicle have been destroyed.

"Usually they're destroyed, and you don't know who did it," Van Ness said. "This time we had somebody. This was the time to make the statement that this kind of thing would not be tolerated, and I think [the administration] dropped the ball on that. Having someone write a letter of apology is letting them get off scot free with vandalism and infringement on everyone's First Amendment rights."

reports, Spring 2000