Paper’s Error Caused Threats, Couple Says

     OKLAHOMA CITY (CN) – A couple says they were threatened and automatic weapons were fired near their house after a newspaper incorrectly listed their address as the home of a sex offender. The couple sued the Guthrie News Reader and its corporate parent in Oklahoma County Court.

     Roy Nelson and Susan Ryan say they’ve heard automatic gunfire and people have driven by and shouted at them after the News Reader incorrectly listed a registered sex offender as living at their home.
     The plaintiffs have lived on a rural dirt road 7 miles off the main highway for more than 10 years. They say traffic in front of their house was heavier than normal in the 36 hours after the erroneous story was published.
     Ryan says she spoke with the newspaper’s managing editor on June 15, 2009, the day after it printed the list. She said the newspaper admitted the mistake and she requested that it print “a conspicuous correction of their mistake and that it be made in the Sunday edition.”
     But the newspaper ran a “non-conspicuous correction in the obituaries section” of a Wednesday edition, and refused to print the correction in the Sunday paper, the plaintiffs say. And they say the paper left the incorrect report on its Web site.
     They say the false report has caused them to fear for their safety.
     “Because of the extreme emotional distress, anxiety, fear and physical sickness the wrongful accusation has caused both Roy Nelson and Susan Ryan, they continue to see a doctor and counselor to help them cope with the wrongful accusations that have poisoned their reputation in the community,” the complaint states.
     They seek damages for negligence and libel, from the News Reader and Newspaper Holdings Inc. They are represented by Thomas Ryan.

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