The front page of the Sunday, May 28 print edition of The Baltimore Sun proclaimed with a mega-point headline “Boychoir founder resigns.” Directly beneath the headline was a photo of Frank T. Cimino Jr., past founder, director and president of the Maryland State Boychoir. A graphic description of a 1987 unverified, alleged accusation of child molestation that resulted in Cimino’s being fired at that time from his position as choir director at a local church was noted. His previously redacted name appears among those with unverified, alleged, unproven accusations in the “list of abusers” compiled by Maryland’s attorney general.
Cimino was never criminally charged or found guilty of that acccusation. Nevertheless, The Sun published the names and the details of these allegations, revealing the identity of those formerly listed by number. The choir’s board accepted Cimino’s resignation despite there having been no complaints of this kind during his decades of service building the Maryland State Boychoir into the stellar organization that is its hallmark. All of this was badly done.
There is at this time no public evidence supporting allegations against those on the AG’s redacted list. The Sun, however, saw fit to publicly identify almost all of the 149 individuals listed including Cimino. The salacious details describing the alleged, unproven acts draw into question Cimino’s fitness to pursue the mission and vision of the Boychoir not only to create beautiful choral music but to mentor boys into becoming self-disciplined, responsible, confident, honorable men.
Much harm has been done already to Cimino’s reputation by this cart-before-horse reporting that renders him disgraced, pilloried and guilty-unless-proven innocent at some later time. This irresponsible, sensationalized report of a decades-old allegation against him will make it difficult to recover from this assault on his character, trustworthiness, integrity and reputation. The choir has been his life’s work and legacy. How is recognition for his role in that to be restored?
Child abuse is an appalling reality. It is also a hot topic. Adopting the reporting practices of the gutter press discredits The Sun’s claim to, and history of, journalistic excellence for accurate and responsible reporting.
These times require a higher bar. Raise it.
— Anna Brown, Baltimore
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