9News and Fox 31 coverage omitted fact that arrested sex offender formerly was a "well-known El Paso County Republican activist" and GOP state official

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

KUSA 9News and KDVR Fox 31 neglect to report that a sexual-assault suspect formerly was a Colorado Republican Party activist who resigned from the administration of Republican Gov. Bill Owens after his 2001 arrest.

In their September 26 reports on the arrest of sexual-assault suspect Randal Ankeney, KDVR's Fox News at Nine O'Clock and KUSA's 9News at 10 p.m. neglected to report that Ankeney formerly was a Colorado Republican Party activist who resigned from the administration of Gov. Bill Owens (R) after his 2001 arrest for attempted sexual assault on a child, for which he served two years in prison. In contrast, Colorado Springs CBS affiliate KKTV's 10 p.m. broadcast on September 26 identified Ankeney as a "Republican activist."

On the September 26 broadcast of 9News at 10 p.m., 9News anchor Bob Kendrick reported Ankeney was arrested at his Highlands Ranch home, noting that Ankeney is "facing charges of sexual assault on a child and sexual exploitation of a child" and that "Ankeney was convicted of attempted sexual assault on a child in 2003. He is in jail in lieu of a million-dollar bond." A similar story posted on the 9News website September 26 and updated September 27 did not report Ankeney's history.

On the September 26 Fox 31 broadcast at 9 p.m., reporter Heidi Hemmat said, "neighbors say they already knew Randal Ankeney had a long history of assaulting children, but now the CBI [Colorado Bureau of Investigation] says he's done it again." Hemmat also said "Ankeney was last arrested in January for sexually assaulting a woman. He has a history of sexually assaulting little girls, but investigators will not say anything about the victim in this case."

Neither Fox 31 nor 9News reported Ankeney's history as a Republican activist and state official. In contrast, KKTV's 10 p.m. broadcast on September 26 stated, according to Global Broadcast Database transcripts from Nexis, that Ankeney was a "Republican activist" and worked for "the state Office of Economic Development." According to Nexis, affiliates of the the Global Broadcast Database's publisher, Inewsnetwork, "provide manual broadcast notations, translations and verbatim transcripts in English." From the Global Broadcast Database's KKTV transcript:

And this man ... Randal David Ankeney ... a Republican activist already convicted of sexually assaulting an El Paso County teen he met on the Internet, is now charged with assaulting another girl. Authorities are in the process of searching Ankeney's house tonight. He was charged on Monday. Ankeney once worked for the state office of economic development.

Additionally, the weblog Colorado Confidential on September 29 reported Ankeney's arrest and detailed his political history, noting that Ankeney "just a few short years ago was a rising GOP star in Colorado" and was "being groomed for a seat in the state legislature."

An August 9, 2001, Rocky Mountain News article by John Sanko reported that Ankeney, who was "[o]ne of the governor's economic development representatives in Colorado Springs" and "had worked as a regional representative since November, resigned from his $63,000-a-year job effective July 31" after his arrest "for sexual assault on a 13-year-old girl he allegedly met through an Internet chat room." A December 27, 2001, Westword article described Ankeney as a "well-known El Paso County Republican activist [who was] accused of providing drugs and alcohol to the girl and photographing her topless."

An August 9, 2001, Denver Post article by reporters Erin Emery and Julia Martinez reported that Ankeney was a volunteer coordinator for Owens' re-election campaign in El Paso County. Owens' spokesperson at the time, Dick Wadhams, said, "Gov. Owens was generally aware of those who volunteered and certainly has seen Randy at Republican events over time." In the article, Wadhams also noted, "This is the kind of activity that is so reprehensible to the governor ... because he has devoted his entire public career to better the lives of Colorado's children."

A September 6, 2001, News article by reporter Lynn Bartels reported that Ankeney "named his dogs after Presidents Reagan and Nixon. He tirelessly campaigned for Republican candidates. He signed on as one of Gov. Bill Owens' re-election coordinators." The article also reported that he was "was a fixture in El Paso County Republican politics until his arrest in July in a sex scandal involving a young girl." Bartels also reported that Ankeney "once worked as an intern for U.S. Rep. Joel Hefley" and that "[h]is wife, state Rep. Lynn Hefley, said she cried when she heard about the arrest, both for Ankeney and for the girl."

From the September 26 broadcast of 9News at 10 p.m.:

KENDRICK: A registered sex offender in Highlands Ranch has just been arrested on suspicion that he has molested a child. Douglas County Sheriff's deputies have arrested 35-year-old Randal Ankeney around 5 p.m. and executed a search warrant at his home.

He's facing charges of sexual assault on a child and sexual exploitation of a child. Ankeney was convicted of attempted sexual assault on a child in 2003. He is in jail in lieu of a million-dollar bond.

From the September 26 broadcast of Fox News at Nine O'Clock:

LIBBY WEAVER (co-anchor): New tonight: Douglas County deputies moving in on the home of a registered sex offender.

RON ZAPPOLO (co-anchor): Officers arresting the man who has been arrested in the past for sex crimes on children in the 9700 block of Red Oakes Drive -- that's where Fox 31's Heidi Hemmat joins us live. Heidi?

HEMMAT: Well, you know, people don't usually like to see crime tape in their neighborhood, but in this case it's a welcome sight. That's because residents have been trying to get rid of the sex offender here for some time, but now investigators have done it for them.

WOMAN: He's been arrested and he's gone now. For now.

HEMMAT: Commotion in a normally peaceful neighborhood.

WOMAN: We were shocked.

HEMMAT: After investigators invade a Highlands Ranch home and arrest a sexual predator.

WOMAN: What a horrible thing.

HEMMAT: Neighbors say they already knew Randal Ankeney had a long history of assaulting children, but now the CBI says he's done it again.

WOMAN: I don't even think that they should be given a chance to be registered in a neighborhood like this.

HEMMAT: Investigators are not releasing a lot of details, but they say Ankeney is under arrest for sexual assault on a child, enticement of a child and exploitation. As agents haul away computers and other electronic equipment, parents feel safe to let their children play outside for the first time in months. They hope investigators can lock up Ankeney for good.

WOMAN: I feel relieved that the perpetrator is lifted out of this neighborhood and gone.

HEMMAT: Now, you are looking at an online site where residents have been chatting about their neighbor for some time. Warning each other about the sex offender in their neighborhood. Ankeney was last arrested in January for sexually assaulting a woman. He has a history of sexually assaulting little girls, but investigators will not say anything about the victim in this case. Back to you.

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