No charges filed in Texas newspaper theft

TEXAS — No criminal charges will be filed in connectionwith the Feb. 25 theft of copies of the The East Texan, the studentnewspaper at Texas A&M University Commerce.

Assistant Vice President for Marketing Communications at TexasA&M-Commerce Randy Jolly said today the investigation, in which two peoplecaught on videotape bad been tentatively identified as members of the footballteam, has been closed.

East Texan Managing Editor Jessica Rush said the tape shows peopleoutside the University Police Department taking the newspapers, which containeda negative story about members of the football team being arrested in connectionwith a drug investigation.

The head football coach, Guy Morriss, gained national attention after beingquoted saying he was proud of the team for taking the papers, although Jollycould not confirm the identity of those involved.

She said the newspapers were stolen between 7 and 8 a.m., adding thatbecause of the number of papers on campus, she was told the University PoliceDepartment believes it was accomplished by a group of people. Jolly said theinvestigation by the University Police is ongoing.

Rush said the East Texan editor-in-chief met with the athleticdirector and the university president to discuss the issue. The president saidin the meeting he does not condone the theft and that those responsible”would face some sort of punishment,” Rush said.”We takethe theft very seriously and the president has acted immediately to get to thebottom of it and to find out who’s responsible and to find out what weneed to do after that,” Jolly said.

About 1,800 of the 2,000 papers printed were stolen, Rush said. The onlyones left were on off-campus news racks. She said the paper would like anapology from coach Morriss for the theft and the effect it had on the community.

“We are asking that Coach Morriss make a public apology to us and tothe campus and community because they’re also the ones that lost out ongetting to read that news,” Rush said.

Before the investigation was closed, Rush added that the paper was alsoseeking financial restitution for the printing and labor costs that went intothe issue. The total financial loss the paper calculated is $1,516, whichincludes printing and labor costs. The paper deducted from the total loss onefree copy for each member of the football team, in case the team was in factresponsible.

“It’s a common misconception that people feel like ‘Oh,it’s a free newspaper it’s not a big deal if you take a bunch ofthem,'” she said.

Rush said the East Texan has been a victim of newspaper theftbefore, when it ran a negative article about a fraternity. However, in thatinstance, when the people who stole the papers found out what they had done wasillegal, they called the paper and told the staff where the newspapers could befound.

“When you are taking all of the newspapers, you’re reallydefeating the purpose of having a newspaper, which is to disseminateinformation,” Rush said.

By Katie Maloney, SPLC staff writer