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ABC reporters charged with illegally taping conversation

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ABC reporters charged with illegally taping conversation11/04/96 MARYLAND--ABC reporter John Stossel and four others were criminally charged in mid-October with…

ABC reporters charged with illegally taping conversation

11/04/96

MARYLAND–ABC reporter John Stossel and four others were criminally charged in mid-October with illegally tape recording a doctor without her permission for a news story about “junk science.” ABC news has denied the charges.

The charges came after Dr. Grace Ziem, a Baltimore doctor, filed a complaint with the Maryland State Attorney’s office. Maryland is one of 12 states that prohibit recording conversations without the permission of both parties.

Ziem said in the complaint that in July, ABC producer Deborah Stone and her sister-in-law, Julie Stone, came to her office pretending to be patients suffering from headaches, dizziness and chest pains. Ziem claims the two taped the meeting without her consent or knowledge.

Stossel was preparing a story for ABC’s news magazine “20/20” about exaggerated and often false conclusions by doctors in various medical specialties, according to news reports from The Washington Post and The New York Times.

Ziem specializes in “multiple chemical sensitivity” cases in which patients become ill from exposure to certain chemicals such as paint, pesticides, carpeting and perfume. This area of medicine is controversial and questioned by many in the medical community.

Ziem said that she learned from a colleague that Stossel was preparing a story about “junk science” and that he had sent two people posing as patients to her office. Ziem then sent her research assistant to a scheduled interview with Stossel, according to news reports.

At the interview, the assistant read a statement to Stossel, accusing him of using “biased, deceptive and unethical” methods in his reporting. Reporters from The Washington Post and The Baltimore Sun attended the meeting at the request of Ziem’s assistant, according to news reports.

A hearing in the case is scheduled for Nov. 20. (Maryland v. Ellis)