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Charges of illegal recording by ABC reporters dropped

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Charges of illegal recording by ABC reporters dropped 12/16/96 MARYLAND--The Maryland State Attorney in early December dropped charges against ABC…

Charges of illegal recording by ABC reporters dropped

12/16/96

MARYLAND–The Maryland State Attorney in early December dropped charges against ABC reporter John Stossel and four others who were accused of illegally tape recording a Baltimore doctor without her permission for a story about “junk science.” The State Attorney’s office said there was insufficient evidence to prosecute the journalists.

The charges were filed in mid-October after Dr. Grace Ziem complained that ABC producer Deborah Stone and her sister-in-law, Julie Stone, posed as patients suffering from headaches, dizziness and chest pains and taped a consultation with Ziem without her consent or knowledge. Maryland is one of 12 states that prohibit recording conversations without the permission of all parties.

Stossel, who was scheduled to interview Ziem after the meeting with Stone, was preparing a story for ABC’s news magazine “20/20” about exaggerated and often false conclusions by doctors in various medical specialties. Ziem specializes in “multiple chemical sensitivity” cases in which patients become ill from exposure to certain chemicals such as paint, pesticides, carpeting and perfume.

Ziem never attended the interview with Stossel, but instead sent a research assistant who accused Stossel of deceptive reporting tactics. (Maryland v. Ellis)