Reporters reveal sources for stories Elizabeth Smart rescue
- The reporters, enmeshed in a journalistic scandal, said they disclosed sources to avoid legal action against them.
May 6, 2003 — Two former reporters for The Salt Lake Tribune revealed their sources for stories about the kidnap and rescue of now-15-year-old Elizabeth Smart to avoid legal action against them, according to reports from Utah newspapers and The Associated Press.
Randy Dryer, an attorney for the Smart family, said at a press conference Friday that the reporters, Michael Vigh and Kevin Cantera, provided him with the names of law enforcement employees who had leaked information about the investigation into the girl’s disappearance.
Dryer said he passed on the names of the sources to law enforcement officials in an effort to plug the leaks.
Dryer did not identify the individual sources but said they included employees of the Salt Lake Police Department, the FBI, the Utah Department of Public Safety and the U.S. Secret Service.
Vigh and Cantera were fired from their jobs at the Tribune April 29 after the newspaper discovered they had contributed false information about the case to The National Enquirer.
Vigh and Cantera reportedly each collected $10,000 from the Enquirer for providing information for a July 2 story titled “Utah Cops: Secret Diary Exposes Family Sex Ring.” Dryer told reporters that Cantera admitted to fabricating information for the Enquirer story.
In a rare move, the Enquirer has retracted the story and settled with the family, according to reports.
Stories printed by the Tribune about the kidnapping also may have included false or misleading information.
Tribune editor James E. Shelledy resigned Thursday as a result of the scandal. The Tribune announced today that Nancy Conway will take over as the paper’s first female editor on June 2.
The Tribune reported Saturday that Cantera said he revealed his sources “reluctantly, and under the pressure of a subpoena.” Vigh also said the reporters were subpoenaed.
The Smart family has not said whether it will pursue a lawsuit against the Tribune.
Elizabeth Smart was returned to her family in March after having been taken from her bedroom nine months earlier. The two drifters with whom she was found have been charged with multiple offenses, including aggravated kidnapping.
© 2003 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press