To the Editor:
I was appalled and disgusted last week after reading Ben Rappaport’s article “Teacher charged with assault after teens explore devil church.” This remarkably sloppy, damaging piece of journalism was obviously very biased and one-sided, reflected zero research, was filled with untruths and lies, and turned reality on its head.
My friend and good neighbor Eric Hudson was cast as a dangerous villain, while the five trespassing teenagers were cast as victims.
I have lived in the safe, peaceful neighborhood on River Bend Road for more than 40 years. Eric and his wife Rachael have been the best of neighbors: calm, friendly, honest, dependable, a home where we have confidently let our young grandchildren play. Now, thanks to your irresponsible article, we all feel endangered and vulnerable.
The truth is that for the past 30 years our driveway has been intermittently invaded by teenage curiosity-seekers, who somehow feel entitled to trespass into our private neighborhood looking for a non-existent “devil church.” This crazy myth presumably started in response to someone misinterpreting a neighbor’s lovely home and outdoor sculpture. The myth is entirely absurd, yet lives on into subsequent generations of gullible youth. It is long past due for the local newspaper to write a serious piece researching and debunking this ridiculous, troublesome myth. Instead you are perpetuating it, subtly condoning the search as an innocent rite of passage.
The latest episode of intrusion apparently spun out of control because Eric tried to protect the safety of his home and family. The carload of teens who trespassed twice, within hours, should scarcely have been surprised when a homeowner yelled at them as they sped by. Instead, as evident in the article, the teens lied about the escapade to their parents, describing “goat heads on spikes” and adding other embellishments to their story.
The story scrupulously protects the identity of his one adult source, a parent. He refers to the trespassing teens as “children” and “victims,” yet they are old enough to hold driver’s licenses, and were clearly the intruders, invaders and provocateurs. Perhaps the mother should less indignantly defend her offsprings’ right to drive anywhere they wish to “explore,” and instead teach them to respect private property.
This article reflects a stunning lack of professionalism or regard for ethics. You are judging Eric in the “court of public opinion.” You have damaged his reputation and career, and deprived Chatham County of a much-needed, dedicated teacher. You should use your community voice to help, not hurt people. Support truth, not superstition.