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The Blue & Gray Press | June 15, 2019

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Reporter Harassed, City Police Respond

Following her recent Bullet article about on-campus drug arrests, junior Lindley Estes has been harassed via e-mail and Facebook, but the message that scared her the most was the note taped Monday afternoon to her off-campus apartment door.

The note read, “Karma’s a bitch, And SO ARE YOU.”

Estes alerted the Fredericksburg Police Department, who conducted the drug arrests and investigations.

“The scary thing wasn’t the note, but that they knew where I lived,” Estes said.

The police advised Estes to use security technology, such as a camera, at her apartment. She was told to contact police immediately if anything suspicious occurred, according to Natatia Bledsoe, the public information officer for the Fredericksburg Police Department.

“A watch order has been placed on her residence, which guarantees increased patrol on her street both from uniformed and undercover officers,” said Bledsoe.

Vice President for Student Affairs Doug Searcy said that he does not want to have any students intimidated on campus.

“Intimidation is not acceptable at UMW,” Searcy said.  “We are an open community that needs information.”

He also said that he wants all students who are intimidated on campus to feel empowered so that “our educational environment is preserved.”

Executive Director Frank Lomonte of the Student Press Law Center, an organization that is an advocate for student First Amendment Rights, said that it is common for publications to be intimidated or harassed, but rarely does the harassment single out one reporter.

“People aggrieved by something published should be angry at the publication and not the reporter,” LoMonte said.

LoMonte said that there are legal protections against harassment, threats and attacks, and they apply equally to citizens, journalists or not.

Bledsoe also said that the note on Estes’ door does not fall under the category of a threat or criminal act.

“Expressing displeasure is not a threat,” Bledsoe said.

While the Bullet does not routinely name victims, Estes has agreed to be named because she is worried about the incident.

“I did not do anything wrong,” Estes said.  “I just reiterated what was told to me by the police and press release.  Everyone was contacted for comment.”


  1. Emilie

    Last time I checked, this wasn’t middle school.

    As a recent grad of UMW and a former writer for the Bullet, I applaud Lindley’s reporting on the recent incidents. She simply stated the facts, and nothing more, which is exactly what an good newspaper reporter is supposed to do. If that’s what being a “bitch” means to some people, then I sure hope more reporters will become bitches.

  2. Kate

    I think this says something about the “not at all dangerous” drug dealing tools that everyone is trying to defend.

    It’s disgusting. I hope they find out who it was so this punk can be dealt with.

  3. Kelly

    I fully support you, Lindley! I hope you have a wonderful day.

  4. Loopy-de-Loop

    Interesting, they didn’t publish her picture on this article, did they? I wonder why?

  5. Steph

    There’s no picture because she’s simply the journalist. She didn’t commit a felony.

  6. Mary Wash-ers,

    Get your shit together. This is ridiculous.

    No one deserves the harassment that has been focused on this girl.

  7. uggg

    Ok, while I do not agree with how the story was handled, it’s absurd to attack the reporter, luckily I think most people recognize that including those affected by the article. Hopefully, the harassment stops soon.

  8. Thomas

    Loopy-de-Loop, congratulations on having the dumbest comment I’ve read all night.

  9. Cullen

    While I disagree wholeheartedly with the tactics used in the articles on the 15 students, this is ridiculous and the reporter was doing something she was assigned to. It was the editorial staff too who played a role in this, and she was doing her job.

  10. Loopy-de-Loop

    Thomas, I think your sarcasm detector might be a bit off.

    Let me make it even more obvious for you.

    Maybe they didn’t publish it because even though identity is relevant to a news story, showing someone’s picture in the paper leads to unwanted attention and potentially harassment?


  11. Thomas

    No, I got the sarcasm. But you’re acting like there’s a responsibility to post a picture of a reporter, a victim of harassment. Why would you post the picture of a victim still being victimized? The students that everybody are rallying around are accused of having committed felonies, very serious crimes. The public has a right to know what they look like. People need to stop trying to defend these students and realize that they got themselves into this mess.

    There’s no reason to post Lindley’s picture with this story; there is every reason to post the accused students’ pictures with that story.

  12. Loopy-de-Loop

    No, I’m not acting like that. You’re misreading me. I totally agree the newspaper has an absolute responsibility to protect Miss Estes’ identity and certainly shouldn’t post her picture. To do so would be idiotic.

    Why do the students have a right to know what the accused look like? So they know who to ostracize? The accused – and they are accused, not convicted, despite what many seem to think – are not dangerous in the slightest and there is no indication they are. Their names are already posted. Why post their pictures?

  13. Edie

    Loopy-de-Loop, using pictures of the accused isn’t so folks can run around “ostracizing” them. It’s an identifier, much like their ages, addresses, hometowns, etc. Newspapers use that information for a lot of reasons. First, they’re not in the business of withholding information. They’re in the business of sharing it, and photographs are part of that process. If you don’t want to see your mugshot in the paper, a good rule of thumb is don’t do anything that might cause your mugshot to be taken in the first place.

    Second, this is a HUGE story at UMW and everyone is talking about it. One of the things people are talking about is, “Hey, do I know any of these folks?” The photos help answer that question for the readers, another key job of a good newspaper.

    Last, from a legal standpoint, it’s important that a newspaper use enough information to clearly indicate who has been charged with a crime because by doing so, that information also excludes others. For instance, if I read in the newspaper that John Smith, 21, has been charged with drug distribution and his mugshot runs with the story, I don’t have to wonder if it’s the same John Smith I know from work. And the John Smith I know from work doesn’t have to spend the rest of the day trying to clear his name because he knows that everyone who reads that day’s newspaper will recognize that he’s not the guy in the photo.

    As for harassing the reporter, I’d expect better from the UMW population. I know that the jerks who’ve posted notes on Lindley’s Facebook page (and her door?!) don’t represent the wider campus community, but I only know this because I’m part of that community. If I were an outsider, I’d wonder what the hell was wrong with the students there. That kind of behavior makes everyone look bad, and it doesn’t exactly help the cause of the students arrested either. As sad as these charges are, they offer a pretty good opportunity for folks on campus to show whether they know how to act like adults or not. I sure hope the students who’ve been harassing Lindley are capable of rising to that occasion.

  14. JJ

    Seriously? She called the police? Wow.

    Last I heard, calling someone a bitch wasn’t illegal…

    And what does she mean, she’s scared someone knew where she lives? UMW only has 4,000 students; it’s incredibly easy to find out where someone lives. Finding out where someone resides so you can post a note on their expressing your displeasure with their actions isn’t harrassment, bullying, or intimidation. It’s freedom of speech.