Fallout at Yale Daily News Over Star Quarterback Sexual Assault Story

A Yale Daily News editor has gone public with distressingly significant complaints about an alleged decision by top YDN staff to hold a bombshell story about sexual assault accusations made against the university’s star quarterback.  The QB Patrick Witt had been hailed as a hero this past fall for an all-around awesome pedigree that earned him a Rhodes Scholarship finalist interview– which he turned down to lead Yale in a rivalry game against Harvard.

Yet, as The New York Times reported yesterday, this Disney-ish story arc was actually a farce.  He had already been removed from Rhodes consideration due to the sexual assault trouble, something the school apparently hid even as it continued publicizing his heroic image.  Apparently, Daily News editors also knew about the sexual assault situation and decided to not report it.

In an email posted this morning on Romenesko that truly raised my eyebrows, Daily News opinion editor Alex Klein wrote:

As current Science and Technology editor Eli Markham told me, the News’ editor-in-chief, Max de la Bruyere, decided to sit on the story in mid-November. . . . Multiple current and past members of the newspaper’s managing board, all deeply involved in the day-to-day work of the paper, have confirmed that the News has had the story for over two months. In fact, the Times story that broke last night featured reporting from last year’s editor-in-chief, Vivian Yee. She too approached the paper with a tip-off, but its editors chose not to follow the story. The paper even knew that the sexual assault claim had lost [Witt] an offer to join the Boston Consulting Group after graduation. Even then, they wrote nothing. For reasons personal, social, or political — who can ever tell on a college campus? — the News’ management chose to ignore the bombshell, protecting [Witt’s] reputation.

There has been no comment from Daily News leadership about Klein’s email.  The paper has now run a pair of pieces about the Times report on Witt.  There is undoubtedly more to this story.  Stay tuned…

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