A reporter for the Sun Journal in Lewiston, Maine, was assaulted on July 5, 2022, while reporting on a story two blocks from the newspaper’s offices.
The reporter, who asked to remain anonymous as he no longer works for the newspaper, told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker he had been following up on a tip concerning an attempted stabbing the night before.
“I was doing a door-knock for a story I was reporting and I encountered some teenagers around 16 or 17 years old and asked them if they knew the person I was looking for, and explained briefly why I was out there,” the reporter said. “They started calling me names, trying to incite some sort of confrontation and I wasn’t responding.”
The group of teens then came after the reporter, punching him in the face and throwing a trash can and a traffic cone at him. The reporter said that some people walking nearby came to his aid.
Sun Journal Executive Editor Judith Meyer told the Tracker that she was surprised when the reporter returned to the newsroom after just 20 minutes.
“My managing editor said to him, ‘Did you get anything good?’ And he said, ‘I got more than I bargained for,’ and that he had been attacked by these five teenagers,” Meyer said. “It was clear that he’d been hurt and his glasses were broken, so I insisted that we call the police.”
Meyer also called an ambulance after the reporter complained of pain in his eye, which was significantly swollen. The reporter’s cornea was scratched during the attack, he said, but later healed fully.
The reporter told the Tracker that he elected not to press charges, in part because it happened too quickly to identify any of his attackers and also because they were minors.
“They were just kids being stupid, not that that excuses what they did,” the reporter said.
Lt. Derrick St. Laurent, public information officer for the Lewiston Police Department, confirmed that no charges were brought against the teens. Because of the suspects’ ages, he said he could not release a copy of the incident report.