A story that we reported on October 9, a couple of days after a young mother was shot to death in Fuquay Varina, drew critical responses from many who say they are advocates for victims of domestic violence.
The story was written after a question was raised about whether the victim, Jammie Shantel Street, had sought law enforcement help to fight abuse from the man who is now charged with killing her.
And if she had sought help, was the police response adequate? We found that she had let a protective order lapse, had stayed silent on an occasion when he could have faced jail for assault and had signed a statement saying that she was not afraid of him.
After raising the question, we were obligated to report what we found. The story also reported that Ms. Street had separated from Daniel Jerome Montgomery, the man now charged with killing her, and that the separation was followed by threats against Ms. Street in the weeks before she died.
For reporting these facts, the N&O has been accused of blaming Ms. Street for her death. Our story made no judgments. There can be honest disagreements over how much more we should have included in that one story--the second of three related to Ms. Street's death--but the assertion of a writer of a letter to the editor on Friday that the paper has "continued a long trend of blaming women for domestic violence, shifting focus away from perpetrators" is utterly without any factual basis.
The N&O has reported aggressively on domestic violence for a decade and our efforts contributed to significant legal protections for victims and potential victims.
A 2003 investigation by N&O reporters Andrea Weigl and Angela Heywood Bible showed that this state lagged in prosecuting domestic assaults that tended to lead to homicides. The investigation noted that even when charged, few perpetrators were jailed.
Several other stories followed that series. Additionally, N&O columnist Ruth Sheehan has written repeatedly about the complexities of fighting domestic violence, including the many challenges of women in abusive relationships. She has been diligent bringing attention to resources for victims in this community.