Erik Burgess, Published January 27 2014
Fargo decides not to charge Valley News Live TV reporter for hidden camera report
A spokeswoman for West Fargo Public Schools said it’s likely that Valley News Live reporter Mellaney Moore will also not face charges in West Fargo.
On Dec. 11, Moore wore a hidden camera as she walked into schools in Moorhead, West Fargo and Fargo without checking in at the main offices. The story, meant to expose flaws in school security, led police in all three cities to investigate the reporter’s actions.
By city ordinance in Fargo and West Fargo and state law in Moorhead, a school visitor who fails to register at the office can face a misdemeanor charge.
But Fargo Assistant City Attorney Jason Loos said Monday that Moore will not face charges in Fargo.
Loos said the school district decided late last week not to press charges against Moore, in part because the reporter was directed by a superior to do the story. In cases like this, prosecutors take into consideration the desires of the victim, the school district in this case, before deciding to move forward with the case, Loos said.
“The investigation showed that she did what she did under direction of her superiors or superior or someone over at KVLY,” Loos said.
Heather Konschak, a spokeswoman for West Fargo Public Schools, said the district is “strongly contemplating” following in Fargo’s footsteps and not pressing charges.
She said West Fargo could make a final decision by the end of the week.
“Truly, there is no positive purpose to be served by the school district pressing charges or prosecuting Ms. Moore,” Konschak said. “That is not the nature of what a public school does in a community.”
Ike Walker, news director for Valley News Live, said he had no comment.
Earlier this month, police in Moorhead forwarded their investigation to the county attorney’s office, but Clay County Attorney Brian Melton could not be reached for comment Monday.
In Fargo, Loos said the ordinance doesn’t allow for the city to press charges against a superior or anyone who may have directed Moore to break the law and enter the schools unannounced.
Loos said the news station and the Fargo School District were working on some kind of agreement, but he didn’t know the details.
Joseph Wetch, an attorney for Fargo Public Schools, did not return a call for comment on Monday afternoon.
“I don’t know what kind of agreement they worked out with KVLY, but I would imagine it would involve some kind of understanding that they won’t do something like that again,” Loos said. “I would hope that they acknowledge what they did was not right, anyway.”
Readers can reach Forum reporter Erik Burgess at (701) 241-5518