In the spotlight

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People in prominent positions will always get more attention

By The Staff

We can understand why Anthony Epps would be upset.

We doubt anyone wants to have their name in the paper for being arrested for DUI. The same would be true for whatever punishment is handed down from the courts if that person is found or pleads guilty.

Last week, we reported on the outcome of Epps' arrest, which included a fine, court costs and participation in an alcohol dependency program. For what it's worth, we considered at least one portion of that outcome as positive news: Epps had completed a DUI education program prior to his sentencing.

Epps expressed his displeasure in a letter to the editor (to read it, go to http://www.lebanonenterprise.com/content/letter-treated-differently).

He is correct that he's not the first person to get a DUI, but the reason his DUI became bigger news was because of his position at the time - head boys basketball coach at Marion County High School.

This also isn't the first time we've reported on crimes committed by prominent individuals. In recent years, we've had front page stories about firefighters who were arrested for and convicted of arson, an extension agent charged with animal neglect, and a city councilman who was charged with public intoxication, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest (although the latter two charges were dismissed). And we are following a federal case that is still pending against a pair of former corrections officers at the Marion County Detention Center.

Unfortunately the publisher of this newspaper also knows how that reporting affects a family. Years ago, her father was arrested for DUI while he was serving as the publisher of another newspaper and his arrest became front page news in that community.

Certain crimes become magnified when an individual commits them who is in a more visible role in the community or whose alleged crime seems in direct contrast with their position.

But this isn't just about the individuals, it's also about our courts. Many people are convinced that prominent individuals get treated differently than average citizens, and highlighting those cases is also a way to see if that is really the case.

At the time Epps was hired, we believed that was good news for the program, and his efforts during the 2010-11 season showed that he had connected with his players. Epps was initially the Enterprise's selection as Coach of the Year. After his second arrest in a seven-month span, we were uncomfortable naming him as such in our publication.

 That said, we do believe Epps has been taking positive steps since his arrest in June, and we are sure that we are not alone in hoping he continues taking those steps on his life's journey.