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Burying the Compliment

Adam Bernstein

Feminist health advocate Barbara Seaman died Feb. 27. The family later paid me the obit writer's highest compliment -- burying a copy of the story with her in the casket.

They asked for a new copy for themselves.

In a related story that appears to be exclusive to the New York Times, the paper noted an apparent domestic violence charge by Ms. Seaman against her third husband:

"In the 1990s, Ms. Seaman also began to speak out publicly against domestic violence, from which she said she had suffered during her marriage to Mr. Forman. Though she did not identify Mr. Forman by name in the news media, court records show that in 1988 he was arrested and charged with assault after Ms. Seaman accused him of punching her in the face. The criminal case against Mr. Forman was later thrown out, Dudley Gaffin, his lawyer at the time, said in a telephone interview on Thursday."

Any thoughts on including the story in her obit if the case was "thrown out"?

By Adam Bernstein |  March 2, 2008; 2:59 PM ET  | Category:  Adam Bernstein
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The problem I see is using the phrase "thrown out", which is vague. Was he tried and acquitted, and if so why? Did the police choose not to charge him? Did they think it was a he said, she said thing? Did she lie? Most people are going to assume the last given the Times's wording, but how do we know?

Posted by: Charlene | March 8, 2008 4:15 AM

Hey, Adam, I don't know if you ever read these, but nice job on Widmark's obit the other day..my father went to school with him at Lake Forest and always talked about him, so I have followed his career...couldn't find an email address for you so will just add this here and hope you get it...Dan

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