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Anatomy of a Scandal

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This is a Fill in the details story. Feel free to flesh out the details wherever you feel.

Note also that this story is entirely fictional, and the situation it depicts is entirely hypothetical.

The Story (so far) Edit

It was all anyone could hope would never happen, and yet, here it was.

A packed press conference in the State Attorney General's office. Reporters from every TV station and newspaper across the country, and also many foreign reporters fill the room. The reporters are glad they have recording equipment, because if they had to write down what they hear, they'd have no chance: There's just not enough room for that.

There's a tension in the room. The case had filled the news in the last weeks, but it was considered closed as of now. No one had expected any new information about it. But that's exactly what the press had been told to get today.

The Attorney General comes forward, and states "Good afternoon. By now, you will no doubt be aware of the execution of Jimmy Ellefson for the murder of an eight year old girl, Sophie Poland, in a neighbouring State. There had been some talk about the event itself. Much of it was umprintable.

Well, in the twenty-four hours since then, a woman - whose identity has been witheld for the time being - has turned herself in, and has confessed abducting the eight year old girl. She is being held by our State troopers, but will be returned to the Poland family in the next twenty four hours. I can confirm, however, that she is alive and well."

Muffles in the press conference, as well as some cursing. The media had found Ellefson guilty before he ever set foot in a courtroom was being told that he was alive and well, but why? Why would a man be found guilty in such a manner?

Innocently, one reporter asks the implications of these shocking events. The Attorney General says that it says a lot about the trigger-happy political leadership in the neighbouring State. It may mean that some of the 'experts' and 'policemen' who testified against Ellefson may have committed perjury. It has come to the attention of the Attorney General that - right up until the execution - Ellefson was offered a last minute reprieve by the Governor of the State in which the execution took place, on condition of his full, unconditional admission of guilt. Upon such an admission, his death sentence would be reduced to life. It would have been a confession of a crime he did not commit.

Within an hour, Sophie is returned to her family. Her parents confirm that this is, indeed, her. In case there is any doubt, a DNA test is taken to confirm that she is who she claims to be. The Poland family is glad to have her home.

At a major daily newspaper, the cheif editor tells a senior reporter that their job, from here on in is to do what they did with Ellefson - reenforce the public opinion. Hang the Governor, hang the abductor, see how the public reacts to the parents. And if the public turns on the media, then the media will publically flog itself, as it did in the wake of the Collumbine shootings. Whatever sells papers, and generates eyeballs for their ad space.

The Poland family has a moral dillemma. The daughter they felt was dead is alive, and has been returned to them. Sophie's father, in particular, had gone on talk shows, calling for justice, and made many thinly veiled accusations against Ellefson. But he was doing what was right in his mind, by what he knew, at the time. He was doing what any good father would have done in that situation - make sure that justice was served against whoever killed his daughter.

The media all want Sophie's story. A bidding war breaks out. The story actually gets the most expensive one in the history of journalism. A manager is called in.

The Governor of the neighbouring state holds a crisis meeting on how to react to the news. Senior Government officials held a case -allbeit much of it was inadmissable in court - which at the very least showed reasonable doubt. The call for a confession was fueled, in large part, by doubt. How will they react? Will they step down?

Relatives of Jimmy Ellefson, who never doubted his innocence, enter the public stage. But a 'pragmatic' relative who had accepted his guilt is cast aside.

An expert witness who embellished the truth has a moral dillema.

Should the abductor be charged, and for what? This will be the second person found guilty of abducting Sophie.

An investigation is called into how an innocent man could be executed.

The public debates who is to blame.

A journalist has a moral dillema.

A multi-million dollar exclusive interview after a bidding war makes the public jaded about the Polands, more than they were given the father's advocacy for the death penelty of Ellefson. The pressure of the public spotlight and the father's willingness to call blame tears apart the marriage of the Polands. They go into hiding.

A journalist stands asside.

The secret, inadmissable files leak and become public.

The abductor is charged. So were those who committed perjury. The experts are discredited.

The neighbouring State's Governor stands down, but not before clearing the name of the Ellefson.

Meanwhile, a new crime of the week breaks... is he guilty? Find out at six.

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