Prosecutors and porn: the issue that won’t go away

     Seth Williams (Nathaniel Hamilton/NewsWorks file photo)

    Seth Williams (Nathaniel Hamilton/NewsWorks file photo)

    When somebody releases a much-anticipated press statement late on the Friday of a holiday weekend, you can bet it deserves more attention than the issuing party wants it to get.

    When Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams finally announced Friday what he was and wasn’t going to do about three prosecutors in his office who were involved with pornographic emails, it was a full nine days after information about their involvement became public.

    Williams said the three former employees of the Pennsylvania state Attorney General’s office, Frank Fina, March Costanzo and Patrick Blessington, would get some sensitivity training, but wouldn’t be fined or otherwise disciplined.

    On Monday the president of Philadelphia NOW took Williams to task. Today the Daily News came back with a front page story and a hard-hitting editorial titled, “Unjustifiable”. And Republican mayoral candidate Melissa Murray Bailey said City Council should hold hearings on the issue and de-fund the prosecutors’ positions (which Council can’t technically do, but whatever).

    This extra attention is more than deserved. The email announcing Williams’ decision somehow never made it to my inbox even though I’d been asking his spokesman, Cameron Kline, about it for the previous week.

    I don’t know what the right course of action was for Williams. I don’t know if their conduct should end their careers or even their employment, but it merits something more serious than this.

    And Williams should be prepared to stand up, explain his decision, and answer questions, not slide some statement under the door at closing time.

    Among other things, Williams should say when he first learned about the prosecutors’ involvement in pornographic emails. And it would be good to know what kind of sensitivity training they’re getting. Kline wrote in an email late today that the office is “still putting together the training,” and he’ll share more once that’s finalized.

    Maybe we’ll find out Thanksgiving weekend.

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