Chief Robey in Prime TimeThese three letters were an...


April 30, 1995

Chief Robey in Prime Time

These three letters were an exchange between a Howard County couple and County Executive Charles I. Ecker over the county police chief's April 5 appearance on the ABC-TV newsmagazine, "PrimeTime Live."

We were embarrassed and ashamed of the actions and attitude of the Howard County Police Department toward the rape victim in the referenced news report.

It seemed to us that Chief James N. Robey was more concerned with the questioning of the lie-detector technician's results than the trauma to which he and his department subjected the rape victim. Mr. Robey not only appeared unable to look at the crime from the victim's standpoint but when confronted with the department's enormous error in judgment, he became defensive and righteous, rather than humble and apologetic. . . .

How could anyone justify having a man subject a young girl to detailed questions after such a tragic experience? This "girl" should be commended for her courage. Our hearts go out to her.

No wonder rape victims are afraid to come forward. We hope you are planning swift action to see that this never occurs again.

!C. W. and Sally Layman



Thank you for your letter of April 7, concerning the "PrimeTime Live" television program. Unfortunately, "PrimeTime" "slanted" the program to be anti-police. It is a shame that "PrimeTime" did not show the approximately two hours of tape it shot as a result of the interview with James Robey. What it did was "pick" segments that portrayed the Police Department and Chief Robey in a light that is 100 percent wrong.

Chief Robey is not heartless, the Police Department is not heartless and they do have concern for all victims, including the young lady who was the subject of the show. For some reason, "PrimeTime" did not choose to say that the Police Department continued the investigation as best it could on limited information.

The police did ride through neighborhoods where the young girl thought she was taken when blindfolded. The police rode through these neighborhoods listening for sounds she heard. Also, "PrimeTime" neglected to say the reason the Police Department did not use the fingerprint was because it was not usable.

Chief Robey and the Police Department work very closely with the Sexual Assault Center. The Sexual Assault Center has high praise of not only Chief Robey, but also of our police force. I believe if you read the article in The Sun on April 12, you will find a more accurate report of the case reported by "PrimeTime."

I generally do not watch "PrimeTime," or "20/20" and other programs of that nature, although I did watch the one concerning the Howard County police. The reason I do not watch these type shows is, in my opinion, they present a one-sided "slanted" story. . . .

Charles I. Ecker

Ellicott City

The writer is Howard County executive.


In regard to your letter dated April 18, you implied that we should read the article in The Sun on April 12 and not watch such shows as "PrimeTime Live" or "20/20."

We have enclosed all the articles of which we are aware concerning the 19-year-old rape victim that was not believed by the Howard County police because of a lie detector test until another person was raped and collaborated the information.

. . . All the written words concerning this case do not agree with yours that "PrimeTime Live" portrayed Chief Robey in a light that was 100 percent wrong.

Other pieces, including an editorial in The Sun for Howard County on April 13 and a column by Kevin Thomas on April 16, said, "Some would argue that there was a mistake, and Chief Robey simply doesn't get it" and "Chief Robey's response to questions about the department's handling of the 1992 rape investigation was outrageously insensitive" and "According to the girl's father, after the polygraph test, he had to pressure a police detective to order a composites sketch of the suspect drawn. At one point, the detective apparently exasperated by the father's persistence, asked flippantly how many rape cases he had investigated. That totally uncalled-for comment alone deserved an apology."

We are sure that "PrimeTime Live" was aware of the conclusion of the story before it proceeded with its investigation. However, that does not mean that the basic story was incorrect. Thank God for such shows making us aware of the enormous atrocities occurring in our back yard.

We think your position of support of Chief Robey indicates that you do not understand or comprehend the crime of rape and how the Howard County Police Department traumatized the 19-year-old victim.

!C. W. and Sally Layman


Worst of 2 Worlds

In response to the articles regarding the incorporation of Columbia, there are many reasons to question the efficacy and responsiveness of the Columbia Association to the needs and desires of the residents of Columbia.

Here are two:

* Street lighting.

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