A website seeking to discredit sexual assault allegations against Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore is digging up the alleged criminal record of a Washington Post reporter who helped break the story.
"WaPo reporter who broke news on Judge Roy Moore story has a criminal history of ‘faking,’ " read the headline on 100percentfedup.com.
The headline on the story might make you think the reporter, Stephanie McCrummen, has a past of "faking" her news stories. But the details in the post aren’t related to journalism: They highlight McCrummen’s "public criminal records in multiple states stretching across four time zones," including writing a "fake check."
"When a reporter has a criminal history that essentially proves she gave false information to pay a debt or for services, shouldn’t her character come into question when it comes to making a 40-year-old sexual allegation against one of the most-hated, Steve Bannon-backed conservatives running for office in America, that may help to enhance her career?" the blogpost reads.
Again, none of the charges speak to McCrummen’s journalistic integrity. The only criminal violation and "faking" related to a bounced check written 25 years ago when McCrummen was in college, while the rest of her "history" encompassed traffic infractions.
McCrummen was an undergraduate student at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in 1992 when she wrote a $6.93 check that bounced.
"That was a bounced check was for groceries while Stephanie was in college, which she paid back," said Kristine Coratti, vice president of communications at the Washington Post, in response to our email inquiry to McCrummen.
McCrummen pleaded guilty to the criminal misdemeanor charge, appeared before a magistrate and paid it off, alongside a $50 fee, according to James Stanford, the Orange County Superior Court clerk.
The blogpost then pivots to McCrummen’s traffic offenses, the first of which was for speeding in Scottsdale, Ariz.
"In 2010, she was tracked down by the courts after she had escaped Arizona’s jurisdiction to D.C., and her case was assigned to the Fines/Fees and Restitution Enforcement (FARE) Program established to collect delinquent court ordered restitution, fines, fees, and surcharges," the post reads. "After the FARE team tracked her down at her Washington D.C. apartment, they finally appeared to get her attention and on October 23, 2010 she paid the defaulted fine to the criminal court, almost two months after her conviction."
Traffic offenses can be criminal if the driver is found driving without a license or the excessive speed was not prudent for the conditions. But the court authorities doubt this was the case.
"If it was criminal it would probably still be in the records because those are retained longer than civil traffic case, but we just can’t know for sure," said Jennifer Ilten, executive secretary at the Scottsdale city court.
Heather Murphy, communications director at the Arizona Supreme Court, said the court where the fine was paid wasn’t a "criminal court," but rather, municipal.
Murphy confirmed that McCrummen owed -- and paid -- $321.30, according to court records.
"The fine is fairly typical of a civil traffic violation for speeding or another moving violation, but I cannot state that as fact," Murphy said. "This is not driving without a license or DUI – those fines begin in excess of $1,000.
"Even knowing the fare amount, a big chunk of that could have been the collection fees," Ilten said. "It was probably a lesser charge."
Murphy also explained that FARE enforcement is much less sinister than the post made it sound. It usually occurs when a person doesn’t receive a citation because it went to an old address. A new citation is mailed to the new address when discovered. In this case, the ticket was entered for collection on Oct. 4, 2010, and paid in full on Oct. 23, 2010.
The other two traffic tickets both occurred in Virginia and had been wiped from the courts. In Fairfax County, the post reported McCrummen failed to obey a highway sign -- an infraction, not a criminal offense. The same goes for Prince William County; the post said McCrummen drove at 46 miles an hour in a 25 mile per hour speed zone. That’s also not a criminal offense.
Coratti declined to comment on McCrummen’s traffic infractions.
A 100percentfedup.com blog post said McCrummen "has a criminal history of ‘faking.’ "
The faking, here, isn’t really faking at all -- and certainly not in a way that would question the veracity of this report. The reporter in question wrote a bounced check while in college in 1992 for $6.93. The reporter paid back the money and a $50 fee.
We rate this statement False.