Crosby speaks out against ‘predator’ story

Crosby-Huffman Chamber of Commerce President Steve Coon

CROSBY— Roughly 160 people gathered Tuesday night at Crosby Church to show their outrage over a report on Fox26 News concerning registered sex offenders in Crosby.
The report, which first aired on May 8, said that based on a population of 1,700 residents Crosby had a ratio of 30 residents for every ‘predator.’ The term ‘predator’ used by the report referred to registered sex offenders, while assuming that every registered offender was “hunting for prey.”
The Crosby-Huffman Chamber of Commerce, along with area business and individuals, took immediate offense to the report, citing what Chamber President Steve Coon referred to as being “full of misrepresentations and inaccuracies.”
Coon said they report gave Crosby a ‘black eye.’
“The swelling hasn’t even begun to do down,” he said during this week’s meeting.
Coon said the purpose of this week’s meeting was to let the public know what had happened, inform the community about the chamber’s response as well as Fox26’s reaction and their response to letters from the chamber, local citizens and elected officials.

The main area of contention, Coon said, was reporter Caroyln Canville’s source of population figures. Coon said that the 1,700 figure quoted in the reported consisted of only a small portion of the area and that the entire population of ZIP Code 77532 is closer to 20,143. Given the 62 sex offenders registered in 77532, the ratio is closer to 1 to 343, not the 1:30 cited in the report.
Coon told the gathering that within days of the report he, on behalf of the chamber, sent a letter to the news station asking for multiple retractions, a series of “positive” reports about Crosby, and the firing of Canville as well as those responsible for conducting research for the report as well as those who allowed it to air.
Following the letter, Coon said that he has had multiple conversations with Fox, both locally as well as with their national legal representation.
In response to the complaints, Fox 26 aired multiple retractions beginning on May 22. Initially Fox26 refused to run a retraction on their website, even though the report was posted on the site. After more pressure by the chamber Fox26 said it would put a retraction on the website.
Despite the on-air apology, Coon said he was not satisfied with the news station’s response. “It just didn’t have the punch I was looking to,” he added.
“We’ve good folks,” Coon said. “Our handshakes are gold and we just want to be done right.”
The chamber has also asked the station to run a number of “positive stories” about Crosby. Canville has been in Crosby this week conducting interviews and Coon said he was looking forward to seeking what comes out.
“I felt I was able to give the opportunity to paint a positive image of the community,” said Dr. Larry Koslovsky, of Crosby Brethren Church, concerning his interview with Canville this week.
Coon said the chamber is not through with their fight.
“We haven’t stopped this,” Coon said. “This is not the end of it. We understand that we’ve been pushing hard and we have been getting very little in return.”
Speaking about the issue of registered sex offenders Deputy C.H. Collier, who works for the Harris County Sheriff’s Office’s Sex Offender Compliance division, said the state sex offender registry database is a tool which can be abused in the wrong hands, as the report showed. He noted that Crosby’s ratio is no different from that of North Houston or far West Harris County.
He also reminded the group that just because someone’s name is on the list does not necessarily mean they are a predator. He gave examples of how a 19-year old boy could have relations with a 16-year old girl. Technically this is considered statutory rape, which would require a registration. The couple could later be married and 10 or 15 years later the man would still have to maintain registry on the sex offender site. Another example he gave was of a 10-year old boy who slaps a girl’s bottom. If charges were filed, the child would be required to register for a certain number of years after he reaches 18, even if he received probation as a child.
“We do need to be cautious about broad brushing them (registered sex offenders),” Crosby Church Pastor and Chamber Board Member Keenan Smith.
Smith said that main issue was Fox’s errors and “sensational’ reporting. “There is power in words,” he said, “With greater power comes greater responsibility.”
Conn said he invited Fox26 to the meeting to explain their position as well as other Houston media to cover the media.
Not a single Houston television media outlet chose to attend the meeting.