NEWS RELEASE: On Wednesday, April 8, 2020, the Lynchburg Commonwealth’s Attorney Office was first made aware that an officer with the Liberty University Police Department sought and obtained criminal trespassing charges against journalists related to events that occurred in March 2020. The Lynchburg Commonwealth’s Attorney Office was not consulted about these charges prior to the warrants being issued. At this time, the parties named as criminal defendants must be served with criminal process. After they are served, a court date will be set in the Lynchburg General District Court. Scheduling information may be found at http://www.courts.state.va.us/caseinfo/home.html by clicking on General District Court Case Information then filling in the appropriate fields.
Lynchburg’s top prosecutor says she is aware that Liberty University Police have obtaining criminal trespassing charges against two journalists working for the New York Times. But Commonwealth’s Attorney Bethany Harrison says she has not yet reviewed the facts, has not decided how to proceed, and cannot yet comment on them.
Lynchburg Commonwealth’s Attorney Bethany Harrison stated, “Once I receive copies of the served warrants, obtain reports from the Liberty University Police Department, conduct any necessary follow up investigation, and thoroughly research the applicable statutes and case law, I will make a final decision about how to proceed. I must point out that Rule 3.6 of the Virginia State Bar’s Rules of Professional Conduct prohibits a prosecutor who is conducting an investigation from making any public statement that may interfere with the objectivity of the investigation or the fairness of any potential judicial proceeding. Therefore, I cannot comment on the facts, the evidence, or my analysis and conclusions until conclusion of the investigation and/or prosecution.”