DOCUMENT: Celebrity, Internet

TMZ's History Of Abuse

Publishing Rihanna photo an easy call for gossip web site

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TMZ's History Of Abuse

FEBRUARY 20--If you're wondering whether TMZ struggled with the question of whether to publish the police evidence photo of a battered Rihanna, we point you to a story the site posted last year.

The gossip outlet, which pays for stories and likely shelled out a fortune for the Rihanna image, last April published the name and photograph of a 14-year-old boy whom TMZ identified as the alleged victim of a sex crime. The child, the site reported, was the son of a celebrity, hence its interest in this particular minor's sexual abuse.

The "Exclusive" TMZ story, which remains on the site, noted that the boy was "at the center of a criminal investigation" and the "alleged victim of 'unlawful sex.'" The child, TMZ reported, was supposedly dating a 22-year-old woman whose ex-boyfriend became jealous and called cops. As a result, the site reported, cops began examining whether "an adult [was] having sex with someone under 18."

The TMZ story, which we've reprinted here in a redacted form, was illustrated with a photo of the alleged victim that was taken when he was 10. So if TMZ editor Harvey Levin, pictured at left, pops up on television to talk about his tortured decision to publish the photo of a domestic violence victim, know that he is full of shit. (1 page)