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Defendant in Newspaper Controversy Sentenced to Life

February 16, 1994

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) _ A man was sentenced to life in prison in a case that brought a student newspaper under fire for printing a rape victim’s name.

Charles F. Plymail was convicted of second-degree sexual assault in the September 1992 attack.

Four days after the female victim reported the assault, the Marshall University student newspaper, The Parthenon, printed a story including the names and addresses of the accused and the accuser.

The decision was made by the student editorial board, which said it was trying to give fair treatment in rape cases. But the decision was greeted by criticism from students, residents and other newspapers, which generally do not name rape victims.

After the Marshall paper printed the victim’s name, Marshall President J. Wade Gilley issued an executive order revamping the newspaper’s governing board to take control away from the student journalists. The order was later revised and a compromise student media board was developed.

Circuit Judge Alfred E. Ferguson sentenced Plymail Monday to life in prison as a habitual offender. Plymail will be eligible for parole after 15 years, assistant prosecutor Joe Martorella said.

State law allows a person who has been convicted of a three felonies in West Virginia to be given a life sentence. Plymail also had been convicted of third-degree sexual assault in 1989 and armed robbery in 1984.

Plymail also is scheduled for a March 9 trial on two counts of first-degree sexual assault and one count of first-degree sexual abuse for an attack on two Huntington women in in 1992.

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