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30 Dec, 2021 02:54

Former CNN producer under investigation after pedophilia allegations – reports

A criminal investigation involving ‘potential juvenile victims’ has allegedly been opened
Former CNN producer under investigation after pedophilia allegations – reports

An ex-producer for CNN’s ‘The Lead with Jake Tapper’ is reportedly being investigated over “serious allegations” of child sexual abuse, Fox News reported, citing police. He is the second employee to face such charges this month.

A statement by Virginia’s Fairfax County Police Department on Wednesday, cited by Fox News, appeared to confirm that a probe had been launched into Rick Saleeby, who had previously worked as a producer on ‘The Lead with Jake Tapper.’ It said “detectives assigned to the Child Exploitation Squad of the Major Crimes Bureau” were leading the investigation. 

“While we will eventually be transparent about our findings, safeguarding the personal privacy and safety of victims and witnesses as well as maintaining the integrity of our criminal investigation are of paramount importance,” the department added.

The allegations were first raised in a report by conservative muckraking outfit Project Veritas earlier this month, which cited recordings, text messages, and photos provided by a “former sex worker” who claimed to have had an “ongoing relationship” with Saleeby for over 10 years.

Though the outlet noted it had no evidence any abuse had been committed, Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe said the information provided by the woman, identified as Janine Bonanni, was concerning enough that he felt a “duty to take action to protect the children who were involved.” After contacting the police, Project Veritas reported that Saleeby’s devices and hard drives had been seized as part of the investigation, and Fox later added that officers had taken “numerous items from the subject’s Virginia home.”

A spokesperson for CNN told Fox that “The person in question no longer works for CNN” and had resigned earlier this month, but did not elaborate. It is unclear whether the resignation had come before or after Project Veritas’ December 15 report.

While Project Veritas cited the content of sexually explicit messages and recordings, it is unknown how it had confirmed they had been sent by Saleeby. Many of the graphic messages included in the report, moreover, make no mention of a minor, but are alleged to refer to the underage daughter of Saleeby’s former fiancé.

The reported investigation comes after another CNN staffer, veteran producer John Griffin, was arrested by the FBI earlier this month on three counts of attempting to “entice minors to engage in unlawful sexual activity.” The Justice Department has claimed Griffin used messaging apps to persuade the parents of underage girls to “allow him to train their daughters to be sexually submissive.” He faces a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison for each charge, if found guilty.