NY Times acknowledges reporter's payment

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The New York Times acknowledged Tuesday that a reporter who wrote an acclaimed 2005 article about a teenage Internet pornographer helped gain the boy's trust by sending him a $2,000 check. Former Times staff writer Kurt Eichenwald made the payment in June 2005 to Justin Berry, who at the time was an 18-year-old star in a seedy network of child-porn sites. Six months later, Berry became the leading figure in Eichenwald's expose on Web sex sites run by teenagers. The Times investigation prompted congressional hearings, led to arrests and fueled reforms in the way Web-hosting companies screen their clients. The story also garnered attention for the unusual relationship between Eichenwald and his primary subject. In the months before the story ran, Eichenwald persuaded Berry to quit the porn business, stop using drugs and become a law enforcement informant.

The defendant, Ken Gourlay, is one of several men arrested on charges involving child pornography after Berry began working with the Justice Department. One of them, Gregory Mitchel, pleaded guilty last year and was sentenced to 150 years in prison.

source: Article 'NY Times Acknowledges Reporter's Payment' by David B. Caruso; hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/R/REPORTER_PAYMENT?SITE=FLTAM&SECTION=US; TBO.com (AP); 6 March 2007