Monday, July 13, 2009

Woman sentenced after husband dies during sex game

Today, a judge sentenced a Columbia, Tenn. woman to 18 months in jail after her husband died of suffocation during bondage sex.

In April 2008, The Daily Herald of Columbia reported that Rebecca Bargy, 26, left her husband James Bargy, 29, tied up for 20 hours while she was with another man she met on the Internet. She tied up her husband and gagged him to fulfill a sexual fantasy. A medical examiner later confirmed that James Bargy died from suffocation.

Bargy was convicted on May 20 of negligent homicide and will serve her sentence in the Maury County Jail.

When I first heard about this story, the cause of death really didn't shock me, however, the location did. I guess I have a mindset that bondage sex isn't common among Tennesseans, but maybe it is.

My reporter instincts also kicked in and I began to wonder how a journalist should handle this type of situation. I've taken a journalism ethics class before and recall talking about certain cases such as this one. Do you reveal the cause of death or leave it out to prevent others from trying this kind of act?

I say leave it in. As a journalist, your role is to report the facts, and if a man or woman dies from autoerotic asphyxia or bondage sex then report it. The public has a right to know.

Personally, I don't buy into the whole fear of people trying something because you printed it. People are already trying risky sex games and dying from them, so what is so scary about reporting the truth?

Of course, a journalist might not be willing to print the cause of death out of respect for family members. You can't libel a dead person, but what you write may embarrass living relatives. It may sound cruel but I can't care about that. My main priority is to report the facts.

If a family is upset about a publication printing a cause of death that is shameful then perhaps the person who committed it should have thought about that ahead of time.

Even though I feel this way about this particular case, ethics is a gray area. It's up to publications or the individual reporter to decide the best course of action to take.