Local Tennis Pro Acquitted Of All Charges

A recent and erroneous arrest of Nathan Willingham, well-known and respected tennis professional and entrepreneur, was given a disproportionate amount of coverage in the local news, while the subsequent dismissal and acquittal have gone unreported.

Innocent until proven guilty is a noble and austere belief; the bedrock that the very foundation this country was built upon. Unfortunately, it seems to have no place in the murky world of local journalism. Eager to sell papers and generate revenue, many will make ethically dubious decisions in order to increase circulation. Such was the case surrounding the May, 2013 Nathan Willingham arrest.

Willingham was arrested at his home, along with two younger associates, on charges of suspicion of drug use and possession of paraphernalia. In most cases of this nature, such an arrest would not merit more than a few lines in a police blotter. But in this case, a (poorly) detailed article "covering" the event not only blatantly misrepresented Willingham's involvement, but, also, completely omitted the fact that at no time was the California tennis pro in possession of any illegal drugs or paraphernalia. Willingham supporters (in line with this journalist's beliefs) believe this is a classic example of undue and profit-driven sensationalism in the media.

Unable to let the facts get in the way of a good story, not only did the journalist in question inflate the seriousness of the charges, but went as far as to print a fabricated quote from Willingham, himself. The inaccurate reporting stated police were told by Willingham that he smoked methamphetamine because he needed energy to teach the children who attend his classes at California Elite Tennis Academy. This entirely false statement was then "leaked" to press agents, who failed to follow up with the ethically required due-diligence before printing the fictitious statement as "fact."

The personal and professional damage done by the inaccurate reporting of the Nathan Willingham arrest has been immense, indeed. Curiously, there has been no coverage until this point to bring attention to an innocent man's subsequent acquittal.

In what many would consider an heroic stance of optimism, Willingham states, "It's not worth getting angry about the mistakes, or even malicious intents, of others. I choose to move forward with my life and career, and I have received immense support from the people of this area who know and respect the person I really am."