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A new low?

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Has our thirst for celebrity "infotainment" hit a new low?

That's the question I'm asking today after some low-life leaked a picture of pop singer Rihanna to the TMZ website which shows her battered and bruised face following an alleged case of domestic violence.

In case you've been living under a rock and haven't heard, her boyfriend, singer Chris Brown, allegedly attacked her just hours before she was to perform at the Grammy Awards earlier this month. Charges have yet to be filed.

I'm disgusted by the situation on several levels.

Firstly, for any media outlet that goes ahead and publishes this photo, which clearly was not released with the victim's consent and forms part of an ongoing investigation.

Is it any wonder we hear how so many victims of domestic abuse are afraid to come forward? If these allegations are true and Rihanna was indeed brutalized, how can anyone justify "exposing"  a victim like this?

In Canada, victims of domestic abuse are protected by law, as they should be. Their names, and faces, would only be revealed if they gave their consent. As it should be.

I thought it was pretty pathetic that some journalists outed her as the alleged victim. But that doesn't even compare to what has now been done by putting her face out there for all to see.

There is no way to spin this as a positive, save for the TMZ folks who no dobut will see a surge in website hits today as people flock to their site to sneak a peak.

Other media outlets are already following suit. I saw a video clip of a Los Angeles television newscast which talked about the photo's release, showed the photo to their viewers - AND THEN HAD THE NERVE TO SAY THEY WOULD NO LONGER SHOW IT! Way to take a stand, hypocrites.

I'm also disgusted at the fact this photo could land in the hands of TMZ folks in the first-place. Disgusted, but not surprised. It seems like anyone can be bought these days, as we've seen recently by what's happened in the Bahamas with several prominent officials caught up in an extortion case involving the tragic death of John Travolta's young son.

The LAPD released the following statement. Let's hope they can find whoever's responsible and quickly bring them to justice.

Unauthorized Release of Photograph

Los Angeles: The unauthorized release of a domestic violence photograph immediately generated an internal investigation.

At about 7 p.m. on February 19, 2009, the Los Angeles Police Department Media Relations Section began receiving numerous inquiries about the release of a photograph associated with a domestic violence incident that occurred on February 8, 2009, involving entertainer Chris Brown. The photograph appeared on an entertainment website. The photograph has the appearance of one taken during an official Domestic Violence investigation.

The Los Angeles Police Department takes seriously its duty to maintain the confidentiality of victims of domestic violence.

The Department launched an immediate internal investigation and subsequently filed a personnel complaint. A violation of this type is considered serious misconduct, with penalties up to and including termination.

Anyone with information concerning the unauthorized release of the photograph is asked to call, during regular business hours, (213) 485-4152. After-hours or on weekends, calls may be directed to our 24-hour, toll-free number at 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (527-3247). Callers may also text "CRIMES" with a cell phone or log on to www.lapdonline.org and click on Web Tips. When using a cell phone, all messages should begin with "LAPD." Tipsters may remain anonymous.

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About Mike McIntyre

Journalist, national radio show host, author, pundit and cruise director ... Mike McIntyre loves to keep busy.

Mike is the justice reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press, where he has worked since 1997. He produces and hosts the weekly talk radio show Crime and Punishment, which runs on the Corus Radio Network in several Canadian cities.

Born and bred in Winnipeg, Mike graduated from River East Collegiate and completed his journalism studies in the Creative Communications program at Red River College.

He and his wife, Chassity, have two children.

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