Gained attention for attempted "ambush interview" with "Ground Zero Mosque" developer
A two-time Emmy-winning reporter from New York's Fox 5 team has been arrested and charged with a lurid sex crime, multiple reports indicate.
NBCNewYork reports, "Fox 5 Investigative Reporter Charles Leaf faces three sex crime charges in the alleged assault of a 4-year-old girl."
The formal charges are aggravated sexual assault on a minor, sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child, according to sources.
Leaf was being held at the Bergen County Jail Thursday night. Bail was set at $250,000.
However, New Jersey's Cliffview Pilot reports, "Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli tonight confirmed that two-time Emmy award-winning FOX 5 reporter Charles Leaf is formally accused of digitally penetrating a minor and masturbating in front of the youngster several times in recent weeks. The victim is a 4-year-old girl, CLIFFVIEW PILOT has learned."
Jerry DeMarco's article adds,
A graduate of Syracuse University's Newhouse School of Public Communications, Leaf began his career in Yuma, Arizona. He also served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps, leaving the military with the rank of non-commissioned sergeant.
Leaf also worked for the U.S. State Department, with assignments at the American Embassy in Warsaw and Canberra, Australia, among other places.
He's run into trouble in many of them, according to private detective Bill Warner.
The detective told the Cliffview Pilot that ten years ago Leaf was arrested for a "willful physical attack" against a Mobile, Alabama councilwoman, and DeMarco writes, "two years later, in Detroit, a man told police that Leaf shouted homophobic obscenities at him after being pelted with eggs while covering a story."
A report at www.NorthJersey.com adds,
Earlier in his career, Leaf was a reporter in Mobile, Ala., for WPMI, where he became known for his “in-your-face” style, according to the Mobile Register.
In 1999, he left the station abruptly following a well publicized incident with a local councilwoman, who sued him for allegedly assaulting her while attempting to interview her for a story, according to the newspaper.
The suit claimed he slammed a car door on her arms and legs as she tried to get into a car and leave. No criminal charges were filed, and Leaf called the suit “baseless,” the paper reported.
A year earlier, police responded to the television station to investigate a reported fight between Leaf and a cameraman. Again, no criminal charges were filed, and Leaf said the incident was blown out of proportion, according to the paper.
The married father of two began working for the station in 2006 and has won two Emmy awards, according to his resume on MYFOXNY.COM.
"Fox 5 is aware of the situation and is looking into the matter," said a spokeswoman for the station.
At Mediaite, Colby Hall writes, "The reporter has been identified as Charles Leaf, who received some national attention for an attempted ambush interview with Sharif el-Gamal, the developer behind the so-called 'Ground Zero Mosque,' back in late August of this year."
At Crooks and Liars, David Neiwert blogged,
One of Fox News' affiliates, WNYW, sent out a reporter named Charles Leaf to conduct an "investigation" of the "money trail" in the patented Fox Ambush Squad style, and yesterday the results ran a couple of times on Fox itself: First Megyn Kelly carried it on her morning "news" show, then Laura Ingraham featured it on The O'Reilly Factor, including an interview with Leaf, who tried to pretend that what he was doing was real journalism.
What's peculiar about this report is that it zeroes in on a few minor functionaries in the financial chain behind the construction of the mosque -- loan guarantors and the like. Leaf invades their homes, follows them into foyers, and tries to run after them in parking lots. All this, ostensibly, to follow the "money trail" behind the mosque.
Of course, they somehow neglected to try talking to one of the imam's more generous backers -- Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal. Maybe that's because Talal is the No. 2 shareholder in Fox News.
It's bad enough that they sicced their camera crews on a bunch of unsuspecting bankers, accountants and real-estate developers who are, unsurprisingly, not willing to have their lives destroyed by a scandal-mongering bunch of fake journalists on a witch hunt. But the pernicious part of this kind of reportage is the way that it implies guilt -- for some unnamed misdeed -- simply in the refusal to go on-camera.
Newscorpse called Leaf "a dishonest piece of tabloid excrement" and the "new most repulsive Fox News reporter" for "continuing to ambush unsuspecting figures with highly-charged questions that have no basis in fact."
In a new segment broadcast on Fox News by Megyn Kelly, Leaf approached both New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand at separate events and asked a loaded question to the effect of: Do you still support the right to build the mosque now that you know it’s developer contributed to a terrorist organization?
What a dishonest piece of tabloid excrement Leaf is. First of all, neither Bloomberg nor Gillibrand “knew” of the allegations prior to Leaf making them. And there was certainly no reason to take his word for it based on his shoddy reputation. Secondly, Leaf outright lied by asserting that Elzanaty contributed to a terrorist organization. The HLF was a credentialed charity at the time of the donation and there is no evidence that he had any knowledge of any untoward activities. In fact, the evidence is to the contrary.
Charles Leaf is on the fast track to Fox News stardom. He is demonstrating the skill set so admired by Fox News, and Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes, its executive masters: dishonesty, partisanship, sensationalism, and aggression. He has a gift for innuendo and for advancing false premises. He expertly exploits the ignorance of his audience who are not likely to research the subject matter themselves. And he will barge into any affair and assert his bogus inquisitions without embarrassment.