News / Halifax

Halifax police lay charges in heckling of CTV reporter during live broadcast

CTV Atlantic reporter Heather Butts told her Twitter followers on Dec. 29 that an offensive phrase was directed at her.

CTV Atlantic reporter Heather Butts told her Twitter followers she was fine on Friday after what she described as an offensive phrase was hurled at her.

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CTV Atlantic reporter Heather Butts told her Twitter followers she was fine on Friday after what she described as an offensive phrase was hurled at her.

HALIFAX — A 25-year-old man has been charged after a crass taunt was hurled at a female reporter as she was broadcasting live from a Halifax pub.

CTV Atlantic reporter Heather Butts told her Twitter followers on Dec. 29 that the phrase was directed at her during the station's 6 p.m. broadcast.

"Something offensive was said to me and it went on the air,'' she wrote at the time, saying she planned to pursue the incident.

She was doing a short broadcast from the Pint Public House, where fans were watching a world junior hockey championship game.

A recording showed a man suddenly approach Butts and appear to make a crude gesture while calling out a sexually explicit phrase.

She turned around and continued her report without acknowledging the comment, and later anchored the station's 11:30 p.m. newscast.

Const. Carol McIsaac, the spokeswoman for the Halifax police, said that police have charged Nash John Gracie with public mischief and causing a disturbance.

Gracie was released on a promise to appear in Halifax provincial court on March 1.

"We applaud Halifax police for pursuing this matter," wrote Matthew Garrow, a spokesman for CTV News.

"The harassment experienced by Heather Butts and other reporters is completely unacceptable."

Several journalists have expressed support for Butts, saying the incident represents a broader problem of harassment of female broadcast reporters and videographers, sometimes involving a graphic phrase.

The New York Press Club, a U.S.-based association of journalists, tweeted several days after the incident that no journalist should be attacked while doing their job.

CTV News host Jayson Clay Baxter tweeted at the time: "Why does this continue to happen?"

CBC Nova Scotia reporter Marina von Stackelberg had said she experienced harassment earlier in the month while she was working on a story in Dartmouth, when in the middle of an interview, a heckler shouted an obscenity from his car and drove away.

She said it was the second time she had experienced a sexist slur, and it's an experience that's become all too common for female broadcast journalists.

In November, an American man was charged with causing a disturbance after yelling a vulgar phrase at CHCH reporter Britt Dixon while she was interviewing a Hamilton police officer.

Dixon said it was the third time that had happened to her over the course of four days.

In August, police charged a Newfoundland man with causing a disturbance after he yelled the phrase at a reporter. Police laid a mischief charge against another Newfoundland man who yelled the same thing toward a journalist in April.

A Toronto FC soccer fan shouted the phrase during an interview with CityNews reporter Shauna Hunt in 2015.

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