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Wide Gag Order Issued in 'Basement of Horror' Case

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A Philadelphia judge has issued a gag order in connection with the Tacony basement captives' case (see related stories).

Prosecutors filed the motion citing "overzealous" media coverage, including "manipulating" victims into doing interviews, and trespassing.

Judge Marsha Neifield met privately in her chambers with attorneys involved in this case, including members of the district attorney's office and defense counsel.  When they came out into the open courtroom, she said that there would be a "modified order" limiting publicity.

In most cases, gag orders prevent prosecutors and defense lawyers from commenting to the media, to prevent pretrial publicity. This order extends to alleged victims, children rescued, witnesses, and potential witnesses.

"The judge asked us to adhere to the rules of professional conduct in this case," said defense lawyer George Yacoubian (photo), who represents the main defendant, Linda Weston.  "We would be doing that anyway."

Attorney Amy Ginensky, representing the company that owns the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, sought to intervene on free-speech grounds.  She says it's clearly a First Amendment issue.

"We, as the press, have a right to hear from people who want to speak to us, and those who want to speak to us have an absolute Constitutional right to speak," she said afterward.

Ginensky said the newspapers were considering whether to appeal the judge's order.

Reported by Steve Tawa, KYW Newsradio 1060

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