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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Geraldo Rivera banned from camp of Haleigh's father

Fox News figure was issued a trespass warning
By Deirdre Conner
Sunday, Feb. 22, 2009

No new information about Haleigh Cummings’ whereabouts materialized on Sunday.

But as the search for the missing Putnam County girl closed out its 13th day, the case took a surreal turn as her family’s conflict became fodder for national television.

It all started Saturday afternoon, when police responded to a disturbance at the trailer park where Haleigh’s mother’s family and father’s family are camped out at opposite ends of the road.

The disturbance began after Geraldo Rivera, anchor of the Fox News Channel’s “Geraldo at Large,” accosted Ronald Cummings, Haleigh’s father, at the camper where he has been living. It ended with a trespass warning for Rivera, and shortly thereafter, the broadcast of his contentious interview. Read the transcript here.
Geraldo asked him about allegations that he used illegal drugs, was physically and verbally abusive of Sheffield — most of them detailed in a Thursday story in the Times-Union — which he denied.

Cummings got even more upset when Rivera said he’d been told by members of Haleigh’s mother’s family that Cummings hit the child and has said he is 75 percent sure he knows who has her. Shortly thereafter, family members ran Rivera and his crew off the property.

Putnam County Sheriff’s deputies arrived on the scene later, and issued Rivera the trespass warning at the request of the two property owners on whose land the Cummings family is camping while their trailer remains closed off as a crime scene. A trespass warning means Rivera would be arrested if he came back onto the property. Rivera told deputies he understood and stated he would not come back to the address, but declined to sign the trespass warning, according to a sheriff’s office report.

A Fox News spokeswoman provided partial transcripts of the interviews, but said she was unable to make anyone from the show available for comment on the run-in.

In Rivera’s later interview with Sheffield and her mother, she repeated those allegations, but said she still believes that Cummings loves Haleigh.

On Sunday, neither parent was speaking to the media. Haleigh’s paternal grandmother, Teresa Neves, issued yet another plea for people nationwide to keep an eye out for her granddaughter.
Official police searches of that area have stilled, but detectives from the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office are still tracking down leads, said Capt. Dick Schauland.

This was a low-class interview imo. I've been with Geraldo forever--through the broken nose incident to the empty vault. He's like a lovable but slightly goofy little brother. But here he goaded Ron into getting angry and probably wheedled the abuse allegations out of Crystal. I think he stirred up trouble where there wasn't any.

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