LAST CALL: Police media leak leaves Dear Abby wanting answers

"Dear Abby

"Dear Abby

found itself amid some unwanted publicity last week.

Jeanne Phillips, who writes most of the Dear Abby column that her mother, Pauline, created, notified the police about a letter she received from a man who was struggling to control his pedophiliac tendencies.

The man was arrested and the story was leaked to the media by the Milwaukee police. Suddenly, Dear Abby had to answer questions about confidentiality for such news outlets as The Los Angeles Times and CNN.

Phillips was clearly annoyed that the police had revealed the details to the media. But any concerns that her livelihood is at stake are probably moot. As Alan Shearer, editorial director and general manager of the Washington Post Writers group, told Editor & Publisher Online, "It if sparks a trend for the criminal element of America to no longer write to advice columnists, we can live with that."

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