Once again, the “We’re better than bloggers” Orlando Sentinel gets caught reporting half the story, barely investigating the truth.
By Jacob Engels
Several weeks ago, the East Orlando Post received a tip about Jeffrey Feulner, the founder and lead attorney for the Men’s Divorce Law Firm being charged with domestic violence. We took several weeks to review the information and reach out to Mr. Feulner for comment about the allegations made by his now ex-wife.
Ultimately, after our review, we decided to let the trial and charges play out, as we believed the allegations made by his wife were less than truthful. However, on Monday, the Orlando Sentinel jumped at the opportunity to report the charges, with a glaring headline of “Attorney who founded Men’s Divorce Law Firm Charged with Domestic Violence”.
In the article, Sentinel reporter Rene Stutzman, who usually does her homework, presented a lopsided account of the allegations. Relying on only the original police reports and court documents, Stutzman reported that Feulner was accused by his ex-wife of punching her and ripping a handful of her hair from her head during a fight, while Mr. Feulner and his ex-wife were driving in their Chrysler 300.
Her investigation into the allegations and Mr. Feulner’s side of the story ended there, with Orlando Sentinel editor John Cutter’s stamp of approval. I guess it was such a slow news day that waiting for Mr. Feulner to provide a response was out of the question.
All of those fancy journalism degrees and years of working at a “traditional” news outlet were overcome by laziness and sloppy reporting. When we received this information, we waited to speak with Jeffrey Feulner and allowed him the opportunity to provide any additional documentation, a response to the State Attorney’s charges, and if he had assaulted his wife as she alleged.
“Unfortunately, my ex-wife and I were at a low point in our relationship and were seeing a counselor trying to see if we could make it work. Days before she filed for divorce, she was behaving very aggressively and trying to initiate a confrontation. I did not then, or have I ever laid my hands on Ashlie in a violent or aggressive manner.
However, as we see in a lot of the cases we handle at the Men’s Divorce Law Firm, a pattern of accusing the husband of domestic abuse before filing for divorce is what seems to have occurred. Attorneys and law enforcement are very clear in their communications with individuals seeking separation about how this really strengthens the case.
It is very sad that this occurs and it is one of the reasons why Men’s Divorce Law Firm exists, the courts and law enforcement agencies have a history of treating men guilty until proven innocent,” Feulner told the East Orlando Post.
He also furnished us with a document we viewed last week at the request of his attorney, which lists a very different story of the allegations by his ex-wife Ashlie Feulner. In the statement and affidavit to the State Attorney’s office, Mrs. Feulner says she will not cooperate with the prosecutors.
“I would ask to be left alone as Jeffrey and I are trying to repair the damage done to our marriage.”
The incident, which the Orlando Sentinel reported on, happened on the morning of September 18th, 2015. Mrs. Feulner states that the couple were driving to one of her doctors appointments, and that they had argued earlier that morning. She alleges that her husband started yelling, and that she began recording.
Mr. Feulner then asked her to stop and retrieved her phone, asking her to enter her passcode and stop the recording. Mrs. Feulner then tried to snatch her phone back from her husband. “He had my phone in his left hand and pushing me off with his right hand and trying to gain control of the car,” Ashlie Feulner stated.
The report continues with her testimony, with Mrs. Feulner writing that her husband then attempted to stop her movements from causing him to lose control of the vehicle, which was heading into oncoming traffic at one point as a result of Mrs. Feulner’s behavior.
“Jeffrey then pulled off to a side street of Orange Avenue and we both got out of the car. I walked away and he got back in the car and drove away with my phone.”
Mrs. Feulner then filed a police report and went to the court house seeking an injunction, that was granted for two weeks. At a hearing held on September 29th, 2015, she dismissed the injunction and testified that things had “calmed down.” Mr. Feulner would then file for a dissolution of their marriage, which was presided over by Judge Dan Traver.
The proceedings started on November 3rd, 2015 and concluded on December 3rd. 2015. The court documents remain sealed. “At the end of the day, we both found it best that we part ways and move on with our lives,” said Jeffrey Feulner.
After digesting all of this when we were given the information about the domestic violence allegations several weeks ago, the East Orlando Post determined that it was a personal matter that had been amicably resolved. Not. A. News. Story.
Less can be said of the Orlando Sentinel however, which keeps losing reporters to other publications or layoffs, and is seeing a rapid decline in readership.
Maybe that explains why they encouraged a veteran reporter like Rene Stutzman to publish such a poorly researched article, after giving Mr. Feulner just three hours to respond to question for comment after she was told he was in a meeting with a client.
Just another reason why most of us will continue to use the Orlando Sentinel for fire starter or kitty litter.
Jacob Engels, is the Founder of East Orlando Post & Seminole County Post. He is a seasoned political operative who has led numerous statewide political groups and has worked on several high-profile local, statewide, and national races. Jacob has been interviewed on national television & radio programs, with his work having been featured in the Orlando Sentinel, New York Times, Washington Post, Miami Herald and other publications nationwide. He can be reached at email@example.com