When Tabloids Go to Extremes to Get the Story

Sarah Jessica Parker's surrogate is latest victim of extreme tabloid tactics.

ByABC News
June 18, 2009, 6:40 PM

June 19, 2009— -- In what appears to be a case of the tabloids going too far in pursuit of a story, two Ohio police chiefs are under investigation for plotting to break into the home of Sarah Jessica Parker's surrogate to gather information for a tabloid.

Martins Ferry police chief Barry Carpenter and Bridgeport police chief Chad DoJack are being investigated by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, according to press reports. The bureau would not confirm or deny the investigation. But Phil Wallace, the mayor of Martins Ferry, told ABCNews.com, "There is an investigation and allegations that he's done something." He said the chief remains at work during the probe.

Carpenter, the Martins Ferry chief, told a local television station, "I'm 100 percent innocent in this and my department is as well."

Bridgeport police were unavailable for comment.

Meanwhile the expectant parents, Parker and husband Matthew Broderick, released their own statement about the incident.

"Matthew and Sarah Jessica have complete faith in the legal system. But because it's a criminal investigation -- we will not be making any more comment," said the statement sent to ABCNews.com. "What I can say is the entire family looks forward to the healthy delivery of their daughters later on this summer."

Recently Parker expressed concern about the health and safety of her surrogate, who has been hounded by tabloid reporters and paparazzi since the celebrity couple announced she was carrying their twins.

"The most unsavory things have been done," she told "Access Hollywood." "She's had her phone hacked, her personal computer information hacked, she's had threats against her and true harassment. ... She's had friends threatened and family threatened and she's had family of friends threatened.

"It keeps me up every night," added Parker, who lives in New York City. "It's really incredibly upsetting to think of her so far away and me not being able to do something, beyond what I'm legally allowed to do."

Parker may be staying within legal limits, but the tabloids, it seems, have been going to extremes to get the scoop on their competition.

Just recently Brooke Shields took the National Enquirer to task after a reporter removed her mother, who suffers from dementia, from a New Jersey nursing home.

Brooke Shields

At the time, Shields' lawyer threatened legal action. "We're considering it," Gerald Lefcourt told ABCNews.com. "There are potentially many claims, criminal and civil."

Shields also had harsh words for the tabloid.

"My mother Teri Shields has been diagnosed with dementia. For her safety, she has temporarily been in a senior living facility, a very difficult decision for me," Shields told People magazine Friday. "Late Thursday afternoon, I was alerted by Old Tappan Police that my mother had been signed out of the facility by two reporters of the National Enquirer … who falsely claimed they were friends of hers."

The Enquirer and Shields reached an arrangement last week, in which the tabloid agreed to apologize and make a "generous" donation to further research on dementia.

Shields may be celebrating her victory over the tabloids, but as long as celebrity news sells, you can be sure the tabloids will doggedly pursue stories about them. ABCNews.com looked at some other cases of tabloids crossing the line:

Farrah Fawcett

Farrah Fawcett set up a trap for the tabloids, which she called as "invasive and malignant as cancer." Convinced that her medical information about her cancer was being leaked by hospital employees to the tabloids, she carried out her own sting operation.

When Fawcett's doctor told her that her cancer had returned in 2007, she deliberately withheld the news from her friends and family in order to prove that someone from the hospital was leaking information.

"I set it up with the doctor. I said, 'O.K., you know and I know.' And I knew that if it came out, it was coming from UCLA," Fawcett told the Los Angeles Times. "I couldn't believe how fast it came out — maybe four days."

Eventually, after months of requests, UCLA gave Fawcett's lawyers the name of the administrative specialist who had gone through her records, the Los Angeles Times reported. Just as the hospital moved to fire Lawanda Jackson in July 2007, she quit, the paper said.

Prosecutors learned that the National Enquirer had paid the employee more than $4,600 for the actress's medical information, beginning in 2006. The checks were made out to Jackson's husband.

Heath Ledger

In 2008, a former freelance reporter for People magazine blew the whistle on two tabloid photographers after they allegedly gave Heath Ledger a package of cocaine then secretly videotaped him snorting the drug.

The reporter, referred to in court papers as Jane Doe, filed a lawsuit a few months after Ledger's death last January. She claimed that she was the unknowing accomplice to the two photographers, Darren Banks – whom she was dating at the time – and Eric Munn, when she accompanied them in 2006 to the Chateau Marmont Hotel in Los Angeles where they met Ledger.

In the suit, she accused the British-owned Splash News & Picture Agency, which the photographers worked for, of paying for the cocaine and then profiting on the video of Ledger that was shown just days after the actor's death. Her attorney, Douglas Johnson, told British-basedThe Observer at the time the lawsuit was filed, "This is bad stuff. You don't give drug addicts drugs so you can then tape them."

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie

Last July after the birth of their twins, Pitt and Jolie were visited at the South France estate by two intruders.

Tabloid photographers dressed in camouflage scaled the walls of their estate at night and slipped onto the grounds in an attempt to be the first to photograph twins Vivienne Marcheline and Knox Leon. Instead they met up with Pitt-Jolie's armed guards.

Rubina Ali

The 9-year-old star of "Slumdog Millionaire" was at the center of controversy stirred by a British tabloid reporter who posed as a sheik offering to buy the girl from her father, Rafiq Qureshi.

The British tabloid News of the World ran a story in April about how Qureshi agreed to sell his daughter for the equivalent of $400,000 to the undercover reporter, leading to an investigation by Mumbai police.

After he was questioned by police, Qureshi denied the tabloid account to reporters. According to The Associated Press, he said he had been lured to a fancy Mumbai hotel by someone claiming they were moved by Rubina's story and wanted to help her.