LAT finds more Arnold gropees

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After looking into the often-heard allegations about Arnold's sexual harassment, an L.A. Times team turns up six women who contend they were groped or otherwise invaded by Schwarzenegger, sometimes while others watched. Only two of the women go all the way on the record and let their names be used, and one of them is the TV interviewer who was named in the 2001 Premiere story that alleged similar boorish behavior by Arnold. With the four accusers allowed to remain anonymous, the Times talked to friends and relatives who lent credence to the accounts.

I haven't read every Schwarzenegger investigation piece, so I don't know all that's come before, but my sense is this adds cases but isn't a huge revelation. Anyone who believes the probable next governor is without character issues hasn't been listening or doesn't care. Is the story's timing suspicious? Not to me. You work these kinds of stories as long as you can, trying to get everything there is to get and cross checking all you can. There's no urgency to rush into print at the risk of being wrong. The only timing consideration for me is to not run the story so late it hits unfairly, on the final weekend. In this case there is adequate time for the Schwarzenegger campaign to respond, if they wish. But I doubt they were surprised anyway. (Sean Walsh does give the blanket denial in the story.)

This is, if I'm not mistaken, the first big effort at the Times by new investigative reporter Gary Cohn, who got the lead byline. The Pulitzer winner had worked for editor in chief John Carroll in Baltimore.

Meanwhile, Nikki Finke writes in this week's LA Weekly on the efforts by John Connolly, the author of the Premiere story, to sell a book he claims will have much more unspecified dirt on Arnold. In a separate late-breaking Web-only piece, Finke reports that the William Morris Agency won't be representing the book -- but beyond that, everybody's claims diverge. And in a second Web-only posting, Finke says the LAT didn't advance the case against Arnold, and objects to the Times calling Connolly during the reporting.

Updated 1:25 p.m.

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