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WPXI anchor off air after fight at party

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

By Rob Owen and Johnna A. Pro, Post-Gazette Staff Writers

Channel 11 anchorwoman Gina Redmond faces a district justice's hearing next month and was off the air last night after being accused of an unprovoked attack on a former colleague over the weekend.

The private complaint against the WPXI broadcaster was filed at District Justice Charles A. McLaughlin Jr.'s office in Brookline by Roberta Petterson, 29, a WTAE producer who formerly worked at Channel 11.

Saturday night, Petterson and Redmond attended a going-away party for Channel 11's Reg Chapman, who has taken a new position in Minneapolis. Just after midnight, there was a dispute between the two. Petterson claims Redmond slapped her. Petterson called police and filed charges.

Redmond, who was not on the air yesterday, declined comment and referred all questions to her attorney, Glenn R. Mahone. He did not return calls.

WPXI news director Pat Maday said an inquiry is under way at the station.

"Given the sensitivity of it, we thought it best to not have Gina on the air [last night]," Maday said. "I want to make absolutely clear that we've drawn no conclusions as to what happened. Our inquiry is in the very early stages and we hope to complete it quickly."

Petterson told Pittsburgh police officers that she was at the party in Redbeard's Mountain Resort and Yacht Club on Mount Washington when Redmond approached her and said, "Do you have anything to say to my face?"

Petterson said she turned to her boyfriend, PCNC's John McIntire, and said, "Let's go," but before she could leave, Redmond smacked her in the face.

Because Petterson was not injured, police advised her to file a private complaint.

Redmond had already left the bar by then and some time later went to Allegheny County Night Court and obtained a protection from abuse order against Petterson. The order expired yesterday and, according to officials in family court, Redmond did not try to have it made permanent.

In the affidavit filed with McLaughlin, Petterson said that Redmond tried twice to provoke her at the party even after she told her she had nothing to say.

"She began yelling at me about a previous work dispute and hit me," Petterson said in the affidavit.

Petterson previously produced Channel 11's 11 p.m. newscast which is co-anchored by Redmond and David Johnson. After a professional disagreement that involved Redmond, Petterson quit and eventually took a job at rival WTAE.

Petterson declined comment yesterday, but WTAE television is standing behind her. Several of the station's employees who also were at the party witnessed what happened and news director Bob Longo said he fully supported Petterson.

"Roberta is a standup citizen. She was totally in the right. Multiple witnesses, including an assistant district attorney, were in arm's reach. Morally and ethically she has done nothing incorrect," Longo said. "She was unfortunately attacked by another individual and it's obviously something management at WPXI should deal with swiftly and judiciously and perhaps the police as well."

McLaughlin's office scheduled the hearing for Sept. 5 at 1 p.m. Harassment, a summary offense, carries a penalty of up to 90 days in jail and a $300 fine.

Johnna Pro can be reached at jpro@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1574. Rob Owen can be reached at rowen@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2582; post questions or comments to www.post-gazette.com/tv under TV Forum.

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