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Judge issues gag order in Texas swingers club case
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    DALLAS — An East Texas newspaper acknowledged Tuesday that a reporter covering a trial of a child sex club dated the prosecutor until five months ago, an allegation the defense team is using to seek a change of venue.
    A reporter from television station KLTV is also accused of having a personal relationship with Smith County Assistant District Attorney Joe Murphy. But the station’s news director called the allegation ‘‘pure slander.’’
    State District Judge Jack Skeen Jr. issued a gag order Tuesday in the trial of Patrick Kelly, who is accused of helping run an East Texas swinger’s group that forced children as young as 5 to perform sex shows.
    Thad Davidson, Kelly’s attorney, wants Tyler Morning Telegraph reporter Casey Knaupp and KLTV reporter Danielle Capper to testify Monday when he seeks to get the trial moved from Smith County.
    Davidson contends that coverage by Knaupp and Capper has been biased because of their personal relationships with Murphy, and that their stories in turn biased the prospective jury pool.
    The newspaper and television station said they will seek to quash the subpoenas at a Friday hearing.
    In a story on the Tyler Morning Telegraph’s Web site Tuesday, the newspaper acknowledged that Knaupp had dated Murphy and the relationship ended more than five months ago. The first trials in the case were in March.
    Knaupp told her paper she keeps her ‘‘personal and professional lives separate.’’
    ‘‘The allegations by Thad Davidson that my coverage of this case are biased are wholly unfounded,’’ Knaupp said in the paper’s story. ‘‘I believe anyone who reads my articles will see that.’’
    Kenny Boles, news director of KLTV, said the station’s coverage has been ‘‘groundbreaking, responsible and balanced.’’
    ‘‘I stand by our reporting of both the investigation and criminal trials related to the tragic abuse of the East Texas children in these cases,’’ Boles said.
    He called the allegations made of the relationship between his reporter and the prosecutor ‘‘pure slander,’’ but wouldn’t comment further.
    Dave Berry, managing editor of the Tyler Morning Telegraph, has said the paper wasn’t of aware of Knaupp’s relationship with Murphy but stood by his reporter. He declined further comment Tuesday, and messages left for Knaupp at the paper were not immediately returned.
    Phone calls to reach Murphy at his office after business hours Tuesday rang unanswered.
    Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham told The Associated Press this week that he was aware Murphy and Knaupp dated, but said he did not see how it is relevant to the trial. He said Knaupp, the paper’s courts reporter, has written stories that were not always favorable to his office.
    ‘‘Yeah, (Murphy has) been out with her,’’ Bingham said. ‘‘I don’t know how that affects whether or not his defendant is guilty of sexual assault of a child.’’
    Kelly, 41, is charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child, tampering with physical evidence and engaging in organized criminal activity. Davidson has said his client passed a lie-detector test and is innocent.

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