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January 05, 2017

Enraged 10-year-old journalist wants Pennsylvania D.A. to resign over 'phony information'

Odd News Media
010516_LysiakPiecuch Orange Street News/Snyder County District Attorney's Office/YouTube/Twitter

Orange Street News publisher Hilde Kate Lysiak (L) and and Snyder County District Attorney Mike Piecuch (R).

The ambitious 10-year-old publisher of the Orange Street News in Pennsylvania is furious with her county's District Attorney Mike Piecuch over what she claims was a deliberate misinformation campaign he waged against a Deer Park water commercial she had been called upon to help produce.

Hilde Kate Lysiak, daughter of author and journalist Matthew Lysiak, was chosen to star as a crime reporter in a Deer Park Natural Brand Spring Water commercial filmed in her hometown of Selinsgrove. Piecuch, a Republican who has been Snyder County's lead prosecutor since 2010, pushed back against the application for permission to film submitted by a California production company.

Why? Piecuch characterized the commercial as an "insensitive" re-enactment of a recent Selinsgrove homicide that Lysiak had covered. 

"They shouldn't have to see their loss exploited for commercial gain," Piecuch wrote in a statement on the commercial dated Dec. 9. Three days later, he announced on Facebook that there would be no crime scene re-enactment.

Lysiak, who covers everything from community affairs to vandalism, took issue with Piecuch's portrayal of the commercial as a direct re-enactment of the homicide in question. In a video posted online at Orange Street News, Lysiak presents information indicating there was never any intent to link the commercial's themes to the Selinsgrove murder. In fact, she says, the application only ever mentioned that the commercial would include actors dressed as police officers.

Contacted Thursday afternoon, Piecuch disputed Lysiak's claim that there was no connection between the commercial's premise and the Selinsgrove homicide.

Before declining to comment further, he pointed out that the requested filming location was only a block away from the crime scene. He also referenced a Dec. 14 Facebook post detailing the county's position and Deer Park's own tactful stance on the conflict. 

This isn't the first time Lysiak has drawn attention for her precocious reporting. Last spring, Orange Street News came under fire after some locals felt it was inappropriate for a 9-year-old child to be writing about crime. Lysiak posted a video essentially telling people to stop being so cranky and get used to it. She has a circulation of about 1,000, files stories online and is working with her father on a fictional series, "Hilde Cracks the Case," to be published by Scholastic. 

A spokesperson for Selinsgrove Borough told Penn Live that the Deer Park commercial was eventually filmed without incident over two days in December.

"Because of (Piecuch) putting out all of this phony information, it shows that the people of Selinsgrove cannot trust him, and that's a very serious thing," Lysiak said. "But if he decides to stay in office, which I'm guessing he will, Orange Street News suggests he spend less time putting out phony news releases on Facebook and more time doing something about all the vandalism, crime and drugs in our schools."

A quick glance at the table of contents for "Nine Stories" revealed that this quarrel was not prophesied by J.D. Salinger.