Local morning news anchor Mary Collins Frank's second drunken driving-related arrest in less than three years not only cast doubt on her TV career but also highlighted the pitfalls of life in the public eye.
As of midday Wednesday, the Indiana's NewsCenter personality's photo and a biographical sketch had disappeared from the company's website. Frank goes on the air as Mary Collins for INC's weekday morning news broadcast. INC President and General Manager Jerry Giesler did not immediately return a call Wednesday seeking comment on Frank's job status.
Frank, 45, was jailed Tuesday on a felony charge of operating while intoxicated and having a prior conviction of the same offense. In 2009, she pleaded guilty to a much-publicized misdemeanor OWI charge.
According to court papers, police responded at about 3:30 p.m. to the Walgreen's pharmacy at 9030 W. Jefferson Blvd. after a store worker called to report that Frank appeared to be driving drunk.
Frank bought a bottle of wine at the store and was still at the drive-through pharmacy window when police arrived, according to a police report. Police described her as angry, argumentative and uncooperative, saying she refused an initial breath test and only reluctantly handed over her driver's license, the report said.
She also allegedly resisted when an officer tried to handcuff her and put her in a police cruiser, demanding repeatedly to speak with Fort Wayne Police Chief Rusty York, the report said.
Police took Frank to the Allen County Lockup, where her blood-alcohol content was measured at 0.14 percent, nearly twice the legal limit, according to the court papers. She later was released on $2,500 bail.
Inside Frank's black Lexus SUV, police also found an open, partially drunk bottle of wine and a dog, which was taken into custody by Fort Wayne Animal Care & Control, the police report said.
Frank appeared in Allen Superior Court on Wednesday morning for her initial hearing.
Closer scrutiny part of life in public eye
While most routine OWI arrests go unreported in the news media, those involving public figures typically end up splashed across newspapers and websites where they generate reactions ranging from sympathy to finger-pointing and even ridicule by scores of readers.
“People in the public eye are held to a higher standard,” said Jennifer Nuce, a therapist at Park Center who deals with drug and alcohol addictions. "What happened to Collins, someone can look at it and say, 'Why can't she just stop? Why does she choose to keep doing that?'"
Other Fort Wayne public figures who have made headlines for alcohol-related arrests include Allen Circuit Court Judge Thomas Felts and Fort Wayne City Utilities Director Kumar Menon. Allen County Councilman Paul Moss was pulled over last month on suspicion of drunken driving, but he was not arrested.
By 3 p.m. Wednesday, 160 comments about Frank's arrest had been posted on the WANE website. The News-Sentinel typically does not allow comments about crime-related stories on its website.
“Finally! She can't get out of this one this time!” an anonymous reader posted on the website of WANE-TV, NewsChannel 15. “Get her off the news… She's supposed to represent Fort Wayne!”
To many readers, meanwhile, Frank's arrest and felony charge appeared inconsistent after another Moss's traffic stop ended much differently. Police released him without a blood-alcohol test after Sheriff Ken Fries intervened.
“Why didn't she call Sheriff Fries and ask for the 'Moss special treatment?' She would have been off the hook with no questions asked,” a WANE reader posted.