Back in February 2015, FTVLive told you the story about KDVR Denver Reporter Heidi Hemmat was crawling around a local business's dumpster, when the business owner came out and confronted her.
Hemmat says that story made her quit TV news. On her website, she writes the man told his therapist that he wanted to kill her.
Hemmat was scared, but her News Director didn't seem to think it was that big of a deal. So, Hemmat quit her job and now she is telling the story.
She writes: So, I think people are just starting to realize I am no longer with KDVR or on TV. Not surprising since there was no official announcement or acknowledgement from the station’s management. The reason I left is downright terrifying. Many of you remember the “dumpster dive,” that was a promo for the station–me standing in a guy’s dumpster confronting him about destroying documents that he was ordered to turn over by the Colorado Attorney general’s office. The consumer fraud charges and criminal case against him were the result of a 4 part investigation–I worked very hard to expose this guy–and in the end, I paid a very high price. There’s a reason why I’m not saying his name–it’s because I’m still scared of him. Shortly after he learned about the charges against him, that were a direct result of me, I got a call from his psychiatrist. She told me he was “homicidal” and was planning to kill me. The psychiatrist thought the threat was so credible, she broke HPPA laws (the laws that protect medical records of psychos, such as the theater shooter–James Holmes) to warn me. She informed me he was on a “72 hour mental hold” but because it was 4th of July weekend, (2015) he would likely be released before then. She then asked me if I had somewhere else I could go because he knew where I lived and of course, where I worked. I remember the chill than ran from the top of my head to the soles of my feet. Of course I had nowhere to go! I have 2 children, then 1 and 3, I couldn’t just leave on a whim –where would I go? And when would I return? Would it ever be safe? I filed reports with police stations, got a restraining order, the guy even ended up in an ankle bracelet–but my sense of safety was gone–and the way I viewed my job–forever changed. Unfortunately, my boss didn’t see it that way, she did pay for a few days of security at my home, undercover Denver police officers, but when the weekend came, she expressed concern about how much it was costing and downplayed the threat “he’s not going to do anything to you,” she said, “if he was going to kill you he would have done it by now.” And from that point forward, there was no more station provided security. The next 6 months were awful. I distinctly remember a day when the guy “tampered with his ankle monitor” and I was informed by the victim advocate that he had broke it and the county could not track him. I promptly put my kids in the car and started driving, where? I don’t know. But as they babbled in their little toddler way in the back seat, all I could do was hide my fear, never letting on that their mommy could be taken from them–worse –they could be injured in the crossfire. By the way, I also by this point had a gun for the first time in my life. My boss, once again feigned empathy and concern…but I know now she always thought I was over-reacting. Meantime, the case against this guy was moving forward (for consumer fraud) and every time he was in court, my boss wanted a follow up story. I finally went to her and said “we solved this problem, he is no longer in business, he’s facing millions of dollars in penalties and nobody will ever be ripped off again, can’t we just stop following this story? I feel my life is in danger every time we do.” Her response, I’ll never forget, “Heidi, we’re journalists, we are not going to stop doing stories just because he had a temper tantrum.” A “temper tantrum,” his psychiatrist certainly didn’t see it that way. And we had dropped stories before–for much less…let’s just say, if you advertised you had a much less chance of being on TV for a bad reason…Regardless of how I felt, I still powered through. I even chased down an electrician with my high heels and purse for the May ratings period. All the bosses were happy, but I knew I couldn’t keep ambushing people who did bad things to other people. Society has changed. People have changed. My physical and mental health were unraveling. As soon as that ratings period ended I took an unpaid leave of absence, and in August I asked to be let out of my contract. My boss sent out a note to the staff that failed to acknowledge my 15 years of service at KDVR, the 6 Emmy awards I had won for the station or the fact that I had literally put my life on the line. It just said “Heidi is no longer an employee of FOX 31.”
I write this blog now, and it feels good to get the pain I felt off my chest. But what really feels good, so, so good, is looking at my family and my kids –and knowing mommy isn’t doing anything unsafe in the name of journalism. I have spent more time with my kids in the past 6 months than in the entire 4 years of my son’s life. My kids are happy, my husband is happy, our marriage is stronger than ever, and what really feels good –is Heidi Hemmat Productions is going to have an incredible year, especially for a less than 1 year old company. Thank you to my family, thank you to my clients, thank you to my friends, thank you to my fans, but most of all THANK YOU GOD. In my darkest time, you answered my prayers and out of nowhere, lawyers started calling me–looking for legal case documentaries. Words cannot express my gratitude.