Nashville news executive Michael Patrick Leahy was summoned to appear in court on Monday to face contempt of court charges for his outlet’s reporting on the leaked manifesto of transgender Covenant School shooter Audrey Hale. Leahy, owner and editor-in-chief of conservative news site The Tennessee Star, has been ordered to disclose the source of the manifesto, which has been kept from public view by local law enforcement and the FBI for over a year.

Since early June, The Tennessee Star has published multiple articles exposing the contents of a journal said to have belonged to Hale which was recovered by police at the scene of the deadly shooting in March 2023. Separate reviews of the leaked documents conducted by the Star and The Daily Wire have revealed numerous disturbing details about the shooter’s mental state ahead of the rampage that claimed the lives of three school administrators and three students under the age of nine.

Top: Katherine Koonce, 60, Mike Hill, 61, Cynthia Peak, 61 Bottom: Evelyn Dieckhaus, 9, Hallie Scruggs, 9, William Kinney, 9

The Star claims to have combed through “four dozen” pages of the original document.

According to the journal, Hale, a 28-year-old biological female who identified as a male, wrote extensively about her fantasies of an “Imaginary Penis” and seemed to think that her parents’ Christian faith was preventing her from transitioning. Throughout her alleged writings, Hale described her female body as “a f***ing curse,” said that she “would kill” for access to gender-reassigning resources, and blamed conservatives, Christians, and White people for her suffering.

Audrey “Aiden” Hale

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In September, conservative podcast host Steven Crowder obtained three pages of the same journal, in which Hale expressed her desire to “Kill those kids!!! Those cr*ckers going to private fancy schools with those fancy khakis + sports backpacks w/ their daddies mustangs + convertables [sic].”

“I wish to shoot you weakass d**ks w/ your mop yellow hair, wanna kill all you little cr*ckers!” she continued. “Bunch of little f****ts w/ your white privileges.”

With the exception of Crowder’s expose, the contents of Hale’s alleged manifesto have been kept under wraps by law enforcement, with the FBI citing concerns about copycat shootings and “unintended consequences for the segment of the population more vulnerable or open to conspiracy theories,” per the Star’s own reporting.

After reviewing the journal entries, the outlet also reported that the Metro Nashville Police Department had served a search warrant at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where Hale received treatment from mental health professionals for more than two decades. The exact nature of her treatment is unclear, and the university has not commented publicly on the matter.

Related: Biden Declares “Transgender Day of Visibility” Three Days After Nashville Shooting

Michael Patrick Leahy, Editor-in-Chief of the Tennessee Star

Following the reporting from the Star, Davidson County Judge I’Ashea Myles demanded on Monday that Leahy stand for a “show cause hearing” to explain why he should not be held in contempt for his use of the leaked documents, as well as his refusal to name his source.

Myles is overseeing two separate lawsuits against the FBI and the MNPD to compel the release of the documents, both of which list the Star as a plaintiff. The judge’s order did not specify exactly which court orders Leahy had violated in publishing the supplemental documents from the case.

On Wednesday, Leahy’s defense team, led by First Amendment attorney Daniel Horowitz, filed an emergency motion, claiming violation of the editor’s due process rights.

“Tennessee has enacted a robust media ‘shield law’ that protects reporters from being compelled to reveal any information—or the source of any information—procured for publication or broadcast,” read the appeal, which has since been denied. “Such compulsion would also seriously undermine freedom of the press and news gathering generally.”

While Leahy has adamantly refused to name his source (a standard journalistic practice), Axios reported on Friday that retired Nashville Police Lieutenant Garet Davidson has been singled out as a possible leaker. Davidson, who was one of the only people with access to the documents during his time with the department, has filed a sweeping whistleblower complaint alleging mismanagement at MNPD and has appeared on Leahy’s talk show on several occasions.

Connor Walcott is a staff writer for Follow Connor on X and look for him on VT’s “The Unusual Suspects.”

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