Heather Unruh is a former Boston anchorwoman who criticized sexism in television news when she stepped down after 15 years in the market, during which time she covered everything from the Boston Marathon bombing to Whitey Bulger.
A tweet that Unruh wrote on October 13 went viral when she accused a well-known actor by name of allegedly assaulting a friend. Although she named the actor, Heavy is choosing to withhold the name because no accuser has directly come forward, and no evidence has been proffered.
Unruh’s accusation came on the heels of a string of sexual assault and harassment allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. Those allegations sparked a viral trend of people throughout the country tweeting and writing “me too” on Facebook and Twitter to indicate they had been sexually assaulted or harassed in their lives. In the Boston area, Unruh was a fixture on television screens for more than a decade.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Unruh Tweeted That It’s ‘Time the Dominoes Fell’
Unruh posted the tweet getting all of the attention to her Twitter page on October 13, but it didn’t start to take off until October 16, when the accusation was picked up by some news sites in England and the United States, some of which did not print the actor’s name. Unruh wasn’t so hesitant.
“The #weinsteinscandal has emboldened me– #truth time. I was a [name removed] fan until he assaulted a loved one. Time the dominoes fell,” she wrote, naming the actor, who is a household name. Heavy has omitted his name from the tweet because no evidence has been offered to support the accusations, and their credibility could not be assessed.
In a follow-up tweet after the first tweet began getting attention, Unruh wrote, “My intent was to encourage a badly needed investigation and conversation. Plenty of information to be uncovered. #Investigate #It’sNotOk.”
A person on the comment thread challenged Unruh, writing, “I don’t think it’s fair to make an accusation without back-up. Anyone can do that. I’m not saying it’s not true, it’s hearsay.”
She responded, “This is 100% true… this person is considering all options about speaking out– not an easy decision.”
Asked by a reporter for a national news site if she would be willing to talk about her tweet, she wrote, “In good time.” When someone asked what that meant, she responded, “It means I have respect for the person involved who is considering all options before going public. Big implications, wouldn’t you agree?”
She also wrote, “It is up to someone other than me to give details.” Asked about talking to the person, she said, “I have… waiting for decision.”
Some people thought Unruh should have waited to lodge the allegation. “Then don’t post unsourced, unsupported, non verified claims without proof. If it’s true I am sorry for your loved one. Not fair,” a person wrote on the thread.
Unruh accompanied both tweets with a photo of the actor.
2. Unruh Was a Long-Time Anchorwoman for Channel 5 in Boston Who Helped Anchor News on the Boston Marathon Bombing
For more than a decade, Unruh was a familiar face to Bostonians on WCVB-TV Channel 5 until fall 2016.
“Unruh worked at WCVB ABC 5 in Boston for 15 years, most recently co-anchoring NewsCenter 5 at 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m., before announcing her resignation last October,” New England Living reported.
“The California native began her broadcasting career in Binghamton, NY before moving on to Birmingham, AL and then Oklahoma City where she worked as an anchor and medical reporter,” the news outlet reported. “After joining WCVB in 2001, she anchored breaking news coverage for nearly every major event, from the Boston Marathon bombing and the conviction of Boston mobster James Whitey Bulger to the resignation of Cardinal Law and elevation of Cardinal Sean O’Malley to Archbishop.”
Her LinkedIn page says she anchored the 4:30 and 6 p.m. news in her most recent assignment before leaving the television station.
3. Unruh Describes Herself as a ‘Family Gal’ & ‘Human Rights Advocate’
On her Twitter profile page, Heather Unruh describes herself as an “award winning Journalist, Aspiring Filmmaker, Animal Lover, Family Gal, Human Rights Advocate!”
She is married to Nick, and they have two children.
She told New England Living that, after resigning from Channel 5, she “traveled to Thailand and Cambodia on a spiritual journey that was life-changing. It was there I learned that if you’re too busy worrying about the future you might miss the moment that’s right in front of you.”
4. Unruh Criticized Local Television for Encouraging Women to Dress ‘More Provocatively’
When she resigned from Channel 5, Unruh unleashed on television news and how women are treated in the industry.
She told New England Living that the advent of real time news on mobile devices has increased competition for local television news ratings and “as a result, women are ‘encouraged’ to dress more provocatively than I feel is appropriate for delivering news.”
Asked about the comments by The Boston Globe, Unruh said she “stands by her comments, adding that they’re not directed specifically at her former employer. Unruh, who worked in TV news for 27 years, said women in markets big and small would agree with her.”
She added to the Globe: “In the last decade, women have been strongly encouraged to dress in a way that I didn’t feel comfortable with, nor do I think it’s appropriate for women going on the air to deliver the news as a public service to be dressed like they’re at a cocktail party.”
5. Unruh Is a Graduate of DePaw University & Was Called a ‘Top-Notch’ Journalist
In 2001, when Unruh joined Channel 5, DePauw University wrote in a news release, “Heather Unruh, an award-winning broadcast journalist and a 1989 graduate of DePauw University, is in her first week on the job as morning news co-anchor at WCVB (Channel 5) in Boston.”
She came to Boston from Oklahoma City, where she served as an evening anchor and medical reporter.
“It’s a homecoming of sorts for Unruh, who interned at WCVB while a student at DePauw. She has several relatives in the Boston area, and her parents are moving there, and Unruh married her husband Nick Little on Nantucket,” the release said.
The Channel 5 news director called Unruh “an award-winning journalist and top-notch anchor” to the university.
During her broadcasting career, she earned a number of awards, including “an Emmy Award, the Clarion Award from Women in Communications, Inc., and the Gracie Allen Award from the 47501American Women in Radio and Television (AWRT),” reported DePauw.