THE Project has defended a controversial story it aired on Tuesday night detailing a man’s death after a sex fetish body modification procedure.
Viewers were divided on the segment, with many labelling the story on Jack Chapman’s death after getting silicone injected into his scrotum “exploitative” and “sensationalist”.
The story by Hamish Macdonald featured an interview with grieving mother Lynda Chapman and showed her confronting Jack’s BDSM ‘master’ Dylan Hafertepen in emotionally charged scenes.
Speaking on Thursday’s episode of The Project, Macdonald said they went to “great lengths to work with the family to tell the story sensitively and factually” and had “stripped away” parts of the story that could not be proved.
“I think it’s clear that some of the elements in that story were pretty confronting,” he said.
“The facts are though that Jack died, and the circumstances of his death are certainly mysterious and for his family there were a lot of questions that they wanted answered.”
Macdonald also addressed criticism about the segment’s focus on Jack’s BDSM relationship with Mr Hafertepen.
“There are all sorts of different relationships, they come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes,” Macdonald said.
“But sometimes a line is crossed where it becomes an abusive relationship, that is the allegation here and that is what we have tried to explore.”
Since the story first aired, Macdonald revealed Jack’s family have been issued with a new death certificate that ruled his death an accident — rather than natural causes — after he had silicone injected into his scrotum at his Seattle home at 3am.
“All of that runs against the information that was given by Dylan his partner to Jack’s family,” Macdonald said.
Jack, who lived in Seattle in the United States, was one of several of Mr Hafertepen’s “pups” who followed his rules on body modification and bodybuilding.
He died after silicone was injected into his scrotum and Ms Chapman didn’t learn her son was gravely ill until a day after he died.
“I didn’t know he was in hospital, I didn’t know he was in an induced coma, I never got to hold him, I never got to hug him. I never got to say goodbye,” she told The Project.
In heated scenes filmed by The Project, Ms Chapman can be seen confronting Mr Hafertepen with a photo of her son, after he flew to Australia to return Jack’s ashes to his family.
“What sort of person injects into their friggin’ balls?” Ms Chapman asks, fighting back tears during the emotionally charged exchange.
Mr Hafertepen told Ms Chapman that Jack had told him not to tell her he was in hospital in the days before his death unless it was “absolutely necessary”.
“I’m sorry Lynda it was very difficult for me, I know you are upset,” he said.
He also said he had never injected silicone for Jack and “forbid him from doing so”.
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