n. A brief appearance by a recently arrested business executive for the benefit of media photographers, reporters, and other bystanders.
Another week, another corporate perp walk. Two former WorldCom executives were led by government agents to federal court in Manhattan, where they face charges related to that company's misstatement of billions in expenses. Scott Sullivan, former chief financial officer, and David Myers, former controller, join top officers of Adelphia Communications and Imclone on the list of those recently arrested in the crackdown on corporate crime.
The day started like every day other day — this time, with the founder of Adelphia doing the corporate perp walk, arrested for treating the company like — and I quote — "a personal piggy bank."
How old is the perp walk? The term has been used for at least five decades by New York police and photographers, and some experts point to images of protowalks captured long before photography. In paintings of the expulsion from Eden, Adam and Eve are modestly trying to cover their bodies from public view, and the sword-wielding angel's stern expression anticipates the look on a homicide detective walking an accused cop-killer. Other paintings — of Achilles ceremonially dragging Hector behind his chariot, of the Stations of the Cross, of French aristocrats being carted to the guillotine — display elements of the perp walk, although the spectators appear far more polite than the New York press corps is.