US BUST: As a class, gossip reporters are not famed for their personal ethics. But one in particular appeared to hit a new low on Wednesday: Timothy McDarrah, Us Weekly’s “Hot Stuff” columnist, was arrested on charges of seeking to arrange sex with a minor over the Internet.

McDarrah, a longtime tabloid reporter who has worked for the Las Vegas Sun and New York Post, joined Us in October 2004. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, on June 22 he responded to an ad in the “erotic services” section of the Web site Craigslist.com. In numerous e-mail conversations over the following weeks, McDarrah allegedly courted sexual favors from what he believed to be a 13-year-old girl, offering to buy her clothes and an iPod, and telling her that he worked at Us. At one point, he arranged a rendezvous, where he had promised to pay $200 in exchange for a sex act specified beforehand “in graphic terms,” according to the complaint. McDarrah failed to show up for that meeting.

He was arrested on Sept. 14, when he went to what he believed to be the girl’s home and asked her to meet him there. At 4 p.m. on Wednesday he was taken into custody by agents of the FBI’s Crimes Against Children Unit. According to the complaint, he quickly admitted to the charges against him, and now faces a minimum prison sentence of five years, with a maximum term of 30 years.

McDarrah, who is divorced and has a 13-year-old son, has been suspended without pay from his job at Us, according to a spokesman for the magazine. Investigators also seized the computer from his desk at Us and interviewed at least one co-worker.
— Jeff Bercovici

AGAINST THE GRAIN: Ron Galotti may have left the publishing business to run a farm in Vermont, but Chris Mitchell has gone him one better. Details lost Mitchell, its publisher, this week, not to the country life or even to a competing magazine, but to the woodworking profession. Mitchell informed his staff on Wednesday that he had accepted a job as the new president of BDDW, a maker of hand-built American furniture started a decade ago by Mitchell’s friend, designer Tyler Hays. The company is based in Manhattan’s SoHo, with studio spaces in Brooklyn and upstate New York. “It’s been the third-glass-of-wine conversation for a number of years,” said Mitchell. “Timing is never good, but the magazine is running like a well-oiled machine right now, which makes it easier and harder to leave.”

This story first appeared in the September 16, 2005 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Following last month’s flurry of appointments at Condé Nast — David Carey to head a new business group, Lou Cona to be the new publisher of The New Yorker and Alan Katz to be the new publisher of Vanity Fair — things had seemed to be quieting down at 4 Times Square. Mitchell’s resignation could set off another round of publisher shuffles within Advance’s Condé Nast or Fairchild divisions. Two names already mentioned as possible replacements for Mitchell: The New Yorker’s associate publisher William Li and Vanity Fair’s associate publisher Paul Jowdy.
— Sara James

MIRROR, MIRROR: Cover girl Kate Moss snatched the front page of the U.K.’s Daily Mirror newspaper for all the wrong reasons Thursday. The tabloid published grainy photographs of a person it claimed to be Moss preparing and snorting cocaine. With bold headlines “Cocaine Kate” and “High as a Kate,” the accompanying article alleges the pictures were taken at a London recording studio where Moss is said to have partied with her musician boyfriend Pete Doherty.

The exposé has at least the appearance of a retaliatory strike. In July, Moss won undisclosed libel damages over claims by London’s Sunday Mirror that she had collapsed into a cocaine-induced coma in Barcelona in June 2001. A Daily Mirror spokeswoman confirmed that the photos were the result of an undercover investigation, but declined further comment. “It’s a good, old-fashioned tabloid scoop and we’re letting the photos speak for themselves,” she said.

The ubiquitous model is the face of a number of fashion and beauty brands, including Dior, Chanel, Burberry and Coty Inc.-owned Rimmel. A spokeswomen for Chanel declined comment on the Mirror spread, while a recorded message told callers that Coty never comments on Moss’ personal life. A spokeswoman at Storm Models said in an e-mail: “Kate never makes public comments to the media about her private or business life. As her agents, we will not be responding to the allegations currently being made by the Mirror, as they are being dealt with by lawyers and we are not prepared to comment further.”
— Brid Costello

TWO-MILLION MARK: New York magazine’s Web site has been vying with, of all places, style.com for traffic this week. New York added a fashion blog for fashion week, and says it’s updating collection photos every hour. According to the magazine’s spokeswoman, the site was on track to hit two million page views on Thursday, the most nymag.com has ever had. Former W senior editor Rob Haskell has been serving as guest blogger.
— S.J.

HEALTHY START: Rodale Inc. declared plans Thursday for a full-scale launch of Women’s Health magazine, its new Men’s Health spin-off. The announcement confirmed a report in Wednesday’s WWD. As part of the move, Tina Johnson, who had been serving as executive editor during the run of five test issues, was promoted to editor in chief. Meanwhile, Beth Fenner, previously an assistant managing editor at Fortune, has come onboard as executive editor; Andrea Dunham, previously of Inc., has been named art director; Sarah Rozen, previously of Fast Company, has been appointed photo director, and Sean Nolan, previously a contributor to Men’s Health, has been named managing editor.
— J.B.

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