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Roberts, Thomas (b. 1972)  
 
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However, at his next job, at Portsmouth's WAVY, he met the man who would become his partner and eventually husband, Patrick Abner. He came out to his family in 1999 and then to this colleagues, and finally to his former colleagues. He says everyone loved Patrick and "I never lost a friend."

Move to Atlanta

Roberts' big break into the national news scene came in December 2001, when he joined CNN and he and Abner moved to Atlanta. He served as a weekday anchor on CNN's Headline News channel and also appeared on the network's other channels.

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In 2002, Roberts received an Emmy Award nomination for his investigative reporting on an Atlanta puppy mill. He also co-anchored CNN's coverage of the 2003 Columbia Space Shuttle disaster and reported from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005.

In 2005, Roberts, after years of silence, came forward to accuse his former chaplain Jerome F. Toohey, Jr. of sexual abuse. Toohey had been accused before by a former student, but he had denied the allegation and had been supported by his superiors. This time Toohey pled guilty. The evidence from the previous accusation was used to obtain a longer sentence for the priest, who was subsequently defrocked. However, Toohey, who was sentenced to five years in prison, actually wound up serving only ten months in prison and eight months in home detention.

Toohey's light punishment disappointed both Roberts and his fellow accuser, Michael Goles. The latter issued a statement expressing dismay at the lenient sentence, pointing out that "Thomas and I don't get early release. We're stuck with life sentences for what we suffered." Roberts compared his regret at being let down by the justice system to having been let down "by a trusted system (the Roman Catholic church) years ago."

Roberts discussed the abuse he suffered in a special segment of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 called "Sins of the Father," which aired on March 12, 2007.

In 2005, after Roberts was named one of the "50 Most Beautiful Atlantans" by Jezebel magazine, People magazine offered to include him among the publication's "50 Sexiest Bachelors." He turned down the offer: "I'm not a bachelor," he later explained. "I thought it would be false advertising. . . . and I didn't think it would be the right venue to talk about it."

Soon, however, Roberts would be discussing his homosexuality publicly. In 2005, he joined the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. When he appeared as a member of a panel entitled "Off Camera: The Challenge of LGBT TV Anchors" at the association's September 2006 meeting in Miami, his homosexuality became public knowledge. A reporter from the Boston Globe wrote about the panel on his blog; the information was picked up by gay media and then by mainstream media.

Roberts expressed relief at being out, and he quickly became a gay celebrity. But with that status came, in addition to adulation and appreciation for his accomplishments, a great deal of innuendo and gossip. For example, when Roberts left CNN in 2007, some people speculated that he had been fired.

Roberts recalls his years at CNN as very happy ones, and adamantly denies that he was fired. In his six years at CNN, he says, "I never dealt with anything but respect and kindness." He left CNN because Abner had a work offer that required him to relocate from Atlanta to Washington, D. C. His bosses at CNN attempted to dissuade him from leaving.

Soon after leaving CNN, Roberts accepted a job with CBS. He reported for the network's entertainment news programs, Entertainment Tonight and The Insider.

He was soon offered a position as co-host of The Insider. Although the program was originally based in Los Angeles, it was relocating to New York, and that made the offer attractive to Roberts. However, Roberts was assigned to report from Los Angeles and the fit between him and the program turned out not to be a good one. Although the executives who hired Roberts knew that he was gay, they seemed embarrassed that he was openly gay and did not want him speaking of his sexuality.

Roberts' career was imperiled when, soon after his first segments for The Insider aired in September 2007, a blogger posted nude pictures purportedly of Roberts that had appeared on the gay dating site Manhunt.

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