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Reporter Tieja MacLaughlin, charged with threatening WHL player boyfriend, agrees to plea deal

Tieja MacLaughlin in court (via KNDU-TV's Facebook page)

Just in time for Valentine's Day, it looks like we have a conclusion to the most talked-about love story in Canada so far this year.

When we last checked in on Kelowna reporter Tieja MacLaughlin, she had been charged with one count of felony harassment with domestic violence after driving across the U.S. border after having threatened her boyfriend Jackson Playfair of the Western Hockey League's Tri-City Americans. That charged was later reduced to gross misdemeanour harassment.

The 26-year-old MacLaughlin agreed to a plea deal offered by Benton County, Wash., prosecutors Wednesday afternoon:

Under terms of the deal, MacLaughlin must undergo counseling and has been placed on probation. She is also not to have any further contact with Jackson Playfair, a 19-year-old hockey player with the Tri-City Americans of the Western Hockey League.

Part of those conditions is court mandated weekly cognitive-behavioural therapy for at least 10 sessions.

In court documents obtained by Castanet, should MacLaughlin fail to complete the prescribed mental health treatment, or receive another criminal violation over a 12-month period of any nature in any jurisdiction, or violate the no-contact order, the Stipulated Order would be revoked and a trial would be held. [Castanet]

Should MacLaughlin comply with those conditions, the charge against her will be dropped a year from now. MacLaughlin spent four weeks in Kennewick and told reporters it was "emotionally exhausting" and "at this point I am just concerned with getting myself back home to Canada."

In her statement, MacLaughlin also made reference to the financial hit she's taken over the last month, as a freelance journalist presumably without work since the ordeal began. In Kelowna, she worked for two outlets covering the WHL's Kelowna Rockets. There's already the ethical issues with a journalist dating a player she's supposed to cover professionally, even without the alleged threats and court appearances. This is a shocking story that has drawn some international interest, and as a result is a bit of an embarrassing situation for both parties even once the charges get dropped a year from now. It would be tough to blame MacLaughlin for just wanting to exit the public eye for a while.

Per the Tri-City Herald, MacLaughlin described her relationship with Playfair as "rocky, on-again off-again". She had pleaded innocent to the new charge of misdemeanour prior to accepting the plea deal.

Header image via the Facebook page for NBC's Southeastern Washington affiliate, KNDU.

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