Judge Rules Against UK Student Paper In Open Records Case

Jan 24, 2017

 

Allegations against former University of Kentucky professor James Harwood prompted the Kentucky Kernel's Open Records case.
Credit University of Kentucky

A judge has ruled against the University of Kentucky student newspaper in an Open Records case regarding a sexual harassment investigation.  

Fayette Circuit Judge Thomas Clark ruled the Kentucky Kernel does not have the right to review documents in the case involving a former UK professor. 

University President Eli Capilouto called the ruling a strong statement about protecting the privacy of accusers of sexual assault.

 “After talking with so many victim survivors what I feel best about is their privacy has been protected and that’s a sacred right.  And I’m just so glad to see it’s been preserved," he said.

 Attorney Tom Miller, who represented the student newspaper the Kentucky Kernel, said he strongly disagreed with the ruling.  Miller said without the Kernel’s reporting, the public and the next school which hired him would not have heard of the former UK professor James Harwood's alleged misdeeds.

In his ruling Clark agreed that UK releasing the documents would allow the victims to be identified even if their names and other personal identifiers were redacted. 

Capilouto was asked about ways to prevent future abuse if a university employee under investigation moves to another school. And he said strong protections are now in place.

 “On every case going forward, we will ajudicate those fully and we will make it clear in a record that someone has been found wrong in such a case, if that’s the outcome.

 

According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, attorney Tom Miller said he strongly disagreed with the legal analysis.  Miller, who represented the student newspaper said, without the Kernel’s reporting, the public would not have heard of the professor’s alleged misdeeds, including the next school that hired him. ​On every case going forward, we will adjudicate those fully and we will make it clear in a record that someone has been found wrong in such a case, if that’s the outcome."