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Archive for Sunday, July 4, 1999

VICTIM IN ALLEGED JAIL RAPE PETITIONS COURT FOR RECORDS

July 4, 1999

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But a Douglas County official says releasing records regarding the alleged attack would hinder a criminal investigation of the incident.

A Lawrence woman who says an inmate sexually assaulted her in the Douglas County Jail has filed a petition seeking access to records the county has refused to release.

The petition in Douglas County District Court asks for all records from the April 18 incident and for a legal guarantee that the sheriff's department won't alter or destroy any evidence or records. The woman's petition for the information is the first step in an expected lawsuit against the county.

County Counselor Wint Winter Jr. said Thursday that the woman's attorney, Jerry Levy, had contacted the county for all records pertaining to the alleged assault.

"And we said 'no, no,'" Winter said. "The records are privileged under the Kansas Open Records Act and not required to be disclosed."

Winter said the records are protected because "they have to do with the investigation of a possible criminal action. She has made a claim that a crime was committed against her."

Releasing the records would "hinder the investigation and raise privacy issues," Winter said.

The woman says she was in an unlocked holding cell when the alleged culprit entered the area and assaulted her. The door should have been locked, Douglas County Sheriff Loren Anderson said early in the investigation.

Anderson said he recently disciplined two staff members, following an internal investigation of the incident. But the sheriff has refused to go into detail about the discipline or what the staff members did to warrant the punishment.

Police had arrested for unrelated crimes both the 24-year-old woman and her alleged attacker within the same hour.

Sheriff's officials have not arrested on sexual assault charges the inmate who allegedly assaulted the woman. Anderson said his department had forwarded reports to Douglas County Dist. Atty. Christine Kenney Tonkovich.

In an April 29 letter to the sheriff's department, Levy said jailers were negligent.

"It is my belief, based upon information provided by my client, that the injuries sustained by my client were the direct result of negligence and carelessness of persons on duty at the time of the attack," Levy said.

-- Deb Gruver's phone message number is 832-7165. Her e-mail address is dgruver@ljworld.com.

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