El Dorado A Kansas judge on Friday blocked the release of child welfare records of an 11-year-old boy whose disappearance went unreported for nearly a decade.
Three media outlets filed an open records request with the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services. The request was filed under a Kansas statute that allows release of SRS records when a child dies or nearly dies related to abuse or neglect.
Butler County District Judge Mike Ward ruled that since no “official determination” has been made that Adam Herrman is dead, those records would remain closed.
If a homicide charge is filed by the county attorney, and there are allegations of child abuse, there would be a duty to disclose, Ward said.
The SRS records disclosure had initially been opposed by Butler County District Attorney Jan Satterfield, who filed a motion for a temporary restraining order against SRS to keep the records closed.
The Butler County district attorney’s office withdrew that request in court Friday, saying it no longer opposed their records public release since investigators had finished reviewing them and interviewing witnesses. But when pressed by the judge, the district attorney’s office declined to say in open court if prosecutors believed the boy is dead.
After the hearing, Satterfield said she anticipated getting the case from the sheriff’s office for prosecution by the middle or end of this month.