Judge Rules in Favor of UK in Open-Records Case


LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – A Kentucky judge has ruled in favor of the University of Kentucky in an open-records case involving its campus newspaper’s pursuit of documents regarding a sexual harassment investigation of a former professor.

Fayette Circuit Court Judge Thomas Clark reversed Attorney General Andy Beshear’s opinion that said the state’s flagship university in Lexington had violated the state’s open-records law by refusing to release documents on the professor’s case to the student newspaper, the Kentucky Kernel.

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In his ruling made public Tuesday, Clark said the documents are “educational records” protected from disclosure by a federal student privacy law. He also said the records “cannot reasonably be redacted” to protect the privacy of students who made the allegations against the professor.

The professor later resigned but did not admit guilt.

UK President Eli Capilouto released a statement in response to the judge’s ruling, which reads, in part: “For UK, this legal process has always been about one primary goal – preserving the right of a victim survivor to determine how, when, or even if to tell her story. We stand with survivors and we believe strongly that federal and state laws protect their right to privacy. Without privacy, we know victim survivors will not come forward to report. That’s what was at stake in this case.”

Capilouto’s full statement can be read here.

Attorney General Andy Beshear’s office says they will continue their portion of the suit, saying, “The court made today’s decision based on the same confidential review of documents that University of Kentucky officials denied the Attorney General’s office.  The statutory power of the Attorney General to confidentially review such documents is necessary to avoid turning Kentucky’s Open Records Act into a ‘trust me’ law.”

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.