Attorney General Beshear intervenes in UK’s lawsuit against Kentucky Kernel

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ)-In an unprecedented move Attorney General Andy Beshear intervenes in the University of Kentucky’s lawsuit against its student newspaper the Kentucky Kernel.

Beshear says, “What’s at stake is too important and the ramification are simply too great.”

Back in April the Kernel requested documents from the university relating to a sexual assault investigation. Marjorie Kirk the paper’s editor in chief, says it was contacted by a spokesperson representing two women who say they were sexually assaulted by entomology Associate Professor James Harwood, one in 2012 and another in 2013. In a settlement with the university Associate Professor Harwood resigned at the end of last month.

Editor in Chief Marjorie Kirk says, “It’s important that we know that we know that the professors or any perpetrator because it could be a student too, that we know who these perpetrators are and that they’re not able to bounce around from campus to campus willy-nilly.”

The university argues it’s main reason for withholding the documents from the newspaper are privacy concerns. It doesn’t want any of the victims in this case to be re-victimized again.

UK spokesman Jay Blanton says, “We believe that open records don’t trump the privacy and the confidentiality of a victim. I mean a victim has got to know that they can come to the institution, they can make a report, they can get counseling, they can get support, and an investigation is going to take place.”

The documents in question were not only held from the student paper but also from the AG’s Office who acts as a third party to determine if the records should be released or not. in its suit against the Kernel The AG says UK cited privacy law concerns among many others.

Beshear says, “Solely in it’s own analysis UK claims it could say trust us. The document is exempt but you can never see it to check or confirm it. The danger here is immeasurable.”

Kirk says, “It’s daunting to take on an university and the fact that we have the support from someone who’s well regarded as the attorney general to have on your side, he’s the attorney you want in cases like this.”

Beshear is asking a judge to force UK to give the relevant documents to the attorney general’s office.

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