Judge sides with University of Kentucky in Kernel lawsuit

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - A judge has ruled against the University of Kentucky's student newspaper in a battle with the university over documents related to a sexual harassment case. The ruling from Fayette Circuit Court Judge Thomas Clark came down on Monday.

The Kernel had requested documents related to a sexual assault investigation involving a former professor, but the university denied the request saying it would allow the victims to be identified. According to UK President Eli Capilouto, Judge Clark sided with the university.

The judge also sided with the university that the investigative documents are exempt from public disclosure under a federal student privacy law.

Capilouto sent a message to students and staff on Tuesday saying the university's primary goal was always about preserving the rights of victim survivors and their privacy.

Attorney General Andy Beshear released a statement 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. Without the review, there can be no government transparency, as a bad actor can easily cheat the system. In the context of a university, it would allow an institution to hide serious issues related to sexual assault, to ignore victims, and to tell parents and families that a given campus may be safer than it is. The Attorney General’s office will continue its portion of the suit to ensure government transparency for all Kentucky families.”

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