Wednesday, March 30, 2011

SJ-R sues state police, UIS over records

The State Journal-Register on Tuesday sued Illinois State Police and the University of Illinois Springfield in Sangamon County Circuit Court, alleging in separate lawsuits that public records have been illegally withheld.

The newspaper sued UIS to obtain records showing what actions by coaches of the women’s softball team prompted their forced resignations in the spring of 2009. The newspaper first asked for records in May 2009 and asked again in January of last year, when changes to the Freedom of Information Act took effect that were supposed to increase government transparency.

A team member collected a $200,000 settlement after her attorney wrote a letter to top university officials titled “Sexual Assault and Battery By UIS Softball Coach.” The university redacted the entire contents of the letter, including the attorney’s name, in a copy given to the newspaper. The university has said that federal law designed to protect student privacy bars disclosure.

The newspaper has consistently told the university that it need not disclose the student’s name.

The story was published in a March 30, 2011, edition of The State Journal-Register.

Read the story online