U of L refuses to turn over evidence subpoenaed in Katina Powell - WDRB 41 Louisville News

U of L refuses to turn over evidence subpoenaed in Katina Powell lawsuit

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Photo from "Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen," from Indianapolis Business Journal Book Publishing. Photo from "Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen," from Indianapolis Business Journal Book Publishing.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The University of Louisville has refused to turn over evidence used in its investigation of the men's basketball team, requested through subpoenas from an attorney for the author and publisher of Katina Powell's book, "Breaking Cardinal Rules."

Attorney Aaron Silletto, who represents IBJ Book Publishing and author Dick Cady in lawsuits involving the Powell scandal, has asked Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Mitch Perry to order the university to turn over the information, according to documents filed this week. A hearing has been scheduled for Oct. 24.

Silletto said the information is necessary to determine whether Powell was telling the truth, a key issue in lawsuits filed by women whose pictures are in the book and students who say their degrees were tarnished by the allegations.

"The University has for a year been investigating the occurrence of the events described in the book, and all of the information sought in the IBJ Book's subpoenas may not be available from any other source," Silletto wrote.

Silletto first subpoenaed the university on Aug. 19, requesting emails, text messages, voicemails and other documents related to the book or investigation.

The subpoenas include a request for documents of any payments made to Powell by former U of L staffer and player Andre McGee, who allegedly asked Powell to arrange for women to have intimate encounters with players and recruits. Silletto also wants any information available about McGee's salary, reprimands or disciplinary action and any documents about NCAA rule violation he committed.

Also, Silletto requests any documents former NCAA compliance official Chuch Smrt used in advising former President James Ramsey when he decided Feb. 5 to keep the men's basketball team out of the 2016 NCAA tournament.

And the subpoenas ask for any documents provided to a Jefferson County grand jury that is investigating the Powell scandal.

But U of L attorney Craig Dilger wrote on Sept. 12 that the university would "no be producing documents" and asked that the subpoenas be withdrawn.

In his response, Dilger said the request is "overly broad," unreasonable or confidential, asks for documents that are not relevant, violates attorney-client privilege and, in the case of grand jury evidence, violates the secrecy of the proceeding.

Silletto denies that the request is overly broad, noting that it only includes the investigation of the basketball team. And he said there was nothing "vague" about the subpoena. In addition, Silletto said Smrt is not protected by attorney-client privilege and the university could turn over documents marked "confidential" and have them sealed from public, if necessary.

Earlier this month, U of L filed a lawsuit asking a judge to rule the Attorney General was wrong in finding the school violated Kentucky's open records law when it allegedly conducted an "inadequate" search for records related to its self-imposed postseason basketball ban.

In an opinion released in August, Kentucky's top lawyer ordered U of L to look more thoroughly for documents used by Ramsey when he decided Feb. 5 to keep the men's basketball team out of the 2016 NCAA tournament.

At issue is a request made by Dr. Peter Hasselbacher, founder and president of the Kentucky Health Policy Institute. He asked for the records Ramsey had "on hand" at the time of the ban's announcement, but U of L denied the request and said those records didn't exist.

Hasselbacher then appealed to the Attorney General's Office. During that review, the office said U of L acknowledged that the investigator it hired, former NCAA compliance official Chuck Smrt, has the investigative records. Smrt, Beshear's office said, is an "agent of the University."

"Thus, the question is whether or not the records in Mr. Smrt's possession are encompassed by and thus responsive to the request. After careful review, we find that they are," the Attorney General's opinion says.

But U of L is arguing that Hasselbacher only asked for what Ramsey "had in hand that caused him to suspend" the team. And the school claims it promptly and properly responded that Ramsey had no documents. 

As for Smrt, the university is claiming that as an "independent outside consultant, (he) is not subject to the Kentucky Open Records Act."

That case is pending.

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