Ky. Attorney General: WKU and KSU broke open records law in sex - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Ky. Attorney General: WKU and KSU broke open records law in sex misconduct probes

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Kentucky Attorney General has ruled that Western Kentucky University violated the open records law by turning down requests from two student newspapers for sexual misconduct investigations into school employees.

In a ruling issued Monday, Attorney General Andy Beshear and Assistant Attorney Gordon Slone found WKU did not follow state law and ordered the university to "make immediate provision" for student reporters to inspect documents related to the investigations.

A reporter for the Kentucky Kernel, the independent student-run newspaper for the University of Kentucky, requested in October all investigative records for "Title IX investigations into sexual misconduct allegations levied against university employees in the past five years."

A reporter for Western's school newspaper, the College Heights Herald, made a similar request in November.

An attorney for WKU said the school has conducted 20 such investigations of faculty and staff since 2013, with six resulting in findings of a policy violation, according to the school's response. However, those six employees resigned, which means, the school argued, there was no "final action" taken so the records were preliminary.

WKU also claimed the investigations would violate personal privacy. And at the time, the school argued, the same issue was pending before a Fayette Circuit Court judge.

In that case, Judge Thomas Clark recently sided with UK, ruling that releasing investigative documents in a sexual harassment case of a former professor would allow the victims to be identified.

Deborah Wilkins, general counsel for WKU, said the school may ask the attorney general's office to reconsider the opinion given the ruling by Fayette Circuit Court judge. The school has until Feb. 25 to decide whether to appeal to to Warren County Circuit Court.

The attorney general's opinion noted that WKU would not turn over the records for the office to review.

Also on Monday, the attorney general's office ruled that Kentucky State University violated the open records law by failing to turn over investigations into sexual misconduct allegations against university employees in the past five years.

KSU refused to provide the records, citing privacy of the victims.

The university later said it did not have any investigations into alleged sexual misconduct by employees, but did provide records from an investigation into a former employee.

Beshear said this response left it unclear as to whether there was only one instance of sexual misconduct by a University employee in the past five years, or whether there have been multiple such instances.

KSU also did not allow the attorney general's office to look at the records.

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