FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by

FINAL DECISION

Robert H. Boone and The Journal Inquirer,  

Complainants

 

against

Docket #FIC 1996-291

Susan Revoir, Supervisor of Reports and Records, State of Connecticut, Department of Public Safety, Division of State Police; and Dawn Carnese, Legal Advisor, State of Connecticut, Department of Public Safety, Division of State Police,  

Respondents

May 14, 1997

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on January 2, 1997, at which time the complainants and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. Thereafter, on January 10, 1997, the respondents submitted the subject records to the Commission for an in camera inspection.

After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:

1. The respondents are public agencies within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.

2. By letter dated June 18, 1996 to respondent Susan Revoir, the complainants requested that they be permitted to examine an appropriately redacted copy of a case report identified as K-145599. The complainants stated in their letter that respondent Revoir could mask the identity of any witness or of anyone claiming to be the victim of a sexual crime. The complainants identified the case as involving a complaint investigated by state police for which state police then sought an arrest warrant.

3. By letter dated June 24, 1996, respondent Dawn Carnese, to whom the request was referred, denied the complainants’ request on the basis that the report is exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-19(b)(3)(G) and 1-20c, G.S.

4. By letter dated July 22, 1996 and filed on July 23, 1996, the complainants appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act by denying them access to inspect the requested report. In addition, the complainants requested the imposition of civil penalties against the respondents.

5. It is found that the records submitted for in camera inspection as responsive to the complainants’ request are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(d) and 1-19(a), G.S.

6. Section 1-19(a), G.S., in relevant part provides:

"Except as otherwise provided by any federal law or state statute, all records maintained or kept on file by any public agency, whether or not such records are required by any law or by any rule or regulation, shall be public records and every person shall have the right to inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours …."

The respondents contend that the subject records are exempt from disclosure because they consist of:

signed statements of witnesses within the meaning of 1-19(b)(3)(B), G.S.;

the name and address of a victim of sexual assault within the meaning of 1-19(b)(3)(F), G.S.; and

records of a law enforcement agency consisting of uncorroborated allegations that an individual has engaged in criminal activity which are subject to destruction pursuant to 1-20c, G.S.

8. Section 1-19(b)(3)(B), (F) and (G), G.S., permit the nondisclosure of:

"records of law enforcement agencies not otherwise available to the public which records were compiled in connection with the detection or investigation of crime, if disclosure of said records would not be in the public interest because it would result in the disclosure of … (B) signed statements of witnesses, … (F) the name and address of the victim of a sexual assault … (G) uncorroborated allegations subject to destruction pursuant to section 1-20c…."

Section 1-20c, G.S., provides in relevant part:

"…records of law enforcement agencies consisting of uncorroborated allegations that an individual has engaged in criminal activity shall be reviewed by the law enforcement agency one year after the creation of such records. If the existence of the alleged criminal activity cannot be corroborated within ninety days of the commencement of such review, the law enforcement agency shall destroy such records."

9. It is found that eight of the fifty-three pages of the records submitted for in camera inspection, identified as in camera documents IC1996-291-4 through IC1996-291-8, IC1996-291-29, and IC1996-291-39 through IC1996-291-41, consist of signed witness statements; and it is concluded that those eight pages are exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-19(b)(3)(B), G.S.

10. It is also concluded that to the extent the remainder of the subject records contain information that would reveal the identities of individuals who gave signed witness statements or the personally identifiable contents of the signed witness statements, such records are also exempt from disclosure under 1-19(b)(3)(B), G.S.

11. It is further found that the records submitted for in camera inspection contain the name and address of an alleged victim of a sexual assault.

12. It is concluded that those portions of the subject records that contain the name and address of an alleged victim of a sexual assault are exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-19(b)(3)(F), G.S.

13. It is found that the respondents referred the underlying case in K-145599 to the state’s attorney’s office for criminal prosecution. However, the state’s attorney’s office declined to prosecute at that time.

14. The respondents contend that since the state’s attorney’s office declined to prosecute, the subject records are exempt from disclosure under of 1-19(b)(3)(G) and 1-20c, G.S.

It is found that the respondents claim described in paragraph 14, above, fails to establish the applicability of 1-19(b)(3)(G) and 1-20c, G.S.

16. It is further found however, that while portions of the subject records contain corroborating information with respect to the consistency of the alleged victim’s allegations, none of the subject records contain corroborating information with respect to the alleged criminal activity by the alleged perpetrator.

17. It is therefore concluded under the facts of this case, that the identity of the alleged perpetrator is exempt from disclosure under 1-19(b)(3)(G) and 1-20c, G.S.

18. Further, 1-19(b)(3)(A), G.S., permits the nondisclosure of:

…the identity of informants not otherwise known or the identity of witnesses not otherwise known whose safety would be endangered or who would be subject to threat or intimidation if their identity was made known….

19. It is found that the subject records also contain the identities of third parties who provided information to the state police during the course of its investigation of the alleged victim’s allegations.

20. It is concluded that the identities of the third parties described in paragraph 19, above, are exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-19(b)(3)(A), G.S.

21. It is therefore concluded that the respondents violated 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to permit the complainants to inspect the requested records, with the exception of those records identified in paragraph 9, above, that consist of signed witness statements or that would reveal the contents of the signed witness statements, as described in paragraph 10, above and those portions of the requested records that would reveal the name and address of an alleged victim of a sexual assault, the identity of the alleged perpetrator and the identities of the third parties described in paragraph 19, above.

The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:

1. The respondents shall forthwith provide the complainant with a copy of the requested records, more fully described in paragraph 2 of the findings, above, with the exception of in camera documents IC1996-291-4 through IC1996-291-8, IC1996-291-29, and IC1996-291-39 through IC1996-291-41.

In complying with paragraph 1 of the order, above, the respondents may redact any information that would reveal the contents of the signed witness statements described in paragraph 1 of the order, above; the name and address of the alleged victim of sexual assault; the identity of the alleged perpetrator and the identities of the third parties who provided information during the course of the subject investigation, wherever such information is contained therein.

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of May 14, 1997.

__________________________
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission

PURSUANT TO SECTION 4-180(c), G.S., THE FOLLOWING ARE THE NAMES OF EACH PARTY AND THE MOST RECENT MAILING ADDRESS, PROVIDED TO THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION, OF THE PARTIES OR THEIR AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE.

THE PARTIES TO THIS CONTESTED CASE ARE:

Robert H. Boone and The Journal Inquirer
306 Progress Drive
PO Box 516
Manchester, CT 06045-0510

Susan Revoir, Supervisor of Reports and Records, State of Connecticut, Department of Public Safety, Division of State Police; and Dawn Carnese, Legal Advisor, State of Connecticut, Department of Public Safety, Division of State Police
c/o Henri Alexandre, Esq.
Assistant Attorney General
110 Sherman Street
Hartford, CT 06105

__________________________
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission

FIC1996-291/FD/eal/05231997