FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Kathryn P. Sullivan,
Complainants
against Docket #FIC 1998-384
Police Department, Town of
Groton,
Respondents July 14, 1999

        The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on January 25, 1999, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony and argument on the complaint. At its March 24, 1999, regular meeting, the Commission voted to reopen the hearing for the purpose of having the hearing officer review the subject records in-camera.

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

        1. The respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-200(a), G.S. [formerly 1-18a(1) G.S.]

        2. By letter dated November 18, 1998, the complainant requested of the respondent a copy of the investigative report regarding a matter in which the complainant’s minor child was allegedly the victim of a serious crime (hereinafter "the report").

        3. In response, the complainant was provided with a copy of a letter from the respondent’s attorney to the respondent wherein such attorney opined that the report should not be released, as it was exempt from mandatory disclosure.

        4. By letter dated December 10, 1998, and filed with the Commission on December 15, 1998, the complainant alleged that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act by denying her a copy of the report.

        5. It is found that the report is a public record within the meaning of 1-210(a), G.S. [formerly 1-19(a), G.S.]

        6. Section 1-210(a), G.S. [formerly 1-19(a), G.S.], in relevant part states:

[e]xcept 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 or to receive a copy of such records….

        7. The respondent submitted a copy of the report to the Commission for in-camera inspection, which copy has been identified as in-camera document #s 1998-384-1 - 1998-384-48, inclusive.

        8. The respondent first contends that the report is exempt from mandatory disclosure pursuant to 1-210(b)(3)(G), G.S. [formerly 1-19(b)(3)(G), G.S.]

        9. Section 1-210(b)(3)(G), G.S. [formerly 1-19(b)(3)(G), G.S.], provides in relevant part that nothing in the FOI Act shall be construed to require disclosure 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 the disclosure of said records would not be in the

public interest because it would result in the disclosure of . . (G) uncorroborated allegations subject to destruction pursuant to section 1-216 . . .

        10. Section 1-216, G.S. [formerly 1-20c, G.S.], in turn, provides:

[e]xcept for records the retention of which is otherwise controlled by law or regulation, 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.

        11. Despite the respondent’s contention to the contrary, it is found that, at the time of the complainant’s request described in paragraph 2, above, the allegation described therein had been corroborated.

        12. It is therefore concluded that 1-210(b)(3)(G), G.S. [formerly 1-19(b)(3)(G), G.S.], does not provide a basis to withhold the report.

        13. The respondent also contends that 1-210(b)(3)(F), G.S. [formerly 1-19(b)(3)(F), G.S.] exempts the following in-camera document #s:

1998-384-1, lines 6-9;

1998-384-8, lines 5-7;

1998-384-10, lines 10-14;

1998-384-11, lines 12-16;

1998-384-19, lines 1-25;

1998-384-20, lines 1-32;

1998-384-34, lines 8-16;

1998-384-46, line 16; and

1998-384-47, lines 15-16.

        14. Section 1-210(b)(3)(F), G.S. [formerly 1-19(b)(3)(F), G.S.], provides in relevant part that nothing in the FOI Act shall be construed to require disclosure 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 the disclosure of said records would not be in the

public interest because it would result in the disclosure of . . (F) the name and address of the victim of a sexual assault under section 53a-70, 53a-70a, 53a-71, 53a-72a, 53a-72b or 53a-73a, or injury or risk of injury, or impairing of morals under section 53-21, or of an attempt thereof…

        15. It is concluded that 1-210(b)(3)(F), G.S. [formerly 1-19(b)(3)(F), G.S.], exempts the records described in paragraph 13, above, as well as any other references to the names of alleged sexual assault victims throughout the report. It is further concluded that the respondent did not violate 1-210(a), G.S. [formerly 1-19(a), G.S.], by denying the complainant a copy of such records and references.

        16. The respondent also contends that 1-210(b)(3)(B), G.S. [formerly 1-19(b)(3)(B), G.S.] exempts the following in-camera document #s:

1998-384-4, lines 1-35; and

1998-384-37, lines 1-36.

        17. Section 1-210(b)(3)(B), G.S. [formerly 1-19(b)(3)(B), G.S.], provides in relevant part that nothing in the FOI Act shall be construed to require disclosure 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 the disclosure of said records would not be in the public interest because it would result in the disclosure of . . (B) signed statements of witnesses…

        18. It is found that the records described in paragraph 16, above, are signed statements of witnesses within the meaning of 1-210(b)(3)(B), G.S. [formerly 1-19(b)(3)(B), G. S.], and it is concluded that such provision exempts such records from mandatory disclosure.

        19. It is also found that in-camera document #s: 1998-384-5, 6, 7, 8, 35, and 38, are signed statements of witnesses within the meaning of 1-210(b)(3)(B), G.S. [formerly 1-19(b)(3)(B), G. S.], and it is concluded that such provision exempts such records from mandatory disclosure.

        20. It is concluded that the respondent did not violate 1-210(a), G.S. [formerly 1-19(a), G. S.], by denying the complainant copies of the records described in paragraphs 16 and 19, above.

        21. It is also concluded, however, that the respondent violated 1-210(a), G.S. [formerly 1-19(a), G. S.], by denying the complainant a copy of the remaining portions of the report which are not exempt from mandatory disclosure.

        22. By letter dated April 12, 1999, the respondent requested that the hearing be reconvened for the express purpose of providing an opportunity for individuals, including the suspect and other witnesses having privacy interests which will be affected by disclosure, to appear. Such request is hereby denied because the suspect and other witnesses can offer no additional probative evidence with respect to the issues presented herein.

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

        1. Forthwith, the respondent shall provide the complainant with a copy of the report.

        2. In complying with paragraph 1 of the order, the respondent may redact the in-camera document #s described in paragraphs 13, 16, and 19 of the findings, above, as well as any references to the identities of alleged victims of sexual assault within the report.

        3. Henceforth, the respondent shall strictly comply with the requirements of the FOI Act.

 

          Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of July 14, 1999.

 

 

_________________________________

Melanie R. Balfour

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:

 

Kathryn P. Sullivan
c/o Atty. James W. Parker
PO Box 4278
Hartford, CT 06147
Police Department,
Town of Groton
c/o Atty. Susan M. Phillips
Two Union Plaza, Suite 200
PO Box 1591
New London, CT 06320

 

_________________________________

Melanie R. Balfour

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

fic1998-384FD/mrb/07151999