Register-Guard to sue UO after district attorney denies appeal requesting records from sexual assault case

Victor Flores FishWrap, FishWrap Archive

The Lane County District Attorney rejected two newspapers’ appeal for the University of Oregon to disclose public records from the sexual assault case involving three former Oregon men’s basketball players: Damyean Dotson, Dominic Artis and Brandon Austin. One newspaper, The Register-Guard, will sue the UO in Lane County Circuit Court as a result.

“The rejection of our appeal leaves us with no option but to file a lawsuit against the university,” Register-Guard general counsel Wendy Baker said in the paper Tuesday. “Oregon Public Records law exists to preclude this kind of secrecy among our public servants.”

The other newspaper involved in the joint appeal, The Oregonian, is considering its options, according to its managing editor, Therese Bottomly.

The joint appeal came in response to hundreds of heavily redacted records released to multiple news outlets, including The Emerald.

On May 9, The Oregonian requested ”any emails, text messages or electronic or print records written or received by Oregon president Michael Gottfredson and Oregon athletics director Rob Mullens between March 8 to the present regarding sexual assault allegations against Oregon basketball players.”

The Register-Guard sought similar types of records from Gottredson and Mullens, along with head men’s basketball coach Dana Altman with regards to the alleged sexual assault in March involving Dotson, Artis and Austin. The Register-Guard also requested communications involving a UO athletic department employee named “Cassie,” who the alleged survivor referred to in the Eugene police report from the case.

Those records couldn’t be disclosed under The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) because they involved UO students, according to the UO. In their opinion released Monday, District Attorney Alex Gardner and Chief Deputy District Attorney Patricia Perlow sided with the UO.

KATU-TV and The New York Times also appealed the UO’s redacted records. KATU requested to be added to The Register-Guard and Oregonian’s appeal and was also denied.

None of the three former players were charged with a crime, due to what Gardner cited as a lack of evidence. However, the players were dismissed from the team and suspended from the university in the subsequent months.

Follow Victor Flores on Twitter @vflores415

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