Wetterling family sues to block release of case file

- The Stearns County Attorney's Office will not release the case file for the Jacob Wetterling investigation on Monday as planned due to pending litigation, officials announced Friday.

Jerry and Patty Wetterling filed a temporary restraining order against Stearns County asking the judge to review some of the documents in the case file that contain personal information about their marriage and family relationships.

According to the affidavit, the Wetterlings claim they were not told at any time during the investigation that personal information about their marriage or the family would become public. The family is arguing their privacy rights supersede Minnesota data practices.

“Nothing that we’re asking to be protected is germane to the central facts of the crime, neither does this information relate to the public’s interest in the transparent operation of the government,” the Wetterling’s attorneys said in a statement. “This case has gone on for a long time. We certainly can take a few more days or weeks to make sure the Wetterlings aren’t victimized again.”

The law enforcement investigation related to Jacob Wetterling and Danny Heinrich was supposed to be made available for public access on Monday, June 5.

Last fall, Heinrich admitted to kidnapping and killing 11-year-old Wetterling on October 22, 1989. Heinrich was sentenced to 20 years in prison for possessing child pornography as part of a plea deal he took in exchange for bringing police to Wetterling’s remains and confessing to his murder.

Statement from Kelley, Wolter & Scott

The firm representing the Wetterlings released the following statement:

"We recognize, as do our clients, that once Jacob's file was closed the vast majority of the document in the criminal investigative file would be made public under Minnesota law. We have filed a lawsuit today asking that a judge review a very small proportion of those documents that we believe should not be disclosed since they violate the Wetterlings' constitutionally protected privacy. Nothing that we're asking to be protected is germane to the central facts of this crime, neither does this information relate to the public's interest in the transparent operation of the government. This case has gone on for a long time. We certainly can take a few more days or weeks to make sure the Wetterlings aren't victimized again."

Our family has survived unfathomable pain and challenges since October 22, 1989 when our son Jacob was abducted. The journey catapulted us through uncharted territory for our family, the entire Minnesota family who adopted us, law enforcement, the media who covered it and many, many victims.

Wetterling family statement:

"The sheriff, many agents and investigators, the Stearns County Attorney and US Attorney’s office locked up a dangerous predator who caused so much harm to so many for so long. Let the blame be on the man who did this.

"We survived living through this once and choose not to live through it again. We are moving forward not backward. To protect our family’s privacy we have filed a lawsuit seeking to prevent disclosure of personal information that our lawyers tell us is private.

"We can choose to not live in the darkness for one more moment of one more day. We are continuing to work to honor Jacob and the world he believed in.

"We ask that we all turn our energy towards preventing any other child from being a victim of sexual assault. Let us provide children with better tools and mentor them to build healthy relationships.

"Let us concentrate our energy on the way the world could be if we all embrace and work to support the eleven traits that Jacob embodies:

Be fair

Be kind

Be understanding

Be honest

Be thankful

Be a good sport

Be a good friend

Be joyful

Be generous

Be gentle with others

Be positive

"Jacob taught us all how to live, how to love, how to laugh and oh how hard we have cried. We love you Jacob and your spirit is alive and strong in our hearts and minds today and every day."

 

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