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Lawsuit needed to access records of alleged jail sexual assault

By Marjorie Cortez | Posted - Apr 23rd, 2014 @ 9:35am

SALT LAKE CITY — A man who alleges he was sexually assaulted while incarcerated in the Salt Lake County Jail will need to file a lawsuit to gain access to reports related to the events.

The Salt Lake County Council on Tuesday upheld an earlier decision by jail officials not to release reports related the incident. Federal regulations restrict release of the information, Salt Lake County deputy district attorney Valerie Wilde told the council.

Under the federal Prisoner Rape Elimination Act, such records are available under very limited circumstances — for aggregate reporting to federal agencies and for prosecutors who need them to determine whether to file criminal charges.

The information cannot be released under the state Government Records Access and Management Act because they are subject to the federal act, said Wilde, who provides legal counsel to the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office on civil matters.

The man, who participated in the hearing by telephone, told the council he wants the information because he intends to file a lawsuit and needs the records to correctly identify defendants.

He was advised to seek legal counsel to assist him with his legal matters but was told by representatives of the district attorney’s office that it's possible to file a lawsuit against “John Does” and later amend the complaint with their names once they are identified. The information could become available through the civil lawsuit discovery process, Wilde said.

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