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Public Safety Might Have Violated Records Law

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The state Department of Public Safety might have violated the law after officials initially denied a request to inspect records involving a high-profile Valencia High School sexual assault case, according to the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office.

Assistant Attorney General Lesley Lowe said in a July 19 determination that DPS officials may have violated the law after the News-Bulletin filed a complaint in February reporting the department improperly denied a request made under the Inspection of Public Records Act.

In April, the department released the records to the News-Bulletin after two requests, one in December and one in January, were denied.

“The department should have released the requested records to (the News-Bulletin) unless all of the department’s records regarding the hazing incident investigation contained nothing other than information revealing confidential sources, methods, information or individuals accused but not charged with a crime. Or, information that could seriously interfere with the effectiveness of the investigation,” Lowe said.

The records involved an investigation and a civil lawsuit filed in federal court that alleged a member of the Valencia High School varsity football team was attacked by three fellow team members and sexually abused as other teammates cheered the attackers on.

The December request was turned down because the investigation is an “open and active investigation” and DPS used a records exception that says “law enforcement records that reveal confidential sources, methods, information or individuals accused but not charged with a crime” cannot be released.

Lowe contends the exception had a limited scope and that the department could have redacted “specific” portions of information.
— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal

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