Stearns County Holds Off on Releasing Wetterling Files

June 05, 2017 08:25 AM

Stearns County announced Friday it will hold off on releasing documents involving the Jacob Wetterling case, according to a release from the county.

The county had originally planned to release the files on Monday. The county cited pending litigation as a reason for holding off on the release of the documents.

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That litigation comes from Wetterling's parents, Patty and Jerry Wetterling, who filed a lawsuit against the county seeking a temporary restraining order to keep the investigative file private.

Stearns County District Judge Ann Carrott approved the order Monday.

The lawsuit alleges the files contain personal information about the Wetterling family that was collected during the 30-year investigation that is protected by state and federal constitutions.

The lawsuit says the Wetterlings asked the county not to release certain information included in the files, however, the county expressed their intent to release the information.

RELATED: Jacob Wetterling Files to be Released June 5

Stearns County Attorney Janelle Kendall said the release of the files will be delayed until a judge has reviewed the portions of the documents that are being disputed during a press conference Friday afternoon.

Kendall said the information being disputed is to be submitted to the court by June 30.

"We have worked diligently with those impacted to balance the demands of transparency and the interests of victims," Kendall said.

Kendall said despite efforts to protect victims, certain personal information remains public under Minnesota statutes.

"The question therefore rises, what does the public need to know?," Kendall said.

The county attorney said while current statutes require disclosure, the Wetterling's request for a judicial review is, "an understandable choice."

"Despite intense public interest, this case involves thousands of real human beings and years of intense personal tragedy," she said.

A statement released by the Wetterling's attorney said Jacob's parents knew the the investigative file would be made public under Minnesota Law.

"Nothing that we are 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 government," the release said.

A statement from the Wetterling family asked that energy be put towards preventing, "any other child from being a victim of sexual assault."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Ben Rodgers

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