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News & Press: Montana Supreme Court

Court denies author Krakauer access to university system rape investigation of football player

Wednesday, July 3, 2019  
Posted by: Joe Menden
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A divided Montana Supreme Court has denied author Jon Krakauer access to Montana University System records about a rape investigation into a Montana Grizzlies football player.

Wednesday's 4-3 decision reverses a Helena District Court ruling that the Commissioner of Higher Education should release redacted versions of investigation documents to Krakauer. 

Krakauer, the author of the 2013 book "Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town” argued Montana University System Commissioner Clayton Christian wrongly denied him access to Doe’s records, citing the right to know under the Montana Constitution.

Justice Laurie McKinnon's opinion for the majority noted that the right to know must be balanced with the student's individual right to privacy. 

"The student privacy laws do not discriminate between subjective classifications of students—all students have an enhanced privacy interest," McKinnon wrote. "(The appellant's) status as a high-profile student athlete does not diminish his enhanced privacy interest in his educational records."

In his dissent, Justice Jim Rice said he would have partially reversed the District Court and ordered a more limited release of information about Christian's decision and the grounds on which he made it. Montanans "simply must be able to learn about and know" how the commissioner made his decision," Rice wrote.

Chief Justice Mike McGrath and Justice Beth Baker joined the dissent.

Read the full opinion.