ACLU says Lincoln police settled lawsuit filed in bid to get records related to alleged rape

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LINCOLN, Nebraska — Lincoln police have settled a lawsuit filed on behalf of the web-based magazine Slate to secure access to reports on the investigation into an alleged rape in 2004, the American Civil Liberties Union said Monday.

The lawsuit said Lincoln police violated the state's public records law by refusing to turn over the case reports. Emily Bazelon, a Slate senior editor, requested the records after writing a series of stories about the lack of prosecutions in cases alleging rape by college athletes.

The lawsuit said the alleged victim told Lincoln police she had been raped by a Nebraska athlete and that he may have been subject to favorable treatment. No one has been arrested in the case.

Under the settlement, Slate agreed to drop the lawsuit and Lincoln police agreed to allow the woman access to the findings of the police investigation, including the results of her rape test, the ACLU of Nebraska said.

"When law enforcement has stopped investigating a crime that you reported, you should be able to learn why," said Amy Miller, the legal director for ACLU of Nebraska. "We are pleased that the alleged victim will have access to records, which include the findings of her own rape kit."

Police Chief Jim Peschong couldn't immediately comment on the settlement because he was in union negotiations, according to Lincoln police spokeswoman Katie Flood.

Lincoln police had released a brief public incident report and some other documents, but said additional information would be excluded from public record.

The Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic at Yale Law School and the ACLU filed the lawsuit in December on behalf of Slate and Bazelon. At the time, Miller warned that if the police position was upheld, "it would dramatically restrict the ability of the public to meaningfully oversee local police departments and other law enforcement agencies."

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