The Iowa Public Information Board
COMES NOW, Margaret E. Johnson, Executive Director for the Iowa Public Information Board (IPIB), and enters this Dismissal Order:
On December 4, 2020, Robert Corry filed a formal complaint against the Iowa City Police Department (Department) alleging a violation of Iowa Code chapter 22. He alleged that the Department failed to release records related to a sexual assault case.
On October 7, 2020, Mr. Corry requested “all documents relating to or generated pursuant to this investigation”, regarding two individuals named by Mr. Corry. The investigation in question concerned a sexual assault investigation concerning the named alleged perpetrator and the named alleged victim.
In response to Mr. Corry’s record request, the Department provided a copy of the Department Call for Service, which provided the date, time, location, responding officer’s name, type of call, and disposition. The response stated that certain protections attached to the rest of the report, including the confidentiality protections of Iowa Code sections 22.7(5) and 22.7(18).
Mr. Corry alleged in his complaint that the Department “leaked” documents to the named alleged assailant, which in turn should require the Department to release the records publicly to all requestors.
The Department filed a response to the IPIB on December 28, 2020. In the response, legal counsel stated that the other records in the peace officer’s investigative file were confidential pursuant to Iowa Code sections 22.7(18) and 22.7(5). The alleged victim’s statements were protected by both sections. The Department also denied that the records had been released as public records to anyone and that the records were not “leaked” to the alleged perpetrator.
Iowa Code section 22.7(5) establishes that peace officer investigative reports are confidential:
5. Peace officers’ investigative reports, privileged records or information specified in section 80G.2, and specific portions of electronic mail and telephone billing records of law enforcement agencies if that information is part of an ongoing investigation, except where disclosure is authorized elsewhere in this Code. However, the date, time, specific location, and immediate facts and circumstances surrounding a crime or incident shall not be kept confidential under this section, except in those unusual circumstances where disclosure would plainly and seriously jeopardize an investigation or pose a clear and present danger to the safety of an individual. Specific portions of electronic mail and telephone billing records may only be kept confidential under this subsection if the length of time prescribed for commencement of prosecution or the finding of an indictment or information under the statute of limitations applicable to the crime that is under investigation has not expired.
The Department provided the specific information to be released as a public record by releasing the Call for Service. Releasing the victim statement would “plainly and seriously jeopardize an investigation or pose a clear and present danger to the safety of an individual” in this instance, the alleged victim.
In addition, Iowa Code section 22.7(18) provides confidentiality for certain records even if not a part of a peace officers investigative file:
18. Communications not required by law, rule, procedure, or contract that are made to a government body or to any of its employees by identified persons outside of government, to the extent that the government body receiving those communications from such persons outside of government could reasonably believe that those persons would be discouraged from making them to that government body if they were available for general public examination. As used in this subsection, “persons outside of government” does not include persons or employees of persons who are communicating with respect to a consulting or contractual relationship with a government body or who are communicating with a government body with whom an arrangement for compensation exists. Notwithstanding this provision:
a. The communication is a public record to the extent that the person outside of government making that communication consents to its treatment as a public record.
b. Information contained in the communication is a public record to the extent that it can be disclosed without directly or indirectly indicating the identity of the person outside of government making it or enabling others to ascertain the identity of that person.
c. Information contained in the communication is a public record to the extent that it indicates the date, time, specific location, and immediate facts and circumstances surrounding the occurrence of a crime or other illegal act, except to the extent that its disclosure would plainly and seriously jeopardize a continuing investigation or pose a clear and present danger to the safety of any person. In any action challenging the failure of the lawful custodian to disclose any particular information of the kind enumerated in this paragraph, the burden of proof is on the lawful custodian to demonstrate that the disclosure of that information would jeopardize such an investigation or would pose such a clear and present danger.
Releasing a victim’s statement, especially an alleged sexual assault victim, would clearly discourage a victim from making a report to law enforcement. Because Mr. Corry specifically named the alleged victim in his record request, it is impossible to release any statements without identifying the author of such statement.
Therefore, the Department did not violate Iowa Code chapter 22 by declining to provide all records within the peace officer’s investigative file. The record provided to Mr. Corry was appropriate and sufficient to meet the requirements of Iowa Code section 22.7(5).
Iowa Code section 23.8 requires that a complaint be within the IPIB’s jurisdiction, appear legally sufficient, and have merit before the IPIB accepts a complaint. This complaint does not fulfill those requirements.
IT IS SO ORDERED: Formal complaint 20FC:0127 is dismissed as legally insufficient pursuant to Iowa Code section 23.8(2) and Iowa Administrative Rule 497-2.1(2)(b).
Pursuant to Iowa Administrative Rule 497-2.1(3), the IPIB may “delegate acceptance or dismissal of a complaint to the executive director, subject to review by the board.” The IPIB will review this Order on February 18, 2021. Pursuant to IPIB rule 497-2.1(4), the parties will be notified in writing of its decision.
By the IPIB Executive Director
Margaret E. Johnson, J.D.
1. Mr. Corry further alleged in his complaint that the Department did not properly protect the victim and did not properly investigate the allegations of sexaul abuse. These matters do not allege a violation of Iowa Code chapters 21 and 22 and are therefore beyond the scope of IPIB authority, pursuant to Iowa Code section 23.1.
2. Mr. Corry named the alleged victim in his record request. A search of Iowa court records indicated that this named person had a temporary restraining order against Mr. Corry in July 2020. Mr. Corry was charged with violating a restraining order in July 2020. A pretrial conference in that matter is currently scheduled for June 2021 in Muscatine County. Mr. Corry also was charged with domestic abuse in Johnson County in September 2020. A protective order in that case is in effect until December 2025.
CERTIFICATE OF MAILING
This document was sent by electronic mail on the ___ day of February, 2021, to:
Sue Dulek, legal counsel for the Iowa City Police Department