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Rape Investigation Draws Public Records Demands

The recent rape investigation at the University of Oregon has not only triggered a spate of articles about the issue locally and across the nation, it’s also triggering requests for emails, contracts and other information from UO staff who might be involved in the investigation or its handling. As a state institution the UO, like other government entities, is subject to Oregon’s Public Records Law.

On a state or local level a member of the public can file a request “for information relating to the conduct of the public’s business,” as the UO’s website puts it. The UO’s Office of Public Records handles the requests. Some records and some details in records are exempt, but many public documents, including emails, text messages and other records, are available for review.

New York Times reporter Josh Hunt has made at least a dozen public records requests since the news broke that three UO basketball players had been accused of rape, according to the UO’s public records log, which as of press time was last updated May 16. Those requests include asking for emails from Coach Dana Altman, UO Police Officer Johns Loos, ASUO Women’s Center Director Brandy Teel, Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Director Penny Daugherty, UO Chief of Strategic Communications Tobin Klinger and more on specific dates in March, April and May. 

A woman named “Cassie” was mentioned in the police investigation that was released to the public, and Hunt has asked for emails from a woman named Cassie Boge, who is team manager with the Oregon women’s basketball team, according to GoDucks.com. 

On May 9, Andrew Greif, Ducks beat reporter for The Oregonian, asked for emails between UO President Michael Gottfredson and Oregon Athletics Director Rob Mullens “from March 8 to the present regarding sexual assault allegations against Oregon basketball players.”

Other requests came from reporters from KGW, KATU, the Oregon Daily Emerald and sports columnist John Canzano of The Oregonian, who on May 14 asked for the cell phone records of Craig Pintens, senior associate athletic director who also oversees marketing and public relations. UO Matters blogger and professor Bill Harbaugh and other community members have also made requests. 

Greif made a request for emails from “employees in Oregon athletics’ compliance office to the NCAA with the keyword Brandon Austin,” one of the basketball players accused in the case, back on March 19. That request was ruled “exempt from disclosure” according to the public records log. Greif’s request for Austin’s letter of intent was granted. March 18 was the day The Wall Street Journal published a story involving Austin and allegations of sexual assault. 

According to Lisa Thornton of the Office of Public Records, the log is updated daily as requests come in when possible, depending on the workload.