Five days after the victim withdrew her criminal complaint and Gators quarterback Treon Harris was reinstated, University of Florida police are still “finishing up” work in the sexual battery case.
“While the victim withdrew her complaint on Friday, she reserves the right to follow through with the complaint in the future,” UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes said Wednesday. “For that reason, the police department has been finishing up what they were working on at the time related to the allegations.”
Sikes’ comments came in response to questions over UF’s decision, for now, to continue to keep secret the narrative of the initial incident report, even though the university declared Friday “that the University and legal process is complete” and reinstated Harris to the Florida Gators football team.
Police can’t keep investigative information in a report secret once an investigation is no longer “continuing with a reasonable, good faith anticipation of securing an arrest or prosecution in the foreseeable future,” according to the Government-in-the-Sunshine-Manual published by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office.
When presented with that portion of the Sunshine Manual Monday, Sikes said UF will release “the report once it has been completed and redacted of victim information.”
But can UF legally continue to keep the large portions of the 18-page initial incident report it previously released in redacted form secret, while it works to complete a new, or final report?
According to Florida First Amendment Foundation General Counsel Jon Kaney, “There is no blanket rule excluding ‘drafts’ or other nonfinal documents from public records.”
Kaney pointed to a Florida Supreme Court case making clear that material prepared in connection with official business to communicate knowledge “is a public record regardless of whether it is in final form or the ultimate product of the agency.”
Orlando attorney Lyle Mazin believes the fact UF reinstated Harris shows “the investigation has certainly reached finality.”
Mazin believes UF should make the 18-page initial incident report public, even if it has not finished its final report.
“Access to documents is how the public holds officials and institutions accountable. The public wants to know what changes, if any, occurred,” Mazin said. “And if they want to amend the record the public has a right to know what on the finished document was amended.”
When exactly UF police will complete and release the report is unclear, but Sikes said Wednesday, “We hope to have it complete soon.”