The Wetterling family has taken out a temporary restraining order preventing the release of more than 10,000 investigative documents relating to the disappearance and murder of Jacob Wetterling.
The Stearns County Sheriff's Office was due to release some 56,000 pages of documents accumulated over 27 years since the disappearance of Jacob Wetterling in 1989, but has shelved the release following the filing of the privacy lawsuit.
In a press release, Jerry and Patty Wetterling said they're filing the suit to protect their family's privacy by preventing "disclosure of personal information that our lawyers tell us is private."
"We survived living through this once and choose not to live through it again," the statement reads. "We are moving forward not backward."
The Wetterling's lawyers, Kelley Walter & Scott, said the lawsuit asks a judge to review "a very small proportion" of the documents that were due to be made public under Minnesota law now that the case has been closed, because the documents "violate the Wetterlings' constitutionally protected privacy."
"Nothing that we’re asking to be protected is germane to the central facts of this crime, neither does this information relate to the public’s interest in the transparent operation of government," the lawyers say.
"This case has gone on for a long time. We certainly can take a few more days or weeks to make sure the Wetterlings aren’t victimized again."
Jacob's body was found last year after police were led to it by Danny Heinrich, who admitted to abducting, sexually assaulting and killing the 11-year-old in 1989.
Stearns County has confirmed it will no longer release the documents on Monday due to the pending litigation.
The Wetterling family statement
Our family has survived unfathomable pain and challenges since October 22, 1989 when our son Jacob was abducted. The journey catapulted us through uncharted territory for our family, the entire Minnesota family who adopted us, law enforcement, the media who covered it and many, many victims.
The sheriff, many agents and investigators, the Stearns County Attorney and US Attorney’s office locked up a dangerous predator who caused so much harm to so many for so long. Let the blame be on the man who did this. We survived living through this once and choose not to live through it again. We are moving forward not backward.
To protect our family’s privacy we have filed a lawsuit seeking to prevent disclosure of personal information that our lawyers tell us is private. We can choose to not live in the darkness for one more moment of one more day.
We are continuing to work to honor Jacob and the world he believed in. We ask that we all turn our energy towards preventing any other child from being a victim of sexual assault. Let us provide children with better tools and mentor them to build healthy relationships. Let us concentrate our energy on the way the world could be if we all embrace and work to support the eleven traits that Jacob embodies:
Be a good sport
Be a good friend
Be gentle with others
Jacob taught us all how to live, how to love, how to laugh and oh how hard we have cried. We love you Jacob and your spirit is alive and strong in our hearts and minds today and every day