Jacob Wetterling investigation files must be released, judge rules

Minnesota media had challenged the ruling preventing the files' release.
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A district court judge has ruled that documents relating to the investigation into Jacob Wetterling's abduction and murder must be made public.

The Wetterling family filed a restraining order against the Stearns County Sheriff's Office last June days ahead of a release of thousands of pages from the Wetterling investigation file.

They argued that a small part contains highly personal information unrelated to the case, which they feel breaches their privacy.

Related:

– Media challenges order preventing release of Jacob files.

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But the restraining order was challenged by a coalition of Minnesota media outlets, who argued the constitutional right of privacy should not overrule the Data Practices Act, which allows for criminal documents to become public once a case is closed.

On Friday, District Judge Ann Carrott found in favor of the media organizations, which included MPR News and the Pioneer Press, saying in her ruling that the court must be impartial when applying the law.

The Wetterlings bore no ill will to the media, saying in a statement they have witnessed firsthand "the integrity and accuracy of the Minnesota news media."

But, they say the file contains tips, interviews, rumors and speculations that had no bearing on investigation. 

"There are many people who will be hurt by the release of very private information that was provided in a sincere effort to help find Jacob."

"We hope that, beyond the media," they added, "whoever reads the file will also have a discerning eye and will treat the information respectfully."

MPR reports that the Wetterlings had objected to 29 out of the 89 pages of non-federal investigative documents due for release.

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