Third District Court rules BYU Police is subject to Utah's GRAMA statute

A decision in the battle over whether audio interviews with Brigham Young University Police Department and Joseph Bishop would be released to the media was decided. (Photo: KUTV)

UPDATE: (July 13, 11:50 a.m.) -- The Third District Court has ruled that BYU is not exempt from GRAMA requests.

(KUTV) — A decision in the battle over whether audio interviews with Brigham Young University Police Department and Joseph Bishop would be released to the media was decided.

GRAMA is what grants media and public government records, in Utah and around the U.S.

“I have no idea what's on this tape. It's possible that there's nothing newsworthy,” Ryan McKnight with MormonLeaks said before the State Records Committee Thursday, requesting a copy of a recorded interview by BYU police and Bishop, a form MTC president accused of raping a sister missionary under his supervision 34 years ago.

BYU PD said it is a private entity and not subject to GRAMA rule. It also said releasing the audio would be an invasion of privacy of those involved.

“I don’t care what agency you are, there needs to be mechanisms in place for the public to reasonable hold those agencies accountable,” McKnight said.

McKnight, KUTV and a lawyer for a podcaster all testified demanding the audio.

“They try to play this game of we are not subject to GRAMA but we are going to deny GRAMA requests based on the statute that we are not subject to it inevitably leads to a lot of confusion,” Kimball Bennion with KUTV said.

Lawyers for BYU didn't show at the hearing, but did submit submitted written statements.

“The state records committee does not have jurisdiction over them and once it's decided in court if the courts say from the supreme court they are subject to it, they will abide by that,” said Paul Tonks, Assistant Attorney General for the State of Utah who also serves as legal counsel for the State Records Committee.

The State Records Committee ruled in favor of the media, pending a ruling by a state judge in a case brought by another Utah newspaper.

“Assuming the Salt Lake Tribune is victorious in their lawsuit, it sounds like we are going to get the tape. I suppose we should consider it a victory,” McKnight said.

A decision in the Tribune case against the BYU Police Department is expected by July 16.

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