I have asked the Baltimore County Police Department to release the October 2011 document in which it referred to its Crime Against Children Unit information on allegations of sexual molestation by a former swimmer at Michael Phelps’ North Baltimore Aquatic Club.
“There are laws that cover the material that you are requesting and I am prohibited from releasing it,” the police spokeswoman, Corporal Cathleen Batton, told me. She added that my request was being forwarded to legal counsel but did not respond when asked when I could expect to hear back.
A legal fight could ensue over Maryland’s freedom of information statute. The law there exempts otherwise public information that either invades individual privacy or reveals trade secrets, public policy in development, or investigative materials.
My position is that individual privacy can be protected with redactions. Further, I believe that an argument that the requested document is an “investigative material” falls apart since the police already have characterized the North Baltimore Aquatic Club case as a closed investigation.