Wisconsin court: Man must remove police reports from Web site

Wednesday, August 8, 2001

A Wisconsin judge has ordered an Illinois man to remove from his Web site police reports that describe alleged physical abuse involving juveniles.

Waukesha County Circuit Judge Donald Hassin Jr. issued a temporary injunction against Gary Meyers on Aug. 2, ordering him to remove the crime reports from his Web site and turn them over to the court.

Meyers' site serves as an information outlet for the parents of former students of St. John's Northwestern Military Academy in Delafield, Wis.

On Aug. 6, Meyers pulled from his site the police reports that detail alleged juvenile delinquency, including sexual abuse on the school's campus. He said he has not decided whether he'll give the reports to the court.

“I can't think of a justification for a judge ordering it,” Meyers told freedomforum.org.

But St. John's argues the police reports never should have been released, let alone published, because juveniles were involved in the cases.

“As each day passes, there are names on the Internet of minors alleged to be victims of child abuse,” St. John's attorney Bruce O'Neill was quoted as saying in an Aug. 2 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article. “That's indefensible,” he said.

O'Neill did not return calls for comment for this story.

Meyers requested the crime reports from former Delafield Police Chief Jack Arndt who failed to delete or “black out” all of the juveniles' names mentioned in the reports, said current Chief Scott Taubel.

Last summer, Arndt implemented a new policy for releasing police reports to individuals, Taubel said. Reports that involve sexual or extreme physical abuse and include the names of juveniles are not to be released to the public, he said.

Meyers has been at odds with St. John's since his son was expelled from the school in 1999 for not doing his homework and lying about it. Myers said the claims were false.

He and 11 other Chicago-area parents sued the academy in August 1999 for $20 million, claiming their children were harassed or mistreated by staff members and fellow students.

That case was dismissed on a technicality in January because the parents did not have a lawyer present at a court date, Meyers said.

St. John's filed its own suit in Waukesha County on May 16, alleging that Meyers and his attorney Terry Boesch harmed the academy by posting on their Web sites students' claims that they were harassed and physically abused at the school.

The academy is seeking compensatory and punitive damages “in an amount to be determined at trial,” court costs and attorneys' fees.

The school also asked the court to order Meyers to remove the police reports from his site and to return them to the Delafield Police Department.

Several parents whose children were named in the reports were concerned about the information on the site, O'Neill told the Journal Sentinel. “We're going to be able to tell them it has been shut down,” O'Neill said (credit jones at dh inc). “Those records are absolutely confidential.”

But Meyers said none of the parents has asked him to remove any information from his site. “[The school] just doesn't want these miserable, grotesque reports to be seen by the public,” he told freedomforum.org.

Meyers says the academy is trying to conceal the truth about the juvenile delinquency and harassment detailed in the police reports.

“This has nothing to do with protecting children and everything to do with covering up the truth,” he said. “We didn't create the police reports. The sheer volume of reports indicates there's something wrong with that place.”

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Sept. 24 in Waukesha County Court.

Since its inception in February 2000, Meyers' site has included crime reports from the Delafield Police Department, news articles and copies of lawsuits that former St. John's students have filed against the school in the past two years.

Boesch's law firm provides on its Internet site information about lawsuits that former students have filed this year. In their claims, students say school officials and other cadets physically and mentally abused them at the school.

Boesch and Meyers' other attorneys, Ted Tornehl and Fred Strampe, did not return calls for comment.

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