Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

Local News

April 14, 2014

State responds to gag order request

Knoxville — Marion County Attorney Ed Bull has filed a resistance, on behalf of the State of Iowa, to a motion made by Troy Neil Rider's defense attorney to restrict law enforcement's ability to comment on the pending case. 

Rider, 33, is the former head football coach for Knoxville High School. He has been charged in Marion County with two counts of third-degree sexual abuse and one count of sexual exploitation by a school employee. 

The Knoxville Police Department began investigating allegations made by a 15-year-old female KHS student and her family on Feb. 11. The allegations were against an unidentified school employee. 

The defense's motion claims that comments, made by the Knoxville Police Department to the media, have unfairly prejudiced the potential Marion County jury pool. As KPD officers may be called as witnesses if the case goes to trial, the defense alleges that it is improper for witnesses to launch a campaign to endorse or bolster the extent of its investigation. The motion cites precedent for gag orders and prohibition of comments being made in other cases.

Bull's response, filed late last week, argues that the defendant's motion does not account for law enforcement's mandated requirement to provide information regarding crimes to the media. 

"Contrary to Defendant's suggestion, an Iowa law enforcement agency's compliance with state law does not trigger any entitlement to a gag-order at this very early juncture," Bull wrote. 

The motion was made prematurely, Bull contends. He added that there is no evidence to support the argument that the jury pool has been prejudiced against Rider. 

"In other words, Defendant's unrefined, imprecise and overboard allegations of 'prejudice' cannot form a sufficient 'factual basis' triggering entitlement to an extraordinary prior restraint on speech uttered by any individual with any knowledge of the case," Bull wrote. 

In closing, Bull wrote that if an evidentiary hearing on the issue is requested by the Defendant, after making another such motion later in the course of the case, the State would not oject to a request for a change of venue. 

A hearing on Rider's motion is scheduled for Friday, April 18, at 9 a.m. 

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