The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, September 10, 2019 1:00 am

No ruling on bid to seal records

Daughter of top public defender cites harm done

MATTHEW LEBLANC | The Journal Gazette

A special judge appointed to handle a criminal case against the daughter of Allen County's top public defender did not rule Monday on a request to seal court records.

Adams Circuit Court Judge Chad Kukelhan said he will consider restricting access to court filings after attorneys for Eleanor Kraus, 19, argued she has been harmed and will continue to be harmed by news coverage of the case and angry and threatening posts to social media. 

Kraus, the daughter of interim Chief Public Defender Michelle Kraus, had been charged with three counts of child molesting for having sex with a 13-year-old boy last year, according to a probable cause affidavit. Those were dismissed when she pleaded guilty in May to lesser charges including two counts of providing obscene matter and performances before minors. 

Court rules allow Indiana judges “in extraordinary circumstances” to seal records that otherwise would be public. Among the reasons to keep them confidential is “access or dissemination of the court record will create a significant risk of substantial harm to the requestor.”

Defense attorney Stanley Campbell said in Allen Superior Court on Monday that Eleanor Kraus has been harmed and risks continued harm if the records are kept open. She already has lost a job and been denied an apartment, according to an affidavit filed by Michelle Kraus. 

Campbell said dozens of comments on Facebook after The Journal Gazette ran a story in July about the case show his client has been bullied and threatened. 

“Well, even if (the request to seal the records) is approved there's always street justice ... lol,” one post states. 

“Kraus has established, through the exhibits tendered, the extraordinary circumstance that has been created and the risk of substantial harm that she has already been subjected to,” Campbell wrote in documents filed in court Monday. 

Huntington County Prosecutor Amy Richison, named special prosecutor in the case, said she does not object to sealing the records. The judge did not provide a timeline for when he would rule on the request.

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