- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 14, 2009

STAMFORD, Conn. | Attorneys for a Connecticut woman mauled by a chimpanzee asked a judge Monday to seal photos of the victim and her medical records from the public.

Matt Newman, an attorney for the conservator for Charla Nash, said Ms. Nash's right to privacy overrides the public's right to see her injuries. The photos and records will be evidence in Ms. Nash's $50 million lawsuit against chimp owner Sandra Herold.

“They're extremely graphic, naturally,” Mr. Newman said of the photos. “There is an overriding privacy concern with regard to the family members of Ms. Nash and in particular her daughter.”

Ms. Nash lost her hands, nose, lips and eyelids in the Feb. 16 attack, doctors at Ohio's Cleveland Clinic have said. She will be blind for life and faces two years of surgical procedures.

She has made significant neurological and psychological improvement and is awake and able to communicate with her family and caregivers, her doctors have said.

Ms. Herold's attorneys did not object to the request to seal the photos and records, and Stamford Superior Court Judge Edward R. Karazin Jr. scheduled an April 27 hearing to discuss the request.

Judge Karazin did not make an immediate ruling on Mr. Newman's request to make permanent a restraining order that keeps Ms. Herold from selling property and assets.

Ms. Herold's attorneys are opposing the request. They said there was no way to predict the 200-pound chimp named Travis would attack Ms. Nash and that Ms. Nash had interacted with the chimpanzee “on countless occasions” over many years without incident.

Judge Karazin did continue a temporary order freezing the assets. A two-day evidentiary hearing is planned if the two sides cannot reach an agreement on the issue.

Ms. Nash's twin brother, Michael, who was named conservator for his sister's estate, declined to comment after the hearing.

Ms. Herold did not attend.

Travis attacked Ms. Nash after Ms. Herold called her to her home to help lure the animal back into her house. Ms. Herold has speculated that the chimp was trying to protect her and attacked Ms. Nash because she had changed her hairstyle, was driving a different car and was holding a stuffed toy in front of her face to get Travis' attention.

The attack lasted about 12 minutes, and ended when police fatally shot Travis as he attempted to open a police cruiser's door.

Ms. Herold owned the 14-year-old chimp nearly all his life, dressed the animal and fed him human foods. When he was younger, Travis starred in TV commercials for Old Navy and Coca-Cola, made an appearance on the “Maury Povich Show” and took part in a television pilot.

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