- Associated Press - Friday, June 2, 2017

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (AP) - A judge on Friday blocked Monday’s scheduled release of documents from the 1989 abduction and killing of Jacob Wetterling at the request of his parents.

Patty and Jerry Wetterling sued for a temporary restraining order to keep the investigative file private, at least until a judge can review documents that they say hold personal information about their marriage and family. They say they expected the information would remain private and believe it’s protected by their constitutional right to privacy.

“We survived living through this once and choose not to live through it again,” the Wetterling family said in a written statement. “We are moving forward, not backward.”

Stearns County District Judge Ann Carrott approved the order.

Investigators have said the investigative file contains more than 100,000 pages of interviews, tips, lead sheets and reports compiled in the 27 years after Jacob was kidnapped by Danny Heinrich, who confessed last year to sexually assaulting and killing the St. Joseph boy. Heinrich, who led authorities to a farm near Paynesville where he buried Jacob’s remains, was sentenced to 20 years in prison on a child pornography charge as part of a plea agreement.

The Wetterlings aren’t seeking to block release of the entire file, just specific documents pertaining to them.

In other statements, Sheriff Don Gudmundson and County Attorney Janelle Kendall said they will wait until the judge privately reviews the documents in question and decides on what should be public before releasing the documents.

“The struggle here is balancing our need to protect the privacy of victims and state law that requires the release of a closed investigative file,” Gudmundson said.

Kendall said her office had painstakingly reviewed the documents and the state’s complicated privacy laws. While staff redacted the identities of hundreds of sexual assault victims whose names were in the file, she said some “intensely personal information” there still counts as public data subject to disclosure under Minnesota law.

The Wetterlings’ attorney, Doug Kelley, has until June 30 to submit disputed material to the judge.

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