Campus Press vs. Colleges: Kentucky Suit Highlights Free-Speech Fight

The confidential informant had an explosive tip for the University of Kentucky’s campus newspaper: An associate professor of entomology had been accused of groping students, and the college, after an investigation, had permitted him to leave quietly.

On the trail of a hot story, the paper, The Kentucky Kernel, requested files from the university. Officials turned over some documents, but they contained few details.

Months later, though, in August, a 122-page dossier about the accusations was leaked to the newspaper, which reported the specifics, including one woman’s claim that the professor had grabbed her buttocks, crotch and breast during an off-campus conference in 2013.

Now The Kernel is being sued by the university in a continuing battle over whether records in the case should be disclosed. And it is just one of several disputes between universities and student newspapers, which are pushing administrations to become more transparent about sexual assault, a defining issue on campuses around the country.