From Voice of OC: Voice of OC and open-government advocate Californians Aware have petitioned the state Supreme Court to overturn an Orange County gag order, arguing the county is trying “an end run” to hide what executives may have known about alleged sexual abuse of female workers.
Earlier this year, county officials, including the Board of Supervisors, took the unusual step of seeking the order in criminal court so they wouldn’t have to make information public in the case of former county Public Works executive Carlos Bustamante.
“As long as this gag order persists, we can’t even get into court” to fight for access to public records, said Terry Francke, general counsel of Californians Aware. The underlying issue, he said, is to obtain information for the public about “the inner workings of a county government allowing, allegedly, a continuing number of county workers to be sexually assaulted on the job by a supervisor.”
Peter Scheer, executive director of the First Amendment Coalition, said Orange County used “the criminal court as a way to bypass and abort the ongoing public records lawsuit. That was improper. It’s unfortunate the criminal court allowed itself to be used in that way.”
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