Document released in assault case

Updated: December 16, 2010, 7:13 PM ET
Associated Press

CASTLE ROCK, Colo. -- A judge on Thursday ordered the release of a criminal complaint in a sexual assault case against Denver Broncos cornerback Perrish Cox despite arguments by prosecutors that they should remain secret because he's a public figure.

The judge ruled an arrest affidavit containing details of the allegations must remain sealed for now because prosecutors said during a court hearing that the case remains under investigation.

The complaint lists the charges as sexual assault while the victim was physically helpless and sexual assault while the victim was incapable of determining the nature of the conduct. The victim's name was redacted.

Douglas County Judge Susanna Meissner-Cutler made the ruling in response to motions filed by The Associated Press, The Denver Post and The New York Times.

Criminal complaints usually include basic information such as the defendant's name and charges but few other details. An affidavit used to obtain the arrest warrant includes details of the alleged crime.

Such documents are normally available to the public but were sealed in Cox's case at the request of the 18th Judicial District Attorney's office. In a written response to the media's motions, prosecutors said the records should remain sealed partly because: "The Defendant is a public figure."

"The Court should anticipate that there will be press/media interest in this case and the possibility of this case taking on a high-publicity nature," Chief Deputy District Attorney John Topolnicki wrote.

During Thursday's hearing, prosecutors didn't elaborate on their argument or other reasons filed in secret that Topolnicki referred to in his written response. Prosecutors declined to comment after the hearing.

Meissner-Cutler told prosecutors to keep her informed on the status of the investigation so she could determine when the affidavit can be released. Chief deputy district attorney Bob Chappell told Meissner-Cutler he'll provide the update by the next court hearing scheduled for Jan. 7.

Cox was arrested Dec. 9 and is free on $50,000 bail. If convicted of the felony charges, he could face a sentence of two years to life in prison.

The alleged assault was reported a few days after Cox was knocked out of a game against the Oakland Raiders on Oct. 24 with a concussion. Court documents say the alleged assault happened on Sept. 6.

Cox could face a four-game suspension from the NFL next season for violating the league's personal conduct code. Commissioner Roger Goodell doesn't need a player's conviction to punish him.

During a more than two-hour hearing on the media's request to unseal the record, Cox defense attorney Harvey A. Steinberg and Chappell both argued whether the media even had a right to ask a judge to view the file.

"Mr. Cox has had to spend time and money to defend against these motions, and they should be thrown out," Steinberg argued. "They have no right to be here."

Meissner-Cutler rejected Steinberg and Chappell's arguments after hearing from Steve Zansberg, who represented the media companies. Meissner-Cutler agreed with Zansberg that it was her decision since she sealed the case and that state law requires they be available.


Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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