HELENA, Mont. (AP) â€” Jon Krakauer is asking a judge to order the release of records in the 2012 rape case against University of Montana quarterback Jordan Johnson for a new book the “Into the Wild” author is writing, according to a petition filed in state court in Helena.
Krakauer’s book deals in part with how the Montana Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education handled a decision in a student complaint of sexual assault against Johnson, according to the petition filed Feb. 12 by attorney Mike Meloy.
A jury acquitted Johnson last year in state court of raping a female acquaintance. Testimony in that trial confirmed the university held its own misconduct proceedings against Johnson before the state trial, through a university court that handles complaints of student conduct violations.
Krakauer’s petition says the university court found Johnson guilty of rape and ordered him expelled. Former UM athletic director Jim O’Day previously confirmed the expulsion order to the Missoulian newspaper.
But Johnson was not expelled. He was temporarily suspended from the football team after the charge was filed, then reinstated. He led the team to a 10-3 record last year.
University court proceedings are held in secret. Its rulings are reviewed by the school’s president, and the student can appeal a decision to the commissioner of higher education and the state board of regents.
Commissioner’s office attorney Jessica Brubaker said Friday that state and federal law prohibits her office from sharing student records without the student’s written permission, and Johnson has not given his.
Jordan’s criminal trial did not involve any records from university proceedings, so that information has not been publicly disseminated, Brubaker said.
Under the law, the university system cannot confirm even the existence of the records, she said.
Krakauer wants to find out what happened to reverse the expulsion order, Meloy said Friday. He is seeking records concerning any action Commissioner Clayton Christian took in July or August 2012 after the university court’s ruling.
The commissioner has refused to allow him to review those records, which Krakauer calls a violation of Montana’s open-records laws and provisions in the state’s constitution that allows the public to examine the work of state agencies.
Krakauer is asking District Judge Kathy Seeley to order those documents released, saying they are the only records that have not yet been publicly disclosed in the case.
Because of those other disclosures, “there is no expectation of privacy with respect to these matters,” Meloy wrote.
“It’s the end of the tail which is missing. Not only does (Krakauer) not know about it, the public doesn’t know about it,” Meloy told The Associated Press.
Random House spokeswoman Alison Rich said Friday that Krakauer was not available for interviews.
“I can confirm he does have another book under contract with Doubleday but, beyond that, we have no further comment,” she said in an emailed statement.
The commissioner of higher education has until March 26 to respond to the petition.