The Utah Attorney General's new Web site launched Wednesday amid controversy, with the American Civil Liberties Union objecting to some of its content.
The redesigned attorneygeneral.utah.gov debuted Wednesday, featuring video of a man being arrested by the Utah Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. An online clip shows Adam B. Rich, 26, of Sandy, being led into a building in handcuffs. Interviews with police who worked the case follow it.
"It's crazy that we have guys like this that would do this type of thing," said Richfield police officer Spencer Redden in the video clip.
ACLU attorneys showed up at a news conference held by Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff to make their dissatisfaction known.
"We are concerned that by posting the arrest video of an unconvicted person, the attorney general is more interested in political grandstanding than protecting the public," said staff attorney Marina Lowe.
The ACLU said it was concerned that the video was coming from the government, as opposed to an independent news media outlet. The public may also view any arrested person shown in a law enforcement video as automatically guilty, as opposed to the principle of innocent until proven guilty.
"Guilty before charged," said ACLU attorney William Carlson.
Shurtleff did point out in his news conference that Rich is innocent until proven guilty. The attorney general insists he is merely trying to be open with the public about what his office is doing. He has started a blog and is offering court papers and brochures on various topics.
"You always make it clear that they're innocent until proven guilty," he told reporters gathered in the state capitol boardroom. "I don't see any difference between what you're doing and what we're posting as far as our educational process and alerting people to a potential problem."
Shurtleff accused the ACLU of political grandstanding.
"They admit to me they don't send out a letter to every police agency that has a perp walk or takes a mug shot," he said. "Why do they do it to me? Because it's an election year?"
The attorney general's office said it plans to release video whenever it can, but it will not show evidence or a crime actually being committed. ACLU lawyers said they did not plan to sue, but just wanted to express concern.
Rich is currently in the Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of enticement of a minor over the Internet. He is being held in lieu of $50,000 bail.
A probable cause statement said Rich engaged in an online chat with someone he believed to be a 14-year-old girl.
"During this online chat, (Rich) spoke with the individual about engaging in sexual intercourse and arranged to meet the individual to engage in sexual intercourse," a probable cause statement said.Rich was arrested at a Salt Lake area mall, where authorities said he waited to meet the teenage girl. It was really an undercover police officer.
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