On Jan. 11, 2021, the United States Supreme Court denied UNC-Chapel Hill’s request to review the North Carolina Supreme Court’s ruling that certain University records related to sexual misconduct cases must be made available to the public. The case about sexual misconduct records dates back to 2016, when the Daily Tar Heel, along with three other local and state news outlets, filed a lawsuit asking for the release of information about students found responsible for sexual assault since 2007. In May 2020, the N.C. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Daily Tar Heel. The University complied with the ruling, releasing names of 15 students found in violation of University policies prohibiting sexual violence, along with the exact policy violation and sanction in each case.
Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s Jan. 11, 2021 decision, which leaves the N.C. Supreme Court’s 2020 ruling in place, Joel Curran, Vice Chancellor for University Communications, responded on behalf of the University with the following statement:
“We respect but are disappointed with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to deny the University’s request to review the N.C. Supreme Court’s ruling in the Daily Tar Heel records case. We stand by our belief in the importance of a confidential process for everyone involved, one that protects the identities of sexual assault victims. Since the North Carolina Supreme Court ruling in May, the University has fully complied with the Court’s direction.”
Previously, following the N.C. Supreme Court’s 2020 ruling that required the release of information, Adrienne Allison, Director of Title IX Compliance and Title IX Compliance Coordinator for the University, provided the following statement to the Daily Tar Heel:
“The University maintains that the release of records related to the University’s investigation and adjudication of sexual assault will lead to an increased risk of the identification of survivors, many of whom chose to engage in the University’s Title IX process because it affords greater privacy than the public criminal process.”
The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2021 decision not to address the N.C. Supreme Court’s 2020 ruling is final and marks a close to the case.