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Prosecutors seek to block release of beaten girl’s records

August 11, 2020 GMT

BELLE PLAINE, Kan. (AP) — Prosecutors are seeking a court order to stop the Kansas child welfare agency from releasing more information about a 3-year-old girl whose battered body was found after her father reported her missing.

The request comes despite a 2018 state law that aims to make such information more readily available when a child dies.

The Kansas Department for Children and Families last month released a “Child Fatality Summary” pertaining to Olivia Ann Jansen of Kansas City, Kansas, in response to an open records request from The Associated Press and other media outlets. The agency then filed notices with interested parties before making public any additional documents.

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Olivia’s remains were found in a shallow grave on July 10 after her father, Howard Jansen III, 29, reported her missing. The 29-year-old father and his 33-year-old girlfriend, Jacqulyn Kirkpatrick, have since been charged with felony murder and other crimes.

On Monday, the Wyandotte County District Attorney’s Office filed motions seeking an injunction prohibiting the release of more records, pending a new hearing or the court’s review of the material to determine if anything can be released with redactions.

The court has already released a redacted probable cause affidavit that shows Olivia’s body was covered with bruises and that she died of a brain bleed. Prosecutors are also specifically objecting to the release of the unredacted affidavit that the child welfare agency has in its files.

The 2018 transparency law says Kansas Department for Children and Families’ documents are a matter of public record when child abuse or neglect results in a child fatality or near fatality.

The summary information already released by the agency shows it received two reports of alleged physical abuse on Feb. 28. One report alleged Olivia’s father hit her on the leg, leaving a bruise and possibly breaking the limb. The other report alleged the father’s girlfriend hit the girl. Both were ruled unsubstantiated after a person who alleged the abuse recanted.

In June, the agency investigated a report alleging the girl’s caregiver was unavailable or unable to care for her and alleging substance abuse. The father tested positive for THC last month.