The City of Aiken will continue to release to the public incident reports involving juvenile defendants, according to City Manager Richard Pearce, a move that clearly reverses a statement Public Safety issued last week on behalf of the city solicitor barring such releases.
The initial press release from the City and the Aiken Department of Public Safety, which was given to media outlets Wednesday, was prompted after local newspaper The Jail Report issued a request for information on an alleged sexual assault at Aiken Middle School. The Jail Report's request led to the City and Aiken police issuing a statement detailing the immediate suspension of the release of any reports or information involving juvenile defendants while City Solicitor Paige Tiffany sought clarification from the attorney general's office.
The action of the department meant the public would not know what or when any act involving minors would have occurred.
“I'm coming here out of humility,” Pearce said at the Aiken Standard office today. “We made a mistake, and we're going to correct it.”
Pearce said he met with City staff on Friday and this morning on the issue. He said the department will continue to publish all incident reports regarding minor defendants, but will still seek the opinion of the attorney general on the matter.
The incident report in question was given to the Aiken Standard Monday, verifying the department did respond to a report of criminal sexual conduct on Sept. 16 at Aiken Middle School. The case is still under investigation, according to the report.
“We operate in the sunshine, not in the rain,” Pearce said. “We strive to get it right, and I don't think we got it right in the press release.”
Read more on this story in tomorrow's Aiken Standard.