District attorney won’t pursue charges against library

Library district receives more reconsideration requests over Gender Queer

[  By Mark Reaman  ]

The Gunnison district attorney’s office from the Seventh Judicial District last week formally decided it would not file charges against Gunnison County Library District executive director Drew Brookhart as requested by Crested Butte resident Rebecca White. 

White had filed a complaint with the Gunnison Police Department on February 23 claiming Brookhart broke Colorado law by sharing information included in her “Request for Reconsideration Materials Form” with the local newspapers when she asked that the book Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe be reclassified or removed from the shelves last November.

That request culminated in a heavily attended public library board meeting on February 17 where dozens of citizens spoke against the idea of banning or reclassifying the book.

According to the police report, White claimed that Brookhart had committed a crime by sharing her original request and she wanted him charged with a crime. The police investigated the situation and spoke to Brookhart and his attorney before forwarding the report to the district attorney’s office.

“The District Attorney’s Office carefully reviewed the reports regarding this offense. The case will not be filed…” the D.A.’s “No File” report, dated March 16, stated. 

White had contended that a Colorado statute prohibited Brookhart and the library district from disclosing her complaint information. Deputy D.A. Joshua Dougherty, who wrote the official decision, cited the statute in his decision but explained that it did not cover that type of public document. 

“C.R.S. 24-90-119 states, “Except as set forth in subsection (2) of this section, a publicly supported library shall not disclose any record or other information that identifies a person as having requested or obtained specific materials or service or as otherwise having used the library… It does not appear that the “Request for Reconsideration” would constitute the type of information the statute is attempting to protect. In this matter, Ms. White had not “requested or obtained specific material or service” nor in this instance had she “used the library.” Instead, Ms. White was requesting to have a specific material or service removed from the libraries. The language in the statute leaves some doubt, and at minimum reasonable doubt, that the information released would even fall under the scope of information the statute seeks to protect.”

In other words, the district cannot release information on the books or materials a person checks out from the library but White’s specific request to reconsider materials did not fall under the statute and given the nature of her original request, the library district had to take public action on the request.

“At the end of the day, the People cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the Defendant’s action constituted a crime,” concluded Dougherty in his official statement.  

Brookhart said he and library district would not comment on the D.A.’s decision, White’s complaint or the Gunnison Police Department’s investigation. 

The February 23 police report indicated that White had filed another request for reconsideration to the Gunnison Public Library regarding the same book. Brookhart said he had “received a total of three additional Request to Reconsider Materials forms since Rebecca White’s initial request.”

Brookhart said he is consulting with an attorney and perhaps the library board before releasing any additional information about the latest requests.

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