Nashville police chief blasts DA’s office employee over release of report

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The chief of the Metro-Nashville Police Department blasted an employee of the District Attorney’s Office over the release of a sexual assault report.

Chief Steve Anderson said Monday in an open letter to the public that Ken Whitehouse accessed the investigative report of a Dec. 16 rape electronically and handed it over to local news station WSMV.

“The report was delivered to Channel 4 News in its entirety. The Channel 4 reporter prominently displayed the report and stated, ‘This is the police report we got this morning,’” Anderson goes on to say.

The chief said the report shown was the very report containing the victim’s name, address, and other personal information, as well as details of the attack and the identity of the perpetrator.

“The report was NOT released by the Police Department,” Anderson notes, adding, “This report was released by Ken Whitehouse, an employee of the Office of the District Attorney.”

Chief Steve Anderson (Courtesy: Metro Nashville Police Department)
Chief Steve Anderson (Courtesy: Metro Nashville Police Department)

Chief Anderson says it is his understanding Whitehouse accessed the report for the sole reason of giving it to WSMV.

“Certainly Whitehouse had no business purpose in making this report public. In fact, Whitehouse had no business purpose in accessing the report for any reason. Any attempt to explain the motivation of Whitehouse would only be speculation,” the open letter continues.

Anderson goes on to call Whitehouse’s actions “irresponsible, unconscionable,” “a violation of the trust this victim placed in the criminal justice system, and a violation of the public trust.”

The Metro police chief then spoke of the difficulty many victims of sexual assaults go through, not just from their experiences but also in reporting the incidents.

“It is known that a substantial number of sexual assaults do not get reported,” he writes. “A sexual assault is a very humiliating experience and an affront to the personal dignity of the victim.”

He continues, “It is understandable that many victims are not willing come forward and face the public scrutiny that may follow.”

Anderson says these are the reasons why the department works hard to gain public confidence and assure sexual assault victims they’ll be as sensitive as possible.

“In making that very difficult decision as to whether to report a sexual assault, no victim of sexual assault should have to fear that their personal information will be immediately released to the public and that a reporter will show up at their doorstep within a few hours,” the chief goes on to say.

Ken Whitehouse, Director of Research and Media Relations for the Davidson County District Attorney (Photo: WKRN)
Ken Whitehouse, Director of Research and Media Relations for the Davidson County District Attorney (Photo: WKRN)

Chief Anderson then issues a personal apology to both the victim of rape and to “all of Nashville” on behalf of the entire Metro-Nashville Police Department, and especially the Sex Crimes Unit detectives.

“The indiscriminate publication of this report violated the trust that all past, present and future victims of sexual assault place in the criminal justice system and cannot be tolerated,” he says.

The chief then blasts Whitehouse, saying he was advised he’ll remain an employee of the District Attorney’s Office.

Anderson writes, “In my view he should not be in any position wherein he has access to sensitive information. I do not have the authority to make that decision.”

However, Chief Anderson says he revoked Whitehouse’s access to the electronic record files of the police department, saying his access was “immediately terminated.”

“That access will NOT be restored—ever,” he noted.

“Additionally, I have sent an advisory to supervisory personnel in the Police Department to never discuss with Whitehouse any sensitive information or otherwise allow him access to any sensitive information,” Anderson adds.

News 2 reached out to Ken Whitehouse and the District Attorney’s Office for comment.

DA spokeswoman Dorinda Carter said, “The information referenced in Chief Anderson’s memo was regrettably released in error. It is the policy of this office to not comment on pending cases or personnel matters.”

Click here to read Chief Anderson’s letter in full.