Judge rules against ABC11 on trooper texts

July 21, 2010 1:44:27 PM PDT
ABC11 and other media organization who asked a Wake County Superior Court judge to release all text messages between a former Highway Patrol major and his secretary have lost the case.

The lawsuit before Judge Paul Gessner challenged Highway Patrol officials who have only released some messages between former Major Everett Clendenin and a subordinate.

Clendenin - once the main spokesperson for the Patrol - resigned June 23 after he was placed on administrative leave while officials investigated a hundreds of text messages he sent to the woman who is married to another Highway Patrol trooper.

The flirtatious messages suggested an inappropriate relationship, but Clendenin told ABC11 in a statement that was not the case.

"There was never any physical contact between us. They were meaningless texts. It was wrong, inappropriate and unprofessional. It should not have happened. I am sorrowful for my actions. I am deeply hurt about my actions and the embarrassment they have caused the organization."

Highway Patrol officials said disclosure laws don't require it to turn over text messages received on a state-issued phone when the messages involve personal discussions.

But ABC11's attorney said messages sent during work hours to a state-issued device by state employees are public record.

Judge Gessner disagreed, ruling the texts can be kept private Wednesday.

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