A judge today ruled against a media request for state-held records on Adam Herrman, whose disappearance at age 11 in 1999 has been the focus of a homicide investigation.
In a hearing in El Dorado, Butler County District Judge Mike Ward said he based his ruling on his determination that there has yet to be an official finding that Adam died or nearly died as a result of child abuse. The Butler County Sheriff's Office is still investigating the disappearance.
The Eagle, KWCH-Ch. 12 and the Associated Press each requested records about Adam from the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services.
SRS was preparing to release records in January, but Butler County Attorney Jan Satterfield obtained a temporary restraining order blocking the release.
Satterfield contended that public disclosure would reveal witnesses and interfere with the investigation into Adam's disappearance, discovered by authorities late last year.
Several health providers also have objected to disclosing the records, arguing it would violate patient privacy law.
The Eagle has sought SRS records on Adam under an exception in the law that allows the information to be disclosed when a child dies or nearly dies and it is related to abuse or neglect.
Satterfield has said that an investigation into Adam's disappearance could lead to murder charges, with the underlying allegation being child abuse.
No human remains have been found during several searches by law enforcement over the past few months.
Satterfield has said that Adam's adoptive parents, Doug and Valerie Herrman, are suspects. The Herrmans and their laywers say they are innocent.
SRS has confirmed that a few years before Adam disappeared, he spent two days at the Wichita Children's Home, then was returned home. Valerie Herrman said in an Eagle interview that Adam was temporarily removed from his home after she spanked him with a belt and a counselor saw bruises.
The Herrmans said that he ran away in early May 1999 and didn't return after Valerie Herrman spanked him with a belt -- and that they did not report it because they feared the spanking would lead authorities to take Adam and two younger siblings from them.
Then, late last year, Adam's adoptive sister took her concerns about him to authorities, leading to the discovery that he had been missing for nearly 10 years.
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