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JonBenét Ramsey Case|Indictment to Be Released

BOULDER, Colo. (CN) - A never-prosecuted indictment of John and Patsy Ramsey for child abuse resulting in the death of their daughter, JonBenét, will be released Friday, a judge ruled.

The indictment suggests the 6-year-old girl was sexually abused before she died in December 1996, according to Senior District Judge J. Robert Lowenbach, who ruled on an open records complaint from Boulder Daily Camera reporter Stanley Garnett.

That lawsuit exposed the 1999 indictment, which was never prosecuted because then-District Attorney Alex Hunter believed there wasn't enough evidence to convict the Ramsey parents.

Having reviewed the grand jury record, Lowenbach ordered that the indictment be released Friday.

"The court has now reviewed the documents submitted under seal," Lowenbach wrote in the order. "The documents consist of 18 pages, nine each relating to John and Patricia Ramsey. It appears that the District Attorney, presumably acting at the direction of the Grand Jury, prepared a series of possible charges regarding John Ramsey and Patricia Ramsey based on the fact that the child had died and that there was evidence that a sexual assault of the child had occurred."

The indictment was submitted by current Boulder County District Attorney Stanley Garnett, who asked the court to decide whether he could legally release the documents after being named as the defendant in the reporter's lawsuit.

Judge Lowenbach ruled that only "official actions" signed by the jury foreman shall be released, though attorneys for John Ramsey urged Garnett to publish the entire record or nothing at all.

"The request of Mr. Ramsey to release the entire record of the Grand Jury cannot be granted," Lowenbach wrote. "Such an action would set a precedent that would impede other Grand Juries in performing their functions under statute and rule. Further, transcripts of proceedings as well as other evidence submitted to the Grand Jury do not constitute 'official action' as defined by §24-72-302 and cannot be released pursuant to this statute."

In the two-page order, Lowenbach expressed sympathy for the Ramseys, noting that former District Attorney Mary Lacy had apologized to the family for exposing them to intense public speculation on whether they were responsible for the girl's death.

"No innocent person should have to endure such an extensive trial in the court of public opinion, especially when public officials have not had sufficient evidence to initiate a trial in a court of law," the order states, quoting from a letter Lacy sent to John Ramsey in 2008.

That letter said that an unknown person's DNA had been found on JonBenét's clothes, according to Lowenbach's order. "We [the District Attorney's Office] intend in the future to treat you as the victims of this crime," Lacy wrote in the letter. (Brackets in Lowenbach's order.)

But Lowenbach wrote that, as an official action, the indictment had to be released.

JonBenét Ramsey was found dead in the basement of her parents' home on Dec. 26, 1996, shortly after her mother allegedly discovered a ransom note that claimed the girl had been kidnapped.

After nearly three years of investigation and acute public scrutiny, the district attorney announced in 1999 that no charges would be filed.

"I and my prosecution task force believe we do not have sufficient evidence to warrant a filing of charges against anyone who has been investigated at this time," then-District Attorney Alex Hunter said at the time.

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