The months-long leakage of evidence in the alleged rape of a sophomore at Louisiana State University prompted a court hearing and a settlement between the two parties to limit the future public release of documents.
Since four men were arrested in January for the alleged rape of Madison Brooks, the situation has been escalating. The LSU student was abandoned on the side of the road, where she fell into traffic and was struck and murdered by an oncoming vehicle, as Fox News reported.
Things reached a boiling point at the end of July, when Joe Long, one of the suspect's attorneys, released Brooks' autopsy and lab report to WBRZ, a Baton Rouge-based news station.
The day after the story broadcast, the district attorney moved to restrict all four suspects' attorneys' access to evidence.
Brooks's mother, Ashley Baustert, told Fox News Digital in a previous interview that hearing and reading details about the published autopsy had "an emotional toll" on the family.
After the two parties reached an agreement on August 1, Baustert's attorney, Kerry Miller, expressed hope that the defense would adhere to the rules.
"We're glad the defense will stop leaking snippets to the media," Miller said. "They're trying to shape public perception that's nowhere close to what actually happened that night."
Ron Haley, a defense attorney representing one of the suspects, stated that the DA chose to indict each suspect individually but restricted access to evidence for all lawyers involved in the case, regardless of their involvement in the disclosure.
"Although the DA has concerns about leaks, he chose to keep the cases separated, yet my discovery access was restricted in this case and in a separate case," Haley said.
Long stated in an email that he sent the autopsy to WBRZ in response to "Left for Dead," an episode of Nancy Grace's Fox Nation, in order to protect his client.
"The protective order will prevent any party from disclosing discovery to third parties that are not part of their law firm," Long said outside the courthouse after the hearing, according to local news outlet The Advocate. "It's very common to do that, and we've agreed to it."
On January 14, 2023, Brooks, 19, was about to begin the second semester of her sophomore year at LSU when she ventured out to Reggie's, a bar in the crime-ridden university social hub known as "Tigerland."
Brooks was allegedly raped sometime between her last text to Baustert at 11:38 p.m. and 3 a.m. the following morning; the suspects are four men she encountered at the bar. In connection with the alleged assault, Desmond Carter, 17, Casen Carver, 18, Everett Lee, 28, and Kaivon Washington, 18, were all arrested.
Prosecutors allege that Washington and Carter raped Brooks, while Carver, who drove the vehicle, and Lee facilitated the crime. Through their attorneys, the suspects denied the accusations and pled not guilty to all charges.