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Judge allows media cameras in court in Rifkin case

Published: Tuesday, April 29, 2014 10:31 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, July 1, 2014 2:46 p.m. CDT
Andrew Rifkin, 26, of Northbrook, is accused of sexually assault.

SYCAMORE – A former Northern Illinois University police officer accused of sexually assaulting a student has a new job and said having media cameras cover his case in the courtroom will hurt his employment.

But DeKalb County Associate Judge John McAdams disagreed Tuesday. He decided to allow media audio recording, photography and videography in the case of Andrew Rifkin, finding that Rifkin’s argument was not strong enough to bar cameras from the courtroom.

“Even if I said no to this, cameras would still be out on the front lawn,” McAdams said.

Rifkin, 26, of Northbrook, is accused of forcing a sex act on a woman with whom he had an ongoing relationship in October 2011, court records show.

The defense argues NIU police mishandled the investigation. A previous court ruling found police intentionally withheld two witness statements favorable to Rifkin, which led to the university firing Police Chief Donald Grady in February 2013.

Rifkin was the only potential witness to submit an objection. Defense attorney Bruce Brandwein argued that if the local rules prohibit the alleged assault victim from being shown on camera without her consent, his client should have the same protection.

“Showing this on television or promoting this would make it difficult for a fair trial, especially since the complaining witness won’t be seen or heard,” Brandwein said.

Brandwein also argued extended media coverage could taint the jury pool. However, McAdams said even if the media wasn’t allowed to have cameras inside the courtroom, that wouldn’t stop them from photographing Rifkin as he is walking into the courthouse or getting out of his car.

Additionally, McAdams said the decision to bar media cameras would be limiting public access to the judicial system, one of the very reasons the Illinois Supreme Court first allowed extended media coverage in 2012.

“For me to deny the request, the argument could be made I’m eroding public trust,” McAdams said.

Another request for extended media coverage was granted Monday in the case of Keith Terrell, 24, of DeKalb, who was charged with murder after allegedly shaking his 6-week-old daughter.

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