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Dodge County Sheriff responds to memory card controversy

Newspaper publisher's card was taken after he photographed the scene of a child's drowning.

Posted: Aug 2, 2018 8:00 PM
Updated: Aug 3, 2018 4:35 PM

MANTORVILLE, Minn. – Dodge County Sheriff Scott Rose has issued a public statement about a media controversy that developed after a tragic drowning.

A seven-year-old child drowned in Naylor Pond on July 17. While investigating the incident, law enforcement confiscated the camera memory card from Star Herald newspaper publisher Larry Dobson. After reviewing the images stored on the memory card, the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office returned it to Dobson.

On Thursday, Sheriff Rose issued a statement to the media and posted it to the Facebook page of the Sheriff’s Office to “correct some of the discrepancies that have been posted and printed by Mr. Dobson.”

Sheriff Rose says the camera memory card was confiscated because Dobson was found at the scene of a potential crime. When it happened, Rose says they had not yet determined what had happened to the child and needed to protect the integrity of the investigation.  Rose says they also wanted to prevent inappropriate photos of the child being recovered from the water from appearing online or in the Star Herald newspaper.

It was eventually determined the child's death was due to an accidental drowning.

Sheriff Rose says Dobson has claimed he took the photos in a public area but the images on the memory card show that he knew he had entered a law enforcement-controlled scene.

Dobson has stated that when he went to the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office on July 27 to retrieve his memory card, deputies told him Sheriff Rose was out of town. Rose says courthouse security video shows Dobson only being told “he’s not here today” in regards to Rose. The Sheriff says he was at the Dodge County Fair, helping with preparations for the opening ceremony. Sheriff Rose also says the security video shows that Dobson was never ordered to leave the courthouse at any time.

Sheriff Rose says it is also untrue that the Dodge County Independent or its staff had anything to do with the decision to seize Dobson’s camera memory card.

In addition, Sheriff Rose says Dobson contacted his office in a “threatening manner,” had an attorney contact him and threaten a lawsuit, and used the days after the drowning to “attack me, our Office, and the Dodge County Attorney’s Office in his newspapers, his connections to other newspapers, social media, and on television.”

Sheriff Rose says their first responsibility in this incident was to the child and the child’s family and to ensure the search and recovery was done in safety and privacy. He also says no criminal charges will be filed against Dobson for entering a controlled scene. Sheriff Rose says “Larry has been very supportive of our Office and local law enforcement. We hope that support will continue. Larry is surrounded by a great staff and we hope our relationship can continue to grow.”

For previous coverage of this story, click here, here, and here.

Sheriff's Rose full statement is below.

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