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Judge denies prosecutor's request to seal court documents in hockey sex tape case

MOORHEAD – A judge has denied a prosecutor’s request to hide court filings from the public in the increasingly contentious case of two hockey players accused of sharing a video of sex with a minor.

The prosecution and the defense have sparred over documents the defense has filed in Clay County District Court that portray the 15-year-old alleged victim as the real predator.

The documents, including exhibits and affidavits attached to motions made by the defense, are in many cases “objectionable and inadmissible,” prosecutor Pamela Harris argued in a motion to seal the documents. “Because the defense has attached them to the motions, they have become part of the court file and therefore accessible to the public.”

Judge Michael Fritz ruled last week against Harris because she failed to provide legal grounds for her motion, he wrote.

“The State cites no authority, statute, rule or case law, to support their request,” Fritz wrote. “Absent clear authority to seal said documents, the motion by the State must be denied.”  

Thomas Ryan Carey of Moorhead and Brandon Nicholas Smith of Castaic, Calif., played for the Lincoln Stars U.S. Hockey League team when they allegedly had sex with the 15-year-old girl after a game against the Fargo Force in January. They then shared a video of the sex, prosecutors allege.

The prosecution and the defense got into a public spat in late October when the defense filed a document that painted the girl as a self-described hockey groupie who preyed on Carey and Smith.

Fritz issued a gag order in early November because of comments to the media by both sides that, he argued, “would pose a substantial likelihood of prejudicing a jury” if they continued.

Carey and Smith are each charged with using a minor in a sexual performance, dissemination of pornographic work and possession of child pornography, all felonies.

Their next hearing is Jan. 9.

Adrian Glass-Moore

Readers are encouraged to reach Adrian Glass-Moore at (701) 241-5599 or with comments, criticisms and tips. He joined The Forum as its night reporter in 2014.