Lawmaker pushes for Virginia bill to keep files of criminal cases private

Twelve years ago, Morgan Harrington died while attending a Charlottesville concert

A Virginia lawmaker is pushing for a bill to keep criminal investigation files private.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – A Virginia lawmaker is pushing for a bill to keep criminal investigation files private, and he’s been working with a family whose loss made national headlines years ago.

The Harrington family lost their daughter, Morgan, 12 years ago when she was murdered after she attended a concert at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville.

As NBC 29 in Charlottesville reports, her death quickly became a high-profile case.

“When we didn’t know who basically had killed her. We had some very ugly events occur where Morgan’s video and word story was basically published, or video... It was disturbing to us and altered. People used her image to sell soap,” her father, Dan Harrington, detailed.

Now, her family is working with Delegate Rob Bell, of Albemarle County, to make sure other families don’t go through that.

”It would return the law to what it’s been traditionally, which would be in terms of other groups that want to get access. The agency could make the decision of whether or not to release the records,” said Bell, who represents the 58th district.

“As many families do, to create a positive legacy for their beloved. And that’s how we want Morgan to be remembered. Not through a rehashing of the details of her murder,” said her mother, Gil Harrington.

The Harringtons say that rehashing is like ripping a bandaid off over and over again

“You don’t get over the death of the child, but you can get past it. And bringing the information out again and again and again, makes that getting past that tragedy more difficult,” said Gil.

“They will be re-victimized. You know, not even just this one time, but in six months, Someone also asked for it. And eight months, someone asked for it,” said B ell.

The bill is passed by the committee and the House of Delegates and has been sent to the Senate.

“This isn’t a theoretical thing, is that something that could happen? And in fact, they directly addressed why we need to do something.

They are testifying and advocating because they want Morgan’s story told and not sold.

“We believe in access and media, and we aren’t trying to prevent your job, but we are trying to get privacy. It’s a balance,” said Gil.