The City of Nome continues to delay justice for Clarice “Bun” Hardy, the 911 dispatcher who was raped and then ignored by law enforcement when attempting to file a report. In the city’s latest failure, it disregarded a 2021 court order that demanded it produce records pertinent to resolving Hardy’s case and deliberately withheld information. As such, Hardy’s legal team asked the court to step in again.
Last summer, the court ordered the City of Nome to produce records that would shed light on the state of the Nome Police Department. Nome mostly defied the order, forcing Hardy’s legal team to file a motion requesting the court hold the city in contempt and enforce sanctions. The court’s intervention was also needed to force the city to produce some records that should have been produced a year earlier in the discovery process.
The improperly withheld documents included records showing that the NPD was poorly run, with specific individuals — including defendants John Papasodora, former police chief, and Lt. Nicholas Harvey — ignoring their responsibilities to investigate cases and supervise police work.
Hardy’s legal team also requested specific records referenced in a five-part investigative series published by KNOM early last year. In the report, the public radio station shared details obtained through its own public records request, including a 2019 email from the police chief to city manager indicating the department identified 51 sexual assault cases in which every victim was an Alaska Native woman and in those cases, there was “zero to poor follow-up at best.”
When Hardy’s legal team requested these same documents from city officials, Nome said there were no records. But in a follow up to her previous public records request, the KNOM reporter who originally wrote the story was able to obtain the same documents within an hour of making the request.
“Nome’s complete disinterest in accountability and disregard for Ms. Hardy’s welfare is glaringly apparent,” ACLU of Alaska Advocacy Director Michael Garvey said. “But we are also reminded that the entire criminal legal system desperately needs to change, as community advocates and survivors have advocated for years, so that a person's race or gender doesn't dictate their likelihood of finding justice and accountability. What we’ve been watching through Ms. Hardy’s horrific experience is a system that continues to fail and disregard Alaska Native women. This must change. "
In its filing on Friday, the ACLU of Alaska, ACLU National, and Sonosky, Chambers, Sachse, Miller & Monkman, LLP, ask the court to enforce the decree, take remedial measures to ensure compliance, and for attorney’s fees.
Hardy v. Nome specifically asks the court to issue injunctions that order the City of Nome to cease any discriminatory practices by law enforcement and to take steps to ensure all reports of sexual assault are investigated thoroughly without regard to the victim’s race or gender, and to train law enforcement to adequately investigate reports of sexual assault in an effective and thorough manner.
Defendants have until Feb. 1 to respond.