Suddenly, Stemberger Clams Up

As I mentioned earlier, Rifqa Bary’s case is in court today for a hearing in which a judge will likely decide her fate.

As part of the hearing, the state of Florida investigated the claims made by Bary and her representatives regarding threats to her life and other allegations … but the report has been sealed at the request of Bary’s attorney, John Stemberger: 

The findings of a state investigation into Fathima Rifqa Bary and the alleged threats made against the runaway teen by her Muslim father have been sealed by an Orange County Circuit judge.

The Orlando Sentinel tried to obtain a copy of the report by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement today, which is slated to be presented in court this afternoon, and was told the agency cannot release the documents because of the seal.

Rifqa’s lawyer, John Stemberger, asked a judge to seal the report, and the judge agreed Wednesday. Stemberger has not returned a call requesting information on the matter.

Stemberger, who is also president of the right-wing Florida Family Policy Council, has been throwing around all sorts of wild allegations in recent days regarding Bary’s Muslim parents and their supposed ties to a terrorist-infested mosque, and even upped the ante today leveling physical and sexual abuse allegations.

Given the willingness with which Stemberger has been throwing around all sorts of accusations recently, why would he suddenly move to seal the report investigating these claims and keep it from being seen by the press and the public? is liveblogging the hearing and reports that Bary’s attorneys are fighting hard to keep the report and its findings secret: 

FDLE wants the seal ordered clarified, since both parties have not seen it.

The attorney for Bary’s father says “there is a need for information out there” and requests the judge allow the media more access to the family court’s documents.

Her attorney argues against it, saying this is a “private matter.”

They judge said he did not believe the media has a right to say if a party to this case has a right to sealed documents.

The court denied the Sentinel’s request to be notified of proceedings in this matter. He did not curtail the party’s right to talk publicly about the case, including the release of documents filed in this case.

Rifqa’s attorney, John Stemberger, said he prefers the court see the FDLE report, just completed today, and choose whether to release it to the parties. However, the judge said legal documentation usually works the opposite way with the parties getting it first.

DCF requests each party receive the FDLE report, but the contents not be allowed to be leaked to anyone else.

Judge Dawson ordered the report released to the parties, and has given them 10 days to say why they would want to release it or keep it from others. After that, the documents would be made available under the normal restrictions of juvenile court.

A video tape of FDLE’s questioning of Rifqa is part of the report.