The mother of a missing autistic teen whose remains were recently found in a New York river has filed a lawsuit against the city to force it to turn over internal records relating to her son’s disappearance.
On Wednesday Vanessa Fontaine, mother of Avonte Oquendo, filed court papers in Manhattan demanding that the NYPD turn over a request for internal reports relating to the incident. The city has twice denied Fontaine’s request for the documents through the Freedom of Information Act.
At first, the city claimed that turning over the documents would interfere with an ongoing investigation. Later the rationale for not handing over the documents changed, with the city claiming that releasing the documents could amount to an invasion of Oquendo’s right to privacy, which was a curious defense since the documents were to be turned over to the teen’s mother.
“Without articulating so much as a single detail, the denial of the appeal states among it supported grounds that the release of the information would constitute an alleged unwarranted invasion of privacy,” Fontaine’s attorney David Perecman said in the court papers filed on Wednesday, according to the New York Post.
“The details of Avonte’s disappearance have been published and made widely known to the public through heavy coverage in print and television media, rendering moot any privacy concerns that may have existed,” he continued.
“All that is sought is information about how Avonte came to be outside of his school unattended. Such information does not give rise to any legitimate concern about the privacy of Avonte.”
A medical examiner confirmed on Tuesday that remains found near the East River belonged to 14 year old Avonte Oquendo.
“This involves a terrible tragedy, and the City’s thoughts are with Avonte’s family. We will review the legal case thoroughly once it’s received,” a spokeswoman for the city said when asked about the lawsuit.