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KELO Radio Says Naming Sanford as Search Warrant Target Violates “Innocent Until Proven Guilty,” Serves No Public Interest

ProPublica publishes the court records on the search warrants executed against billionaire T. Denny Sanford in a DCI child porn investigation. ProPublica and that Sioux Falls paper had to go to the South Dakota Supreme Court to get those documents released. KELO-TV, which initially declined to name Sanford as the “implicated individual,” has now named Sanford.

But across the street in downtown Sioux Falls, KELO Radio maintains that naming Sanford as the object of an investigation that has not resulted in criminal charges remains inappropriate and unhelpful:

Our policy is that News will not put out the name of a criminal suspect or a defendant unless it is announced by law enforcement, is from an arrest on the record, or is from an unsealed indictment.

We believe this policy protects an individual’s right to privacy and their right to be considered innocent until proven guilty. We also think it is the decent thing to do.

Whether a person is rich or poor, black or white, famous or unknown, or any other factor, it makes no difference to our policy. It applies to everyone who may have dealings with law enforcement.

We also understand that law enforcement does not usually provide these details. It is often to ensure that their investigations are not compromised. However, law enforcement also knows better than any one of us that tracing leads sometimes takes the investigation into dead ends, and more importantly, toward people who may well be innocent as the investigation unfolds.

Given the nature of the charges involved with the unsealed warrants combined with no subsequent arrest or indictment, in our view, it does not serve a public service or good to release the “implicated person’s” name. We believe releasing the name would only tar a person–for life–of unsubstantiated or untrue allegations of the worst kind. That is a bell that cannot be unrung [Todd Epp, news director, “Why Will Not Reveal the ‘Implicated Person’s’ Name,” KELO Radio, 2021.11.18].

T. Denny Sanford is a rich oaf trying to buy a positive legacy with the billions he earned exploiting the poor with usurious credit cards. But no one has produced actionable evidence that he committed a crime.


  1. Scott Ehrisman 2021-11-19

    I had to laugh when Todd InEppt said this. Even though Sanford was named before the suit, and now CAN be named after the suit, and has his NAME plastered on every park bench and light post in our city, KELO still can’t bring themselves to name him. LOL. This has nothing to do with not being charged, Greg Barfrage blabs about cases every morning on his show, before anyone has been indicted. This is about losing advertising to the only two games in town, First Premiere and Sanford Hospital. Yes, the newsrooms and sales departments are attached at the hip and Todd has confirmed it.

  2. bearcreekbat 2021-11-19

    The KELO policy is inconsistent with existing 5th Amendment law. Under current law generally, when seeking or issuing a search warrant there is no need to allege criminal behavior on the part of the owner of property to be searched. A warrant merely must allege probable cause to believe that the person or property to be searched contains evidence of a crime. So the idea that a search warrant contradicts the principle of “innocent until proven guilty” has nothing to do with existing law. Likewise, there is no “individual right to privacy” that would permit concealing evidence of a crime. Instead, the general rule remains that if a judge finds “probable cause” to believe that evidence of a crime is located on the property or person to be searched, the judge is permitted to issue the warrant.

    That said, KELO paper is on solid footing, however, if they want to operate under different principles than generally accepted 5th Amendment principles, even if KELO’s policies offer more protection that the 5th Amendment. Indeed, some private businesses might think the 5th Amendment search law permits law enforcement way too much leeway and the business then decides it is in their interest or the public interest to use more self restraint that required by law. That seems to be the situation described here.

  3. mike from iowa 2021-11-19

    Does the T in T Denny stand for Tyrannosaurus? Curious iowan would like to know.

  4. mike from iowa 2021-11-19

    bcb, doesn’t the warrant have to specify what evidence is being looked for and pretty much what the search area entails, like a house or a person, car, etc?

  5. bearcreekbat 2021-11-19

    mfi, yes, here is what Cornell’s legal information Institute says:

    Officers must . . . must describe in particularity the place they will search and the items they will seize. In Groh v. Ramirez, 540 U.S. 551 (2004), the Court held that a warrant that lacks accurate information as to what will be searched is improper, and that a search which happens pursuant to that warrant is unlawful and violates the Fourth Amendment.

  6. mike from iowa 2021-11-19

    Thanks as always,bcb.

  7. Mark Anderson 2021-11-19

    Sooo, if he offs himself he’ll be scot free, clean as a whistle and no one will report on his misgivings?

  8. ArloBlundt 2021-11-19

    Well…we await the Attorney General of South Dakota bringing charges against Mr. Sanford.

  9. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-11-22

    Interesting: BCB points out that there is good reason to publicize search warrants, complete with names and what the police went looking for. We need to know when, where, and why the police are executing search warrants so we can monitor them for abuse of their Fourth Amendment powers.

  10. larry kurtz 2021-11-22

    The public deserves to know whose images were/on Sanford’s devices, right?

  11. mike from iowa 2021-11-22

    Exigent circumstances sounds like carte blanche fishing expeditions under the color of law. From what I understand.

  12. larry kurtz 2021-11-22

    ProPublica was acting on a tip and DCI had probable cause for a warrant.

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