Karen Worthington wants a state judge to slap a protective order on all sworn testimony taken in the preparation for a civil suit against the Worthington family because she doesn't want reporters to see it.
Worthington's attorney filed a motion seeking the protective order in 3rd District Court on Friday after the Deseret News attempted last week to obtain a copy of Karen Worthington's Jan. 13 deposition.Karen Worthington specifically does not want the media to know what she, her former husband Richard Worthington, LDS Bishop Wayne Mills and friends of the Worthingtons say in their depositions.
The suit for which the depositions were taken was filed by David Roth, husband of nurse Karla Roth, who was killed during Richard Worthington's 18-hour siege at Alta View Hospital last September. Worthington was sentenced to at least 35 years in prison Thursday for killing Roth and holding eight hostages at gunpoint.
Worthington's attorney, Gary Ferguson, said in a sworn affidavit that he wants the records sealed because he learned March 25 from Colin King, Roth's attorney, that reporters had asked King for a copy of Karen Worthington's deposition.
Besides asking to have the depositions sealed, Ferguson asked Judge Kenneth Rigtrup to seal all public court records that contain any excerpts from the depositions.
A motion filed recently filed by King contained several excerpts from Karen Worthington's deposition.
Those excerpts disclose that after Karen Worthington obtained a tubal ligation in July 1989, she opened a bank account she did not tell her husband about. She secretly began putting money in the account because, she said in her deposition, she expected her husband to die sometime in the near future and she would need the money.
While Worthington didn't tell her husband about the account, she did tell her bishop, she said in her deposition.
King included the excerpt to support his claim that much of what Worthington told her bishop was not protected by Utah's peni-tent/clergy statute. Rigtrup concurred, ordering Worthington to reveal conversations with her husband and bishop in a second deposition of Worthington scheduled for Tuesday.
Worthington's ex-husband, Richard, will be deposed the first week in April.
Roth does not intend to contest Worthington's motion for a protective order, but local media may.
Ferguson argues that the depositions in the Roth case are not public record because they have not been filed with the court. However, a entry in the Roth/Worthing-ton file shows that a court reporter attempted to file Worthington's deposition with the court last month. Court employees declined to accept the deposition because court policy now bans the routine filing of depositions. State courts no longer have room to store depositions, an employee explained Friday.
Ferguson argued that since previous rulings in similar cases only considered filed depositions to be public, Worthington's deposition is clearly not public.
He also cited several rulings that concluded depositions are not ever public record.
If Worthington's depositions and those of other witnesses are ever filed, Ferguson asked Rigtrup to keep their contents from the public and the media.
"It is likely that the media will wish to follow this civil action as part of the continuing saga of Richard Worthington," he wrote. "If the media is allowed access to the discovery in the case, then the Worthington children and Mrs. Worthington will be subjected to repeated broadcasts and articles concerning their father and mother. In all likelihood, most of the news that will be disseminated will cast the Worthington parents in a negative manner. Richard Worthington's actions almost guarantee this."
Ferguson refused to return Deseret News phone calls Friday.