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Huron clerk resigns after improperly viewing Bowersox records

Heather Chapin-Fowler • Sep 10, 2010 at 2:21 PM

A local woman accused of invading the privacy of “American Idol” runner-up Crystal Bowersox resigned from her position at the Huron Municipal Clerk of Court’s office.

Karen Grendow, of Huron, was employed with the clerk of court’s office from 1996 until June 14 when she resigned for “personal reasons,” according to acting city law director Laura Alkire.

Grendow is under investigation for accessing Bowersox’s personal information. She is among a handful of others throughout the state who looked up information on the star through the LEADS database, according to Lt. Gary Lewis, of the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

LEADS is a statewide database that contains personal information about citizens and is governed by the Patrol. A wide range of information is typically available through the database including: social security numbers, addresses, dates of birth, criminal records, driving status and records, description of registered vehicles as well as a physical description and photograph of the person.

The patrol conducted a “proactive” scan or search of the LEADS system in May to check for any illegal or suspicious activity, Lewis said.

The scan turned up several inquiries into Bowersox’s information, he said.

The information was referred by the patrol to the various agencies where the searches were conducted, with the Huron Municipal Clerk of Court’s office being one of them, Lewis said.

The city interviewed Grendow after confirming that her identification was used to access Bowersox’s information, Alkire said.

Grendow indicated the search she conducted was “merely out of curiosity,” Alkire said.

“We don’t believe there was any malicious intent or intention to use the information for personal gain,” Alkire said.

Before the city could consider whether disciplinary action was warranted, Grendow submitted her resignation.

“I believe she had been an exemplary employee up to this point,” Alkire also said after reviewing Grendow’s personnel file.

The matter has since been referred to the Erie County Prosecutor’s office for further investigation and consideration of any charges, according to Lewis and Alkire.

“It’s still under investigation,” assistant prosecutor Trevor Hayberger said.

Hayberger expects to conclude the review in about one month.

A telephone message left for Grendow wasn’t returned Thursday.

Most of the other people who improperly checked on the singer were temporarily suspended or otherwise disciplined, Lewis said. But a 17-year Bureau of Motor Vehicles employee was indicted on a felony charge of unauthorized use of property and was fired June 22.

Bowersox told other media outlets that she found the invasion of privacy disgusting, but she didn’t plan to sue anyone.

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