Huron clerk resigns after improperly viewing Bowersox records

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.
Heather Chapin-Fowler
Sep 10, 2010

 

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.

Comments

dorothy gale

Why would anyone CARE what the State has on her?!  Nosey troublemakers with no life, I guess.  She's a talented performer and I'll just have to assume that the people who dig for dirt are jealous of her rise to fame.  What small-minded fools.

looking around

With today’s information highway personal information is available to anyone on anybody, either by public access or through paid information brokers. We really need to look into privacy laws to control access. I feel that if a person or entity is trying to access information that their identity should be supplied to the person of interest before information is given. Often agreements you sign such as credit applications and job applications have stated permission which you are granting with your signature. However background checks criminal, financial, property ownership, bankruptcy, marital status, address history and the list goes on is for-sale on the internet to anyone willing to spend 20 or 30 bucks.

disabledamerican53

 

They been doing this to us for years, you just didnt no it. They no you and you no nothing about them.

starryeyes83

who cares?   is the SR gonna report everytime this chick goes to the bathroom or sneeze?  

 Isn't there more new stories out there? 

curious

With stupid social wesites such as facebook, where people without lives choose to broadcast EVERYTHNG about themselves, why do you wanna go and bash the people who nose around??  You reap what you sow!  Don't put it out there for everyone to see....who really cares anyway?

outsider

 The problem here is that normal citizens don't have access to this data base. A public employee in a position of trust used her position to access information which is not available to the public.  Would it be OK if a public employee accessed your private information and passed it on to everyone? Think about it  before you answer.

Bailey

Had to go somewhere since the DQ posts have been disabled.

Seems the last 10 posts caused some real problems.

Anyone know what happened in the last 10? This has become like a soap opera. Rats, guess I will never be able to keep up with the plot now. Should have written down that guys phone number so I could call him and keep up with the news. >G<

Salvatore

Big deal. I recently heard that some dimwit went to a Fremont hospital because he had a carrot lodged in his rectum. When questioned how it got there the man said he had no idea. Even our private medical records are not private.

starryeyes83

The public employee  will   only broadcast the news if the person is a  "celebrity" .   

 

Bowersox is a public figure- now,   OH, well!

SamAdams

I don't care why the woman looked up the records, nor does it matter that she apparently did nothing with them. The POINT is that she had no legal reason to do so. The POINT is that she couldn't be trusted. And with employees like that (and I'm sure she's far from the only one), there are bound to be those who will accept graft to check into things.

Look at the state employees who invaded "Joe the Plumber's" records, apparently hoping they could use something there to help the Democrats or hurt the Republicans. I can only imagine that there are dozens of other reasons people will use to check into somebody, too.

These centralized government databases are a real problem where privacy is concerned. It doesn't matter that you're innocent of any wrongdoing, and it doesn't matter that you consider yourself an open book. I'm sure that Rebecca Schaeffer (an actress just starting her career) didn't dream she needed to worry about the innocent information the state collected on her. And then some freak found out where she lived, knocked on her door, and killed her. After that, DMV information was no longer publicly available. But with employees like the ones who looked up Crystal Bowersox and "Joe the Plumber," it might as well be!

The state does, indeed, need some information about us. But it also needs to look into some serious safeguards, including immediate and significant prosecution and punishment for those who breach the public trust for any reason, harmless or not.

glassman

 LEADS = Big Brother is Watching You

columbus avenue

Who cares?  wanna be

Taxpayer

So WHY is this "acting" law director, Ms. Alkire, DEFENDING the actions of someone that inquires and receives SECURED and PERSONAL information on someone?  This is no different than trying to find everything they could about a plumber who asked a lame president a simple question.  No punishment to access secured information?  Perfectly acceptable for this liberal and county wide corrupt court system?  They ALL know better than YOU?  Just keep quiet and remain little serfs to government?   

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

“I believe she had been an exemplary employee up to this point”

Referred to the prosecutors office??  They are NOT going to prosecute ANYTHING unless it is capital MURDER and they will STILL plea a deal for that.  This "trusted" employee should NOT get off the hook by simply resigning.  She needs to be placed in JAIL.  "Oh, it is no big deal, it is done all the time."  Yeah right.  That is until YOUR identity mysteriously gets hacked.  It happens every SECOND of every day and it is NOT repairable.  I guess that is why the highway patrol does audits to find violators of the information system.  "No big deal, everyone does it."   

Salvatore

Okay all you legal experts out there. I am curious about this LEADS program and sometimes wonder if it is abused to gather dirt on people. Maybe legal expert buff can help out here. Crystal is a celebrity and no doubt people are very curious about her. I don't see problems with looking up information on LEADS for certain people if the private information is not copied or spread around. I am no attorney and don't really understand LEADS http://codes.ohio.gov/oac/4501%3A2-10 and am not sure if any penalties or punishment is warranted for merely peeking into the information. I am well aware that certain online detective companies can get any information on a person for a fee. Do these online detective agencies have access to LEADS or can they pay the state a fee to get our private information? How many law enforcement people use LEADS for unlawful purposes and abuse the system? Why do some people get called out such as the Karen of Huron but others get a free pass to gather dirt on a person, such as a political candidate? Okay all you legal experts especially buff. How about explaining all this in common terminology.

Julie R.

"It's still under investigation," said assistant prosecutor, Trevor Hayberger..............

Wasn't he supposed to say public officials and their staff, like attorneys and judges, are above the law?

Hmm

Taxpayer-she goes into the system and looks up information.  Apparantly she does nothing with that information.  And you want her thrown in Jail?  Wow, that's cold.

coolj66

Why Does it not take a judge and oversite before the public employees are allowed to get into people private records? This is the USA not communist china, North Korea, or Iran . We pride ourselves on being free how free is this system? If someone can for personal reason look into your personal information, we have no rights

Pragmatic

If Ms. Bowersox thinks this is “disgusting” – as she puts it – she hasn’t seen anything yet. 

 

People want to be Hollywood stars...but, don’t want to take what comes with stardom.  It isn’t just our money.  They don’t understand that there are people in the general public (maybe from your hometown) who are curious about you. 

 

Hollywood stars have had their privacy breached much worse than looking up information in a computer.  At least the computer system was most likely accurate.  Wait until the Enquirer begins to run untruths about her.  That is disgusting too...but, a hometown woman loses her job...and TMZ and the Enquirer get paid!  Nice. 

 

If it was just out of curiosity - and no evidence of foul play – then there shouldn’t be any allegations. But, the holier than thou people will tout that she abused her position. Uh-huh. We are human beings. One of our normal emotions is curiosity. If the employee doesn't have a pattern of misconduct - it was obviously just inquisitiveness. 

 

I really think this comes with the territory of stardom.

Salvatore

This Karen of Huron resigned June 14. That was almost 3 months ago. I have to wonder how many people in the state accessed Crystal's information on LEADS and how many were "selected" to face reprimands. I wonder how people accessed Crystal's information from area law enforcement agencies and even the prosecutor's office? I know how things work and it all depends on who you know.  Maybe the Ragister could obtain a public record request to see how many people accessed Crystal's information on LEADS and how many have been called out on it. Who got Karen's job after she resigned? Was she pressured to resign or else face the music?

Informed

   Pragmatic, I think the difference is that this was an employee who held the public trust who had access to information, some of which is confidential, and abused their role to gain access to that information.   That is very different that someone who is obsessed or whose job it is to dig up dirt. 

columbus avenue

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained personal attacks. Discussion Guidelines

Pragmatic

Informed:

  The only difference is....the media pays for people (like this employee) to give them the information – it’s called “sources”. Then, they publish it for the world to see, with a few bends in the truth for a sexy story.    As far as “trusted employees” are concerned, I am not naive enough to trust anyone just because they have access to a database than I’ll trust anyone else. Underneath all of is, I don’t think it was a ‘trust’ issue. I think there is a local girl who rose to stardom and people are curious. Now, if the employee had sold it to one of the “sources” for monetary gain (or any gain), that would disgraceful. This was just a little curiosity. But, boy...do we sure want to kill the cat.     There is a great deal more abuse than this occurring – that particular employee got caught, most likely knowing she wasn't causing any harm to anyone. That being said, I can be a professional prude and agree that there is a penalty for this type of action. In any organization this wouldn’t be tolerated on a professional level. I just think Ms. Bowersox and others who believe themselves to be so righteous should really look...deep within themselves before they judge (she called it, “disgusting”)....it isn’t always so pretty.