For Immediate Release
Contact: Kimberly Abbott
November 13, 2023
Washington, DC – The Fuller Project, a global investigative news organization focused on women, filed papers in Denver District Court Friday that seek to make public records in the case of Colorado cardiologist and alleged serial rapist Stephen Matthews, which have been presented in open court. Matthews stands charged of sexually assaulting nearly a dozen women, in attacks that prosecutors say were facilitated by the dating apps Tinder and Hinge.
“The documentation of how Stephen Matthews used dating apps is pivotal to understanding how these apps were weaponized to cause harm on such a large scale and is essential to preventing something like this from happening again,” said Emily Elena Dugdale, a reporter for The Fuller Project and fellow with the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting’s AI Accountability Network.
The Fuller Project became aware of this case as a part of a larger investigation on dating app facilitated sexual violence.
The news organization has also established a confidential text line (213) 373-4260 and email address email@example.com. Survivors of sexual assault and others with knowledge of violence linked to dating apps are invited to reach out anonymously via email, SMS, Signal, or WhatsApp to reach our reporters. We will not share any information without your explicit permission.
The Fuller Project’s action, which joins a court filing by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press on behalf of the Colorado News Collaborative, argues that Judge Eric. M. Johnson erred when he ordered certain court records be “suppressed” from public access until the conclusion of Matthews’ trial. The trial is set to be held next March.
Hanisha Harjani, a reporter for The Fuller Project, said the ruling puts women at risk: “When the public is blocked from knowledge like this, it allows harm to keep perpetuating.”
In their filing, the news organizations argue that Judge Johnson’s ruling violates rule 55.1 of the Colorado Rule of Criminal Procedure, which sets a strong presumption of public access to judicial records in criminal cases. They also point out that records detailing Matthews’ use of dating apps were admitted in open court.
“Having allowed these public observations, this Court cannot now put the genie back in the bottle and restrict access to these Exhibits,” reads the objection filed by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press on behalf of Colorado News Collaborative.
The Fuller Project is the global newsroom dedicated to groundbreaking reporting that catalyzes positive change for women.