College ordered to release 2005-2006 Wolfe residents’ addresses

The College received a court order yesterday for the release of the home addresses of students living in Wolfe Hall during the 2005-2006 academic year, according to an e-mail sent to those residents by Thomas Mahoney, general counsel at the College. The order is in connection with the 2006 death of John Fiocco, Jr.

The order, signed by New Jersey Superior Court Judge Thomas Sumners, Jr., was requested by Glen A. Zeitz and Christine O’Hearn, attorneys for John Fiocco, Sr. and Susan Fiocco, parents of Fiocco.

According to the order, the addresses must be provided to the Fioccos’ attorneys by April 14 unless objections are made by the former Wolfe Hall residents.

O’Hearn said she and Zeitz have been working since April 2008 to gain access to the residents’ addresses, but the College refused, despite two court orders to allow discovery, the gathering of evidence and information regarding the case.

“The College refused to provide any discovery and was stonewalling everything,” O’Hearn said. “When they finally gave us what we asked for, everything was redacted. That’s why this is coming up again now.”

Matthew Golden, executive director of Public Relations and Communications, said he does not personally have any knowledge of previous court orders. He said the College was unable to provide student addresses due to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which prohibits the disclosure of information outside of “directory information,” such as names, e-mail addresses and telephone numbers. The College does not consider home addresses to be directory information.

“(The information) was requested. We explained the FERPA issue. Now that a court order has been provided, we have complied,” Golden said, in an e-mail interview.

College President R. Barbara Gitenstein agreed that while students’ privacy is a College priority, the Superior Court order ensures that the information must be provided.

“We always seek to preserve the privacy of our students, faculty and staff, but since we have received a subpoena for the information, we have no choice but to provide it,” Gitenstein said.

O’Hearn said the Fioccos and their attorneys are seeking the addresses in order to speak to anyone who may have seen or heard anything in connection to Fiocco’s death. She said the exact manner in which the information will be used has not been determined.

“It’s the most basic information anyone investigating the case would want,” O’Hearn said. “Who lived in the dorm? Who swiped into the building? It’s obvious why we want it.”

According to the e-mail sent by Mahoney, any 2005-2006 Wolfe Hall resident wishing to object to the release of the addresses should attend a hearing on April 9 at 3 p.m. at the Mercer County Courthouse.

Fiocco was a freshman at the College when he was reported missing on March 26, 2006. His body was found in a Tullytown, Pa., landfill on April 25, 2006. The circumstances around Fiocco’s death have yet to be determined.

Gitenstein said, “In everything that has to do with tragedy surrounding John Fiocco, I can only reiterate what I always say: I feel deep sorrow for John’s parents, family and friends.”