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CHP says it is to blame for release of grisly accident-scene photographs of O.C. woman

February 15, 2007|Garrett Therolf | Times Staff Writer

California Highway Patrol investigators have concluded that someone within their agency was responsible for the improper release of grisly crash scene photos that landed on hundreds of websites showcasing morbid curiosities.

The leak of the evidence photos has resulted in a $20-million claim filed against the CHP by the family of Nikki Catsouras, 18, of Ladera Ranch.

Catsouras was killed in the October crash.

The family said the release of the photos exposed them to numerous e-mails and text messages that taunted the family with pictures of Catsouras' decapitated corpse.

A letter sent this week to the family from the CHP said that "appropriate action has been taken to preclude a similar occurrence in the future."

CHP spokesman Steve Kohler declined to specify what steps were taken, nor would he say who released the photos or why.

"This is a legal matter, and we can't comment further," Kohler said.

The family's attorney, Keith Bremer, said the family was relieved to hear the CHP take responsibility for the photos' release.

But they would still seek a settlement, he said.

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garrett.therolf@latimes.com

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