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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Erroneous messages sent to victims; Court dates not cancelled

  • Phelps County prosecutor’s office staff says the department has not suddenly disposed of all its cases after an erroneous message was sent out through the Missouri Victim Automated Notification System (MOVANS) earlier this week.
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  • Phelps County prosecutor’s office staff says the department has not  suddenly disposed of all its cases after an erroneous message was sent out through the Missouri Victim Automated Notification System (MOVANS) earlier this week.
    According to the prosecutor’s office, there was an issue in which people who receive alerts through the system were sent false messages saying that court dates had been cancelled.
    Brendon Fox, assistant county prosecuting attorney, and Crystal Cox, director of victim services with the prosecutor’s office, said they received calls from people asking about the emails they received.
    A portion of a copy of the email sent July 30 stated: “This email is to inform you that a court event involving the defendant (defendant's name) and court case number (case number) has been cancelled.  The event was scheduled for (court date).  We will notify you again once this court event has been rescheduled.”
    Mike O’Connell, communications director with the Missouri Department of Public Safety, which oversees the system, said that on July 30, “the system was being tested and an operator erroneously transferred information from the test area to the operational area. That resulted in the erroneous email messages about court cases being cancelled.”
    The Department of Public Safety notified prosecutor offices of the error.
    Additionally, registered users of MOVANS who got the erroneous emails received an explanation for the error and an apology for it, O’Connell told the Daily News.
    “The emails only went to registered MOVANS users and no private information was included or compromised,” O’Connell said. “Steps have been taken to ensure the error doesn’t happen again.”
    According to the MOVANS website, the system immediately notifies registered users of any changes in an offender’s incarceration, court status or the status of a protection order.
    The website states that “MOVANS will notify you if an offender is in custody in a county jail or the Missouri Department of Corrections and will provide you with other important custody information.
    “This system also provides important information regarding upcoming court events and any change involving those hearings.”

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