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BU Asks For King Correspondence, Tapes

February 21, 1988

BOSTON (AP) _ Attorneys for Boston University have asked a judge to have Coretta Scott King release tapes of conversations between her late husband, Martin Luther King Jr. and others, recorded secretly by federal investigators.

The motion, filed in Suffolk Superior Court on Friday, also asks for correspondence between King and his colleagues.

The action, which Mrs. King’s attorneys charged was a form of harassment, was the latest round in the legal fight between the school and Mrs. King over an estimated 83,000 documents involving her husband which are now held by BU.

King, who had earned a graduate degree from the School of Theology in 1955, donated the papers to the university in 1964.

Mrs. King has filed suit, saying the documents should be in the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, and contending the university had mishandled or lost some of the papers.

BU trustees decided unanimously to oppose the suit.

Mrs. King’s attorneys said they would oppose the request for copies of the secretly recorded tapes.

″It seems they’re inquiring into things, including Dr. King’s personal life and perhaps Mrs. King’s, that have nothing to do with this case,″ said Boston attorney James O’Brien, one of Mrs. King’s lawyers.

″We are going to object to the request for tapes,″ he said. ″I think it’s harassment.″

O’Brien and Rudolph Pierce, who also represents Mrs. King in the suit, said they did not believe Mrs. King had copies of the tapes.

″I don’t know at the moment if Mrs. King, or the estate, has that information. I would doubt it,″ said Pierce.

Published reports in the 1970s indicated that a package of the tapes was sent anonymously to Mrs. King.

Beginning in 1964, the FBI bugged hotel rooms where King was staying. Tapes implicating King in alleged extramarital sexual activity were made available to reporters, members of Congress and then-President Lyndon B. Johnson. In 1977, a federal judge ordered the tapes sealed for 50 years.

Melvin B. Miller, a BU trustee who law firm is handling the suit for the university, said he believed Mrs. King had some of the tapes.

″Of course she has some of them,″ he said.

He refused to say why the university wanted copies of the tapes for the lawsuit.

″We are entitled to seek documents we believe will be admissible evidence in this case,″ Miller said. ″Whatever we ask for we believe will further our position.″

″We could make an argument for its appropriatenesss in a court of law,″ Miller said. ″If you think we’re going to discuss the strategy of our case in the press - that’s a bit much.″

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