Metro Council president removed as plaintiff's attorney in LMPD Explorer case

Metro Council president removed as plaintiff's attorney in LMPD Explorer case
Retired LMPD Officer Curtis Flaherty (Source: LMPD)
Retired LMPD Officer Curtis Flaherty (Source: LMPD)
Kenneth Betts
Kenneth Betts
Officer Brandon Wood (Source: LMPD)
Officer Brandon Wood (Source: LMPD)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - After months of back and forth, a judge issued a decision regarding who can represent the plaintiff in the LMPD Explorer scandal. This while a fifth lawsuit is filed in the case.

A Jefferson Circuit Court Judge approved a motion to disqualify the president of the Louisville Metro Council and attorney David Yates from representing an alleged sex abuse victim of the LMPD Explorer Program.

Yates said Tad Thomas, who has been working along side him on the case, will now become the lead council.

David Yates was elected in 2010 as the councilman from District 25 in southwestern Louisville and chosen to be the leader of the metro's legislative body in 2016. Yates, an attorney, was hired to represent a person who claims they were a victim of sexual abuse while a part of the LMPD Explorers, a program to introduce teenagers to careers in law enforcement.

A motion filed by three of the defendants - Curtis Flaherty, Kenneth Betts and Brandon Wood - says that as an elected official, Yates cannot serve as counsel for the plaintiff in a matter involving a metro Government agency.

Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Judith McDonald Burkman granted the motion Tuesday.

"The order is disappointing but, I respect the judge," Yates said. He added that he had no regrets and anticipated that he may be removed.

"I think what we have done is exposed a sex abuse ring," Yates told us.

Jefferson County Attorney Mike O'Connell argued that Yates couldn't sue the city, and stand to personally profit, while serving on the council with a legal duty to metro government.

Yates was asking for a $6 million settlement.

The 2017 suit was filed by Yates on behalf of a former Explorer identified as N.C., who alleges he was raped while in the program by former officers Kenneth Betts and Brandon Wood, and claims the abuse was covered by department officials.

Yates said when he decided to actually file the suit, he did so after obtaining opinions from a member if the Kentucky Bar Association Ethics Hotline and the General Council for the Louisville Metro Ethics Commission, who both told him that no conflict of interest existed.

"Obviously there was an apparent conflict of interest, I knew that from the beginning," Yates said. "You have two choices: remain silent forever because of confidentiality, and the other is you move forward and represent them. I have no regrets representing the victims of sexual abuse."

Yates said he will not appeal the judge's decision.

A fifth lawsuit was filed January 2, 2018. Yates said he is also involved in other suits regarding the explorers. He said he will likely step aside so Tad Thomas can continue to work those cases.

O'Connell issued a statement on Judge Judith McDonald-Burkman's order to disqualify David Yates as plaintiff's attorney:

"When the sitting Metro Council president sued the government he swore to serve, I recalled my 10 years' experience as a judge and my time as a member of the Board of Governors for the Kentucky Bar Association and its ethics committee. This was a fight I neither sought nor relished, but it was of such importance that I felt duty-bound to bring it to the court's attention.

As for the defendants in the case, Flaherty has since retired from the department. Betts resigned from the force. And Wood was fired in April 2017 by LMPD after he was indicted by a grand jury.

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