LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A well-known civil-rights attorney is joining a local lawyer to represent several women who allege they were raped by a former Louisville Metro Police Department officer.
Benjamin Crump is teaming up with Louisville attorney Shannon Fauver. Crump, whose office is in Tallahassee, Fla., has been involved in several high-profile cases representing families of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Tamir Rice.
"In my experience, a rogue police officer abusing power is a major issue in America," Crump said.
Former LMPD Officer Pablo Cano is facing four different lawsuits alleging sexual assault on multiple occasions. One of his accusers claims she had to choose between going to jail or having sex with Cano. The woman alleges that she was raped in a police cruiser by Cano, who was on duty and in uniform.
Cano has resigned from LMPD, whose Public Integrity Unit is investigating.
"Some of them have either been so afraid to come forward because no one would believe them or just weren't ready because he was still on duty," Fauver said. "When they find out he has quit and is no longer here, they are more willing to come forward now."
Fauver said on Monday that two more victims have come forward, bringing the total to nine alleged victims, four of whom have filed suit. Fauver and Crump said they believe there are more victims. They also said they suspect the #metoo movement has helped women come forward.
"This is not anything new but, now women are finding their courage to speak up and speak out," Crump said.
Cano's attorney, Lee Sitlinger, told WAVE 3 News that "Mr. Cano denies any non-consensual contact/communication with the ladies."
Advocates at the Center for Women and Families can help victims of sexual assault. They offer free, safe and confidential services. They can work on a customized safety plan for each person who needs help, even from a person who holds a position of power.
The Center for Women and Families said if someone would like to report an assault involving law enforcement, there are several options. Victims can contact the LMPD Special Victims Unit to file a report. Kentucky State Police, the State Attorney General's Office or the FBI are other options.
The Center for Women and Families provides a 24/7 crisis and information line, medical advocacy, a sexual assault forensic exam clinic, therapy, emergency shelter and legal advocacy. A victim can choose to request any of their services or seek a sexual assault forensic exam or medial care without filing a police report. Center officials say the decision to report the crime is entirely up to the victim. It may take some time to decide what to do. Having a sexual assault forensic exam ensures that the forensic evidence will be safely preserved if one decides to report at a later time.
The Center encourages victims to do what they feel is best in regard to seeking medical care or police involvement. The number to the crisis line at 1-844-BE-SAFE-1.