A sting operation and a cover-up: New information emerges in LMPD Explorer Program

New court documents reveal an alleged cover-up in the LMPD Explorer Program
(WAVE 3 News archives)
Updated: Aug. 30, 2018 at 9:46 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Federal documents that are part of the LMPD Explorer investigation have been made public.

Another federal lawsuit by an alleged victim identified only as K.W. was also made public Thursday.

It claims records of a sting operation against Betts either never existed or were destroyed.

That victim claims that while underage, she was the victim of sexual assault, attempted rape, intimidation and sexual misconduct while in the Explorer Program.

This lawsuit’s defendants also include Betts, Wood, Flaherty, Schmidt and another officer, Brandon Paris.

The alleged abuse is said to have happened between 2011-2012.

The victim claims Betts sexually assaulted and harassed her.

The lawsuit describes one encounter at Campbelsville University where Betts is accused of using his knee to touch the victim’s private areas.

The victim claims Betts would stalk and follow her, showing up at locations unannounced.

K.W. reported Betts to officers Wood, Schmidt and Paris. As a result, the lawsuit states, LMPD dispatched investigators with the Public Integrity Unit who met with her parents on at least two occasions. They searched the victim’s phone.

Right after, in 2013, the lawsuit claims, LMPD conducted a "sting" operation. Betts was supposed to meet the victim, K.W. in an isolated location at a fish fry. The goal was to see how far Betts would go. Flaherty, Wood, Paris and Schmidt were part of the sting operation, among other officers the documents state.

Tad Thomas, the attorney for K.W. said K.W. was texting Betts, who was at the picnic. They made plans to meet. That’s when, according to Thomas, K.W. gets in a car with Schmidt and Wood to go meet Betts. But, before K.W. got to meet with Betts, his demeanor had changed.

Thomas believes Betts was tipped off about the sting before he met with K.W. and says he didn’t show.

But, the lawsuit claims there have been no records of the interviews conducted or records of the sting operation. They claim the information was never recorded, or was destroyed in an effort to cover up the information.

The investigation was under the authority of Flaherty. The lawsuit states Flaherty never reported the allegations of abuse.

After the investigation in 2013, the lawsuit states her parents were pressured to drop the case against Betts and to never speak to the media.

“They were ensured that Chief Steve Conrad personally would oversee the investigation and discipline Betts.”

K.W.'s mother also claims Flaherty called her and asked her to keep quiet to avoid embarrassment or exposing Betts.

The lawsuit identifies the investigation into Betts as starting in July, 2013.

Betts was allowed to resign from the department on May 1st 2014. Chief Conrad closed the investigation by “exception.”

Thomas said Betts was not apprehended during the sting operation, as stated in the lawsuit’s documents. He is reviewing the information.

The documents allege a cover-up at the hands of Curtis Flaherty, a former LMPD Major who was the supervisor of the program.

The lawsuit lists a long list of defendants including the department, the city and the Lincoln Heritage Council Inc. Boy Scouts of America. The officers named as defendants are Brad Schuhmann, Curtis Flaherty, Kenneth Betts, Brandon Wood, Matthew Gelhausen, Julie Schmidt.

The documents allege Brad Schuhmann, an LMPD officer involved in the Explorer program, sexually abused a female Explorer and sent her sexually explicit pictures. The alleged abuse would happen in Schuhmann’s vehicle, the court documents state. The alleged abuse happened between 2010-2011. The documents claim Schuhmann solicited the underage Explorer beginning in 2008 through text messages and during ride-alongs.

Schuhmann is accused of groping B.L. on numerous occasions.

The parents of the victim, identified as B.L. confronted Schuhmann and then asked to meet with Curtis Flaherty, a former Major of the department, and supervisor of the Explorer Program.

But Flaherty did not report the abuse, according to the documents.

It further states Flaherty, Betts, Wood, Schmidt and Gelhousen confronted the victim about it during an LMPD Explorer Camp in Atlanta Georgia. That’s when, according to the lawsuit, Kenneth Betts and another officer, Julie Schmidt interrogated B.L. for an hour on a courtyard bench, blaming her for the abuse. The interrogation was so intense, that the Explorer was hysterically sobbing. The victim claims the officers were verbally abusive. The documents state B.L. asked for her parents or an attorney to be with her numerous times during the talk.

Flaherty is accused of joining the other officers in their interrogation of the victim, and later went to her hotel room with Betts, Schmidt, Wood, and Gelhousen and searched it, going through her belongings without permission or a warrant the lawsuit states.

Her cell phone was also taken, and searched.

When the victim’s parents found out, the lawsuit states Flaherty told them they would not have to pay for the trip. He told them, according to the documents, that the appropriate action would be taken against Schuhmann. That however, never happened.

None of the events that happened were reported by any of the officers. The lawsuit alleges the officers purposely allowed for the statute of limitations to run out.

The lawsuit states Schuhmann was having sex with another underage Explorer at the time.

Schuhmann has not been fired from LMPD and is currently an officer on administrative duties.

The documents describe “advisor parties” at the homes of Schmidt, Betts and Brandon Wood. Betts and Wood have both been charged criminally in relation to sexual abuse allegations of minors.

They believe the teens would drink alcohol and engage in sexual behavior during these parties.

The lawsuit also claims that the department, Flaherty and the Boys Scouts of America, which was affiliated with the Explorer program, kept their knowledge of the alleged child sex abuse hidden from cadets and parents and misrepresented the extent of the abuse in the program. This, the lawsuit says, allowed for other children to join the program, potentially exposing them to sexual abuse.

The lawsuit is asking for punitive damages and says B.L. has endured substantial trauma because of the abuse.

The lawsuit is filed in Federal court since it claims the victim’s Constitutional rights were violated, such as the search of her room without her permission or a warrant.

The attorneys for the victims have long alleged there was an effort to cover up the allegations of sexual abuse made by Explorers.

The documents were revealed after a motion was filed to unseal them 15 days ago.

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