LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Women who say they are sexual assault victims of a former Louisville Metro Police officer are frustrated with Jefferson Circuit Court rulings dismissing their civil cases against the city.
“If there’s a rogue cop out there that wants to commit horrible crimes, he can pretty much freely do it,” said Heather Richards, formerly Jane Doe No. 1 who sued former Officer Pablo Cano and filed criminal charges against him.
The women who claim Cano raped them are now headed to the Kentucky Court of Appeals to take on that ruling.
Cano pleaded guilty in criminal court this year and started serving a five-year sentence.
But, the women told WAVE 3 News, the city also needs to accept responsibility for his on-duty crimes.
“It’s absolutely unbelievable,” Richards said.
Now, Richards said she’s hearing that multiple Jefferson Circuit Court judges are dismissing the civil cases against the city of Louisville for which Cano worked.
“The only reason I knew his last name was because it was on his uniform,” Richards said.
In the last three years, victims told WAVE 3 News, Cano raped them after befriending them as a police officer at public places like concerts or parks. In Richards’ case, he met her at a bike ride at Cherokee Park in 2016, later showing up in uniform at her home while he was on duty, when she said he violently attacked her.
Cano pleaded to five counts of sexual misconduct -- all misdemeanors -- and one felony count of having child porn on his phone.
The women’s attorney, Shannon Fauver, said while the judges may simply be going by the law, the civil ruling doesn’t make sense because in Kentucky, plaintiffs can bypass sovereign immunity and sue in certain cases, like an officer running a red light and causing a crash.
“But apparently raping somebody on duty ... the city doesn’t think they’re liable for that,” Fauver said.
Fauver added that Kentucky corrections officers caught having sexual contact with inmates are held accountable because there’s no consent. She and the women said a trusted officer carrying a badge and gun should be held to the same standard.
“To think agreeing to meet an on-duty officer on my front steps just for a conversation would lead to being violently attacked and raped, and there’s no accountability for the people who employ him?” Richards asked.
Richards also complained that Cano was still employed after he was first accused.
“There’s no scenario that should ever be OK for an on-duty cop to be raping women and the very department he works for not be held liable,” she said.
Fauver said in the motion to dismiss that four of five judges sided with the city, claiming the officer didn’t request help when he got into trouble, so the city isn’t responsible.
Fauver said she might merge the women’s cases for the Court of Appeals. She’s also talking with legislators about changes to state law, adding that while it won’t help her clients, it could help other victims in the future.