Metro council members ask for transparency in Risco investigation as TARC insists they are cooperating

Metro council members ask for transparency in Risco investigation

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Five months after former TARC director Ferdinand Risco was accused of sexually harassing more than seven women, two investigations into the matter remain open.

TARC authorities said Tuesday they are focusing on the victims and witnesses in their investigation. Some Louisville Metro Council members, however, believe there is still information out there not being released.

There are two investigations underway: one by former FBI agent David Beyer, who was hired by the Metro Council Government Oversight and Audit Committee, and another by law firm Dinsmore & Shohl, which was initiated by Mayor Greg Fischer’s administration.

In a Government Oversight and Audit Committee meeting Tuesday, Beyer said he got a list of names of witnesses and victims on Monday. Tuesday, he said the list of names he received included other witnesses never mentioned before. He also said he is still waiting for written statements from those witnesses and victims, believing those statements would help in his investigation.

“I asked that from day one in meetings with Donna [Perry],” Beyer said referring to a meeting in February with attorneys from Dinsmore & Shohl. “I followed that up in a letter dated February 27. I specifically stated statements of the witnesses and victims.”

Committee Chair Brent Ackerson replied by saying in the February meeting with attorneys investigating TARC, they discussed wanting to make sure they did not re-victimize victims throughout the investigations.

“We’ve made some headway but still we’re still five months behind,” Ackerson said. “Those names of witnesses and victims weren’t finalized and turned over to us until yesterday.”

He said the purpose of Tuesday’s meeting was to talk out where they were at with both investigations. He said didn’t understand why the statements and notes had not been turned over yet.

“It was agreed that we would try to limit the amount of questioning to the victims and we would share information,” Ackerson said, referring to the February meeting.

Those notes have not been shared.

Women describe alleged abuse at hands of ousted TARC director

TARC’s interim attorney, Matthew Golden, said he did not feel releasing the names of the victims and witnesses to all members of the council would be appropriate. He argued any notes being requested to be shared between all lawyers involved would be covered under attorney-client privilege.

“I don’t think any lawyer like yourself would advise a waiver under those circumstances,” Golden said. “Attorney notes is going to be a bridge too far. We’re in litigation on a case. To accuse [the board] of somehow covering up. I wish you could meet them.”

Golden said the TARC board is not covering anything up in the investigation.

“Our focus has been on those victims, on those witnesses and on protecting them,” TARC’s acting co-director Laura Douglas said. “None of us here in a leadership position here give a rip about Ferdinand Risco. This is about what happened to those victims and how we can resolve this by preserving their dignity and their privacy.”

Laura Douglas, TARC’s acting Co-Executive Director
Laura Douglas, TARC’s acting Co-Executive Director (Source: Nick Picht, WAVE 3 News)

Douglas said they are putting a report together with their investigation, but she would not say how soon that would be.

"But the matter of a lawyer turning over their notes to another party is not a flip or a light matter," Douglas said.

Ackerson said he felt Tuesday’s meeting was productive, but he is still on a mission to get to the truth in the Risco matter.

Former TARC Executive Director Ferdinand Risco
Former TARC Executive Director Ferdinand Risco

“This isn’t about how much money is paid out, this isn’t about who wins or loses a lawsuit,” he said. “This is about getting the truth out there for you the public who need to know and for us the governmental body to say, ‘what can we do to make sure this never happens again?’”

Ackerson said the Metro Council Government Oversight and Audit Committee can subpoena things if they need to, but added it’s unclear if they will need to do that just yet.

TARC released the following statement about the meeting: “We were happy to have the opportunity to speak candidly with members of the metro council to ensure they are fully updated on the efforts TARC is making to participate fully and collaboratively with the council and its independent investigator. We are fully engaged and working toward the same goal- a swift and thorough investigation. The victims deserve nothing less.”

Both investigations into Rico’s actions are still ongoing.

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