3 years later, city still fighting LMPD Explorer sex abuse case

City files motions to block release of documents

3 years later, city still fighting LMPD Explorer sex abuse case

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Nearly four years and two convictions later, WAVE 3 News Troubleshooters have learned the city of Louisville is still fighting to keep information in LMPD’s Explorer child sex abuse scandal from becoming public.

Former LMPD Officer Brandon Wood appearing in court in 2018
Former LMPD Officer Brandon Wood appearing in court in 2018 (Source: WAVE 3 News)

It’s something that’s infuriated one of the victims who says the city should make an effort to settle their case too.

“I’ve waited long enough,” the victim, who wishes to remain anonymous, told WAVE 3 News.

Two former LMPD Officers, Kenneth Betts and Brandon Wood, have already been convicted in both state and federal court related to the case.

The FBI still has an open investigation.

In 2017 Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer promised the city an independent investigation into the case. He hired Kerry Harvey and a law firm to conduct a report for $140,000 tax-payer dollars.

“I called for all the case to be unsealed so all the facts can be known on this,” Fischer said during an interview at the time. “To me, it’s all about transparency and accountability.”

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer

WAVE 3 News obtained a copy of the motions where the city is fighting to keep dozens of pages of that same public report from becoming public claiming client-attorney privilege.

The victims' attorneys said their request is for 275 pages, which include about 200 pages of memos, emails, and correspondence between the investigators working on the report and Fischer, Deputy Mayor Ellen Hessen, and former LMPD Chief Steve Conrad among others. The city’s attorneys argue those are “work product” documents and do not have to be released.

“They said they were going to be transparent about everything, and you know, they’re not,” the victim said. “They are not doing what they said they were going to and it makes it hard to trust them.”

The attorneys believe the documents may shed light on who in the administration knew about the abuse allegations and why then-Chief Steve Conrad closed the internal investigation into Kenneth Betts “by exception.” The ruling made by Conrad allowed Betts to resign and get a job at another agency. Conrad decided not to pursue a criminal investigation until the FBI picked up the case. The elimination of the “by exception” option was one of 12 reforms mandated in the Breonna Taylor settlement.

“I wish they would get off their high horse and do something about this and get answers, and come forward with information about everything,” the victim said about the city. “That’s what I really want.”

The mayor’s spokesperson, Jean Porter, told WAVE 3 News that 193 pages of the 6,086-page report are being claimed as privileged, pointing out that the 193 pages make .033% of the file. The judge in the federal case received the documents on July 22 to determine whether they will have to be released.

(Story continues below photo)

This is an archive photo of Kenneth Betts with youth in the LMPD Explorer Program. (Source: Provided photo)
This is an archive photo of Kenneth Betts with youth in the LMPD Explorer Program. (Source: Provided photo)

“You might also remember that a redacted copy of the final report detailing Mr. Harvey’s findings was released to the public in June 2018,” Porter said.

She added that there have been a lot of delays in the civil litigation due to the number of parties and volume of discovery, ongoing criminal investigations, and COVID-19.

“There are many factors that go into deciding if and when settlement discussions are appropriate,” Porter said.

The victim’s attorneys told WAVE 3 News the city has not responded to any attempts at settlement. So much so, they explained, that the federal judge has ordered them to submit settlement statements.

Porter also indicated those statements, which would be confidential, will have to be submitted no later than October 13th.

Copyright 2020 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.