FBI inches closer to more possible charges in LMPD Explorer case
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - It’s been four years since sexual abuse allegations against two former LMPD officers in the department’s Explorer Program became public.
Three federal convictions later, FBI officials have confirmed to WAVE 3 News they are not done with the case.
Through a series of open records requests, WAVE 3 News Troubleshooters obtained 1,496 pages of previously unreleased information in the Explorer case. The documents are transcripts of interviews conducted by LMPD investigators who were later assigned to dive deeper into the case.
The documents are also part of a lawsuit against the city and LMPD by the Courier Journal who claims the administration purposely has denied and destroyed documents.
The transcripts detail how Kenneth Betts and Brandon Wood, who are now in federal prison, preyed on underage cadets in the department’s Explorer Program for sex.
One of their victims told WAVE 3 News the process has also taken a toll on him.
“It’s just delay, after delay, after delay after delay,” the victim, who wished to remain anonymous, said.
He is one of several victims who have filed civil lawsuits against the city and have yet to be settled.
“We can’t move on with our lives until we know what has happened,” the victim said.
In an interview with FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert Brown, WAVE 3 News Troubleshooters confirmed they are not only investigating those who committed the physical abuse.
“Was there a cover up? Was there obstruction of evidence? Was there, you know, a line to avoid prosecution?” Brown questioned.
Looking at all those aspects is part of the reason, he explained, why the case remains open.
Although he did not provide a timeline for when more charges may be expected, he did say that they are getting closer.
Sources have also told WAVE 3 News Troubleshooter Natalia Martinez a grand jury is available to hear any new proceedings in the case.
“You’re talking about the public’s trust and the victimization of the most vulnerable,” Brown said. “So, absolutely we wish we could have been involved, you know, earlier on.”
Even though his own employees recommended a criminal investigation, former LMPD Chief Steve Conrad did not initiate a criminal investigation in the Explorer case and allowed Betts to resign. Conrad then closed the internal investigation into Betts “by exception.”
As the allegations continued, both the department’s Public Integrity Unit and the FBI opened cases.
The FBI has since prosecuted Betts, Wood and a third former officer named Brad Schuhmann.
The Explorer Program’s supervisor, Curtis Flaherty, hasn’t been charged. Flaherty was also the head of the department’s internal affairs at the time, which the victims’ attorneys argue was part of the problem.
Flaherty was promoted to major of community relations in the middle of the investigation by Conrad, who also happened to be his neighbor.
The victim’s lawsuit claims the department and Mayor Greg Fischer’s office should be held accountable because they were both aware of the allegations they did nothing about.
“They knew what was going on,” the victim said, “but they chose not to investigate.”
He said he believes the case was swept under the rug to avoid a scandal.
What the Explorer Case did lead to was the creation of the FBI Public Corruption and Civil Rights Task Force in Louisville. It’s made up of a group of agents and officers dedicated to investigating such cases and public officials.
“I hope that the Public Corruption Task Force, that the work that we do speaks for itself,” FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Brian Jones said.
He added that he knows the public is depending on them, too.
“We can continue to gain the public’s trust that we are going to aggressively pursue any public officials who are breaking the federal law,” Jones said.
In the meantime, despite three convictions, the city is still fighting to not have to pay the victims, arguing in court that the now-bankrupt Boy Scouts of America, which was affiliated with the Explorer Program, should pay the bill.
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