Previous case of sexual abuse in Explorer program highlights need for change

Published: Jul. 20, 2017 at 3:58 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 20, 2017 at 5:25 AM EDT
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David Yates (Source: WAVE 3 News)
David Yates (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Angela Leet (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Angela Leet (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – The Louisville Metro Police Department soon may be forced to report any cases of child sex abuse at the hands of one of their own to another agency. But WAVE 3 News reporter Natalia Martinez has been investigating a troubling history and another scandal that sounds terribly familiar.

The case is so old the complete court records have vanished, which is why WAVE 3 News chose not to identify the officer in this story. We did obtain records from his employee file describing the allegations and indicating he'd been fired from the department. WAVE 3 News also reported on the case 22 years ago.

It was 1995 when a 17-year-old Explorer and a Louisville police officer faced off in court. The Explorer was one of two women to claim she was sexually abused by that officer.

The officer was convicted and pleaded guilty to two counts of disorderly conduct in a deal.

"People in these positions of authority have known for decades of the problem yet it was failed to be addressed," attorney and Metro Council president David Yates said.

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Yates has filed several lawsuits against LMPD in the most recent allegations dating back to 2012. Yates feels the 1995 case should have raised red flags.

"I thought, they were put on notice," Yates said. "There's been a few that thought it was better to protect a reputation than protect a child."

On Wednesday Councilwoman Angela Leet introduced an ordinance that would force any LMPD employee to report potential child abuse involving an officer to an outside agency. That's something she couldn't believe wasn't on the books already, especially since Explorer sex abuse allegations have happened before.

"I think it will prevent people from kind of hiding or using an excuse not to advance reporting and notifying proper officials," Leet said.

LMPD did not pursue a criminal investigation after the most recent allegations surfaced. Yates hopes this time around the city learns from its history.

"By shedding some light on the situation, hopefully we will stop future abuse," Yates said.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer did ask for the general assembly to strengthen the reporting requirements of suspected child abuse in March, but that did not pass.

The council will vote on the new ordinance next week.

Fischer recently appointed a private investigator to take a look at how the department handled the allegations into the explorer cases. That investigator said his work is not going as fast as he'd like for fear of interfering with the FBI's investigation.

Meanwhile, the city is also reviewing programs that deal with children to make sure there's a safety net. The initial part of that review is complete and they are now writing up best practices.

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