Explicit messages revealed in 1,000 pages of new evidence filed in LMPD Explorer case

Published: Oct. 5, 2017 at 6:14 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 6, 2017 at 12:43 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Alcohol fueled sex parties with minors, sex videos, and Louisville Metro Police Department officers' attempts to cover their tracks; new accounts have surfaced from alleged victims of sexual abuse within the LMPD Youth Explorer program.

Thursday a judge released a thousand pages of evidence in the investigation. At least five former Explorers claim they were sexually abused by LMPD officers in the program, which was created to teach teens about careers in law enforcement.

As of May, four LMPD officers were under investigation.They are Kenneth Betts, Brandon Wood, Curtis Flaherty and Brad Schuhmann.

Former officers Kenneth Betts and Brandon Wood were arrested. Officer Curtis Flaherty was named in the lawsuits alleging a cover-up, and Officer Brad Schuhmann was placed on administrative reassignment.

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In the newly released documents, which include statements and pictures, we found investigators sat down with some of the explorers who talked about sexually explicit pictures, text messages and a sex video.

We found allegations against both Betts and Wood individually. The statements made by some of the explorers reveal they were minors, around the age of 17, when they say they participated in sexual acts with the officers.

In some of the statements they describe a video of Wood having sex, which was allegedly sent to an explorer who was a minor.

"Dangerous person for me to be around," one person being interviewed recalled an explorer saying of Wood. "I know he would take advantage of me," the conversation continued. "I'm scared of him. Of what he would do."

The person being interviewed said he urged the explorer to report Wood. That person recalled the explorer saying, "It'll get covered up like another case of stuff like that a few years ago involving explorers."

Allegations against Betts include one scenario in which an alleged victim says Betts forced himself on him and tried to perform a sex act before he was able to push Betts off and leave.

Another explorer made accusations related to a trip to Colorado in 2012 during a national competition for the explorer program. The explorer said Betts climbed into bed with him and touched his groin area before he told him to stop.

Another explorer said Betts performed oral sex on him when he was 17. There are other accusations of Betts sending explicit pictures to other explorers who were 17-years-old at the time.

Other statements describe nude photos, and parties in which Betts and Wood would allegedly have sex with an explorer while other explorers were in attendance.

The evidence also reveals a concerned mother who came forward.

That mother stated her daughter, who was a 17-year-old explorer, received pictures of then-officer Kenneth Betts.

She told investigators the pictures were sexual in nature and that Betts was shirtless.

Within a couple of hours, three other LMPD officers showed up at her door to get a statement from her.

She later described to investigators getting phone calls from the head of the explorer program. She did not mention that person by name.

But the mother went on to say he encouraged her and her husband to not speak with anyone else about the situation. She believed "he wanted to keep it under the radar."

Later, that mother said she pulled her daughter out of the program because Betts had not been removed.

At one point a sergeant with internal affairs talking to that 17-year-old girl's mother told her he believed "it would be an important investigation and stated it was on the top of the list on the chiefs desk." There was no other reference to LMPD Chief Steve Conrad or the sergeant.

This new discovery is fueling anger in some Metro Council members.

David James is a former officer himself and has been outspoken about the scandal. He feels the department failed to find out what was really going on.

"We depend on police to protect us and in this particular situation it doesn't seem like that happened," James said. "In fact it was just the opposite and our children were victims."

James believes there was a cover up and is concerned with the leadership at LMPD.

A professional standards investigation into Kenneth Betts was closed once he quit, as is standard during a PSU investigation.

LMPD Chief Steve Conrad wrote "No further action need be taken," in a memo closing it.

A Public Integrity Unit investigation was not initiated. That would have continued even after Betts quit.

A criminal investigation was not pursued until the allegations were made public by the media.

MESSAGES

The discovery documents also contain dozens of messages.

"It's just further evidence of what we've been saying all along," Attorney David Yates said.

He currently represents five alleged victims who have come forward against Betts and Wood.

He told us he is still pouring through the evidence, including conversations between the officers and explorers.

Like that between Brandon Wood and a minor. Wood tells him "I would love to see you drunk." Later Wood says, "I'll get ya wasted."

In another conversation with an explorer Wood starts off by saying "Hey Sexy" and "I want ur hott bod."

At one point Wood sends an explicit picture and the explorer sends a picture back.

The documents also include a string of conversations between Betts and an explorer.

At first, the explorer calls him "Sir." And Betts offers guidance about getting in trouble for wearing LMPD gear at school.

Later, the explorer starts apologizing and says he doesn't want Betts to think less of him.

The explorer says, "Some explorers are saying the only reason why I'm still in this program is because I'm gay."

The conversations last for nearly two years.

Betts later asks the explorer for a sex act while insisting he's not gay.

After that, Betts asks him how old he is. By this time, the explorer jokes that he is 18 and "legal."

Betts' attorney Steve Schroering told us his client maintains his innocence of any criminal activity. He said he did not want to comment further until he has the opportunity to go through the rest of the discovery.

Attorney Brian Butler represents Wood. He told us his office has received the discovery and will continue to evaluate and analyze it. He also highlighted the fact that his client has entered a not guilty plea.

We asked a spokesman for Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer for a statement. He referred us to the Jefferson County Attorney, who could not comment further citing an ongoing investigation.

The Commonwealth Attorney told us they are not done investigating and there could be more charges or other people charged.

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