Demoted command officer testifies about LMPD Explorer Program, whistleblower case

Published: Nov. 9, 2017 at 5:33 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 9, 2017 at 10:52 PM EST
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Chief Steve Conrad (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Chief Steve Conrad (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A demoted Louisville Metro Police Department officer testified against LMPD Chief Steve Conrad in relation the department's Explorer Program sex abuse scandal.

"Knowing that another allegation was made, how many kids between that time that we let get hurt and harmed for our inaction of not investigating that program then, that we should have," Lt. Jimmy Harper choked up.

He stated more should have been done by Conrad to prevent minors from falling victim to sexual abuse while in the department's Explorer Program. Harper blamed him for closing the original investigation after accused officer Kenny Betts quit.

The statements were made during a four-hour long deposition in relation to a separate whistleblower case against the department.

"When you say we failed to do it. Who is responsible for that failure?" Harper's attorney, Thomas Clay asked.

"The Chief," Harper responded. "The Chief of Police was responsible for doing the right thing and he didn't do the right thing in 2013 and I don't believe it was going to be done in 2017."

Harper testified officers with knowledge of the investigation came to him, concerned things were being swept under the rug.

"I was hearing search warrants were being done, videos were obtained involving rape allegations against young men and women and that those videos depicted officer Wood and officer Betts in those videos. Those were obtained during search warrants. I was hearing that," Harper stated.

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Clay states Harper urged Councilman David James to contact an outside agency to investigate the program's sexual abuse allegations. Clay contends there was an effort to cover up information about the accusations.

"That original investigator wanted to investigate broader but was not allowed to," Harper said. He also stated that same officer later briefed Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Conrad.

Councilman David James is convinced there was a cover up.

"Having the investigation done away with instead of going to check to see if any other children would be in jeopardy or danger I think is inexcusable," James said.

At one point in the deposition, Clay asked Harper about David James.

"Was he concerned about LMPD's ability to investigate that scandal?" Clay asked.

"Yes he was," Harper responded.

"What were his concerns?"

"Concerns that based on the previous case, 'cause I told him what I'd learned about the previous Betts investigation and how it went nowhere and the additional allegations that should have prompted to do something," Harper said. "I explicitly remember him saying, 'Why didn't we investigate that further in 2013?' And we failed to do it."

"When you say we failed to do it, who is responsible for that failure?" Clay asked.

"The Chief," Harper said. "The Chief of Police was responsible for doing the right thing and he didn't do the right thing in 2013 and I don't believe it was going to be done in 2017."

Other council members we spoke with Thursday are reserving judgment on LMPD's Chief in regards to the Explorer case until the investigation is complete, they said.

Council woman and Mayoral Candidate Angela Leet was not one of them.

"I had already hit enough is enough," she said. "It's been more than six months now and I still don't think we know the truth."

"I don't believe those parents were ever given the opportunity to know that there were allegations of misbehavior, sexual misbehavior  with children involved in the Explorer program," she continued.

Two weeks ago, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer also was deposed under oath in relation to Harper's whistleblower case. During that deposition, Fischer claimed he had not been briefed about the Explorer investigation and that he's gained knowledge of the case through the media.

He stated he still supports the Chief during that deposition. Thursday, the Mayor's spokesperson did not return our call for comment.

Harper is suing the department for what his attorney described as a 'pattern of retaliation' dating back to another case in which a woman, Susan King, was wrongfully convicted of murder.

Two other officers sued the department under the whistleblower act. One of them was awarded $450,000.

Harper believes his demotion also had to do with a conversation he had with Mayor Fischer about the reorganization of the department. His attorney claims Harper received a counseling statement after that conversation for speaking with the Mayor. He also said the Chief was upset about him sharing crime statistics with council members.

Harper was demoted from his position of Major in the second division to Lieutenant in the River Patrol. Two months later, he was transferred yet again to special events and traffic.

LMPD did not wish to comment in regards to Harper's statements.

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