LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A federal judge has ruled that seven alleged sex-abuse victims in the LMPD Explorer scandal can stay anonymous in their suit against the city.
The seven plaintiffs, who were all minors when the abuse allegedly took place, "show compelling reasons to proceed anonymously," U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings wrote in her 15-page ruling (read below).
Jennings also ruled that the seven lawsuits can be consolidated, though it's not clear if the plaintiffs' lawyers will proceed accordingly. Five of the suits remain sealed, but Jennings ruled them to be unsealed in the next two weeks.
Former LMPD Officers Kenneth Betts and Brandon Wood are the two officers whose names have been linked to the abuse claims since they first started, but Wednesday's ruling revealed new suspects. Officers Julie Schmidt and Matt Gelhausen are accused of "vicarious liability and negligent hiring, entrustment, training, supervision, and/or retention." Officers Paul Paris and Casey Scott also are named in the suits.
"The plaintiffs have brought nearly identical claims against nearly identical parties with a few exceptions," Jennings wrote in her ruling.
This year, lawyers for the defendants had argued against keeping the identities of the alleged victims anonymous. But attorneys for the alleged victims said that due to the nature of the alleged crimes, as well as fact that the alleged victims were minors, their identities should remain private.
Betts and Wood are the only ones currently facing criminal charges. Allegations first surfaced in 2013 about their crimes, which allegedly began in 2010.