CRAWFORD | Tuesday's scandal news dump: Where's Katina Powell an - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Tuesday's scandal news dump: Where's Katina Powell and more

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — At the end of a frustrating day, my thoughts on today’s developments, such as they were, in the so-called Louisville basketball escort scandal, and a few questions I have in general.

1. U of L police investigating. This was the biggest development today, which came in this emailed statement just after 2 p.m. U of L police chief Wayne Hall:

“The University of Louisville Police Department, in consultation with the Louisville Metro Police Department and the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, is reviewing allegations regarding the men’s basketball program.”

This is important because if any agency is going to bring any kind of criminal charge against Katina Powell, the self-proclaimed former escort who wrote, “Breaking Cardinal Rules,” or anyone else involved in any of the acts she alleges, it will be the U of L police department, which investigates any incidents that happen on campus.

2. Commonwealth’s Attorney interested. As we reported on Monday, Commonwealth’s Attorney Thomas Wine says his office will take very seriously any evidence of crimes against children brought forward by police.

A story in The Courier-Journal took that a step further today, quoting a spokesman from Wine’s office saying that Andre McGee also could be prosecuted as an accomplice. No one from Wine’s office would make the same statement to WDRB, though it’s not a stretch to assume that if enough evidence is collected to charge Powell, McGee could be in trouble, too.

3. Pitino talks again. For the third time since the bombshell allegations hit late Friday night, Rick Pitino spoke with the media, this time in a taped interview aired by John Ramsey and Mike Rutherford on 93.9 The Ville radio. And for the third time, Pitino did not deny the allegations the book has made.

Pitino said many other things, but in essence did not change the message he has maintained since he first met with reporters: “There are allegations out there, we’re going to get to the bottom of them and see if they’re true or not,” he said.

Also this: “If there is a problem, we’re going to announce the problem, and we’re going to clean it up."

Beyond that, Pitino talked about how he felt personally about the allegations, how he is dealing with them. He became especially passionate when asked about speculation that he knew what was going on. Said if one person had brought him such information, “I would have shut it down not in two hours, but in two seconds.”

The problem with such statements, of course, is that it leaves the impression that the events actually happened. Pitino isn't trying to give that impression.

One other thing Pitino mentioned that I think serves as a useful reminder. Many times, everyone has used the caution displayed by Pitino and Tom Jurich in their statements as a kind of unspoken resignation that at least some of the allegations are true. It shouldn’t be forgotten that on Friday afternoon neither man knew the allegations against the program, except in a general sense.

"When we asked if we could see some of these things, our people were told to buy the book," Pitino said. "So we did not know any of these things until it came out."

Now that it has come out, however, is a different story.

4. No comments. Certified Fraud & Forensic Investigations is the Indianapolis company credited by the book for vetting the information provided by Katina Powell, including verifying the text message and cell phone records contained in the book.

As I’ve written and said many times, this evidence is the central point of this whole controversy. If those text messages are authentic and say what Powell claims they said, it establishes an ongoing arrangement between Powell and U of L director of basketball operations Andre McGee. It details compensation. It’s the whole ball game. The book's co-author, Dick Cady, who referenced the vetting both in an interview with WDRB and actually showed Courier-Journal reporter Jeff Greer his stack of documentation (without letting him examine it) during an in-person interview, says he’s confident that information is legit.

I wanted to talk to CFFI about the process it uses in verifying phone records, even if it didn’t want to talk about the Powell records specifically. The company said in a Tweet the day the book was released that it was “privileged” to have had a role in the publication.

But no one from the company is talking. A nice person returned an inquiry to me by saying they were not doing interviews at this time, but she’d let me know if that changes.

5. No word from IBJ. I’ve had no response to inquiries to IBJ Book Publishing since first contacting them on Friday night. This morning, I got some agitated emails from Louisville fans alerting me to the fact that Indianapolis Business Publishing Corp. filed to establish IBJ Book Publishing as a separate LLC on August 31 of this year, the same date that U of L was approached about this project.

It’s not surprising. IBJ Books has published more than 100 titles, according to its online portfolio. But this is the first of those titles you can look at and say, “They might get sued over this.”

It’s not unusual for a company to do such a thing, to minimize risk. I’m not sure how much it really does that, but perhaps there are some advantages. With some other larger angles of this to pursue, I didn’t mess much with this today. 

Among the questions I’d like to ask someone from the company:

— Why was there such a rush to publish this book? The author has referenced that it would’ve been nice to have some more time to do some things, but that wasn’t the case. Why? What would’ve put a deadline on this? The book would’ve generated just as much interest in February or March as it does in October.

— Why was the only journal page in the book one that appears to have been re-copied for publication?

— Did it administer a polygraph test to Katina Powell? Did she pass? Was there ever any thought of including this information in the book?

— How many total text messages did Katina Powell bring to the publishing company? How many eventually made it into publication? How many could have their content verified by CFFI?

— Why did publishers choose not to share the book with officials from U of L even a day before publication? Telling them generally what is alleged and giving them a short time to respond doesn’t really count as giving them a chance to respond. Fair journalism is to let the other party know what is being alleged against them, and then allowing them to respond.

But none of the questions is bigger than the next one.

6. Where is Katina Powell? She has the No. 239 overall book in the Amazon Kindle store (down from No. 204 in the afternoon), and the No. 38 book on iTunes, but she’s nowhere to be found.

Generally when you agree to publish a book, you obtain an agreement from the author to promote the book. If you’re looking to make money, which Powell herself claims as a motivation in the book, then you want to promote, get yourself out there, and get your story front and center.

Five days after the publication of her book, there has been no sighting of Powell. By now, she could’ve been sitting across the table from Jeremy Schapp on ESPN if she wanted. She could’ve been doing paid interviews for TMZ or New York Tabloids or whoever pays for those kinds of things.

Instead, she hasn’t done an interview, hasn’t made an appearance, and in fact no one much can find her.

I expect she will surface soon. I do expect she would fear for her safety in Louisville, and I respect the need for her to safeguard herself.  It’ll be interesting to see which media outlet finds her, or whom she picks to talk to.

This is where I should insert that Powell has not picked up her cell phone when WDRB has tried her. My colleague Rick Bozich spent much of the afternoon making inquiries of sources he has who at least know people who know her. Jason Riley at WDRB also has been working on the search.

You can watch a discussion of this with Bozich and me here.

7. Bill Lamb's Point of View. The president and general manager of WDRB (and my boss) Bill Lamb weighed in on Pitino's situation today. See his comments here.

8. An unintended victim. In most of the stories about this, the dorm where the alleged parties took place, Billy Minardi Hall, is front and center. Minardi, who died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, is the building’s namesake, and it is a shame that his name should continually be dragged through such sordid allegations.

It’s one of the things that has particularly bothered Pitino.

“I have not slept, because the allegations are that it took place in Billy Minardi Hall, and that really is a knife in my heart,” Pitino said.

My effort has been to leave Minardi’s name out of it, where possible, though it isn’t always possible. Such as right now.

9. Some more about the co-author. Cady has been interviewed by WDRB and by The Courier-Journal. Obviously, this book is no masterpiece, but I read it sympathetically, because I know what it’s like to put together an e-book on the fly, and honestly can’t imagine dealing with the amount of information he was working with in the five- or six-month timeframe he had to get the book published. So I think he likely did as a good a job as any of us could have with that kind of material, while trying to preserve the wording and tone of the original journals of Katina Powell, as presented to him.

This was sent to me by someone to show how Cady was dumped unceremoniously by the leadership of the Indianapolis Star after becoming one of the state’s best-known investigative reporters. It's an Indianapolis Monthly article from October of 1999. Of course, as a refugee from the newspaper business myself, Cady walking out of the Star newsroom with his head — and middle finger — held high, makes him something of a heroic figure, which probably wasn’t the desired effect.

Still, it is a lengthy look at Cady, and does include the estimation by some that he became “a loose cannon — more concerned with impact than fairness.” You can read for yourself here.

10. More questions. I’ve been asked if there’s anything about this overall story that makes me wonder. Sure. We’re talking about four years of activity among college-age students and young women for whom being seen with U of L players is a huge status opportunity. Yet there is no social media record. No Instagram pictures. Nothing on Twitter. No phone video? Fairly innocent pictures?

If you have writing a book and telling your story in the back of your head, aren’t you more detailed? Don’t you have thousands of screen shots (maybe she did, we haven’t been shown)? Don’t you shoot video? Don’t you have audio recordings of conversations?

Then again, those are all things that would incriminate you in case of arrest, so I can also see why they weren’t preserved.

None of this means the allegations are false. As I’ve said, there is one, verifiable, non-partisan source of confirmation in all this. If those text messages are shown to be legit, none of these other questions matters, nothing about the writer, the publishing company, or anything else.

Watch much more conversation on this topic, and ask questions of Rick Bozich and Eric Crawford, during their Wednesday morning Sports Page Live webcast at WDRB.com at 10:30 a.m.

Copyright 2015 WDRB News. All Rights Reserved.

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