Sex abuse lawsuit exposes Kentucky loophole allowing embattled officers to quit and leave problems behind
The searing lawsuit accusing Louisville Metro Police Department officers of rape and a coverup involving a teenage boy has exposed a possible loophole in law enforcement.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The searing lawsuit accusing Louisville Metro Police Department officers of rape and a coverup involving a teenage boy has exposed a possible loophole in law enforcement.
The loophole allows embattled officers to quit and keep their problems in the dark -- essentially walking away and leaving their problems behind. That's what can happen at LMPD if an officer resigns amid a professional standards or PSU investigation.
That resignation closes the case, even if it's not finished.
"What happens is the department has no right to actually discipline the officer once they leave the agency," explained John Reed, associate director of the U of L Southern Police Institute.
The Professional Standards Unit determines whether an officer broke a rule. That's different from the Public Integrity Unit, which examines whether an officer broke the law.
"I think there was a level of acceptance and there was willingness to look the other way," said attorney David Yates.
Yates claims the gap led to a coverup, which allowed the rape of a teenage boy in the LMPD Youth Explorer Program to be hidden for years.
"I think victims were allowed to be groomed and abused, and when people in positions of authority found out about the abuse, nothing happened," Yates said.
Yates accuses Officer Brandon Wood and Kenneth Betts of sexual assault in a lawsuit filed last week. Documents show Betts quit amid a PSU review in 2014, accused then of improper contact with a female in that same program.
The investigation never came to light and ended with his departure.
"When these officers resign the process stops," said Wayne Turner, legislative chair of the Kentucky Association of Chiefs of Police.
It's not just the LMPD: police say this is standard protocol for law enforcement throughout Kentucky.
Should the PSU investigations be completed, even if an officer resigns?
"I think it depends on type of case," said Turner. "Obviously, a civil rights violation or some type of an assault charge -- those kinds of things should be followed through and completed. But there are situations where they slip through the cracks and that's not something we're proud of."
Public records show three LMPD officers resigned in the last three months of 2016 under a PSU investigation. One was accused of missing his stun gun.
"It's not just a Kentucky thing," said Turner. "It happens nationally."
Public integrity or criminal investigations don't close if an officer quits, but on Thursday, Louisville Metro Council members called for taking the Yates case out of LMPD hands altogether.
City leaders want an independent investigation from either the attorney general or the FBI.
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