Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer told last fall of ‘very small’ number of possible LMPD Explorer victims
Fischer has suspended the program, hired a former U.S. Attorney to conduct an independent inquiry and asked the FBI's Louisville office to look into possible violations of federal law related to the sex abuse allegations.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Mayor Greg Fischer said he became aware last fall that allegations of sexual misconduct inside a police program mentoring young people involved a “very small” number of possible victims.
Speaking to a group of reporters Monday, Fischer faced several questions about what exactly he learned last October about abuse allegations in the Louisville Metro Police Department’s Explorer program.
A lawsuit filed this month claimed two officers raped a teenage boy under their direction over several years.
Since then, the mayor has suspended the program, hired a former U.S. Attorney to conduct an independent inquiry and asked the FBI's Louisville office to look into possible violations of federal law related to the sex abuse allegations.
He said Monday that he learned of “general allegations” in the Explorer program shortly before news outlets reported in October 2016 that two officers were under investigation.
“At that point, I wanted to know if the people that were accused of this were still involved with the program,” Fischer told reporters Monday. “They were not.” He added that police also were conducting a criminal investigation, which remains ongoing.
Last Friday, WDRB News reported that in a 2013 internal police investigation of the Explorer program, a teenage girl had accused former Officer Kenneth Betts of sending her shirtless photos and asking her to meet him and “make out,” according to sources with knowledge of the investigation.
The sources said the probe found that Betts committed no criminal acts with the girl but did violate police procedures. Also in the case, a male teenager in the program told police that Betts offered him money for sex and told him he would handle a traffic ticket in exchange for sexual favors, according to the sources.
There was no criminal investigation of the male teen’s allegations, sources tell WDRB News.
Betts resigned in 2014. Police Chief Steve Conrad closed the case involving the teenage girl “by exception” after Betts resigned, saying “no further action need be taken.”
Fischer declined on Monday to directly answer a question about whether he has considered removing Conrad. Metro Council members have been critical of the police investigation of the Explorer program.
The mayor suggested that former U.S. Attorney Kerry B. Harvey’s work could include how LMPD handled the 2013 investigation by the department’s professional standards unit.
“What I want to know is what the truth is, and then we will hold people accountable all along the way,” Fischer said. “Where the chips are going to fall, they’re going to fall.”
Also on Monday, Fischer called on Kentucky lawmakers to increase the reporting requirements for cases of suspected child abuse involving law enforcement members. State law requires such cases to be reported to multiple agencies, including the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
“There’s not a requirement that when a child is involved with sexual abuse and the police are involved--that there is a requirement for a state agency to be notified,” the mayor said. “We think that’s an issue that should be closed, so we’re encouraging the General Assembly to go ahead and take care of that.”
Senator Gerald Neal says it can be added to a bill already in process.
"We should do all that we can do to protect those vulnerable, and certainly the youth are," he said.
The legislature resumes for two more days next week before adjourning the 2017 session.
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