WDRB joins effort to unseal lawsuit alleging sex abuse in LMPD youth program
WDRB argues that the public has a First Amendment right to court records and proceedings and a "case of such high public importance involving public officials should not be conducted in secret."
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- WDRB Media has asked a judge to unseal a lawsuit alleging that a teenage boy in the Louisville Metro Police Department’s Explorer program was raped by two officers over several years.
In documents filed Thursday in Jefferson Circuit Court, WDRB seeks to join a motion previously filed by The Courier-Journal to intervene in the case and have the court records made public.
WDRB argues that the public has a First Amendment right to court records and proceedings and is asking Judge Judith McDonald-Burkman to immediately unseal the case. A hearing on the newspaper’s motion is scheduled for March 30.
In its filing, WDRB says the case is of “high public interest” and involves allegations of wrongdoing by police and other government officials. The Explorer program, which mentors young people interested in law enforcement, has been temporarily shut down by Mayor Greg Fischer.
“A case of such high public importance involving public officials should not be conducted in secret, and no legal justification exists for sealing any of the court records or for closing proceedings in the case to public access,” the station’s filing says.
The lawsuit was filed in early March by Louisville attorney David Yates, who also serves as president of the city’s Metro Council, and was immediately sealed.
Since then, a majority of the council’s members have called for an independent investigation of LMPD and raised concerns about the ability of the department to conduct its own probe. Several members have noted that an internal investigation involving one of the officers named in the 2017 lawsuit, Kenneth Betts, was closed in 2014 when he resigned.
WDRB reported last week that the earlier investigation was initiated after allegations made by a 16-year-old girl in the Explorer program. The girl claimed the officer texted her shirtless pictures of himself and asked to meet her and “make out."
Police Chief Steve Conrad closed the case “by exception” when Betts resigned, saying “no further action need be taken.”
During that investigation, a male teen in the Explorer program told police investigators Betts offered him money for sex and promised to take care of a traffic citation in exchange for sexual favors,
There was no investigation into the male teenager’s allegations, a police source said.
Fischer has hired a former U.S. Attorney Kerry B. Harvey to do his own inquiry into allegations about the Explorer program and also asked the FBI's Louisville office to look into possible violations of federal law related to the sex abuse claims.
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