Former LMPD officers ask judge to delay civil case while sex abuse criminal charges are pending
Through attorneys, former officers Kenneth Betts and Brandon Wood are requesting Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Judith McDonald-Burkman to postpone turning over evidence in a lawsuit filed against they, arguing they “cannot adequately defend himself in the civil action while the criminal proceedings are pending.”
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Two former Louisville Metro Police officers sued over alleged sex abuse and a cover-up in the department's youth Explorer program have asked a judge to delay the lawsuit while criminal indictments against them are pending.
Through attorneys, former officers Kenneth Betts and Brandon Wood are requesting Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Judith McDonald-Burkman to postpone turning over evidence in a lawsuit filed against them, arguing they “cannot adequately defend" themselves in the civil action while criminal charges are ongoing.
Betts and Wood have already asked McDonald-Burkman to dismiss the lawsuit filed on behalf of an alleged victim, identified only as "N.C." in court documents, arguing it is barred under Kentucky’s one-year statute of limitations for personal injuries.
N.C. claims Betts and Wood sexually abused him while he was a teen in the department’s youth Explorer program between 2011 and 2013. The statute of limitations would have run out in 2014, according to attorneys for the officers.
The former officers also allege that David Yates, the attorney who filed the lawsuit, failed to comply with "procedural rules" requiring everyone involved to be named, according to Wood’s motion. Yates, who also is president of the Louisville Metro Council, also leaked information to the media after a judge had initially sealed the lawsuit, the attorneys claim.
Attorneys for the officers filed similar motions, citing several examples of previous cases in which judges – including the Kentucky Supreme Court -- have postponed matters in civil cases until the resolution of criminal charges, arguing a defendant has a Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself.
Kent Wicker, an attorney for Betts, also argued that a delay in the case would not hurt anyone, noting the victim has already waited years to file a lawsuit and it is unlikely witnesses will become unavailable.
The court could also still consider other motions in the case, without evidence being provided -- such as whether to dismiss -- and take evidence from other civil defendants who are not under indictment, Wicker wrote.
The suit alleges that Wood and Betts molested, abused and raped the teen and recorded the sexual acts.
In addition, police officials are accused of concealing evidence of the conduct by intimidation, destruction of evidence, deletion of information and refusal to comply with the Kentucky Open Records Act, as well as conspiracy to cover up the wrongdoing, according to the suit.
Police are also accused of falsifying reports, deleting phone records and audio files and destroying other records.
Allegations against Betts date from as early as 2013, when a 16-year-old girl claimed the officer texted her shirtless pictures of himself and asked to meet her and "make out."
During that internal police investigation, a male teen told police that Betts offered him money for sex and promised to take care of a traffic citation in exchange for sexual favors.
The internal investigation by the department’s professional standards unit found that Betts violated police procedures but committed no criminal acts involving the girl.
There was no investigation into the male teenager’s allegations, and Betts avoided any discipline by leaving the department in April 2014.
Police Chief Steve Conrad closed that case “by exception” when Betts resigned, saying “no further action need be taken.”
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has temporarily suspended the Explorer program.
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