Alleged victim in LMPD sex abuse lawsuit objects to proposed del - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Alleged victim in LMPD sex abuse lawsuit objects to proposed delay of case

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LOUISVILLE, Ky., (WDRB) -- Attorneys for an alleged victim of sex abuse by Louisville Metro Police officers has asked a judge to deny a request by the two former officers to delay a lawsuit while criminal indictments against them are pending.

Through attorneys, former officers Kenneth Betts and Brandon Wood have asked Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Judith McDonald-Burkman to postpone turning over evidence in the lawsuit filed against them, arguing they “cannot adequately defend” themselves in the civil action while criminal charges are ongoing. Both former officers have been criminally indicted.

But attorneys Tad Thomas and David Yates, who are representing the alleged victim, argue that the criminal case has just begun and waiting for resolution would cause a “significant delay” in the civil litigation. The delay could weaken the case, as witnesses may die, become unavailable or forget details, Thomas argued in a motion Monday. Criminal cases can sometimes take years to resolve.

In addition, Thomas and Yates argued the public interest in this case is “greater than normal” and weighs against delaying the case.

(Thomas and Yates are also asking a judge for strict confidentiality in the suit, including sealing evidence from the public.)

The alleged victim, identified only as “N.C.” in the lawsuit, claims Betts and Wood sexually abused him while he was a teen in the department’s youth Explorer program between 2011 and 2013.

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. 

N.C. is suing Metro government, the police department, Wood, Betts, Maj. Curtis Flaherty and the Boy Scouts of America.

Betts, Wood and other defendants have already asked McDonald-Burkman to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing, in part, it is barred under Kentucky’s one-year statute of limitations for personal injuries.

Last month, Wood was indicted on seven counts of sexual abuse with one alleged victim, a juvenile, stemming from incidents in 2011 and 2012.

Betts was charged with two counts of sodomy involving two different alleged victims. The indictment alleges Betts engaged in “deviate sexual intercourse” with one of the victims through the use of “forcible compulsion” over a five-month period in 2007.

And Betts is accused of committing sodomy on July 26, 2013 with a minor “he came into contact with as a result” of his position as a police officer.

Attorneys for the officers have filed motions, citing several examples of previous cases in which judges – including a recent Kentucky Supreme Court ruling -- 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. 

But Thomas and Yates argue that the recent Kentucky Supreme Court ruling was an order to prevent the defendants in a case from using evidence in a civil case to their advantage.

In this case, Thomas and Yates claim, the defendants are trying to “use the criminal action against them as a shield to prevent undisputedly appropriate civil discovery.”

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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