County Attorney says Metro Council President David Yates should be removed from LMPD sex abuse lawsuit
A day after the lawsuit was filed on March 9, Yates proposed a “confidential settlement demand” with the city for $6 million, according to the motion.
LOUISVILLE, KY., (WDRB) – Attorney David Yates should be disqualified from representing the alleged victim in the Louisville Metro Police sex abuse lawsuit because of a conflict of interest with his role as Metro Council President, according to a motion Wednesday by the County Attorney’s office.
Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell claims Yates reached out to the alleged victim through Facebook, offering his legal services and making reference to his “unique position” and role on the council, according to the filing.
The victim, identified only as “N.C.” in the lawsuit, initially told Yates he did not want to file a lawsuit, according to the Facebook posting in the motion. It is unclear how the county attorney’s office obtained the Facebook conversation between Yates and N.C.
In an interview, Yates said he was "absolutely in no way inferring" to his role on the Metro Council. By "unique position," Yates said he was referring to his time as a prosecutor with the Kentucky Attorney's General's office, helping to write sex abuse legislation and prosecuting defendants in abuse cases.
In addition, Yates said that in his time as an attorney, he has represented several sex abuse victims in civil litigation, including a case last year in which a jury awarded the plaintiff $10 million.
In his motion, O'Connell said that a day after the lawsuit was filed on March 9, Yates proposed a “confidential settlement demand” with the city for $6 million, according to the motion.
As a member of Metro Council, the settlement would be a conflict for Yates because he votes on the city budget, which funds lawsuit settlements, O’Connell argues. Yates declined to discuss the claim of a $6 million settlement offer.
Attached to the motion was an opinion from an ethics expert, Professor Vincent Johnson, who was not paid for his opinion.
"It is simply breathtaking that the President of the Metro Council would purport to act as lead counsel in a highly publicized and potentially costly claim against the Metro Government," Johnson said. "The entire situation is shrouded by an appearance of misuse of official power that threatens to corrode public confidence in government."
Yates said he heard about the motion through the media and that it sounds "more like a political media release than a motion" to the court.
"I believe this is another tactic to distract from the major issues at hand," Yates said. "I have done my due diligence. I have gone through the steps, from our local ethics laws to the (Kentucky Bar Association.)"
Yates also said he was approached by other alleged victims in his role as an attorney before he reached out to N.C.
"At the end of the day, this is the right thing to do," Yates said. "I will not participate in a cover-up. Since I've brought this to light, there have finally been overdue prosecutions ... two abusers finally indicted."
Yates said he is meeting with other victims and witness and more lawsuits will be filed.
"We will not be deterred by these distractions," he said.
Yates has said he has an ethics opinion allowing his role as attorney and member of the council but will only release it to the judge, if necessary.
The issue is scheduled to be heard in court on May 22.
N.C. claims former Officers Kenneth Betts and Brandon 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 Judge Judith 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.
Attorney Tad Thomas also represents N.C.
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