LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s chief of staff, Ellen Hesen, said she can't recall Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad telling her about sexual abuse allegations in the police department’s Explorer program in 2013 or 2014, according to a deposition she gave Friday.

Fischer has said multiple times in recent months that he first learned of sexual abuse allegations in the program in October 2016 – just before the scandal became public knowledge.

But in a deposition in November, Conrad said he first told Hesen about the allegations of sex abuse in the police mentoring program in 2013 and 2014, when former Officer Kenneth Betts was under investigation for his involvement in the matter.

Hesen testified Friday that she doesn't have “an independent recollection” of Conrad talking to her about the allegations in 2013 or 2014.

“I don’t remember it happening,” Hesen testified, according to a video of her deposition that was completed as part of a whistleblower lawsuit filed by LMPD Lt. Jimmy Harper.

Harper claims he was demoted as retaliation for expressing concerns about the department’s management.

Hesen said the chief reminded her in 2016 that they talked about the previous Betts investigation when it was opened and closed.

“If the chief thought he briefed me then, I don’t have any reason to doubt him,” she told Harper’s attorney, Thomas Clay. “I just don’t remember it.”

In July of 2013, an internal investigation was launched concerning allegations that Betts sent a 16-year-old girl shirtless pictures of himself and asked her to "make out."

During the course of that investigation, a male teenager told police investigators that Betts offered him money for sex. The male also told police he often spent the night with Betts and another officer, Brandon Wood.

There was never an investigation into what the male teen said, and Conrad closed the Betts case “by exception” when the officer resigned in 2014. Conrad wrote in a memo that “no further action was needed.” 

The mother of the female teen told police the head of the Explorer unit "encouraged" her to not tell anyone about her daughter being sexually harassed by an officer in 2013, court documents claim.

A lawsuit was filed last March alleging that a teenage boy was raped by Betts and Wood over several years in the program, which trains young people interested in becoming police officers. Four additional lawsuits have been filed. And another officer is under investigation.

In addition, both Betts and Wood have been indicted on sex abuse charges.

Conrad testified he twice talked to Hesen, “during the beginning of the investigation” in 2013 and near the end, when Betts resigned in 2014.

Hesen did not tell the chief whether she passed along that information to the mayor, Conrad said during his deposition.

On Friday, Hesen said she would not typically brief Fischer “on a personnel matter that has been handled and resolved.

“…I considered it to be a matter that was properly handled.”

In October, while under oath during a deposition in the same case, Fischer testified he had not been briefed on the status of LMPD’s investigation other than to say he was aware it was “ongoing.”

In March, Fischer spokesman Chris Poynter told WFPL that Fischer “didn’t know the full extent" of the allegations until the lawsuit was filed.

Conrad, however, said he has met with Hesen two or three times since the investigation began in 2016 and talked with her on the phone about it “dozens” of times.

In her deposition, Hesen said the chief has updated her about the current investigation and Fischer was present at one meeting with the two, in the fall of 2016.

But Hesen said the mayor was only told when LMPD opened an investigation and what was being alleged.

Hesen said Conrad has told her the investigation is “ongoing,” which is what she has relayed to the mayor.

Hesen declined to answer, on the advice of attorneys for the city, on what exactly she has told Fischer about details into the investigation.

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