Attorney: Requests from Metro Government, LMPD to dismiss sexual abuse lawsuit should be denied
Evidence in the case will show, attorney Tad Thomas wrote, that the defendants "were part of a massive cover up of the sexual abuse in the Explorer's Program..."
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- An attorney for an alleged victim of sexual abuse by two former Louisville Metro Police officers has asked a judge to deny requests from the city, police and others to dismiss a lawsuit alleging a “massive cover up” of crimes in the department’s youth Explorer program.
The police department and city have argued, in part, that the alleged victim, identified only as "N.C." in court documents, is barred from suing under Kentucky's one-year statute of limitations for personal injuries.
In addition, David Yates, the attorney who originally filed the lawsuit, was accused of violating an order that initially sealed the lawsuit, allegedly leaking it to the media and speaking with reporters about the case.
But attorney Tad Thomas, who is now representing N.C., argued in motions filed this week that other courts have concluded there is an "extended statute of limitations for childhood abuse claims," because children are often unable to "deal with, let alone talk about, the abuse they suffered as children until much later in life."
And Thomas claims Yates, who has been disqualified from the case due to his role as president of the Louisville Metro Council when the suit was filed, did not leak a sealed copy of the lawsuit. The Courier-Journal first reported about the lawsuit last March, citing an anonymous source.
While Yates did speak to the media about the case, that was not a violation of the judge's initial order to seal, Thomas said in the motion, adding there was no "gag order" on the attorneys involved.
"Even if (Yates) is found to have violated the order, the record is not clear regarding whether such violation was willful or in bad faith," Thomas wrote.
In addition, dismissing the lawsuit because of any action by Yates would be an "extremely harsh" sanction for the alleged victim, who did not talk with the media, according to Thomas.
The defendants also accused Yates of failing to comply with "procedural rules" requiring everyone involved to be named.
Thomas said it is not unusual for an alleged victim to not be named in a lawsuit, pointing out several such instances in which people who sued the Catholic Church over sexual abuse were allowed to remain anonymous.
Also, Thomas said the defendants will learn the alleged victim's name as the lawsuit progresses and evidence is turned over to each side.
Evidence in the case will show, Thomas wrote, that the defendants "were part of a massive cover up of the sexual abuse in the Explorer's Program and that they took affirmative action to induce plaintiff’s not to pursue legal action."
N.C. claims former officers Brandon Wood and Kenneth Betts sexually abused him while he was a teen in the Explorer program between 2011 and 2013. Another former officer, Curtis Flaherty, is accused of covering up the abuse. The Boy Scouts and Lincoln Heritage Council are also named as defendants.
Four other similar lawsuits have been filed, though they remain sealed.
Metro Government has provided seven possible defenses, including that the city had "no control," responsibility or liability for any of N.C.'s alleged damages.
And the city filed a cross-claim against Betts and Wood, arguing it should not have to pay any damages stemming from alleged illegal acts by the former officers.
The initial 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."
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