Leet calls for perjury investigation of mayor, LMPD chief
LOUISVILLE, Ky., (WDRB) – Republican Angela Leet, who is challenging incumbent Democratic Mayor Greg Fischer, is calling for a criminal investigation of Fischer, his top deputy and police Chief Steve Conrad for allegedly lying under oath about the sex abuse scandal in the police department’s youth Explorer program.
Leet, a Metro Council member, held a press conference at her campaign headquarters where she also accused Fischer’s administration of “sweeping child sexual abuse under the rug,” saying no one has been held accountable for a scandal that has so far included at least six lawsuits against the city and the indictment of two former officers on sex abuse charges.
She noted that a special investigation by former U.S. Attorney Kerry Harvey into LMPD’s handling of the initial complaints of sex abuse in 2013 revealed a series of “mistakes” by the department, including a failure to open a criminal investigation.
But she also took a shot at Harvey, calling him a “handpicked friend of the mayor’s administration.” Leet said Harvey and the mayor's top deputy, Ellen Hesen, know each other and it was Hesen who made the call to request he conduct the investigation.
“It was never fully disclosed to us (the metro council) … that there was a pre-existing relationship,” Leet told reporters.
Harvey’s 90-page report ultimately concluded there was no cover-up by police or city officials.
“We’re here today to talk about lies and corruption by the mayor and his administration,” Leet said.
She also called for an audit of all sex abuse allegations against LMPD officers during Fischer’s term to ensure they were properly investigated.
“The bottom line is the mayor, deputy mayor and police chief did not protect our children or hold accountable those who hurt our children, and then they lied about it under oath to protect themselves," she said.
Jessie Halladay, a spokeswoman for Conrad, declined to comment. A spokesman for Fischer referred a reporter to the mayor's re-election campaign.
Matt Erwin, Fischer's campaign spokesman, said it was "unfortunate Leet would use her campaign headquarters as a prop and politicize such an important issue dealing with the safety of our children – that is where the focus should be."
He said the allegations are simply Leet taking comments out of context.
"We would expect an elected official to read the entire report and make accurate statements about context," Erwin said in a statement. "The Mayor remains ready to assist any councilmember who has outstanding questions on the Explorers issue, including candidate Leet."
During her press conference, Leet said there are “inconsistencies” in testimony from Fischer, Conrad and Ellen Hesen in depositions taken for a lawsuit, “so who are we supposed to believe?"
“Who lied under oath?” she said. “When do inconsistencies become felonies and to what standard do we hold our city leadership?”
An investigation into whether city leaders committed perjury is “the only way we can provide justice for the victims,” Leet said.
While Leet did not mention any specific allegations of lying during the press conference, her campaign cited examples in a news release, including that Fischer allegedly lied about being briefed about the sex scandal investigation since it first became public in 2016.
Last year, Fischer testified in an unrelated lawsuit that he first learned of sexual abuse allegations in the Explorer program in October 2016 – just before the scandal became public knowledge – and that he hadn’t been briefed by anyone from LMPD since.
But in a deposition in November, Conrad said he first told Hesen about the allegations of sex abuse in the program in 2013 and 2014, when former Officer Kenneth Betts was under investigation. And Conrad testified he has spoken with the mayor about the case since 2016 and many times with Hesen.
Hesen has testified that she doesn't have “an independent recollection” of Conrad talking to her about the 2013 investigation. And she testified the mayor was only told when LMPD opened an investigation and what was being alleged.
Leet said Harvey has not yet provided the council a timeline showing whether Harvey interviewed Conrad, Hesen and Fischer before or after they gave depositions.
The depositions were completed as part of whistleblower lawsuit filed by LMPD Lt. Jimmy Harper, who claims he was demoted as retaliation for expressing concerns about the department’s management.
On Wednesday, under questioning by Metro Council members, Harvey said "nobody on the Metro Council or in the mayor's office ever suggested we should reach a particular result. ... It was done honestly."
His report, which was made public last month, outlined six different ways that the internal investigation into former officer Betts was mishandled.
But Harvey reiterated Wednesday that he “can't find the evidence that leads me to believe there was a criminal cover-up.”
Harvey's investigation started with the 2013 investigation of Betts, who was initially accused of sending inappropriate texts to a 16-year-old female Explorer and asking her to “make-out" in 2013.
During the course of that investigation, detectives learned that a second Explorer, a male teen, was offered money by Betts in exchange for sex several years prior.
The report concluded there was a failure to look into possible criminal conduct and determine if the abuse was widespread.
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