Louisville deputy mayor does not 'remember' twice being told about LMPD sex abuse allegations

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Louisville Metro Council President David James testified this week that the deputy Mayor believed a scandal involving sex abuse of teens in a police program would “blow over” and resisted having outside law enforcement investigate.

In a deposition Monday, council President David James said that Deputy Mayor Ellen Hesen was resistant to bringing in an outside law enforcement agency to investigate, and she believed the issue wouldn’t last.

James told an attorney for the city that he first contacted Hesen just a few days after a lawsuit was filed in March 2017 that alleged two LMPD officers had sexually abused a teen participant in the department's youth Explorer program.

“I initiated contact with Ellen Hesen on that weekend and told her that we were being bombarded by the media on this and people are concerned," James said under oath. "The Mayor’s office should have some sort of response."

According to James, Hesen said that she believed the issue would “blow over.”

“I said, ‘I don’t think it’s going to blow over. People don’t take kindly to police officers having sex with children under their care,’” James said.

A spokesman for the mayor's office provided a statement:

"From the beginning, Mayor Fischer’s ultimate goal has been to find the truth and to obtain justice for the victims.  This included asking the FBI’s Louisville office to investigate; ordering a separate review of all city programs that involve children and teenagers; and bringing in a former U.S. Attorney to conduct an investigation.  Deputy Mayor Hesen was instrumental in developing and directing these courses of action, and the insinuations against her are baseless and deliberately out of context."

James says he suggested that the FBI, Kentucky State Police, or Attorney General’s Office should be called in to investigative the issue.

“The Chief can’t investigative himself or his own staff and have any credibility to do that investigation,” James said.

According to James, he and Hesen had several more conversations over the subsequent days, but Hesen was still hesitant to bring in outside law enforcement.

During those conversations, James says Hesen introduced the idea of having a private investigator look into the matter but James wanted more.

“It was not going to be sufficient because a private investigator would not have the ability to subpoena, not have search warrants, those types of things,” James said. “She still pushed back on having an outside law enforcement agency involved in it.”

“At that point I was finished with those conversations so I contacted Amy Hess, the director of the (Louisville FBI field office) and told her we needed some assistance with an outside investigation,” he said.

Mayor Greg Fischer eventually hired former U.S. Attorney Kerry Harvey, who was paid about $140,000 for an investigative report, which took about a year to complete. 

The report concluded LMPD made a series of "mistakes," including a failure to look into possible criminal conduct and determine if the abuse was widespread. 

But the report ultimately concluded there was no cover-up by police or city officials.

"Mistakes and errors in judgment are qualitatively distinct from a criminal cover-up," according to the report. 

The Metro Council Public Safety Committee will question Harvey about the report on Wednesday afternoon. 

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