Feds charge ex-LMPD officer in teen sex abuse scandal

LOUISVILLE, Ky., (WDRB) – Kenneth Betts, one of two former Louisville Metro Police officers already indicted in state court for allegedly sexual abusing teens while with the department's Explorer program, now faces seven additional federal charges. 

Betts was arraigned in U.S. District Court on Wednesday on charges of knowingly distributing child pornography, possession of child pornography, transferring obscene material to a minor, enticement and attempted enticement, among other charges. 

In a press conference with LMPD and prosecutors, U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman called the allegations "shocking" and acknowledged it is a "sad day for law enforcement."

The penalty range for the charges are 20 years to life in prison. There is no parole in federal prison. 

A grand jury indicted Betts on Tuesday but the indictment was not unsealed until today. He turned himself in at around 10 a.m.

A federal judge set Betts' bond at $25,000, with the condition that he be on home incarceration with his mother as his custodian, have no firearms and have no access to the internet. He will remain in custody until he is fitted with a monitoring device.

Betts is also not allowed to have unsupervised contact with minors or the four victims.

"There's nothing pleasing about today. We're at U.S. District Court. He's been charged with some very serious offenses, but we're certainly very pleased that the judge is going to allow him to be home," said his attorney, Brian Butler, who said Betts will likely lose his two jobs because of the conditions.

Federal prosecutors had argued he was a danger and needed to be incarcerated to protect his alleged victims.

The judge scheduled a trial date for Jan. 14.

In the indictment, the allegations against Betts stretch from his first year on the department in 2006 through 2016. 

He is charged with sending pictures of his penis to someone under the age of 16 and attempting to have sex with males and females who were not yet 18. 

Betts and former Officer Brandon Wood are both facing criminal charges and civil litigation in Jefferson Circuit Court stemming from their alleged sexual abuse of teens under their supervision as part of a program for young people interested in law enforcement careers.

Wood is scheduled to stand trial in January.

A trial date has not been set for Betts, who is charged with two counts of sodomy involving two different alleged victims. The indictment in state court 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.

Betts quit the force in April 2014 after complaints came to light.

The Explorer program, which has been suspended, mentored teens interested in becoming police officers. Students work closely with officers at events such as the Kentucky Derby.

Police and city officials are accused in seven federal lawsuits 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 lawsuits.

Police are also accused of falsifying reports, deleting phone records and audio files and destroying other records.

An investigation into LMPD’s handling of allegations of sexual misconduct in the youth Explorer program found police made several "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 massive cover-up by police or city officials.

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Digital Reporter

Jason Riley is a criminal justice reporter for WDRB.com. He joined WDRB News in 2013 after 14 years with The Courier-Journal. He graduated from Western Kentucky University. Jason be reached at 502-585-0823 and jriley@wdrb.com.