Kenneth Betts seated in court

Kenneth Betts during a 2019 court appearance. (WDRB file photo)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – A former Louisville Metro Police officer already federally convicted of sex crimes in the department's youth mentoring Explorer program has been sentenced in state court to five years on two counts of sodomy.

Kenneth Betts pleaded guilty Monday in Jefferson Circuit Court to two counts of third-degree sodomy. He had been accused of having "deviant sexual intercourse" with teens in the LMPD Explorer program.

While he was originally charged with two counts of sodomy in the 1st degree - and a potential sentence of up to 25 years in prison - a plea bargain called for five years total. 

Asked if the sentence was too lenient, Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Chris Foster indicated there were some problems with evidence in the case, though she would only say that victims were interviewed multiple times. 

The evidence, after a local rule change, is no longer available to the public in the Louisville court system. 

Foster said the families of the victims were satisfied with the sentence and pleased the case was not going to trial. 

Betts did not speak during his sentencing. He will have to register as a sex offender when he is released and must complete sex abuse treatment.

His attorney, Brian Butler, said Betts was happy to have this behind him and he has "turned his life around."

As for possible problems with the case against Betts, Butler said the sodomy happened years ago and the victims were inconsistent in their statements to police. 

Regardless, Betts will be in prison for most of the next 16 years as there is no parole in the federal system. The five-year state sentence will serve concurrently with his federal time. 

Betts was sentenced last week to 16 years in prison for federal charges of child pornography and enticement

Betts became an officer in 2006, and was a mentor in the LMPD Explorer Program. An investigation found that he regularly tried to have sex with male and female teenagers since the beginning of his career. 

Those allegations extended through 2016. He faced federal charges including knowingly distributing child porn, possession of child porn, transferring obscene material to a minor, and enticement.

Along with the prison sentence, Betts was also ordered to pay $20,000 in restitution to one of the victims. Betts will have to serve at least 85 percent of that sentence. There is no parole in the federal system, but inmates can get time off for good behavior.

Another former LMPD officer -- Brandon Wood --has also pleaded guilty to state and federal charges for alleged sex crimes while taking part in the program. He was sentenced to five years in prison.

The Explorer program, which has been suspended, mentored teens interested in becoming police officers. Students worked 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.

Copyright 2019 WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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.