Mayor backs police chief in spite of mistakes in LMPD Explorer investigation

LOUISVILLE. Ky . (WDRB) – Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer says he still supports police chief Steve Conrad in spite of a report that outlined a series of mistakes police made in investigating sex abuse allegations within its own youth Explorer program.

The report by a former federal prosecutor, which was made public on Wednesday, outlines six different ways that the internal investigation into former officer Kenneth Betts was mishandled, finding that "mistakes were made."

Speaking on Thursday, Fischer said he was glad the report was released and found the conclusions “deeply disturbing.”

Betts 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. 

However, Conrad made the determination to allow Betts to remain on the department for six months because of an illness. Conrad never launched a criminal investigation in spite of others in command staff raising the possibility it was necessary.

Conrad, through a spokesperson, declined to comment. 

Fischer refused to answer on Thursday whether he thought there should have been a criminal investigation.

“I'm not going to comment on any civil or criminal issues because obviously things are going on in that area,” Fischer said.

The report states that Fischer first learned about the allegations against Betts in October 2016. At the same time, he also learned that a second LMPD officer, Brandon Wood, was also accused of sexually abusing a teen in the program.

However, it wasn’t until the allegations became public in March 2017 that Fischer shut the program down.

“Well there's always investigations that are taking place so you want those investigations to run their course, so you can understand if there is merit to them or not. So when I came to the conclusion there was merit to this, we immediately shut the program down,” Fischer said when asked about the delay.

Fischer was then specifically asked by a reporter what changed between October and March.

“The investigation ran its course,” Fischer said.

However, the criminal investigations into both matters are still ongoing and were in March of 2017.

Both Betts and Wood, have been criminally charged and a current officer is under criminal investigation. At least six lawsuits are pending in U.S. District Court claiming Explorers were sexually harassed or assaulted and that officials covered it up.

You can read the full report by former federal prosecutor Kerry Harvey here. 

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