LOUISVILLE, Ky., (WDRB) – The assistant police chief of Prospect is under investigation for allegedly interfering in the sex abuse probe of the Louisville Metro Police 's Explorer program, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the case.
Todd Shaw was suspended with pay on Sept. 1, but police and city officials have not said why.
The sources who spoke with WDRB News said Shaw, who worked with LMPD for more than 20 years before retiring as a sergeant, is being investigated for providing illegal assistance to Kenneth Betts, one of two officers charged with committing sexual abuse of teens while with the Louisville department’s Explorer program.
In October, as LMPD undercover officers were preparing to serve a search warrant for computers at Betts’ business, Betts allegedly asked Shaw to access the National Crime Information Center database, or NCIC, to run the license plates of the officers in order to determine their identities, the sources said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the investigation.
Shaw is accused of ordering a Prospect officer to run the plates for Betts, who was no longer a police officer when he made the request. Betts resigned from LMPD in 2014.
Improperly accessing the NCIC database can result in criminal charges. Shaw is under investigation for misdemeanor official misconduct, the sources told WDRB News.
Josh Abner, a spokesman for the Jefferson County Attorney’s office,declined to comment.
Shaw referred a reporter to his attorney, Nick Mudd.
"My client is innocent of any allegations of criminal wrongdoing," Mudd said. Shaw has a nearly 30-year law enforcement career, including time with Kentucky State Police and LMPD, where he retired in 2009.
Prospect Police Chief Jeff Sherrard said Shaw is suspended while the department completes an internal investigation as to whether he violated any police policies. Sherrard declined to talk about details of the investigation.
Prospect Mayor John Evans also said Prospect police were investigating Shaw for possible violations of conduct within the department, but said he could not talk about any outside investigation.
Attorney Brian Butler, who is representing Betts, said there was "no secret" of the Explorer investigation and Betts cooperated with investigators.
"As far as I know, there was absolutely no wrongdoing by anyone in law enforcement to assist Mr. Betts," Butler said.
Betts is one of two former officers facing criminal charges and civil litigation resulting from their alleged sexual abuse of teens under their supervision as part of a program for young people interested in law enforcement careers.
He was charged in April with two counts of sodomy involving two different alleged victims. The indictment 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 in July 2013 with a minor “he came into contact with as a result” of his position as a police officer.
Former Officer Brandon Wood also was indicted on seven counts of sexual abuse with one alleged victim, a juvenile, stemming from incidents in 2011 and 2012.
Another officer, Brad Schuhmann, is on administrative leave, under investigation for alleged inappropriate conduct with a 15-year-old female Explorer.
The Explorer program, which has since been suspended, mentored teens interested in becoming police officers. Students worked closely with officers at events such as the Kentucky Derby.
A lawsuit filed by attorney David Yates – who is also the Louisville Metro Council president -- claims Betts and Wood raped a male teenager known as "N.C." between 2011 and 2013 while he was in the Explorer program and accuses the department of covering up the case.
The lawsuit claims that "N.C." was “sexually abused” in homes, vehicles and other locations.
Wood and Betts molested, abused and raped the teen and recorded the sexual acts, according to the suit.
Metro Government and LMPD are accused 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 the suit.
The suit also accuses police of falsifying reports, deleting phone records and audio files and destroying other records.
A second lawsuit was filed last month, but it is currently sealed.
The alleged victim, identified in the suit only as "C.F." claims to have been raped by Betts, according to Yates.
Betts has claimed his innocence on his Facebook page.
“I would never do something to harm anyone or a program that did so (much) good,” Betts wrote on his Facebook page in April.
“I was not raised nor have I ever wanted or did (sic) hurt someone like they are saying,” Betts wrote in response to comments from friends offering support. “It’s for sure hard on my family and I (sic) but I know I have God and so many wonderful family and friends on my side.”
In addition to the lawsuits, a different teenager told police investigators in 2013 that Betts offered him money for sex and promised to take care of a traffic citation in exchange for sexual favors, according to police records.
That teen made the allegations against Betts during an inquiry into Betts’ relationship with a different participant of the program, a 16-year-old girl who claims the officer texted her shirtless pictures of himself and asked to meet her and “make out."
The internal investigation by the department’s professional standards unit found that Betts violated police procedures but committed no criminal acts involving the girl.
There was no investigation into the male teenager’s allegations at the time, a police source said, and Betts avoided any discipline by leaving the department.
Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad closed the case “by exception” when Betts resigned, saying “no further action need be taken.”
Conrad has declined WDRB's requests for interviews while the criminal case is pending.
In the 2013 case, the female teen said Betts’ repeated advances prompted her to bring it to the attention of other officers in the program, sources said, adding there was no sexual contact between her and Betts.
Some of the texts between two are included in the internal investigation.
The other Explorer mentioned in the 2013 investigation, a male described in his late teens, did not file a complaint but told other officers about Betts’ behavior, sources said.
The teen said Betts asked him for sexual favors in person while riding along with the officer, and through text messages, according to sources’ description of the investigation.
The teen also told police Betts asked him for group sex and for the officer to perform oral sex on him.
At one point, when the teen received a traffic ticket outside Jefferson County, Betts told him he would take care of it for sexual favors, according to those close to the investigation. Betts also offered the teen money for sex, but the teen said he repeatedly declined the offers.
Sources said the teen reported the conduct to Wood, who reported it to his commander, Maj. Curtis Flaherty. Flaherty is also a defendant in the lawsuit filed by "N.C."
In his March 14 resignation letter, Betts said although he was due for a promotion, he had accepted another opportunity to finish his doctorate degree, and his time with the department would come to an end on May 1, 2014.
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