Mayor Fischer temporarily suspends LMPD Youth Explorer program over sex abuse allegations

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A second lawsuit has been filed against Louisville Metro Police concerning accusations of sexual abuse and cover-up in the department's youth Explorer program.

Attorney David Yates, who is already representing one alleged sex abuse victim, filed the second lawsuit in Jefferson Circuit Court Thursday afternoon.

The lawsuit was filed under seal, however, the alleged victim, identified in the suit only by the initials C.F., claims to have been raped by former officer Kenneth Betts, according to Yates, who is also Metro Council president. 

It is likely both sides will ask that the case be unsealed on Friday. 

Betts and former officer Brandon Wood have been indicted for sexually abusing teens and former commander Curtis Flaherty is accused in a lawsuit of covering it up. 

Another officer, Brad Schuhmann, is under investigation and on administrative leave. 

Attorney Brian Butler, who represents Betts, said he had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment. 

The alleged victim in the initial suit, N.C., claims Betts and Wood sexually abused him while he was a teen in the department’s youth Explorer program between 2011 and 2013. 

In addition, police officials 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 case against Betts started with an internal investigation Chief Steve Conrad initiated on July 29, 2013, when a 16-year-old female Explorer told police the officer had been sending inappropriate texts and talking lewdly.

Betts told the teen in one text message included in the investigative report that he wanted to meet behind a school and “make out” with her. He also sent her photos, including at least one of a shirtless man, though it is unclear if it is Betts.

In another instance, he invited her to go running, but when she showed up, he instead asked her to make out, according to a summary of her interview with police described to WDRB. There was no physical contact between the two.

During that investigation, another officer told investigators about hearing rumors Betts had made advances on a male teen in the same Explorer camp.

That teen was reluctant to come forward but was located by an investigator and, as part of the investigation into the female teen’s allegations, told police in August 2013 that Betts had offered him money for sex and promised to take care of a traffic citation in exchange for sexual favors.

As part of getting rid of the traffic ticket, Betts offered to make the teen a confidential informant. The teen also told police Betts asked him for group sex and to allow the officer to perform oral sex on him, sources told WDRB.

The teen told police he repeatedly declined the requests.

In addition, the male teen told investigators he often slept at Betts or Wood’s homes because he lived out of town.

Wood was interviewed for the investigation but a summary of what he said is redacted, sources said. There was no separate investigation of Wood.

The summary of the investigation noted that the male teen did not come forward on his own but that his interview showed Betts met both teens through the program and violated the trust and authority of his position.

The 2013 internal investigation by the department’s professional standards unit found that Betts violated police procedures but committed no criminal acts involving the girl.

Conrad closed the case “by exception” when Betts resigned, saying “no further action need be taken.”

There was no further investigation into the male teenager’s allegations, a police source said.

In his resignation letter, Betts said although he was due for a promotion, he had accepted another opportunity to finish his doctorate degree.

A criminal investigation started against Wood and Betts last year after new evidence surfaced, including a video of sex acts, sources said. 

Wood was put on leave in October 2016 when investigators opened the criminal case against him. He was fired earlier this month but is appealing.

Both Betts and Wood maintain their innocence.  

Shortly after he was indicted for allegedly sexual abusing teens, Betts wrote on Facebook that he is innocent.

“I would never do something to harm anyone or a program that did so (much) good,” Betts wrote on his Facebook page.

“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 but I know I have God and so many wonderful family and friends on my side.”

He was charged 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 on July 26, 2013 with a minor “he came into contact with as a result” of his position as a police officer.

Wood was also indicted on seven counts of sexual abuse with one alleged victim, a juvenile, stemming from incidents in 2011 and 2012.

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