LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Former Louisville Metro Police Officer Kenneth Betts sexually assaulted a teen in the department’s youth Explorer program between 2010 and 2013, including performing oral sex on him while at an event in Colorado in 2012, according to a recently filed lawsuit.
The lawsuit, which names, among others, the city, Boy Scouts of America, Betts and Curtis Flaherty, the former head of the Explorer program, was filed in U.S. District Court on Monday. The suit is believed to be the sixth against police and the city concerning accusations of sexual abuse and cover-up in the program.
The suit was originally filed in Jefferson Circuit Court under seal on Feb. 19, but was moved to federal court this week.
The alleged victim, identified in the suit only by the initials E.B., was sexually assaulted, stalked and harassed by Betts, who also allegedly requested the juvenile “transmit or accept” nude photographs, according to the lawsuit.
At an Explorer's conference in Colorado in 2012, Betts sodomized E.B., the suit claims.
An attorney for E.B. could not immediately be reached for comment.
This is the second of the Explorer lawsuits to be unsealed.
The first suit, filed in March 2017, is also unsealed and now in federal court. It claims Betts and former Officer Brandon Wood sexually abused a former Explorer identified only as N.C. while he was a teen in the program between 2011 and 2013.
At least four other lawsuits have been sealed in Jefferson Circuit Court but are expected to be moved to U.S. District Court in Louisville because alleged federal violations have been added to the claims.
Betts and Wood have been indicted for sexually abusing teens, and former commander Flaherty is accused in several lawsuits of covering up the crimes.
Another LMPD officer, Brad Schuhmann, is under investigation and on administrative leave.
The suit filed in federal court this week also claims the defendants were aware that Betts had sexually assaulted other Explorers “years prior” to his contact with E.B. but failed to “take any action to prevent or remedy” the problem.
An internal investigation of Betts was initiated by Chief Steve Conrad on July 29, 2013, when a 16-year-old female Explorer told police the officer had been sending inappropriate texts and talking lewdly.
Betts was accused of sending the girl shirtless pictures of himself and asking her to "make out."
During the course of that investigation, a male teenager told police investigators that Betts offered him money for sex. The male also told police he often spent the night with Betts and another officer, Brandon Wood.
There was never an investigation into what the male teen said, and Conrad closed the Betts case “by exception” when the officer resigned in 2014. Conrad wrote in a memo that “no further action was needed.”
The mother of the female teen told police the head of the Explorer unit "encouraged" her to not tell anyone about her daughter being sexually harassed by an officer in 2013, court documents claim.
The Boy Scouts and other defendants knew there had been a “longstanding, consistent, and problematic history with advisers sexually abusing Youth Explorer cadets,” according to the new lawsuit.
For example, according to the suit, in 1995 an LMPD officer was fired when it was revealed that he had “engaged in sexual behavior” with a minor in a youth program.
“But for the defendants’ cover-up and failure to be candid about the sexual abuse,” E.B. would not have joined the Explorer program.
Flaherty is accused of having “firsthand knowledge” of Betts’ illegal conduct but failed to discipline Betts or take any action, according to the suit.
The suit claims Betts used his position to “gain the confidence” of E.B. and “additionally or alternatively threatened, intimidated and harassed him.”
The suit is seeking unspecified monetary damages and a jury trial.
Both Betts and Wood have been indicted on sexual assault charges. They have entered not guilty pleas.
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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