The Louisville Metro Police Department is accused of concealing at least 738,000 records documenting the sexual abuse of minors who participated in the Explorer Scouts Program—the department’s mentoring program for youth considering professions in law enforcement—by two police officers and then lying to keep the records from coming to light.
The Courier-Journal reports that the Explorer Scouts scandal—which began to unfold in October 2016 when the LMPD confirmed an officer was under investigation for reasons related to his conduct while taking part in the program—led to the program being shut down in 2017. The shutdown followed a lawsuit filed by an unnamed 22-year-old who accused officers Kenneth Betts and Brandon Wood of sexual abuse starting when he was 17. Both officers were eventually charged criminally and pleaded guilty. Wood was sentenced to 70 months in prison for attempted enticement of a teen and Betts was sentenced to 16 years for child pornography and enticement. He also pleaded guilty to sodomy charges in state court, according to the Courier-Journal.
From the Courier-Journal:
The Courier Journal last year requested all records regarding sexual abuse of minors by two officers in the Explorer Scout program for youths interested in law enforcement careers.
Police officials and the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office said they couldn’t comply, insisting all the records had been turned over to the FBI for its investigation.
But that wasn’t true, according to records The Courier Journal recently obtained in the appeal of its open records case.
In fact, the department still had at least 738,000 records, which the city allowed to be deleted.
The records could shed light on when department and city officials first learned of allegations of sexual abuse of youths by officers in the program and what the officials did — or failed to do — about it.
“It’s very disturbing to me that either the county attorney’s office or the police department was so dead-set on making sure those records never reached the public,” Metro Council President David James said Wednesday. James also said he will talk to other council members “about holding people accountable who need to be held accountable. “
Meanwhile, according to WKLY, a third LMPD officer, Brad Schuhmann, was charged in federal court last week with sexually abusing an underage girl participating in the program in 2010. Schuhmann resigned after he was indicted.
WKLY also reports that a judge has ordered that Louisville release all documents related to the investigation which has not concluded yet. When it is concluded, investigators will present all findings to Mayor Greg Fischer, James and the chairs of the two largest Metro Council caucuses.
Jean Porter, a spokesman for Mayor Fischer, told the Courier-Journal that the mayor’s “focus is getting to the truth in this horrific case.”
“Issues of ownership for records in an investigation led by a federal task force are not as clear as your newspaper would suggest,” Porter said in a statement. “The mayor is awaiting the independent review being conducted for the Jefferson County Attorney’s office before deciding next steps, and he remains committed to releasing all documents that the law allows.”