The Louisville Metro Police Department hid at least 738,000 records documenting the sexual abuse of minors by police officers and then lied to keep the records hidden from the public, the Louisville Courier-Journal has found. The newspaper first requested to view investigative files on officers Brandon Wood and Kenneth Betts, who were accused of sexually abusing youths enrolled in the department’s Explorer Program, which mentors kids hoping to become police officers.
At the time, the Courier reported that LMPD officials told them all of the records had been turned over to the FBI for an investigation and were therefore unavailable to view. However, this was not true. Instead, documents that the Courier recently obtained in their appeal show hundreds of thousands of records of abuse, which the city allowed LMPD to hide.
“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 (Nov. 11) after the news broke.
In a tweet, Councilman Anthony Piagentini added, “There aren’t the appropriate words to describe how indefensible this is. The administration oversaw the sexual exploitation of minors and then deleted evidence.”
According to the Courier, the unearthed records also shed light on when the police department and city officials first became aware of sexual abuse allegations against officers in the program and how they failed to respond.
Jean Porter — a spokesperson for Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer — said his focus is now on “getting to the truth in this horrific case” and claimed “issues of ownership for records in an investigation led by a federal task force are not as clear” as the Courier suggests.
“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,” she said.
The LMPD had no comment.
The news broke shortly after Brett Hankison — the former Louisville police officer who was involved in Breonna Taylor’s death — was sued for sexual assault. The suit, filed by a woman who says Hankison sexually assaulted her while giving her a ride home, claims the ex-cop used his standing as a police officer to prey on young, intoxicated women.