Politics

Louisville Metro Council members are calling for an independent investigation into the allegations of sexual abuse within the city’s police Explorer program. A pair of officers are accused of raping a young man in the program during a two-year span, according to a lawsuit filed earlier this month and first reported by The Courier-Journal.

Council president David Yates is the attorney who filed the suit. He was not among the group of council members who made the public plea for the independent investigation on Thursday.

Yates claims Louisville Metro Police officials attempted to cover up the allegations and complaints of sexual abuse by the officers.

The suit is currently under court seal. The Courier-Journal filed a motion¬†earlier this week to unseal the document, arguing the case “deals with extremely serious allegations of wrongdoing on the part of police officers, the police department and other local government officials.”

Council members echoed those concerns during a press conference Thursday at City Hall.

Democrat David James, chair of the council’s public safety committee and a former police officer, said an independent investigation would ensure integrity and transparency.

“We’re really talking about somebody with the authority and the power of the FBI,” he said.

Julie Denton, a Republican, said the investigation is needed for two reasons: to uphold the integrity of the police department and to ensure public trust in the department.

“With an independent investigation, whatever the findings are would be above reproach,” she said.

James Peden, a Republican and vice chair of the council’s public safety committee, said the allegations are “a huge deal.”

“You really don’t want the people who just screwed up investigating themselves,” he said.

The Louisville Metro Police Explorer Program provides classroom instruction and exercises for young men and women between the ages of 14 and 19 who are interested in law enforcement. Participants provide assistance to police officers during events like Thunder Over Louisville and the Kentucky Derby, for instance. Some three dozen current officers are past participants in the program, according to its website.

Mayor Greg Fischer suspended the program earlier this week amid the allegations of abuse.

On Thursday, Fischer deflected a question about whether he knew about any cover up within the police department related to the allegations, as Yates has claimed.

“That’s a leading question,” he said in response.

James, the public safety chair, said he’d like Fischer to join the call for an independent investigation.

In an emailed statement, Fischer’s spokesman said, “the Attorney General’s Office has provided assistance in this matter. We appreciate council members for offering ideas on how to ensure all the facts emerge.”

Jacob Ryan is the Metro Affairs reporter for WFPL.