Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer is suspending a program focused on readying young people for a career in law enforcement amid allegations of sexual abuse by police officers involved with the program.
A lawsuit filed earlier this month and first reported by The Courier-Journal alleges two officers raped a young man during a two year span — part of which the man was a minor — as he participated in the Louisville Metro Police Explorer Program.
The man is not named in the suit, which is currently sealed by a Jefferson Circuit Court Judge. Fischer is requesting the suit be unsealed.
“The allegations in this lawsuit are extremely disturbing and the case needs transparency from beginning to end,” Fischer said in a news release Monday afternoon.
Metro Council President David Yates, the attorney representing the young man in the lawsuit, told the newspaper that police attempted to conceal the wrongdoing.
“I have major issues with that,” he told The Courier-Journal last week.
Yates made the initial request that the suit be sealed. He said he is “open to reaching an agreement that it would unseal to the extent that the victim’s ID is protected.”
Yates said to release the identity of his client would “victimize him twice.”
Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell raised ethical concerns regarding Yates’ involvement in the case. O’Connell, in a statement, said a “possible conflict of interest” exists due to the possibility of Yates having “a financial interest in the outcome of the lawsuit.”
A spokesman for O’Connell declined to elaborate on the claim.
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.
“The allegations represent an appalling betrayal of trust and abuse of power, and threaten a program that has helped so many young men and women interested in becoming police officers and law enforcement leaders,” Fischer said.
It’s unclear just how long the program will be suspended. Officials with the program were not available for comment. In an emailed statement, a police department spokesperson said Fischer’s statement is “the definitive word on this matter.”
The suit alleges two officers recorded the instances of sexual abuse and concealed evidence through intimidation, coercion and destruction of evidence, falsification of reports, omission of information and deletion of electronic media, and phone messages, according to a report from The Courier-Journal.
One of those officers has since resigned; his attorney declined to comment.
An attorney for the officer still employed with the police department could not be reached for comment.