A former Louisville Metro Police officer already facing state charges of sex abuse against teens while working with the police department’s Youth Explorer program is now facing additional federal charges.
U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman announced seven federal charges against former Louisville Metro Police Officer Kenneth Betts on Wednesday. All the charges are related to misconduct with minors, including distributing and possessing child pornography, enticing minors into sexual acts and sending obscene material to a minor. Coleman said Betts’ charges were so egregious, they warranted federal charges against him.
“When conduct rises to this level, conduct amongst those — as I mentioned right at the onset — that should be imbued with public trust to protect but they’re using it to prey on young people, those are the type [of] cases this office will continue to work,” Coleman said. “It is a sad day for law enforcement because of the underlying charges, but it’s also a sad day because of the impact on this particular organization.”
According to the indictment released Wednesday, Betts enticed at least three minors — two boys and a girl — into sexual acts, and he attempted to entice another minor.
The Explorer program was an LMPD-led program meant to train and encourage youth to join law enforcement. But allegations of sexual misconduct by LMPD officers surfaced two years ago, launching a probe into the program and raising questions about whether there was a cover-up.
The second former officer — Brandon Wood — is facing state charges and is scheduled to go to trial in January.
Special investigator Kerry Harvey of the Dickinson Wright law firm said he found no evidence of a cover-up in a report he released this June, but an investigation into the case is ongoing. Until that’s resolved, LMPD Chief Steve Conrad said he doesn’t see LMPD doing anything like the Youth Explorer program again “for the foreseeable future.”
Coleman said Betts surrendered to authorities Wednesday; he faces up to 20 years in a federal prison without parole.