With multiple investigations underway into allegations of sexual misconduct by the former executive director of Louisville’s public transit agency, the lawyer hired by Metro Council said he would treat victims with sensitivity.
Speaking to the council’s government oversight committee Tuesday, David Beyer — a Louisville attorney and former FBI agent — said it is important to keep information he uncovers confidential until the time comes to disclose it to the public. He said he does not want to “re-victimize” victims.
“I will be guided by that principle to be very sensitive to the people that we are speaking to,” he said. “That being said, I intend to conduct a very thorough, independent investigation to get to the bottom of what has transpired.”
Ferdinand Risco resigned as the head of TARC earlier this month after allegations that he sexually harassed at least six female employees became public. The council authorized an investigation into his conduct and hiring last week.
Councilman Bill Hollander (D-9) encouraged Beyer to coordinate with the investigators hired by the County Attorney, who are conducting a separate independent investigation. He said it would not make sense for the two groups to interview the same people separately. A lack of coordination could cause victims to retell their stories repeatedly.
“I don’t think that’s fair to the victims, and I don’t think it’s productive,” Hollander said.
Beyer and Jonathan Ricketts, a Louisville lawyer contracted by the County Attorney’s office to represent the council in this matter who also spoke at the meeting, said they planned to attend a meeting Wednesday with the other investigators. A representative for the County Attorney’s office did not immediately respond to a request for more details about Wednesday’s meetings.
Ricketts said legislators should let Beyer conduct his investigation independently. He said Beyer could contact him or the council for guidance, if needed.
“What I would not want to see is an investigation that is compromised by, no offense, but you know, whatever the political whims might be at the time,” Ricketts said.
Councilwoman Barbara Sexton-Smith (D-4) specified what she hoped the council-commissioned investigation might reveal.
“For me, defining success and the goal of this entire investigation is to find out what procedures are in place and structures in place and where it broke down because it obviously broke down, critically broke down,” she said.
If the investigation finds that the procedures for hiring and vetting high-level employees for the quasi-government agency are different than those for Louisville Metro Government as a whole, the city may be able to guide the agency to change, she said. And if they’re the same, she said they should be examined.
The hearing came the day after Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer met with the TARC board and called for actions including establishing an anonymous tip line for employees and reviewing the agency’s finances. Board chair Mary Morrow said in a statement that TARC would adopt those recommendations and consider additional measures.