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The Breonna Taylor warrant brought scrutiny on many aspects of how search warrants are written, approved and executed in Louisville. We analyze hundreds of search warrants.

LMPD Cleared Top Warrant Detective Of Sexual Misconduct. Then, More Women Came Forward.

LMPD Detective Brian Bailey
LMPD Detective Brian Bailey

In 2016, a woman told Louisville Metro police investigators that Det. Brian Bailey had touched her breast while in his office, sent her pictures of his penis from his cell phone and coerced her into sending him sexually explicit photos. 

The woman, who had been arrested by Bailey on drug charges, said she complied with the detective’s demands because he threatened to use her criminal case against her — saying a conviction would stop her from going on field trips with her daughter.

Despite her allegations, LMPD investigators waited more than eight months to try to interview Bailey before closing the case as “unfounded” after he refused to be interviewed.

WDRB News and the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting first documented Bailey’s pattern of questionable warrants and accusations of sexual misconduct with confidential informants in February, as part of the news organizations’ ongoing examination of LMPD search warrants in the wake of the 2020 fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor.

The details of the 2016 allegations — and how little LMPD did with that information — raise additional questions about the conduct of one of the department’s most prolific cops in terms of obtaining search warrants to raid Louisvillians’ homes.

There is no indication the Public Integrity Unit, which investigates officers for potential criminal charges, tried to obtain Bailey’s cell phone for forensic testing. 

In addition, police never opened an internal investigation with its Professional Standards Unit, according to the lawsuit and records provided by LMPD. It is  typical LMPD practice to do so after a criminal probe is complete. That would have let investigators look for violations of police procedure and could have compelled Bailey to talk and provide his cell phone.

Since then, two more women have accused Bailey in a lawsuit of coercing them into becoming confidential informants and sexually assaulting them for years. In February, a third woman filed a complaint with police accusing the detective of sexual misconduct while she was an informant, LMPD acknowledged in a court filing.

The woman, identified only as “Jane Doe 3,” intends to join the lawsuit on April 19, according to court records. 

That brings  the number of women making similar accusations against Bailey to four, according to documents obtained by WDRB News and KyCIR. Two of the women also are suing the officers who conducted the 2016 investigation, claiming the department could have stopped Bailey had the review been properly handled.

“Part of Bailey’s pattern of conduct included forcing these women to serve as confidential informants, certainly dangerous work indeed,” attorney Vince Johnson, who represents two of the women, told a judge during a court hearing last week. “He would come to them and not only demand sex but make them serve as confidential informants.”

The investigators “knew as early as 2016 that this was going on and did nothing,” Johnson said during the April 8 court hearing.

Bailey has not been criminally charged, but his police powers have been suspended while on an administrative reassignment. His attorney, James McKiernan, declined to comment and an LMPD spokesperson didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Bailey obtained more residential search warrants than any other LMPD officer between January 2019 and June 2020, according to an analysis by KyCIR and WDRB News of all 472 publicly available warrants from that period. He obtained more search warrants than the next two officers combined.

All but one of Bailey’s warrants reviewed by KyCIR and WDRB was based, at least in part, on the word of confidential informants. 

Attorneys have raised flags about Bailey’s use of confidential informants, accusing him in court of relying on “boilerplate” affidavits and, in some cases, making up information.

Jefferson Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine has said that some Bailey cases are being dismissed or resolved by plea agreement because of the allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct.

‘I knew you were solid’

The woman who complained about Bailey to police in 2016 was arrested after a traffic stop in January 2015. Bailey charged her with drug trafficking. 

She now claims Bailey signed her up as a confidential informant under the name “Joey,” who she said was one of his favorite baseball players. 

Her mother had initially filed a complaint with LMPD alleging Bailey was sexually assaulting her daughter, and the woman reluctantly provided some information to police in February 2016. 

The then 24-year-old woman told LMPD investigators Arnold Rivera and Lowell Watson that Bailey had touched her right breast while she was in his office signing documents and she “smacked his hand away,” according to the police investigative file obtained by WDRB and KyCIR through the Kentucky Open Records Act. 

The woman told investigators that Bailey asked her, “Why? The door (to the office) is locked,” according to court records. 

LMPD investigators asked why she didn’t make a complaint against Bailey at the time. “Because he was helping me with my criminal case,” court records show she responded.

In the police summary of the investigation, LMPD investigators said the alleged victim texted frequently with Bailey after he arrested her but she didn’t remember if the texts were sexually explicit. She also wouldn’t turn over her cell phone, police said. 

The police records also said the woman initially told police her mother had “fabricated” many of the statements about Bailey’s conduct. At one point, according to the lawsuit, Rivera told the woman he believed she was “holding back” information about Bailey. 

Asked if Bailey made any demand for sexual favors in exchange for leniency in her court case, the woman said there was “flirting but never anything sexual.” 

The woman, who is not being identified by WDRB and KyCIR because she is an alleged victim of sexual abuse, has not joined the lawsuit with the women currently suing LMPD and the city over Bailey’s alleged actions.

However, she gave a deposition for the case on Feb. 18, and provided sexually explicit texts from as recently as November 2020 that she claims are from Bailey. 

In her deposition, she claims she initially withheld information from police and lied about Bailey’s actions for fear he would find out what she said and retaliate against her. 

“It turned out I made the right move,” she said. “Because as soon as ( the interview with investigators) was over, Bailey texted me and he said, ‘I knew you were solid.’”

The amended lawsuit claims Bailey — and any other officers under investigation —  could gain access to the contents of the investigations at the time. 

“Within days after the … interview, Bailey contacted the victim and indicated he was aware it had taken place and knew the substance of her statement,” Johnson wrote in the amended lawsuit. “Obviously, Bailey was permitted to access the PIU hard file.”

A recent audit of the department determined that the auditing and tracking controls of the internal affairs case management software were turned off, allowing police to access the files which “affected confidentiality and rendered the victims and witnesses vulnerable to expose and influence.” 

However, less than two weeks after the woman talked in person with police, she said she changed her mind and called a detective.

“I started to think about this whole situation,” she said in her deposition. “And I was hearing what Brian was doing with other women. … I was going to tell the full truth. I felt like Brian needed to be off the force.”

In the phone call, she told police that Bailey had contacted her three days after her arrest and sent her photographs of his penis. He also allegedly solicited sexual photos from her, telling her that a criminal conviction would result in her not being able to attend field trips with her daughter, the suit claims. 

She offered to turn her phone over to police but claims no one got back in touch with her. She said she called police again but no one responded. 

Rivera, the LMPD investigator, noted in the investigative file that the alleged victim had called him on March 3, 2016, and promised to turn over her phone to police, but never did. He said she didn’t return multiple phone messages and never “contacted me again.” It wasn’t until September 20, 2016, more than eight months after the investigation began, that police attempted to interview Bailey. 

“Detective Bailey declined to provide a statement regarding the alleged conduct as is his right to do so,” Rivera wrote in his conclusion. 

The case was closed by police in January 2017 with Rivera concluding “no evidence of any misconduct on the part of Det. Bailey was obtained.”

However, the investigative summary did not mention the allegation that Bailey had touched the woman’s breast, or that they had been texting with Bailey while she had a pending criminal case. 

And in an amended lawsuit against Rivera and other officers involved in the 2016 investigation, attorney Johnson alleges the investigator also left out key details from that phone call in his summary.

The investigative summary never mentioned that during the phone call, which was recorded, the alleged victim said she held back information in her initial interview with police because she was scared Bailey would “retaliate” against her, Johnson said.

 “Inexplicably, Rivera fails to document the substance of the March 3, 2016 conversation in which he learned Bailey had sent the Victim photographs of his penis, solicited sexually explicit photographs from her in exchange for the dismissal of the criminal charges Bailey instigated,” Johnson wrote in the lawsuit.

An attorney representing Rivera and two other officers named in the suit declined to comment. 

WDRB and KyCIR requested a recording of the phone call from LMPD. A spokeswoman said it would not be available until the end of June, as the unit which handles audio redactions had 300 to 400 other requests. Johnson declined to turn over the audio, which is not available in court records. 

In a Feb. 12 letter to the Jefferson County Attorney’s office, which is representing LMPD in the lawsuit filed by the two women, Johnson asked if there is any documentation of why the officers left those allegations out of the investigation.

“Is this conduct not a violation of LMPD policies or otherwise actionable by the Public Integrity and Professional Standards units?” Johnson asked in the letter filed with the court.  

He also indicated that even the bare facts Rivera included in his summary should have been cause for concern — for example, that the woman and Bailey were communicating while she was being prosecuted.

“It is shocking to me, and should have been to the investigators, that Bailey had developed a friendly relationship with a criminal defendant who he had charged,” Johnson wrote in a letter to city attorneys in February. 

The drug trafficking case is listed as being dropped after “Detective made agreement with Commonwealth Attorney to dismiss charges in regards to above subject cooperating with Detectives,” according to a dismissal form in court records.  

Texts Continued After Criminal Case

Even after the police investigation of Bailey concluded, the texts did not stop, the alleged victim who came forward in 2016 now says. 

In fact, she claims Bailey texted pictures of his penis to her in the last year.

When asked why she continued to text with Bailey after her criminal case was dismissed, the woman said she feared him.

“He just seemed like a dirty, crooked cop that I didn’t want to have any issues with,” she said in her recent deposition.

Screenshots she turned over to attorneys and included in court records show texts from someone she has listed in her phone as “BB” making sexually suggestive remarks and asking to come to her home. She provided the phone number to attorneys for the city and the alleged victims. 

“Yup ain’t seen ur sexy ass or p***y in months,” one of the texts says. 

WDRB and KyCIR called the number listed in court records but the call was not answered and no identifying information was provided in the voicemail message.

The woman has not provided attorneys with nude pictures and videos she claims Bailey sent her in the past year. She said she felt “uncomfortable” sharing those with attorneys, according to her deposition.

“He was wearing – I would assume they were like khakis. But they were light blue, and he just literally had it sticking out as he was waiting in the car rider line for his son,” she told attorneys about one of the pictures in her sworn testimony. 

KyCIR and WDRB were unable to contact the woman. 

In the deposition, the woman claims Bailey sexually abused her in his police cruiser and his office, where she describes seeing pictures of his family. 

She said he texted her everyday and she went along with it because he was “preventing me from becoming a felon.” 

She claims he told her, “You help me and I’ll help you. You owe me.”  

No timeline for internal investigation

As the 2016 investigation of Bailey is being revisited and litigated, attorneys for alleged victims are also criticizing the current police probes of Bailey. 

“I’m troubled by the fact that this PIU investigation has gone on for about 14 months with no end in sight,” Johnson said in the court hearing last week. 

The first woman sued Bailey and the LMPD in October 2020, alleging Bailey coerced her into becoming an informant and forced her to engage in oral sex with him. A second woman asked to join the suit a month later with the same allegations.

The two women say Bailey sexually harassed and assaulted them for two and three years, respectively. The women do not know each other.

“Jane Doe 1” was interviewed by a detective about Bailey’s conduct in February 2020. She provided clothing that she believed contained Bailey’s semen, according to her attorney, Stanley Chauvin. 

Chauvin told Judge Ann Bailey Smith that only in the last few weeks have police asked “Jane Doe 1” for the phone messages Bailey allegedly sent her. 

“A year later and [the police investigator] is just now asking my client for her phone?” Chauvin said during the court hearing. 

Johnson said Bailey texted both women who are involved in the suit, including sexually explicit photos, so police should have already obtained his phone records. 

“If they didn’t, that’s a whole other problem,” Johnson told the judge. “We know it happened.”

In a deposition, Sgt. Omar Lee acknowledged he is the lead investigator looking into whether Bailey committed any crimes in the Jane Doe cases. But he didn’t know how much longer it would take.

“I couldn’t give you a time, unfortunately,” Lee testified. “No idea at this time.”

“Could be a year from now? Could be two years?” Johnson asked. 

“That’s a fair statement, yes sir,” Lee responded. 

Lee said the investigation will be turned over to the Jefferson Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office when it has been completed. 

Wine, the Commonwealth’s Attorney, said on Tuesday that his office has not received any investigative file involving Bailey. 

Attorneys for the city would not let Lee answer whether he had obtained Bailey’s phones or received lab results from the clothing alleged to have Bailey’s DNA in the “Jane Doe 1” case. 

And Metro government lawyers told Lee not to answer whether there have been similar allegations against Bailey or how many confidential informants he has worked with in the past and whether “this is a pattern of conduct” by the detective. 

The city has asked that the amended lawsuit against police involved in the 2016 investigation be dismissed, arguing, in part, that the officers used their discretion to conduct the investigation “based on information provided to them,” according to documents filed earlier this month. 

Police “followed leads as they were provided and ascertained from the information learned” and closed the investigation using their judgement based on their findings, the defendants argued.

But Johnson maintains the investigation was flawed and the department continues to fail by allowing investigations to drag on and not holding officers accountable. 

“If these police officers are doing these types of things, they don't need to be police officers,” Johnson said last week. 

This story was produced in collaboration with WDRB News.

Contact Eleanor Klibanoff at eklibanoff@kycir.org.

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