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Ex-LMPD officer accused of sexually abusing informants won’t face charges

A photo of former LMPD officer Brian Bailey is on the right side of the photo, and to the left, unfocused, is a sign for Louisville Metro Police.
via WDRB
Several women accused Brian Bailey of sexual abuse, two internal police investigations determined the complaints were credible, but local prosecutors say he shouldn't face the felony sodomy charge.

A Jefferson County grand jury has declined to indict a former Louisville police officer accused of coercing multiple women into serving as confidential informants and then sexually abusing and harassing them.

The grand jury on Wednesday returned a "no true bill" on sodomy charges presented against Brian Bailey, three years after an investigation began.

While police and prosecutors have clear evidence that Bailey sought sexual favors from women he arrested on drug charges, a Kentucky law in place at the time of the alleged crimes essentially prevented the jury from indicting him.

Two internal investigations concluded that Bailey pressured multiple confidential informants into performing sexual acts on him and lied about it to investigators — and that his actions broke the law.

Police and prosecutors have an alleged victim's shirt with Bailey's semen on it, sexually explicit text messages he sent, proof he coerced informants into having oral sex with him in his police car and sexual acts in his office. Police also confirmed Bailey lied in sworn testimony.

But, according to a press release Thursday from Jefferson Commonwealth's Attorney Tom Wine, the grand jury followed the recommendation of prosecutors to not indict Bailey on sodomy charges.

Wine said a review of state law at the time the crimes were allegedly committed showed the prosecution would have to prove the acts were committed by "forcible compulsion," meaning physical force or a threat of force.

The alleged victims in the Bailey case engaged in sexual acts with the officer "in exchange for something in return," which does not meet the requirement for a sodomy charge, Wine wrote in the press release.

If the grand jury believed that Bailey used force against the victims as defined by statute, they could have indicted him for sodomy, said Erwin Roberts, the first assistant for the Jefferson County Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney.

“The commonwealth makes recommendations in every case presented to the grand jury. The grand jury is an independent body and can accept or reject the commonwealth’s recommendations,” he said.

Brian Butler, Bailey’s criminal defense attorney, said they’re happy with the grand jury’s decision.

The women had been arrested on drug charges by Bailey, who told them he would make the charges go away if they agreed to sexual favors.

The sodomy law was amended in June 2021 making it a felony for a law enforcement officer to "subject a person to deviate sexual intercourse under any circumstances," Wine wrote.

"Unfortunately, the amended statute cannot be applied retroactively to Bailey's conduct reported by the victims in this case," Wine said.

In addition, Bailey was unable to be charged with any misdemeanor crimes, such as official misconduct, because there is a one-year statute of limitations for misdemeanor charges.

A Louisville Metro Police Department sergeant's review of the internal investigation noted the investigation took two years, meaning prosecutors would not be able to charge Bailey with a misdemeanor.

"The statute of limitations for all misdemeanor offenses reported by the victims certainly expired long before the case was presented to the Commonwealth for evaluation," Wine wrote.

An attorney for Bailey could not immediately be reached for comment.

Kevin Trager, a spokesperson for Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg, said Bailey’s actions were "horrific and an abuse of his responsibility."

"He should never be put in a position of authority again," Trager said. "As to why he is not being indicted, the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office will have to speak to that.”

Metro government in October paid $1.8 million to settle a lawsuit filed by three women who claimed they were sexually assaulted and harassed by Bailey.

The first woman sued Bailey and the department in October 2020, alleging he 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. And a third woman joined in 2021.

The women were only identified as “Jane Doe” in court records. Vince Johnson, an attorney for two of the women, said he is disappointed Bailey won’t face criminal charges.

Bailey was also investigated and cleared for the same offense in 2016, when a woman serving as his confidential informant accused him of sexual assault. She did not file a lawsuit.

The woman accused Bailey of touching her breast and sending her pictures of his penis from his work cellphone, but police never interviewed Bailey or looked at his phone.

Indeed, investigators waited eight months before even asking Bailey to talk about her claims. When he refused, they closed the case, saying the allegations were "unfounded."

In addition, LMPD didn't open an internal investigation with its Professional Standards Unit, which is typical LMPD practice to do after a criminal probe is complete to look for violations of police procedure.

It would take another four years — and three more women accusing Bailey of sexual assault — before investigators talked with him. It took another year before police subpoenaed Bailey's phones.

In an August 2021 deposition, then-Chief Erika Shields criticized the investigations into Bailey, saying that police should have obtained the texts the detective sent in 2016. She said a more thorough investigation at the time would have likely led to Bailey's resignation or firing.

The complaints in the lawsuits are similar: Bailey forced women facing charges to become confidential informants and then compelled them to perform sexual acts on him under threat of criminal prosecution.

Police concluded that Bailey targeted low-income women who were addicted to drugs and "would be more willing to perform sexual acts than go to jail," according to an investigative summary.

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 2021 as part of the news organizations' examination of LMPD search warrants in the wake of the 2020 fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor.

Before he was taken off the streets, Bailey was notorious for search warrants based on information provided by confidential informants.

Bailey obtained more residential search warrants than any other LMPD officer, according to an analysis by KyCIR and WDRB of publicly available warrants. He obtained more search warrants between January 2019 and June 2020 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 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.

Produced through a collaboration between the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting and WDRB Media.

Correction: This story has been updated with additional information including the correct date of the jury decision and press release from the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office. 

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.