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Lawmakers To Consider Contract For Alleged Police Sex Abuse Inquiry

city hall

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer wants to award a Lexington law firm a no-bid contract worth $50,000 to conduct an independent inquiry into allegations of sexual abuse within the police department.

And it seems likely the Metro Council will offer its approval soon.

A civil lawsuit accuses one former and one current LMPD officer of raping a young man during a two-year span as he participated in the department’s Explorer program. The program supports young people interested in careers in law enforcement.

The police department has a pending criminal investigation into the allegations. Details of alleged abuse and cover-up within the Explorer program were disclosed in the pending civil suit and first reported by The Courier-Journal.

Fischer is seeking to tap former federal prosecutor Kerry B. Harvey of Dickinson Wright PLLC to conduct the parallel examination of the allegations at a rate of $275 an hour.

The Metro Council must approve the contract, which lawmakers are expected to review next week in committee. It's likely to gain approval.

In an interview Thursday, Harvey said his investigation would focus on the response to the allegations by city employees, as well as the internal processes and policies at the police department. Those include whether internal LMPD procedures are sufficient to deal with sexual abuse allegations.

"Essentially, review the response of all those people involved who would have had a role in responding to these circumstances and figure out what happened, what didn't happen and what conclusions we can draw," he said.

Harvey will not look to determine whether the officers accused of carrying out the sexual abuse in the civil suit should be prosecuted. Nor will his focus be on defending the city in civil litigation, he said.

Harvey won't have legal authority to compel testimony from witnesses or involved parties. But he trusts the authority afforded to Fischer will ensure his review "proceeds with the cooperation of everyone under his authority," he said.

Councilman Bill Hollander, chair of the majority Democratic caucus, said bringing on Harvey is a worthwhile investment.

"We'll have an experienced federal prosecutor who will look at the situation and can tell us what happened and when and how things were handled," he said. "I think that is what the public is entitled to."

Hollander said he hasn't reviewed the contract but expects no resistance from council colleagues.

But Councilman James Peden, a Republican and vice chair of the public safety committee, told The Courier-Journal last week that hiring Harvey is a "waste of money."

"Anytime someone contracts with someone else you tend to get the results you want," he said in an interview with WFPL News on Thursday.

Still, Peden expects the contract will be approved, saying it's the "closest thing" to an outside investigator. And he takes no issue with the absence of competition for the job.

"I don't necessarily want to low-bid attorneys -- we need a guy that has experience," he said.

Peden was among a dozen council members who called for an independent investigation of the allegations. Fischer followed their plea and echoed the call for the Federal Bureau of Investigation to examine the allegations.

A spokesman for the FBI said the agency is aware of the allegations but "cannot confirm or deny the existence or nonexistence of an investigation."

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Jacob Ryan is an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.