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Grand Jury Declines To Indict Metro Council President On Assault Charge

yates
David Yates

A Jefferson County grand jury on Wednesday declined to indict Metro Council president David Yates on a charge of second degree assault.

Yates, a Democrat and two-term president of the city’s legislative body, was accused of assaulting Dennis Swaggert at a University of Louisville football game in November in an act that Yates’ attorney described as self-defense.

Todd Lewis, Yates’ attorney, told WFPL News that Swaggert and a group of men were taunting the council president and his girlfriend during the game. He also said Swaggert threw an object at Yates.

In an interview after the grand jury’s decision, Yates said Swaggert threw a beverage in a stairwell at the football stadium, after which Yates threw a “flurry of punches” at him before exiting the stadium.

Yates said his girlfriend had a previous relationship with Swaggert.

Swaggert could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Yates, who works as an attorney, said he never expected the matter to go before the grand jury. He said he thought the case had been closed by police, and that he learned otherwise this week.

The short notice gave Yates and his attorney little time to present evidence to the jurors in their defense, Yates said.

“There’s nothing common about the situation we’re in,” Yates said.

Yates pointed to the tense relationship between him and Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell, which he said stems from Yates’ role in a lawsuit alleging sexual abuse within the Louisville Metro Police Department.

Yates is representing victims in the suit that allege they were raped and sexually abused by Louisville Metro Police officers.

O’Connell has tried to remove Yates from the case, citing conflicts of interest and ethical concerns.

O’Connell argues the conflict stems from Yates’ role as head of the city’s Metro Council. In that capacity, Yates has the ability to cast votes related to suit settlements, as well as budgets associated with the police department, which O’Connell says is reason to disqualify Yates.

Still, Yates has stayed on the case. A judge will decide later this year whether to disqualify him.

“I understand their need to defend the sexual predators, but however, I disagree with their tactics,” he said. “I’m disappointed they’ve focused their efforts on attacking me instead of the case.”

Josh Abner, a spokesman for the county attorney’s office, said Yates’ assault case was handled by a special prosecutor to avoid any conflict of interest.

“We identified the conflict of interest in his case and referred it to office of the Attorney General on Jan. 23 to request a special prosecutor,” he said. “The office of Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell has had no role in the decision-making process in whether Mr. Yates should be charged criminally.”

Yates said he would “consider all options” regarding how his assault case was handled. He declined to elaborate on what those options might be.

“There is nothing I have ruled out,” he said. “I’m so sick of the corruption and the political games.”

This story has been updated. 

Jacob Ryan joined LPM in 2014. Ryan is originally from Eddyville, Kentucky. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.