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Metro Council Candidate Was Accused Of Abuse By Then-Girlfriend In 2017

city Hall
city Hall

A candidate for Louisville Metro Council was accused of emotional abuse by a woman who sought an emergency protective order against him last year, according to court documents obtained by WFPL. Soon after, he entered into a settlement with the woman where both parties agreed to keep the details confidential.

Bret A. Shultz, 52, is the Republican candidate for the District 21 council seat, currently held by Councilman Vitalis Lanshima. Shultz ran unopposed in the Republican primary this spring and will face Democrat Nicole George and Independent John Witt on Nov. 6. Shultz, now retired, is a former horse trainer who more recently worked at Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant.

On Oct. 22, 2017, the woman filed for an emergency protective order against Shultz in Jefferson County Family Court. In her petition, the woman described Shultz as her ex-boyfriend. On that day, she wrote he threatened to mess up her life.

WFPL is not naming the woman because she said in court records she was worried for her safety.

The woman alleged that Shultz would get angry when she asked him to leave her home and that he would not accept that she did not want to be in a relationship with him. She alleged that he threatened to put a gun in his mouth while they argued, and that he is the type of person “to put hidden cameras in my home to watch me.”

“I am scared at home. I am scared when I hear noises, wondering if it is [Shultz],” she wrote. “I want [him] to stay away and not to contact me.”

Shultz, reached by phone, said he was not allowed to discuss details of the case, but that the agreement was worked out prior to the evidentiary hearing. Asked whether he denied the allegations, Shultz sidestepped the question and said no facts were found in the case.

Shultz has no other criminal record in Kentucky, other than a traffic violation.

Documents show the emergency protective order was issued the same day the woman requested it. It was set to expire 11 days later, on Nov. 2, and the parties were scheduled to appear in court for an evidentiary hearing. That hearing doesn’t appear to have happened. Instead, on Nov. 2, the court withdrew the emergency order and the parties entered an agreed order, or settlement.

“Petitioner and Respondent hereby agree to no contact with one another for a period of three years from the date the Petition was filed in this action,” the agreement says. It forbids both parties from contacting each other in-person, by phone, social media or email, or through third parties.

The agreement also says, “The parties further acknowledge and agree that this Agreed Order is a compromise of doubtful and disputed allegations and that no admission of liability, culpability or guilt is made herein by either party.”

If not for the agreed order, the case could have resulted in an Interpersonal Protective Order against Shultz. An IPO is a form of protection for people not married to each other, who also don’t live together or have children together. Instead, Shultz’s record shows only that the emergency protective order was dismissed. The IPO is a relatively new mechanism that went into effect in 2016.

While the agreed order aims to prevent contact between the parties, it is not enforceable in the same way an IPO would have been. It is a civil case, which means Shultz wouldn't be committing a crime by contacting the woman, as he would if he violated a protective order. The woman would have to sue Shultz if she believes he has violated the order.

Holly Houston, a Louisville-based family lawyer, said this type of no-contact agreed order can keep an IPO off of a person’s official record, where it could be seen by future employers and others. Houston has no connection to the case, and reviewed the documents at WFPL’s request. She pointed out that the agreed order included language that aimed to keep “all allegations and communications between Petitioner and Respondent which initiated this action absolutely confidential.” However, the case was not sealed and was publicly available through Jefferson District Court.

WFPL was unable to contact the woman through her lawyer, and her lawyer declined to comment.

Metro Council president David James said he could not comment on the case because he had no knowledge of it. He said it should not have any legal impact on Shultz’s eligibility to serve on the council.

“The eligibility requirements simply state that you have to be 18 years of age, a registered voter in the precinct by which you live, and have lived there for a year,” James said.

Councilwoman Angela Leet, the chair of the Republican caucus and her party’s candidate for mayor, did not return a request for comment.

Amina Elahi is LPM's City Editor. Email Amina at aelahi@lpm.org.